Tested Projects: Building a Custom Arcade Cabinet, Part 1

Our next Tested Project is a custom arcade cabinet, built from scratch! Norm and Tested contributor Wesley Fenlon have been working on a cocktail cabinet build, using designs and recommendations found online. In this introductory episode, we discuss the design of the cabinet and our parts list for building. We also bring in Adam’s friend (and ex-ILM modelmaker) John Duncan to supervise and provide guidance for woodworking in Adam’s shop. (This video was brought to you by Premium memberships on Tested. Learn more about how you can support us with memberships!)

Video shot and edited by Joey Fameli

Comments (34)

34 thoughts on “Tested Projects: Building a Custom Arcade Cabinet, Part 1

  1. I was thinking about what had become of this project during the last podcast, good to see it finally hitting the site 🙂

  2. Very exciting, looks like you guys chose a nice flexible design. Parts choice looks top notch, glad you decided to go with Japanese parts for the side-by-side panel, and the convertible stick is a nice choice (4-way operation is a *must* for certain classics, but a dedicated diamond gate just doesn’t work for others, so a top-side convertible is a good compromise). CRT’s a nice choice, though it does make the more modern/non-retro games look a bit funky… you can’t have it all, a Framemeister just isn’t quite the same.

    I look forward to hearing what you’re using for interface boards, to see if you left it open to console use as well.

  3. Where will I find the plans of the two player cabinet that was referred to on this video post? Though I like the idea of a four player set up, I would rather just keep to the classic look of the two player set up.

  4. Can’t wait to see the rest! I love the build videos! 🙂 Glad the premium cash is going towards making these. Keep it up!

    Oh, you should do videos on you’re Blade Runner Blaster! Finishing, assembling etc. 🙂

  5. Great build project guys. I’m looking forward to see how this cabinet will come together. And it is so cool you chose a crt!

  6. I used a lot of Oak veneered MDF for construction which was quite expensive. But the finished table is not just a talking point it’s also a working piece of furniture that sees daily use as a casual table.

    Not convinced the extra mile of a CRT with all the future servicing issues, weight and heat are worth it. I long ditched CRTs when they failed, and they do eventually. When mine went, I replaced the screen with a good panel, the extra interior space from removing the CRT allowed storage for additional hardware. It became much more energy efficient.

  7. I’ve been filled with anticipation for this ever since it was first mentioned. Definitely going to watch this series.

  8. I think Japanese parts are great for new games like Street Fighter 4, but you guys should have went with old school HAPP parts to simulate the Street Fighter 2 arcade days. I miss those days.

  9. So awesome. Super cool you’re using an arcade CRT. Did you guys get any tips from http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/

    It’s a great site, especially for tips and people showing their custom MAME builds. Highly recommend. Of course KLOV has a lot of great info for original arcade cabinets as well.

  10. This series will make me really miss my MAME cab I built from a restored and retrofitted NBA Jam cab. Good luck with your build Norm! I sold mine before a cross-country move. With an original Wells-Gardner 25″ CRT in excellent condition, that thing was HEAVY. I’ll build another one some day. But I will definitely be using an LCD screen and custom building the whole cab so it’s narrower and lighter. It’s crazy how big a normal cabinet is when the whole thing is pretty much empty space.

    I custom built the control panel. I wanted 4 players (for NBA Jam, TMNT, X-men, Simpsons, etc) but wanted support for Street Fighter and the like. The 4 player games use at most 3 buttons it seemed, and the fighters had 6. I played mostly solo so Player 1 was actually in the middle, rather than on the corner. I printed a cutting template. Laid it over melamine, cut the shape and drilled the holes. Had a vinyl graphic printed at a sign shop and laid that over it. I never did replace the marquee across the top at the top but I had a hard time coming up with something custom that wasn’t absolutely terribly lame. Coin slots worked to trigger coin inserts in MAME, but I also drilled 4 holes for little buttons above the slots to also trigger the coin inserts.

    Repainted the whole thing black as it was really singed up and bare wood was showing in quite a few areas. Since the cabinet was acutally Mono Audio, i drilled two holes for speakers next to where the original speaker grille was. I used PC speakers and painted the metal grille black, popped them off, and mounted them to the exterior.

    Here’s an album with few more pictures from the build: http://1drv.ms/1pCCKX1

  11. < sigh >

    I finally abandoned my MAME cabinet project and gave it away to a 16 year old kid who wanted a project to complete with his dad. I look forward to enjoying this vicariously through you.

  12. Great stuff! I’m going to start building of my own pinball machine so I’m really excited to see how you guys are tackling this. It might give me some insight and inspiration, especially for the woodwork.

  13. *groan* how am i going to make it through this series without building my own, or getting an ulcer from not building my own?

  14. I am interested in this build from seeing how you (Norm) handle things you’ve not done before to how Will handled them. You two seem to have very different build philosophies. I’m withholding judgment on using a modern PC to push graphics to a CRT. I resisted LCDs for years but when I got my first I felt like smacking my younger self. The graphics out to the CRT worry me. But hey I spent A LOT of quarters in my youth watching CRT phosphors sparkle, and a table console of Pong was my first video game in mid/late 70’s as a tender 7-8 year old, which led to Space Invaders at the bakery, then my downfall at the bowling alley. Other than Defender never a high scorer, never “owned” the arcade (damn you LMN, still remember that high score always at the top of every machine) but always enjoyed the fun. Still do, but more likely to lead the deaths board in today’s games online.

  15. Love this Norm!

    Can’t wait to see how this turns out. , are you going to add some nintendo games as well? Played super mario world once on an arcade machine.

  16. can you email me the plans for the cabinet?

    i was also wondering if an old CRT would work instead of the one you have?


    -john mosier

  17. Hello, Is it possible to get the plans for this 4-person consul or even the plans that it was based on from your internet search? If possible, can I get your source for the components, buttons, joystick etc.

    Please let me know DIY Jeff

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