Bartop Arcade w/ Raspberry Pi

Marc – Today we've got a really
special treat for you. We're going to build this
retro arcade cabinet. ♫ Hit it
(funk music) So my friend Brian Ibbott
asked me if I could help build an arcade cabinet. He had all the internal
stuff, the raspberry pie it's actually "retro pie" as well as the buttons, joysticks, LED lights, all that stuff. And he just needed help
with the cabinetry. So we kind of collaborated,
went back and forth to come up with a design that
uses all the stuff that he had, and came up with this. This is a very retro gaming cabinet and let me give you a little
bit of a quick tour.

This tabletop arcade is a
gamer's dream come true. And is built in a style
that is equal parts retro and classy. It features a classic six button layout as well as start and select buttons. There's also a USB port
for onboarding of games as well as plugging in
keyboards and other game pads. The speakers include a volume control, and custom 3D printed grills. And the custom marquee is
backlit using LED strobes. In the back, there is a service door. That power cord you see there will be turned into a switch later on. The inside is a bit of a mess but the final organization hasn't been done yet. The system is powered by
a tiny computer called "raspberry pie", and we're using a great software package specifically for gaming called "retro pie". The only thing that
sucked about this project was that I didn't build it for myself.

But at least I'll get to
play it at Brian's house. I'm using three-quarter
inch walnut plywood for my cabinet but if
you're painting yours, you can use just about anything you want. I use a drywall square to lay
everything out ahead of time. I'll break down the sheet into strips. While these pieces might have relatively straight edges, they
likely aren't parallel.

We'll use the table saw for that. I set the fence to our final 22 inches, and give our two strips a parallel trim. Now we need to cut our parts
from the larger strips. Start by squaring up one end from there it's a simple matter of measuring, marking and cutting. At the tablesaw, I trim
all of the 22 inch parts to final width. There are several bevels in this project and I did my best to simplify
them as much as possible. Follow the diagram closely, then you should have no trouble. Take your time with these cuts and make you sure provide
consistent pressure downward and against the fence. If you don't, the work piece will lift and your bevel won't
be consistent and flat. You'll also want to avoid stopping in the middle of the cuts, since that's likely going to create some nasty burn marks.

Now let's work on the cut
outs, starting with the back. I drill a relief hole at each corner just big enough for the jigsaw blade. Speaking of the blade,
you'll want something with lots of teeth for a smooth cut in plywood. I stay just inside of my pencil lines so that I can do a final
clean up afterwards. Even with a good blade, jigsaw cuts are crappy at best. So I'm going to use a
router to clean things up. I line up a clamping tool
guide with the pencil line, and clamp it in place. Now if I flip the piece over,
I can use a bearing-guided flush trim bit to make clean up passes. Yeah it's a lot of extra work, but it's totally worth it.

Especially when these edges will receive edge-banding later. To clean up the corners,
I start by cutting in with a flush trim saw. And then doing a final
clean up with a chisel. And be sure to hang on
to that cut out piece because that's our door. Simply trim all four
sides to clean them up and make sure you account
for the fact that the door and the opening will receive eighth-inch thick edgebanding. The next cut-out is for the screen. This one has to be
precisely laid out based on the size of the monitor. Place the monitor on
the screen board so that it's centered from left to right.

The vertical position is up to you, but keep in mind that
there's a marquee at the top and that'll consume some of that space. Once in position, trace
around the perimeter of the monitor. Now we need to measure the monitor bezel and subtract an eighth of
an inch for the edgebanding. Transfer those measurements
directly to the screenboard. And do the cut out just like
we did for the back panel. To hold the monitor in place, we'll use a simple plywood cleat
that's held on with screws. I carefully measure the hole pattern and transfer the locations to the cleat.

Check your screw length by screwing one in until it bottoms out, and then back it up by about a quarter-turn. If the screw head sits above
the plywood, it's too long. And if it sits far below, it's too short. Since I'm too lazy to
go buy different screws, these 25 millimeter long screws will work if I counter-bore the hole. Now we can drill the
through-holes for the screws. Drop the monitor in
place on the screenboard and measure for the
supports that we'll have to attach at each end.

