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If you’ve been around my site for a while, this may look familiar.  That’s because I’ve written blog posts, here and here, about this exact build.  If you look at those, you’ll get a MUCH more in depth look at the process that I went through to make the original version of this Pi arcade.

I’m not one to repost content, but since I’m starting to move toward building the full size arcade cabinet, I thought it’d be good to make a video of this portion of the project, so that my newer audience members have the context.

While making this video, I actually found that the software that I use, RetroPie, has been updated and SIGNIFICANTLY improved! It’s fantastic !!  Kudos to those guys for making a really stellar package that is free for anyone to use!!!  Since I made my original version, the controller board, IPAC2, has also been updated.  The newer version has some new options, and looks pretty great, although I have no real reason to replace mine.

Obviously, this one isn’t much to look at. It’s just a prototype to explain how the controls go together and will be put into a much better package (and wired in a nicer way) in the final arcade cabinet.

You’ll need a control board like this IPAC-2.


Also, a Raspberry Pi and a small SD card.


Using free software, add the disk image to the SD card, in one simple step.


Plug in the SD card, HDMI cable, USB keyboard and power  to the Raspberry Pi.


It will boot right up and be ready to play with the keyboard.


Add your own games by putting them on a thumb drive and plugging it in.


The system will automatically add them.


I made button designs in Adobe Illustrator.


Then cut them out, in vinyl, on a craft cutting machine (Silhouette Portrait).


Cut and apply a piece of transfer paper over the vinyl.


Roughly cut out each individual sticker.


Take apart a button by twisting the switch.


Peel the back, apply the sticker to the button, and peel the front off.


It will leave behind the cut out shape.


Make a wiring daisy chain with one female plug per button.


Make three daisy chains in red, black, and green.


Make a single wire, with female plug, for each button.


Layout your control board (this was a very rough prototype).


Drill holes for each button and joystick.


Add a simple frame to lift it off the table.


Screw in the joysticks from the back side.


Drop in buttons from the front.


Screw on rings from the back to hold buttons in place.


Attach wires as shown on each button.


Also add wires to the joysticks (no LED = no red & black daisy chain)


Wire the joysticks and all buttons to relevant terminal on IPAC.


 Attach the end of the green daisy chain to the ground terminal.


Daisy chain the right sides of each button (red) and the left sides (black).


Wire the ends of the daisy chains to a 12v power supply.


Plug it in for light up buttons!


Plug in IPAC to the Raspberry Pi (via USB).




  • Phil Reynolds

    perfect timing I just got my Raspberry Pi on Friday. I already have it loaded up with the right software. Thanks for the hard work putting all of this together for us. Great job!

  • rasheednyc

    I will be setting one of these up–very useful info and video.

  • aurezio

    Hi there, wich model of Raspberry Pi have I to get?

    • I used the Model B, but you could also go with the B+ or the 2… both are just improved versions.. all the same price.

  • Darklord

    have a few questions about it.
    With the release of the new raspberry pi 2:
    1)Would the emulator work on it?
    2)Would games run better?

    • Yes, it should work exactly the same on the new version, although I would assume that it would run even better!

      • Darklord

        Am i able to add speakers to the the raspberry pi 2? with this setup? say, 2 mono speakers?

        • Yes, it has a 1/8″ audio/headphone output, but it also can send audio through the HDMI. So you could add speakers to the display or to the Pi itself.

    • Phil Reynolds

      I just read something yesterday that RetroPie image had not been updated yet for the RaspPi 2 but would be coming out any day now. Not sure if it was correct or not but just wanted to mention it.

      • Good to know. I did see someone on Reddit that put it on yesterday and he said it was running really well, but expected it to be even better once RetroPie was updated. I think there was a SNES issue currently.

  • LouWii D.

    Great tutorial. I have a canadian-related question. Where do you find arcade parts in Canada ? Or what’s the best online shops in the US to buy those ?

    • I’ve got links above for everything you’ll need. most of them are amazon affiliate links, so I’m not sure how that would translate to the amazon.ca site. :/

  • Phil Reynolds

    Hey Bob did you buy your IPAC-2 and joystick and buttons all at the same place?

    • No, I bought it all piece by piece a couple of years back. Some of it was ebay, amazon .etc

  • WhyNot

    I wasn’t able to watch the video yet to see if you make mention in it, but if I choose to use non-illuminated buttons, is there still a need for the 12v power supply?

    • I didn’t mention that (but probably should have)… no, that power supply is just for the LEDs, (which can actually run at 5v or 12v depending on how bright you want them)
      So, with non-LED buttons you don’t need it.

  • TheNuts

    Very cool! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Dom

    What size female connectors did you use?

  • P1XEL00

    What Female connectors did you use.

  • Pingo

    What kind of connectors did you use for the buttons/ where do you get them?

  • Mark

    Hey dude awesome idea and video!
    but can you use somthing (cheaper) else instead of the ipac??
    and what are the real eccentials like you dont neet the vinyl and the illuminated buttons
    btw I am dutch so i could be making spelling mistakes.

