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Arcade Bartop

How to build your own bartop arcade with Raspberry Pi

One of the ideas that many makers always think about, is to create your own retro arcade machine. Although there are many tutorials on the net, here I’ll try to make a simple but detailed explanation of all the steps needed to create your own arcade bartop machine, and I hope it can be useful for people that want to to try this amazing experience. The project itself is very easy, but thorough too.


If we want to build a bartop arcade machine, first of all, we need to know what materials we will use in this project:

  • Raspberry Pi model 2 or 3 + cables
  • (old) 17” computer TFT screen with DVI / HDMI connection + cables
  • Set of arcade buttons / joysticks + wires + driver board (like¬†–standard-joystick-set-109-p.asp)
  • Hot glue gun (if you don’t have one, you are not a real maker) ūüėČ
  • 2 computer speakers
  • 5 wood boards of 80x60cm x 5mm thick
  • 1 wood board of 3mm thick
  • Access to a laser cutter machine
  • 16 nuts and screws
  • Magnetic double sided adhesive tape
  • Painting / vinyls / some decoration stuff

The total cost of all the stuff will be around 150-200‚ā¨

The software

Software installation step by step:

  • Donwload the¬†Retropie system image and burn it to your SD card (16gb at least)
  • Plug the SD card to you Raspberry Pi, connect the Raspberry to your screen, keyboard and mouse and plug it to the power supply.
  • Connect the speakers to Raspberry Pi
  • If all is correct, you will see the retropie emulator station menu
  • The retropie image gives you virtually no games to play because of the games copyrights, in most countries you must own the original game to get a ROM copy, so, it’s on your own the search the proper games on the net. Don’t ask me about that.

The game console (joypads and buttons)

Next step is about to check if the buttons, joypads and the driver are working properly. in this project I opted for a Xin-Mo 2 players driver from ultracab with all buttons, wires and joypads included. The steps to assemble and test the control panel are as follows:

  • Cut the control panel layers (2 of 5mm and 1 of 3mm thick) using the arcade-p5.svg file and put it all together using hot glue or wood glue
  • Attach all the buttons and joypads to the control pannel using some screws for the joypads
  • Wire all the stuff to the driver following the vendor instructions.
  • Plug the driver using the USB cable to Raspberry Pi and turn it on.
  • To allow the Xin-Mo identify 2 players instead of one, add the following to /boot/cmdline.txt (just add a space to the existing entry so its all on one line): “usbhid.quirks=0x16c0:0x05e1:0x040” . The first two numbers are the vendor / product (16c0 and 05e1). You can find your vendor / product using lsusb command.
  • Configure and test your brand new 2 players controller using the Retropie set-up, maybe you will need a keyboard to help at the configuration proccess.


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Building the arcade bartop

When the software and the jopypads console are ready, we can start to build the bartop cabinet itself:

  • Download the arcade SVG files (my files are a modification of this great project:¬† and¬†
  • Cut all the wood pieces with a laser cutter machine, remember to change the screen frame size to fit your screen using a vectorial software like inkscape.
  • Build the cabinet attaching all the pieces together with hot glue and a lot of care.
  • Attach¬†the Raspberry Pi and the driver inside the cabinet, at any accessible location using the nuts and screws.
  • Attach the computer speakers at the upper side of the cabinet, and connect¬†it to¬†the Raspberry Pi with an standard jack connector
  • Use hot glue and duble sided tape to fix the screen with the wood frame, and you can also use some foam allowing the screen to lean to the back of the cabinet
  • Use the double sided magnetic tape to attach¬†the control console to the cabinet allowing the access from outside.
  • Paint / decorate the bartop arcade cabinet as you like!!


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Congratulations! You have your handmade Bartop Arcade Cabinet!

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