We'll cut those supports from solid stock. They should slide perfectly
right under the cleat. Pre-drill and countersink
for two screws on each side, and don't use any glue on this joint. And that's as far as we'll
take the monitor for now. Now let's drill the holes
for the control panel. I printed my templates
from an Instructables plan, but you can use the ones that we provide.

It's a good idea to put
as much space as you can between the left and right button sets as this directly impacts
how much elbow rubbing you'll do when you're
playing with friends. Using a screw, make a starter
hole at each button location. The front button placement isn't critical but I like things to line
up, so I make sure mine start in line with the
leftmost buttons on each side. The larger buttons on
top of the control panel are 1 and eighth-inch
diameter, and we'll use a forstner bit at the drill
press to do the work.

The joystick holes are drilled with a three-quarter inch bit. The buttons on the front
of the control panel are a little bit smaller
than the buttons on the top so those are drilled at one inch. Now we also need an additional
three-quarter inch hole for the USB port on the
front of the control board. This guy is pressure-fit
so we don't want to push it in just yet. Now the marquee requires
two grooves for the marquee panel. We can cut these at the
tablesaw by taking a few passes. I'm making mine a quarter-inch deep, but the width of the
groove depends on how thick you go with the marquee material. Ours is about an eighth of an inch thick plus I give it some extra room for the custom vinyl print that goes on top.

Now for the speaker holes,
we're using two inch speakers so the holes are laid
out and drilled with a two-inch forstner bit. For a hole this large,
a whole saw might be a more economical choice
if you don't have this bit lying around. These speakers have a
little volume control that we'll install a few inches
from the left speaker. We'll need to drill a
three-quarter inch hole a half-inch deep on the underside of the bottom marquee board. Then we'll continue
with a quarter-inch hole all the way through. Now it's tricky to see, but the volume module
inserts from the back and a small washer and nut is threaded on. And the volume knob drops onto the post with a friction fit. Now let's dress up some of our edges with edgebanding. I cut some walnut face frame stock into a few 25 inch long pieces.

At the tablesaw, I rip them to about an eighth of an inch in width. I'm using a sacrificial
gripper to do this, because it's safe enough
to push it all the way through the cut. But there are other
methods you might explore. Check out the video I
made on this very topic for more information. You'll need something
like 25 of these strips to get the job done, though I don't recall the exact number.

Applying edgebanding
isn't difficult but it is time consuming. I cut the pieces to length as needed, and apply glue to both faces. You don't need a ton of
pressure for edgebanding. One of my favorite tricks
is to use pieces of blue tape, like clamps. Just stretch the pieces over the banding and rub them onto the sides. If you have a brad nailer, you can save yourself some time but you will create tiny holes that you might want to fill with putty later on. Here I'm using a 23 gauge pinner. It has very very tiny pins
and holes are very small as well, so I might not
have to fill those later on. I'll edgeband the screen
boards and the back at this point. I'll also band the back door. The banding material is just a bit wider than our plywood. So we can either use the
scraper to flush it up or hit it with some 220 grit sandpaper. Keep in mind that you can easily burn through the veneer on plywood and this process requires
a very light touch. Gaps are inevitable.

So if you see one, fill it with a little wood putty of the appropriate color. Using a small block of
wood and some sandpaper, I sand the edgebanding nice and smooth. Resist the urge to use a power sander here as that's really just
gonna round over the edge and, make it look like poo. Other pieces we can edgeband now include the marquee top, the marquee bottom, and the case bottom. (jazz theme to "Super Mario Bros.") Now we hope to install a small
power switch in the back, unfortunately after doing
a little more research, we read reviews that mentioned
fire hazards and melting.

So we're currently looking
into our options here and hopefully we'll find something that fits into this hole nicely. At the top of the screenboard, we'll need two three-quarter inch
holes for wire runs. And now we can start to do some assembly. I'm using inch-and-a-quarter
brad nails to do the holding. First, we'll put together
the control board front and top. There's no edgebanding
on the top piece yet, so we'll make the front piece flush with the edge of the top
and pop some brad nails in to hold it together. The key to a successful joint here is to first apply as much
pressure as you can with your hand or a clamp, and then drive the nail through. Once that joint is dry,
attach the edgebanding to the front. Next, we'll assemble the
back and the marquee top and here's a cool trick: place the pieces flat with
the tips of the bevels touching and stretch some
blue tape across the joint, almost like you're stitching it. Now flip the assembly
over and throw some glue on both sides of the joint.

