How to Build an Arcade Cabinet and Speakers

How to Build an Arcade Cabinet and Speakers

Arcade games require players to insert coins into the machine to play. These machines are usually equipped with a coin mechanism that can accept bills or tokens.

Some arcade machines, like the Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat machines from Arcade1Up, come fully assembled and are even backed by warranties. These warranties can help you avoid costly repairs down the road.

Cabinet and Side Panels

The cabinet is the main housing within which an arcade game’s hardware resides. Generally, the cabinet will contain a monitor to display the game’s graphics and controls. The cabinet will also have a marquee, which is used to advertise the game and lure gamers in to give it a try. Many older cabinets feature a transparent plastic marquee, which allows the graphics of the monitor behind it to show through.

Upright cabinets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be either vertical or horizontal in shape. They can be front-loading or top-loading, and may have monitor shields to protect them from damage due to wear and tear.

A deluxe cabinet is a larger variant of an upright that typically features equipment designed for air hockey game machine the type of game it houses. For example, a cabinet designed to play driving games may include a steering wheel and throttle pedals; a cabinet designed to play fighting games might have a hydraulic motion simulation system.

A cocktail cabinet is a smaller version of an upright cabinet, and can be found installed on bars or tables in pubs and restaurants. It is often used for trivia and gambling-type games, and it can have touchscreen controls instead of traditional push button controls. Some cocktail cabinets have an interconnected system of multiple screens, and these are usually referred to as versus style cabinets.

Coin Mechanism

If you want to add money-based games to your arcade, you’ll need a coin mechanism. There are many options available, from mechanical to electronic coin acceptors. The simplest is just a horizontal slot with a slope and a bit of wire running down each side. A coin inserted into the slot will make contact with the wires, triggering a microswitch to activate.

Commercial arcades usually use electronic coin mechanisms which are more reliable and can recognise a variety of different coins. They also have a button that can be pressed to return the coin or reset the machine. These are more expensive, but they can save you time and hassle from having to change out the coin slots.

These coin mechanisms have coils inside which generate eddy currents when the coins roll past them. A microprocessor then compares the eddy currents to those of the coins stored in its memory, and the coin is accepted or rejected accordingly. A light above the reject slot will indicate which type of coin is inserted. The simplest ones simply send a pulse when a valid coin is detected, and the more sophisticated can detect the state of each pin.

To set up the Picade to work with a standard coin mech, connect the black output wire from the coin box wiring harness to the ground terminal on the DC power jack. The white wire Shooting Game Machine goes to the quarter pin on the Picade board, and disconnect the front left button.


Adding speakers to your arcade mini-project adds music and sound effects. You can use 2″ 4 watt 8 ohm Suzo Happ Speakers which have great sound quality and provide enough power to listen to your favorite music and the sounds of your multi-game PCB at a reasonable volume. It’s important to match the impedance of the speakers to the amplifier wattage on the sound board (the higher the wattage, the better the frequency response). Keep in mind that you may need to mount the speakers farther away from the monitor to avoid magnetic influence on the picture tube causing severe picture distortion and color bleeding.


Whether you’re playing a classic PACMAN machine or trying your hand at virtual reality, the electronic circuitry inside the cabinet controls everything from the game screen to the bleeps and bloops you hear while in whatever world your arcade game has transported you. The basic arcade power supply converts AC electricity from the wall to DC that can power a PCB board, which contains a central processing unit, or CPU, that performs all the processor tasks for the entire machine.

Some early arcade games used electro-mechanical (EM) technology that combined some mechanical action with electronic circuitry to control things like lights, scorekeeping and even motors. These were popular in the 1940s through the 1970s, but were gradually replaced by more sophisticated video games.

Today, many arcade machines are powered by computer-controlled LCD or LED screens and a microprocessor. Unlike the old linear power supplies and CRT tubes of old arcade games, these modern machines use switching power supplies and are far more energy efficient than their older counterparts.

There are also a number of specialized arcade machines, like the purikura machine that creates selfie photo stickers, that are based on the same kind of electronics that’s found in your smartphone or tablet. These can be a great way to introduce younger people to the joy of playing video games.

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