How to Build a Sit Down Driving Arcade Cabinet




Introduction: How to Build a Sit Down Driving Arcade Cabinet

For show and tell today I brought an instructable that will demonstrate how to build an arcade style sit down driving game cabinet. Play all of the old school favorites like Out Run or fill your "Need for Speed" playing the latest xbox driving games.

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Step 1: Why and How Did I Build This. Well I'm Glad You Asked

I love to make things and after building and enjoying my MAME cabinet I realized that while it worked great for Pac-Man, the classic arcade controls left a lot to be desired when I wanted to sit down to Spy Hunter and other driving games. For one thing, I couldn't sit down. And Spy Hunter is so much more fun with a steering wheel than a joystick. So I decided to build my own. I chose to use an xbox instead of a PC with MAME because as fun as Out Run is, you just can't beat the graphics on today's consoles, and you can still play the old school games with an xbox emulator. I used Sketchup to create my cabinet design and scrounged or bought most of the materials from Lowes. This project takes a few days to complete and you will need some basic wood working and painting skills. If you had to buy everything I would say it would cost about $400.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

-Table and/or circular saw
-Miter saw or hand saw
-Electric drill
-Countersinking drill bit (a must have for smooth finish. See picture)
-Saw horses (2)
-Router with rounding bit
-Sander (electric and hand)
-Paint brushes (small roller, 2" foam, detailing brush)
-Misc. shop tools(tape measure, t-square,pencil,safety glasses, drill bits etc)


- 2 4x8 sheets of 3/4" MDF
- 1 4x8 sheet of 1/2" MDF
- 1 4x8 sheet of 1/8 bead board
- 3 8 foot 2x4's
- Screws - 2" and 3/4"
- Bolts - 2 5" bolts with 4 washers and 2 nuts
- 2 3" long x 2" wide PVC pipe pieces.
- Small finishing nails
- Wood putty
- Black Paint - 1 pint
- Green Paint - 1 pint from Lowes matched to steering wheel color
- Plexiglass - 1/8 inch 2x4 piece from Lowes
- Xbox - with the games of your choice
- Tv - 27inch (try to find one that turns on when it gets power)
- Steering wheel - Fanatec Speedster 3 w/ force feedback .
- Seat - Pulled from a Mazda RX7 at the junkyard.
- Brake lights - Salvaged boat trailer brake lights
- Custom Marquee - Made by my brother and printed at Kinko's
- Velcro stips - Lowes
- Hook - Lowes
- Powerstrip - Lowes
- Light - 2 foot Fluorescent from Lowes
- Car mats - Free from old car

Step 3: Building

Print these plans and if you have Sketchup download the file to get better views.

Begin by measuring and cutting the base frame pieces out of the 2x4s per the Base.pdf. These measurements are a combination of real arcade cabinets and (perhaps even more importantly) what I needed to use to be able to get this thing into my basement. Feel free to adjust the size as needed. Once the pieces are cut, lay them out to make sure everything is squared up and screw it together. I recommend pre-drilling all of your holes. Don't forget your safety glasses.

Put your 3/4 inch 4x8 sheet of mdf on some saw horses. Draw and cut out the large sides, TV base, steering wheel base and floor panels. Measure and cut the top, seat back, lower side pieces and console shelf from 1/2 inch mdf. Screw everything to the frame as shown in the plans. To install the xbox shelf inside the cabinet, notch around the 2x4 support and screw on three sides.

For the marquee box you will need to decide how deep to make it based on the width of plexiglass you use. Cut out the marquee box pieces and nail them together. Using a router and a rounding bit, half router the front top and bottom edges to your liking. Finally, measure and cut the plexiglass. *Note about plexiglass. If you cut it with a jigsaw or a similar tool, use a very small tooth blade or expect a lot of cracks. I recommend using a sharp utility knife and scoring the plexiglass multiple times. Here are some more plexiglass tips

I used 1/8 inch for the back panels just to cut down on the overall weight of the cabinet. Measure and cut the back panels to fit. Use finishing nails to attach them to the side panels.

Steering Wheel base
Cut and attach the bottom steering wheel reinforcement plate to the under side of the television base. Using a jigsaw, cut the steering wheel base out and round it to your liking. An optional extra step at this point is to router cup holders on the steering wheel base. There's room for it, and I like to have a tall cold one with me when I am driving my 1985 Porsche 911 through Coconut Beach.

Depending on the seat you get there will be different ways to attach it to the frame. I drilled 4 holes and used the existing seat hardware. What ever you do make sure it's secure!

Step 4: Sand and Paint

As my 8th grade wood shop teacher would always say, right after you told him your project was done: "When are you going to start sanding?"

Sand all of the corners and wood putty all screw holes.

Drill a hole large enough to fit the power cords and AV cables through the back middle of the tv base. Also drill a hole where the left marquee spacer touches the top panel and marquee box. (see pictures) This will be used for the back lighting power cord. Lastly, drill a hole through the far left side of the steering wheel base to fit the controller cords.

Using a small roller give it two coats of black paint.

After that dries, use a detail brush to hand-paint the flames on the sides and under the seat. I would recommend making a cardboard template of your design so that it can be easily recreated on all sides. Then free-hand a personalized license plate on the back.

Attach the marquee box using long bolts, washers and screws, threading the power cord through the hole you drilled earlier and securing tightly.

Step 5: Final Touches

Here is a list of the last few things to do.
- Get a marquee printed up. Use mine or try one of these examples
- Mount the power strip inside and underneath.
- Nail down the car mats with at least 10 roofing nails.
- Stick two velcro strips down the center of the mats with matching location on the bottom of the gas/brake. Make sure the strips are long enough so the pedals can be adjusted for you to play and for your niece--the seat will only adjust so far, and we want everyone to enjoy this gaming experience.
- Install a hook for the second controller to sit on while not in use.
- Twist tie up extra cabling inside.
- Hook up a network cable for online gaming.
- Sit down and play.

Step 6: After Thoughts

If I could go back in time and think about it more or see an awesome instructable like this one. I would have made the steering wheel base adjustable and built a switch for the brake pedal that would activate the brake lights.

I hope you enjoyed my first instructable, and get inspired to build your own driving game cabinet.


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    67 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Muito bom. Parabéns pelo projeto.


    3 years ago

    Way to go, looks great!I am looking for inspiration on a similar build, thanks so much!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes I went to an auto junk yard, told them what I was looking for and they helped me pull the seat for about $50.


    Hey man. I want one so bad but i don't want to use an Xbox. Will a playstation or wii work too? thanks-will


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm pretty sure you could use any gaming system with some minor modifications.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    wow hey could i use driving simutlars and or make a game


    10 years ago on Step 5

    did you make the pin ball machine?


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    No.  I bought that for the wife it was her favorite as a kid.


    11 years ago on Step 6

    nice but i had an idea im going to use with mine i am going to build a strong computer for my mame cabinet and then run a second monitor cable with a tv adapter to the driver arcade machine


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    good idea, but some games dont show on a second monitor in "extended" mode or sometimes not even in "mirror" mode


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It was in bad shape, in fact I took the passenger seat instead of drivers side because it was the only good one. I don't remember the model sorry.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    what if two players wanted to play... you could possibly build a second cabinet and make or even get a connector to play on two screens like a computer


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    all you would have to do is link them via ethernet cable and choose the system link option


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You could do that no problem with 2 xbox's. However I don't have the room for that setup.