Slowly lift and bring
the two pieces together. Next, we'll attach the bottom. We'll use glue and screws for this but using some clamping
squares really makes life a whole lot easier. (drilling sounds) We'll set that aside to dry completely since we don't want to
stress the joints just yet. Now let's attach the screenboard to the lower marquee board. I pre-drilled the hole
locations using my marks as reference, and then flip it over and countersink from the other side. (drilling sound) Now with the help of
some clamping squares, I bring the lower marquee
piece back in place, with some glue on the edge. With clamping pressure
applied, I can flip the assembly over and drive the screws. We can now attach the screenboard to the monitor assembly. Everything should be
flush on the outside edges the vertical position should be obvious based on the screen bezel. Double check that everything
is lined up from the front although now would be
a really sucky time to discover that it's not. Just for some extra
support, I'm adding an extra walnut cleat under the monitor.

I don't really think it's necessary but it certainly can't hurt to help
fight the forces of gravity. At least that's what my wife tells me. (joke drum/symbol sound) Once dry, take the monitor
out by removing the screws, holding the cleat to the supports. Now here's a crucial step: We have three sub-assemblies
that need to come together. In all likelihood it won't be perfect. This is exactly why we haven't
cut our sides to shape yet. In my case when the top
of the screen board is perpendicular to the top of the marquee, the marquee fronts are in alignment. And the control panel
is perpendicular to the bottom of the case, my
two bevels don't quite meet up in the middle. The pieces are just a bit too wide so that they're pushing
each other apart when they try to come together. The only piece that we can
safely trim at this point is the top of the control panel. So I'll tilt the blade on the tablesaw to match the existing bevel
and slowly sneak up on that perfect fit. Now look at how much better
those pieces match up.

Now I can confidently attach
the control panel assembly to the screen panel. We'll use the tape
trick on this joint too, although the pieces have to be vertical. At this point, we'll
apply some edgebanding to any area that needs it,
because we're actually ready to apply some finish. The next step is to begin
installing the electronics and we really don't want to worry about finishing around buttons and joysticks. The finish I'm using is a
satin wiping polyurethane. The first coat is easy: flood it on, and wipe off the excess.

I'll apply a total of four coats with some light sanding with 320 paper in between. Now for the electronics: this is Brian's baby so
he's running the show. We start by connecting
the wires to the buttons which provide signal and LED lighting. Once you have one set up
properly, leave it out as a sample so you can easily
match up the rest of them. Brian's also jazzing
things up a bit by adding numbers and letters as
well as a dot and a star to the start and select buttons. He's using something called
letraset dry transfer to burnish the figures into the buttons. You could probably just
find a set of decals or stickers to do something similar, just keep in mind that
these buttons light up so anything you put on the face could potentially block the light. Each button is then dropped
into the desired hole and the plastic nut is screwed in place. Brian realized after
the project was complete that he actually would
have preferred a different order and different letters. Instead of A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 he'd prefer L, X, R, Y, B, A which is a more standard layout and naming convention.

So choose your letters
and positions wisely. After installing the smaller buttons, it becomes clear that they
aren't really intended for three-quarter inch thick material. By turning the nut around,
you'll have enough room for the threads to grab and
that gets the job done. Each set of buttons then
gets connected to its own circuit board. It actually doesn't matter
which buttons go where, since the software will
help you map them out later. While we're here, the
pressure fit USB port is pushed into place. Before we go any further,
we're doing a test run. With the buttons connected to the USB hub and the hub connected
to the raspberry pie, we'll fire it up. Because the buttons aren't set up yet, we'll use a USB game pad
to navigate the menu.

Everything does seem to be working, so now we can continue
with the installation. I'll attach the button
circuit boards to the underside of the control
panel by pre-drilling first and then driving four screws. The joystick installation is pretty simple but it really helps to have
two sets of hands and eyes. The stick needs to be
perfectly centered in the hole. So as Brian makes the
adjustments, I'll hold the stick in place. He can then come around to my side and mark the screw locations. From there, we can attach the
cable between the joystick and the circuit board.

