This project started more so because I had a lot of parts that could be utilized in arcade more so then my desire to own my own MAME Arcade. So my goal was to spend as little as possible and utilize as many parts/materials I already had available.
Built around an old 15" Elo touch screen CRT monitor, which was free, there is a slight burn in of some poker game still on the screen but it barely noticeable and you can't beat free. Downside is it has a 14ga sheet metal case, along with the CRT the weight is immense. The cabinet has a slide out keyboard tray, 20w RMS Amp with 2x 3.5" 2-way speakers, DVD-Drive, 2.4ghz AMD Athlon, USB connected hot keys via a QuickKey Adapter, front-mounted USB, Firewire and audio line in for MP3 players. It offers controls for 2 players with 6 buttons, 1 start button and a joystick. The buttons are all Wired With RGB LEDs and are controlled using a Chromation Systems 48 Channel Mono / 16 Channel RGB LED Controller
Runs Windows XP that has been optimized for the touch screen interface. A custom Processing based Touch Screen Application Launcher was created for use with this, it starts when the computer boots up.
More info and Details can be found on the Table Top Arcade Cabinet Webpage
All the Mario, Pacman, Space Invaders, MAME and/or any other copyrighted graphics/works that were used in this project are property of their respective owners.
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Step 1: Supplies & Materials
- 1 1/4 sheets of 4'x8' 1/2" thick MDF, needed a bit more than one 4x8 sheet. just a few pieces. I salvaged 3 sheets from a junk pile.
- 2'x4's, a single 8ft will work.
- 2" - 2.5" Wood Screws
- Sandable Wood Filler
- Wood Glue
- Masonite for monitor face
- 22"x11" 1/2" thick fine/smooth MDF for
- Quart of Latex, Black Semi-Gloss or Gloss
- Printed pattern for cabinet
- A PC that can handle the MAME and other software, I used a AMD Athlon 3300+ with 1gig RAM and a 40gig HDD. It was free after presumed dead.
- Monitor, touchscreen, used Elo CRT, got it free.
- 12x white LED arcade buttons, got them from e-bay, These Kind
- 1x Red LED arcade button
- 1x Blue LED arcade button
- 2x Arcade Joysticks, got mine off eBay for $27 for the pair shipped.
- 12x Common Anode RGB LEDs
- LED Controller such as 48 Channel Mono / 16 Channel RGB LED Controller or a LEDWiz
- QuickKey Adapter - Instructable
- ribbon cable for wiring the LEDs - Buy 50-strand
- Xin Mo Arcade Adapter - very easy, comes with all the wires ready to use ArcadeParadise
- Amp and Speakers or Computer speakers to hack(cheaper), I used a Lepai LP-20-20A+ Amp and 2x Pyle PLX32 3.5" speakers, got them from Amazon
- Table Saw or hand circular saw, Table saw will help immensely though.
- Jigsaw with proper blade for MDF, I used 15 TPI.
- 24"+ Bar Clamp
- Drill with various bits
- Countersink bit
- a few clamps of 3"+ inches
- Power Sander
- Paint scraper, for wood filler
- Hole saw for buttons and speakers
- Stuff for painting, brushes, rollers ect.
- Various Screws, Nuts, and Bolts
- 2" wood screws
- 10-12" Drawer Glides
- Standoffs for mounting the motherboard, with matching screws
- Long Hinge
- Push to Open Magnetic Latches
Step 2: Layout and Cut the Side Panels
Cutting out the Side Panels: Total size of the side panels are 36" tall x 28.5" wide. The zipped PDF includes the outline files.
- Lay the MDF onto some saw horses
- Get out a T-Square, pencil and tape measure.
- Draw or Transfer the side panel outline to the MDF. I had a printed full size pattern but I didn't want to saw through it so I copied it to the MDF.
*It might be easier to rip the MDF panel down with a circular or table saw to make it more manageable.
- With a jigsaw with a coarse blade ( 15 or so TPI ), carefully cut out the panel. Cut outside the lines its easy to take more wood off, hard to fix mistakes. So take your time. An image below shows a fix I made with some Bondo to an edge of MDF.
- Repeat, to make another side panel for a total of 2.
Sanding the Side Panel Edges: Regardless of how well the side panels were cut they will still not be exactly the same.
- Stack the 2 new side panels on top of eachother and line up the back and the bottom flush together.
*Notice the rest of the cuts may not be exactly right.
- Clamp the two pieces together in at least 4 places.
- To trim them up I mostly used a 12" standing disc sander, it took a bit of muscle and maneuvering but I got most the of the sides completely flush, then finished the more difficult spots with a file and random orbit sander.
