Desktop Arcade Machine

Introduction: Desktop Arcade Machine

About: Berry College Creative Technologies Major

This project is a desktop arcade machine made out of an old dell workstation. For those wondering it the computer has 8 GB of DDR3 memory (4 x 2 GB), an Intel core i3, and a 300 watt power supply. No graphics card is needed since older games are not very graphically demanding. The computer is running an emulator on a flash drive and has hundreds of games. The project was made in four hours for a hackathon. It has kept me entertained during quarantine and it is easy to move around and fits nicely on my desk.



  • Plywood (I used 1")
  • 1.5" screws
  • Desktop computer (doesn't have to be fancy)
  • Computer monitor
  • Controller (I used a wired Xbox 360 one)
  • Proper cables
  • Motherboard standoffs
  • Hot glue


  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Power drill with pilot bits
  • Dremel or sand paper
  • Tape measure or measuring device
  • Hot glue gun

Step 1: Making It to Size

The first step in this build was figuring out the dimensions for it. I decided to wing it and lay the parts out and cut based on how much space they took up. The first components I sized up were the motherboard and power supply as they take up the most room in the bottom of the case. I decided to mount the IO facing toward the back of the device and the power supply exhaust toward the back as well. Make sure your cables from the power supply are long enough to reach where they go on the motherboard. I ended up making the base around 12" x 18". I made sure to leave room for the cables to also stick out a little so a back piece could fit on. After I cut the piece, I mounted the motherboard to it by adding standoffs into the wood and screwing the motherboard to it. For the power supply, I used double sided tape. You could also make a mount for it later once the back piecec is on. I decided to do this because I was pressed for time and the machine would essentially be on my desktop for it's entire life span. From here on, I never really took a measurement. I just eyeballed it and made sure it was functional was still looking decent.

Step 2: Front IO, Power Button, and Speaker

The next piece I cut was for the front of the case. This is where the 4 front USB ports for controllers go as well as the power button an speaker. I took the USB ports and outlined them on a piece of wood that was probable about 3" x 18". I cut this hole out with the jigsaw and the USB hub friction fit in this part of the case. Next I drilled a hole for the power button and the tiny speaker that came with the computer. I used a little bit of hot glue to attach the speaker and power button. There is also an auxiliary port here if the tiny speaker is not loud enough where you can hook up some external speakers.

Step 3: Finishing Up the Case and Embedding the Monitor

Next I made a ledge and extended it upward at an angle so the monitor would be angle. I judged the angle based on the viewing angle of the monitor I had. After this piece is screwed on, I cut the bottom ledge out that can be used to put joysticks an buttons on in the future. It was then screwed onto the case. Next I cut out the remaining piece and jigsawed a hole in the center of it to fit the monitor inside of it. It is an old monitor and I took it out of its rounded case to make it easier to work with. The monitor was glued in place as I hope to upgrade it in the future and I was running out of time and still needed to handle putting the software on it. If I had more time, I would make mounts out of wood for the monitor to ensure that it stays attached.

Step 4: Software

I decided to use an emulator called Batocera. I found that this was the easiest to set up and it has all the consoles that I desired. A quick search on youtube and you can find helpful guides on how to set it up and add games to your machine. This video showed me how to setup the software on a flash drive as I did not have a spare hard drive laying around. However, to avoid me having to find and add individual games to the machine, I found someone who posted an image of their machine with updated bios's for each console it emulates as well as over 700 games. I used a 32GB flash drive which is big enough right now, but I may need more storage in the future. After you install the software to a flash drive make sure your default boot option is set to USB so you never have to use a key board or mouse again.

Step 5: Finishing Up and Testing

To finish up, I drilled some holes in the side and added a 140 mm fan to bring in fresh air. I had to switch the power supply as the on I had from the original computer was dead. I ran out of time, but I plan on adding a back board with hinges so I can access everything easily. This board will also have another fan on it for exhaust. It was also suggested that I used an acrylic piece for the back so you can see all the components. I ran the power cable for the monitor and power supply into a small surge protector so there is only on cable to plug in. When the back board is added this will make setting it up much easier. The machine works great. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to boot, but I plan on also getting an SSD for the software so I have more storage for games. The machine is virtually quiet and sits nicely on my desk and in my basement for gaming sessions. It can even be enjoyed by more than one person with multiplayer games.

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