Introduction: Create Your Own Mini Arcade Machine!
Ever wanted your own arcade machine but can't afford or fit a full sized one? Here's the solution.
Using a Raspberry Pi, 5-inch screen & 2 USB controllers you can create your own with as many games as you like from several different platforms. Let's get started...
Designed by Ben Andrew & Kristina Geddis in Queen's University Belfast QLAB
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help
Step 1: Getting the Parts
- Raspberry Pi (Version 2/3): https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/processor-microcon...
- Raspberry Pi power supply: https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/ac-dc-adapters/909...
- SD card (8GB+): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-32GB-Memory-Micr...
- Elecrow 5-inch screen: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Elecrow-Monitor-800x480-...
- 2x USB SNES controllers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/iNNEXT-Classic-Gamepad-C...
- You can use another USB gamepad supported by RetroPie if you like
- 26x M3 Heat inserts: https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/threaded-inserts/02...
- 26x Male-to-Female wires: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Elegoo-120pcs-Multicolor...
- 26x M3 bolts (10-15mm length)
- Speaker connected via 3.5mm aux lead (if you want audio)
- HDMI lead: https://www.amazon.co.uk/CSL-TECHNOLOGY-Ethernet-...
- The shorter the lead the better. Ensure its end connectors aren't too long as this may mean it doesn't fit in the case. If this happens you can try modifying the lead by cutting the connector or;
- Buy a right angled HDMI connector: https://www.amazon.co.uk/REALMAX®-Degree-Angled-C...
- 3D Printer: If you don't have one you can pay a company to print it for you, or try and borrow someone else's
- Alternatively, build your own case any way you like
- Soldering iron: Doesn't need to be very good as it's used for heat inserts.
Step 2: Installing RetroPie
If your unfamiliar with what a Raspberry Pi is it's a credit card sized computer with its operating system held on a micro SD card. For the arcade machine, we're using RetroPie as the Raspberry Pi's operating system.
Go to https://retropie.org.uk/download/ and download the latest image for RetroPie. Ensure you choose the option for Raspberry Pi version 2/3.
Now burn this image to the SD card for your raspberry pi. I recommend using Rufus https://rufus.ie/ to do so. Ensure when you are burning the image that you have selected the right drive letter, as burning an image deletes all existing content on the drive. You must also select the image you have just downloaded.
Once that has finished installing remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert it into your raspberry pi. To test the Raspberry Pi plug it into a monitor or TV using an HDMI cable, and then turn it on. All going well you should see some text appear on the screen and then see the RetroPie logo.
If you have any trouble head over to the RetroPie website for more information.
Step 3: Connecting the Screen
Now that you have your raspberry pi working we can connect the screen to the pi.
As you can see from the design for the screen it was made to mount directly to the pins on the pi, but to better balance the weight of the arcade machine we're connecting them via wires so that the pi can be mounted at the back, and the screen at the front.
To connect the two, wire each pin from the raspberry pi to the jumper board on the back of the screen. Ensure you connect the same as it would be if the screen was directly plugged in (so starting from the back pins of the pi). Plugging in the screen directly first may help with understanding this.
Once the two are connected with the jumper wires, connect the HDMI between both and then power on the Raspberry Pi. The screen should also turn on (power is shared through the jumper wires) and show the Raspberry Pi's video feed (RetroPie menu).
Step 4: 3D Print the Cabinet
Next, we need the cabinet to put parts into.
Ensure you print this on its side, and use a low density (15%) if you want to save on material.
We also need to add the inserts into the 9 holes on each side, 4 at the lower back and the 4 behind the edge of the screen (optional). To do so;
- Heat up your soldering iron
- Place a heat insert on the end of it (carefully its hot!)
- Slowly push the heat insert into the hole rough side backward!
Repeat this for each hole.
Step 5: Laser Cut or 3D Print Side Panels
To conceal the inside of the cabinet we need two side panels. These can be either laser cut (i.e. out of wood as I did) or 3D printed. I've attached files for both.
Don't attach the panels yet...
Step 6: Assemble
1. Firstly bolt the Raspberry Pi into the back of the cabinet where the 4 heat inserts are, ensuring the USB ports of the pi are closest to the nearest edge. You may need to drill out your raspberry pi mounting holes to 3mm (be careful when doing so).
2. Next push the screen into the back of its mounting. Here you may run into one of two problems;
- Your HDMI connector is too long and won't fit. For help on this go back to the parts section where I explain your options
- The screen doesn't have a tight enough fit to stay in. To fix this 3D print two back bars and bolt them in
3. Bolt the side panel with a rectangular hole in it to the side with the USB ports on it. Ensure that before you do so, you pass the raspberry pi power lead through the hole (as photographed).
4. Plug your speaker into the pi with a 3.5mm jack cable and tuck your speaker away inside. Also, plug your pi into the power connector (ensuring it's not plugged into the wall)
5. Bolt the other side panel on
6. Plug your controllers in and turn on the pi at the wall
Step 7: Add Games
Your Arcade machine and controllers should now be working.
If your pi isn't working ensure your RetroPie SD card is firmly pushed into it or return to step 2 to test your pi. If your screen isn't working ensure all the wires are firmly pushed in or return to step 3. If your controllers aren't working check RetroPi forums as you may need to modify some files, and also ensure the USB ports are working with a keyboard.
Otherwise, all you need to do now is download games (SNES, NES etc.) and then copy the game files onto the RetroPie either by USB and using its FileManager interface, or over FTP with your pi on the same network as your PC. See https://retropie.org.uk/docs/Transferring-Roms for more info.
Also, note that copying game files from the internet for games you don't own may infringe copyright.
Step 8: DONE!
Congratulations you're done!
You now have your own arcade machine. Please photograph it and send me your photos to email@example.com
Make use of your arcade machine by inviting a friend round to play and trying more games on the system.
4 years ago
I love seeing all the projects RetroPie inspires - your case design is super sweet!
Reply 4 years ago
Thank You, I hope this project is straightforward to anyone new to Raspberry Pi's and gives them something fun to start with. I'm planning to add more interesting projects I've made soon.