    • Mark

      Only for one player btw XD

      • The simplest way would be to get a 1 player USB controller like http://amzn.to/1KQFfeQ .. but I don’t really know if it’s cheaper. They can end up being expensive depending on features.
        To make your own, you’d need at least 2 buttons and joystick. You could theoretically use the keyboard for any other necessary controls.

  • Dave Shepherd

    Ah man…RetroPie site is unavailable! (2/7/2015) Need a link to the most up-to-date image.

    • RiverRunsByIt

      @petrockblog said his server is down because of demand. Not sure when it will be back up and running.

  • Erik

    Can i sub in the ipac4 for to get a four player experience?

    • Absolutely! It’s the same, just more terminals

      • Erik

        Thanks! one more questions (I’m really doing this btw) so i see there are dedicated “start” and “coin” terminals on the ipac. what other buttons will i need to use all the functionality of Retropie using only the arcade controls? I see you have “esc” and “tab”, anything else?

        • The start and Coin are necessary (per player) for MAME and a couple other systems… I don’t remember. I’ve got he Esc, Tab and Enter buttons hooked up to other unused terminals (player 2, SW6,SW7,SW8) so that I can assign them to certain actions within RetroPie. ie the ESC button can exit the current emulator and go back to the menu… ENTER selects something from the menu.
          These aren’t necessary, and I may not even keep them in the final, but they were used in the old version I’d made, which had an older (not as good) version of RetroPie.

          • Erik

            Thanks so much!

          • Rob Grant

            what is done for the “select” or “start” buttons of systems like the original NES??

  • MarshallP

    Can you sub in 2 usb SNES controllers for this instead of wiring in all of the arcade buttons if you are simply looking to have a retrogame console for the TV?

    • As far as I know, yes! I haven’t tried it, but I think any of the USB controllers would probably work. At worst, you’d have to do some button reassignment in a text file on the Pi. You can find more about those specifics on the RetroPie site.

      • MarshallP

        Great! I really enjoy the site! Keep up the great work!

  • bullockchevy

    Thanks for the videos and especially excited about the build. Just wanted to let people know that the New Raspberry PI uses a micro SD card so be aware if your using the links above because if you go excitedly buying stuff like I did you will end up with a SD card that won’t fit… I decided I wanted to go with a 32Gb so I’ll only be out the 5 bucks and my wife can have a new camera card.

  • SxyNerd

    I’m sorry if I missed it but what was the approximate cost of all the buttons and controllers?

    • It really depends on how many players and how many buttons per player. You can use the links up above to price it out according to how you want the controls.

  • Drew O’Dell

    I was wondering, where did you wire the esc, tab, and the I Like To Make Stuff buttons too?

    • The IPAC has terminals for ESC,TAB, and ENTER, so just to those. They’re not used in every situation, but I’ve got them just in case.

  • Yeah, I believe any USB controller like that should work! It’s possible that you’ll have to go in and reassign the buttons, I’m not sure.
    In the video, I was using a Dell 27″ that I have, but that won’t be the monitor in my final cabinet. I’ll probably stick with 27″, but go for a little bit cheaper one that is just 1920×1080.. which is more than enough resolution for an arcade machine, in my opinion.

    • Paul Huse

      How is it coming on your full project? I think we’re all waiting eagerly. Thanks for doing these projects—love them.

      • 🙂 yeah, I get messages daily asking about it. I’m still tweaking the plans, but it’s getting close. I’m promise it’s coming.. I’m just too busy for my own good at the moment.
        Thanks Paul!!

  • John Alex

    So RetroPie is already preconfigured to look for Roms on any USB thumb drive that gets plugged in?

    • Yes, an Atari rom is an Atari rom, no matter where it’s used. As far as RetroPie, yes as long as you have the right directory structure on your thumb drive.
      The best way is to plug in the thumb drive to the pi… it’ll automatically create the necessary structure. Then plug it into the PC and add the roms in the correct folders. plug it back into the Pi, and everything is automatic (copying/enabling)

      • John Alex

        Cool thanks. I’m going to make one also.

        Does the file extension on the ROM files matter? I have seen all kinds of file extensions on them, ranging from “.bin” to “.N64”.

        • I imagine that it DOES matter ,but I personally don’t know the ins and outs of the particular extensions.. sorry :/

          • John Alex

            I just wrote the image and expanded the file system on an 8GB card. What is the easiest way to put the ROMs on the card also? Can I do it from Windows?

          • Yes, you can. Plug the thumb drive into the pi.. it’ll write the necessary file structure to it. Then copy the roms to the necessary folders (on the pc) and plug it back into the pi. All done!

  • Scott

    Not cool dude. The link you gave for the pi on amazon has a small slot for a memory card and the link for the memory card is large. I’m sitting here like a dope now. Any suggestions?

    • Ah, that’s a bummer. They updated the raspberry pi on that link to the new version, which uses a micro sd. The new pi came out the same day I released this project oddly enough. Sorry about that. Unfortunately I can’t control how they update the Amazon products. I’ll definitely update the link for other people though.

  • Pat

    Great video! I was wondering what the size of the monitor should be. Should it be a 4:3 to fit the older games? Thanks!

