Arcade Cabinet Raspberry Pi 2
Arcade Cabinet Raspberry Pi 2 – Well, I might as well start this thread, after mentioning this project in two other threads here.
Background: Having grown up in the golden age of arcade games, I always dreamed of having my own arcade cabinet. A living room in Silver Spoons with cabinets in a row? Oh yes! Well after reading an article on Ars about a year ago on a Raspberry Pi, and buying one, I started thinking about what to do with it. Naturally, a DIY cabinet popped into my head. And within a few months, I had loaded RetroPie onto it, hooked it up to my TV, and was playing games via a wired Xbox 360 controller. The work had legs! About 9 months later, I’m finally close to finishing.
Arcade Cabinet Raspberry Pi 2
Brain and Software: As already mentioned, the computer running the show is a Raspberry Pi. Originally it was the Model B+, but when the 2B was released, I looked at the extra specs and the $35 price tag, and decided to upgrade. I went with the Pi because A) I already bought one, B) it’s cheap, C) it’s powerful enough for the 80 games I wanted to play, and D) it seemed like a cool learning experience, like I’ve never done before. any coding since I tinkered with BASIC back in middle school. The downsides include the fact that it is not all that powerful, so any game has hardware acceleration chokes, and there are no easy adjustments to other hardware available with a PC based system. For example, I wanted to have LED lighting buttons that would be programmed to light up in the appropriate colors for each game/system. Like any NES game it just lights up the first two buttons and red. It’s possible with a Windows based program, but since none exist for the Pi, and I don’t have the technical knowledge to write one, that was a sketchy design.
The Raspberry Pi Has Revolutionized Emulation
The software is RetroPie, with the front end provided by Emulation Station. This is a good slide for an open-source project. It includes a ton of emulators, including MAME and pretty much every console up to PS1. You just drop the ROM into the right directory, and it shows up in the GUI. RetroPie also handles updating controllers. I’ve had some issues getting the ROMS to work properly, but after I upgraded to version 3.0 and installed all the new ROMS, I fixed my previous issues of bugging the user into using the wrong versions.
Electronics: The controls are powered via Pac 2. This is basically a keyboard simulation. So when you press a button, it sends a signal to the iPac, which then sends the keyboard command back to the Pi via USB. It comes pre-programmed to standard MAME controls, but can be customized. It also has links for a trackball (which I have) and a spinner (which I don’t). They make a 4-player version as well, and an “Ultimate” version that can also control LED lights.
I bought a cheap amplifier (not exactly connected, but close). I also bought cheap car speakers. I went cheap on the audio, since we’re talking 80’s arcade games, I didn’t want to break the bank to hear really good sound. Power for the speakers, marquee lighting, and buttons are all powered through electronics. That’s the scariest part of the machine for me, as I messed up the wires to the wrong places a couple of times, resulting in REALLY bright LEDs, and the amp wasn’t producing audio, but it was really hot before I filled it up. plug.
Cabinet: I can’t seem to have come up with this much myself. The cabinet is taken from the plans of Arcadecab.com, following most of the fixes with Project X. I spent a little time looking at the different models. One thing I have noticed is that many people really like to make their own cabinets. The ArcadeCab design is spacious, and not difficult to do with someone like me who has limited woodworking experience. The Project X design took those plans to another level entirely. If you look at some of the tourist cabs on ArcadeCab, you’ll see that you can still make a badass cab with those plans. But the Project X cabinet just screamed “sexy” to me from the start. Mainly because of his take on the control panel and his use of laminate.
Picade Review: The Raspberry Pi Arcade Cabinet From Pimoroni
My approach to those programs is a little bit different. I didn’t add neon artwork on the sides, and I didn’t do a fancy 2-draw design, sticking with the original 1-draw plans. I did reduce the depth by 5 inches. All of the original programs were designed to accommodate CRTs. Since I’ve never considered anything other than LCD, the added depth seemed like a waste. I am very happy with the quality that came out. Also, while I’ve played with boards before, I’m nowhere near an expert. I also didn’t have a table saw, so all the cutting was done with a circular saw, jig saw, or router. A number of meter cuts ended up not looking good, and some of the straight cuts were not all straight. I also noticed how fragile acrylic and laminate can be. I broke the first piece of acrylic, when I thought I could drill a small hole, instead of starting small and enlarging it through multiple bit changes.
Control Panel: This is really what drew me into the Project X design. There are some sucker looking control panels out there. But his looked like he would be a natural in a real arcade. I really liked the acrylic top. I went with a 2-player design since 4-players is too big, and I rarely have four-players who want to play it at the same time. There was also a need for a speed ball, as my wife’s favorite sport is Centipede, and a marriage license was required before I could proceed. I added a third part of the joy, which is limited to 4-way travel, as I confirmed earlier that several arcade games do not do well to be told to go up and go at the same time. A joystick is available that can switch between 8-way and 4-way easily. But it just seemed easier to find the third stick. I thought about the spinner, but in the end I passed. It can finally be added in the upper right corner. I went with 6 buttons per player, since I don’t play fighting games much and wouldn’t want a full 8 buttons. I grabbed the deal from Slagcoin.com. Since I left off the lighting idea, I still wanted the illuminated buttons, and kept them all the same color for each player to identify the class. I liked the chrome, as it matched the net-molding I had taken.
I went through two designs before the final design. The first was an actual cardboard box that I attached a joystick and two buttons to, just to make sure the iPac would play nice with the Pi. I then went up to the MDF board to come up with the first layout. I’m glad I did, as it pointed me in several design mistakes that I eventually fixed before the final design.
I created the graphic in an open-source Illustrator clone, first by imagining the button design, then adding graphics on top of that. I then took it to a print shop, which made a draft of a black and white version and a glossy color one. In hindsight, I would have done the latter on vinyl, as if it were heavy paper, it would still crack under acrylic. I might end up glued to the wood to get that story over with. The B&W version, I used as a template for punching holes. I will post pictures of the work in progress later. Overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out!
Hide A Huge Arcade Machine In Plain Sight With Raspberry Pi
Leftovers: I have friends coming over this weekend, so I’m in a mad rush to finish this before it happens. Tonight I will be installing the frame around the monitor and the monitor itself. I will also finish fixing the buttons (a few are not responding, which means the wires are not properly grounded), and maybe connect the control panel itself. I also want to install a temporary marquee. I haven’t created the artwork yet (if you didn’t catch it from the title, this will be a Calvin & Hobbes themed cabinet). Also, I have to buy a glass that goes in front of the screen. About six months ago, I got an online quote for about $30, but I didn’t keep it. When I went to check again recently, it was $80. Obviously I should have bookmarked it! I also want to organize the mouse nest inside the control panel.
Edit: None of these images seem to work, so I’m turning them all over to Imgur to see if that helps.