Arcade panel


Advanced Member
Mar 9, 2010
So, following on from my question about the joystick and buttons in another thread


I ordered the parts I needed and decided to give it a shot :)

You should know, this is nothing pretty, I didn't really plan it as much as I perhaps should've, but from day one it was just an attempt to get a 'working' arcade controller.

I've next to zero experience with woodwork, and this is my first effort at any type of controller.

In hindsight, I know I done a lot of things badly, but in all honesty I'm not that bothered.

I would like to have another go soon, with more planning, and make it look nicer, with some plexi and some nice retro sticker graphics.

So avert your eyes if easily offended with shoddy craftsmanship or anything... this is rough work in amateur hour :)

Not quite finished yet, but thought I'd post up what I have so far.

In the end, the box I planned to use was not quite large enough for the mobo of the PC I had available to rip apart. So I just spent a fiver on a piece of MDF and cut it up into the same shape but a little larger.

This is the PC I had, used to use it before getting a newer/better one. This is why I thought of tearing it open for use in a controller.


Just unscrewed the board from the base of the PC tower, took out the power button which is sat on that small board top left, along with a couple USB ports on that too.


Took out the power supply and the HDD.

That was all I needed really, the PC case got thrown away and I kept all the screws.


This is the parts laid out on the 12mm MDF so I could see where to cut it. Wanted to keep it small as I could really in terms of depth. Could have placed MOBO the other way [90 degree] to be a bit wider but not as deep, but the short cables from the AC didn't really allow for that.


Once I'd cut the base piece of MDF, I cut this front panel.

Drilled some holes for the fan to breath.


The wood here is about 1cm in front of the fan.


Screwed the board down to the MDF base, just small screws directly through the board into the wood, no chassis plate, not sure if that's ideal but it holds.


Cut out a few other holes on this front panel.

The small one on left is just large enough to slot my 3.5mm jack into, for headphones.

The arch cut on the left allows to access a USB port.

The arch cut on the right allows access to the power button.

This is one thing I would like to change soon, at moment it is a tiny power button and bit fiddly. Would be nice to have a larger button added for easier boot up.


The Sanwa bat top arcade joystick I ordered from the good folks at

Also got some leaf buttons, went for those as they didn't protrude too much with their built in switches.


I had these bracket things laying around from an old IKEA unit.

Used them just to hold the AC in place, so it didn't rattle around too loose inside.

The black square is a tie-fastener holder, I stuck a couple of them in too and fastened the AC to those. Pretty secure now. I won't be throwing this thing around so good enough :)


Tie-fasteners in place.

The HDD is just stuck down with some double sided sticker strips... again left overs from an old IKEA unit.

The VGA output is running out the back of the box, shown on the left of this pic.

AC cable hangs out the left hand side, shown on the bottom of this pic.


Nice close up of my dodgy tie-fastener fix... ahem... whatever though, it holds :)


So a couple of the screws used were perhaps a tad too long, 4 of which pierced the base  :D   Not even a mm but still enough to scratch whatever table I place this on, so made use of some more IKEA leftovers ... foam sticky pads.


Got the drill bits out and saw. This was done from the template layout on, though I did shift the joystick over a bit further as seemed more comfortable to me.


Wasn't going to [wouldn't know how anyway] to cut an insert for the joystick to sink into so was plush with the panel.

Did consider keeping the joystick plate beneath the panel but then it protruded too far underneath and wouldn't have had enough room as it rests above the AC case in the box. So just stuck it on top and by time it sinks through the 12mm MDF only the connectors are showing beneath.


The back panel, another nicely cut shape :) Just to access the VGA and a few USB ports and ethernet.




Far as aesthetics go this is it, a lick of orange paint to go with the b&w buttons.

I've got 2 more buttons to add. I have a couple smaller buttons for use here as menu buttons but like a numpty I used the same drill-bit and made the holes too large for them - so will need a couple more buttons.


And on the flip side...

Alongside the nice IPAC.


Done a little quick plane cutting on the small top panel so the main control panel MDF could swing on a hinge. Wanted to have it hinged for easy access.


£1.50 on the hinges, my box of IKEA parts let me down here...


Little bit of MDF glue on the box parts, with nails on the back/base for stability.

It's ok to bash away on though wouldn't want to lean onto it too heavy just now...


...Need to get the side panels on, which I still need to cut. Will probable add some wood wedges in there too to strengthen.


All wired up to the IPAC, remembered to keep a couple connectors free for the 2 missing buttons...


Pretty much done, albeit shabby looking and missing the sides and a couple buttons... but it works and that's what matters.


Hooked up the old k/board and mouse so could config my Hyperspin for use with the new joystick and buttons


Power up!


...And it works.

Configured the main menu wheel and my Megadrive emu and all good.

So that's that, I'm most the way done, at least it's working and ready to use.

I'm happy with it,  :lol:
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Advanced Member
Mar 9, 2010
I've seen some of his stuff, he's bit of a master though eh. The portable Xbox and Playstations are excellent.


Sarcasm Dispenser
Staff member
Jan 18, 2010
About a decade ago I had a custom one made up for me, It cost a bit of money but it looks and feels great to use.. It got made before that USB fad became popular, so the Joystick and trackball are PS/2 style connectors.

It was made from the guy that eventually started making the Arcade in A box controller at the time he was only selling tabletop and full cabinet MAME machines, I asked him about making something without the computer that could fit on my lap.. After some emails passing around and some cash flowing he made me a cool device.. I'll post pictures shortly.. it's kind of dusty..

