In early 2006, I set out to build my own stand-up arcade. I got ideas from reading Build Your Own Arcade Machine, and from various websites. I decided I wanted to build a unique arcade that looked more like a piece of furniture than a traditional arcade. I also wanted room for 4 players to play simultaneously. Keeping this in mine I combined some features from two arcades: the Supercade and Jubei. For a complete log of the construction process check out my blog.

Here is an early 3D model of the arcade drawn in Sketchup:

Here are some of the unique features of my design:

  • Stained birch for arcade panels
  • Custom-made stained glass marquee
  • Two tiered control panel with removable second tier
  • Dual Act Labs light guns
  • Extra tall design
The inner structure is made of 2x4s, and the outside is 3/4" birch plywood. I used three 4'x8' sheets of plywood for the construction. The exposed edges are covered with black T-moulding, and the panel are finished with a coat of golden oak stain and many coats of polyurethane (about 8 coats on the control panel surface).

The control panel design was borrowed from the Supercade design, but I made some improvements to it mostly in that I made it easy to remove the entire control panel (for fitting through doorways), and I made the second tier of controls removable. The main control panel has a Happ Controls trackball, 4 8-way joysticks, and 28 buttons (9 each for players 1 and 2, and 5 each for players 3 and 4). The second tier has connectors between all the wires so it can be disconnected and replaced with a different control panel in about 1 minute. Currently, I have one second tier control panel, which has a flight stick, a 4-way joystick, a SlikStik spinner, and 12 additional buttons. See the "Future Plans" section below for ideas I have for additional second tier control panels.

Just above the control panel and below the monitor there is a small wooden access panel that flips down to allow access to the TV's controls. Also via this access panel dual Act Labs light guns can be accessed for playing lightgun games.

As far as the electrical connections, all of the buttons and joysticks are connected to a Haggstrom Electronics KE72, and the trackball and spinner are connected to a Haggstrom Electronics ME4. The flight stick on the second tier control panel is just a hacked Logitech flight stick that interfaces via USB.
The coin door is a Happ Controls four player coin door. The coin mechanisms are wired up to the KE72 and do recognize coin drops (of course, I don't charge anyone to play).

The lighting is controlled via one switch behind the coin door. The coin door lights are powered via a wall wart 12 volt power supply. The marquee is lighted by two 2 foot florescent tubes. The stained glass marquee is a custom design and the back side is covered with one layer of tissue paper to act as a light diffuser. In addition I have that region inside the arcade covered with black felt to absorb and light leakage from the marquee.

Sound is handled by some Logitech computer speakers. The two satellite speakers are positioned behind a wooden panel just above the monitor. I considered cutting grills in the panel for these speakers but after positioning them I found that the sound quality was fine without the grills. There is also a small subwoofer that sits in the bottom of the arcade behind the front door.

The arcade is run using a standard PC running Windows XP. The front-end software is GameEx. There are a variety of emulators used in the system, the main one being MAME. Some of the other emulators are:

  • Super Nintendo - ZSNES
  • Nintendo 64 - Project64
  • Nintendo Gameboy - Visualboy Advance
  • Nintendo Gameboy Advance - Visualboy Advance
  • Nintendo Entertainment System - Nestopia
  • Sega Genesis - Kega Fusion
  • Sega Gamegear - Kega Fusion
  • Sega Master System - Kega Fusion
  • Atari 2600 - Stella

The control panel appears to be a keyboard and mouse to the PC, so all of the emulators must be configured to map the correct buttons to the correct emulator controls.

Future Plans
I'd like to make some additional tier 2 control panels, such as positional guns, racing wheels, beer cooler and gamepad interface.  I've also never been 100% satisfied with the ACT Labs guns, and I'd like to experiment with using something like GlovePIE so that I can use wiimotes as light guns in MAME.

More Info
Check out my album for more arcade pictures, or try my blog posts for details of the construction process.

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