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1982 Robotron Restoration / Conversion Project:

  • TLDR - Check out my resto-converted Robotron cabinet powered by Retropie down below!

    Let me start with a little history about this Robotron cabinet. It was built in 1982 and I found it on the side of the road circa 2006. It had fairly extensive water damage and appeared to have sat in standing water for quite some time. The MDF portions of the cabinet were ruined. The top of the cabinet and the top half of the back panel were completely missing. Several portions of the plywood were swollen, warped, and brittle. Especially around the bottom of the cabinet where it sat in water.

    I worked in an IT department at the time I found it and thought it would be fun to throw a MAME PC into the cabinet and keep it up at the office for everyone to enjoy. Everyone in the department chipped in some money and we did the bare-minimum in repairs to the cabinet itself, just enough to get it up and running. We ended up putting an x-arcade DIY kit of sticks / buttons in it and... Mission accomplished! Everyone loved and enjoyed it for years to come but it was the epitome of a "face only a mother could love".

    In 2015, I changed jobs and left the company and kept the cabinet because I had the most invested in it. From there it sat at my house and collected dust. My kids played it a time or two when I first brought it home but then lost interest in it. At one point, we tried to fire it up again and found that the PC's power supply had died and I didn't have the motivation to repair it, so it just sat in disrepair.

    One thing I always wanted to do was to play classic console games on the cabinet, in addition to arcade games, and Retropie had the potential to make that dream a reality. Up until recently, I had only played my Retropie (Pi3) on my tv using 360 controllers. One night, on a whim, I decided to throw my Pi into the cabinet and see if I could get it working with the joysticks and buttons. It was a success! My youngest son got excited when he saw it working again and we enjoyed a good 30 minutes of Metal Slug together. That sparked the desire and gave me the fever to give this Robotron cabinet the makeover it truly deserved!

    My vision for this cabinet was to do a restoration / conversion project that retained the original artwork and style of Robotron. I wanted to breath new life into this old cabinet while maintaining the look and feel of Robotron. My wife agreed to us keeping it in our house if I would allow her to paint the sides to match her decor. She said she wanted to "marry the chic with the geek". I never really liked Robotron's sideart so I let her run with the idea and am so glad I did because it looks amazing.

    What you see below is the original cabinet after many hours of cleaning, sanding, painting, and rebuilding. The glass and marquee are original and the CRT has been replaced with a 19" lcd screen. I had to completely remake the control panel which was by far the hardest part of this project. As for the controls themselves, I went with an Ultimarc IPAC2 pcb, Ultralux led buttons, and Sanwa JLF sticks. The coin door is operational and quarters are needed to insert credits for MAME and FBA.

    All that said, here's my new Roboton cabinet!

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  • administrators

    Looks fantastic!

  • A truly beautiful job you've done on this and you're right - the sideart looks great in the context of the colour scheme of your room.

  • Beautiful work! And I love that you need to insert quarters to add credits in MAME - how did you do this?

  • administrators


  • @andershp said in 1982 Robotron Restoration / Conversion Project::

    Beautiful work! And I love that you need to insert quarters to add credits in MAME - how did you do this?

    It wasn't too hard. The original coindoor's (or at least the coindoor that was on it when I found it) microswitches were working just fine so all I had to do was wire up the ground and active wires and screw them down to an input on the IPAC2. Worked like a charm!

  • Nicely done

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