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raspberry pi arcade: the d-cade

a picture of a custom-built arcade cabinet

During my time off from school I always found it difficult to sit still. I am someone who thrives in environments that move fast-paced where there is always something to do or work on. During the winter break of my senior year I decided to retrofit an old custom-made game cabinet my dad purchased over a decade ago. It was designed and built for a Sega dreamcast, which I spent much of my childhood playing with my dad and siblings.

Some time ago, a visiting younger cousin likely broke the dreamcast machine inside the cabinet so I decided to refurbish and rebuild the contents inside. I started by removing the broken dreamcast and installing a raspberry pi that was pre-loaded with retro-pie, a gaming application that allows users to play old ROMs. I connected that pi to the internet and fileshared plenty of ROMS from N64 to Gameboy Advance to classic cabinet arcade games.

Inside the cabinet I was dealing with some incredibly old equipment. The Analog TV inside had only one input which was a COAX port. The dreamcast previously inside was filtered through an RF modulator to the tv. So, in making some adjustments I install two old speakers I had and connected them through a soundboard to the raspberry pi. I then installed a drawer for easy access to the pi and using my at-home 3D printer, I printed some pieces to comfortably wrap the cords and fit the pi in the drawer (as well as a few extra controllers for 4-player games). I then purchased a Mayflash dreamcast to USB converter, an HDMI to VGA converter and a brand new RF modulator for good measure. After installed a new swing-open door in the back of the cabinet, I connected everything together, made a few digital adjustments to allow the dreamcast/joypad controllers to work properly, splashed a new coat of paint on the arcade, and coded in some extra special custom splash screens.

I moved my cabinet into my college house (affably named the D-House, as it hosted members of my accapella group; the Dischords), and christened it the "D-Cade." It served as a great addition to our college home and made social gatherings all the more exciting and memorable. Although it was a personal project, I picked up some valuable skills regarding A/V management and raspberry pi use. I’m very proud of it and I hope it will continue to be used for years to come.

a picture of the screen of the d-cade