Introduction: O-Cade: Portable OUYA Mini-Arcade Cabinet With Mobile Charging Station
The O-Cade is a portable battery operated mini-arcade cabinet that also has a built-in charging station for mobile phones and tablets. Imagine having your own mini-arcade cabinet that has over 800+ games available to play that can also charge your phone and tablets while you play. The O-Cade supports both MAME and newly developed Android games since it is built around the OUYA microconsole. The O-Cade elegantly integrates a variety of commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS) parts so building the O-Cade is as simple as possible. Once building the O-Cade, you will have a Mini-Arcade cabinet that has the following features:
- High-resolution 10.1 inch screen
- Charging station that supports hours of OUYA game play while charging your mobile devices
- Cade-Shield USB (an Arduino-compatible arcade stick controller module you can completely reprogram)
- OUYA microconsole for 800+ games and MAME compatibility
- Building and adding your own games via the OUYA development program
- iCade Arcade Cabinet that has a variety of sticker templates available for cabinet customization
The O-Cade provides a mini-arcade cabinet gaming platform for indie hardware developers to develop all kinds of custom controller functions based on the Cade-Shield (since the OUYA System Update of "Chupacabra"). This makes the O-Cade a great development platform for both software and hardware developers to explore and learn a variety of gaming concepts. In fact, the combination of exploring both software and hardware development leveraging the O-Cade makes it a great development platform for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related activities with respect to video game technology. Imagine allowing students to create games together and publish games on the O-Cade to share with other students while exploring the video game controller hardware using the Cade-Shield joystick controller. This provides a tremendous learning experience for students while exploring both hardware and software concepts using the O-Cade. Are you ready? Let’s build!
Step 1: Gathering Tools and Materials
To build the O-Cade you will need to gather a couple of tools. The tools required for this project are:
- Drill and 1/16 drill bit (Creating pilot holes for wood screws)
- Pencil or Pen (Mark pilot holes before drilling)
- Wire cutters (Cutting speaker wires and removing insulation)
- Soldering Iron and Solder (Solder speaker wires to LCD driver board sound output)
- Screwdrivers (Security Screwdriver for iCade Cabinet)
- Needle Nose Pliers (to break and remove red plastic film on controller connectors)
For materials you will need to get or already have the following items:
- OUYA microconsole (ouya.tv)
- 10.1" LCD Display (1280x800) Kit with Audio (adafruit.com)
- Cade-Shield (USB) Controller Module (itaparcade.com)
- ION iCade Arcade Cabinet for iPad (ionaudio.com)
- Customized iCade Skin Sticker Kit for Arcade Cabinet (stickershopping.com)
- Stereo enclosed 3 Watt 4 Ohm speaker set (adafruit.com)
- Portable Charger backup Battery Bank (ipoweradd.com)
- 1 Foot HDMI HDTV cable (amazon.com)
- Mounting screws for electronic components (lowes.com)
- DC Power Female to Male Splitter Adapter Cable (amazon.com)
- Industrial strength velcro to mount battery (lowes.com)
If you want to buy this as a kit or preassembled please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @iTapArcade if you like this type of build and kit.
Step 2: Modifying the ICade Cabinet Before Assembling
The iCade Cabinet is the housing used to create the mini arcade cabinet. It was originally made to work with the iPad via Bluetooth. During this project, the Bluetooth module will be removed and replaced with an Arduino-compatible Cade-Shield module. This allows the arcade stick controller to be used with the OUYA without any additional controller modifications since the OUYA supports the Cade-Shield module natively (since the "Chupacabra" System Update....Thanks OUYA!). Before any controller modification, let's add some custom skins to the unassembled iCade Cabinet pieces.
The first modification of the iCade Cabinet pieces involves placing customized iCade Skin Stickers on each piece. Pictures shown in this step illustrate how your panels as well as the arcade stick controller should look after placing the custom sticker skins on the panels. We chose black stickers from stickershopping.com. Stickershopping.com has an array of other iCade Cabinet sticker kits that you might like. This is your chance to customize the iCade Cabinet artwork to your liking.
Step 3: Modifying the Arcade Stick Controller Board of the ICade Cabinet
After placing the custom panel skins over each piece of the cabinet, it is time to disassemble the arcade stick controller of the iCade cabinet. In order for the iCade arcade stick controller to communicate natively with the OUYA, it is necessary to replace the bluetooth module with the Cade-Shield USB controller interface module. To replace the module, you must disassemble the arcade controller that is included with the iCade Cabinet. You must have a security screw type screwdriver if you have any security screws securing the controller housing. I found two security screws on my particular controller module.
After removing all the screws, place the screws in a secure location so they are readily available when it is time to reassemble the controller (Note: I decided to leave the two security screws out even after reassembling the controller so I could easily disassemble and reassemble again). Once removing all the screws, you will find that there is a red plastic film at the connection points of the switch connectors connected to the Bluetooth controller module. This plastic film is brittle and can be broken off and removed with needle nose pliers. It may be possible to gently shake these connectors loose as well. Once you have removed all 7 connector plugs from the original iCade Bluetooth module, unscrew the module from the controller base (4 screws). The pictures in this step shows the disassembling process of the arcade controller and what the bluetooth controller looks like once removing the connectors. Proceed to now replace the old iCade Bluetooth module with the Cade-shield USB interface module. Make a note of the color coded wires with respect to Up, Down, Left, and Right joystick positions as you replace the bluetooth module with the Cade-Shield module. The pictures shown in this step illustrate connecting each connector one by one until all connections have been made to the Cade-shield interface module in case you didn't make a note of the color scheme.
Once removing the iCade bluetooth module, you only need 2 of the 4 screws to mount the Cade-Shield to the controller base. The Cade-Shield module was designed to be a direct replacement to the original bluetooth module while allowing power to be provided through the USB interface (No batteries required - a connector for the battery compartment was provided so it wouldn't be left dangling inside the controller). The USB interface plug is located at the controller base opening. Once positioning the Cade-Shield and mounting it to the controller base, reconnect the 7 connector plugs to the Cade-Shield as shown in the picture. Note the color wiring scheme. Once replacing the iCade module with the Cade-Shield module, you can replace the controller base screws. (NOTE: If you want to test the controller interface now, you could setup your OUYA with your newly assembled controller base. Follow the setup instructions with your OUYA, but instead of using the wireless controller connect your newly assembled controller to the OUYA via the USB port. You should now be able to navigate the OUYA menu and play games on your OUYA with the iCade modified controller base. OUYA setup requires having a WiFi or Ethernet connection before downloading and playing any of the games.)
Step 4: Mounting Components to the ICade Cabinet Panel
This step involves mounting the LCD driver panel, the speakers, and the OUYA to the center cabinet panel of the iCade Cabinet. The type of screws needed to mount these components are shown in the pictures. The #6 1 inch screws are used to mount the speakers (only 4 screws are needed). The #2 3/8 inch screws are needed to mount the remaining components (including the LCD screen later). First, mount the LCD driver display board as shown in the picture. Use your pencil or pen to mark the pilot holes on the panel. Then drill these holes with the 1/16 inch drill bit so the wood screws can screw into the board of the iCade cabinet easily. Notice the placement and number of screws used to mount the LCD driver display board. Two holes are for the LCD driver circuit board and two holes are for the menu LCD panel. You only need to only drill into the wood partially as these are just pilot holes for the wood screws.
Once mounting the LCD driver display board, proceed to mount the speakers. To mark the opening of the holes on the panel for drilling, notice in the pictures how each speaker is turned face down so the holes are flush against the panel. We can now mark the holes with a pencil or pen and proceed to drill pilot holes for the speaker screws. Notice the placement and number of speaker screws used.
Before mounting the OUYA microconsole, we need to cut and solder the speaker wires to the LCD driver board. Unmount the LCD driver display board from the panel and follow the picture that shows the location of the speaker wires soldered to the LCD driver board. After soldering the speaker wires to the driver board, remount the LCD driver board to the panel. You can now proceed to finish mounting the OUYA microconsole.
Place the OUYA microconsole to the left of the LCD driver board and mark the pilot holes with a pencil or pen close to the 4 indented "V" shape grooves of the OUYA microconsole. These grooves are used to mount the OUYA to the iCade panel. Drill the marked mounting holes and mount the OUYA microconsole to the left of the LCD driver board. The pictures show the placement of the OUYA relative to the speakers and the LCD driver board. You want the OUYA mounted in this position so it can be easily turned on once mounting the LCD screen.
After mounting these components to the iCade center panel board, it is time to assemble the iCade Cabinet.
