Cardboy Arcade - Upcycled Raspberry Pi Arcade machine build log


For my first post I thought I would share my experience of building a Picade machine.

Project requirements:-

  • Made from mostly recycled parts.
  • Cost less than £100. (most of the budget will be spent on the picade kit and a dedicated pi 3).
  • Have a high end finish.
  • Have a single power cable in.
  • Be easy to transport (although infrequently).

    Materials this project requires:-

  • Material to make the cabinet out of.
  • Screen
  • Picade kit
  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • SD Card
  • Power control

    This project has been on the back burner for a couple of months now, ever since I came across the Picade kit in the store, and when someone at my work showed me their arcade console. Though it wasn’t until another colleague at work had a bike delivered to the office, when the idea crystallised in my mind to make a bar top arcade machine out of the left over cardboard box.

    Who knew that bikes would use so much packaging. It is double walled 5mm thick cardboard. My plan so far is to laser cut the cabinet out of this and double up all the surfaces so that it will end up being 10mm thick to provide strength.

    Also I had this old Samsung 22" TVwith HDMI input, which I have dissembled to become the screen.

    Next tasks which need to be completed:-

  • Buy Picade kit & Pi 3.
  • Work out power requirements for panel (I think it's 13v).
  • Design cabinet style.
  • Laser cut cardboard to size.
  • Work out how to split the power from a single input to both the Pi and the screen.

    Update will be posted here once I have completed more of this project.

    Thank you for reading, if you have any suggestions advice then I am all ears.


    Oh wow! That looks like it’s going to be so cool :D

    Good luck with everything. I love upcycling and having that punk/ghetton style. I’m hoping to do something similar, but smaller, with a 7 inch display.

    Keep us posted!

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    Quick update on this project, this afternoon I purchased the picade hat kit, I can’t wait for that to turn up. I have also looked further into how I will power both the screen and the Raspberry Pi from a single power input. As well as this I have also been racking my brains for how I want the final enclosure to look like. Below is a quick example (it needs a lot of refinement):-

    Also the screen works :)

    Another quick update on the build log.

    Here is my final design for the arcade cabinet:-

    Also I got back into the office today to find a great package direct from the captains table. My Picade kit has arrived:-

    Finally as part of this update, here is a video of my first boot into RetroPie on the T220HD screen:-

    Can’t wait to be able to get back on this project, though it will have to wait till next week. :(

    So a week has passed and sadly not alot has been achieved, creating the case for this project, took me a lot longer than I thought it would. However now I have completed the case layout, I need to book time on the laser cutter located at my local hackspace. So to keep you up to date here is the case layout and a dim sheet for the Zippy Joystick:-

    Slowly but surely!

    How do you design the cut-outs for the cabinet hardware? Is it a feature of some program to create interlocking panels, or do you have to measure things out methodically?

    Hi @Hiroshi your right about that. I have used AutoCAD software and just measured it out methodically. Hopfully it will fit. :)

    With a short hiatus I have been able to crack on with the Cardboy Arcade project once more. This time with the help of my local Hackspace, and their A0 laser cutting machine I have been able to finally get round to cutting the cabinet out of the sheets of card.

    This took a lot longer than I first thought, taking up the entire two hour time slot which I had booked on the machine.

    Finally with one side of the cabinet still under a load of hard back books while the glue sets, below you can see all the parts.

    Though now here is the question, I have for you:- Should I leave it plain showing off the fact it is cardboard, or should I paint the parts??

    cool idea! you should attach it all together with a Makedo kit! :D

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    I have been thinking about it.

    Some progress on this project, finally put everything together tonight.

    Though sadly will have to come up with another solution for securing the screen, the panel I have used is too heavy for the card board to support on it’s own. Though now the buttons and pi are in situ I’m quite liking the look of it overall.

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    An update to this project is forth coming. Unfortunately life events have taken precedent over the last year.

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    Unfortunatly this project will not see completion, I decided to make the most of lockdown to finally get this project completed. However due to time gap in having to down tools and being able to pick them up again, as well as my choice of storage location (the shed). The cardboard has not fared well. It has lost all of the original strength.

    One day I plan on revisiting this idea, but on a smaller scale, quite like the idea of making a carboy handheld, with a zero and the Adafruit Joy bonnet.

    Shame,was looking really good,thanks for the idea,I have a Adafruit joy bonnet,and 5 inch Adafruit HDMI lcd ,maybe something similar I could do with it ,

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