Arcade Cabinet Build

angle view of cab
My cabinet is now finished, I've been meaning to make a web page but have been procrastinating and just decided to make a quick and dirty web page so that I had a place to show off what I've done and how I've done it. So here we go.

I used the LuSid cabinet design because it is a simple yet elegant design, plus its the one with detailed instructions in the Project Arcade book. I had not done any wood work since my wood shop class in my freshman year of highschool (around 10 years ago) so I figured the easier the design the better. After deciding on the design I needed to come up with a theme. Originally I was going to use an Atomic Train theme, but I decided it would probably look lame, so I went with my favorite classic arcade game, Galaga. I knew the sideart and marquee would be easy enough to find, so I wouldn't have to worry about artwork.

Next came the wood working. I actually took to it better then I expected. On my first day of cutting I only messed up a couple of pieces of wood, but most of my first day mistakes would easily sand out. After the first day I started getting pretty good at cutting straight lines and ended up finishing cutting out the pieces in just a few weekends (I haven't mentioned this before, but this was a weekend only project).

Once the pieces were cut out, I began construction. The hard part with attaching the sides was that I was doing this project by myself, so there was no one to hold up the pieces while I secured them. I couldn't find anything that was the right height to hold the sides level, but then I realized several of the pieces I cut out were the correct height. I clamped a couple pieces together and it worked perfectly.

Soon it started looking like a real arcade cabinet. And I was able to construct the whole thing in 1 weekend.

Next came the control panel. I had already ordered a number of parts from ponyboy on the BYOAC forums and an IPac from Ultimarc.

I had to come up with a design for the layout and for the artwork. I went through several revisions of the layout, and people on the BYOAC forums helped me a lot in deciding on my final design. For the artwork I knew I wanted to have a galaga theme, so I found a number of vectorized galaga control panel artwork and spent about an hour in photoshop modifying it until it looked the way I wanted. I then took the art to Kinkos and had them print in onto a vinyl, it turned out looking very nice.
Heres what the original galaga CP looks like:
Galaga CPO

And heres what my final design looked like:

and my layout:
CP layout

and now the layout on top of the artwork so you can see how its supposed to look:
CPO with layout

Next I needed to actually build the CP. I started with the plexiglass which would cover the CP. I soon found out my crappy skills combined with my crappy jigsaw wasn't a good combination on things that can shatter, so my first attempt on the plexiglass failed. I heard that lexan was easier to work with then plexiglass and that a flush trim router bit would cut the lexan easily, so I picked up one of each. Let me say that is definately the way to go, with the flush trim bit the cutting was easy, fast and idiot proof.

Next I drilled out all the holes in the wood, then used the flush trim bit to cut the lexan. At the end of the day I had to know how it all looked together, so....

The next day I cut out the holes for the trackball and joystick, then used a router to trim the wood down allowing me to top mount all of the hardware. I also cut the slot for the t-molding at this point.

and once again I had to know how it would look:

The next step I had was figuring out how to install the speakers. The speakers I used were cheap $15 dollar speakers at best buy, I figured I'm playing 10-20 year old games so the speakers don't need to be all the great. First thing I did was take the speakers apart

Then I figured out how I would need to cut the holes in the speaker panel

and all together:

Next step was painting. I picked up a can of primer and a few cans of semi-gloss black. Painting was fairly easy and went pretty quick, I put on 2 coats of primer and 5 coats of paint. My only word of advice, make sure to use extra thin coats of paint on the t-molding slot, I had to spend a fair amount of time taking a razor blade to the paint that had built up in there. I finished painting my control panel first so I was able to bring it inside and put it together that night.

I was able to pick up Galaga side art from Arcade Renovations for only $100, and I got a galaga marquee and a generic coin door off of ebay. I then picked up a 27'' TV that was on sale at Best Buy to use as the monitor (again using my 10-20 year old game logic, figured the monitor back then looked about as good as a modern day TV). I moved the project indoors and put everything together

Only thing left was a bezel and a few other minor things. For the bezel I just used a piece of plexiglass with everything around the monitor painted black. I wanted to use a galaga bezel, but no one has vectorized it yet and the original bezels wouldn't fit. Regardless, the plain black looks pretty good IMO.

Some other things you might be wondering. I used a smartstrip to have everything power up at the same time the computer is turned on. I jammed a few toothpicks into the power button of the TV to hold the button down, a dumb sounding solution, but it makes the TV turn on as soon as it gets power. This lets me to have a truely one button on/off solution.

The computer is an old 800mhz athlon I used to use as a tivo. Its fast enough for most games, but not all. The coin slots are functional, I wired them to the coin-up buttons I put on the CP, also I wired led's into the coin return lights, so they light up. I also wired a power button for the computer onto the back of the CP, which you can see here:

I used Mamewah for the frontend and I now have emulators for Mame, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Genesis, Atari 2600, and PinMame built into the frontend. I also installed a GunCon2 lightgun (made for a playstation 2) and got the drivers working for it. I don't play lightgun games often, but its there if I want to.

I think I covered pretty much everything, feel free to ask me any questions in case I missed something. I hope you like my work, if you don't...well, I don't really care because I'm having to much fun playing on my cabinet :)

If you want to see my original forum thread where I documented everything I did while I did it, click here

More pictures and pictures of my child sized arcade can be found here:Arcade Images