Growing up I can remember spending many hours in arcades, plunking quarters into the machine in an attempt
to beat the bad guy. After many years of playing arcade remakes on XBOX and the PC I decided that it was time
that I built my own arcade cabinet. Originally I was going to get a few original arcade PCBs and build a cabinet
around them but this only gives you as many titles as you have room to store. A movement started in the late 80's
called MAME that had the design to save old arcade games from meeting a certain doom in the dumpster. The ROMs
that stored the games were copied and converted to a format that could be used by a PC. MAME stands for
Multi Arcade Machine Emulation. Basically this means that you can emulate and play thousands of old arcade
games using this program. More information can be found HERE.
Arcade cabinets are typically fairly large and bulky. I needed something that was a little more compact
for the space that I had reserved for an arcade cabinet. After a few hours of drawing in Google Sketchup
I created a cabinet that was dimensionally scaled down to be about 4' tall. The control panel is high enough that
my knees can fit under it so it is comfortable to play the cabinet while sitting in a chair. This is not a guide
on how to build an arcade cabinet by any means. This is just a short description of what my cabinet looks like.
The cabinet is made from one and a half sheets of 3/4" MDF that is held together with screws. The cabinet
stands 30.5"(l)x30"(w)x50"(h). Unfortunately the control panel has to be removed to fit through a standard
door. My measurements on the control panel were eyeballed and I was a little off. The cabinet sits on
four casters that make the cabinet easy to move on hard surfaces and easier to move on carpet. The monitor is
a 17" SVGA CRT that I took the housing off and mounted to the front bezel.
Make a Model: Cabinet
The first step in the design process for me was to create a 3d model of the desired cabinet in order
to work out all of the kinks in the design. Google Sketchup was used for all of the 3D modeling. The
model was used to determining what the shape and size of the cabinet would be.
Make a Model: Control Panel
The control panel design was very important as it had to feel like I was playing an old arcade game.
In the end the center buttons were not used for anything so they were not included in the final
design. The control panel was laid out in such a way that made playing NeoGeo games possible
while still giving the player the ability to play 6 button games like Street Fighter.
After the models were satisfactory the design was transferred to a 2d CAD program so that I could dimension
everything to get all of the cut dimensions needed. As you can see the entire design fit comfortably with in
two sheets of 3/4" MDF. The dxf version of this image is available at the bottom of the page.
Control Panel Constructed
THe final control panel has 18 buttons an 20 8-way joysticks. All controls were purchased from
Happ Controls and are arcade quality controls. The total
for all the controls was ~$90. The controls are read into the PC using a custom created
Head over to the electronics section to check it out.
The monitor is a hacked 17" CRT that I modified by removing the case and mounting it to the
back of the front bezel. BE CAFEFUL if you are going to open up a monitor as there are things in
there that can KILL YOU!!!!! The speakers are some hacked up Boston Acoustic speakers that are run from
a cheap amp. The speaker grills are meant to be dust covers from PC fans but they just happed to
be about the right size to protect the speakers and look pretty nice.
The brain of the cabinet is a PC that has a 2.4GHz P4 with 512Mb of ram. The hard drive and
cd rom are mounted on a piece of Plexiglas to make removing them easier.
The full cabinet was about 100lbs. and stands about 50" tall.
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