An Unconventional 3D Printed Retropie Arcade - Part 2 of 2




Introduction: An Unconventional 3D Printed Retropie Arcade - Part 2 of 2

About: I'm a Mechanical Engineer turned IT Professional and Author. I came into the Information Technology world because someone challenged me to. But at heart, I'm still a grease monkey with no desire to lose touc...

A few weeks ago, I had published an IBLE titled An Unconventional 3D Printed Retropie Arcade - Part 1 of 2

This IBLE is continuation of that article published as a two-part series. If you haven't already, please read the Part 1 before proceeding with this IBLE.

Here, I will show you how I designed, printed and put together the rest of the Retropie Arcade from the ground up.

Why the delay between Part 1 and Part 2?

The tasks accomplished in Part 2 where comparably less complex when it came to design. During execution unfortunately, one of my three 3D printers suffered a colossal failure. As a result, I had to revisit my designs and break them down into "large" and "small" parts so that the small parts could be printable on my little Monoprice Mini whilst the large parts would be taken care of by the Creality CR-10.

Therefore, if you find the design to be unreasonably fragmented, this is the reason why.

With that out of the way, let's get cracking!

Step 1: The Design

As the Joystick was too large to be 3D Printed as a single piece I split it into three sections

Section 1 - The Left-hand Sanwa Joystick Cabinet

Section 2 - The Center Control panel that housed the following components:

  • The USB-encoder board and all the wiring
  • Four main buttons for the arcade to be later configured as A,B,X and Y
  • The clips to dock the Raspberry Pi LCD panel designed and built in Part 1 of this IBLE

Section 3 - The Right-hand Button Cabinet to contain the following components:

  • Four of the eight buttons, two of which would be configured as SELECT and START buttons
  • The other two buttons would be configured optionally based on the arcade requirements
  • The optional speaker if I ever get to wire one from the Pi

Step 2: The Joystick Cabinet

The original Joystick was a 2-piece design - a box and a panel to mount the Sanwa joystick.

The 3D printing process went well and I was able to print the top-panel and mount the joystick as intended.

But then, my Printrbot SimpleMetal decided to hang up its boots and not home anymore!

This kind of left me in the gulch because the box was a bit too large to be printed out on my little Monoprice Mini.

I quickly ordered the Creality CR-10, but it would take at least 30 days for the printer to get to my door!

I did not want to lose momentum on the project by waiting around for the printer, and therefore decided to use that energy to fragment the design so that I could print the smaller parts on the Monoprice Mini.

Step 3: The Button Cabinet

The dimensions of the Button Cabinet are identical to its Joystick counterpart.

The top panel is obviously different as it accommodates the speaker mesh (for future) and two of the four arcade buttons.

The vertical panels originally designed for the Joystick panel were copied and modified to have holes to mount additional arcade buttons,

Note that I designed plenty of vertical panels with the possibility of mounting buttons on all 3 vertical sides of the Button cabinet. This allowed for flexibility to customize the button locations.

For example, in my case I preferred to have the START and SELECT buttons on the top whilst you may prefer to have the same controls on the vertical side.


In a way, the failure of my printer turned out to be a good thing. Fragmenting parts gave me the opportunity to tweak the design of each of the parts and print them on a individual basis that took less time.

Step 4: Design Adjustments for Printing

All of these parts were printed between the time I ordered and received the Creality CR-10 printer.

Therefore, some of the parts had to be further broken down so that I could print it on the Monoprice Mini.

The Bottom panel was one part of the parts that I had to split into two parts.

Step 5: The Control Panel

The Control Panel design was completed around the time the Creality CR-10 was received and mobilized for printing.

As a result, the main body of the Control Panel was designed as a 3-piece assembly comprising of the main body and the top and bottom panels.

The images are self-explanatory in describing the design intent.

Once the printing was done, I quickly put a trial assembly together. Subsequent pictures show how the parts would come together in the final assembly.

The LCD Panel designed and printed in Part 1 of this IBLE is simply docked with a simple push fit so that it can be quickly detached from the Arcade stick and re-purposed for a different task altogether.


If you haven't noticed already, the orientation of the 4 buttons on the completed part is in complete opposition to that of the design!


