PiCade Table

WP_001824After owning my Raspberry PI for aR year, I decided it was time to actually do something useful with it.
I’ve decided to ruin my girlfriend’s coffee table and convert it into a fully functioning arcade cabinet for entertaining guests.

Full Photo build log after the jump

The Victim – a £16 IKEA Lack table. Very cheap and replaceable.
Lifting it up it’s very light, due to being primarily made out of cardboard honeycomb. Here you can faintly see I’ve roughly drawn lines to cut out for the monitor. I don’t recommend doing this with a 30cm ruler.WP_001697

Using a jigsaw to cut a hole on the trace, as you can see cutting without any guide blocks is a very bad idea. Inside the cardboard honeycomb can be pulled out using your hands.WP_001698

I sourced a cheap monitor off Ebay, which unfortunately was VGA only, so what money I saved went on a HMDI to VGA adapter. The resolution was pretty poor, but for old arcade games this does not matter. A few screws and prying got the panel out of the housing.WP_001692

The monitor unfortunately had it’s transformer inbuilt, I regret not purchasing a newer monitor with a power brick. A hole had to be cut to hold this in place and allow air circulation.

Once in, it did not look too shabby, and allowed easy access to the vga port to plug in a laptop etc.

The next step was drilling the holes for the buttons, the general consensus from the internet was to use a stepped drill bit, rather than numerous costly hole cutters. This also saved many headaches later on with adding button holes to the plexi glass. The cut is not the smoothest, but the button caps hide that.WP_001762

Some more holes were drilled on the front for player 1 & 2’s start buttons.WP_001767

Next came the joysticks, I spent a long time looking up on how to mount them without having any screw holes through the plexiglass. I opted to glue some thick wood to the underside of the table.WP_001804

The joysticks then screw into the wood on the reverse side, holding them in place:


For wiring the buttons, I found a GIPO extender in maplin, it allows inserting raw wire into a breadboard (No soldering), all 14 buttons run into this block, a simple script on the pi translates the GIPO switches to a keyboard key presses (http://learn.adafruit.com/retro-gaming-with-raspberry-pi/buttons)WP_001695

Laying out the Rasperry Pi, the VGA converter and the GIPO pin board, to maintain structural integrity of the remaining table most thick wires run via the outside. WP_001805

I brought some LED arcade buttons and switches off ebay:WP_001819

Joysticks and buttons assembled:WP_001821

Top view:WP_001824

For lighting the LED’s, I used an old 9v mobile phone charger wired in parallel to power the buttons. WP_001828

Feels like Christmas:WP_001830

To protect the screen I opted to cover the table in plexiglass brought from homebase (~£20). When cutting plexiglass, you can never scour it enough, the first cut shown below was perfect, but my second… not so much. I was left with some fragments still attached which needed to be jig-sawed off.WP_001835

Using a scrap bit of plexiglass It dawned on me just how hard this stuff is to drill. If have any impatience it cracks, I practiced at least 12 holes to get a feel for its breaking point before facing the main sheet. I cannot stress how slow it needs to be cut, taking breaks to vacuum the waste – which melts and acts a glue between the drill and the sheet.


After a painful week of drilling every evening, I finally had the holes cut without any cracks.


I initially had an idea of using wood for mounting the monitor, but it proved to be quite difficult to cut the groves without any woodworking tools. Instead I saw some tough foam in a pound shop, that could be moulded using a Stanley knife. These were then glued at the base.WP_001851

Here it is testing the mount and monitor with steam’s big picture. One thing you can’t see is that the monitor is mounted upside down, due to the viewing angles, the video-card rotates the image and no one is the wiser!WP_001859

I’m currently wiring up the board and controls to the pi, so more pictures are soon to follow!

EDIT: It is now done, See the final part

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