Introduction: Retro Arcade Machine

With the idea of recycling an old PC I had at home, I decided to build a mini arcade machine, thanks to the MAME emulator, we can play to thousands of old games we played as children. If you're nostalgic for old games, you would like this tutorial.

Con la idea de reciclar un viejo PC que tenia en casa, decidi construirme una mini maquina recreativa, gracias al emulador MAME, tenemos a nuestra disposicion miles de antiguos juegos como los que jugabamos de pequeños en las recreativas. Si eres un nostalgico de los juegos antiguos, este tutorial te gustara.

Step 1: What Do I Need?

Much of the material I used what I had at home, wood, computer, etc ... but what we need is the following:

1x Old PC (I have a P4, with an 80 Gb HDD)
1x LCD Screen 17" (o whatever you have)
1x joystick arcade
9x botones arcade
1x Jamma to USB controller
various woods, I used 10mm MDF.

How to connect the buttons and joystick to the computer is done with the controller Jamma to USB, I had include a picture with the wiring. Once everything is connected to the board plug to computer's USB port and it recognizes it as a joystick you can configure by software. I made in Windows XP, which is the O.S. I used for the emulator. I don´t try in LINUX yet, but I would try with a big brother of this machine I had in my mind.

Mucho del material que he usado lo tenia por casa, madera, ordenador, etc... pero lo que vamos a necesitar es lo siguiente:

1x Ordenador antiguo (en mi caso un P4, con HDD de 80 Gb)
1x pantalla LCD 17" (o lo que tengais disponible)
1x joystick arcade
9x botones arcade
1x controlador Jamma a USB
maderas varias, yo he usado DM de 10mm.

La forma de conectar los botones y joystick al ordenador se hace con el controlador Jamma a USB, incluyo una imagen con el cableado. Una vez conexionado todo se conecta la placa a un puerto USB del ordenador y este lo reconoce como un joystick al que puedes configurar por software. Yo solo lo he probado en Windows XP, que es el S.O. que he usado para el emulador. Como mi idea es hacer un maquina pero en grande, intentare con LINUX, a ver que tal.

Step 2: Starting

We first make a plane (approximately) of what we cut. In my case the size was given by the computer screen I had, so I figured everything by eye, obviously not the best way to do it. Cutting the sides began to leaving the same, while the cut. Then cut and paste the top and the bottom, which already have a drawer made . As I put a lid on the back to get inside, the back cover has two parts, one fixed where the computer power supply wrath and a door that opens.

Lo primero hay que hacer un plano (aproximado) de lo que vamos a cortar. En mi caso el tamaño estaba dado por la pantalla del ordenador que tenia, asi que he calculado todo a ojo, evidentemente no es el mejor modo de hacerlo. Empezamos cortando los laterales, para que salgan iguales, los cortamos a la vez. Despues cortamos y pegamos la tapa y la parte inferior, con lo cual ya tenemos un cajon hecho. Como quiero poner una tapa en la parte de atras para poder acceder al interior, la tapa trasera consta de dos partes, una fija donde ira la F.A. del ordenador y una puerta que se abrira.

Step 3: The Control

We cut the wood that will hold the joystick and buttons (there are many schemes and different styles), I have chosen the model CAMPCON of 6 buttons, and I have added another three for one or two players and start. We put in place with hinges as the size we have is very small and we can access the wiring. In the photos we see open and closed.

Hacemos la madera donde irá el joystick y los botones (hay multitud de esquemas y diferentes estilos), yo he elegido el modelo de CAMPCON de 6 botones, y le he añadido otros tres para uno o dos jugadores y comenzar. La ponemos en su sitio con bisagras ya que el tamaño que tenemos es muy pequeño  y así podemos acceder al cableado. En las fotos lo vemos abierto y cerrado.

Step 4: The Screen

We put a side table to hold the screen in our case with three screws arranged on the screen, the table will give you an angle so that the display is correct. We also added the back door and put a PC fan to avoid heat buildup.I have also placed a mailbox key to open up and close.

Ponemos una tabla lateral para sujetar el monitor, en nuestro caso con tres tornillos dispuestos en la pantalla, a la tabla le daremos un angulo apropiado para que la visualizacion sea correcta. Tambien añadimos la puerta trasera y le colocamos un ventilador de PC para que no acumule calor. Tambien he puesto una llave de buzon para poder abrilo y cerrarlo.

