Arcade Cabinet – Building the Arcade Cabinet

This part will cover the assembly of the arcade cabinet. As well as creating cutouts for coin doors, speakers, wheels, power button, RJ45 connector…

 

DIY Arcade Guides
Introduction & Design
Building the Cabinet
Building the Control Panel
Installing & Wiring Cabinet Electronics
Setup Hyperspin & Controllers
Installing Emulators & Games
Photo Album

 

This arcade cabinet is still a work in progress, the guides are not done yet, updates coming soon.

During my build I forgot to take many pictures, Also your build will be different as mine so I won’t go through basic woodworking knowledge or specific details to my cabinet.

Requirements

The image above is the plan for my side panels, these were designed myself. Feel free to copy the design all required measurements should be on the plan. This was used to create a CNC program to run on a rather large CNC Cutter table. Before you start, you should have decided on your cabinet design, this is covered in the “introduction” part of these guides (Here).

Materials

Tools:

  • Hand Drill
  • Lots of screws
  • L-shape hooks
  • T-mold mill + slot/biscuit cutter (eBay)
  • Jigsaw

Wood

To minimize the number of trips to the woodshop, here are all the panels you need, the width of each of my panels is 91cm, this is the width of my TV. All wood is MDF 18mm (non-waterproof)

  • Bottom Plate – Bottom of the cabinet, cabinet feet, and wheels are mounted on here
  • Back panel Bottom – This will cover the lower back part of the cabinet
  • Front Bottom Panel – This panel will cover the bottom front of your cabinet, coin doors will be mounted in this panel
  • Center Horizontal ‘table’ – This panel will provide support for the whole cabinet, the control panel will later be mounted on here as well as many of the controller and electrical parts.
  • TV Back Mount – This panel will be used to keep the TV in place as well as keep the TV at a slight angle.
  • TV Stand – This small panel will hold the TV in place, the TV will rest on this panel, this way I don’t need to mount the TV
  • Back Top Panel – This panel will cover the top back part of the cabinet
  • Speaker Panel – This panel will hold the speakers and will be facing towards the player/control panel
  • Marquee back panel – This panel will hold the LED’s to illuminate the marquee
  • Cabinet Top Covers – These 2 panels will cover the top of the cabinet, one should be parallel with the center and bottom plate, the other one should be angled parallel to the speaker panel

Here are a few images which will clear out the placement of each of the panels.

I will not cover all assembly steps of the cabinet as yours will be different as mine, the photo’s above should give you a general overview what boards you will need and where they should be placed. All panels were connected using sunken screws and L-hooks. Any screw holes or screw heads on the outside of the cabinet will later be filled with wood filler to prevent visible bulges in your artwork later on.

Cutting T-Mould

We need to cut a T-Mould slot in all parts that require T-moulding. This process is fairly easy but make sure to try on a spare piece of wood first, position your slot cutter in the center of your wood: 18mm/2 = 9mm, then rather quickly move along the side you want to cut. When trying I noticed it’s important to only cut it once, don’t retrace your cut because then I had a wider gap than expected

These are the panels that need a slot for T-mould:

  • Both sides of the cabinet, all around except for the bottom
  • The front of the bottom panel
  • The speaker panel above your TV (only one side)
  • Top cover panel

I found this very nice instruction video from the gameRoomSolutions.com youtube channel. Also, If the slot turns out larger than expected, you can use glue to keep the T-Moulding in place.

Prepare cutouts

The speaker panel that will be mounted above your TV should already have their holes cut out, when choosing speakers I went with some full range car speakers that came with a grill, you preferably want a grill covering your speakers for safety and it just looks more like the old cabinets, if you know the dimensions of the speakers you are going to use, cut out the holes with a jigsaw. The holes don’t have to be very precise since most speakers have a bit of extra coverup from their grill.

If you also want a subwoofer mounted in your cabinet you may want to foresee these holes as well

The power and network Connector should be cut somewhere near the center ‘table’ panel, I bought an IEC female plug with a fuse and power switch, and a network patch cable from eBay. This will be your main power input and network for your computer, you can go with wifi in your cabinet but I wanted to keep the options open to have all my roms on a NAS server which requires a network cable rather than slow wifi. You can still add an HDMI out, audio out… on the back but I decided to mount some extra USB’s, audio output and HDMI output in the front of my control panel. This makes it easier to attach retro USB controllers.

The coin door will be installed somewhere in the lower front part of your cabinet. I went with 4 single player coin doors that have lit ‘insert coin’ button. I was able to remove the door from the coin doors so I had only the frame. I traced the frame onto the front of the cabinet and made sure all 4 doors were spread evenly over the width of my cabinet. As you can see in this image, I also cut some holes for front-facing speakers. Depending on your audio setup you may want to cut these as well.

Painting the panels

You want the parts that don’t have decals on them painted black, some of these parts are visible to the player and some are less visible, this is why I used spraypaint to quickly make these less visible panels black. The visible parts I painted black multiple times using a paint roller since spraypaint tends to leave drops when spraying the same part for too long I don’t want to risk this on a visible board like the speaker panel. Below are a few images helping to understand which parts need paint.

Feet and Wheels

Your cabinet will be getting heavy so you want strong legs or wheels to keep it up. To keep the machine from driving away when playing, I placed a height-adjustable leg on the front, with wheels on the back. Since the wheels have to support a lot of weight so it’s advisable to make a bigger wood plate between your case and wheel

On the rear bottom of the cabinet, I installed wheels, this way I can move the cabinet on my own by tilting it back and driving it around like a cart. To mount the wheels, I used a thick beam which is mounted to the bottom of the cabinet using many thick screws as all the cabinet’s weight will rest on these wheels. Then to install the wheels I used a hand scraper and a hammer onto the beam to cut away the excess wood. Then installed the wheels and secured them in place using thick screws. My finished cabinet weighs about 100kg, the wheels make it a lot easier to move it around and are rated to 200kg so they are definitely strong enough.

Cabinet Rear

The rear of the cabinet was closed using 2 separate panels, both are kept in place by hanging them in a hook on both sides of the cabinet. This way I can still quickly access the cabinet internals.

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