In this age of X-Stations and Play-Boxes, video games have become a decidedly solitary pastime. And while that seems like it’s how it has always been, back in the ’70s and ’80s the only way for most of us to play video games was to visit the local arcade. It was there in those loud, dark, neon-lit caves where an entire generation of kids became the gamers that built a multi-billion dollar industry.
There was, of course, a culture that sprung up in arcades. A quarter on the screen was your place-holder, it was rude to turn down a two-player game, and when you died it was always the joystick’s fault for not doing what you wanted it to do. It has been more than two decades since I’ve stepped foot inside of an arcade and I can still hear the familiar sounds of Street Fighter II, Dig Dug, Qbert, and Spy Hunter. I can still feel the judgement of my peers as I wiffed my chance at a high score. And I can still taste the flat soda and cheap, school cafeteria-grade pizza.
Like many an aging nerd, part of me still longs to have a house full of full-size arcade cabinets, just like the annoying rich kid down the road used to have. And while the wet blanket of practicality and maturity has put the lid on those childhood fantasies, a little part of that nerdy little dream will never really die. But thanks to 3D printing and an industrious Spanish maker it’s possible for us to have a small piece of that fantasy.
Thingiverse user Miguel Angel Lopez — who made the WatsonBot — has the same longing for the days of visiting local arcades and dreaming of having his own machines. And now that he has a child of his own, he wanted to share a little bit of that arcade magic with him. Only he did it in a practical, mature, and manageable size.
“The idea to create this is something I [had] since I was a boy, having my own Arcade Machine. Now i have a small child i wanted to share this with him. First I had the idea of designing it for wood, but later, i put my eyes on the 3d printer and said ‘Why not?’ and started this design,” Lopez explained to us via email.
Lopez designed his Arcade Cabinet in Solidworks, and printed it out on his self-built Prusa i3 and his Rostock 3D printer. The project was designed to be printable with just about any 3D printer on the market. Lopez estimates that the total print time is about 60 hours, with each part taking between 8 and 10 hours. The parts can be 3D printed out of any material that you want to use, and the parts can most certainly be post processed if you want a smoother finish.
The brains of the arcade cabinet is a Raspberry Pi programmed to run a video game emulator attached to an inexpensive 7-inch LCD screen. He used some software from Adafruit to link the buttons and joystick to the Raspberry Pi and ran the whole thing with PiPlay.
You can get all of the STL files over on Thingiverse, and Lopez was kind enough to include a list of parts and components and some basic assembly instructions. He posted more in depth printing and assembly instuctions on his blog. The post is in Spanish but if you’re using Chrome, the Google translations are clear enough to figure out.
What classic arcade video games would you load onto your own personal arcade cabinet? Tell us about them and your favorite arcade memories over on the 3D Printable Retro Arcade Cabinet forum thread at 3DPB.com.