It's a great project FZERO there is nothing like real arcade joystick and buttons.. I only wish I could make something myself as good as what you made.. I can't make anything out of wood if my life depended on it.

Edit: Pics!



If I was convinced I could put it back together in one peice, I'd try to wedge a Beaglebone Black or Raspberry Pi in that sucker..
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Well-Known Member
Oct 28, 2009
"if you've got an idea, why not send it to.... THE BEN HECK SHOW"
You know, arcade controllers for PC have been hacked together by people for a really long time.

And it's not that hard to hack together… I don't think it would be interesting, for someone that made a full pinball, hacked consoles to make them portable, etc., to wire 10 arcade buttons and four directions of an arcade joystick to an i-pac (or similar product), then fit a computer in the same case.

Not to downplay your work FZERO, it's quite nice, it do what you wanted.

Oh, but you've made a small error, the metallic plate of the joystick should have been under the wood. That way, you just do a circular hole in the wood, you can put the screws inside the box and the black plastic circle is used on top of the wood to hide the hole ;) (as you can see on Trashy MG photos)

When you play fighting games, you make fast moves with the joystick, it's easy to scratch your hand on a screw head or the corner of a plate ;)
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Hardcore Member
Jan 23, 2011
Well done, nothing to be ashamed of there.  It came out good.

Somehow reminds me of my primary school desk.  If only they had a controller in them.

You probably are aware of this, but there is a great forum/resource for people who build there own arcade machines , controls etc.  

BYOAC (Build your own arcade controls):-  It's here in case you haven't come across it before.


Advanced Member
Mar 9, 2010
@Trashy, yeah you can't beat proper controls for a lot of those classics, I still need to configure my controls for the Atari 2600 emu and will do that tonight, plan for some Millipede with it later.

Your one looks decent, clearly a better build effort than mine.

@Linux-SWAT, thanks [if you meant my controller :) ]

@KodeIn, yeah for some of you [looking at vcoleiro here too with his minitures range] this is a humble little project, but was a first effort and as you say, it does what I hoped it would :)

I did consider placing the plate of the joystick beneath, having just the small circular hole on the top, but this was again due to my lack of real planning [i sort of done it as I was going along] ... By time I had cut the wood and placed the PC parts in, there wasn't really enough space inside to have that much of the joystick hanging underneath... it would've been scratching on the PSU case. So had to go with how it is so most the depth of the joystick was within the 12mm MDF, it only sticks out a little underneath now.

I hadn't even considered the scratched hands though... I'll see how it goes and if need be I'll just cut out a sticky felt pad to cover the metal/screws :)

@vcoleiro, thanks :)

If school desks had these built in them, they wouldn't remain at the schools for very long eh.

I have seen that site before as it goes, think someone here pointed me to it in another thread once. Good source. If/when I do another one, with more care and time taken, I'll defo reference there and take good notes for planning. That will be when I've more time and money though.

It is real nice to have proper controls now though for some of these old skool classics, rather than my USB joypad 


Well-Known Member
Oct 28, 2009
I can propose another option for the joystick plate ;)

Remove some wood where the plate is (you need the plate at the same level than the wood) then add a thin sheet of plexiglas on top of the wood on the whole panel. That way, you'll also be able to put printed artwork between the wood and the plexiglas. The plexiglas sheet can be maintained with 4 screws and the buttons.

Here is an example of that technique found on the net :


(the wrinkles are only the protective sheets on the plexiglas)


Advanced Member
Mar 9, 2010
That would be nice ... I might look at that as it goes, thanks.

I'll have to borrow a router bit tool off someone, then test on a spare bit of wood to see how easy it is to do, not used one before. Nice idea though.
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Still fresh, damnit!
Oct 6, 2008
Somewhere off the coast of the EU
I reckon much of your trouble there is because you're using 12mm MDF to mount it on. I've not taken many arcade machines apart but certainly compared to the home controllers I've taken apart that sounds like more than enough.

Instead of recessing it from the top and covering that, I'd have thought it'd be better to sink it in from the bottom where your handywork can't be seen. If it was made out of solid wood or even ply it'd be easier to do a neat job with a knife and a chisel, but MDF just falls apart if you approach it with a chisel. That's why I hate working with MDF, but at least for making arcade controllers it's authentic.

I'd have thought with MDF you'd have to try to drill it out from underneath, putting a bit of tape round your drill bit at the max depth you want to go. With a standard pointy bit you're not going to end up with a smooth surface, but as long as you can sand it flat where it screws in and make sure in between there's no sticking up bits in between it should sit fine. could just leave it as is. You've already drilled the hole big enough to fit the body through and to be honest it looks fine to me. With the full throw of the stick available and especially cos you're using a bat top, I'd have thought the odds of you scraping the screw tops is minor (and besides, most properly made sticks I've seen have pan head bolts running all the way through from the top surface anyway).

Congrats on getting this done though. I've long planned to build my own arcade controller but when it came to actually sketching out stuff and buying bits, meh, I just picked up my DC pad and played a bit of Daytona.
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Internal Development
Mar 11, 2003
Great job!

Only problem is.. you've done it once, so now its in your blood.. you'll be doing it again a couple more times I bet, won't be able to stop yourself! Once the hacker taks hold, you cannot box it up again...