[This post is sponsored by Glowforge. To get $100 off a Glowforge Basic, $250 off a Glowforge Plus, or $500 off a Glowforge Pro use the link glowforge.com/boingboing.]
My 15-year-old daughter and I love retro video games. We often go a retro video game arcade in Pasadena, California, and we also play a lot of computer games from the 1980s and 1990s. We thought it would be fun to build a dedicated machine at home that we could use to play these retro games.
After a bit of online searching, we found out it's easy to use a Raspberry Pi, which is a $35 single board computer the size of a credit card, along with a free Linux based operating system called RetroPie that has emulators for every arcade and console imaginable. We could use a Raspberry Pi and RetroPie to play every arcade game we want. And with our Glowforge laser cutter, we could easily make an arcade cabinet for ourselves as well quickly make them for friends and family.
In this 2-part video series, which was underwritten by our friends at Glowforge, I'm going to show you how we did it.
Parts and Materials
First, we bought all the parts and materials we needed to make the cabinet. We got a Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+, a 32GB MicroSD card, a power supply, a 10-inch HDMI monitor, a set of arcade buttons and a joystick, a pair of speakers, some cables and a box of various machine screws and nuts and standoffs.
One of the most important tools we needed was a pair of digital calipers. You can buy these measuring tools online for cheap online. We used these to measure the dimensions of the different parts, such as the button diameter and mounting hole dimensions. The coolest tool we used was the Glowforge, which we used to cut the wooden sides and see-through acrylic top of the cabinet.
The cabinet was one of the first things we made on the Glowforge, and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to set up the Glowforge. Just 30 minutes after pulling it out of the box, I was cutting out shapes and making engravings. With a Glowforge, the possibilities are endless – it cuts plastic, wood, acrylic, and even leather, and can be used to engrave almost anything. I've included links to a couple of other videos we made that showcase everything the Glowforge can make.
For inspiration, we went to Pinterest and took a look at a bunch of different DIY game cabinets. We ended up going with a minimalistic design because I like the look of mid-century designer Dieter Rams.
To design the cabinet, we used a free web application called TinkerCad. This is a very easy-to-use computer-aided design app that kids and adults can use to design parts for 3D printers and laser cutters.
The next step was to laser cut the design we made. We used our Glowforge, which is incredibly easy to use, because it has a built-in camera that scans the material you're cutting, making it simple to place an image of the shapes you want to cut using Glowforge's web-based application.
In the next video, you'll see how I cut out the cabinet and assembled the components.