Nintendo Arcade

This is a stand alone, bar top arcade machine that plays any/all original Nintendo games.  This project was a lot of fun to build.  It took about 1 week, approximately $70.00, and exactly 2 cases of diet coke 🙂

You can view my step by step in great detail at instructables here:

The cabinet also acts a regular PC.  It has 2 USB ports in the back.  You can plug in a keyboard and mouse and surf the web (wireless internet is built in), play games etc…  During arade play however, no keyboard or mouse is ever needed.  The control panel has a “mouse mode” feature.  Pressing the mouse button enables the joystick to move the cursor, acting as a mouse.  There is also a click button for mouse clicking.  Around back beside the USB ports, there are also two original Nintendo controller ports.  Connect a controller or two and play one or two player games using the joystick and a controller, or two controller, bypassing the control panel all together.  You can also play one player by using a regular control pad if you like.  The cabinet has one power switch that turns everything on.  The PC boots up to the custom VB program written to let you select a game to play.  click the game and you’re ready to go.

These pictures will show step by step how I made this cabinet….


The first step is to draw out the basic shape of the arcade.  This is made from 1/4″ MDF.  MDF is easy to work with, inexpensive, and very lite compared to plywood.

These are the sides cut from MDF


All of the pieces cut from MDF… Let’s put it together….


All assembled.  I ended up not using MDF for the screen bezel.  Plexiglass was a much better choice.  Now let’s take a look at the inner workings….


To interface the joystick and buttons with the computer, I hacked up an old keyboard and used the controller from inside.


Beneath the keys there are two thin, transparent film.  Each film has a contact point for each key, for a total for 208 contact points.  Each point leads to a pin on the controller.  The goal in this step was to trace out which contact point went to which pin.  There was no need to do all 104 keys, as I only needed 13 keys for my control panel.  Using a multimeter, it was very easy, though a little time consuming, to accomplish this.


Here you can see the two films and I have each key marked that I will be tracing.

09Using the mulitmeter to trace out the keys/pins.  You can see the matrix that I used to keep track.

I used an old IDE, 40 pin ribbin cable to connect my keyboard controller to the control panel.  These are the pins soldered to the open end of the controller.


Wires soldered to the keyboard controller.


This is the completed controller.  This plugs into the computer via USB.  Once the control panel is soldered on, it will be fully functional.  Left to right, the wires are: ground wires for set keys, open wires for set keys, USB ports, USB cable.  The total soldering time was about 6 hours.  It was a lot of fun.  I did it one Sunday afternoon while we were all sitting around watching TV together.


This is the control panel, painted lite gray.


Using painter’s tape, I masked out the area I wanted pained a darker gray


All masked up and spray painted.  Let’s remove the tape now…


Not too bad.  Now, let’s add the secondary buttons…



This is the joystick and arcade buttons I ordered from arcade emulators.  very good quality, an excellent choice.  I will definitly order from them again.  Now, let’s put it all together…


The control panel is assembled and even has the plexiglass on top.  The labeling was done using scrapbooking “rub on” letters.  It worked much better than I thought it would (thanks Tisha!)  Now, let’s wire that sucker up!


All wired up, now to solder the other ends to the keyboard controller we hacked up a while ago…


This is everything that has to be shoved into the cabinet (in addition to the monitor and computer).


The computer had to be removed from it’s case to fit in the small cabinet.  Here you can see the motherboard mounted to the back wall, as well as the surge protector, cooling fan, light for the marquee, speakers, nes controller ports, usb card, and power cord with switch, trust me, it’s there.


Now, we’ve added the monitor in front of all of that.  The power supply is located directly behind the monitor.


The monitor is bolted to the base of the arcade so it will not slide around or shift.


And this is the final project with the control panel added on, the marquee sign and light added and the computer up and running.  Let’s take a look at a video showing everything that it does and how it works…

Published on August 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm  Comments (8)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Published in: […]

  2. Russ this is truly amazing!!!!

  3. You did a great job!!! =~)

  4. […] Link – Russm313 […]

  5. […] Link – Russm313 […]

  6. I saw this on Instructables and thought you did a brilliant job!

  7. Thanks for the information provided! I was looking for this information for quite some time, but I wasn’t able to see a dependable source.

  8. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to
    my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates
    and will share this site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: