Tag Archive for: Arcade

Retro Arcade Cabinet


I’m old enough now to be of that gen­er­a­tion that I have expe­ri­enced the orig­i­nal game con­soles (think Atari 2600, Cole­co­v­i­sion, C64, etc.).

Obvi­ous­ly, gam­ing has come a long way at the time of this writ­ing (late 2021); how­ev­er, I have always want­ed to cre­ate a retro-style arcade game cabinet.

I remem­ber spend­ing way too much $$ (in quar­ters) attempt­ing to play var­i­ous clas­sics such as Gaunt­let, Space Invaders, 1942 etc., in the arcades as a teen.  This project was all dri­ven by the actu­al gam­ing expe­ri­ence on my Atari 2600 in the ear­ly 80s.

Current Status of Project

As of Octo­ber 2021, the sta­tus of this build is:

  • The main cab­i­net is com­plete and sched­uled for painting
  • The design of the var­i­ous decals for the main deck and the sides of the cab­i­net is com­plete; just wait­ing on time to get around to print­ing them.
  • Core soft­ware build (uBun­tu 20.04LTS with Retropie and oth­ers) is complete
  • Hard­ware has been test­ed thor­ough­ly with 2 USB encoders for dual joy­sticks and three buttons
  • Addi­tion­al con­fig­u­ra­tion is still required for the addi­tion­al 2 play­er joy­sticks and the var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tion tem­plates for the games that sup­port 2,3,4 and up to 6 buttons
  • Reverse the lay­out of the stick and but­tons back to a favoured right-hand­ed lay­out of the stick.
  • The phys­i­cal wiring of the cab­i­net is pend­ing paint­ing of the cabinet.
  • Post­ing of the con­figs for Retropie TBD
  • Uploading/sharing of the plans for the cab­i­net TBD
  • Uploading/sharing of the wiring dia­gram TBD

Design Goals

As men­tioned above, I have want­ed to build a fun mul­ti-pur­pose cab­i­net since the 90s and have exper­i­ment­ed with a lit­tle of this.

This project had more for­mal goals, they are:

  • Build a 4 play­er cab­i­net (there are some clas­sic 4 play­er games that I want­ed to be able to invite some friends over to play against)
  • Have the cab­i­net be usable as a pin­ball set­up with front bumper style but­tons, with a slight­ly inclined deck
  • The cab­i­net should include audio/visual bling to repli­cate the feel and ambiance of the play­er cab­i­nets I grew up with. 
    • That means bells, whis­tles, coloured lights, buzzers, and translu­cent head­er logo.
    • Use mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy (such as LED mul­ti­colour light­ing strips) to repli­cate old school style.
  • Include the abil­i­ty to have USB plug­gable NES, SNES, Sega Gen­e­sis and Playsta­tion 2 style con­trollers so that old­er games could be played with­out the clas­sic joystick/buttons.
  • Include a “rea­son­able” sized screen for the cab­i­net — so many of these builds use large TVs in the cab­i­nets for max effect; how­ev­er, most CRT-dri­ven cab­i­nets rarely had a 4:3 screen larg­er than 19 inch­es (not a 42 inch or larg­er LCD).  I end­ed up reusing an old­er 22 inch Dell Touch­Screen LCD as a com­pro­mise, which has the added func­tion­al­i­ty of dri­ving the inter­face with­out a key­board and mouse!
  • A deci­sion was made NOT to uti­lize mod­ern coil oper­at­ed slots, instead opt­ing for the “insert coin” but­ton on the cen­tral con­sole deck.

Hardware and Software

When I start­ed with this project, like most arti­cles on the web, I start­ed with a Rasp­ber­ry Pi as the core machine and used RetroPie as the distribution.

While a Pi3 was pow­er­ful for many of the old­er emu­la­tors, I quick­ly found that the Pi strug­gles to do addi­tion­al advanced tasks.

I just hap­pened to have an 8th gen Core i5 sit­ting around and decid­ed to move the project to that hard­ware.  Giv­en that I have old­er HTPC hard­ware that is due to be replaced, this cur­rent machine dou­bles down as my HTPC.


  • 8th Gen­er­a­tion Core i5
  • 16GB RAM
  • Inter­nal GPU (I had oth­er Nvidia and Radeon cards lying around; how­ev­er, I found the inter­nal GPU more than suf­fi­cient and why waste the pow­er while gen­er­at­ing extra heat)
  • NVMe SSD


  • Lin­ux, not any form of Win­dows (in this case Ubun­tu 20.04LTS with Wine)
  • RetroPie x86
  • KODI

Some Images of the Project thus far:

Final thoughts

This project is still being com­plet­ed, final paint­ing is sched­uled for Oct 2021 and once that is com­plete the final instal­la­tion of the com­put­ing gear, decals, logos, lights and of course the joy­sticks and but­tons will be finalized.

Stay tuned in the com­ing months for addi­tion­al images and fur­ther details in the write-up.

Orig­i­nal­ly Post­ed: Sep­tem­ber 19, 2021
Updat­ed: Novem­ber 29, 2022

| Arti­cle post­ed in: Bit­stream || Tagged as: , , |