Let’s be honest, building a home arcade cabinet isn’t exactly the challenge it once was. There’s plenty of kits out there that do all the hard work for you, and they even sell some pretty passable turn-key units at Walmart now. If you want to put a traditional arcade cabinet in your home, it’s not hard to get one.
Which is why this wild build by [Rafael Rubio] is so interesting. The entirely 3D printed enclosure looks like some kind of art piece from the 1970s, and is a perfect example of the kind of unconventional designs made possible by low-cost additive manufacturing. Building something like this out of wood or metal would be nightmare, especially for the novice; but with even a relatively meager desktop 3D printer you’re only a few clicks away from running off your own copy.
Inside the nautilus-like enclosure is a Raspberry Pi running Retropie, a 10″ LCD panel from Pimoroni, and a GeeekPi interface board that connects up to the 8-way joystick and arcade buttons. [Rafael] has included a Bill of Materials and an assembly overview that you can follow along with, though the cavernous internal dimensions of the enclosure certainly give you ample of room for improvisation if you’d rather blaze your own path.
Like the retro-futuristic computer terminals created by [Oriol Ferrer Mesià], this arcade machine completely reinvents a traditional design that most people take for granted. Is this layout actually better than the standard arcade cabinet? It’s not really our place to say. But it’s certainly a new and unconventional approach to “solved” problem, and that’s what we’re all about.
The brain — a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie — should be familiar to most of our readers. [Mark] found the perfect crappy old monitor when they were upgrading at his office, and found some nice speakers to give it good bass. We love the details like the chrome edging, and especially the kick bar/footrest along the bottom. It can be difficult to decide how to decorate a multi-arcade cabinet, so [Mark] went the sticker bomb route with 700 of them randomly distributed and safe from toddler wear and tear under five coats of clear wood varnish.
We think this looks great, especially since [Mark] doesn’t have a workshop and cut all that MDF by hand on a jigsaw in the kitchen. Check out the happy train engineer after the break.
The Raspberry Pi is a hugely popular platform for emulating older consoles, with the RetroPie framework making it easy to get started in no time at all. Often, these single board computers get built into fun arcade boxes or replica console shells to add to the charm. That’s all been done, so instead, [Cedishappy] decided to go in his own direction – resulting in the wonderful Watermelon Gameboy.
What sounds like a trivial exercise of building a RetroPie rig in a unique enclosure actually comes with some engineering challenges. The basics are all pretty standard – GPIO pins interfacing buttons, a speaker and the screen, emulating a Gameboy Advance. But the mechanical implementation is more complex. The watermelon is first cut open, having its red flesh removed, leaving just the rind. Paper and cardboard templates are then used to make holes for the buttons and screen. Unfortunately, hot glue doesn’t work on watermelon, so instead, toothpicks were used to hold the screen and speaker in place. To protect the electronics from the moist melony environment inside, clear food wrap was applied to the Raspberry Pi and other components where needed.
[Cedishappy] goes above and beyond with the project video charmingly showing the reactions of bystanders to the contextually confusing game system. The combination of electronics with fruit and vegetables is an area we don’t see explored often enough; our own [Mike Szczys] built a magnificent LED Jack-o-Lantern that really looks the business. Video after the break.
If you have fond childhood memories of afternoons spent at the local arcade, then you’ve had the occasional daydream about tracking down one of those old cabinets and putting it in the living room. But the size, cost, and rarity of these machines makes actually owning one impractical for most people.
While this fully functional 1/4th scale replica of the classic Star Wars arcade game created by [Jamie McShan] might not be a perfect replacement for the original, there’s no denying it would be easier to fit through your front door. Nearly every aspect of the iconic 1983 machine has been carefully recreated, right down to a working coin slot that accepts miniature quarters. Frankly, the build would have been impressive enough had he only put in half the detail work, but we certainly aren’t complaining that he went the extra mile.
[Jamie] leaned heavily on resin 3D printed parts for this build, and for good reason. It’s hard to imagine how he could have produced some of the tiny working parts for his cabinet using traditional manufacturing techniques. The game’s signature control yoke and the coin acceptor mechanism are really incredible feats of miniaturization, and a testament to what’s possible at the DIY level with relatively affordable tools.
The cabinet itself is cut from MDF, using plans appropriately scaled down from the real thing. Inside you’ll find a Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ running RetroPie attached directly to the back of a 4.3 inch LCD with integrated amplified speakers. [Jamie] is using an Arduino to handle interfacing with the optical coin detector and controls, which communicates with the Pi over USB HID. He’s even added in a pair of 3,000 mAh LiPo battery packs and a dedicated charge controller so you can blow up the Death Star on the go.
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.
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?
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.