PirateCade is an Impressive Feat of Woodworking and Design

Retro Arcade Machine Keeps the Classics

A six month journey of blood sweat and tears is finally over for [David Carver] and what he is left with is nothing short of beautiful. He calls it the PirateCade. We call it the perfect arcade cabinet.

This project is actually [David's] very first Raspberry Pi project – at least it was, until his Pi crapped out on him. After running into too many problems with it and SD card corruptions, [David] decided against the RetroPie project platform and decided to upgrade to a full-blown PC, using an AtomicFE front-end and the Ultimark Ipac.

The entire cabinet is hand made out of solid wood; he didn’t have access to any fancy CNC routers or laser cutters. We gotta hand it to him, he’s quite the cabinet maker for an electronics guy.

There’s tons of pictures on his blog of the entire process – one of our favorite features he decided to add is the little black button on the top of the right control panel – it saves screenshots to the screensaver folder. That way when the cabinet isn’t being used, it just shows off screenshots of the games people have been playing!

We certainly do love our arcade cabinet hacks – we’ve seen halloween themed ones, Skull and Wrenches themed ones, and even tiny handheld ones!


  1. pi-head says:

    That’s some fine furnishing. Though It would’ve been better if he could get his raspberry pi to work, I mean, a desktop computer? that’s a pricy overkill if you ask me, it makes this classy cabinet looks like a over-glorified case-mod. I bet it can play Street Fighter III: Third Strike perfectly fine with no drops in frame, and that’s not awesome.

    • daid303 says:

      We tried with a Pi (at the office we build this: http://daid.eu/~daid/20140811_095749.small.jpg )
      And we found the Pi awfully slow for emulators. It already had problems with SNES games.
      So we put in an old desktop that someone had laying around (and wrote our own game in the end)

      I do see a classic build mistake in this cabinet. The button panel should be 2 layers, so you can hide the screws of the joysticks in the bottom layer. We sadly did not take many build pictures. But the smoothness if a build is in details like this.
      (We did use a laser-cutter to cut the button plate, but the rest of the parts where made by hand)

      • David Carver says:

        The control board is not permanently mounted. I will eventually add a trackball and a second layer. but thank you. btw this is awesome I am on hackaday.

        • daid303 says:

          If you want, I still have the design files for our button panel. We copied the button layout&position from a street-fighter cabinet. Which as a pretty natural feeling in layout. (for button mashing)

          We did make a mistake in our build, as it was too low to play on without getting wrist pain. So we had to put it on silly legs.

    • pcf11 says:

      You can buy computers used for a fraction of what a Raspberry Pi retails for. The PC I’m on now I paid a dollar for. I bet it is substantially more computationally powerful than a Raspberry Pi is too. This particular PC has a dual core 2.5GHz E5200 CPU in it. It is no i7 but neither is a Raspberry Pi for that matter.

    • justice099 says:

      Where do people keep getting this idea how PCs are more expensive? Cheap, older computers are literally everywhere. I can buy 3 or 4 laptops (or two fairly decent modern ones) at the local electronics recycler for the price of one raspberry pi. Even cheaper if the screens are cracked (this doesn’t need the screen.)

      People practically give computers away because it is costly to throw them out in most cases. In fact, I find myself turning them down all the time. *shrug* maybe it is a locale thing, but I am certainly not living in silicone valley here in Michigan.

  2. lis0r says:

    All that trouble, only to put a tiny monitor in it?

    • Matt says:

      My thoughts exactly…

      And for emulation, something like the Android based Neo-X7 would’ve been better, or a Cubox, or even one of those android gaming consoles.

    • daid303 says:

      Most likely because it was the only 4:3 he could find. We faced the same problem in our arcade build. You can get larger monitors in inches, but they are all wide-screen and do not actually offer more screen height (in physical size, not pixels)

      • David Carver says:

        You are absolutely right. This is the only 4:3 I could find. I wanted a 25″ 4:3 crt but could not find one at the right price. I will eventually replace the screen when I find the right one.

        • Hirudinea says:

          Why not just use an old TV and a composite video input, with most of the games your emulating this is what they were meant to be displayed on anyway. Oh and nice woodwork, what would you charge to refinish my basement? :)

          • David Carver says:

            lol. Not sure Im ready to jump into a remodeling project. As for the tv. Tube TVs are usually way too deep. the size in highth and width i need would never fit inside my cabinet depth wise. Old crt monitors built for arcades were not nearly as deep.

          • daid303 says:

            We also used an LCD instead of CRT for weight reasons. A top heavy machine with people pushing and pulling on it did not sound like a good idea.

  3. gregkennedy says:

    Ok, definitely need to complete my write-up of my CRT bartop arcade machine and submit to the tips line.

  4. rfengr00 says:

    Well at least I’m not the only one with Pi SD card corruption. I gave up on it too.

  5. James says:

    Ultimarc :)

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