Introduction: How to Make a 2 Player DIY Bartop Arcade With Custom Marquee Coin Slots, Using a Pandora's Box

About: I like things

This is a step by step tutorial on how to build a 2 player bar top arcade machine that has custom coin slots built into the marquee. The coin slots will be made such that they only accept coins the size of quarters and larger.

This arcade is powered by a Pandora's Box (4s plus) arcade kit. The kit that came with the arcade parts was obtained from Aliexpress. You can source the parts individually however but this go around I got mostly everything from a kit.

To find a detailed step by step process, PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO FIRST!!!

Tools required:

  • hand held jig saw
  • bench top sander
  • cordless drill / driver (drill press would be ideal)
  • router
  • soldering iron
  • screw driver
  • flush cutters
  • paint brush
  • Hot glue gun

Materials needed:

  • 3/4" Plywood
  • 1/4" plywood
  • Flatscreen monitor
  • VGA cable
  • 2x Arcade Joysticks
  • 16x Arcade buttons
  • 1/16" T-Molding
  • Jamma Cable Harness
  • Switchmode power supply (must output 12v and 5v)
  • Audio amplifier
  • 1x AC mains switch
  • 2x optical switches
  • 2x speakers
  • 2x speaker covers
  • 1x DPDT Toggle Switch
  • 1x Push Button Switch
  • LED light strip
  • Acrylic panel
  • Cardboard
  • Screws

To find a detailed step by step process, PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO FIRST!!!

Step 1: Design

The most important piece to the bartop arcade is the monitor. All dimensions are built around the monitor.

  1. Measure the dimensions of the monitor (shape, width, height, and thickness).
  2. Translate these dimensions into Sketchup program or another 3d modeling program
  3. Tilt the monitor to an angle between 90 and 60 degrees
  4. Include at least 1.5 inch height for the front panel and at least 4 inches height for the marquee area
  5. Account for how the monitor will be secured into the arcade cabinet, in my design I had the monitor frame butt up against the speaker panel and the joystick panel in order to secure it.
  6. CAD the rest of the arcade cabinet around the monitor, the more dimensions that are drawn in the model, the less design work that needs to be done on the fly later

If you happen to be using the same monitor as the one I used in my arcade (a 20" HP monitor), you can use my sketchup model.

Step 2: Drafting

  1. Now that you have a nice sketchup 3d model, the task now is to transfer the design onto wood. The way I did this was using drafting tools.
  2. Using compass, ruler, t-square, protractor, and triangles, go one edge of the 3d model at a time to transfer this onto the plywood that will be cut out.
  3. Start with drawing the side panels onto the plywood as they are the most complicated pieces to cut out
  4. From there draft out the front panel, joystick, speaker, and top panels. These panels are much easier as they are more or less rectangles

Step 3: Cutting

  1. Using a jig saw, cut out the side panels that were drafted onto the plywood.
  2. If you have a table saw, cut out the front, top, speaker, and joystick panels of the arcade machine. If you are using a jig saw for this operation, ensure the edges are sanded flush to the drafted lines to ensure each panel is straight and square
  3. To cut angled edges of panels, I first ensure a line was drawn on each side of the board to incorporate the angle. I then adjusted the angle on my jig saw as well as adjusted the support table on the sander to get crisp angled edges

Step 4: Mounting Blocks

  1. Now that all the panels are cut out, you want to draw construction lines on the inner side of each side panel
  2. This ensures that the mounting blocks will be placed properly. Refer to the 3d sketchup model to correctly draft where the construction lines will go. Also ensure that the thickness of the boards are reflected.
  3. After construction lines are drawn cut the mounting blocks from 3/4" thick wood
  4. Drill countersink holes one each side of a mounting block
  5. Screw mounting blocks on to side panels using 1 1/4" length screws

Step 5: Test Assembly

  1. After all the panels have mounting blocks attached to them, piece the panels together for a test fit
  2. Screw the panels together via the mounting blocks and ensure that each panel is flush to one another
  3. If there is any offset between the panels, or large gaps exist remove panels and adjust mounting block placement or double check panel dimensions

Step 6: Mount Monitor

  1. Now that all the panels fit together nicely, you want to make sure the monitor also fits in nicely
  2. Tip the arcade on its side and insert the monitor for a dry fit
  3. Ensure there are no large gaps between the monitor and the side panels. If there are, adjust the front, joystick, speaker panel and top panel widths.
  4. With the monitor in place, mark the back of the monitor placement onto the side panels using a marker
  5. Remove monitor
  6. Insert 2 mounting blocks of where the bottom of the monitor will sit
  7. Insert 4 mounting blocks against the back of the monitor in order to secure it in place
  8. Re insert monitor to test if mounting blocks hold the monitor securely in place

Step 7: Cut and Drill Holes

  1. All the panels including the monitor now fit together nicely, it is now time to make holes. First measure the diameter of the speakers that will be mounted onto the speaker panel. Draw these circles onto the panel using a compass.
  2. Cut the circles out using a jig saw
  3. Mark the locations of the joystick and all the buttons onto the joystick panel and front panel
  4. Drill out the joystick holes using a 1" diameter drill bit
  5. Drill out the button holes using a 1 1/8" diameter drill bit