Test Fit the Monitor: It helps to see things to know where it will best be placed. Skip it if you know better.
- Uncalmp the side panels and set a single side panel down on a sturdy surface.
- Place the monitor it a good position, I ended up moving it up a lot higher from where I first had it. I suggest having it up as high as possible.
- Mark it with a pencil and remove the monitor.
Support Beams: Trace each 2x4's outer dimensions when it is placed correctly.
- A 2x4 support goes down in the back-bottom corner, use a scrap piece of MDF to measure its distance in from the back.
- A 2x4 support goes along the top.
- And 2 2x4's support the monitor, using the line drawn when test fitting the monitor position a 2x4 up towards the controls in the front of the monitor and one farther back, but not all the way because that is where the PC will be accessed from.So a
So there should be markings where 4 2x4's will be placed.
- Reclamp the 2 side panels together so that the one with the monitor and 2x4 markings is facing outward. Align them well and clamp tight. This is so when the holes are drilled they are in the exact same spot on both side panels.
- Where the 2x4s are traced out, measure 2 evenly spaced holes for each 2x4.
- Using a 3/16" drill bit, drill out the holes. all 8 of them
- Unclamp the side panels.
- Pick what panel is on each side and mark them.
- Lay a panel down flat with its outside side facing up.
- Using a countersink bit, countersink all 8 of the holes, test fit a screw to find out what depth they should be.
- Repeat with the other side panel.
Step 3: Cut the Rest of the Wood Parts
I will list the sizes that will need to be cut here, but I would wait and cut them as you need them measuring your dimensions first in case there is a discrepancy.
Other wood parts to Cut:
- 21" x 4" Masonite for Flip Down Drawer Front
- 2x 2" x 21" MDF, for drawer supports and front.
- 22" x 16.25" Masonite, this will get a space for the monitor cut out of it.
- 22" x 11" MDF, used for the button panel, it will get cut to its shape later.
- 18" x 22" MDF, Bottom Panel, cut a bit smaller so there is room in front for speakers.
- 4x 21" long 2x4s.
- 9.25" x 21" MDF, Top Panel
- 2.5" x 21" MDF, above monitor, below the marquee
- 4.5" x 21" MDF, bottom front panel, speaker holes will get cut out of this. It would be easier if they were cut before it is glued into the cabinet.
Measure and add other parts
Step 4: Start Assembley
Mount the 2x4s:
- Assemble the 2 side panels with the 4 2x4s. It helps to have a 24"+ bar clamp to hold everything together tight.
- Try to keep it all flush and tight when assembling or it will cause headaches later.
-Use a scrap of MDF to measure the distance from the edge the 2x4s so the rest of the parts will set in flush.
Bottom Panel: To help it stay rigid and square now is a good time to mount the bottom panel.
- I wanted a bit of space between the bottom panel and the bottom of the cabinent so I measured up 1.5" from the bottom and drew a line on each side panel.
- Take your 21" x 18" MDF and apply a bead of glue all the way around its edges that will contact the side panels.
- Using the line, fit the panel into the bottom, make sure it it even.
- Slide the it back so there is a gap in the front of the cab for the speakers.
Step 5: More Assembly and Bezel
Now that most of the supports are done, time for the rest of the panels.
I forgot to take a lot of pictures here. But the rest of the panels are glued and screwed in.
- Top panel, make sure it is flush with the front and top
- Bottom-font panel, goes along the very bottom, maybe drill the holes for the speakers first and glue in, this will hold a bit of weight so make sure it is a good hold.
- Bottom-marquee panel, its the small horizontal panel that is under the marquee and above the monitor.
- Back-bottom panel, it should be flush to the back, and to the bottom, screwed into the rear bottom 2x4
Once The last of those Panels are glued in a dry. The monitor needs to be test fit so the bezel can be made.
- Center the monitor in the cabinet.
- Adjust it front and back so it is angled correctly. Use some scrap wood and screws to make adjustments.
A panel of hardboard is used for the bezel, for this cabinet the bezel is 22" wide x 16.25" high, the height is dependent on how thick the control panel will be, 16.25" tall works for 1/2" MDF, if your panel is thicker or thinner adjust accordingly. The bezel is flush with the bottom marquee panel, which will leave a space at the bottom.
- Cut the bezel out of some hardboard.
- With the monitor in the cabinet take figure out what size hole to cut out of the hardboard and where exactly to put it. Its critical to measure correctly, maybe even make a cardboard mockup before going on to the next step.
- Transfer your measurements to the hardboard
- Carefully cut out the space. I used a drill bit for the corners than cut corner to corner with a jigsaw. Then finished with a coarse file till the monitor fit
Shown it is already painted, but that is in later Steps. Also later there may be holes drilled into it for a QuickKey Adapter, that is programmed to execute key combos and hotkeys from a single button. So if it is more convenient skip ahead and do that now.
Step 6: Keyboard Drawer
I wanted the keyboard to be well hidden and easy to access and use. I went with 2 drawer glides and a flip-down front panel to hide it. Some Neodymium magnets keep the panel flipped up.
Button Panel Supports:
- 2x 2"x21" MDF strips should have been cut already.
- Position as shown, with 1 strip flush with the top of the button panel standing vertically.
- Position the second strip as shown near the bottom, sitting horizontal. The hinge will be connected to this one later.
- Glue them both in real well.
Hinge & Door:
- Start by lining up the hinge on the flip-down panel(4x21" Masonite)
- The center of the hinge should run down the edge of the Masonite on center.
- Mark and drill holes from some nuts and bolts, 2 is enough, but more is better.
- Drill the some holes on the other side of the hinge that will screw into the 2" strip.
- Center the hinge and door in the opening and screw it in from the bottom.
- Test fit the drawer glides, you want them as low as possible, so the keyboard and amp will fit under it. So they should end up flush with the top of the horizontal 2" strip that the hinge is screwed to from the bottom
- From the bottom measure to and draw a straight line on both sides that can be used to line up the drawer glides.
- Once they are straight, screw them in with some low profile screws(round top)
*Forgot to take pictures before the tray was installed. But its pretty simple.
- Measure the width of both drawer glides together.
- Subtract result from 21" to find the width of they tray.
- Cut a piece of MDF or I used some solid pine, to the Calculated Width by ~11"
- Router or file the front and side edges.
- Sand smooth
- Paint Black or whatever color you like
- Optionally add a coat or two of urethane.
Forgot to take pictures of this before it was installed as well, but its just a board with rounded edges.
Step 7: Wood Filler & Painting
Fill all the Screw Holes:
- Make sure all the screws are snug and you are sure you won't need to take anything apart again.
- Use some sandable wood filler and fill all the holes. Remember to over-fill so it can be sanded down.
- Wait for the wood filler to completely dry and sand down smooth. 100 grit or so paper works fine.
- Get all the holes smooth.
- Use a Foam Roller
- I used Rustoleum Latex Paint, that was recommended by the store clerk for MDF.
- Apply a few to several coats waiting for it to dry in between. I did 6 coats, which was enough.
- Especially get the rough edges.
Step 8: Side Art
Side art is optional, but it really brings the cabinet together.
Side Art: I chose to use vinyl graphics, as I do it for a job and have access to a cutter and various materials. Another route would be to get it printed on a large format printer. The vinyl has more intense colors and will resist UV fading over the years better than a printed decal.
Assuming the supplied vinyl art is being used
- The graphics need to be applied in order so that edges will get covered up by the next layer up.
- There is no need to use any application fluid as the vinyl won't get bubbles under it, unless the surface is very smooth.
Order of Graphics:
- Space Invaders
- Blue Border Lines
- Blue rectangle at 45 deg.
- Silver Stars
- White Clouds
- Purple Rectangle
- The MAME Logo in chrome already applied to its border color, purple.
- Space ship and laser shots, go on top the blue border to add some depth.
If you are using a printed decal, ask your printer for tips on applying it.
Step 9: Control Panel
There are many options for button layouts, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what would be best.
Prepare Control Panel:
- Decide on a Layout, I included a few options in the ZIP below.
- Print or layout your pattern onto the 22"x11" MDF panel cut earlier.
- Before doing anything, cut out the front edge, it should be rounded evenly.
- If the panel is all cut out and its edges finished to your liking, continue, if its not consider doing it again.
- Now lay down the pattern and mark all the holes, mark the button holes differently then say the holes for the screws that hold the joysticks on. Keeping in mind what side of the panel you want face up.
Drilling the Panel:
*My buttons required a 1 1/8th inch hole, yours might be different, so look into it.
I drilled as many of the holes as I could with my drill press then used my old Rockwell power drill(circa 1960s and still works) to finish the other holes.
- Ensure the holes are straight and on their mark.
- Drill out all the control buttons.
- I used the same 1 1/8th hole saw to drill out the joystick hole
- With a 1/8th bit drill out the mounting holes for the joysticks.
- Optionally, with a countersink bit, counter sink the holes to use v-head screws
- Or don't countersink them and use round-top screws.
