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OpenCADE: RetroPie Arcade Console

by wagnerstechtalk Feb 27, 2019
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Awesome project! I'm building one of these for a friend's birthday. Big arcade guy that misses his MAME cabinet that he had to get rid of some years ago. I'm new this year to 3d printing so this will be my biggest project yet. Anyway, I have an idea for the side adapter. I think it may be more visually appealing if you made a cutdown version of the main cabinet so you could maintain the top all away across. You also could have button panels for the top if someone wanted to move the front buttons to the top. Techincally if someone wanted the full width they could use the current buttonless front cabniet and it would just need a new solid or button top.


Just realized that if you go with the full width you already have a buttonless top with the expansion pack.

Following this project closely. A little suggestion. Using suction cups instead of rubber feet to add to the stability while using the console. It's one of my gripes with these arcade boxes, that they lack weight and are easy to displace in some more active gaming moments.

Update: Suction cup option has been created, please see this: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3483663

Suction Cup Holders

This is awesome.

I already had sticks and buttons on hand from a retropi cabinet I've got half built and waiting for me to find the time to finish it.. Even shooting for a modular layout where controllers can be moved around, so this really caught my eye. I printed the main panel, wired it up, hooked it up and clamped it.It performs great overall. I used 35% infill with esun pla premium, and it feels pretty sturdy, although I might go a bit higher infil or switch to ABS I try to make it permanent. I think the one I printed would work just fine though.

Since you wanted suggestions/ideas, the one issue that I ran into is that the joystick is crammed in a bit close to the buttons compared to a standard arcade layout, i found my arms pressed in at a weird angle. Could get tiring in long sessions. Would not be an issue for a lot of games, particularly ones that only need 2 or 3 buttons as you could use the outer ones. I get this is a constraint of your target build volume, and I think that target is somewhere to stay anyway, as much bigger and the vast majority of desktop class 3D printers, mine included, would be SOL.

The modular nature of this thing could make that pretty easy to fix though for people who want to while still keeping it printable in the same form factor. A top panel/box with the buttons only, and then a half or 1/3 box that attaches to the side holding only a joystick. It looks like it could even be done with the side box you've already got if the connection between them is solid enough. I'll probably give that a shot when I get back to working on my cabinet.

What do you think of this as a solution? I created it this weekend and have been testing it out, very comfortable and sturdy. The left side plate becomes the support for the wrist, so it's very stable. The edges will be cleaned up a bit...

EDIT: Added right-side wrist support as well which won't impede 2 player configurations.

That would make the angle more comfortable. It would be great for most arcade genres. Particularly ones that only use 2 or 3 buttons, or that only use the additional buttons sparingly. Pacman, Rampage, Mario, Galaga, Gauntlet, TMNT, Final Fight, all their derivatives and many more.

Where you'll get resistance is from people looking for an "authentic" feel and for games that really use all the buttons. The big one being head to head fighters like street fighter, tekken, marvel v capcom, soul calibur, etc. They really need all the buttons all the time.

To get that "authentic" experience the distance between the joystick and the leftmost major button has to increase, You've got about 65mm center to center. There isn't one standard for all arcade games, but a typical arcade panel will just have more distance from center joystick to center of the leftmost major button.

I think you should absolutely keep the single box/panel design as your core. A lot of people aren't gonna care about all this or wont want to do all the extra printing, but having the option to have the joystick in a second box would obviate that concern for people who do. It would also open up the possibility for even more buttons. 6 is enough for almost everything, and the most I've ever needed is 8, but I've seen people make panels with 10 or even 12, so there must be something.

A great resource is http://slagcoin.com/joystick.html Whoever made that site put a ton of work into studying arcade panels and then came up with a bunch of "authentic" designs for general use layouts. The "Panel Layout" page on there has a whole bunch of diagrams for different layouts that take different approaches to a "best" layout, but a common theme for all of them is the distance between joystick center and leftmost button. The other pages might be great inspiration for other considerations too.

I attached a picture of the Opencade panel next to a mockup panel I drilled out of a sheet of ABS for a retropi cabinet. The extra 30mm make a huge difference in how it feels when actually playing. It's based off one of the layouts from that site I found best suited what I was going for. http://slagcoin.com/joystick/layout/hybrid36.png

edit: grammar, words, etc.

edit2: less distorted image

You don't know how much I appreciate your feedback! This is without a doubt the most informative and detailed feedback I've received yet. The links you provided are also excellent, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. I have no idea why some of it got flagged, I did get an e-mail notification with your original reply so I did get everything you posted!

I'll use the Slagcoin site as a reference when adding the button spacing for the joystick only panel and the button only panels (for use with 2 bases). EDIT: The attached PDF does not represent the spacing nor the new button layout, I'll be adding that next. I'll also likely create a separate right-side wrist support to make better use of the extra space (keeping the one in the pics for the single-player + control panel already available). I've already started printing some of the parts for the next configuration, should look pretty cool when done. Similar to the attached PDFs but the wrist panel on the right-side will extend further to the left screw hole on the base such that there is more support all the way across. I'll keep the current wrist supports for any 1-player builds that need/want it. They fit together pretty well and like you said most people will probably stop there.

