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Raspberry Pi Arcade Table project

edited September 2018 in Not Sports Related
My brother mentioned that he would love an arcade table for Christmas. I had a look online and the cheapest were £800 plus. I wondered if it was possible to build one. I have no carpentry skills but can print on aluminium board (like street signs are made of) and using a suitable glass topped mdf table as a frame, thought it might be possible.

The most important thing is of course the games. And I have found that a raspberry pi (£35 with power supply) with software called retropie fits the bill. It is a bit of a technical challenge getting everything working and I still have a few arcade games to get running, but I have on it every game for many computers and consoles including the Spectrum and C64 to the Snes, Megadrive, PC Engine. I also have every NEO GEO game working which are 100% arcade games. In terms of other arcade games, I have got the simple ones running, but have work to do on some of the more complex ones. I loved playing my old favourites Astro fighter and Carnival! So now the games have clearly ticked the box, I have ordered the glass table and arcade buttons and joystick.

Anyway, I'll update this thread with some photos as the project progresses. I have posted on here because I thought maybe somebody else has completed a similar project or is thinking of doing so. If the former I'm sure it would be helpful to talk through some issues I still have to crack and if the latter, I may be able to provide some advice.

I haven't received the table or buttons yet, and when I do, careful measuring is going to be required to get the aluminium board cut right. I still need to work out the best way to mount the monitor (I have a plan but not 100% confident it is the best way yet) and switching it on. I have an old LCD Techneka tv that is perfect - the analogue areal connecter is broken but the hdmi port is fine (what the pi needs).

Anyway, any advice or questions are most welcome. It does feel a bit of a challenge!
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Comments

  • I was looking at getting a stand-up one but they were so expensive given what was used inside. You can get kits online I think, but still quite expensive for DIY stuff. I'm sure there must be guides out there as well. I have no practical skill either so didn't look too much into building.. definitely a challenge! Keep us updated as to how you get on.

    Also if you wanted arcade games like Street fighter maybe get a Jamma Board, they're pretty cheap and run all those types of games but stick with Raspberry Pi if you wanted SNES games and stuff, I'm sure it can handle most non-3d arcade games as well through MAME.
  • I have the latest Pi which is the 3B+. It is quad core and can handle the faster games. I think the issue with arcade games is they have different chipsets and you have to get them right for the emulator. The Pi can run PSOne and N64 games, but I am more interested in the period before these. I am using a 16GB SD card but would need to use a 64gb or higher if I wanted to go down the PSOne route.

    With the arcade games you can define a button a the coin button so it is nice playing an arcade game with teh ability to keep stuffing money in it. The Neo Geo is great for fighting games and 1943 type games. Many of them probably share the same code. There are some real gems in there, but I have to spend less time playing them and more time planning and fixing. I am using an Xbox 360 wired controller. Had a sneaky go at Sensi on the Megadrive, but made sure it was only a quick one.
  • The arcade game emulator is MAME if anybody has experience of it I would be grateful for advice. All the old stuff - 80s, early 90s games run fine (Pac Man, Galaxians, Galaga etc...) but the Street Fighters, Outruns etc... are giving me issues. I know they work on the system. Not sure if I have to download another emulator or other versions of the games. Would really love star wars to run too!
  • This should probably be on the things that make you feel old thread, but .... What?????????
  • Yes, I have watched quite a few. I have decided to base my table around an existing table I found online for £43. The legs are MDF so the aluminium board can easily be attached around them. I should get the table this week, and then it is a case of accurately measuring to produce the aluminium board. If this works it is going to be more straightforward than cutting it all out of wood and I have no limits to the design I can put on the board. I should also get the joysticks and buttons and will need to ensure the holes are the right size for them on the board.
  • You are a great brother.
  • edited September 2018
    I didn't say he was getting it - he gave me the idea! I suppose how good it looks will be a factor - if it is rubbish he can have it. I want to use the printing advantage we have to make it look professional.
  • edited September 2018
    You can get retroarch to run on a Raspberry Pi, found that to be quite slick on Windows, not tried it in a Linux based environment as yet. You can download every emulator under the sun, I have mine setup to run NES, SNES, and N64 games at the moment.

    https://retroarch.com/index.php
  • edited September 2018
    Yes, I have it.
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  • MrOneLung said:

    You are a great brother.

    I didn't say he was getting it - he gave me the idea! I suppose how good it looks will be a factor - if it is rubbish he can have it. I want to use the printing advantage we have to make it look professional.

    You are a true brother.
  • edited September 2018

    Yes, I have it

    Nice, they also seem to do their own distro called lakka lakka.tv/

    Have to echo what MrOneLung said, you are a good brother for doing this, this is quite a project.

    EDIT: Just spotted that it's not for your brother, that is more like it :)
  • Good work @MuttleyCAFC, keep us updated with progress. I'd love to have a go at doing something like this one day.
  • edited September 2018
    One issue I need to crack - if I can is theTV. I want it to come on when the table is switched on and visa versa. But modern LCD TVs are normally kept on stand by and when they are switched off at the mains they are done when in standby. They dont last so long if switched on and off by the mains all the time. I can use the remote, and may have to but would be good if there was a better way.
  • JohnBoyUK said:

    Good work @MuttleyCAFC, keep us updated with progress. I'd love to have a go at doing something like this one day.

    Yeah but have you got anywhere you could keep it.....
  • One issue I need to crack - if I can is theTV. I want it to come on when the table is switched on and visa versa. But modern LCD TVs are normally kept on stand by and when they are switched off at the mains they are done when in standby. They dont last so long if switched on and off by the mains all the time. I can use the remote, and may have to but would be good if there was a better way.