Step 5: Assembling the ICade Cabinet and Connecting Cables
Screw on the right and left panels to the iCade center panel as shown in the pictures using the allen wrench that came with your iCade Cabinet (You can follow the iCade Cabinet assembly instructions for help if necessary).
Connect the DC splitter cable to both the OUYA and the LCD driver display board (Note: You will need to disconnect this later to pass it through the arcade stick controller, but for now connect all the cables for completeness of this section)
Connect the 1 foot HDMI cable between the OUYA and the LCD driver display board.
Connect the USB cable for the Cade-Shield to the OUYA.
Step 6: Mounting the Battery Pack With a Built-in Charging Station
Once assembling the sides and top of the iCade cabinet, proceed to mount the battery pack to the back of the iCade cabinet. These pictures provide some insight into how to place the velcro on the back of the battery pack and mount it to the iCade Cabinet. Make sure to remove the iCade sticker from the back before placing the velcro on the cabinet. Also be sure to place the battery pack so the USB and DC ports are facing down. The battery pack must be set to output 12 volts (After opening the battery pack, you must set the voltage to 12 volts manually by holding down the power button down when first powering on the battery pack). This battery pack can also simultaneously charge your mobile devices while powering the O-Cade system. With a 32000mAh rating, this mobile battery pack will have you gaming for hours on your OUYA while charging your phone.
Step 7: Mounting the ICade Arcade Controller Stick and LCD Screen
Once mounting the battery pack to the back of the O-Cade, mount the arcade controller stick to the cabinet assembly. Use the allen wrench and 4 screws provided with the iCade Cabinet to mount the modified arcade controller stick to the cabinet as shown in the pictures.
Once mounting the arcade controller stick to the O-Cade, disconnect the DC splitter cable and pass it through the arcade stick controller opening so power can get to the OUYA and LCD display driver from the battery pack.
Pass the Cade-Shield USB cable through the same arcade stick controller opening so you can connect it to the back of the arcade stick controller opening as shown in the pictures.
Once passing the DC splitter and USB cable through the arcade stick controller opening, connect the LCD screen to the LCD driver board and mount it to the cabinet. First, you need to create pilot holes for the LCD screen. Place the LCD screen on the cabinet and mark the pilot holes with a pencil or pen. Then remove the LCD screen and drill pilot holes for the wood screws to mount the LCD screen. Before mounting the LCD screen, connect the LCD display driver cable to the LCD screen as shown in the pictures. Then mount the LCD screen with #2 mounting screws. You are now close to completing the O-Cade project. All that is remaining is to connect the battery pack to the DC splitter cable and you are ready to power up!
Step 8: Connecting the Battery Pack and Playing With Your O-Cade System
To finish completing the assembly of the O-Cade, turn the O-Cade to the back and connect the battery pack to the DC splitter cable. This will trigger the power pack to turn on and supply power to the LCD driver board and the OUYA. Turn the O-Cade back to the front and you will see a red or green light coming from the LCD control panel board (The LCD may initially power up (LED turning green) once connecting the battery pack, but it will automatically turn off (red) if the OUYA isn't turned on to save power). Turn on the OUYA and you will see screens similar to the pictures taken. The main point here is that both the blue LED from the OUYA and green LED (not in power save mode) from the LCD display control panel should be on if both are connected properly to the battery pack. Also notice a picture has been taken showing the Cade-Shield controller being recognized by the OUYA system as Controller 1. You can still add other bluetooth controllers to the O-Cade allowing up to 3 additional players to play on the O-Cade system. Since this system is all battery powered (including the OUYA Bluetooth controllers), you could literally play OUYA games anywhere at anytime. The O-Cade system has just redefined "OUYA Everywhere" based on hardware mobility.
In summary, the battery pack used for this project is made to charge mobile devices on the go. We are using the battery pack to deliver 12 volts to both the OUYA and the LCD screen while the built-in USB ports of the battery can support charging additional mobile devices. By fusing low power microconsole gaming technology, low power LCD screen tablet technology, and a high-capacity back-up charging battery pack, the O-Cade is the ultimate retro mobile arcade stick gaming system. Since the battery pack continues to supply power even when the LCD screen is in a power save mode, disconnect the battery pack from the DC splitter when not using the O-cade for long periods of time. Have fun with your new mobile arcade stick gaming system!