    • Well, most of those old games are either 4:3 or 3:4 (some had the screen turned) but personally I didn’t want to deal with the weight, price and limitations of the old crt monitors, so I just went with a 16:9 LCD. That gives flexibility to run other things in the same box, using the same screen (like this Ouya I have laying around collecting dust)

  • Andrew

    Is there anyway of getting around having to buy a ton of the female wire connectors? (even if that means i have to solder)

  • Mining_Dirt

    Hello! I was thinking i might try this myself, but how much (roughly) alltogether will it cost?

    • Bob

      It really depends on how many players and how many buttons per player (you could easily get by with 2 buttons per player)
      I’ve got links to everything above, so you could price it out that way.
      Also, the monitor/screen you decide to go with has a lot to do with it.

  • jlo

    Just got all my assets.. Lets see how the build goes.. One thing I like to ask, if you can either make a diagram of the electrical connection of the buttons would be great.

    • jlo

      Hey. guys.. There seems to be an issue with the software used to install the image to the sd card.. The Win32DiskImage has some really bad reviews.. Version 0.9 seems to be the culprit.. A few users have given this one start out of four.. and at times it has destroy the boot drive.. Is there something else we can used to copy this to the sd card ??

  • Andrew

    Do the female wire connectors work for any arcade buttons for example NON LED buttons?

    • As far as I know, yes. The non-LED buttons are the same, just with fewer terminals (and often shorter in height).

  • Brian

    First off…thanks so much for this step by step…takes the mystery out of setting up an arcade. I wanted to do exactly what you posted here but didn’t think i had the technical expertise to carry it off. So 1000 thanks! I posted this on the arcade forum but i’m posting here as well in case you’re not reading the forum much?
    Newbie here…

    Right now I have a setup using a laptop hooked to an LCD inside a Vigolix cab. I have to power up the laptop and get everything set up then put the laptop in back of the cab and can play from that point on.

    Would be awsome to get rid of the laptop and just mount the Pi into the cab as described in the video posted above.

    My question is how new can the ROMs be before the Pi craps out and you notice dropped frames or out of sync graphics with sound? Are we talking anything newer then Dig dug/Pac Man? Or can we go as new as Double Dragon/Rolling Thunder/Spy Hunter/Out Run…. Or can we go to Mortal combat/street fighter era?

    The board described in the video was:
    Raspberry Pi Model B 756-8308 Motherboard

    Power supply Wiring: Does it matter which stripped wire i connect the black/red daisy chain for the 12v power to the LEDs?

    (Also thanks for the video…I feel like I can actually wire some power to my LED buttons now. Was afraid to hook up the power to it until I saw how you did it step by step. Thansk so much for taking the time and effort to post that. )

    Thanks for any feedback…

    • That’s awesome to hear Brian! I’m so glad it was helpful!!
      As far as the power of the Pi, it’s tough to say, but the OS, RetroPie includes emulators up to the PS1, if that gives you any ideas. Also, the Raspberry Pi 2 is much more powerful than the one that I have, so that can’t hurt.
      For the buttons, LEDs only work in one direction, so if you hook it up backwards, it just won’t work and you’ll need to switch the wires. No big deal, and it shouldn’t hurt them if you get it wrong.

      Good luck!

  • Van

    I’m waiting for your main arcade. When it’s coming out ? ;]

    • I’m waiting on it too! Not sure when I’ll be able to get to it but it’ll happen one of these days! 🙂

  • Daren

    Hi, want to first thank you for doing this project, so thanks! Im really new at using a pi but I just got my pi in the mail and I wanted to go ahead and set it up, however when trying to put the image on the micro sd card using 32windowsimager its unable to find the image since it has the “.img.gz” extension, would it be a problem to just drop the “.gz” at the end or am I doing something wrong?

  • Brian

    Is there a way to get the scan lines using the HDMI output to your LCD?

    • Shawn Norman

      I know there is if you are using Hyperspin.

  • Pablo Navais

    Awesome project ! Thanks for sharing.
    I was just wondering how did you connect the IPAC to the Pi, did you use a PS2 cable with a PS2-USB adapter ?

    • Thanks! Yeah, mine came with a ps2->USB cable. The newer version of the product just has a USB port on the IPAC, which is nice.

  • Hi,
    First of all, that’s a great video on how to build an arcade machine, and I found it just as I wanted to start building my wall mounted one (inspired by your floating shelf video, by the way …)

    There’s only one problem here, I’m French, and living in France,I have no idea at all where to find those arcade buttons and joystick for cheap (coming from US will cost more than the parts themselves, so not a very good deal)

    I also wanted to know if it was possible to go on with an 8 directions joystick, instead of a 4 one ? And is it possible to go with these arcades controls, OR any game controller plugged in USB in the Pi ? (in order to play games such as Pac-Man or SuperMario64 with the controls that go the best).

    Anyway, thanks again for that, and please carry on with your videos, I just love them !!!

