Ki113r 7
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Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:35 am

Raspberry Pi Arcade Bartop

Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:42 am

Hi everyone,

I apologise in advance if this topic has been discussed elsewhere on the forum (and I'm sure it has, but I wasn't sure where to look) but I'm looking for some help with building my own bartop arcade.

I'm completely new to the Raspberry Pi world, electronics and digital making etc, so I wanted to know if there is a very comprehensive, go to guide that I could follow to build my project? I've been wanting to make one for a while now and plan to give it a go over the summer holidays.

I have an idea of what I'd need, but I was unsure of two things:
  • How would I go about wiring the buttons and arcade stick to the Pi? Is there a HAT or PCB of some sort that I have to use?
    If I use a HDMI monitor as a display, will I still need external speakers to have sound?
I was thinking of buying a flat packed, pre cut bartop kit made of MDF, I've seen a few on eBay and I have an old LCD monitor I plan on using as well as the arcade parts and Pi 3, is there much else I'd need to get this off the ground?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Please forgive me for being a super n00b, but I'm told the Pi/Makers Community are very accepting of folk like me! Thank you!
Fraudulent Teacher of Computer Science and hopeless programmer who is forever hopeful of improving! - Pi Certified Educator Class of 2017

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Re: Raspberry Pi Arcade Bartop

Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:04 pm

I can't believe no one has answered your questions about your awesome enthusiasm for pixel and sound byte perfect retro gaming ...
I used to use MAME, and for that I used to use the Ultimark interface board. However, as you have rightly pointed out there are plenty of GPIOs on the Pi and you probably don't need that interface board.

I notice that there is now PiPlay (which has MAME+others). You could also use that.
I have also talked with people who are using recalbox.

You aren't allowed to get your hands on any ROM sets, but if you don't you can't play games.

Regarding joysticks and stuff, I bought my own real deal equipment and mounted them on a solid 15mm ply board which is very sturdy. I can recommend that approach - the real deal joysticks and buttons will last you decades and decades, mine certainly have :). There are some pre-mades your can purchase too. I am sure those sites I mentioned will eagerly link you to such commercial devices.

Typically the controllers and buttons simply wire from a GPIO to GND, pulling the GPIO low indicating an action. Depending in the required current draw, you will probably want to put a resistor on one side of the controller.

Oh yeah some people are using modern bluetooth controllers these days !

The retro games are prettly low quality audio wise, but have fantastic tunes ! You can get away with the PWM headphone jack on the Pi, or you could use HDMI audio too. However if you want to have a nice music playback streamer thingy as well, sound cards hats and addons are the go.

I am sure the LCD will suffice.

p.s. If you get the details on how to wire it up with the Pi, please send in the link.
Zero sound card for the Pi - live now on kickstarter :
Sound card for the Raspberry Pi with inbuilt microphone :
Audio Inector Octo multitrack GPIO sound card :

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