Recently, between my job, robotics team, and teaching, I had been doing a ton of programming. So I decided to take a little break and work with my hands and do a programming-light project. A friend had recently rediscovered an old broken Ms. Pac-Man machine in the back of his garage and gave it to me. Originally, I had planned to fix it, but it was beyond repair. So I decided to salvage what I could and build a new one!

What it does

It plays any video game made before 1996ish.

How I built it

I wanted the arcade machine to be as close to the original Ms. Pac-Man machine as possible (at least on the outside), so I took it apart, traced out all the old rotten wood panels, made 1:1 replacements, and then assembled the new cabinet with screws and wood glue. Also, I stuck the original Plexiglas header from the Ms. Pac-Man on the top with a few LEDs for a retro feel. Unfortunately, all the old controls had seen better days, so I ordered replacements off of Amazon, got a Raspberry Pi 3, some old car speakers, and other odds and ends. When all the parts arrived, I made a prototype cutout of the control panel with cardboard, hooked everything up, flashed Retropie onto the Pi, and booted it up. After messing with the command line for a while, it worked! Next, I took everything out of the cardboard prototype, make a real control panel out of wood, put everything in the cabinet and booted it up. I also added a light switch at the back of the cabinet so you wouldn't have to unplug the arcade to turn it off.

Challenges I ran into to

For some newer Nintendo 64 games, the Pi didn't have quite enough power to run them smoothly. So, I added a heat sink, stuck on a fan, and overclocked the CPU. After this, the Pi started drawing too much current and started dropping under voltage. Swapping the old power supply for a Samsung Galaxy quick charge USB hub fixed the issue.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I don't usually work with my hands, so building something that's not virtual is definitely an accomplishment for me.

What I learned

I learned a lot about word working.

What's next for Arcade Machine

Although I didn't finish it in time, the arcade was sold at a charity auction, so it still needs to be painted before it's shipped off. Also, if I can figure it out, I might try to add the coin slot system from the old Ms. Pac-Man into the new machine.

Special Thanks

Thanks to Mr. Vela for helping with all the woodwork and to Chloe and Chase for helping with the panel art!

Built With

  • a-broken-ms.-packman-machine
  • an-old-tv
  • raspberry-pi
  • raspberry-pi-3
  • wood
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