Step 5: Painting

Put the bottom of the canopy (where will the speakers), we drop everything and give it a couple of filler and paint layer.

Ponemos la parte inferior de la marquesino (donde iran los altavoces), soltamos todo y le damos un par de capa de tapaporos y pintura.

Step 6: Electronics

We put the speakers (I have a couple of recycling old PC speakers, as we can see with independent amplification) As the games were not exactly high fidelity, serve to spare. We also put the power supply, the computer and the screen. The hard disk is located under the controls.

Ponemos los altavoces (los he reciclado de un par de altavoces antiguos de PC, como podemos ver tienen amplificacion independiente) Como los juegos no eran precisamente Alta Fidelidad, nos sirven de sobra. Tambien ponemos la Fuente de Alimentacion, el ordenador y la pantalla. El disco duro va situado debajo de los controles.

Step 7: Decoration

For the decoration of the machine have chosen the game Galaxian, so the machine is placed in the white, instead of the usual black. Prepare a design for the controls, then glued to the table and cut to fit the buttons and joystick. I have also prepared a metaclilato plate to protect from the bad life will take.

Para la decoracion de la maquina he escogido el juego Galaxian, por eso el color de la maquina es blanco, en vez del negro habitual. Preparo un diseño para los controles, iran pegados a la tabla y recortados para que encajen los botones y el joystick. Tambien he preparado una placa de metaclilato para protegerlo de la mala vida que va a llevar.

Step 8: Finally

To finish put the bezel between two glass and put in place. Add the marquee and paint with light green edges which is how the original machine was. Now we only have to install the operating system, the MAME simulator, configure everything ...and Playing!.

Para acabar ponemos el bezel entre dos placas de cristal y lo ponemos en su sitio. Añadimos la marquesina con su luz y pintamos los cantos de color verde que es como los llevava la maquina original. Ya solo nos queda instalar el sistema operativo, el MAME, configurarlo todo y ... ¡a Jugar!. 


Cleber RobertoM (author)2017-05-31

Do you have cabinet design?

themacguru (author)2014-07-14

How much would it cost me for you to build me one of these?!! I live in riverside, California.. Please let me know!!! Thanks in advance!! :)

Paxpan (author)themacguru2014-07-15

Thanks for it themacguru! , but I live in Spain... you know. DIY.. it´s easy as it looks.

cendoval (author)2013-09-20


baroquedub (author)2013-04-25

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the inspiration provided by your post.

If like me you've been dreaming of building one of these bad boys for a while but thought it couldn't be done... give it a go. :) It's been a great learning experience (especially for someone with very little DIY experience) and the result is a lot of fun. My version's not exactly one for the purists but it's an absolute retro gamer's joy.

When I get the chance I'll write up my experiences and share some of the pitfalls and solutions I found. Thanks again Paxpan.

Paxpan (author)baroquedub2013-04-26

Thanks to you!! You have done a great job. I will be waiting you to write the process. Congratulations again.

fariello (author)2013-04-21


baroquedub (author)2013-02-23

Like it a lot! Inspired by your build I've been working on my own cabinet but I'm stuck where it comes to connecting the buttons to the USB controller.

This is the interface I've got: The pin configuration is a bit different to the JAMMA controller you've posted a picture of, however I can cope with reconfiguring the connection to the pins. The problem I've got is that you haven't numbered or labelled the buttons as shown on your diagram - and the picture shows only 8 buttons and the joystick. So...

My question is, as per your plate/button layout, have you connected it as:

And what did you do with the other three buttons? Are they being used as '1 player', '2 player' and 'Coin in'? (If so what connections are you making to your USB controller?) For my interface ( would you connect to buttons 7,8,9 ? Or 'Select/BTN9', 'Start/BTN10' and ????

And are you having to do any keyboard mapping in MAME to get the buttons to work?

Any help or advice would be much appreciated! Thanks.

Paxpan (author)baroquedub2013-02-24

Hi Baroquedub, The interface you are working on is nearly the same as mine. You can configure until 12 different buttons, it´s not important which one you connect BUT the important thing is HOW you configure it in the MAME program.

You must configure (in MAME you can configure a lot of things) the most commond are the joy, the number of bottons you are going to include, the coin in button, start, and a ESC button as well. You have a lot of different configurations.
Best regards!

lferrer bailach (author)2013-02-20

Yo voy a empezar con la pequeña, a ver que tal se me da. He hecjo una maqueta en cartón para ver las medidas, te pongo una foto. Por cierto, los componentes los compras en Arcade outlet?

