Bartop Arcade Build Part 1

I have been wanting an arcade machine for a long time. These days there are a lot of options out there that make it easier to make your own. I purchased the Bartop Arcade plans from The Geek Pub http://www.thegeekpub.com

It has been a lot of work. I mostly used a 50 In Clamp Edge And Saw Guide and circular saw to cut out the pieces. For the arc on the side cuts I used a jig saw, and I cut them out clamped together to get a proper match. With a table saw it would be much faster. I optimized the cut layout from the original to help me get some larger extra bits to work with in case I needed it.

I essentially cut out the parts the same as the plans. In the end I found there was an issue with the Marquee Top (B) and Top Door Frame (F). The Marquee Top and Top Door Frame should have been cut at an angle to meet nicely in the back. To correct this, I shortened the Top Door Frame a bit so that it just let the Marquee Top clear it. I then also added T molding to the back side of the Marquee Top, as it was now going to be an exposed edge. If I made another Arcade, I will be changing how I end up cutting that out. I may also make some other alterations to make it easier to put in the Marquee itself.

After cutting out all of the pieces, I did sand them all on both sides. You can see in the picture above that I laid them out on top of the second half of the 4’x8′ Sheet of 3/4″ MDF. This does only take half a sheet to make this unit. One could argue that a little in that you may need more to get the blocking strips for the various corners if you use them (which I did use).

Before assembly I did use a slot cutter in a router for the T molding. I used a 1/16″ slot cutter. I took the pieces outside and use a clamp to clamp them down to my saw horse. Then it only took a couple seconds for each on to put in the slot. The biggest thing being to get the slot bit set perfectly center. The other thing, use a mask for this, it was awful the first one blew back right at me. Beyond that it is easy to put in the slot.

I assembled the unit with corner blocking, glue and brads like was done by Mike at The Geek Pub in his video. Other methods could be used, if you want you can use screws. He mentioned Pocket screws, which I do have, but I didn’t feel like trying. They are quite expensive screws and I don’t like to use them when I have cheaper options. I figured if I wasn’t careful they could split the mdf as well. If I used them I was probably going to still use glue too.. The blocking made it very easy to assemble. I was looking at trying to do it without putting in the blocking, but that made it very difficult to get good alignment. The blocking makes it stronger too with more surface area for the glue. I did have some strips of pine that I had salvaged and used them for most of the blocking.

I realized that I had not drilled for the speakers in the Marquee bottom board until after I had it installed. I used some Logitech 2 piece speakers for the arcade. Removing them from the shell, they have some 2″ speakers in them. I used a 2″ hole saw to make the holes in the board. I also had to drill for the volume control access. I removed the power Led from the board. While the board also had a Headphone jack on it, I decided it wasn’t practical to do anything with it. I needed a longer knob than the one it came with. That is also something I would do differently. Had I not already glued the board in, I would have carved out the back so I could have used a more standard length knob.

I then rewired the speakers for installation in the cabinet. I was going to reuse the original AC power unit so I setup to be able to put it in as well.

These speakers operate off of 5Volts DC. They make this speaker set as a USB Powered speaker as well so I guess it just happens to use the same board? I didn’t like the exposed AC board inside the cabinet. I went with a Meanwell dual voltage power supply for the cabinet. This let me run the Raspberry Pi and the Speakers both off of the 5Volt DC on it. It also provides 12Volts DC, which is for the Fan and the Marquee lights.

The next part was the primer. I used the recommended Rustoleum Filler Primer. This stuff is pretty neat stuff. It has a filler product in the paint. It looks like it is fuzzy, but it sands out amazing.

Don’t skip primer, It just won’t work if you are using MDF. I waited until the next day to sand it. I used I think like a 220 grit paper to take off the fuzz. I then followed up with some finer paper. From there I wiped it down with paper towels and brushed it well, then use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down. Then I painted it with some Rustoleum gloss black. I let that dry a day and took some 3000 grit to lightly sand any little bits that were in the paint. The paint I used is the 15 minute dry type to help keep the dust, bugs etc blowing into it. I found that it was better to do a single coat that caught most of the dust that got in it. Then I came back and did 2 more light coats after the 3000 grit. That later paint didn’t end up with as much dust in it. The last thing I did with the paint was a Rustoleum Clear Gloss coat. That stuff dried very fast, it was quite different and had a lot of over spray. When I was doing the painting I was mostly wearing a mask as well. I was thinking of trying to polish it, but I decided I wasn’t going to be that crazy about it, and I wasn’t sure I had the clear on thick enough. I used 2 cans of primer and about 2 cans of the black. The clear coat didn’t take even a can. I did end up with some runs on the top back door frame piece. I did use one of those spray handles for the cans, as seen in the picture below. That makes it much easier for me to get a decent finish and better control. My wrist can’t handle pressing a spray can nozzle very much at all.

Well, there were two other things I didn’t get drilled before the initial assembly. The first being the “safe shutdown button” for the Pi on the back beside the power jack. The other being the USB ports in the front right there.

I had to backbore the Shutdown button here by the power port. The USB on the front nearly needed it. The USB port insert I used goes into a 30mm hole it barely has any threading with the 3/4″ MDF, but it was just enough.

