Homemade Arcade Machine
When I was young I loved the old style arcade machines,
especially the coin operated ones. I was really jealous, because I
couldn't buy my own machine or built one. So the years went
by and I forgot my passion. Until now. I remember one day
hitting me like a blast. Lets buy an arcade game machine! I
started looking for such machines all over the internet (even
on eBay), and I found a lot of them. There are still people
who build them. But there was one little problem.
Their cost is too high, even of the
My next thought was to build my own custom
machine. I already had a PC and an old TV set, lying around. The
only thing I needed was the cabinet. I remember when I was
young, I liked two special types of cabinets. The horizontal
cabinet, used for games like the tehkan world Cup and the mini
cabinets, used for games like pacman. Mini cabinets were my
favorite type and this was why I decided to build one of them.
I started searching for plans over the internet, but
unfortunately, I couldn't find anything! I found some mini
cabinet plans, but they was not even close to the original I had
in mind. The only thing I did found, was some pictures of the
original cabinet (Later on, I found out that this type of
cabinets was originally designed in Greece and that was the
reason I couldn't find any plans on the internet).
I was very
frustrated until I decided to make my own plans, based on the
pictures of the original. Creating plans based on
photographs is not a good idea, but what else you can do, when you
have no other option? I had to do a lot of guessing, but in the
end I managed to create the plans I. Later, from
discussions in Greek forums, I discovered that I was very close
to my estimations.
My cabinet is not exactly the same with the original
one, due to the fact I used my own custom plans, but is very
close to it.
Building an arcade game machine is harder than it looks,
especially if you don't want to do a quick and simple job. You need
to know how to work with wood and if you don't have the
necessary tools it will be a very difficult task.
The basic components you need to build your own arcade game
machine are listed below:
- Of course the most crucial part is the computer. If you
have an old PC lying around, it will be just perfect for the job
(at least for simulating arcade games with M.A.M.E.).
- Another important part is the monitor. You can use a modern LCD or
an old CRT. If you want bigger screen, then you have to
use a TV set. The old analog TV sets will give a style closer to the
original machines, but they lack of the necessary inputs. If this is
the case, then you have to be careful when selecting the graphics
card of your computer. Personally, I used an old style 24'' analog
TV set (which I got for free) and a graphics card with TV-out
capabilities (got it from stock for 20 euros).
- You will need a coin acceptor. A coin acceptor is not important,
but it will make your machine look original.
- You will also need buttons and joysticks.
- The game controller. This circuit is monitoring the status of
the buttons and joysticks of your panel and sends the appropriate signals to the
PC. You can buy a game controller or you can build one (like I did).
Buying a new game controller costs a lot of money and that is why I
decided to build my own. However, my game controller has some
characteristics that none of the commercial products can imitate.
- The last component you will need is... wood. Normally it will not
cost you more than 40 euros, but that depends on where you'll buy
Also you will need the appropriate tools to handle the wood.
Creating the cabinet is by far the most difficult part of the