Paxpan (author)lferrer bailach2013-02-20

Si, los he comprado alli. date una vuelta por el foro de , alli encontraras muchisima informacion. Un saludo.

lferrer bailach (author)2013-02-19

Hola! lo primero felicitarte por tu trabajo. Genial!
Quiero hacer una parecida a la tuya pero para dos jugadores. Lo único que cambia es poner dos mandos y el doble de botones, no? Y tendré que poner dos placas que conectan por USB, claro. ¿Tu has probado a conectar dos yoisticks a la vez?

Paxpan (author)lferrer bailach2013-02-19

Hola Iferrer, mi idea original era construir una grande, pero al final hice esta para "ir practicando", ya estoy con la grande, te mando una foto con el prototipo de mando que tengo construido (aunque ahora le he añadido algun boton mas), la misma placa USB esta para 1 o 2 jugadores practicamente al mismo precio. Un saludo.

mchabot (author)2012-12-14

This is the exact same grid pattern I used for my speaker grids..
(I don't even think I have a picture)

Solannis (author)2012-12-01

Awesome project. Extremely impressive. I definitely want to make my own. Couple of questions on this step:

1) Can you provide any measurements for the boards I will need to cut? Even general width and height would be helpful.

2) What did you do for/to the finish of the edges of your MDF board? Did you just sand them smooth or apply plastic to them or ??

Paxpan (author)Solannis2012-12-04

Hi Solannis! I hope this image help you, all is in mm. All the width is 400mm. I would apply and edge of plastic, but I only found for a 19mm, not for a 10mm that is the MDF board I use.

steve000 (author)2012-11-29

Very cool, for me a little 2 modern I personally would have used an old TV or CRT monitor but thats just me. Still looks fantastic and best of all its pretty cheap which is better than what i was looking at for a few hundred $

Paxpan (author)steve0002012-11-30

Hi Steve, I wanted to be "portable". But I have an old TV I want to use for the big bro of this little machine...

steve000 (author)Paxpan2012-12-02


Kayoken (author)2012-11-30

This can save me well over $600 bucks thanks so much :D

timm.tanner (author)2012-11-30

Simply Amazing! Well done.

n2citrus (author)2012-11-30

I built something similar a few years back, using an old "Defender" cabinet. To save time I purchased a controller from Xgaming (X-Arcade controller) which comes with two joysticks as well as a ton of buttons. I liked it because it is just plug and play, but yes, it is pricey!

duncanwilkinson (author)2012-11-30

This is fantastic - Such a good upcycle of old parts.

wolf3695 (author)2012-11-29

Hello Paxpan,
Like most great Instructables, it's the attention to detail that shines through - especially, in your case, with the cabinet - great job!

One Q:
I appreciate your project includes recycling an old PC, but is it possible to use the popular processors-on-a-stick, like the Raspberry Pi?
That is, $35 (for the Pi), with a 'surplus' monitor/flat-screen TV?
So, being realistic, is it possible to integrate a Pi (or equivalent) into your Arcade project?
Once again, congrats on the quality of your Instructable.

Paxpan (author)wolf36952012-11-30

Hi wolf3695, I don´t use the Raspberry-pi (yet), but I think it runs with linux. You can find a MAME running linux, so I think you can. I see the Raspberry and I think it coul¡d get great for that (I had some problems for the size of the pc, already).

jcano yribarren (author)2012-11-29

¡Alucinante! ¿Sabes cuando buscas algo durante días y no lo encuentras, paras de buscar y a las 2 semanas aparece por sí solo? Pues bien, me acaba de pasar eso. Llevo un tiempo pensando en hacerme una recreativa pequeña y super low-cost con un raspberry-pi. En mi caso tengo un PC antiguo, pero es un Pentium 1 de 133MHz, así que creo que se quedaría algo corto. Para la circuitería pensaba usar un arduino, pero creo que por el mismo precio (o algo menos) me cojo una de esas jamma to USB. No sabía de su existencia, así que tu instructable me ha venido de fábula :D. El único problema es que no tengo ni idea de donde encontrar una pantalla pequeña (y barata).
Felicidades por la arcade, te ha quedado insuperable. Si le puedo poner una pega es que el instructable podría estar más detallado paso a paso, como has hecho los vinilos, como cortas las maderas, etc. Pero por lo demás está genial.