  • jlo

    Do you need drivers for the Ipac2??? I place all my buttons, connect them to the ipac2 and my Raspberry pie… My next issue is that not all the buttons work corrrectly nor the 2nd joystick seems to be recognized.. So, my question to anyone “do you need drivers for this”


  • Jimmy Blaschke

    Thanks for your guide. I too have built an arcade with led buttons and an iPac2 (usb) for keyboard emulation. I am having major issues in gettting it to work at all. If it works in Mame, it won’t work in other emulators cause they don’t recognize lctrl, lshift, 5, etc. Are you able to use your buttons and joystick in all emulators? If so, could I ask that you post your retroarch.cfg file so that perhaps I can get mine to work!! It has been two months since I finished it, but cannot get controls to work right. I have scoured the net looking for a straight up answer. Any assistance would be great!!! Thanks!!

    • jlo

      Hey man. I’m in the same boat as you. I would suggest to double check your wiring, and test all the switches. I would then used the passmarck keyboard test file located in the ultimark site. This is in fact what I’m doing now . Ive wasted more time on this than building my cabinet . Goodluck


      • Jimmy Blaschke

        Jlo…all my buttons work. I napped them using the ipac software and then plugged it into a laptop , opened notepad and each button press came out the way I mapped it. I too have spent more time trying to find what works than what it took to build the cabinet. I am thinking that I may go
        Into one of the emulators, such as Nintendo, and use the keyboard to find what keys work what conteols and then go to the retroarch.cfg file in that emulator rather than the master in the configs/all folder.

        But I am getting way too frustrated. Why can’t someone who says they are actually playing games PUT THEIR CONFIG FILE ON HERE!!

        • Same issue for me guys. I built this system once before with RetroPie 1.x and I was able to update those configs to get the controls like I wanted. When I did this video, I didn’t realize that it’d be any different, so I didn’t think twice about upgrading my SD card to the new version of RetroPie. Since the video, I haven’t had the time to try to get player 2 working with all of the emulators, but when I did try, I had some trouble so I moved on.
          It’s something I’ll have to address one of these days as I get closer to building my cabinet, and I’ll definitely post my configs when I get there (assuming I can actually get them working)

  • Thomas

    Hey, great post!
    Can’t figure out what to do if i dont use LED buttons or only some.
    Is there need for so many play buttons, is max not 4 per player?

    • There are some games in the later systems that use 6 or even 8 buttons. I’ll probably only use 4 per player on my final machine, but we’ll see.
      You can buy the buttons without the LEDs, in that case, they just don’t have the 2 wires for power to them.

  • ThatGuyMurix

    Seems like you forgot to mention you need two power supplies, on for the lights and one for the Pi.

    • Marco

      he did he said you need a phone charger to power the pi and a 12 v adapter for the leds

  • Rick Roades

    Raspberry PI just announced their “Case”. Is there any reason to get that one instead of the one you used? Any chance you can be a source through your affiliate?

    Also thinking about this in the same way the Making It guys thought about CNC – not sure what I’ll use it for, but get it and let the ideas flow. Any thoughts on getting one of their starter kits?

    • I don’t of anything special about that case (there may be, I just haven’t read much about it yet.) I don’t think it’s available via Amazon yet, so I can’t be an affiliate, but that’s alright 🙂
      I actually don’t have a case for mine yet, but probably will just to avoid dust, etc. It’ll be enclosed in the arcade cabinet eventually anyway.

      • Rick Roades

        Last questions – from your affiliate link, there is a new model, just looks a little beefier. I assume there is no benefit to you if one uses that link? Is there a way (or even worth your time) to update/add this so you’re an affiliate?

        • Actually, if you get to Amazon via ANY of my affiliate links, if you purchase any product within the next 24 hours, I get the commission. So it’s really handy that it can just be a gateway to Amazon, and it’s not a big deal what you buy. Thanks for wanting to help me out in that way Rick, as always!!

  • How do you turn it off when you’re done using it?

    • You can shut it down via the menus, but it seems to be fine just cutting the power. I’ve got everything on a power strip so I can cut it all at once.

  • Jesse Stam

    Do you need 1 ground for each player or can u do it all on 1 ground ?

  • MACK Daboss

    can i make everything in a controller and just connect it to a monitor and then move it around

    • Definitely! The electronics are small enough that the whole thing could be in a relatively small controller with just hdmi and power plugs.

  • Justin Mantelli

    I dont see a link for the 12v you use for the leds…..

  • Jack

    have u finished arace cabiante

    • Bob

      Not yet. I still plan on doing it, I just haven’t had time to get started on it yet.

    • I have not. I still plan on it, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

  • glosoya10

    Thanks for this tutorial! My grandpa and I had a great time working on this project!

  • Kari Frank

    Hi. We are attempting to do this. It’s a very cool set up and video. We ordered the Raspberry Pi B+ model. We loaded Retropie and now when try to load it asks for prompts. Do you know what we have done incorrectly? We can not download 2.3 version as it is not on the site for download anymore so we have the 2.6. Thank you for your help

    • Hmm, unfortunately I’m not really sure what the problem would be there. I don’t have a Pi 2 and I haven’t upgraded Retropie to the newest version, so I haven’t seen these issues. Have you looked at the support forums for RetroPie?

