Bartop Arcade Machine That Isn’t Afraid Of Change

a render of the curved bartop arcade machine in fusion 360

Arcade machines have a distinct look and feel with large imposing cabinets and smaller bartop machines that try to keep the look and feel of a traditional upright arcade cabinet while taking up less space. An entirely new aesthetic has been given for this engineering marvel of a bartop arcade that [DIY Engineering] has made. Gone is the expansive angular box, and in its place are sleek and slender curves. The key piece that makes this build work is the curved monitor.

He started with a detailed design in Fusion360 that really focused on the tools and techniques that [DIY Engineering] knew would work. The backbone of the device was formed from wooden dowels around which 3d printed parts slid on. To the sides of the dowels, two pieces of acrylic are screwed on to act as an LED diffusor. To that acrylic, two pieces of CNC’d red oak are attached with two arcade buttons for pinball-style actuation. Over the top, cast acrylic was heated and then bent into the desired shape with the help of a two-part mold press. The screen slotted right in perfectly. Part of the display at the top was reserved for a marquee, and the look is extraordinary with the dark acrylic. Ten arcade buttons and an eight-way joystick offer an array of options for input.

Internally, a temperature-controlled fan and a Raspberry Pi are running the show. Controls are wired as GPIO and read by the Pi. So naturally, the games on the SD card tend to look best on a long vertical screen: vertical shooters and the like.

Arguably, the best thing about this project isn’t just the execution (which is fantastic) but the look behind the curtain at the process. So many potential problems were solved in the modeling stage, and fabrication went fairly smoothly as a result (or so we think youtube hides a multitude of sins). The results speak for themselves, and we think this is an enviable arcading machine. [DIY Engineering] has mentioned providing files in the future for you to build your own. If perhaps it seems a little intimidating, why not give a smaller 3D printable bartop a try?

Video after the break.

24 thoughts on “Bartop Arcade Machine That Isn’t Afraid Of Change

      1. Because RPis are particularly notorious for being bad at MAME emulation, which is highly understandable given that actually starting an X session on one takes the majority of it’s resources and the highly bespoke nature of arcade hardware leaves it short on computational power more often than not. It’s a straight crapshoot with then trying to emulate anything that has hardware more complicated than a SNES.

        Literally one of the most common questions regarding RetroPi is “Why does (game) run so poorly?” and the answer that nobody ever wants to hear is: because you are trying to emulate a game that has 15 custom chips on the modern day equivalent of a VT100.

        1. This is just idiotic – when you run Retropie the Pi doesn’t even run X. A Pi3/4 can EASILY emulate 80’s arcade games. It’s a SBC running instructions thousands of times faster than the original hardware, and the custom chips were actually pretty simple, and ran relatively slowly. Basically, “DSK” has no idea about the subject…

    1. I think the design is awesome and a really well done build, but I wonder if this wouldn’t slide and tip when the joystick is used.

      That being said a nice curved cradle base might look good under the unit.

    2. We had two pinball machines – a bar machine and a “home” machine that you could buy from Montgomery Ward or something like that in the 70s or 80s. I figured the kids could play the home machine and I’d play the bar machine. However, it became clear pretty fast that the kids would destroy the home machine but the bar machine was indestructible. Simple things like tempered glass on the bar machine vs. a thin layer of plexiglass on the home machine. Another funny thing was that the solenoid to launch the ball into the plunger area was oneshotted on the bar machine but not the home machine. I found my youngest just holding it down one day while the solenoid got hotter and hotter and started to smell like it was going to burn up. I managed to stop her before she did any damage, and I ultimately got rid of that machine before they destroyed it. It was no fun to play anyway.

    3. Actually, the reason that they are so heavy is that they are made of low-grade particleboard, which is not particularly sturdy, but it is dense. The T-molding covers the edges which are incredibly weak because the wood has no grain and in held together by glue. Arcades are also generally painted flat black (hides a multitude of sins) and have lots of decals. A little automotive body filler, crude sanding, quick drying flat black paint, new decals, and voila! Just like new, which wasn’t very good to begin with.

      It is never a good experience to see the inside of a nighttime bar during the day, especially the arcade machines. Ew.

    4. Thank you for confirming what I felt was self evident, robust is not an aesthetic, rather it is requirement due to the conditions of operation. Isn’t there an old rule about bar furniture, “If it is small enough to pick up and use as a weapon then it is only a matter of time before it connects with somebody’s head in a prejudicial manner.”

  1. I’d expect lunar lander legs on this. Not this style conscious hidden leg stuff like so many pictures on the shelf I knocked over as a kid. It “looks like it’s floating in space” till it has to assume a more stable position in gravity, on it’s face. Here’s your beer, oops. Crash!

  2. It’s a beautiful looking build and it’s nice to see a new design idea for a home arcade machine. I wonder how well it would hold up with an arcade game that requires a lot of joystick hitting, like any of the Olympic games type games. If the build is too light it’s going to slide all over the place.

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