3D Print Your Way To A Bartop Arcade Cabinet

Custom arcade machines have always been a fairly common project in the hacker and maker circles, but they’ve really taken off with the advent of the Raspberry Pi and turn-key controller kits. With all the internals neatly sorted, the only thing you need to figure out is the cabinet itself. Unfortunately, that’s often the trickiest part. Without proper woodworking tools, or ideally a CNC router, it can be tough going to build a decent looking cabinet out of the traditional MDF panels.

But if you’re willing to leave wood behind, [Gerrit Gazic] might have a solution for you. This bartop arcade, which he calls the simplyRetro D8, uses a fully 3D printed cabinet. He’s gone through the trouble of designing it so there are no visible screw holes, so it looks like the whole thing was hewn from a chunk of pure synthwave ore. He notes that this can make the assembly somewhat tricky in a few spots, but we think it’s a worthy compromise.

Given the squat profile of the simplyRetro, the internals are packed in a bit tighter than we’re accustomed to seeing in a arcade build. But there’s still more than enough room for the Raspberry Pi, eight inch touch screen HDMI panel, and all the controls. To keep things as neat as possible, [Gerrit] even added integrated zip tie mount points; a worthwhile CAD tip that’s certainly not limited to arcade cabinets.

[Gerrit] has included not only the STL files for this design, but also the Fusion 360 Archive should you want to make any modifications. There’s also a complete Bill of Materials, as well as detailed instructions on how to pull it all together. If you’ve ever wanted your own arcade machine but felt a bit overwhelmed about figuring out all the nuances on your own, the simplyRetro could be the project you’ve been waiting for.

Of course if you do have access to a CNC or laser cutter, then there are some designs you could produce quite a bit faster.

Raspberry Pi 4 And The State Of Video Game Emulation

The modern ideal of pixel art is a fallacy. Videogame art crammed onto cartridges and floppy discs were beholden to the CRT display technology of their day. Transmitting analog video within the confines of dingy yellow-RCA-connector-blur, the images were really just a suggestion of on-screen shapes rather than clearly defined graphics. Even when using the superior RGB-video-over-SCART cables, most consumer grade CRT televisions never generated more than about 400 lines, so the exacting nature of digitized plots became a fuzzy raster when traced by an electron beam. It wasn’t until the late 90s when the confluence of high resolution PC monitors, file sharing, and open source emulation software that the masses saw pixels for the sharp square blocks of color that they are.

More importantly, emulation software is not restricted to any one type of display technology any more than the strata of device it runs on. The open-source nature of videogame emulators always seems to congregate around the Lowest Common Denominator of devices, giving the widest swath of gamers the chance to play. Now, that “L.C.D.” may very well be the Raspberry Pi 4. The single board computer’s mix of tinker-friendly IO at an astonishingly affordable entry price has made it a natural home for emulators, but at fifty bucks what options unlock within the emulation scene?

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Sleeper PlayStation Hides A Raspberry Pi 4

[Andreas Wilcox] wanted to get his brother a birthday gift that reflected their shared love for the early days of 3D gaming, but just handing him a second-hand original PlayStation lacked a certain style. So he decided to gut the classic system and replace its dated internals with a shiny new Raspberry Pi 4. But rather than taking the easy way out, he put in the time and effort to integrate the new hardware so seamlessly that the nearly 25 year old console still looks stock from the outside.

The fact that the front ports are functional and work with the original controllers really helps sell the stock look. [Andreas] found a USB to PlayStation controller adapter, liberated the PCB, and soldered it to the back of the system’s ports. Even the memory card slots got in on the action, thanks to female USB connectors installed where the original connector went. It was a tight fit, but the final result was well worth it.

We also love the GPIO-controlled cooling fan complete with a duct designed to blow across the notoriously toasty Pi, and check out that carefully designed holder for the power and reset buttons. This entire project is really a fantastic example of how 3D printed parts can give your projects a far cleaner and more professional look than the hacker’s old standby of hot glue; though of course it demands a considerable time investment.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Raspberry Pi shoehorned into a classic video game console, but it’s absolutely one of the cleanest examples we’ve ever seen. Though if we lump Raspberry Pi portables into the running, the competition is considerably fiercer.