  • Pat Meenan

    I have a quick question as I finish up my arcade. I have an ipac4 and don’t know how to configure the controllers. How does this work?


    • Joris

      i have the same problem, well i have it with a ipac2

  • Pat

    Also, how do I set up the wifi on the pi with the wifi usb I bought? Thanks again, this video has been great.

  • Evan

    Why 19 buttons? Is the Make Stuff logo just for show ‘n’ glow or does it actually provide function? I mean, I assume the $ is start or select and the others are pretty self explanatory with Sega making everything complicated and button heavy. Just curious. sweet project though!

  • Edd

    What if i wanted to add a trackball? how would i do this?

    • I’m not exactly sure how they’re wired, but it shouldn’t be any different. You’ll just have to make sure that you get the version of the iPac with terminals for the trackball.

    • Qzerjuk

      You need the I-pac 2. There is 4(8 if you want 2 players) pins for the track ball on the middle left of the I-pac 2.

  • jroff531

    Hey Bob! So I’m a total beginner to all of this and just had a few questions before I was going to get started. What exactly is the wifi USB adapter used for? Is it just for transferring games to the pi? Also, where might I find such games? And, one last thing, will any USB encoder work for transferring the button inputs to the raspberry pi? I had just a standard encoder board lying around which I got years ago from another project, but it has a PS3 cable to usb as you stated in the video. Sorry for the massive questioning spree by the way, I’m so excited to get started on this! Love your videos on youtube, thanks and keep up the awesome work!

  • Joris

    Hi i bought the raspberry pi b+ the ipac 2, 2 joysticks, 16 buttons, wood, paint, terminals, wirers, strippers & crimpers, evrything, and when i turn it on it knows that it is installed but how do you set up the 2 player controlls? because it does not do that automatically?

    • Poul Malthe Mikkelsen

      Joris, did you manage to fix this? I have the same problem…

      • I’ve recently gotten back to my working on my setup, using the newest RetroPie 3.0 It seems to work much better for me, but for mapping the 2nd player controls, I did the following.

        I setup the single player stuff using the Retropie menu, then plugged the ipac into my Mac. I used the keyboard mapping application (one for Windows or Mac from Ultimarc.com) to set keyboard keys. Then use the keys that you’ve set there, and add them to the retroarch.cfg file.

        That file will have the player ones listed like this

        input_player1_a = p

        So, then copy that whole block and modify the to

        input_player2_a =

        That worked immediately for me…
        Does that make sense?

        • Jsketto

          Would you mind sharing your .cfg file?!….I am having the same issue…My guess is that the keys I “bound” in the retroarch.cfg are competing with the mame default keys and/or I forgot to nul” something out….I have it working pretty well but not perfect

        • shaun

          Can you share your .cfg file please? Im trying to get as much detail as possible on getting 2 player to work. Any help is appreciated.. thank you!

  • Daniel Ladd

    Any new suggestions on this project. my son wants me to build this but full size. any thoughts about the benefits of using an old pc vs the pi configuration
    thanks D

  • Daniel

    Any new suggestions on this project. my son wants me to build this but full size. any thoughts about the benefits of using an old pc vs the pi configuration

    Thanks D

    • Arnold

      I’d go for the new pi. When you use an old pc it’s usually harder to find a replacement part if something breaks. Besides for these games you don’t need a lot of computing power.

  • Marco Pizarro

    What Size Wire Should I Use?

  • Julien Bournonville

    Did you make the final version of this arcade machine ?

    I am fighting with my wife to be able to do that 😉

  • Pingback: 6 Raspberry Pi Arcade Projects & Step by Step Tutorials()

  • Sorin PoonFace

    Hello. Loved the idea did it myself. Great cabinet. However I lose the function of the joystick once I go into a game. The stick work’s in the emulation station software, but as soon as a game starts, you have to move with the keyboard. Please help. I’m 200$ plus into this.

    • rhythmrascal

      It sounds like your emulator isn’t seeing the ipac2 as a game controller. IT only sees a keyboard. You’ll have to ask ultramarc who makes the board what they recommend.

  • RedPhoenix

    great video thank you. I how do you program the Iipac 2 like if you need to change the buttons to go with certain keyboard keys? like assign them keys

    • rhythmrascal

      The ipac2 comes preprogrammed. The circuit board is marked with what terminal goes to which key. You literally just plug the board into your puter via usb. IF YOU WANT there is a piece of software that allows you to do custom assignment of the keys. You can download it from ultramarc

  • Ginger Gamin

    when i boot my pi it shows code then goes to a screen with retro pi after this it comes up with more code and has no interface like in the video just a code scree

    • Ginger Gamin


  • Ricardo Onica

    Hi! Sorry for the silly question but I just wanted to ask, if I’m not planning on using LEDs for the buttons do I still need a power adapter or can the buttons be powered off the IPAC board, which is in turn powered on by the pi?

    • Alvaro Cajina

      I have the exact same question.

