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My Asteroids-Themed DIY Upright Cabinet

  • Hi there,

    after roughly four months of work, i.e. mostly only 3-4 hours on weekends, plus two vacation weeks, in a learning-by-doing quest for the "right" way to do this (being no handyman at all), my Asteroids-themed upright cabinet is finally finished. Well, at least in a 1.0 state that doesn't rule out further improvements. :)

    Here are some pictures, details, and components of the build:


    The frame is a DIY kit from the German online shop Arcade4You. Nothing is painted, all opaque surfaces except for the bezel (see below) are covered with black or printed car foil. I gave up on painting after a week of trying, I hate it and it hates me back passionately. :)

    The bezel is going to be trimmed a bit more to show the monitor's shiny metal frame. It's made of black 1,2 mm thick cardboard, a proof of concept that may be changed if a better material comes along.

    All illumination is LED-based for minimum heat and power consumption.

    control panel with spinners

    Updated picture: Added two Ultimarc SpinTrak spinners on 2020-01-18!

    The Ultimarc Mag-Stik Plus joysticks can be switched between 4 and 8 way restriction just by pulling the sticks up and turning them (anti-)clockwise. I bought them as well as the LED buttons, the cables, and the LED controller from ArcadeWorldUK.


    The Asteroids designs were printed by the German ArcadeArtShop. They adjusted the original artwork I provided them to my cabinet and also used car foil with airways, as well as high-contrast, double-layered backlight foil for the marquee.


    The cabinet clearly wasn't designed to be home to speakers with such big magnets. The back door won't close without either moving the holding magnets a bit to the back or putting little iron bars on them to bridge the gap. But the sound is great. :)


    A slightly patched up chaos of components and cables waiting for future times of boredom to be fixed. :)

    Upper row from left to right: Raspberry Pi 3B in a Smraza case with a fan and a usb ssd, Qumox zero delay encoder (floating), Lepy LP-168S amplifier, another Qumox encoder, and a wireless power switch to quickly turn the sound on and off.

    Lower left: an Ultimarc Pac-Drive usb LED controller for the buttons. Lower right: the power cord of the marquee's LED lamp, disconnected for the "lights off" pictures. It will get another wireless power switch later on for easy illumination control.


    Feedback and questions are welcome. :)

  • Very cool!

  • That's lovely and clean-looking. Very jealous!

  • Mate the looks beautiful! I am going to make a bartop arcade as soon as all the parts come, one question did u buy the buttons etc first before building the shell?

  • @clyde one word: stunning!

  • Thank you all very much. :)

    @retroprogrammer I bought the shell before anything else, and the rest along the way. The shell has pre-drilled holes for the joysticks and the buttons that dictate some parameters like the diameter of the buttons (28 mm).

    There were some obstacles I had to address, like the mounting holes for the screws of the joysticks. They were pre-drilled for Zippyy joysticks, but the Mag-Stiks' screws are spaced differently from those, so I had to widen the holes by 1/2 diameter inwards. That surprised me, because I thought that those holes were standardised; I learned that they're not. Fortunately, the quite strong vinyl foil for the control panel masks the bigger oval holes very nicely.

    Some equipment required more research to find the brands and models that suit my preferences, and some of it wasn't available for some time. For example, I had to wait for the Mag-Stiks approx. two months and bought cheap Zippyy joysticks and non-illuminated buttons for test purposes from the shell's supplier in the meantime.

    The illuminated buttons and their controller were also sold out for a week, but luckily came right before last weekend (tip: don't order on the verge of public holidays like Easter.)

    So, my advice would be to acquire those parts first that define the parameters of others, and be prepared to handle surprises. Do wide-ranging research beforehand to learn what your options are; e.g. I only discovered the Mag-Stiks after I already bought the shell. [edit] Order a good time ahead so that you have everything ready when you're going to build. [/edit] And measure, measure, measure to ensure that everything fits together. ;)

  • how did u setup player 1 and player 2, do you need to do this? and what are the yellow buttons for?

  • @retroprogrammer I don't know exactly what you mean, I'll try to answer to the best of my assumption.

    The six buttons and the joystick's four microswitches for each player are connected to the Pi via USB by the Qumox zero delay encoders you can see hanging from red, white and blue wires in the second-to-last picture above. They appear as "DragonRise" controllers in Retropie that can be configured like any gamepad.

    edit: I just saw in your thread that you're planning to buy an encoder kit with exactly the same kind of encoders that I use.

    The yellow buttons are for coin/select and also RetroArch's hotkey. I plan to put either ¥ or $ or € symbols beneath their transparent button caps, but I haven't decided on the currency yet. The six buttons are configured as Y, X, LS (top row) and A,B,RS edit: B,A,RS (bottom row).

    If you want to know anything else, ask away.

  • did u have to make a custom script for the coin button?

  • @retroprogrammer No, I just set it to "select" in Retropie's Controller Configuration.

  • mind blown o'okay

  • @clyde said in My Asteroids-Themed DIY Upright Cabinet:

    Mag-Stik Plus joysticks can be switched between 4 and 8 way restriction just by pulling the sticks up and turning them (anti-)clockwise.

    How do you like those? I was looking at them for a long time and wasn't sure how well they worked or how well they switched between 4 and 8 way. Never got up the nerve to buy them.

    Nice build. I like the car foil idea. I had never heard of that before.

  • @lurker Did you happen to stumble upon my review of the Mag-Stik Plus in my Open Joystick Talk? If not, be sure to also check the test results of me and a friend's comparison of the Mag-Stik and the Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT-SK in the same thread.

    In short, I like them very much for their sturdyness and their stiffness. Others might prefer smoother sticks. Also, they're very exact to the point that they demand a high accuracy in the players' hand movement. Some might find that too demanding.

    The switching takes a little patience and practise, but then it's done very easily. That said, you can read about some problems another user had with it here.

    Thanks for the feedback. I also never heard of car foil until I read about it on the website of the printing service. It isn't cheap compared to normal vinyl foil – the brand I used for the unicolored planes ranged from 25-35 €/m² depending on the amount acquired – but I think that it's definitely worth it. Look for videos about its application on cars and be amazed. ;) Like everything, it takes care and (some) practise to master, but for me, it was way more workable as painting would've been.

  • Nice job on your machine @Clyde!
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  • @clyde brilliant Clyde! ... great work! ... looks fantastic!

  • What does the player one and player 2 buttons do?

  • @retroprogrammer They're player 1+2 start buttons.

  • @Clyde are they selected as 'start' in the config menu

  • okay

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