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Arcade Machine, 90ies style

by Lorenz Prem
published on September 13 2009 10:31 pm

I grew up spending way too much time at the arcade.I still remember the sounds and lights.

The 80ies and 90ies were the golden age of the arcade. This design is my attempt at recreating an arcade cabinet in the contemporary look. You'll instantly recognize it.

What's Involved

Building an arcade cabinet is not a cheap project. In addition to the woodworking, the cabinet requires joysticks, buttons, controllers, and a fully functioning PC.

A build requires woodworking skills, electronics skills, hardware knowledge, and software skills. If you build your own, you will learn a lot about how things work.

Required Tools

The woodworking tasks require a tool for cutting panels. A tablesaw is the ideal tool for this task. A circular saw can be used as well, but the quality of the edges will suffer. Precision also suffers, if the user does not know how to operate the tool.

A drillpress or drill is needed to create the holes in the control panel; a router for creating the bezel and the joystick mounts.

Let's define the components:

  • Cabinet: The cabinet is a big, tall box that houses all the components of the arcade machine. It's distinctive shape is instantly recognizable.
  • Control panel: The control assembly houses the input controls, the joysticks and buttons. The unit bolts to the cabinet. This is necessary to allow the arcade cabinet to fit through doorways, and to create a larger playing surface than would be possible within the constraints of the cabinet.
  • Computer: The heart of an arcade cabinet is its computer. A PC takes the place of the PCBs of the original. Unlike the originals, however, a PC can play most arcade games and all PC games.
  • Software: The PC needs to run the correct software in order to arcade games. MAME, the multi arcade machine emulator, is the core application of any PC based arcade machine.


  • 3 x sheet of plywood or mdf
  • 3 x 2x4 dimensional lumber
  • 2 x 16" drawer slide
  • 38"x12" sheet of 1/8" acrylic
  • 25 3/4"x5 1/4" sheet of glass
  • 6' T-molding
  • 4 x caster
  • 1 quart of paint
  • wood putty


  • 2 x joystick
  • 20 x push button
  • 2 x 1&2 up button
  • 2 x coin button
  • 2 x USB input controller
  • coin door
  • 2 x 5" full range speakers
  • amplifier for PC sound
  • 10' speaker cable
  • 24" 14watt halogen light
  • power strip
  • power entry module
  • 100' electrical wire
  • fully functioning PC
  • 24" wide screen LCD panel
  • keyboard
  • mouse


  • left side image
  • right side image
  • marque
  • screen bezel


As you can see, this is not a trivial project. There is a lot of stuff going on: woodworking, electrical work, art, hardware, and software. This is not something you'll complete in a weekend. The work, however, is easy enough to do.

Related - Arcade Cabinet Series

About the Author
"Lorenz is the founder of Hingmy. When he is not reviewing power tools or improving the site, he is building things in his workshop or playing hockey."