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For those of you who may not want an arcade cabinet in your living room, we’ve got you. We made a nice piece of furniture that hides a 4-player arcade in plain sight! You can make this amazing Secret 4-Player Arcade using the digital plans linked below!

  1. Use the Cut List To Break Down Materials
  2. Assemble the Cabinet
  3. Install Arcade Playing Surface
  4. Load RetroPi and Start Playing!

1. Use the Cut List to Break Down Materials

We’ve made some step-by-step digital plans so you can build this Secret 4-Player Arcade for yourself. In the plans we list out a bill of materials, a cut list for each panel, and easy to follow assembly instructions. The plans list each piece of the Secret Arcade and label them for easy assembly. We chose to build the majority of this cabinet out of white melamine. At the time of building, a sheet of melamine was half the price of a sheet of plywood, and we didn’t have to paint it.

If you wanted to use plywood for the Secret Arcade, that’s totally fine. You can use pocket holes more often than we did. Because we were working with melamine, I chose to use dowels and screws for a majority of the constructions. Wood glue doesn’t stick well to the plastic veneer that melamine has. Once you have all of the pieces cut and organized, we can assemble the cabinet.

2. Assemble the Cabinet

Again, because we made our Secret Arcade out of melamine, we are using dowel joinery a lot. A dowel jig is a really handy tool to have along with a pocket hole jig. In the video, as well as the build plans, we mention our assembly method. First, we build out the cabinet structure and add the four actual drawers. Drill adjustable shelf pin with a jig can allow for shelf adjustability later on. Once the base cabinet is completed and edge banded, you can add the wooden outer shell.

Once the wooden outer shell is in place, it is time to add the invisible hinges and the false drawer fronts. This panel lifts out of the way revealing the arcade control board underneath. We have included a printable template with the digital plans so you can match the spacing of the arcade controls easily. Next, attach the locking (and non-locking) drawer slides to the control board and slide it into place.

3. Install Arcade Playing Surface

Once the sliding control panel is in place, you can install the arcade buttons, joysticks, and interface boards. We purchased a 4-player arcade button package from Amazon (linked in the tools area) that had 4 joysticks, 4 interface boards, 10 arcade buttons of each color, and the wiring to connect them and power the buttons’ LEDs. Once we connected each button and joystick, the interface board has a USB cable that transmits the inputs to the Raspberry Pi micro-computer.

4. Load RetroPi and Start Playing!

To play games on any of our arcades, we use a fully functioning micro-computer called a Raspberry Pi. There are many models that Raspberry Pi offers, the newest of which is the Pi4. For this project, we are using a Raspberry Pi 400, which is cool because the computer is built into a keyboard. It has the same functionality as a regular Pi but has the onboard keyboard. To load the RetroPi operating system, you simply download the Raspberry Pi Imager and select RetroPi. It will load the OS onto an SD card that you then load into the Pi.

Once you have RetroPi loaded, you can do some Google searching for your favorite games’ ROMs and load them onto the card. We won’t go into specifics on this step, because it is a grey area on owning the game versus owning the ROM, so download games at your own risk. But once you get games onto the SD card, you can scroll through the interface and start playing!

Hiding A Secret Arcade in Plain Sight!

I am really happy with how this Secret 4-Player Arcade turned out. We added some simple LED pucks to the tops of each shelf to cast some cool light on the retro consoles we placed on them. We now have video games consoles from past decades that we can play along with a 4-player arcade all in one unit! It is an amazing addition to a game room, a basement, or to your living room. Again, check out the build plans linked below so you can make one for yourself.

Get the Digital Plans Here!