Refurbishing An Old Kickstarter Picade - A Long Read With Lots of Pictures


The following post contains images of neglect.

Those of a nervous disposition should read no further.

Bits and Pieces Used.

Raspberry Pi 3.

Pac-Man imagery by @Wheelhorse from this mega-thread and vinyl printed by a local printer.

Illuminated buttons and joystick ball.
Probably ordered too many buttons…

Picade loom.
The sturdier wiring on the new loom is a lot less fragile than the original KickStarter loom.

On/Off Shim.
A couple of reasons to add one of these nifty boards, more details further down.

Momentary Push Switch.
I needed one to fit a pre-drilled hole in the rear of the cabinet.

Shiny Trim.
For bling !

6mm and 12mm cable tidy.

Wire and crimps for wiring harnesses.


Take One, Dusty, Neglected Picade.

Looking a little forlorn !

Not exactly a good advertisment for my dusting skills.

Oh look, a Pi1 in an original Pimoroni Pibow.

I’m sure there were creatures living in there.

You can see the ghostly outlines of long dead cables.

(And a possible dead creature carcass next to the middle screw terminal on the left.)

First Ablutions.

Shiny, you can almost see your reflection in there.

I even took the Pibow apart and cleaned that.

At this point everything still worked.

Screen was lit.

Pi was booting.

But there was still that strange buzzing sound.

So I decided to reflash RetroPie.

Still no joy, still buzzing.

Decided to update and flash firmware, MacGyver style.


Of course I borked the firmware.

So, time to disassemble, clean, and give my Picade a fresh coat of LED and vinyl love.

Second Ablutions.

After much sugar-soap and WD40 the MDF was looking in better shape.

Cutting Vinyl.

Cutting all of the pieces by hand was a chore.

I can’t emphasise enough how much of a chore this was.

If I ever do this again, I’d opt for contour cutting to save a few hours.


The carcass went together without a hitch.

Not sure about cutting out the crenels though.

I’m undecided whether I like this look or not.


The marquee looking good (more about this later).


I even managed to not break the screen whilst disassembling, cleaning and reassembling.


Adding An ‘On/Off Shim’.

There are a couple of reasons I added an ‘On/Off Shim’:

  • A neat button that performs a clean shutdown.
  • A way of running the 5V power and ground looms to the LED buttons.

‘Hot Glue’ is related to ‘WD40’ and ‘GafferTape’, right?

Button Wiring - Part 1.

Wiring up the LED power and ground looms first.

Good job the anode was painted or else I’d never have figured out how to wire the four terminals up.

For reference:

This is a ‘Picade Maxi’, so has 8 buttons on top.

  • 6 x Blue buttons for the arcade controls.
  • 2 x red buttons for the volume controls.

First Boot !

Not doing any more wiring unless the damn thing boots !

Button Wiring Part 2.

Connecting up the buttons to the Picade control board.

The cable tidy proved to be a mixed blessing.

Whilst it kept everything tidy it also introduced a slight amount of resistance to the bound wires.

That meant that I had to take a bit of care when affixing the console to the cabinet to ensure that the tidied bundles of wires were positioned correctly and not pressing on the underside of the illuminated buttons as this inhibited the button action.

Testing the buttons.

Those wires hanging over the top of the cabinet are where the +/-5V from the ‘On/Off Shim’ has been broken out into three separate strands.

  • One strand is for the the eight buttons on the top of the console.
  • One strand is for the side and front buttons if they are ever swapped for LED buttons.
  • The third strand is to potentially power an illuminated marquee if I ever get around to that.

The broken out power strands.

(Before being wired up and squished into the cabinet.)

Everything Works, So Change It.

All booting and working.

So, time to tinker.

I swapped out the yellow buttons for LED ones.

(Actually, I broke one of the yellow lugs that hold the button in place.)

So, all I needed to do was make a positive daisy-chain and a ground daisy-chain.

Then wire those to the already broken out +/-5V from the ‘On/Off Shim’.

You can just about make out the daisy-chain, covered in cable-tidy before it heads off under the screen to the Shim.

Rear Wiring.

Lots of tidy cables here.

I just about manage to fit all of that extra plastic in.

Even though it looks pretty, I wouldn’t do it again because:

  • It was time consuming
  • It added unnecessary resistance to the loops of wires.

Finishing Up.

I went through updating the firmware; without breaking anything this time.

I managed to sort out the sound.

And that was pretty much it, everything else worked straight away, out of the box.

Completed Cabinet - Unlit Buttons.

Looks good now that it’s all finished and the trim is in place.

Not sure how long the trim will stay stuck for though, it doesn’t seem super sticky.

It was a conscious decision to leave the black buttons in place.

They just look right next to the yellow viny

I do love the ‘Space Invader’ detail on the rear.

Completed Cabinet - Illuminated Buttons.

It looks good from the back with the ‘Invader’ lit.

The button stickers are lifting slightly.

I know these buttons are a few millimeters less in diameter than the originals.

They are also slightly more convex.

Etching, instead of stickers may be in order.

The lifting stickers are not too noticeable once the power is on.

The yellow illuminated buttons next to the graphics by @Wheelhorse look fantastic.

Still unsure about those cutaways.

All work was overseen by Professor Screwed.

Another shot of the front.

And another…

It is a bit of a transformation.

It actually works properly now !

Next Steps.

Load it full of games.

Play more than ‘Pac-Man’ on it !!!

Things I’d Do Differently.

  • Cough up the extra cash and get the vinyl contour cut next time.
    (My poor knife skills are not too noticeable, but I know the mistakes are there.)

  • The image needs to extend to the end of the marquee.
    (My mistake, but not a biggie and if I add lights up there It’ll need to be opaque anyway.)

  • Not use unnecessary cable tidy.

  • Don’t buy cheap tools from Amazon, they are a false economy.
    (I’m looking at you crimping tool.)

Future Mods.

Because nothing is every truly finished.

Illuminated Marquee.

  • I’ll probably run the remaining +/-5V from the Shim to a set of lights behind the marquee.


  • I will find a use for those Mote strips I have in a box somewhere.

Etched buttons.

  • The stickers will come off, probably sooner rather than later, so I think I’m going to etch them.

I thinks that’s all !

Thanks for reading,



That looks great!! Thank you for sharing!! I admire your patience cutting the vinyl. That must have taken some time. When I did mine the template was slightly oversized(not sure about yours). I applied the vinyl to the panel letting it overhang the edges. I ran an exacto knife along the edge of the panel to trim the vinyl. I don’t have any pictures, but it worked well.

Yeah, I probably should have done that.

There wasn’t a lot of overhang to play with though and I didn’t want to risk it.

Ah well, live and learn.

This is truly a spectacular rebuild and one heck of a transformation! Thank you for sharing.

Cheers Phil,

Thanks for the help !

On an unrelated note, I’ve just ordered some ‘LED Backlight Modules’ to bodge together for the marquee.

I’ll post an update if it works out.


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