That is because I oriented the part wrongly in the slicer when printing. As a result, the actual top surface was printed on the Raft making it rough in appearance.

Therefore, as a quick adjustment, I simply flipped the panel over and assembled it with the buttons being oriented in the mirror-opposite direction.

Step 6: How It Comes Together

The visuals have been uploaded in the order of the bullets below to describe how the joystick comes together:

  1. The USB-encoder board is mounted into the recessed area at the bottom of the control panel, and the inbound/outbound wires from the board to the joystick and buttons are routed through the sides of the control panel
  2. The outgoing USB cable is wrapped up and tie-strapped to one of the brackets at the bottom of the control cabinet
  3. The USB-end of the cable exits from the rear of the control cabinet - this cable will go into the LCD Panel that will be docked to the top of the control cabinet
  4. The terminals of the arcade buttons are too tall to be accommodated inside the control cabinet and therefore have been bent sideways so in a way that they do not interfere with the terminals of the other buttons
  5. The docking clips have been screwed onto the top face of the control cabinet with screws from the underside
  6. To help the arcade joystick grip the resting surface, I created simple foot pads using 2-sided tape and small sections of non-slip kitchen mats
  7. The joystick and the button cabinets attach to the control cabinet with screws - note that these holes may have to be resized to accommodate suitable screws you have on hand
  8. The button cabinet has 4 buttons - in this case the top 2 buttons have been configured as START/SELECT controls
  9. Finally, to ensure a snug fit, I used some foam tape on the back of the docking clips so that the LCD panel is seated without moving around unreasonably

Step 7: The Arcade Joystick in Action

To use the Joystick, I simply dock the LCD panel designed and created in Part 1 of this IBLE on the control panel

The USB cable from the rear of the the control panel is plugged into one of the 4 USB jacks on the LCD panel

The micro-USB power chord plugs into the top of the LCD panel to power up the Raspberry Pi and the LCD panel

Why no speakers?

    As mentioned previously, the speaker is optional and I personally do not prefer one for the following reasons:

    • I plan to take this stick on my road trips and that means my front or backseat passengers should be able to place this stick comfortably on their lap and jam out a few games during their travels
    • But the sound from an open speaker is going to drive me - mostly playing lead driver - nuts!
    • Therefore, plugging in a pair of ear phones is going to keep things a lot quieter, and also give the player "the zone"

    Shutting down the Pi

    • Once game-time is over, the Pi can be completely shutdown
    • Alternately, Emulation Station can be shutdown to boot the Pi down to the console
    • In addition, the Pi has a USB Bluetooth adapter plugged in that enables me to work at the console with a wireless keyboard

    Re-purposing the Pi

    • If I have to use the Pi for something else, all I have to do is detach the Pi from the Joystick, dismount the SD card and reboot the Pi with a different OS such as Raspbian Jessie and continue to work on it using the wireless keyboard
    • In addition, the LCD touchscreen will enable me to work with the Pi using the accompanying stylus!

    For more on how the LCD panel came about, please read Part 1 of this series.

    Step 8: The 3D Print STL Files

    The 3D Print STL files have been attached. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1. These prints are destined to be printed on a large printer such as the Creality CR-10
    2. Sometimes, when turning our large prints, smaller printers shut down due to overheating - therefore risking a large job on a smaller printer may not be a good use of time and resources
    3. The Control Panel that forms the largest component will take the longest to print at a slow speed of 50mm/s
    4. Therefore, I've uploaded exploded STL files so that you may print the Top, Bottom and the Body of the control panel separately if necessary
    5. I've used regular #4 and #5 sheet metal screws to assemble the arcade panels, but that said you may have to re-purpose the holes and make them larger before using the screws
    6. Similarly, the speaker mesh holes will be rough and will need clean up after printing
    7. I haven't explored the speaker options yet and therefore, this option is still open

    Thanks for reading my IBLE and I hope you have fun making this arcade stick!

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      2 Discussions


      2 years ago

      This is pretty cool. I'm interested in making a retro arcade. Thanks for sharing it.


      Reply 2 years ago

      Great! Please do give it a shot. Let me know how it goes.