Introduction: How to Make an Arcade Marquee Lightbox

About: I love coming up with new projects to challenge myself and to express my creativity. Make It is about me sharing that passion with you!

Old school arcade games are back! Learn how to make a marquee lightbox and bring your favorite game to any room!

Don't know a lot about wood-working? Neither do I! I made this to help me learn!

If anyone is a wood-shop expert, feel free to give some tips!

Step 1: Video

Watch this video instead of the written tutorial, or use it to see the steps performed while following along!

Step 2: Supplies

Most of the supplies were bought at Lowes. If you don't have one near you, check with your local hardware store.

Marquee: I got this from Escape Pod. They sell all sorts of graphics for restoring old arcade cabinets. make sure your marquee is reverse printed and applied to 3/16" acrylic.

12V Power Supply


Power Adapter


White LED Strip

3/16" Router Bit

5/8" Wire Nails

1 1/2" Wood Screws

6' x 3.5" x 3/4" Pine Board

1/8" MDF

Soldering Tools


Gorilla Glue

Any type of saw. I used a panel saw and band saw.

Routing Table

Step 3: Preparing the Wood

Measure your marquee and plug the width for X and height for Y. Use the equations to calculate the dimensions of the wooden sides. Cut down the pine as accurately as possible.

In each of the 4 sides, route an 1/8" channel a 1/4" into the board. My marquee was the same width as my router bit (3/16") so I widened the channel a bit for a looser fit.

Next plug your width and height into the backing equation to get the size you need. Take your 1/8" MDF and cut it down to the proper size.

Step 4: Cutting Electronics Spaces

Take the power adapter and switch and trace around them onto one of the longer sides. Do this on the left side across from the channel. Then cut out the space that was traced. I used a jig saw, but the poor man's version would be to drill holes into the trace and carve the rest with a knife. A dremel could also work if you have access to one.

Step 5: Assembly

Assemble the bottom and 2 sides. I held mine together with a pipe clamp. Mark an inch from the side and 3/8" from the bottom. Then drill a pilot hole and add a wood screw. Repeat this process 3 more times on the bottom. There will be 2 screws to each side.

Once the bottom's finished, flip the lightbox onto the last side and add 4 more screws to attach it to the box.

Step 6: LEDs

Cut 3 LED strips the length of your marquee. The strip in the center should run opposite to the 2 on the sides. Check the circuit diagram to make sure.

Step 7: Electronics

The circuit in the lightbox is basically the same one we used in my movie theater poster project.

First attach a 3" wire to the positive pin of the power adapter. Attach the other end of the wire to a pin on the switch. Then take a 4" wire and attach it to the adjacent pin on the switch. After that, attach a 3" wire to the negative pin on the power adapter.

Tin all of the solder points on the LED strips and then attach the wire coming from the switch to the positive pad on an LED strip. The wire coming from the power adapter will be attached to the negative pad of the same strip. This will be done on the left side of the strip. Connect the led strips together in a snake like pattern. Follow the diagram and make sure to match the correct polarities.

Step 8: Attaching the Electronics

I had planned on using the wire nails to attach the electronics, but there wasn't any room to work with, so I opted for Gorilla Glue instead.

Step 9: Attaching LEDs

Remove the backing and attach the LEDs evenly across the back of the MDF. Make sure that the LED strips end where the power connect. Lay the backing onto the lightbox and then tack it in place with the wire nails.

Step 10: Put It on Display!

After that you're done! Hang it up and plug it in!

I made another version where I painted the wood black, but I preferred the wood grain on mine!

If anyone makes one, be sure to send me a picture!