Here is a bartop arcade cabinet I created in a weekend for under £50 (plus a tired old laptop).
Step 1: Tools and Materials
• a vice
• a jig saw
• a wood shaver
• a screwdriver
• a drill
• assorted drill bits including a spade bit the diameter of your buttons
• a 1220mm x 640mm sheet of plywood (you may need more plywood if you have a bigger laptop)
• a jig saw
• an old laptop
• a 'zero delay usb encoder'
• micro-switch joystick, buttons, and connectors (I found a kit containing a Sanwa joystick, 6 Sanwa buttons, 2 unbranded buttons, a 'zero delay usb encoder' and all required connectors on ebay for under £40)
•Screws x 22 (I used 40mm wood screws)
Step 2: 3d Model
The design of my bartop arcade cabinet is that it fits flush with my donor laptop, utilising the laptop's bezel and squeezing against the sides to hold it in place. Attached is the SketchUp file I created to design my arcade before building.
You can modify this file, or start a fresh using the area dimensions of your own laptop to ensure it fits the cabinet.
Step 3: Prepping Your Laptop.
Take all of the screws out of your laptop and remove the hinges. Ideally you want one of the usb slots to come out of the laptop, not from the sides. This is because the sides will be blocked off by the cabinet. My laptop came with one of the usb slots on a separate board, which I was able to thread through a hole under the keyboard.
Step 4: Cutting Your Wood Into Sections
Using a jigsaw, first cut the side panels for your cabinet. Then place both in a vice and shave down until even.
Cut your horizontal sections out so that they are several millimetres wider than your laptop, then shave down until they are even.
Step 5: Drilling and Assembling
Mark out where you need to drill on a side board, place one on top of the other, and then use a drill bit the girth of your screws including the thread to drill through both at once.
Clamp your base panel vertically into a vice and hold your first side panel horizontally across it, lining the panel up with the appropriate holes. Drill down through the side panel into the base panel using a drill bit the girth of your screw not including the thread.
Repeat this process for all horizontal panels.
Insert all screws tightly into the side you have drilled and place that side panel face down. Balance the other side panel on top of the panels which will now be pointing vertically, and drill down inserting screws as you go.
Place laptop inside. Take apart and shave horizontal panels down until flush.
Take apart once more and mark out where you want your buttons to go. Use a spade bit the diameter of your buttons to drill where you have marked, use a circular file on these holes until your buttons fit. pop them all in, and screw everything back together.
Step 6: Enjoy
Congratulations. You've just butchered your laptop. But more impressively, you've just made your very own bartop arcade!