Raspberry Pi Bartop Arcade

Images can be found here: https://goo.gl/photos/eC5iNCz3eda9714A9

The original inspiration for this idea came from watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcsKNryPAzw. It shows how to set up a Raspberry Pi with the Retro Pie linux distro. It was a simple matter to get it up and running once the parts arrived. Of course, you can just run it “out of the box” as-is, but i like to tweak things, so i spent a week or so digging around configuration files and making small changes here and there. All the instructions you need are either in the video or can be found via google searches once you know what to search on from watching the video. Once I had that up and running, it wasn’t too long until i wanted to build an arcade cabinet to house it in.

This is where things get interesting. Because i naturally started with the same set of videos from this guy on how he built his arcade cabinet (see the 3 part video series, starting with this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3QXLQ1UXqs). That’s pretty cool, but … wow, it’s also alot to chew off for a first project like this (at least it was for me), so i’m glad thhat he also had a video on building a bartop arcade cabinet. You can check that out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6IX27FILus&t=240s.

And from there you can pick your poison with about a hunded different people showing their own custom bartop arcade cabinets. However, I decided to stick to his since his tutorial on the electronics portion had worked out so well. I picked up a copy of his plans ($5 on his store, linked from the video above), and started buying all the materials and tools that i would need.

And for the most part, I followed his plans. But there were definite gaps that he has in his plans and videos that you just sort of have to fill in on your own. Which is why i started looking at other plans in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – his plans are totally worth it, and the tools list he provide (with links to ebay and amazon for almost everything) are excellent, but it’s not perfect. Here are a few gotchas you’ll run across:

* his videos go very fast and gloss over a lot of things, some of which are covered in his plans, others which you just have to guess at

* one big gloss over is cutting the angles in the wood. i’m not good at just eyeballing stuff, so i went through a lot of trial and error everytime i had to make two pieces meet at an angle. other plans out there give you precise angles to cut the wood at for each piece.

* the link he gives for the routing tool to cut the groove in the wood for the t-molding is good, but the groove it cuts is just a tad too wide for the tmolding (with the link also provided by him). In the video is shows him having to tap the tmolding in with a rubber mallet. In my case, the tmolding just fell out because it was too loose. I had to use hot glue to get it to stay (but once in and dried, it looks fabulous)

* his plans don’t include anything about speaker grills. and without those, you’ll be listening to muffled sound coming through the wood. Several other plans (this video in particular), give a link to a great set of speakers to get off amazon and then using a 1/4″ drill bit, make a grid pattern on each side that the speakers can project from. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjN0kbcG9j0&t=355s

* another mising piece is a handle to carry help carry it with. The link above has that, and i would add a handle if i were to redo mine. it’s very akward trying to lug the thing around with nowhere good to grab hold of

* finally, his templates include the button and joystick layout that you print at full size, place on the control board piece of wood, and drill. which i did. and then i found to my dismay that his plans don’t actually fit (my wood was the corect size, the print was printed accurately, and covered the wood exactly). but he didn’t leave enough room for the joystick and the buttons to all fit. the joystick overlaps one of the buttons and thus you can’t attach it. I had to create my own template and make a new control board. not hard, but time consuming and a bit annoying that he didn’t seem to test his own plans.

But that aside, definitely watch his videos and use them as a starting point. Look at some other videos, see how others have done it, and then pick whichever method works best for you.

Good luck!