Vintage Car Radio Now Plays Games And Chiptunes

[MisterM] seems to specialize in squeezing new electronics into old but good-looking technology. His latest creation focuses on a space-age specimen: an interesting car radio from 1963 that could be pulled out from the dashboard and taken along wherever. The beat goes on, thanks to a shiny built-in speaker on the bottom.

He replaced the non-working radio guts with a Raspberry Pi 3 running RetroPie and a Picade controller board. A Pimoroni Blinkt LED strip behind the radio dial glows a different color for each emulated console, which we think is a nice touch. [MisterM] built this console to play in his workshop, and even made a dock for it. But in a lovely homage to the original radio, it’s self-contained and can be taken to the living room or to a friend’s house. There’s also a USB port for whenever player two is ready to enter. For [MisterM]’s next trick, he’ll be converting an 80s joystick.

We love that [MisterM] repurposed the dials as housings for start and select buttons. As he points out, this keeps them out of the way while he’s wildly working the controls. Just enter the Konami Code to unlock the build video below.

Do you dream of playing Donkey Kong absolutely everywhere? Check out the ultraportable mintyPi 2.0.

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Building A DIY Desktop-Sized Arcade Machine

Full-sized arcade cabinets are undeniably cool, but take up a lot of space and can be somewhat of a handful. [PleaseNoFisticuffs] desired something a little more fun-sized, and so built a desktop arcade machine that has some serious style.

It’s a build that’s remarkably accessible for even the inexperienced builder. Paper templates are used to cut out the plywood parts for the cabinet, and the electronic components are all off-the-shelf items. Assembly is readily achievable with high-school level woodworking and soldering skills. Like most similar builds, it relies on the Raspberry Pi running RetroPie, meaning you’ll never run out of games to play.

Where this project really shines, however, is the graphics. Cribbed from Mortal Kombat II and looking resplendent in purple, they’re key to making this cabinet a truly stunning piece. The attention to detail is excellent, too, with the marquee and screen getting acrylic overlays for that classic shine, as well as proper T-moulding being used to finish the edges.

We’d love to have something like this on our desk, though we’d likely get far less work done in such an event. For another take on an arcade build, check out this impressive Undertale pinball cabinet.

 

Vintage Slide Viewers Make Beautiful Retro Emulators

35mm still photography is still hanging on out in the wild, with its hardcore fans ensuring it never quite dies out despite the onward march of digital imaging. Slides are an even more obsolete technology, forgotten long ago when the quality of color negative films improved. The related paraphernalia from the era of the photographic slide continues to clutter up attics and garages the world over. [Martin Burlus] was in possession of some retro slide viewers, and found they made an excellent basis for a RetroPie build.

The build relies on stock standard fundamentals – a Pi Zero runs the show, combined with a USB hub and a power supply. [Martin] then chose to build this all inside the case of the slide viewer, combined with a 2.8″ PiTFT display. This neatly slots directly on to the Pi Zero’s 40-pin header, and comes complete with a touch screen. It’s the perfect size to slide into most slide viewers, though some models required removal of the tact buttons.

The slide viewers make for a charming enclosure, and the classic 1970s optics make for pleasant viewing. Throwing a modern display behind a vintage lens is a great way to give a project a more classic look and feel. One thing’s for sure – we’ll be keeping an eye out for a slide viewer of our own next time we’re passing through the local junk shops.

The Tiniest RetroPie

The RetroPie project is a software suite for the Raspberry Pi that allows the user to easily play classic video games through emulators. It’s been around for a while now, so it’s relatively trivial to get this set up with a basic controller and video output. That means that the race is on for novel ways of implementing a RetroPie, which [Christian] has taken as a sort of challenge, building the tiniest RetroPie he possibly could.

The constraints he set for himself were to get the project in at under 100 mm. For that he used a Pi Zero loaded with the RetroPie software and paired it with a 1.44″ screen. There’s a tiny LiPo battery hidden in there, as well as a small audio amplifier. Almost everything else is 3D printed including the case, the D-pad, and the buttons. The entire build is available on Thingiverse as well if you’d like to roll out your own.

While this might be the smallest RetroPie we’ve seen, there are still some honorable mentions. There’s one other handheld we’ve seen with more modest dimensions, and another one was crammed into an Altoids tin with a clamshell screen. It’s an exciting time to be alive!

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