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Create custom arcade console

  • Hello there. I know that its not 100% retropie-related and apologies if am not supposed to post here. If not, kindly disregard.

    I would like to build an arcade console from scratch. With google search i found that i need the following materials:

    • MDF or different material for cabinet
    • Joystick and buttons
    • USB hardware to connect joystick and buttons
    • Raspberry pi 4
    • Screen
    • Cooling/mounting system for Raspberry
    • Power supply and power strip
    • Cabling (HDMI etc.)

    Any suggestions for each kind of the above materials? (like brand or specific model except for the MDF of course :-D). I woud like my cabinet to support dual player with joystick and buttons but i would like to be able to connect 2 extra controls for 4-player games. The extra controls could be normal usb controllers? If yes, any suggestions?

    Also, what about shooting games? Are there any light gun models compatible with the raspberry?
    What about wheel controller and pedal controller for racing?

    And also, can someone use emulator for Playstation and Nintendo 64 and classic MAME and Sega and/or other brands?

    So, conclusively i want to build an arcade console to be able to play Playstation, Nintendo 64, MAME, Sega etc. games with 2 sets of joystick/buttons, option to add 2 light guns and/or 2 wheels.

    In case i want to seal this arcade box, does raspberry support so many controller inputs? (2 USB-joystick-button controllers, 2 normal USB controllers, 2 light gun controllers and 2 wheel controllers?)

    I am brand new to the whole retropie world so apologies if i gathered all of my questions in one post!

  • Hi mate, welcome.

    I built a full size arcade with a Pi3 a few years ago. Link to my build is in my signature. I used a IPAC controller for the bottons and joysticks. My arcade is a 2 player setup. I didn't add additional controllers, but I don't see why you couldn't connect either Bluetooth or USB controllers to the Pi as additional controllers.
    As for buttons and joysticks, I opted for Sanwa for both to give that authentic feel. There is a lot of rubbish out there.
    As for the lightgun, I've backed the Sinden lightgun on kickstarter. It hasn't been released yet, but I'm sure there will be a lot of posts on the forum as soon as people receive them.


  • I rehabbed an existing upright cabinet and I made a thin cocktail cabinet. (Both with Pi3's running RetroPie.) It sounds like you want one machine to serve all purposes. I don't think that control panel would look very good.

  • I would recommend USB passthroughs for your plug in controllers, rather than trying to have the butt of the pi facing outside the cabinet. You could add a USB hub, and plug in Dolphin Bars for light guns (Wii Controllers), but I would add those later after you're done.

    I would recommend building more than one (but not at the same time!), each with their own control scheme and monitor orientation. Besides tools you probably already have, you'll want a router or laminate trimmer with a slot cutter.

    Build the control panel first. That way you can plug it into your TV and start enjoying it. When your cab is done, then you can install the cp into it.

    Best to see what others have done and copy it. Evert's build is right on!! I also offer my most recent build

    Good luck and keep us updated.


  • @pm4698 said in Create custom arcade console:

    In case i want to seal this arcade box, does raspberry support so many controller inputs? (2 USB-joystick-button controllers, 2 normal USB controllers, 2 light gun controllers and 2 wheel controllers?)

    Not sure on the light gun part but I would assume so, I use the ipac (mini) as well with sanwa joysticks and gold leaf buttons from ultimarc. I've used the inexpensive stuff on amazon also but nothing compares to the ultimarc IMO. The only thing with the sanwa's is going from 8way to 4way switching for games like Donkey Kong as the switching is under the panel. I tried using other joysticks that switch at the top and just didn't like them (mag-stik being one of them). I did get the sanwa working with a servo (servo-stik) for auto switching however my control panel did not have room to fit the servo... I used a toggle switch to move the restrictor plate. You can also set the rom bootup to change to the correct setting but I opted for a manual switch.

    I use the arcade sticks for mame games, and usb wired xbox360 like controllers for nes/genesis etc. Some nes/genesis games I use the arcade sticks as well, Works great either way. I don't remember if I ever got genesis 4 player games working with arcade sticks and usb controllers together, IIRC I had to use 4 usb controllers was something with the multi-tap in genesis but I only have 1 friend so it's not a problem normally lol.

    You will need a powered usb hub as you wont have enough ports for everything.

    MDF is what I used for a small 2p bartop, going to do a 4 player pedestal next using MDF again.

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