Old School Arcade Machine

Introduction: Old School Arcade Machine

Here's my very simple and very easy build of an unforgettable part of history (the past... they do things differently there..!)

Step 1: First Cut...

So, first off, everything I used was pretty much made using lots of old crap found in my garage.

I found a few pieces of old chipboard so I used a pencil to mark out a fairly standard design for the upper section of many an arcade machine.

The depth was kept to about 400mm and the height was about 600mm. I hadn't decided on building a base at this point so I kept the measurements to a size that would fit onto most surfaces, i.e. chest of drawers, table etc, etc,..

Step 2: Fixing Together.

I used those little block thingys to join the sides and back together but I'm sure there are better ways obviously to do this.

Step 3: Control Station.

The main concern for me was the control and playability of the machine so I wanted a good wide and deep platform for the joysticks and buttons to be fitted.

Step 4: Shelf.

I then changed my mind and decided to have the monitor in landscape mode as I just felt it looked better and fitted better also. This meant I needed to add a shelf to support the monitor.

Step 5: Holes...

Time to start drilling a few holes! I love this part, lol!

I found that the speakers would be best suited, hidden and heard being situated just behind the monitor so I simply used a compass to draw the circumference of the speaker (on either side) and then drilled some holes to allow the sound through.

I knew that all the buttons and joysticks had a diameter of 28mm and I knew that I wanted a 2 player setup so that my kids could have a chance to kick my arse at 'street fighter 2' so I did my best to fit that amount of controls into the 540mm panel.

Somehow, I also managed to remember to drill a larger hole for the vga, speakers and power cables to fit through.

Step 6: A Little Spraying...

I then got some good advice of a friend and used wood filler to nicely cover all the dodgy joining gaps that my crap woodwork skills created... After letting that all dry I lightly sanded them all.

I couldn't decide whether to use a roller and brush or a spray can for a good while but ended up using a black primer spray. I did give the whole thing a light sanding before spraying which definitely helped the spray to adhere.

Step 7: Wiring.

Time to start wiring the whole shabang up.

I had 6 buttons and 1 joystick for each of the 2 players. I also had a 1 and 2 player start button and and 1 coin and 'escape' button. The whole point was to not need to use a mouse and keyboard at all.

It took a while but as the whole thing ended up being crimp connectors it wasn't any big deal.

I did make sure to secure the final USB cable into place in such a way that it wouldn't get pulled about at all.

Step 8: Sweet 1-bit Sound, Haha!

Nothing special here, I just found some knackered old speakers (powered) and took them apart so that I could fit them nice and snug against the cabinet.

Step 9: A Quick Test Run.

Time to give the joysticks, buttons, screen and speakers a test run before finishing up.

Everything worked fine but I just needed to adjust the volume and the angle of the screen a little.

Step 10: Almost Finished.

I bought some acrylic glass and cut 2 pieces out to frame the main screen and also add a marquee. My son Jensen designed a faceplate for the lower part of the marquee which looked great but unfortunately hasn't been illuminated yet. It will look much better with some back lighting I'm sure. We simply sandwiched his printed design (A3 width) between 2 pieces of perspex and fixed into place with, umm, Blu-tak... We'll fix properly later I'm sure...

I masked of the areas that we needed and just sprayed with the black primer again.

I am currently running the whole thing off a really old PC using MAME but am just off to buy a Raspberry Pi 2 to use instead as it's obviously much more efficient in every way.

I also wrote a little batch file and added it to the Windows task schedule so that when the machine boots up it launches the console without having to be selected etc,..

We still intend to add some colourful arcade paint designs to the outside of the cabinet but haven't done so yet...

So, there you go, all done! I know it's pretty darn basic and there are no doubt vastly superior versions out there but hey, a first attempt and all that... We had great fun with this project which took about 5 days.

May you get inspired to game retro style too!



Step 11: Or Not Quite...

So, I managed to pick up a RaspberryPi 2 and after a little bit of hacking (haha!) got it pretty much configured to run everything.

I then mounted the whole thing just inside and at the bottom of the cabinet. I left enough room (just) for a USB stick to be used to update ROMS etc,..

Step 12: And One More Thing.

So I still needed a keyboard to A: carry out any more changes to the OS and B: to play games such as Doom etc,..

I simply added a couple of small right angle brackets at the top of the cabinet to hide the keyboard and also make it easy to reach when needed.

Oh and one more thing... I also changed the VGA monitor for a TV with HDMI input as this saved me a little dosh on buying an HDMI to VGA converter. The change in height of the screen has also meant that I might now be able to add a new marquee at the top above the screen... hmmm, maybe...

Step 13: And Now for a Good Test Run.

J and myself giving it a play with a seriously good (hey, it's all relative...) 80's playlist on in the background of course!

1 Person Made This Project!


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2 Discussions


4 years ago

I built a 1 player bartop machine a few years back. It was such a fun project! Thanks for sharing your design!


Reply 4 years ago

Nice! I fancy making a table top version next..!