We realize that most people just want to play the arcade games without having to do a lot of the work to keep the game running, but we also know that there are others like ourselves who really enjoy working on these old games and are looking for new challenges to build their skills.
With so many empty cabinets available for $25 or $50 it’s not usually a great financial decision to build your own cabinet, but sometimes you’ll have a game that has been left outside and the particle board will be rotten beyond saving or maybe you live in an area like Alaska or Hawaii where it’s harder to get access to games on a regular basis. No matter what your motivation, building a game from scratch can be an immensely rewarding experience. Each step of the process will involve different techniques, materials and tools that you’ll need to accomplish the job.
We hope to post a lot of how to articles on this site, so if you’re interested in learning how to repair arcade games, we’d encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or like our page on Facebook to get notify when we publish new posts. Before getting into all the electronics, you need to start with your arcade cabinet.
Which materials you use, will depend in part on what type of cabinet you’re trying to create. Just like automobiles, arcade games are all made a little bit unique. Sometimes this can be the most frustrating part of trying to restore a game. A 1979 Asteroids is going to use different parts than a 1981 Asteroids Deluxe. Some cabinets were used for a lot of different games. A lot of Nintendo games used the same cabinets and the operators could just swap boards to change the games. Galaga, Ms. Pacman and Pacman also all shared the same cabinet design by Midway.
Once you do decide on a game, it’s time to track down plans that you can use to recreate the cabinet of your choice. A great resource for these designs is the Jakobud.com website. Some purist will argue that the specs in the plans aren’t always identical to the original and may be off by a few inches, but we don’t think that replicas always need to be perfect clone of the original. We’re glad that resources like Jakobud exist and that others have taken the time to record some of this data, so that even if the games age, there is still a way to create new ones. If you’re trying to track down the dimensions of a game that you want to build and don’t see it on their website, but know that we have it in our inventory, you’re welcome to leave a comment here and we’ll be happy to measure the dimensions, if the game isn’t currently being rented by a customer.
For even more in-depth advice on creating your own cabinet from scratch, you should make sure to check out John St. Clair’s DIY book, Project Arcade.