So I had an old laptop sitting around. To old to handle today's legwork but still able to run an emulator pretty decently. After seeing all these different arcade cabinets (on and off of instructables) I decided to tear it appart and see what I could do with it.
So here's what you'll need to build this:
- An old laptop (obviously you may bust the 50$ budget if you buy a laptop for this)
- 2 SNES usb controllers (ebay, about 10$ each, shipped)
- Some plywood
- A square of pegboard
- Some leftover mouldings
- Tie wraps
- Some sort of drilling device (dremel is awesome but a regular drill will do)
- Some sort of nailing device (I used an air compressed nail gun)
- Maximus arcade front end (25$)
- Emulators (several websites dedicated to this)
Step 1: Setting Up the Software
The most expensive part of this project is the frontend software (Maximus, 25$). But it is probably the most important piece of this whole thing so don't hesitate to invest.
The idea behind maximus is to make all your different emulators available in a single interface. Setting it up is not super easy but it's not rocket science either. Basically you tell it where your emulators are located (the exe files) and where your roms are.
Here are the other things I strongly suggest you setup in maximus (look around in the settings, it's all there) :
- Map your buttons to navigate between emulators and games (back, forth, favorites, etc.)
- A combination of buttons on your joypad that will exit the emulator and bring you back to Maximus (I use something like Select+X). Just don't use a combination that might actually exist in a game (A+B).
- Another combination of buttons that will shutdown your laptop (something like Start+Y).
Also, make sure you setup each individual emulator. Setup the joypads (make sure they both work). Make sure the emulator starts up in full screen mode and that all menus are hidden.
In Windows (btw, I run XP):
- Remove all icons from desktop
- Setup a black wallpaper
- Autohide taskbar
- Disable any piece of software that's not usefull for the emulators (The only thing I have is the sound driver).
- Add maximus to the startup folder. This way you'll boot straight into maximus (the autohide/black wp helps in making you feel like you're not on a computer).
Once everything boots fine and you can shutdown the computer from Maximus, it's time to open it up and tear it down!
Step 2: Laptop Teardown
FYI : For specs, the laptop I used is a dell d610 with a 14" screen.
The second step is to tear down the laptop (again, this can be done prior to the programming part, it's up to you)
I can't give you details since every laptop is different but the idea will be the same.
Basically remove all the screws and unsnap the plastics.
This should be pretty easy... keep going until you've removed the screen and the motherboard. These two should be connected by some sort of wire and "should" be easy to disconnect. Remove anything not useful for this project such as dvd drives and (gasp) floppy drives!?
So by now you should have a motherboard, a keyboard, a mouse and a screen. Connect them all again once you've taken them apart to make sure the laptop still boots. If not, find the problem and fix it... (check the ram modules, the hdd and the connections).
Step 3: Reassembly
This part is pretty easy, attach the screen and the motherboard to the pegboard.
I used tie wraps to attach the motherboard.
Since I didn't want to drill holes in the screen I used bolts and washers to hold it in place (see picture).
Step 4: Make a Frame
Once you have a single unit hanging on a piece of pegboard, you'll need to build a box around it.
I can't give you dimensions since this will vary from person to person.
I used regular 3/4 plywood which I glued and nailed together.
Once the box is build, insert the board and attach it to the box. I used L brackets to do so.
Make sure to drill holes for the power cord and the usb wires.
Then all you have left to do is to cut the moulding in order to make a frame and nail it to the box.
Hook everything back and boot up.
If it works, hang it on some wall and enjoy your oldies.