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How to make an Arcade Machine: Part 3

The artwork that you use on your cabinet is what really sets it off.  And the choices are almost endless. You can pick from old school retro arcade game graphics, to modern PC and console games artwork.  I’ve seen numerous arcade cabinets with Halo, Destiny, and other XBOX game artwork on the sides.One thing that almost every arcade had was a lighted marquee.  The two just go hand in hand.  If you build an arcade its generally considered mandatory to install one.  But don’t fret.  There’s super easy ways to light your marquee and and in this video we’re using one of the simpler techniques (and green too!).  And finally we’ll install all of the T-Molding (or T-track) molding.

Watch the Arcade Machine Video (Part 3)

In addition to getting access to all of our awesome plans, Premium Members get access to additional content including these videos:

Using our Spray and Stick Templates
Installing USB Ports

Adding a Fan to your Arcade

Installing the Lighted Marquee

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The lighted marquee can be lit with a variety of lighting choices.  You can use custom arcade cabinet lighting which is pretty complex for a light (this allowed games to control the light).  You can also use standard fluorescent or LED light strips. Since none of our games are going to interact with the lighting, we’re going to go a much simpler route and just use an 18 inch LED light strip from the local big box store.  it will plugged in to that 2 gang electrical box we installed in part two, and therefore controlled by the master on/off switch.  In the future I may add a secondary switch to only control the light.  But it seems fine so far as I haven’t needed to turn it on or off separately.

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I ordered a custom printed marquee graphic from a specialty printing company online called Game on Grafix.  They recommended that you order the artwork about 1/4 of an inch too large and then trim it to fit your marquee.  I did just that, and order a Space Invaders themed marquee in 27″ x 4″.  To trim the marquee graphic down to size, just lay the glass over the top of it and use it as a template to trim the entire graphic.

The marquee should ideally be sandwiched between two identical sections of glass.  This will keep the marquee straight and level and keep it looking great for years to come.

Get the Arcade Cabinet Plans
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I also order Space Invade themed side art.  This side art is also ordered to be exactly 1/2 inch too large in all directions to make sure it will fit.  We then use a razor knife to trim it down to size.  I found the best way to apply the vinyl graphic sheets is to only stick down about four inches at a time, and use a credit card to smooth out the surface and eliminate any bubbles before laying down another four inches.  This is pretty time consuming and requires at least one more person to hold the rolled up sheet above the surface, but it makes for an incredible smooth surface when you’re done.  To trim it, its as simple as sliding a very sharp razor knife down the side of your arcade cabinet to cut off the excess.

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The final thing to do before putting everything into the cabinet and calling it done is to install the decorative and protective T-molding on the faces and edges.  This molding is simply pushed into the slots we routed in part one of the arcade machine series.

I found it to be super easy to install with a small rubber mallet and just to tap it into place a few inches at time.  You can cut it with a razor knife.  Anywhere the t-mold needs to go around a squared corner, notch the underside of the track at a 90 degree angle so you can easily wrap it around.  Don’t cut the track and start a new piece!

The last thing left to do is play some arcade games!  Fire it up and have some fun!  Don’t forget to share your arcade machine build with us if you make one!

Read Part One of How to Make and Arcade Machine!

Read Part Two of How to Make and Arcade Machine!

Get the Arcade Cabinet Plans
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Video Transcript

Hey Guys!  It’s Mike from The Geek Pub!  And on this episode we’re going to finish this awesome arcade cabinet!

Well hey guys!  Welcome to part 3 of our arcade cabinet build.  And in this episode we’re going to finish it up by finishing up the lighted marquee and applying all of the graphics.  Now unfortunately one of my graphic panels has still not arrived and so we’re going to go ahead and finish the video without that, and I’ll show you how it looks in a follow up video or one of the future pub talks. To light the marquee I got this LED light (It’s just a light strip that plugs in) at a local big box store. And I’m just going to install this into the back of the marquee box.  But before we do that I’m going to line it using spray adhesive and aluminum foil.  That will make it a little bit more reflective. So let’s get started.

I’m just going to use my razor knife to cut everything to size.

And I’m just going to install the light fixture.  It’s pretty easy its just one screw.

OK.  I’m going to cut two 4 x 27 inches sheets of acrylic out of this large sheet and this will be the sandwich for the marquee artwork.  And I highly recommend that when you cut acrylic you cut it on the table saw and that you use something like a Micro-Jig to hold it flat during the process.  Otherwise it might crack.

So what I’ve done here is I’ve taken one one of these pieces of acrylic glass and I’ve clamped it down on top of my Space Invaders marquee background, and I’m just going to use my razor knife with a brand new very sharp blade to trim it out to the exact finished size.

