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Making a bartop arcade and need some help!



  • Hey guys, its been a while since I've been on, Yesterday I was seating around cause its the holidays around Australia and I was like, "Why not make a bartop arcade!!!" after all the excitement I started brainstorming, and am confused. would you configure the arcade joystick as a joystick or joypad? also is it possible to even make a bartop arcade with the most minimum equipment, because all I have is a table saw, a saw, sandpaper, a drill, a hammer and dremmel, is this enough?!



  • Presuming you want to make the cabinet out of wood, mdf, particle board or similar, then yes, those tools are enough. I will add a foot note that you may have a trickier time with some elements when your tool options are limited but you can do it.

    With exactly what you listed for tools you will be a bit limited in terms of curves. If you have access to a handheld jigsaw then you can do some of the curved sides that you have seen in other peoples builds.

    For the button holes a drill press is best but a hand drill is fine. I would recommend if you don't have them, spending the money for forstner bits in the size you need. These make clean straight holes. You may want a set as the action buttons tend to be 30mm and the coin player buttons are 28mm and sometimes 25mm depending.
    0_1523486855281_a792e657-f68b-4508-bf26-4f76888d5f6d-image.png

    If you want to do a traditional cabinet look IE 3/4in sides with trim then you will also need a router and bit to cut the groove for the T-modeling that makes up the trim. Yes you could do it with a dremel but you will still need to make some sort of jig, it will take a long time and you may burn up your dremel. So you will either need to acquire a router and groove bit for the T-molding or change the design to forgo the T modeling. You can leave it off or fake it a bit by rounding the edge through sanding.

    Personally the T-molding is nice but I have no problems sacrificing it.

    One of the main items in terms of build design is the monitor you have to work with. If it has mounting nuts on the back it is pretty easy. If not then you have to sandwich the monitor in place or some other option. I had to do this on my last build because I had a free monitor but it specifically did not have mounting holes.

    The last main advise I can give is... When designing your cabinet, ask yourself various questions like " how will I get to this encoder board after everything is finished if I need to change something?" OR "If I put a power switch on the back will I be able to get to it with the unit up against the wall?" and so on. A lot of the pre-built cabinets (and I am not knocking them for those who do not want to build or can not build their own) are trying to keep things as general as possible and so do not plan for button wire access or power switches.

    The up side to building your own is that you get to address any and all the little bits that are important to you.



  • @Lurker thanks for the reply

    These are the buttons I am going to order:
    Arcade 20 DIY LED Buttons + 2 Joysticks + 2 USB Controller Encoder Kit Game Part

    also for curved edges, I could sand them down, even though it will take a long time and the monitor is a lenovo 0_1523490710573_74c6d28f-5b23-4502-b0d8-9da71545cd0b-image.png

    and I will buy the drill bit you have suggested



  • Ya, that monitor looks like the type that has mounting holes on the back so fixing that into your cabinet is pretty straight forward.

    I use a joystick/button set similar to your link in my last build. Two things to note:

    1. The button AND the side trim on those buttons light up. It does not effect functionality in anyway, but some people want just the center button , or just the trim to light up and not both. Like I said, not a problem but something to be aware of.
      0_1523551798713_ae206ac6-406c-42ea-8987-d114b150a0ad-image.png
      Also you can, if careful, get the button cover off and put labels under the cover, you just have to be delicate as the tabs that hold the top down can break if pushed to hard.

    If you choose to use a clear or mostly clear acrylic on the deck you will get an added bonus of the edge of the acrylic lighting up from the button light shining through.

    1. You will want to make sure the solts you connect the buttons to are the same on both usb encoders. if button "A" for player 1 is in button slot 7, then player 2's "A" button should be in button slot 7 on the second encoder. I didn't do that at first and every time I tried to configure player 2 things would get all squirrely. The reason I mention it is the cable lengths they give you for the buttons are not long and where you place the encoder board can limit what slot a button can reach and you want to make sure the same button on the other player can reach that same slot on its board.