The T molding isn’t too bad to do, but I wish it had went a little better. I got 20′ and I used all but about 18″ on this cabinet. There would have bee that bit more if I had not put that additional piece on the back side of the Marquee Top. I am assuming I had the full 20′ I was to have received, but I can see how it did use that much. I just did it like Mike showed in his video, back cutting at the corners, and trying to put it in strait with a rubber mallet. I had a few issues here and there. I had some problem with snagging and pulling it back out when moving the cabinet. I will be adding some feet and that should prevent it from dragging the edges too much in the future. I did put a little glue toward the ends to help hold it if it snags a bit.

Here i have the control panel assembled and the USB ports installed after finishing the Clear Coat. I am using a Dell LCD I have had around, and been using on my computer as my secondary monitor. It was almost a perfect fit, and had HDMI input and audio output (no speakers internally). The control panel layout is in the plans as well, the template prints out on multiple pages that get taped together. I used a spray adhesive to hold it on like Mike suggested. It was a bit of a pain to remove all of the adhesive after the fact ( I used a different product than he had so maybe it is harder to get off). The paper came off fine, but some of the spray stayed behind. I later used another of the templates (well 3) and was careful to use as little spray as I could, that turned out better. I used the 2 player template and omitted 2 buttons, 8 was enough for me. You can choose to use the buttons you want. He also includes a 1 player layout template. The buttons I used are the pop in kind, so with the 30mm hole they went right in a perfect fit. The small buttons I didn’t have the perfect drill bit for, so they were slightly loose, and a little glue on the bottom edge in a couple places to ensure they don’t move on me. Do drill the holes I used some Forster bits. The 30mm for the big buttons and the Joysticks, and the smaller one for the smaller buttons. They do a very nice job, the butterfly bits I have are way to aggressive, but they are a weird type. I used the bits in my cheap Harbor Freight Drill Press, which made the work go so nicely.

The one trick with the controls is they need to be wired identically, as the Pi can get confused if it has two of the same model of controllers with different layouts.

Here is the first time I fired it up. You can see the speakers in there. This was the first time I tried it out.

Here I worked on the Marquee light. I am using 12Volt White LED Strip light. I decided to build an Aluminum Light Box for it. I really didn’t have a good way to mount the LEDs otherwise, and I didn’t want all of the light going out other areas of the cabinet.

Here I am using clamps and a board like a break to bend the aluminum. It worked ok.
Here is the box. I was neater but I had it slight long and had to compress the ends down a bit.

Above you can see the LED Strip. I put it on the Sides not the bottom. This helps with Hotspots. In such a close space the points of light off of the LEDs would make hotspots all of the Marquee otherwise. The box is 1″ deep. You can also see the Speaker grills and volume knob. The Speaker grills are made from some 2″ desk grommets from the hardware store, and then covered in some speaker cloth (salvaged from an old speaker box I had).

Above you can see the back door. The door was slightly taller than it should have been, possibly a little wave and variation in my cuts for the back. The bigger thing was the that I turned out to be somewhat narrow, I am not sure if I didn’t measure properly or something. The door Frame pieces seemed to all go just fine, but there is a bit more gap left and right. So I would watch for that if I make another. I wasn’t going to use a piano hinge for it, but due to the gap that was the only way I was going to be able to hide it well. I also decided to get a lock, not that I wanted to lock it, but that was the most elegant looking latching method, and also when moving I didn’t want a “semi-secure” latch that may flip open accidentally. The holes were drilled with other templates in the plans. The bottom is the 80mm fan pattern. The top two are the hole for the suggested speakers, I felt I wanted more ventilation so I used them for additional venting on the door. Here you can also see the door once it was installed with the fan and latch assembly. The modification to the door frame top that I mentioned above did have the added benefit of adding some ventilation as well as there is a small gap there now. I like that bit of the change as heat will build up and would have caught in the top had it been sealed up. You can also see the wiring going to the power strip I put in there. It is wired directly to the rear power jack. I had it around and it was easy to work with. I didn’t want to buy an electrical box and wired it up that way. This is a surge protector as well, not just a power strip.

The power jack includes a switch and fuse. I like it, but some have had it has issues with melting. I could see that if the connections were a bit loose, that causes the conductors to get hot. So I can see it happening. The Safe Shutdown button for the Pi is also installed there. The button is wired up to the gpio on the Pi and the Pi is setup to use do a safe shutdown if it is pressed. It will also wake the Pi after shutdown if pressed again. I will cover that in Part 2, it is quite easy with the Pi 3.

The Marquee just has some paper in it behind the Plexiglass to test the brightness. It is a little too bright. I am probably going to dim the LEDs a bit. I am not sure how I will do that but I have an idea. That will be in another post though. So this is Part 1 of at least 2 parts.

I have to finish the Marquee, if I make a dimmer for it that will be covered in another post. I am also going to put Plexiglas in front of the monitor to hide it. Once I have the Plexiglas cut for the front of the monitor I will be able to mount the monitor in the cabinet. The Monitor I have does not have a VESA mount, so I have secured it to a built up block that I will secure with some brackets to the bottom of the cabinet. I just don’t know the exact final position until the Plexiglas is in. The Marquee top needs secured as well, but I have to finish the Marquee first. I do intend to keep the Marquee Top removable if needed, but not just friction fitted like it has been so far now. The Pi is also floating free in there. I have been thinking of pulling it out of the case and mounting to the cabinet as a bare board, but I do want to put a fan on it still if I do that. To start with the Marquee I will probably finish a design for it and reprint it on my inkjet printer instead for some color. I may get proper marquee made professionally later on. If I do, I will probably get some side graphics for the cabinet as well, but not full side covering graphics (not after the T molding is installed).

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