And then finally just remove the clear plastic that is on their from the manufacturer and that will reveal the finished product.

And just slide the marquee into place.

OK. So I have went ahead and completely disassembled the arcade and brought it upstairs into the game room.  And I did this because I wanted to have a very clean dust free environment in order to install the graphics on.  And I have those here with me and they are of course also Space Invader themed.  And so what I am going to do is going to remove the adhesive back and I’m going to apply them and then I’m just going to use a razor knife to cut them to the size of the cabinet.

I’m just going to use a razor knife and I’m going to trim it along the edges of the cabinet.

OK.  So if your remember part one of our arcade cabinet build we routed all of these slots into the front fascias and the lighted marquee, and that is to accept this T-track and this T-track has these little ribbed slots that stick out and they will compress into the slots that we routed with the router.

I’ve found that rather to cut the entire T-track, its better to just cut this little notch in the bottom of it. And that way I can fold it over and it provides for a much more finished look.

Hahaha.  Alright. Well that wraps up the arcade cabinet build.  I’m so glad that you joined me for this.

This was probably one of the funnest projects that I’ve done in a long time. I grew up with arcades as a kid.  There was one on every corner.  In fact, arcades were in Wal-Marts and local gas stations, and everywhere you went because there was no such thing as a home arcade system or an iPhone that you could play video games on anywhere that you went.  And there certainly wasn’t anything like an XBOX.  So you had to go make a trip if you wanted to play an arcade. And so that’s what we did all the time.

And other than the missing graphic on the kick-panel the arcade is fundamentally complete.

I’ve also only so far installed MAME and a front-end for it called Maximus arcade, but in the future I’m going to put emulators for Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600, Neo-Geo, and other emulators.  I just haven’t got around to doing that yet and I’ll probably make a video about all of that as well.

I’ll probably do one more follow up video on things that you didn’t get to see such as the software install and those types of things.

I’d also like to talk about some of the mistakes that I made, and none of them are major but I think they would help you in your cabinet build.

So some of you probably think that I am crazy having a Space Invaders marquee and side art, and a Pac-Man control panel.  Well in the future I will also have a Pac-Man kick panel when that comes in.  Because the machine is a multi-arcade and it can play just about any game, I wanted to have a little bit of fun with that and kind of show that. And so I am kind of doing a multi-arcade theme and I may over time change stuff.  I’ve actually considered changing my marquee over to a Geek Pub logo.

Well hey!  Thanks for watching this video!  If you liked it, hit the subscribe button.  And if you want to follow along with me go to Facebook.com/TheGeekPub.

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15 Responses

  1. your channel is very informative thank you and keep it comming could you do a series of what can be done with the raspberry pi pc please

  2. Hi Mike, top job, really nice build and loved the “you tube” videos, just one question, and sorry if a little nosey, but what was the overall cost of the build? Thanks keep up the good work!

      1. How about the cost of building the cabinet itself. I’ve looked at buying used cabinets in the past but those can get pretty expensive. I think you have the right idea of building it yourself.

  3. Do you recommend a certain coin op door for accepting quarters for the arcade system? Also, if it is 2 player do you need a door that accepts coins for player 1 and player 2, or will one coin slot work for a 2 player arcade setup?

  4. Hey Mike, I would love a video showing the setup of the coin door. I have searched the internet and haven’t figured out how to set it up in Maximus Arcade. Thanks!

  5. Hi Mike
    Question on the COIN door…
    Do you know if there s any mech for European / Swedish coins
    Ive looked around some and I can’t say I found any worth the name… maybe I just go for quarters and modify it for the small increas in diameter.
    If that is possible.
    Thanks for the awesome site and videos ??

  6. Hey Mike, this is an awesome project, I’m adding it to my list. One question I have – you mention that you are using a PC running Windows 8, but the plans I bought here don’t make any mention of a PC. They only mention the Raspberry Pi. Any reason it’s left out? I don’t have any experience with the Raspberry Pi or MAME so am looking for resources that cover all the steps. Thanks.

  7. I have a lot of parts lying around and have a small wood workshop. You really inspired me to start building a new arcade machine. The only thing i dont have is a spare “big” monitor, i have just a 20 and a 22 inches lying around, maybe that will work, I am wondering if horizontal mount works better for games as these monitors are widescreen. Or you think a 4:3 new monitor will work better? thought they are 19 inches to the max nowadays. Thanks!

  8. Nice build, Want to try it will a real computer internals. A 1660Ti i have spare should suffice but i guess i will have to vent out the heat!

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