Step 8: Routering / Slot Cutting

  1. The panels are now ready to have slots cut into the edges so the T-Molding can be installed. First step is to install the 1/16" slot cutting bit
  2. Ensure the bit is installed correctly such that the teeth are facing the correct direction. The slot cutting teeth should be spinning and biting into the wood
  3. Install the bit using wrenches and adjust the height of the router bit
  4. Take a scrap piece of wood to perform a test cut
  5. Ensure the T-Molding fits into the test cut material and it is centered
  6. Adjust height of router if necessary
  7. With the height of the router calibrated, carefully with even pressure cut the slots out of the side panels and joystick panel (and any other panel you choose to place T-molding into)

Step 9: Painting

  1. All the panels have all the woodwork nearly complete with them, it is at this point ready to paint. Prepare each panel so it is sanded and clean --ready for paint to be applied
  2. Ensure the work surface where painting will occur is free from dust and debris
  3. Paint each panel front and back and space out to dry
  4. Apply a 2nd coat of paint after 1st coat is dried

Step 10: Assembly

  1. After all the paint is dry, you can screw all the panels back together
  2. Install the speakers to the speaker panel using screws or nut and bolts
  3. Install the joystick to the joystick panel
  4. Install the buttons to the joystick panel and front panel

Step 11: T-Molding

  1. Start installing the T-Molding at the bottom of the arcade machine, this way the seam from the start and end of the T-Molding strip is hidden
  2. At each corner of the panel, snip out the insert section of the T-Molding to allow it to bend around the corner
  3. Snip out a section for each sharp corner of the side panel that the T-Molding is installed into.
  4. Install T-Molding until it reaches all the way back around to the beginning of the strip.

Step 12: Marquee Frame

  1. Measure the angle aluminum to the width of the arcade machine's marquee panel
  2. Cut 2 lengths of the angle aluminum in order to serve as bracket that holds in the marquee panel
  3. Measure the notches to account for mounting the marquee frame around the speakers
  4. Drill holes in order to mount the marquee frame to the arcade machine via screws
  5. Debur and polish the aluminum

Step 13: Back Panel

  1. The back panel of the arcade machine is made from thin 1/4" plywood. I got this wood from an old picture frame
  2. First mount the AC mains switch to the back of the arcade machine using two small wooden blocks which act as a small frame
  3. Install backing blocks to the top and bottom of the arcade machine to act as a stop for the back panel
  4. Measure the back of the arcade opening and cut a board to match the opening
  5. Ensure the back panel fits in the arcade snuggly

Step 14: Coin Slots

  1. Using cardboard from cereal boxes, cut two 2" strips about 12" long.
  2. Fold these strips at a 90 degree angle length wise and tape them together with about a 1/8" inch offset from each other (the width of two coins) to form a coin chute / slot
  3. On one of the strips cut a rectangular slot that is slightly narrower than the width of a quarter or whatever size coin you plan to use as a credit (don't cut a slot if you want to register all coins). This slot opening will act as a filter such that when a coin rolls down the chute, it will fall out via the slot if it is too small.
  4. Glue an optical switch at the end of the coin chute / slots
  5. Mount the coin chute / slots to interface with the front of the marquee panel coin slots (the arcade side panels acts as a guide for the coin as well). This can be mounted to the arcade via hot glue
  6. Make a funnel out of cardboard for both coin chutes to empty into
  7. Place a cardboard box to collect the coins at the bottom of the funnel
  8. Test the coins slots with multiple size coins to test for any jamming. Adjust if necessary

Step 15: Wiring

  1. Start wiring the arcade by first wiring up the AC mains switch to the Switch mode power supply
  2. Wire the AC mains of the monitor to the AC mains switch
  3. Ensure that the monitor and power supply turn on and is properly wired after flipping the AC mains switch
  4. Install the Jamma cable harness to the Pandora's Box
  5. Wire up the joystick and buttons
  6. Install the power wires of the Pandora's Box
  7. Install the VGA cable from the Pandora's Box to the monitor
  8. Ensure that the Pandora's Box works by turning on power to see if there are images on the monitor
  9. Wire up the speakers to the audio amplifier
  10. Wire up the coin slot optical switches to the Pandora's Box. Optical switches require 5V and a 1k resister in series of the light emitting side of the circuit
  11. Wire up the push button switch for the Pandora's Box setting mode.
  12. Wire up the DPDT toggle switch to select from coin buttons (free play mode) and coin slot mode (normal coin operation)
  13. Power on and ensure all the wiring of the joystick and buttons are accurate by play testing

Step 16: Marquee Back Lighting

  1. Install LED strip to the inner side of the speaker and top panels
  2. Wire this to the switch mode power supply 12V
  3. Ensure the LED strip lights up and has good even lighting
  4. Screw panels all together if they were taken apart
  5. Install marquee panel and sure it is properly lit

Step 17: Play!

  1. Everything is now done. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and play some games!
  2. From here you can check the functionality of the joystick, the buttons
  3. Check the sound quality and adjust volume
  4. Check the operation of the coin slots
  5. Check the lighting of the marquee
  6. Have fun!