Mini – Mini Mame Arcade Cabinet pt5

It’s been quite a while since I last posted an update regarding my mini – mini arcade cabinet / DIY iCade as things have been a little hectic here to carry on.

After building the cardboard mock up (see previous posts and YouTube vids) and getting a rough idea on measurements and construction details, I’ve decided to slightly modify the design again. Originally, I’d thought to base the overall design on the iCade, albeit a slightly taller version to accommodate my 11.6″ tablet netbook fixed in portrait mode and also include enough height for a backlit marquee at the top (unlike the iCade). However, looking back at my cardboard model, and especially with my netbook being a few inches taller than an iPad, it really did way too tall so I’ve decided to scrap that idea and exclude the marquee/lower the overall height.

I have a sneaky suspicion that this won’t be the last mini cabinet I build so maybe I’ll incorporate this idea into another cab (am already thinking of doing another for horizontal games).

So, with a new set of plans, headed off to the hardware store for materials.

I’ve decided to make my cabinet out of thin MDF as it’s easy to work with and provides a nice smooth finish. I did think about using rigid foam board and plastic at one point but went down the route I’d find the easiest. Likewise, I was going to use 9mm board but after looking at the slightly thicker 12mm board I decided to use that instead. It’s still very light but doesn’t seem to wobble like the 9mm board.

A good size 1m x 1.5m piece of MDF sheet (the smallest they had) cost me £6.99. More than enough for this cabinet with plenty of off cuts for the next build.

I also brought PVA wood glue, suitable wood screws, panel pins, two small inline brass hinges (for the top lid) and a pack of magnetic door fasteners (huh!)

Back home and outside in glorious summer sunshine despite it being mid autumn I transposed my measurements to the board and drew out the layout of all the panel pieces Here’s one of the side panels.


Cutting wood with an electric jigsaw makes the job very quick and easy. However, one can often go slightly wobbly when you’re trying to cut two pieces to match (excuses excuses!)


No matter, my Dremel and sandpaper attachment to the rescue!


All the parts cut and awaiting sanding. I’ve cut the side panels, back panel, front panel, top lid and control panel. My original plan included a bottom panel, but a test fit shows the whole cabinet to be quite sturdy and as there wouldn’t be any inner workings fixed to the base, I decided to exclude it in the end and reduce the overall weight.

You may notice in the picture below that some of the parts aren’t cut perfectly. Again wobbly jigsaw but half an hour with the Dremel and all are looked good. I’ve also sanded some of the corners on the side panels and on the Control Panel corners and front.


Using the 28mm drill bit I brought at the beginning of the year for my full scale MAME arcade cabinet, I’ve cut the holes for the joystick and buttons on the Control Panel and two holes in the front panel. The Control Panel will hold three fire buttons, which will be more than enough to play some of the classic vertical games, and the front panel will include the 1-up button and ‘coin’ button.


I’ve attached wooden fixing batons to the back and front panels with PVA glue and have set them aside to set overnight. Next time i’ll start putting all of the pieces together including the Netbook mount and Control Panel wiring.

At this stage I still don’t have any definite ideas for paint colour and decals….any suggestions!


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