Finishing the Cupcade

It took a lot longer than I expected for the paint to dry on the panels, so I couldn’t finish putting together the mini arcade machine yesterday. The paint is still, more than 24 hours later, “tacky”, but it was dry enough. I’m sure it’ll harden up over the next few days.


The first thing I did was spray paint all the parts. I used a paint designed for plastic, in a hope it’d stick better than normal paint. Acrylic panels aren’t known for holding paint well.  The paint said dry to the touch after an hour, but wait overnight to fully cure. Well, overnight wasn’t enough, but it was good enough.


This morning I brought them in to keep drying from the garage. The Cupcade supports two configurations for the joystick/buttons — the joystick between the two buttons, or to one side. There’s two extra panels here because of that.


While the panels were still a little tacky and not ready to be put together, I screwed the buttons into the panels. The black buttons are for coin-in and start. The red ones are A and B buttons for the games. I had previously decided that I’d run a left joystick configuration, so the buttons are both to the right of the joystick. I could’ve had it right stick, or middle stick as well.


Only seven panels got anything attached directly to them — the speaker panel, the joystick panel, the LCD mount and the two button panels. The next step was mounting the Pi, LCD and joystick.


The control panel is actually two parts — a rear one that isn’t visible that holds the joystick electronics, and a front panel with the A and B buttons.

WP_20140821_11_00_54_ProOnce the speaker was mounted, the speaker panel gets mounted to the LCD panel. The bezel should also get attached here. I didn’t do it. That means I had to take the whole damn thing apart and do it over. Whoops.

WP_20140821_11_17_22_ProBefore the final case assembly, I had to route all the wires, and test everything again. Burger Time runs!


I decided to grab a wireless 802.11N USB dongle to install. There’s room behind the front fascia for it. Why would I need WiFi in a little arcade cabinet? Beats me, but adding it later would’ve been a giant pain. Its a self-contained little Linux system. I could replace the front-end with something that showed weather reports or tied into the home automation system, if I wanted.


I can also, I suppose, copy ROMs onto it without having to pull the SD card. I’m not sure its really any easier, but I could do it. And, yes, in case anyone is wondering, I did change the default password. 🙂


With WiFi set up, it was just a matter of assembling the case. Its a lot of squeezing, poking and prodding. Which, for reasons mentioned above, I had to do twice. Basically the panels with stuff attached get bolted to the side panels, then you work your way around loosening them and fitting the final panels in.


The last fitting of the panels was tricky. It definitely looks better having the LCD bezel installed.


When I first powered the unit up, I was having issues with the joystick. A couple of the wires were loose. After re-seating them, I couldn’t even get it to boot. It turns out the warning Adafruit gives that the unit won’t boot without the joystick attached is correct. Its bus-connected, so it must cause the entire bus to not work. I had to pull the front panel with the start/coin buttons out and reseat a couple more wires. After that it fired up just fine!

I’m not sure why the screen looks so blue in the photo — the graphics quality is really very good, with deep blacks.

My last step is going to be getting some side art and LCD bezel stickers printed so it looks like a real mini arcade machine. As I mentioned a few days ago, my friend Jacob has offered to do something totally rad. No pressure, Jacob. The whole world just saw “rad”.