Arcade with LED Marquee Shows Off Your Game

We’ve seen a lot of arcade machine builds here on Hackaday. Seriously, a lot. Even more so since the Raspberry Pi took over the world and made it so you didn’t have to cannibalize an old laptop to build one anymore. It’s one of those projects with huge appeal: either you’re somebody who’s built their own arcade, or you’re somebody who wishes they had. But even after seeing all these builds, we occasionally come across a specimen that deserves special recognition.

LED display controller

[Al Linke] recently wrote in to tell us about his arcade build, which we think you’ll agree is worth a closer look. The core build is actually a modification of a previously published design, but what makes this one unique is the addition of a programmable LED matrix in the top that actually shows the logo and artwork for whatever game you’re currently playing. This display really helps sell the overall look, and instantly makes the experience that much more authentic. Sure you don’t need the marquee of your home arcade machine to show era-appropriate artwork…but we know you want it to.

So how does one interface their Raspberry Pi with this beautiful 64×32 LED marquee display? Well it just so happens that [Al] is in the business of making cool LED displays, and even has a couple successful Kickstarter campaigns under his belt to prove it. He’s developed a board that lets you easily connect up to low-cost HUB75 LED panels such as the one used in the arcade. It’s been a few years since we’ve last seen a project that tackled these specific LED displays, and it’s encouraging to see how far things have come since then.

Even if you’re somehow not in love with the LED marquee, this build really does stand on its own as a fantastic example of a desktop arcade machine. [Al] went to great length to document his build, including putting together several videos during different phases of construction. If you’re curious about the start of the art for home arcade builds, this project would be a pretty good one to use as a barometer.

Whether it’s a full-size replica of the machine you spent your youth standing in front of, or an entirely new design made to your exacting specifications, there’s few projects that are a better conversation starter than one of these beauties blinking away in your living room.

8 thoughts on “Arcade with LED Marquee Shows Off Your Game

  1. Not sure when you ever needed to cannibalise a laptop for even a small desktop arcade, since mini itx and desktop LCDs have been around a decade and a half.

    However, for anyone wanting an even more plug and play approach, you can find dirt cheap R69 android boxes for less than half price of a Pi model B, these have AV outputs you can hook to those headrest DVD monitors that seem to turn up in thrift stores here a lot, use USB controller, recase the lot in a snazzy housing, install retroOrangePi and you look like a genius. Can keep that under $40 even, though you might wanna shell out for a proper arcade-y USB controller kit, rather than whatever locally found controller is cheap. Yeah it’s “not a hack” but I suspect we’ve got plenty of followers here who are short a soldering iron and workbench.

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