    • Wow, somehow missed this question. Sorry :/ no, the buttons don’t need extra power, it’s just for the LEDs.

  • shaun

    Can you share your .cfg file please? Im trying to get as much detail as possible on getting 2 player to work. Super frustrating… Any help is appreciated.. thank you!

  • Qzerjuk

    Getting start with this project! Hope to find some time between home improvement, kids homeworks and activities, work and…

    Just bought my raspberry pi 2, i-pac 2, joystick and buttons (for one player, just to begin). I already have a dell usb keyboard and a dell non-usb screen. I red about 4 hours of blogs and stuff around the web so started to have some clue about that project. I’m not a programmer, but I bought an arduino starter kit last year (because of you!). Thank for all man!

  • Corey Gray

    Did you just use a ps2 to usb adapter to connect the ipac to the raspberry pi? Thanks.

  • Ravi

    I found that using USB SNES controllers are a lot easier to use, as there is no wiring and easier to customize controlling

    • AliasMe

      If i use SNES controllers, do i still need the I-PAC?

      • It depends on how they’re connected. If they’re USB, then no, you won’t need the ipac for those controls.

        • AliasMe

          Thank You!

      • Spidertech1

        You could also get one of those mini joystick controllers that connect via USB. Take apart the case and just mount the buttons and joystick to the cabinet. That way you have the functionality of the joystick and arcade buttons but with the ease of a console controller.

  • groov99

    The Archade LED button link is broken.

  • Could you give a link for wires at ebay I don’t what to choose T-T pls 🙂

  • William Huff

    can the raspberry pi connect to an older monitor not using HDMI

    • Yes, The Pi 1 has a composite output on it as well. The Pi 2 does not, although I’d imagine there’s an adapter available.

      • William Huff

        Thank you.

  • Tyler Rudie

    So is there a reason to use that heavy gauge wire, or could i get away with 24 AWG?

  • Jon Harrah

    what monitor did you use? how big is the screen?

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  • Mattis Bødtker

    Hi Bob! Hope you dont mind me asking a question. In my research and watching your videos, I can’t seem to figure out one thing. When you set up the RetroPie with the keyboard to navigate the menus, won’t that become the primary control device? Did it work just plugging in the IPAC? Because I can’t find anyone who adresses this. Might not be an issue, but I just thought it might be one 🙂 You know what I mean? Anyway, thank you for all your awesome content! Love it!

    • Yes, you just plug it in and the Pi sees it as a keyboard. There’s no primary control since the computer doesn’t care if you have multiple keyboards plugged in at once.

      • Mattis Bødtker

        Wow, Bob, that was quick! Thank you 😀 Then I might just get my self a USB SNES controller before I get all the arcade buttons 🙂 That way I could at least test it all 🙂 Cheers!

  • Jett0112

    Is there any chance I can use this with a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick?

  • bmadhi

    Hey I have a question, I am not exactly tech savy or whatever but If you do have a hard copy of the game, how can you play it on the raspberry pi

    • gohamai

      Actually playing it off the cartridge would be a waste of time in most cases.

      What you want to do is google “[name of the game] ROM”, or “[name of the game] ISO”, find a site to download it from, and put that on the pi.

  • WarpedZone Gaming

    Should I make a cocktail cabinet or an upright cabinet?

  • But where do you have found right ROMs?! 🙁

    • marializia nichols

      mameroms google

  • Dustin Blaylock

    Hey Bob, I am making an arcade based off of your prototype and I was just wondering exactly how many buttons I really need for the arcade to be fully functional? In other words do I need the button that you put the ILTMS Logo on or was that just for looks? Thanks

  • Grace Waterloo

    What do the five buttons on top represent?

    • player 1,2 and $ for each. Then I had a “TAB”,”ESC” and “ENTER”. In the final machine, I didn’t have all of those, but they were helpful for prototyping.

      • Lennart Merten

        Hi there! I just wanted to ask how many buttons i need to play (all emulators on the retro pie) properly on a one player machine! Are [A B 1 2 3 4 $] enough? Thanks in advance!

  • Scott Alex Wilson

    I loved your YouTube videos on the arcade cabinet. I recently bought an empty cabinet and fitting with a Raspberry pi. Maybe you could answer a question for me, what type of power supply did you use for the LEDs? I’m looking at using with a phone charger with a cut USB cable, the iPAC 2 board or the raspberry pi power pins.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    • Do you mean the button LEDs? I used an old 5v power supply from something (I keep them in a box when I recycle electronics).

