Cabe’s home arcade

I’ve got one of those rubbish Dance Dance Revolution mats at home for my PlayStation. You may have one yourself – they’re prone to skating all over the floor, wrinkling up at just the wrong moment and generally mucking your game up. And occasionally causing horrible injuries.

Of course, with a little elbow grease and a Raspberry Pi, we can do better. So Cabe Atwell did. And while he was at it, he also recreated another favourite part of the arcade he used to hang out in as a kid, and made a geometrically faithful reproduction of the Street Fighter 2 control console. Cabe says:

I remember my local arcade used to give free tokens to those who received A and Bs on their report cards. Most of the time it didn’t matter for me. I would go into the arcade with one or two quarters, and shut the place down in the various Street Fighter games. The arcade closed down, and I wanted the exact same experience at home.

fight+stick+alone+small

With Street Fighter, I found that the Sega Saturn had the best and closest experience to the arcade. So, I built an arcade controller for the Saturn. I measured the placement of the buttons prior to the arcade shut down. So, I was able to lay out regulation controls. I sourced real arcade parts from a now defunct company. It was fun. You may not think this, but arcade controllers are loud. All the switches are super sound in a quiet room. Arcades are full of constant noise, so, you never hear it!

My girlfriend was really into the Dance Dance Revolution, arcade dancing games. So, I built a “arcade quality” dance pad. I wanted something made of metal, heavy, and the exact size. All store bought dance pads were soft, moved around too much, or not the correct size. So, I built a dance pad for the Playstation 1 (aka PS1 or PSX).

dance+pad+alone+small

He didn’t finish the project at the time – everything went into storage when Cabe went to college, and he forgot about them. But in the interim, something called a Raspberry Pi was released.

So Cabe recently dug out his old home-made arcade, rewired all the controllers to interface with the Pi, used a projector to make a giant 120in (3m) display, and downloaded an emulator and some games. As it turns out, everything works a treat.

Unusually for projects around these parts, you won’t need any code to make your own, just some game downloads – but there’s a fair amount of hardware work required, which Cabe gives pointers on over at Element14. If you’re interested in making your own metal DDR pad (my friend Mark made one nearly 20 years ago when we were at university, and it’s still going strong), there are lots of tutorials out there – this was the most comprehensive we found.