Home Arcade

This past Saturday, Emily’s friend Christopher McGinnis had a birthday party at the local Laser Tag emporium. I went with her to provide another large, ungainly target for the children to shoot. While at the arcade, I noticed that they had several old arcade solitaire machines in the window, each marked with a $25 price tag. Since I grew up in the golden age of arcades, and still have a fascination with (and employment because of) the electronic entertainment industry, I’ve longed to be able to share some of that experience with my own kids. One way that I’ve always thought would be nice would be to have a couple of arcade games around the house. However, working arcade games are expensive, somewhat hard to come by, and not much fun to maintain.

One alternative that addresses most of these problems is putting a PC into an arcade cabinet. Looking at those $25 cabinets, I felt the call of destiny (or perhaps it was the voice of immaturity — I wasn’t discriminating much). I grabbed two of the cabinets, one for me and one for Grant, my next-door neighbor and partner in crime for various musical and gaming endeavors. We were delighted when we pulled open one of the cabinets and found that the innards were basically a ‘386 PC with two custom boards that held the game software and interface to the coin slots. Further, the trackballs were apparently in working order and connected to a trackball to serial interface — parts that would have cost $110 if we’d had to buy them. This looks like it’ll be even better than we’d thought!

I’ve designed our control panels and ordered the joysticks, pushbuttons, and interface circuitry to connect it all together, so we should be making more progress on this project in the next week or two. We’re also considering putting a big hard drive in so we can use the boxes as MP3 jukeboxes as well. Photos and more info to come as the project progresses. Thanks to Arcade Controls for a ton of useful information and to [Kathy->] for not killing me when I showed up with two arcade cabinets.