And now I'll make sure the
joystick is dead center and then tighten up on the screws. Now for the speakers, Brian
sacrificed a small set of USB powered speakers by tearing them out of their casing. Obviously, these parts
were never meant to come out of their cases so if you go this route you have to be extra careful. With the screen panel
clamped to the work bench we can drop the speakers in place and attach them with screws.

To attach the volume knob, we'll need to flip this thing upside down in order to thread the nut onto the shaft. We can then add the volume knob. Back inside the marquee, we'll
use some plastic cable clips to secure the wires. Now we'll add some
adhesive-backed LED strips and two rows should do the trick. And those lights work perfectly. We then had an unexpected
visit from quality control. – When it's ready, can I try it out? – Yeah of course! – Oh yeah! – And now for the final assembly.

I'll bring the monitor
in, and re-attach it. Now I need to line up
the front control panel up just behind the edge
banding on the bottom. And the top lines up
with the pencil line that you probably can't see
from your vantage point. To attach the pieces
together, we use screws and no glue. I'll drill a three-eighths inch hole, three-eights of an inch deep and then I'll drill an
eighth-inch pilot hole all the way into the adjoining piece. Now the screw head is driven deep enough that we can use a three-eighths
inch dowel as a plug.

Should we ever need to open this thing up, we can drill out the dowels
and access the screws. All of the screws for
the top and the bottom are done this way. Finally we can work on the sides, now that the main body of the cabinet is locked into its final shape. With the back panel flush
against the back edge of the side panel, start tracing a line around the perimeter. Cutting out and shaping the sides is really just a rehash
of techniques you've already seen. Rough cut with the jigsaw and
then refined with the router. Though given the shape, you'll have to get creative using clamps and
a straight piece of scrap as a guide.

After rough cutting the
other side to shape, we'll use the first one
as a routing template to make two exact copies. Double-stick tape holds them together and since this is
pressure-sensitive stuff, I like to put a little weight on it. And of course the flush trim bit does the rest of the work. (sawing sound) On the inside corner, I take the time to miter the
two pieces where they meet for a cleaner look. That's a really nice fit. Once all the edges are banded, we trim flush and sand smooth.

Don't forget to ease the edges and round over the corners. To attach the sides we'll use screws and dowel caps. To cover up the holes,
I'll first cut down some three-eighths inch poplar dowel. If you don't like a contrasting look, make sure you use the
same species that you have in your plywood. Normally I'd use wood
glue to attach these, but in this case I want
these dowels to come out if needed. So CA glue is a better choice. The bonds should be easier
to break, if we have to. Once the glue is dry,
flush trim the dowels and give them a little sanding. And finally, we can
apply the finish to catch the sides up to the rest of the cabinet. Now we'll install the hinges for our door, starting with the
self-centering drill bit. These are simple no mortise hinges that are super easy to install. I start by spacing them
out to my liking on the door's edge, with the barrel down and pushed against the door phase.

I'll pre-drill the two interior holes. Now I can attach the hinge to the door with the barrel up. And it will be in the perfect position. The other hinge is installed the same way. Now I hold the door in
position, and line it up by eye. I can then use a pencil to mark the holes for the top hinge. With the top hinge secure, locking down the bottom hinge is a breeze. The door needs some sort of a catch so I'll install a simple
one on a piece of scrap. The magnet goes into a small hole and then I glue that piece to the inside of the door opening. On the door, I'll attach
a small metal washer that'll engage with the magnet. Looks like that's gonna work just fine! Now Brian has a 3D printer, and he used it to print up a cool custom knob for the back door. And with that, this arcade
cabinet is complete.

– You might not have ever
heard of it, but here it is! It's Ding-Man!
(laughs) – There's still lots of
programming to do and Brian plans on tidying up the interior but it works and works well. The marquee is nice and bright,
the audio is clear and loud, and the action of the
joysticks and buttons is smooth and satisfying. Oh and don't forget to make sure you brush your kid's hair before
putting them in a video. Special thanks to Brian
Ibbit for collaborating with me on this project, and to our wives for
tolerating us geeking out on it for a few weeks.

Happy gaming, my friends. (jazz music).

As found on YouTube

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