Scott Hanselman

Building your own Arcade Cabinet for Geeks - Part 7 - Success and Conclusion

June 06, 2009 Comment on this post [17] Posted in Arcade
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This is the seventh part of a multi-part series I'm going to do about assembling an Arcade Cabinet for my house. This series has two disclaimers:

Software Disclaimer 1: There's all sorts of legal issues around emulating arcade games. This series of posts has nothing to do with that. I do own some original arcade boards, but if you want to emulate arcade games with MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), you can search the 'tubes. What I'm doing here is putting a computer in a pretty box.

Hardware Disclaimer 2: Many folks that build arcade cabinets have a purist view of how these things should be done. They will prefer original Arcade CRT monitors and more expensive, higher quality parts. I am more of a pragmatist. I also have no idea what I'm doing, so I've also got ignorance on my side.

Video Tour

Here's a short HiDef Video shot with my Creative Vado HD showing the Arcade Cabinet:

Tour of the Complete System - Building your own Arcade Cabinet from Scott Hanselman on Vimeo.

What I Learned

I learned:

  • You can cut corners, save money and still end up with a nice system, as long as you set your goals up front.
  • Steel is hard to cut. Know what you're doing, or get a pro.
  • Acrylic is hard to cut. Know what you're doing, or get a pro.
  • Painting and sanding something is the easiest way to make it look nice.
  • Making stuff with your hands is very satisfying and easier than you think (if you're a coder and you think this stuff is hard).
  • I could do it way better next time. ;)
  • I, myself, prefer to refurb old stuff rather than make new stuff.

All in all, the wife is amazed it looks so good, and she's said I can bring it into my den/office. She's nixed the living room...for now!

Total Cost: US$441

The Complete Series

  1. Cabinet and Power
  2. Monitor and Mounting
  3. Control Panel
  4. Sound and Lights
  5. Paint and Art
  6. Computer Hardware and Software
  7. Success and Conclusion

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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June 06, 2009 10:02
Scott, love it!

I really need to do something like this now. I'm inspired :)

June 06, 2009 11:15
Scott, the hanselcade looks great! Those two coats of paint really worked out fantastic.

How long do you estimate it took you to build the whole thing?
June 06, 2009 12:14
Ramiro - I'd say probably 24 total hours of WORK over about a 6 week period. Basically once or twice a week, after I put the babies to bed, I'd leave my wife at home and head over to John's garage for about 3-4 hours of work, and I'd return around midnight. Then, John and I worked for 2 Sunday afternoons as I recall. Later, we moved it to my house (earlier this week) and I had it finished, painted and wired in two long evenings, from about 8am to 2am.
June 06, 2009 15:51
Hooking the coin doors to the buttons is fine for personal use, but a major problem if you go to sell these things. Just in case anyone was thinking along those lines... :)
June 06, 2009 15:56
this is amazing !!
June 06, 2009 19:46
BTW, I didn't say it, but really nice job, Scott. It's beautiful all around.

I just stopped with arcade controls (joystick/buttons, trackball, driving wheel/pedals).
June 07, 2009 11:09
Inspiring and cool!!!!
June 07, 2009 20:23
Totally sweet! And a high WAF is always good!
June 08, 2009 4:45
Nice job. This was my first attempt at a MAME cab - a true labor of love.
June 08, 2009 11:04
Well done Scot! Kudo's on the WAF.
June 08, 2009 16:57
Cruising USA? Seriously?
June 08, 2009 23:06
Nice job!
June 09, 2009 15:36
This is so cool, the geek in me wants one sooo much now!!
June 09, 2009 21:04
Now that I have seen it, I have to build one of my own.

Great job!!!
June 10, 2009 12:23
I had just convinced myself that I didn't really need one of these.

For anyone else interested in this type of project, the BYOAC forum is a goldmine for info :
June 12, 2009 16:06
Scott, you're so amazing...
great work!
June 13, 2009 19:48
Dude, I was right with you 'til you said you needed permission to put it into your own office. : )

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.