A Raspberry Pi + IKEA arcade table to make yourself

Barely a month slips by at the moment without my ordering some new flat-packed goodies from IKEA. Our family, still gradually settling into the house we moved into just before our eldest was born, goes about its book-savouring, toy-categorising, craft-supply-hoarding life within a sturdy framework of TROFAST, EKBY and BESTÅ. The really great thing is that much of this furniture lends itself to modification, and spannerspencer‘s PIK3A Gaming Table, using a Raspberry Pi and the iconic LACK side table, is a wonderful example.

PIK3A gaming table - a glossy red IKEA LACK table with inlaid monitor, joystick and buttons

Shiny retrogaming loveliness

The build instructions over at element14 are generously illustrated with photographs, bringing this project within reach of people who don’t have a ton of experience, but are happy to chuck some time at it. (If I give this one a go, I’ll probably start by getting a couple of tables so that I have a back-up. The mods to the table don’t need any fancy tools – just a drill, a Stanley knife and a hole saw – but these are the steps at greatest risk of mistakes you can’t undo.) The tutorial takes you through everything from cutting the table so as to avoid too many repeat attempts, to mounting and wiring up the controls, to the code you need to run on the Arduino and how to upload it.

Cutting holes in an IKEA LACK table for buttons and other controls

Holes much neater than the ones I will cut

You can buy a new LACK table for £6 in the UK, although the nice red glossy version in the pictures will set you back a whole £2 more. A Raspberry Pi, an Arduino Leonardo, an old LCD monitor, some cheap computer speakers, a joystick, buttons, cables and connectors, and a power supply complete the bill of materials for this build. If you want to make it extra beautiful or simply catproof it, you can add a sheet of acrylic to protect the monitor, as spannerspencer has. He’s also included a panel mount USB port to make it easy to add USB peripherals later.

A cat standing on a PIK3A gaming table protected with a sheet of transparent acrylic

PIK3A, with added catproofing

The PIK3A Gaming Table went down a storm over at element14, and its successor, the PIK3A Mark II two-player gaming table (using a LACK TV bench) is proving pretty popular too. Give them a go!