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Arcade Cabinet


Arcade Cabinet


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.

Cabinet Overview

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.

The Plans

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 keyboard encoder. Head over to the electronics section to check it out.

Cabinet Moniter

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.

Cabinet Brains

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.

Cabinet Constructed

The full cabinet was about 100lbs. and stands about 50" tall.

Arcade Cabinet Files

Right click and Save Link As to download file. The EMachineShop files are viewable using the free software from EmachineShop. The DXF files require some sort of CAD veiw.

This information is supplied in the hope it may be useful but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Web site and all contents Copyright Steven Easley 2005-2008, All rights reserved.