Wednesday 6 May 2020

Starting at the End

The end of the project! Finished! 

Batman side

Spiderman side

Right. Some explanations to go with random images.
I built this arcade cabinet for two very young great-nephews of mine. A year or two ago I built another bartop arcade cabinet for myself, a bigger, heavier, uglier version of what you see here. I brought that machine along to a family BBQ and introduced my nephews to it. They turned into arcade limpets. 

A few months ago I was toying with the idea of building another cabinet. I had sold the old one and was missing the fun of building something cool. I mentioned this in passing to my nephews mum and they instantly asked if I was going to build it for them! Cheeky tikes! This idea burrowed into my brain and took root. I took stock of what I would need and found that I already had a lot of the parts, which I will cover in detail later.

The first part I needed was the screen. I knew I wanted it to be two-player, to avoid as many arguments as possible. I chose a spare Acer 19" 16:9 LCD monitor. It had been unused for some time in my mancave. I had a couple of spare arcade Zippy sticks which I had salvaged from my very first arcade cabinet build way back when, and a box of buttons I thought would suffice. All I really needed was a Raspberry Pi and a few cables. And some wood. And some paint. And a LOT of spare time.

All of this thinking went on around January. I took this photo on the 18th of January when I was trying to decide what to make it out of. 

I chose 12mm MDF. I knew I would not be able to use T-molding, that would drive the cost up. And I knew I wanted to keep the weight down, the last cabinet was not at all portable, despite being a bartop. It was larger and the wood was fifty percent thicker. 12mm MDF is still strong enough in such a small box.

Next, I tore down the screen, measured it, and started adding parts to a Sketchup plan. The idea was to make it as small as possible with all the parts that I had. 

I made sure there was access below as well as the back as I knew the room beneath would be extremely tight. 

I finished designing it, saved the plan, and then put it away and forgot about it for a while.

Then, one random day, about a month later, I decided to go and buy some wood to build a cabinet in the utility room (not an arcade cabinet). Having designed that cabinet in Sketchup too I took a look at the arcade cab design, which also included a cut list. I printed it out and drove off to B&Q. There, as well as the 18mm MDF for the utility room cupboard (which I dropped on my foot, somehow it didn't break a bone) I picked up a sheet of 12mm too and got it broken down to the right widths. I drove home, stacked it against a wall, and forgot about it again!

Time is always at a premium. I knew I would get round to it eventually. But realistically it would take me months.

March rolled around and we all know what happened then! Suddenly I had more free time than I'd had forever. And, after making a cat bench...

... I decided it would be really nice for my nephews to have an arcade machine during lockdown. 

And so, it began!

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