Arcade Project: Part 1: Let’s Do This!


In 2011, one of my good friends built his own Pac-Man machine.   It turned out awesome!  He had probably a couple dozen games on it and the final product was very professional looking. He had a game night where a handful of friends were invited and we played games on it for a few hours. It was a blast!  At the time, I thought, “how cool is it to have an arcade machine in your house, and even cooler that its something you can build yourself!”  Now that I have a house which has a finished basement, I have the perfect spot to host such a thing, alongside my pool table and shuffleboard table.  Plus, my boys are getting to the age where I think they would have fun playing it together and I could introduce them to some of the classic arcade games!  SO LET’S DO THIS!

First I have to decide what kind of arcade machine I want.  There are three main types: cocktail table, full cabinet, and bar-top.




The cocktail tables are the ones that are built into a glass top table, monitor facing up, with each player sitting on the opposite side of the table.  Typically the display flips between turns so that the current player sees the screen in the correct orientation.






Full Sized Cabinet.  This is the typical image that comes to mind when people think of an arcade machine.  They are big and bulky, but give a more authentic arcade feel.








Bar-top Cabinet:  This is sort of a min-version of the classic full-sized cabinet.  It is designed to take up less space perhaps be portable.  This works nicely for people with limited space or maybe for a kids bedroom or something.



Since I have plenty of room in my basement and I really want the classic nostalgic feel of a true arcade machine, I want to build a full-sized cabinet.

So, how do we do this?  Well, I’m not in a hurry to make this all happen within the next week, or even within the next month.  I’ll slowly work on it here and there as I get time and hopefully have it completed by this Spring or Summer.  I’ll blog here along the way as I get to each major step in the process.  But at a super high basic level, the idea is to get the arcade games running on a computer, connect a joystick and buttons, and then build the arcade cabinet around the computer so that it looks like an arcade machine.  A very slightly more detailed version of the plan would go something like this:

  1. Find an old PC to use
  2. Find an old monitor or TV to use
  3. Download emulator and games
  4. Setup/build/configure a front-end (menu for selecting a game to play)
  5. Buy arcade joysticks and buttons and configure the games to work with them
  6. Build an arcade cabinet to hold everything
  7. Create and add artwork to the arcade machine to give it a finished look

Sounds easy, right?  Yeah….right.  There are definitely a lot of unanswered questions that I’ll figure out along the way.  So, althought it won’t be easy, it should be fun!  Check back later to follow my progress on it.


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