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ThinCade: DIY arcade project. (part 1)

Posted by pboland, in ThinCade 28 November 2018 · 230 views

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This long term project is to make my own arcade machines, but I have some limitations.
Back story: I own six arcade machines currently that I lucked into back in 2007. None of them worked. By 2010 I got all of them working. I did the work myself. The truth is I really don’t have the money or space to be in this hobby, but I still wanted more arcade machines. So I hatched a plan around 2014. So, here are the guide lines I set for myself:
• Can’t spend more than $250.00 total on each completed machine (give or take $25.00). 
• They must be as authentic to the real deal when standing in front of it as possible.
• Two ThinCades must be about (meaning close to) the same foot print as one and half normal arcade machines.
Obviously there are going to be some compromises, but my goal is to makes these as authentic as I possibly can within the limitations set above. I figure I should be able to fit six ThinCades in my basement if I can put them back to back.  
To save money I’m going to be making a lot of the stuff myself. Like:
• Arcade cabinets
• Coin doors
• All printed materials (Marquess, CPO’s, side art & bezels). 
I have access to wide format inkjet printers and I know AutoCad which I’ve used to design/modify the cabs. I'm also fairly proficient with Photoshop which will be used for Marquess,cpo's, side art & bezels. I have my own 3D printer so I will be able to print any custom pieces that I might need along the way. 
How to fit two arcade machines back to back and not take up as much room as a standard depth arcade machine? I decided CRT’s were out of the question and instead I will use flat panel displays. Okay, but I need them cheap. Over the course of the last two years I’ve been able to buy eight 19inch computer Dell flat panel monitors for about $10.00-$12.00 each (and yes they are the older style 4:3 ratio). Perfect, that is about the same size as the old classic arcades that I plan on making. 
The game electronics themselves. I originally wanted to use actual arcade game boards, but that would be way too costly. 
Each of these monitors uses a DVI connection. Why is this important? Well, I decided on using Raspberry Pi Zero’s for the game boards (for cost reasons) and a Pi Zero has a mini HDMI output. HDMI is pin compatible with DVI. No converter is needed. Just a simple DVI to HDMI cable.
The picture above is my first two machines. I'm actually done with the right side of the drawing. The two machines are Robotron 2084 (left) and Bosconian (right). The Bosconian machine actually nests (partly) inside the Robotron machine.  So, these two machine will actually bolt together once moved into my basement. 
For the record, I've never made a video game cabinet/machine before. Normally most of my projects are things I can build on a workbench. I'll add more as I go but this is the start.