Paxpan (author)jcano yribarren2012-11-30

Hola Jcano, Yo le di muchas vueltas antes de empezar, pero una vez arrancado fue bastante más facil de lo que me creia. Tienes una maravillosa web en castellano donde encontraras toda la informacion y muchisimas mas (
Yo el ordenador y el monitor lo saque de un amigo que lo iba a tirar por viejo. mira en la web de MAME, tu piensa que cualquier ordenador es más potente que una maquina recreativa. No te compliques la vida con el arduino, la placa hace todo y es casi más barata que un arduino. El raspberry-pi no lo he usado nunca, pero tengo ganaas de trastear con el... igual para mi proximo proyecto. LA pantalla que he usado es de 17", las tienes muy baratas en tiendas de segunda mano.

Un saludo!

senjirou (author)2012-11-29

Dude, this is just beautiful! I'm gonna try this for sure! Now, a couple of questions if you don't mind? If I wanted to make it a two player machine, I would just need double the buttons, sticks and another Jamma, right? Nothing else... And how do you update your mame there if you got some new games or something? Sweet idea man, it's awesome, congrats! =D

Paxpan (author)senjirou2012-11-30

You already can buy a two player USB controller. If I want more games, I open the back door, connect a keyboard, a mouse and take it from an Pendrive. Don´t forget that inside is a PC.The advantage of using a PC is you can add more emulators from diferent machines, I want to try some Atary 2600, Neo-Geo and Commodore..... As you can see all of them are "old glorys".

HandySun (author)senjirou2012-11-29

oh and it's JAMMA not Jamma. It's an acronym for Japanese Arcade Machine Manufacturers Association

HandySun (author)senjirou2012-11-29

Most arcades, you buy the JAMMA board and thats that. It holds the game, and only that game, and only does what it's intended to do. If the game you bought has 2 players, then yes you can add two players. If you want two player, get a Neo Geo MVS board. The MVS's take cartridge games and they're $5-60 online per game. But most are counterfit now.

I love Neo Geo MVS, this is what you should really get. It's the same idea as here except it takes cartridges the size of VCR tapes

mingus2073 (author)2012-11-29

I second the two player question and also how difficult to add a trackball? Great work!

Paxpan (author)mingus20732012-11-30

The controller I use have a version for two player (I actually works in the big bro of this machine and I use it), and you can easy find a track ball for arcade machines.

PitStoP (author)2012-11-29

Cool... I want one!
Great job!
Did you make the artwork yourself or did you buy it?

Paxpan (author)PitStoP2012-11-30

Well.. I have a friend who works on vinil, so was easy.

ddr (author)2012-11-29

Great work! Can you tell me how you made the bezel and artwork?

Paxpan (author)ddr2012-11-30

Hi!for the bezel I change the original one to my space, and for the lateral I take it from Internet (you will find a lot of old machines there).

dmuscat (author)2012-11-29

Can you suggest a Jamm to Usb or alternative for 2 players? Or is it simpler to use two of same boards to two usbs?

HandySun (author)2012-11-29

Could always use another tutorial on arcades. I plan on using a PC and hooking up buttons and joystick to an old keyboard and playing ROMs on it in a home made arcade cab.

Arcades are good fun always

Syd0the0kid (author)2012-11-29

WOW. This is amazing. I hope you have an online store, people are gonna want to order these.

bethmwl (author)2012-11-29

It looks so professional, you did a great job!

gabbix (author)2012-11-29

Te quedo barbaro! felicitaciones! Amo el Pac-Land!

thingy (author)2012-11-27

Where do I put in the Quarter?

Paxpan (author)thingy2012-11-28

Jeje, It´s free!

lhatim (author)2012-11-27

I suppose you calibrated the command board with the computer before started playing?? but it's amazing!! I hope I will have the time to make one for Xmas!! Thanks a million!!

Paxpan (author)lhatim2012-11-28

Of course! You must calibrate the joystick and configurate the buttons for working with MAME. Tkanks!

gosphero (author)2012-11-27

Great DIY! Anything that has to do with gaming is awesome in my book!

lhatim (author)2012-11-27

How did you connect the buttons and joystick to the computer?

Paxpan (author)lhatim2012-11-27

Thanks! I have updated the instructable with that info. I do with the Jamma to USB board, it´s very easy.

bricabracwizard (author)2012-11-26

Beautiful creation! Could you put in how you connected the buttons and joystick to the computer and how it works - thanks!

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