Plan your build
Before we started building our RaspCade, we thought carefully about what we would need and how we could keep it simple. We used a LCD screen that we already owned, but any 7 inch screen should fit! The trickiest part was designing the cabinet, but this should now be as simple as downloading the files and getting them cut by a laser cutter. The parts list is not set in stone, but pay attention to dimensions as the cabinet is designed with ours in mind, particularly the buttons and panel mount parts!
Download the RaspCade Designs
To save you the hassle of making your own cabinet, why not download our designs here: https://www.raspberrycoulis.co.uk/download/472/ The designs have been optimised for use with online laser cutting services, such as RazorLAB (Ponoko to our US readers) to keep things simple! Plastics require special solvents for this and can be quite messy, so 3mm MDF is recommended when cutting because it is cheap and easy to glue together once assembled. If you want to tweak the designs to your liking, then you will need Adobe Illustrator as they are saved as EPS files.
Don’t overcomplicate things!
As this is a DIY build, we highly recommend you keep things as simple as possible - at least for your first attempt anyway! Arcade machines nowadays are full of flashing lights and enticing sound effects. Whilst this would be awesome, replicating this at home might be challenging. However, if you are feeling adventurous, then go for it! For example, in our build we are going to add Neopixels driven by an Adafruit Trinket, and held by custom 3D printed mounts within the clear arcade buttons, but you do not have to do this if you aren’t feeling confident.
Here’s what we’ll be using
There are many options for emulation software to use on our RaspCade, but we’ll be using RetroPie in this build. RetroPie is very easy to setup and provides a fantastic front-end to our RaspCade. It is always being refined and updated by the developer, plus it can play a wide variety of games, so it makes an excellent choice for this project. You can download the latest version of RetroPie here: https://retropie.org.uk/download/ Due to legal reasons, this guide will not give information on downloading ROMs, but there is a lot of information online about this already.
Want more? Then experiment!
If you are reading this thinking “Why are there only 8 buttons instead of 10?” or “I want flashing lights all over the place!”, then feel free to give it a go yourself. You do not need to follow this to the letter. As we have said earlier, the cabinet design is based on the parts we have available but if you are feeling creative, feel free to design your own cabinet or tweak the one we have designed. We would love to see what you do with your build and hope you share them!
Ok, I’m ready! What’s next?
Now it’s time to get all your parts so that you are ready for the next stage. All ours were bought online, through Raspberry Pi distributors and eBay. Costs may well vary but you should be able to find everything you need. In the next edition, we’ll start building our controls. For this you’ll definitely need the joystick, buttons, the arcade wiring harnesses and the PiCade PCB. We will cover the basics of wiring up all your buttons, including the joystick, and how to use them with the PiCade PCB for a hassle-free installation.