Hey all! I wanted to share a project I recently completed during the holidays which is my design and build of a 2 Player, Table Top Arcade Machine. The inspiration was to design a relatively low profile, minimal, unobtrusive arcade machine that would blend into my existing furniture, (and hopefully not be an eyesore ).
After the initial sketch, I started prototyping the way the laptop, display, and other electronics would be best oriented in a compact footprint. Next I did a quick and dirty control panel layout to get a feel for what color buttons I wanted before the part order. After that I did a really rough cad model of the expected volume the parts would take up and transferred the dimensions of that model to 2D as a shopping list for how much wood I’d need for the hardware store.
The rest was prototyped and built piece by piece based on different functional and aesthetic choices such as comfortable control panel space for two players and monitor centering. The routed grooves on top were a combination of both choices, allowing airflow for speakers and heat management. For reference, I included scans of sketches both in the initial design of the machine and ones used during construction. Thanks for taking a look!
1/2 inch Birch Plywood (stained sides)
1/4 inch Birch Plywood (everything else)
1/4 inch square dowel
100 3/4 inch screws
Sure, I can probably find a Pacman app (and thousands of other similar old school games) on my iPad but this is retro and very cool…I’m sure the design and prototyping process alone was worth the time.
It would be interesting to see how you could maintain the retro aspect but utilize advanced technology (manufacturing and design speaking) ie change the form a bit by adding fillets, edges, curves, etc. A buddy of mine in college designed a guitar amp with a similar design intent…retro look to advanced technology and it turned out pretty awesome. Check it out.
Awesome fun project. It’s always nice to see somebody actually make something.
It looks like it was designed based on what you have readily available which I completely understand. Same comments as PJ, try to design it based on what you would like it to be, maybe similar to your original sketch with rounded edges. The side panels have rounded corners but the white panels are all straight…does not relate.
Maybe the white parts can be bent sheet metal or acrylic.
So is it fun playing with it? How much would you say it cost you to make it?
Thanks so much for the feedback Pb and FH13! It was a total blast to build and it’s been really fun playing arcade games too!
Pb, I took a look at your buddy’s amp design and I love it, it’s a really refreshing design. I especially liked the more functional aspects it incorporates like the seat on top and rolling wheels. You can tell he’s well aware of the amp owners struggles. It would be cool to play with the form of an arcade machine like you suggest to reinterpret it. For this build I was pressed for time (using my Dad’s workshop while I was home for the holidays) and wanted to settle on a simple design I could complete in 1 week.
FH13, you’re exactly right about me building it from materials I already. I also made material choices based on cost, weight, and tools that were available to me at the time. Looking at the final result, it definitely didn’t match the round, more friendly design from my initial sketches. The main reason for that is that while I was building it, I realized that following that design would require more time and more complex finishing techniques needed to achieve that look. Overall I made the decision to keep the white parts simple and angular since those edges don’t end up coming in contact with the player.
Here a rough cost breakdown:
“Materials Used” $100
Used 4:3 LCD monitor $75
Old laptop $0 (you can use a new Raspberry Pi computer which would be around $40)
Cannibalized PC Speakers $0
Power cord and mounting accessories $15
Arcade buttons, joysticks, usb controller $130
“Curves” book to act as a clamp $priceless
Total, about $300 not counting about 40 hrs of blood, sweat, and, paint fumes
Haha Yo, I know I was really roughing it with these rusty tin cans. But seriously I dare not hide a pair of your awesome speakers away in this beast.
It was actually an interesting experiment because I removed them from their previous plastic housings. The whole cabinet being wood and very spacious gave them an interesting and better sound than I would have expected. Though they are pointing up (not ideal) it actually sounds pretty good!
Thanks! Haha yeah I agree, I think for standard arcade machines each one had to be designed to have really amped up art and styling that from the specific game to add more story and interest since the graphics and gameplay of the game were so basic. For this one, being a multi-game arcade machine, I wanted to let the personality each game shine and let the arcade machine itself try to disappear.
A few things for you to keep in mind for the future:
on the front baffle under the joysticks, that forward painted edge I can see a line where it looks like two layers where laminated? Putty and fill or a strip of strip would have helped there, especially because that is the most forward edge of the product.
silver brushed hinges on the bottom panel. You could have gone with a hidden cabinet hinge for a more finished look or at least a full width piano hinge.
speaker and heat venting, I think you could have done something more novel here.
Still a cool project, I’m just nit picking details because that is what someone will do looking at the project for the first time. You could photoshop all of these things.
No problem Gerry. That should give you an idea on the types of things hiring managers zoom right in on. I’m always looking for little things like that so I get a sense of what someone’s attention to detail and work ethic are going to be on the job. Both are hard things to tell from interviews.
During the build, one of the biggest challenges was actually screwing all the panels together. I went into the build knowing that I didn’t want to have any exposed screws on the outside so every panel was held together with square dowels and screws on the inside. Having a long screw driver extension bit was a huge help here because there were some tight corners to get into towards the end of assembly! You can see some of this joinery on page 10.
Another challenge was how to mount the monitor. Front the front I decided that I wanted to keep the monitor bezel on instead of removing it. That meant I needed to paint the bezel white to match the wood when looking at the display from the side. I decided to take the bezel off temporarily to make sure I didn’t get any paint on the screen and that ended up working. To mount the monitor I measured blocks of 2x4 that were the same depth as the monitor, then glued these blocks to the wood panel in a pattern around the monitor and screwed a piece of plywood into those blocks which covered over the back of the monitor and held it in place very firmly. You can see this arrangement of 2x4 pieces before the plywood tabs were screwed in place on page 10 in the bottom left and also towards the top.