DIY: Retro Arcade Machine
I’ve always wanted an authentic arcade machine, but that dream quickly flies out the window when I see the price tags on them. The price tags range from $3,000 for some to a little less for others depending on rarity, and unless I wanted a terrible game for novelty sake, for cheap, I knew I wouldn’t be buying one. However, I always knew I could build the housing for one and with an old computer and monitor simulate the experience, but alas that was recycled years ago and I just couldn’t justify spending money on something frivolous.
Then I came across something called RetroPi, an operating system installed on a MicroSD card and installed onto RaspberryPi. RaspberryPi is a micro computer averaging $20-$30, it plugs directly into a monitor, has inputs for 4 USBs, Bluetooth, WiFi, really everything you need for an insanely cheap cost.
I’m in business.
Now I needed to find plans, a quick search lead me to an instructables article with a small bar top machine. Average cost of materials and parts, $300, and trying to cut that cost as much as possible, I made some adjustments. For example, instead of MDF board I chose particleboard, and as long as you’re careful and have some experience with wood it’s a perfectly fine material to use. This choice took the cost of wood down from $70 to around $21, have I mentioned I’m really cheap.
Gathered the wood, printed out my plans, time to start working…
I regretfully do not own a table saw, hope to in the future
which would make cutting plywood a dream, for the initial cuts I drilled a
piece of scrap pine to the boards as a guide. Only after this did I stumble
upon this genius piece of engineering and made the
remainder of my cuts in minutes.
All my straight and angled pieces cut, now comes the part I
dreaded, the side panels. I haven’t used a jig saw since I was 18 in high
school woodshop, and I didn’t want to ruin the panel on the first shot…turns out, I’m pretty
good with it. I cut the second panel as close to the first leaving any room for error in the excess of the cut, clamped it to the other and sanded them
down to an identical size and shape.
Using scrap wood I cut braces for the inside, as
particleboard does not adhere to itself well and using these ensures a strong
platform. Keeping in mind the overall use of this will be 2 people playing against
each other, it may take a beating and it’ll need to withstand that.
As of now I have all the wood cut, fully assembled, though I’ve not taken a picture of it as I have it unassembled while I await the delivery of some vanity items for it. Namely the rubber T-Molding for the sides, and my internal debate on what artwork I want on the sides and front. Nearly decided on Asteroids, but Ms. PacMan was always my favorite. The machine has to scream retro on first site.
I’m close to having everything I need and I’ll have to update this when I do finish or progress along. Outside of looking forward to finally playing it, I have seriously no idea where this thing is going to fit or go. May have to set up a little bar in my garage, which will be another project…