    Couldn't you solder an extension to the standby switch on the tv from the Raspberry Pi power switch? Thus when you fire up Raspberry Pi the screen wakes at the same time?
  • HDMI CEC might be workable too, seems there is a utility already written for the pi:

    https://timleland.com/raspberry-pi-turn-tv-onoff-cec/

    You would just need to schedule the command to run as part of startup, maybe on init.d or whatever the equivalent pi startup routine was.
  • edited September 2018
    Yes the CEC command was what I had in mind. It is the turning off that concerns me. Maybe it isn't an issue. Ideally I want the TV to remain in its case and not be opened and likewise the pi when I put it in a case. i plan to well vent them and not change anything and add anything. I am incredibly impressed with the emulation on the pi btw. I cant fault it.
  • edited September 2018
    The table and joysticks/buttons have arrived. Seeing all the wires has brought home this is not an easy task. Next step is putting the table together and carefully measuring - then using those measurements to design the board for printing on aluminium using adobe illustrator. Also what design to print on it - I am favouring a strong Manga influence.

    I also have to get to grips with retropie. I can play the games on it, but I need to look at different display options and mastering the turning on and off of the system. Lots of You Tubing and googling this weekend I think. Currently one player or two player is selected using the joystick, I want it to be a button - that sort of thing!!! I was wondering whether individual games can be allocated their own controls outside of teh generic controls - just to optimise playability.

  • No idea on the individual controls thing, I would have thought you could set settings to load profile for each game, like you would graphics or resolution settings.

    As for the TV, assuming power will always be supplied to the table and never turned off you should be able to send it the standby command as part of the shutdown/kill processes using CEC.

    Sounds like a lot of fun, I'd love to see some pictures as you make it.
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  • I will be posting them as it emerges. My preference is that it can be turned on or off via the mains. If I can sort that out that is.
  • edited October 2018
    My brother has got enthused having seen his favourite arcade games working as he remembered them in the arcade. Spent too much time on arcade OutRun, NBA Jam and Golden Axe today! We are now doing this together and are currently discussing the design - what we are going for is a bit more complicated than my original design but it should look better. Anyway, drawing up plans now. Think I have sorted the tv turning on pit but requires inputting a CES command into the Raspberry!

    Part of me is thinking I should just have made it into a console. Far less issues to resolve, but I have bought the bits now at some cost. If anybody is a fan of arcade games and wants to build a console, it is very simple -talking minutes here - and you could be playing 1,000s of arcade games plus megadrive and snes for under £100. All what is needed can be found on ebay. Setting up is pretty easy. If anybody wants ebay links to the different things they will need to make the far easier console, they can PM me and I'll send them to them.
  • Great project. I'm not in a position to offer advice, just encouragement.
  • Just played Space Harrier - kept adding credits via the select button which allows you to go as far into the game as you like. My brother completely finished golden axe earlier - again due to insert coin now being a press of the select key! The arcade version has all the characters breaking out of the cabinet at the end and running down a Japanese street! Would have cost a few quid to get that far in the arcades.
  • There is a raft of older games out there that can be had for nothing or near to it, and like you say Muttley it's a very easy thing to setup. Good to hear you got the CEC thing working, looking forward to the pics and updates :)
  • Because we are doing the outside in precut aluminium, the measurements have to be exact. Have decided to box in the table and project out the joystick and buttons. Double checking the measurements now. We also have decided to go with a Bubble Bobble theme for the table - not too busy, but we think it will look good.

    It isn't quite nothing but you can buy a Pi for £43 with power supply, a case for it for £3.50, Joypads for £5, a 32GB SD card for £7 and you have what you need. It is a bit of work still. I think I will make up a few consoles for Christmas presents - I can just copy the retropi and games image fromn sd card to sd card.
  • The arcade game emulator is MAME if anybody has experience of it I would be grateful for advice. All the old stuff - 80s, early 90s games run fine (Pac Man, Galaxians, Galaga etc...) but the Street Fighters, Outruns etc... are giving me issues. I know they work on the system. Not sure if I have to download another emulator or other versions of the games. Would really love star wars to run too!

    You want the FB Alpha emulator for street fighter. Capcom, Konami stuff generally runs on it better.
  • edited November 12
    Update on this - It has been on the back burner for a year due to other work but I am currently putting a table top cabinet together. I have got to grips with retropie and now have it how I want it with Dragons Lair 1 and 2 and Space Ace. Rubbish games but they look good. I also have 100s of arcade games, my favourites are 1942, Carnival, Lunar Rescue, PacMan and Outrun which I am playing a lot. Carnival, Pac Man and Lunar rescue take me back. 

    I decided not to have N64 and Playstaion games on my cabinet as they do not run perfectly and require more complex controllers which I don't want on the cabinet. I am really happy with the software side and have solved all the issues on display and getting the screen to come on. I have purchased a 4:3 ratio vga monitor and an VGA HDMI adapter which works well. I also have some external speakers that are powered using the Raspberry USB port. Two other ports of the four are used for the arcade joysticks and buttons.

    The laminated Aluminium housing is fully printed with a dragon's Lair theme. I am building this around a wooden frame for strength. Anyway, I expect it to be finished in a few days and I'll put some pictures up. I have save and volume options as well as display choices like CRT etc... I don't want too many as it gets silly.

    Great I can play and save Sensible Soccer and many other console games.
  • edited November 12
    if anybody is thinking of putting a mini console together (you don't have to make a cabinet), I have found a Raspberry 2 b does the job and you can pick these up on ebay for £26 and playstation like USB joy pads are £4.99 each on ebay too. Happy to answer any questions if anybody is interested in putting one together.
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