Tag Archives: Arcade machine

Building a retro arcade gamebox

Since 2003 I researched building retro arcade gamebox because i wanted my own. Do you remember PacMan, Donky Kong, Street Fighter, etc. Yup those games we spent ages at dropping our pocket money into one coin at a time…

I bought the controls for 2 players (2x 4 way joysticks, 20 + buttons, Player 1 and 2, Coin box and controller) back in early 2004 or so in the UK. Though never got around to build the box until 2018 when I was out of work for a month or three.

I have downloaded the build plans to build retro arcade gamebox as below, and where required converted the inches to centimeters / millimeters.

Arcade Plans
Arcade Box Plans

Gutting a Polaroid Boom Box for the sound parts needed for the retro arcade gamebox build, Note down the dimensions of each component to make sure you cut the correct size holes in the game box.

Using Polaroid boom box for sound components
Using Polaroid boom box for sound components

Now carefully draw the plans on the boards you chose, I used old pressed wood I had left from another project

Drawing the Side Boards
Drawing the Side Boards

Instead of drawing and cutting twice, one for each side, I clamped the two board on top of each other and did all of it only once

Cutting Side boards
Cutting Side Boards

In building retro arcade gamebox, you need to glue the supports in place to support the other boards. I again used old cut offs and not all of them were the same thickness…

Building Side Frame
Building Side Frame

Both sides fixed and placed on top of the trolley stand. These things get heavy so do add wheels to your plans.

Building frame - Sideboards fixed
Building frame – Sideboards fixed

Crash, Darnit… When I tried to insert the back and top boards I realized the frame is skew ;-(
I have used an uneven and non horizontal surface to build everything up to this point. (lesson learnt) I am trying to use ropes to pull the frame straight.

Try to correct skew case
Try to correct skew case

I was able to pull the frame straight and started to fill the gaps where needed. Note the slit just below the top and back board… this is left intentionally for some ventilation.

Arcade Game Box - Not painted (Back)
Arcade Game Box – Not painted (Back)

Building retro arcade gamebox you need to measure and fit the controller board. Note, I have extended it to the back to carry the RaspberryPI bought from the PI shop and other kit.

Planning Controls
Planning Controls

Crash, Darnit… I used a “spade” drill instead of a round hole saw, if you use acrylic in building retro arcade gamebox do not use too much force. I used too much force and the Acrylic cover cracked…

Acrylic Face Cracked
Acrylic Face Cracked

Don’t waste space I say. Use the bottom of the box for shelves or drawers. This one was made to carry our DVD collection…
You cannot see the drawer under the controller board. Install one for the keyboard and mouse

Arcade Game Box - Not painted (Front Shelves)
Arcade Game Box – Not painted (Front Shelves)

Almost time for spray painting. Note the speaker holes at the top and screen frame in place. The screen frame is on hinges to allow easy access to the heart of the box. You can also see the fronts of the drawers installed.

Arcade Game Box - Not painted (Front)
Arcade Game Box – Not painted (Front)

Spray the wood with an under coat first, then the top coat. Try your utmost best to keep the paint job smooth, mine came out a bit grainy and this made the sticking of the stickers a bit difficult. Do not fix the controller board to the frame as yet, it will make your life much easier.

Arcade box painted green
Arcade box painted green

OK… Install the controller board by placing the Acrylic on top of the board and screw the buttons and joysticks in place.
Turn it over and follow the wiring diagrams closely. Please make sure the switches (clicky things under the buttons) are wired as “Normally Open” else it will be like a stuck key on your keyboard.
Crash, Darnit… Second player joystick left was accedently wired “Normally Closed” and did not realized it for several months… Its broken and just don’t play with player 2…
BIG laugh, as I said several months later I got frustrated and did proper fault finding and fixed it.

The extra hole at the top middle is for the keyboard and mouse + others to go through easily

Controler Board - Wired
Controler Board – Wired

The controller board is done. The reason for the acrylic sheet is to protect the surface and stickers. It is much easier to clean too.
Audio jacks on the top (left) for karaoke, sound control on the bottom (right) with all the extras like aux, SD card, radio, etc.

Completed and Installed Game Controles
Completed and Installed Game Controles

Sticker time!!!! I used GIMP (like Paint shop pro) but it is open source to design the stickers on 2 large sheets, including the bezel and controller board. I then asked a local printer to print on vinyl sticker.
Cut it out very carefully, wet the sticker back side, paste and carefully flatten the sticker with a shopping card covered in cloth.

Arcade Game Box with Stickers - Left side
Arcade Game Box with Stickers – Left Side
Arcade Game Box with Stickers - Front
Arcade Game Box with Stickers – Front
Arcade Game Box with Stickers - Right Side
Arcade Game Box with Stickers – Right Side

Connecting the heart of the game box. From left to right:
– 6TB hard drive to contain all my media and games
– Several multi-plugs and cables – Note the yellow network cable connecting to a face plate socket on the back.
– Raspberry pi 3B on the far right under the flat ribbon cable and mini power supply to drive the sound equipment.

Inside the Arcade Game Box
Inside the Arcade Game Box

Using RetroPi as OS. Now I did add a full Rasbian desktop with it and there are several tutorials on how to do this. The reason for this is that I wanted to use the Raspberry Pi for more than just a game box. Other components includes:
Kodi media server and player: Movies, Music, NetFlix, etc.
– BitTorrent software
– Samba file server

The RaspberryPi do struggle with NetFlix many times and does complain about heat. I am planning to upgrade to the Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB memory/RAM

Game time!!!!!

Arkanoid
Arkenoid
Game time
Game time