  • Bob De Mars

    Great Video! Thank you for putting this all together. I used this
    video & your description to build my arcade setup. My plan is to
    refurbish an old arcade cabinet, but I didn’t want to dump a lot of cash
    at first until I knew I could get it working. I built a prototype
    arcade setup so I could learn how to configure everything first. It was
    not difficult to get it all working. I used many of the parts you
    listed (joysticks, buttons, power supply, wire, wire connectors, Ipac2).
    The case/enclosure was built from a cheap laminated shelf, and a 1 x 4
    scrap piece of cedar (compliments of my local Home Depot bargain bin). I
    used a Raspberry Pi 3 with a 32Gig SD card. I added a PowerBlock board
    to the Pi so I could add in a power switch & power LED (clean
    shutdown – works great http://blog.petrockblock.com/2016/05/20/new-revision-of-the-powerblock-increased-flexibility/
    ) I also added a 4 relay module to fire up the button LED’s, and a
    small fan I put in the enclosure (and for future use in the cabinet).
    Adding the relay caused a little confusion in regards to 5 Volt power.
    The powerblock uses GPIO 1 – 12, but I discovered you can add your own
    male header pins to the powerblock board for additional 5 volt hook ups.
    This is what I did, and it worked great. The PowerBlock included a
    Retopi sticker too (bonus)! I added a usb extension cord on the pi to
    add a usb port on the side of the case (for easy keyboard/usb stick
    access). I used a cheap Brother P-Touch style label marker to put clear
    labels on the buttons, and black on white labels on the case. This was
    a fun project, and my boys are in love with it! I had a few issues
    with the build, but all we over come. I forgot that LEDs only work one
    way (longer wire +), so a handful of buttons didn’t light up on first
    try. The powerblock board 5 volt situation was overcome by soldering a
    couple male header pins to the 5 volt out on the board (to power the
    relay controls). I also had an issue with my ipac2 ground wire for
    player 2 controls. One bad crimp in the daisy chain caused 3 buttons to
    not work. Traced it one by one, and rewired the problem area.
    Configuring Retropi / EmulationStation took me a few attempts until I
    got it right & figured it out. Adding roms via samba share is
    fantastic! Thanks again for taking the time creating this video
    & writeup. Here are pictures of my build all inspired by this
    (your) video. https://goo.gl/photos/JXd41jUnVYFQHBzh9

    • Grant Somerman

      Hello sir, I must say I love some of the extras you added to the build. I have been having issues getting my player two controls working. They appear to be crimped properly, and I believe I have it set up properly in retro pi. What exactly did you have to do to get them to work?

      • Bob De Mars

        First you need to confirm if everything is wired properly to the Ipac2 controller. The easiest way I found to test the IPac2 was once everything is wired plug the USB into from the Ipac controller board into a PC. Then open a notepad or any text editor on your PC & start pressing the buttons & move the joysticks one at a time. The Ipac is similar to a keyboard, and it will send output to the notepad. Here is a list of the defaults that ship with the IPAC. https://www.ultimarc.com/ipac2.html For example when you press the Coin 1 button you should see it output 5 on the notepad. Do this for all the buttons/controllers you installed. This is an easy way to see what is or is not wired properly. Since the IPAC had a ground for Player 1 & Player 2 I ran separate grounds for P1 & P2 controls (I don not know if this is required though). You could install a wire to P2 ground, and hook it into each P2 control one by one as well to test (using the notepad trick). This will let you know if the controller wire is installed properly, and if your ground daisy chain is OK or not on the P2 side. Good Luck, and I hope this helps

      • Stan

        Hi Grant did you get this worked out as I’m having the same problem. I tested all the buttons and joysticks and they all register keystrokes so the connections are all good. Thanks

    • Chad Shelby

      So did you use both the controlBlock AND the ipac2? If so why? I thought they both did basicly the same things?!

      • Bob De Mars

        It was called a PowerBlock board not a controlblock. The PowerBlock lets you add a power switch to the PI that will cleanly boot & shutdown the PI with the power is switched on or off. I did use the ipac2. The ipac2 was super easy to get working. Hope this helps

        • Chad Shelby

          I gotcha, i did misread that. but doesn’t the ipac2 have the shutdown commanded power button option as well?
          not trying to call you out or anything, just trying to make sure I don’t have to order more things.

          • Bob De Mars

            I do not believe the ipac 2 has any pi related shutdown items. It is just a controller board (similar to a keyboard). The power block option is not required. I have 2 young sons so I used this so the pi would get shutdown properly when they were done. You really don’t it

  • Jonathan Bouldin

    I’m currently making a shopping list for an arcade machine I’m going to build. It’s looking like this is the hardware I’m going to with. The one tiny thing I’m fuzzy on at this point is regarding the Ipac 2. In these screens it’s got those two ports for the controls to be hooked into the computer. But when I look at the Ipac 2 on the websites to buy them, there are no ports mounted. Are they bought separately (but they’re not on the list of stuff to buy)? I’m missing something, just don’t know exactly what. Thanks!

    • They’ve updated the product since I bought mine. Mine has a ps2 port for the old keyboards. now they’re USB.

      • Cilit Bang

        I have the same ipac with ps2 ports ( i used with an xbox) but how you connect it to a raspberry? It has no ps2 port

        • William Hines

          You can buy an adaptor online

  • Kasey Miller

    Hey I’m getting ready to build an arcade and I’m not sure if I should use led buttons or just the regular solid color buttons. Are the led buttons really bright at night time. If you reduce them to 5v then are they really bright enough to warrant getting the led buttons. Just curious on everyone’s thoughts. Thanks. By the great acrade cabinent build you really inspired me to build one now.

