When I posted my review of my son’s Arcade 1UP Pac-Man cabinet, I mentioned that I would like to one day, upgrade it to play more games. Seeing as I had a little time, I have accomplished this goal. After quite a bit of Google research, I found that the easiest way and the one that brought the least amount of expense was going the Raspberry Pi route. For those of you unfamiliar, the Raspberry Pi is basically a computer in a very small package. People use them for a number of different projects but they have become increasingly popular for video game emulation.
It has a number of different positives.
No. 1, Inexpensive: Compared to buying a full sized motherboard. The price for a stand alone Raspberry Pi 3b is about $35.00.
No. 2, Availability: The Raspberry Pi can be gotten online from both Wal-Mart and Amazon among many other places. In fact, you can get one at Target, much to my surprise. Please be aware however, that the stand-alone Raspberry Pi does not come with the power supply or the Sim Card. It requires a 5v 2.5 amp power supply. If you pay a little bit more you can get the whole kit that usually comes with a power supply, the 16GB SD SIM card (serves as the Pi’s Hard Drive), 2 metal heat sinks for the two small processors for heat dissipation, a cover for the Raspberry Pi, and an HDMI cable, a nice collection. I recommend paying the extra for the kit. Price them out but you can find them as low as $65.00. The kit I purchased is now $79.99.
No. 3, Game Emulator Choices: With a few simple downloads, you have the choice of the Mame (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Master System, and a host of others. Each of these emulators require ROMS. We will not be telling you where to acquire these but just do a Google search and you will find what you need.
Ok, you have your Raspberry Pi Kit, so what else do you need? For the Arcade 1UP, you will need an LCD controller board (assuming you are using the built in monitor). You can order one from Amazon for around $30.00. As for all things, shop around. This was the one I purchased: HDMI+VGA+DVI+Audio Input LCD Controller Board For HSD190MEN4 M170EN06 17″ 19″ 1280×1024 4CCFL 30Pins LCD Panel from Amazon. It hooked right up and does the job. More on that later.
You will also need some more buttons and more than likely, an improved set of joysticks. It depends on what games you’ll be playing. You could just as easily just use a generic usb game controller if you are going to only play console games like Nintendo or Super Nintendo. It will hook right up and be recognized with a few button pushes. In my case, it’s main purpose was to add more arcade style games so I ordered a set of buttons and two joysticks. The buttons light up which both my son and his dad likes…”Ohhh, Shiny!” Again shop around, this what I purchased: Qenker 2 Player LED Arcade DIY Parts 2X USB Encoder + 2X Joystick + 20x LED Arcade Buttons for PC, MAME, Raspberry Pi, Windows (Red & Blue Kit) as found on Amazon for $44.99. This kit comes with connection instructions and a few extra buttons if you need them.
Finally, by using the Arcade 1UP cabinet, an audio source will be necessary. You can do this one of two ways. If you have an old PC speaker set, i.e. Logitech, etc. these will work fine and will save you some money. You can also go the route I did and purchase a small audio amp to hook up with a pair of stereo speakers I had on hand. This one cost a whopping $9.98 however, again, it didn’t come with a power supply. What is it with these people and power supplies. Fortunately, I have a box of misc. power supplies that I have collected over the years so all I had to do was find a 12v 2 amp power supply and I was good to go.
So I now have the Raspberry Pi Kit: $79.99
LCD Controller Board: $30.00
Joystick and Button Set: $44.99
Audio Amp: $9.98
Total Spent on Upgrade thus far: $164.96
So now that we have all these goodies, what do we do with them? We’ll get into that in the next post. This where the fun, or the headaches begin (depending on your patience). We’ll see together. Is this the kind of project you would ever take on? If you are a fan of the 80’s arcade games, you should give it a whirl. As always, share your thoughts with us at GVNation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.