Custom Arcade Machine (DIY)

Ever since I was playing TMNT with my friends in the local arcade it has been a childhood wish to own my own arcade machine. Now after many years I have found the time to build one. In this post I will expand on the build process.

This page is a work in progress and will be added upon as I find the time to do so. So many things left untold, tips and tricks, tools used, pitfalls. I hope I can help others to improve their builds.

Step 1 – Custom design in Sketchup

Before actually building anything I started work on the cabinet design. Of course I have been influenced by many designs freely available on the internet. None of them seemed fit for my purpose so I made my own from scratch loosely based on a few other designs.

The theme which most influenced my design was the Nintendo Based cabinet. Though the side panels look resemble the design most other design and build aspects are different. Also I did not have any measurements and/or design files.  Which meant I had to figure out my own design.

What seemed stange to me in most of the designs found on the web was that the side panels were very flimsy. Most builders used two panels of MDF to construct one side panel for their cabinets. I started working with a 32mm thick MDF plate for the side panels, resulting in an extremly sturdy build. Not to mention less work during the build!

I went as far as incorperating all the controls into the design too. This made the control panel design complete and meant I did not have to cut the control panel on my own afterwards (big plus!). However it took me pretty long to make all the design/control choices based on information from the nets only.

Step 2 – The MDF Work

After finishing the design in SketchUp and exploding the panels onto larger “panels” the preparations were done. The only thing I had to do is offer the exploded designs (with measurements) to my local CNC woodworker to receive the seperate panels.

After seeing the result I truly advice everyone to bring your panel designs to one CNC woodworker because the end result is so perfect. Especially the control panel is amazing!

Step 3 – Controls

Adding the controls to the control board was quite straight forward to do. I started adding the sanwa buttons and iPac board. Afterwards I went ahead and mounted the trackball and 8-way joysticks.

Step 4 – The Hardware

An major factor in deciding my computer setup was the fact I wanted to avoid an graphics card. I settled on trying the internal GPU of the Core I3 which is the Intel HD4000. This was a little gamble because it might not be strong enough, however it handles Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition on 1080p and the Dolphin WII emulator easily.

When deciding which television to buy I realized it needed to be as input-lag free as possible. After many many reviews and technical specifications the Samsung UE23F5000 won easily. It only has 24ms lag, which is quite low (lowest I found was about 19ms).

  • TV: Samsung UE32F5000
  • CPU: Core I3 3250
  • Mobo: Asus P8H77-I
  • Cooler: Stock
  • Case: Antec ESK 110 VESA
  • PSU: Stock in case
  • Memory: Corsair 4gb 1600 2x DIMMS
  • SSD: OCZ Agility 3 128gb

Step 5 – The Software

Getting the software straight on the arcade machine was the most work by far. The following software has been used.

  • HyperSpin
  • HyperLaunch
  • AutoHotkey
  • Mouse Speed Switcher (need to try Autosensitivity)
  • Windows 7 Boot Updater
  • MAME (custom build with no nag screen and skip rom boot options)
  • Many other emulators

I tried to get all emulators to display an crt look. With MAME this is done through HSLS and it just looks great (see screenshot).

A lot of time went into creating the different themes for HyperSpin, as I did not like many of the existing themes I went ahead and made (or customized) many of my own. Check out the video for a fraction of themes in my HyperSpin.

A lot of people I see are trying to get as many games on their machines as possible. My own goal was being able to only load a custom pick of games which intrested my in my youth and further along the path. This results in a clean HyperSpin spinner with all games from different era’s and consoles without all the sub menus.

Step 6 – The Paint Job

My idea is to have the cabinet sprayed a thick piano style paint job. It has to be ultra smooth and very reflective. Until I have decided which paint job, and where I will take my business, this part will remain to be continued.



  1. (interesting, I posted a comment earlier, but I can’t seee it any more).
    I realy like the hyperspin themes and like how you are more after quality than quantity.
    I was wondering how much you paid for the CNC job.

    1. Sorry, the comments are moderated ;). The CNC job exists of three parts, the draw-up of the parts and two 2,4 by 1,2 meter MDF boards (38mm and 22mm). In total I paid 200 euro for the total CNC job. Well worth the quality.

  2. i don t have any experience with these machine arcades mostly vanished early in my child hood not that ive never played one but im a huge gamer and wanted a piece of gaming history so im buying street fighter 2 the world warrior arcade game this week and i wanna know could i use other street fighter games on the same machine? like lets say street fighter 3 or moral kombat?

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