  • Ziffel

    Just curious, do these sort of systems suffer less controller lag than running retropi with a dualshock controller over bluetooth?

  • Brett

    Thank you for the videos! I just found your site, and it’s pretty inspiring! I have a question. Is it possible to connect a console to the raspberry pi as well and use the cabinet joysticks? As well as the emulators? I was imagining adding the new Nintendo retro into a cabinet. Thanks again!

  • Beau McMaster

    Where did you get the other games from? You said that the raspberry pi came with games pre installed but you can install some of your own. I was just wondering where you got them.

  • Joshua Bellissimo

    Would you know how to receive back-end access from the downloaded ROMS, so for instance when reaching a certain score, something such as candy could come out of the arcade cabinet as a prize. To do this though you would need to be able to access more than just the ROM to give off a signal of some sort, triggering the prize.

    • Martini

      have you considered screen capture? would probably be easier to identify where the score is displayed on the screen for any given game and analyze each frame (or once every 100 frames) what the score is and use that as input. that way you dont have to hack code that you dont (and probably wont) have access to source code for.

  • mms mms

    I am almost done, but where do i get the games from

  • crazyalex


    Nice project! I have a question. if I take a look at your IPAC controller and the one they sell on the website, they seem to be different. The one on the website doesn’t have the round connector you use to plug in IPAC to the Raspberry Pi. Does it still works with this model?

    Thank you

    • yes, mine is just the old PS/2 style. The new one is the same except it has a USB port.

      • Cilit Bang

        How ? No ps2 port on the raspberry right?

  • Andru McMonigal

    Do I have to wire the buttons to light up or can I wire them directly to the IPAC?

  • Mathme

    I love this project and your easy explanation! I used the ipac and created a 2 player control panel that works great with MAME games. However, I cannot get 2 player working in any other emulator. When I configure input, it just detects one keyboard, either player one or player two depending on which key (player) I am holding down. I’m not programming savy but is there an easy way to get other emulators to recognize player 2?

    • Yeah that is a big problem for a lot of people and is not covered well in the RetroPie docs.
      I’d start here

      Essentially, you need to edit the retroarch.cfg file. I would start i the global one, then edit specific ones for different emulators if necessary (probably won’t be)

      Also, check out the iPac tool from Ultimarc. It helps you see (or set) the key stroke that is being sent from each button. It’s a handy too lot have around when setting up.
      Hope that helps!

  • Onur Oskay

    Greetings from Turkiye

    About 2 months ago, I’ve ordered Bartop arcade cabinet’s digital plan on your shop.Thanks again for all.

    If is there have any digital plan for your this project i would like to buy this too.

  • argustis

    shut up its naff mate. cant even get the buttonz ryte lol

  • Garrett Hiles

    Did you strip the 12 volt power supply, or did you buy an adapter to hook up the red and black wires?

  • Sum Fuka

    My peepee hurts.

  • Mr. Oatmeal

    I’m interested in making a handheld version. Any tips?

    • BigCoqSurprise

      Depending on the case you want to put your project in, you will need the same base (the rpi, sd card).

      For power, depending on the screen size you can chose either the powerboost 500c or 1000 to power you whole system. the powerboost is used to charge the lipo battery you plug on it and boost the voltage from 3.7v to 5v.

      After that come to the size of the screen you want to use. all of these parts can be found on adafruit’s website. for the controller you can either use a teensy board to wire everything on it (the board take the input and is connected as a usb controller) or if you want only the bouttons for 1 player (like the gameboy) you can take a snes usb controller, look up on the internet the gpio pins you need to connect the wires to and use the board of the controller as your interface. same goes for the screen, lookup the gpio you need to connect them to.

      the case the the hardest part of such a project because not everything is meant to fit a pi in it. the easiest build for you would be to take any gameboy casing and fit everything in it (for the love of god, don’t destroy a good working unit!). you can easily drill holes for the missing bouttons, holes for the outputs such as usb, hdmi and the power.

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  • BigCoqSurprise

    Hello, i just started searching to make one of these and i must say that your tuto is by far the best.

    i just wanted to share that on ebay you can find for 50$ a full illuminated kit (buttons, joysticks, etc) for 2 player that comes with a usb controller. it’s much cheaper than the IPAC and makes the wiring less of a hassle.

    On an other note, i have watched a couple of you videos and i wondered if you had the steps on how to configure your proximity sensor with the lights dimmer that you made with the arduino?



  • hibatchi

    Can you provide a wiring diagram please? as im bit lost on the 12v daisy chain

  • Nolan SB

    Hey! I am looking to make one of these and was wondering if after you got retro pie and set up the machine if you could disconnect the monitor from the CPU and just use this monitor and speakers to play the games. This is because I have a place where I could get a monitor but I don’t want to have to get a CPU. A response soon would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • The raspberry pi is a complete computer that runs linux. I’m afraid I don’t entirely under stand the question, but you don’t need any other computer to use this.

  • Harry

    If I have a USB Encoder Kit, do I still need a control board (IPAC-2)?

    • That’s essentially what the ipac is, so no, I don’t think you’ll need it.

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