We've been cruelly teasing you all week about a project we're about to kick off here at element14, as we alluded to the brand new Raspberry Pi case we had delivered.

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But you guys were too quick for us. Although there were a few wry suggestions about what was being delivered -- including a rather excellent notion about building a Raspberry Pi juke box (watch this space) -- most of you astute Pi eaters sussed out that we've bagged ourselves a classic, upright arcade cab that'll soon become the company's most effective time wasting tool to date.


Arcade Machine14

The facts are these:

  • With your (not insignificant) assistance, we're going to strip out the cab and retrofit it with a Raspberry Pi.
  • The RPi will be used to emulate a bunch of classic video games.
  • The cab will be installed here in the element14 offices for the staff and visitors to play.
  • Any money collected by the cab will be given to a community-selected charity each month.


Great plan eh? But there's no shortage of work to be done before the pixels can be set free.


Retro Revival

There are a few factors we're endeavouring to accomplish in this project. Firstly, we want to keep the whole thing under the £500 mark, thereby making the build comparable to buying a contemporary games console. So anyone who builds along with us can divert any funds they might have allocated to an Xbox or PlayStation, and have themselves an arcade cab instead. It's a gift to yourself that keeps on giving.


We also want to re-use as much of the cab as possible. It's got a power supply in there already, and it still has its old 15KHz arcade monitor, which you can't beat for that authentic look. Hooking it up to a Raspberry Pi isn't going to be any small task, of course, and we're not even sure if it's working right now.


And then there's the controls. We'll need to interface the joysticks and buttons with the Raspberry Pi, which in itself isn't a particularly difficult task. At least, it wouldn't be, if the RPi had enough GPIO inputs for eight joystick directions (four for each stick), 12 game buttons, two game start buttons, a working coin mechanism, and however many controls we need to operate the OS front end and emulators. Hmm.


So we'll be calling on the element14 community for input and assistance at most every turn, and would love to hear any hints, tips or ideas you might have about putting together a Raspberry Pi arcade machine. In the meantime, we'll bring you regular blogs and discussions about how the project's going, and how you can help.


For now though, here's a look inside and outside the cabinet. I'll be downstairs, cleaning it for the first time in 30 years...

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