- Sand down the edges
- Give it several coatings of paint
- Apply any decals or what not, vector files for my design is in the ZIP file.
- Apply a few to several layers of polyurethane.
Step 10: Finish Control Panel
The USB controller adapter I used for this was a USB Xin Mo Arcade Controller purchased from Arcade Paradise, it was a good deal, it had all the wires with crimp connectors attached, USB cable, easy to mount. I highly recommend it. Purchased for $28 through eBay or Arcade Paradise.
- Install all the buttons and joysticks, the buttons came with a plastic ring that was removed otherwise the buttons would have been to high off the panel.
- When placing the buttons make align the microswitches so you will be able to plug them into the USB controller adpater.
- Using your USB controller adapter mark its mounting holes, drill and install some standoffs, 3 is enough.
- Start by connecting all the buttons and joysticks to their proper header, see diagram.
- After they are all done and arranged, connect all the common tabs to ground, see diagram.
RGB LEDs and Controller: Optional
- Find a central place to mount the controller, mark and install stand-offs. Affix the controller to them.
- The LED buttons can be modified to use a RGB LED, View This Instructable for details
- Wire up all 12 white LED button buttons with RGB LEDs, measuring and cutting the 4 conductor ribbon cable as you go. mark the anode wire with a sharpie.
- The 48 Channel Mono / 16 Channel RGB LED Controller uses common anode LEDs, all the LED anodes should be in parallel. To do this, I drilled 2 holes along each side of the PCB with terminals and ran some solid strand wire from the +5v on the PCB through the holes to the top side so there was a rail to solder the LED anodes to, See Image
- I used some dual strand wire and a compatible housing to get +5v from the PC power supply to the LED controller.
Stow all the LED and Controller wires, with zip ties, adhesive wire holds or whatever you like.
Blocks: I didn't want to screw the control panel in or anything, its a good access point to the PC and the speakers, so I glued on some blocks. So the panel can easily lift off and on.
- Place the button panel in place on the cabinent.
- From the bottom mark the sides and front with a pencil
- Cut some MDF blocks, I used 1.5" x ~6 and the other side was 1.5" x 4", a joystick was in the way so it had to shorter.
- Use the pencil marks and glue the blocks into place
- Let it dry a bit so it gets tacky but can still slide.
- Place the button panel back in place carefully.
- From the bottom slide the blocks into the corners and let dry.
- The control panel can be removed, a little bit of glue might have stuck to the cabinet.
- After some other adjustments it didn't fit as tight as it had, so some electircal tape was applied to the blocks and that made it real tight again. No wiggling while playing.
Once its dry, the button panel can be lifted out and won't slide around when it is in its place.
Step 11: Speakers & Front Panel
Used a 3 5/8th Hole saw for the 3.5" speakers without noticing that the speakers are actually 3.25" diameter so I was left with a gap around the edge, I was going to front mount them but because of that I mounted them from the rear, a fan cover/grill fit over and covered up the gap.
The speakers are Pyle PLX32 2-way speakers, they were $16 with free shipping so not a bad deal, they sound good and are small enough to fit in the space. They are powered by a LP-2020A+ amp, its small, was relatively cheap, and has Treb/Bass/Vol control knobs and lights up blue.
I was thinking of putting 2 tweeters on either side of the monitor, but after hearing the bottom speakers, tweeters aren't needed.
I didn't think about how big an arbor is for that size hole saw(1/2") so it wouldn't fit in the chuck of my hand drill. I ended up taking my small drill press off its stand and used it as a giant hand drill, actually worked quite well once I got it lined up.
- Secure the wires, out of the way, they will be ran later.
- Lastly attach your speaker grills.
Front Panel: USB, Audio, Firewire - This was on the original computer and connects to the motherboard.
*Choose a good spot consider where the motherboard is and how far it can be, I barely had enough slack to get to where I cut the hole and where the motherboard was, with all its standoffs already installed, another 1/4" and I would had to have moved the motherboard.
The front panel connects I had could not have been easier to work with all of the ports were all in a sheetmetal case.
- Drilled a hole with a 2" hole saw
- Used a keyhole saw to cut out the corners.
- Screwed it in from the back
- Traced the original plastic cover onto a 3"x3" piece of 50mil polystyrene
- Cut and drilled out the holes.
- Painted it black with some Krylon Fusion
- Attached it to the cab with foam tape, to be replaced with some stainless screws in the future.
- Lastly applied a vinyl decal of a rounded square.