95mm definitely won't be an issue for a 2-base unit between the joystick and the buttons. I compared the 2-player box against all 4 of my actual arcade cabs and the only one that showed a reasonable size difference was my original 1980 Defender. But, the spacing of the buttons on that cab are crazy far apart and near impossible to play. I like the button arrangement in the link you sent and on your control panel, so I'll likely go with a button layout like that (but include a blank panel where anyone can customize it). I've got a little bit of designing and re-printing ahead of me but should get there before this weekend.

Had one other response that was kind of interesting, having a 2-joystick panel (in a single box) such that you can use it to play RoboTron. Being that it's one of my favorite games, I think I'm going to use that as well in the next update. Your request to add suction cups as well, so may make that another option by printing small legs that you can print and insert the suction cups and E6000 the printed legs to the bottom (I don't want to change the base design unless there is an urgent and reasonable need for it). I've been very happy with the stability of the 2 player unit using the rubber feet. But, the 1 player unit could indeed benefit from the suction cups so that will be available. My suction cups arrived today to get the measurements, etc. for that design The combination of configurations is starting to get pretty interesting. Documenting it may be a bit difficult :) May need another video to explain everything a bit better and show pictures of each of the different options (or main ones)..

Thank you again for your feedback! I'll post back here once I have something interesting to show.

Dude I'm so happy just to see people excited about stuff like this, I could go on all day.

I've got my partway finished design that I started hacking together awhile ago that I got pulled away from when life got busy and didn't get back to it. Then I got into 3D printing and yet somehow didn't think to apply it to finishing the arcade project. Now i'm really itching to go back and finish it, but I'm also wondering if I should just wait and see what you come up with.

I've had the current opencade panel sitting next to me on my desk all day and I've been fiddling with it and it's grown on me a lot despite the smaller size. I think I may end up using it for the 3rd and 4th player stations w/ 4 buttons when I get back to finishing my cabinet, which I had always planned to be smaller than than the full size P1 & P2 stations, as I can't think of any 3-4 player games that need a full set of 6 or 8.

On the double joystick idea, yeah, you really want to do that. Smash TV is still one of the purest arcade memories I'll ever have. Your modular design makes the idea of reconfigurable layouts really easy to imagine. Just mount the same sidecar that we already talked about on the opposite side of the normal box and the sky is the limit.

I can't wait to see what else comes up.

My response got removed. Anyways, hope you got my original reply (please email it to wagnerstechtalk [at] gmail dot com and I'll revise it). Anyways, here's the attachments (not going to write all that again).

I could too! This stuff is sooooo much fun! I've been having some crazy ideas such as: Adding a USB coin acceptor (small authentic-looking attachment with IR sensors and a bucket collector), Raised back-panel for adding Start/Select buttons or even an LCD display, Spinner+Trackball attachment, etc. Crazy stuff :)

My previous design I shared had some flaws. For instance, it only worked on a 1-player configuration. I kept trying to think of a better design and it was actually a more simplistic approach that made the most sense. With this new design, it's sturdier (there are two screw attachments on the bottom left/right of the panel) . I've attached a few PDF's of the model (ignore the control panel for now, I've already re-designed that one with separate joystick+button panels). I'll share a pic when I have all the components printed and installed.

This will now give you basically a FULL playfield. You can still mount 2 bases together side-by-side or use the middle adapter to add even more space between panels (I made the side adapter slightly larger to accomodate these changes). You could also make player 2...n pluggable into the right-side USB adapter on Player 1. The number of configurations will be huge.

All that's left are to create are the suction cup adapters, and V Side Adapter. Then of course, test this configuration (all panels printing now, done by morning)... Everything else is pretty much developed and ready to test out before making them available - likely next week.

I also got the OK from the RetroPie group to use the RetroPie Logo for some printed artwork (non-commercial use only). So I'll have template panels that looks something like the pics below (notice where the joystick appears in relation to the logo on the cp). Interesting 3D effect.

That's all for tonight! Thanks again for your feedback, feel free to let me know what you think about these changes. I'll probably scrap the old panel models (I still have them, but likely won't use them in the next update).

Pretty wild! Keep doing what you're doing and don't worry if everything isn't perfect. Having a great platform to build from opens up a lot of options.Part of what makes this so great is the iteration, and if someone wants to tweak something when they print their own copy there's nothing stopping that either.

Thank you for your kind words! I just wanted to let you know the OpenCADE Expansion pack has been released : https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3491239

OpenCADE Expansion Pack
Comments deleted.

Sweet idea! Perhaps I should make a panel with the joystick near the left-middle of one panel. Then a 2nd panel with the buttons spread out a bit more. That would certainly provide more mobility options. I could also provide panels that are totally empty (without joystick hole or associated screw holes for the joystick), this would allow anyone to customize as-needed. It was a thought I had before posting the project, but wasn't sure if anyone would be interested. Considering you're the first to provide such excellent feedback, I think it's something I may need to provide to improve the flexibility. But you're 100% right, I was working within the constraints of the target build volume and as you've likely already seen I couldn't squeeze much more in there. However, by adding two bases side by side, that horizontal volume limitation pretty much disappears in terms of width. Depth, a different story - but less important for this project :)

Thank you so much for your feedback, perhaps we'll see a v1.1 soon. Any other issues, don't hesitate to post here or on the FB link mentioned in the PDF. I do want to make this the go-to 3D printed design for RetroPie and I'm happy to make that happen. This is a fun hobby and the more that get enjoyment out of it, the better!