Arcade1Up Mod with Raspberry Pi and RetroPie

Arcade1Up Mod with Raspberry Pi and RetroPie

In this article, I will show you how to modify the Arcade1Up game machine using Raspberry Pi and Retropie.  Raspberry Pi is a low cost credit card size single board computer while Retropie is the software allow you to turn a Raspberry Pi into a Retro game machine.

Around Nov. 2018, I saw a mini Arcade machine sold at the local Walmart store made by Arcade1Up (https://www.arcade1up.com/). It looks and feel like the old Arcade machine except it is only 4 feet tall and the build quality is much lower than the regular arcade machine. But then again, it also comes with a much cheaper price tag. (MSRP ~ $300 to $350)

As for the games, they have Galaga, Pacman, Asteroids, Centipede, Rampage and Street Fighter 2 etc.

Personally I like the Pacman and I also like the Galaga machine. At the end, I picked up the Street Fighter 2 Machine. It is simply because I am planning to modify it and the extra button holes layout comes in handy.

Similar to Ikea furniture, you need to assemble the cabinet together yourself. The instruction comes with the package is simple and easy to follow. The only tool you need is a philips screw driver. Power screw driver is not needed nor recommended. If you have no problem put together a Ikea furniture, you will be fine for getting the Arcade1Up machine up. It is quite simple.

About the Mod

I was planning to mod the Arcade1Up machine with RetroPie before I purchase it. Since I have it now, let’s see what I need to get that going. Based on what I found so far, I am going to use the existing screen. As for the buttons and the joystick, I will swap them with the a new set.

Parts needed so far (this list will be update if needed)

Tools required

  • Philips screw driver.
  • Hole saw (To drill a new hole for the Select button)
  • Drill.
  • Masking tape.

Let's get started

  • First, unscrews and remove the back panel of the Arcade cabinet.
Back of Arcade1up screen showing 2 scews location.
  • Inside the Arcade cabinet, at the back of the screen panel, remove the 2 screws on the side of the metal box.
Controller board of Arcade1Up machine
  • Disconnect the cables from the circuit board.
New Display driver board with cable connections
  • Discard the original circuit board and connect the cables including the ground cable to the LCD Driver board as shown in the above photo. Attach the LCD Driver board to the back of the screen. You can use a double sided foam tape to do it.
Original Arcade1Up control console
  • Unscrew the control panel and remove it from the Arcade cabinet.
Arcade1Up original joystick and buttons
Bottom view of Arcade1Up control console with new joysticks and buttons
  • Replace the original arcade buttons and joysticks with the new LED arcade buttons and joystick. The original one are okay, but they are really cheap. The micro switches are are kind of small so I decided to swap them out with a better one (not the best one on the market, of course). In order to install the new joystick, I need to drill 4 new holes for each joystick. All I did was align the joystick and use the masking tape to tape the joystick to the board where the mounting holes are. Then I just mark the holes with a marker and drill a small hole.
Bottom view of Arcade1Up control console with new wired buttons and joysticks
  • Install all the buttons and joysticks. Wire them according the to the manual shipped with the Arcade joystick and buttons.
Arcade1Up J panel with 2 custom drill holes and button installed
  • Remove the front rectangular panel board (board J), drill 2 holes and install the Select buttons. My hole saw kit did not have the right size for the select button, so I just use the one that is slightly smaller than the button. Then I make it bigger with the Dremel sand drum. To attach the USB controller board, I found a small rectangular box and attach it to the bottom of the control panel in between the Blue joystick and the Red buttons with the foam tape. After that, just tape the USB controller to the box. Put the control panel back to the Arcade Cabinet and install the screws.
Arcade1Up new wires connected between RaspberryPi and Display controller
  • Go to the back of the Arcade Machine. Connect the HDMI cable from the Raspberry Pi to the LCD driver board.
  • Connect the original Power Adapter cable that come with the Arcade1Up machine to the LCD driver board.
  • Connect the 5V microUSB power adapter to the Raspberry Pi.
Arcade1Up with Raspberry Pi and Retropie installed
  • It is almost done. I just need to connect a power speakers to the Raspberry Pi via the mini jack. Right now, the Arcade is playable without sound. After the Retropie finish booting up, you may need to re-setup the Joystick and buttons.

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