Step 12: Install the PC Parts
An older computer will work well for this, I chose a 2.4ghz AMD Athlon that I got for free. 1GB RAM, 350w ATX power supply, Installed Windows XP onto a smaller/older HDD(2.5"), along with a DVD drive.
Mounting PC Parts:
- Keeping in mind the lengths of your wires and cords, test fit the motherboard, HDD and PSU, try different arrangements and figure out a good one.
- Once they are laid out well, with a marker or pen, and using the motherboard as a template mark all the mounting holes onto the bottom panel.
- Mark any holes or mounting brackets for the PSU and HDD
- Remove all the PC parts
- Drill out the marks for the motherboard with a small bit.
- Install some stand-offs into each one, they should fit in real snug.
- Drill out any other holes for mounting the HDD or PSU. I used metal strapping for both the HDD and PSU with some small wood screws.
- If using a regular graphics card there won't be anything to mount it to vertically, the stress could damage it so I used some string and to tie it down. Quite secure now.
- The DVD-ROM drive is wedged up beneath the keyboard tray, I regret even building it into the cabinet, it will hardly ever be used.
Rest of the PC wiring:
- Now that the large obstacles are in place, finish connecting all the cables, USB, serial, IDE, SATA whatever you got going on.
- Tie down or wrap or otherwise organize all the cables, ensuring the PC has good airflow.
- I mounted the Amp on the keyboard tray to make the knob easy to get to, all the way in back, couple of screws holding it down.
- Trim the speaker wires to length and connect the wires to the speakers.
Step 13: Marquee and Backlight
Backlight and Reflector:
- The reflector is made up of a piece of 50mil polystyrene with a silver reflective film applied to it. (Forgot to get a picture)
- Wood support blocks(pictured) are glued on to the cabinet.
- Some 12v While LED Light strip was applied to the reflector, used 2 strips the width of the cabinet.
- Speaker wire was used connect the LED strip to the PC Power supply.
Marquee: If anything on the cabinet that should be customized its this. ArcadeAction is the name of the Computer/Cabinet. Included is a template to design your own.
- Cut a piece of plexi glass to fit, applied black vinyl lettering in reverse from the back and left the white premask paper on to diffuse the light,
- Drilled and screwed it in from the corners, used black electrical tape to cover the edges.
- In the future this will get a color-full marquee using backlight transparency film.
Step 14: Bezel Buttons and Flip Down Door
The bezel should be already cut and painted.
- If installing a QuickKey Adapter follow these steps
- Figure out the spacing and mark then drill the holes for the buttons, use a 9/64" drill bit
- Solder up all the buttons onto the perf-board, all the buttons should have 1 lead wired in parallel, that will be ground.
- Sold a wire to the other button's lead, and connect that using the headers/housings to the controller.
- Insert the perfboard button assembly into the holes and secure with tape or hotglue.
- Done in colored vinyl and printed decals art is in the ZIP file.
- The buttons on the bottom are optional, but are used in conjunction with a QuickKey Adapter. Which is a HID keyboard, with each of the 9 buttons on the bezel linked to a hotkey. Such as Minimize, maximize, show desktop, open TouchScreen Launcher, Close Program, Alt+Ctrl+Delete(open task manager) and more.
- The button decals were printed and laminated, the artwork is available in the ZIP file.
Keyboard Flip Down Door:
- Forgot to take a picture, but an image of it is shown below. Art is available in the ZIP file
- Applied the decals to the painted Masonite. This was done in colored vinyl and printed decals.
- Installed the Push In to open style cabinet latches from the hardware store, one for each side, but I glued the metal contact part on rather than screwing them. Used Liquid Nails for that.
Sprites for creating graphics were found at www.mariomayhem.com/downloads/sprites/super_mario_bros_sprites.php
Step 15: Final Assembly
- Install and hookup the monitor, I used some steal strapping and some blocks of wood to hold the monitor in place.
- Install the control panel, making sure to connect all the USB cables and power cable.
- Install the bezel, mine is pressure fit onto the monitor, but it may need to be screwed or glued.
- Attach the perforated masonite board to cover the monitor.
- Hook up the speakers and amp, I modified a molex adapter so I could plug the Amp into +12v off the PC power supply.
- Secure and stow all the wires and cables inside the Arcade cabinet.
- Install Windows XP
- Install any motherboard, graphics, or touch screen drivers
- Update Windows all the way.
- If using a touch screen, there are many changes that can be done to make it easier to use, I had a good guide but lost the link, try Google. But it involves changing icon sizes, scroll bar sizes and misc. other changes.
- Install MAME, JNES, ect whatever software you want.
- Install and configure the optional Touch Screen Launcher