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
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
Some Images of the Project thus far:
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.