    (disclaimer: advanced retropie users may have a better solutions for using buttons in different slots. I am not advanced in that area and went with the solution that was easiest for me reach)

    For the curved edges. If you do not have a jig saw and want something like:
    0_1523552985197_e0b0b1d6-2548-4a4d-9003-f516c97815aa-image.png (Not mine. Screen shot from google search)

    Draw your curve and then take multiple straight cuts up to the curve to get most of the material away and then sand down the remaining to the curve you want. Definitely sandwich the left and right pieces together when you do this so the result is the same on both sides. The symmetry will make it harder to notice if the curve is not quiet a smooth curve as long as it matches on both sides.

    0_1523553531303_96b7a1ed-8172-4fc4-97be-6b4ac2965890-image.png 0_1523553841843_4d260359-6fa2-4847-a605-d41013bec1c4-image.png 0_1523554056901_0b906082-469d-48d3-bf1e-042eea53a959-image.png
    Etc. Etc. etc.



  • thanks mate, that is very helpful for my build, also my arcade will be 2 players



  • here is a design I have drawn:
    0_1523568345145_Capture.PNG





  • @rbaker thanks for the post



  • should I get buttons and all the tech before starting of my case? and can I use a U mold instead of a T mold?



  • @retroprogrammer I did. It's important to build the internal workings and prove it all works then you can build a case that you know will house your innards. I have seen many a case with components rammed in with all sorts of stresses on cables. Here is my take on the above instructable. No idea about U moulding.



  • I would recommend getting the "innards" first. You can set up a functional test way before the cabinet is finished.

    I used a cardboard box to make a quick controller to test out the buttons and make sure the wires are all okay and then started setting up the retropie image, theme, rom set etc. all before the cabinet was even close to finished. Doing this also allowed me to think on and decide how I wanted certain features like the master power switch and a hinging controller deck.

    U molding will work but there are a couple of things to watch out for. Some U molding has ...fins? ...teeth? ...what ever you want to call it.
    0_1523573870910_d3d41641-3401-48a4-843f-2c451051c7a2-image.png
    And you have to compensate for that or the U molding will curve out.

    A similar issue is that some U molding has thick walls and so the edge to grip needs to be thinner then the rest of the side material for the U mold to sit mostly flush. This can be solved with a router. Or you could make a channel with your dremel for the, I'm going to say fin until someone gives me a better name.

    Last complication U molding has is that it does not like drastic angle changes. you will have to cut the side walls to go around 90 deg outside angles and 90 inside angles and for the inside angles the separation will be visible. With T molding you do the same thing but you cut the leg of the T and it goes in the track so you can't see it.

    If you are using MDF you can just sand the edges round of the same effect. T-molding was used originally to both hide the particleboard edge and provide padding against damage from bumps and kicks and such.

    Question for you. Are you planning on using just the joysticks or usb controllers too? I ask because If you want USB game pads, then I would definitely recommend adding a USB flush mount connector to the project. Way better than trying to get into the back of the thing every time.

    Also IF you are going to have USB game pads I have found the Marque space at the top makes very good storage. Just add a hinge to the marque face and a magnet latch to keep it from flopping around.



  • @lurker said in Making a bartop arcade and need some help!:

    Question for you. Are you planning on using just the joysticks or usb controllers too?

    Yes I am going to have USB controllers just in case, some one come for a visit and they have more then 2 kids to keep them entertained



  • @retroprogrammer said in Making a bartop arcade and need some help!:

    I am going to have USB controllers just in case, some one come for a visit and they have more then 2 kids to keep them entertained

    I have two wireless Wii U Pro gamepads in addition to the built-in joysticks of my cab for the same reasons, yet more for grown-up visitors rather than for kids. Most of my friends in their forties to fifties are still kids inside anyway. ;)



  • That reminds me of when my parents come around, they love retrogames



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