Build a Retro Classic Arcade with Raspberry Pi 2 under $500

Build a Retro Classic Arcade with Raspberry Pi 2 under $500

Have you ever wanted to build your own retro arcade machine? From Pacman to Sonic to Mario, you can have it all, and build it yourself for that extra sense of satisfaction.

These kits use a Raspberry Pi mini-PC to run the games with a free Linux based emulation OS called RetroPie that is ready to help you find and load classic ROMs (games) online into an easy to use interface, and then you can choose from just about all of the classic systems and games from one screen. The Raspberry Pi 2 is super small, but it packs a good punch for a credit card sized PCB, as it’s a quad-core system and can be used for a XMBC living room media center, or for regular tasks like browsing the web and doing work with spreadsheets, documents, photo editing and running it’s own Pi version of Minecraft. If you just want to try it out as a PC or retro game console first, we recommend the Cana Kit, because it comes with everything you need to run the RPI including case, power cable and wi-fi, with all drivers already in place.



The Kits

Retrobuiltgames offers a small cabinet design kit called Porta Pi that you can put together, or you can get a fully assembled system (which might take the fun out of it for some).


Here is an overview of their Porta Pi kit:

Some may want to opt for the newer Raspberry Pi 2 which offers 6 times the performance over this kit’s version which has basically the same layout for a $35 board-only base price, so you can do a swap (models are basically the same layout, it works) if you want to be able to handle 16-bit titles found on the Super Nintendo or Genesis.


A little more Hardcore?

You can source and build a custom kit yourself with a little more effort, and still get away with no soldering or programming:

Here is the instruction page from the video, and you basically will want a Raspberry Pi 2, an I-PAC2, a Joystick (or 2), your choice of push buttons, and a harness all found here, or compare these parts around the web for a good price. You can use an older flat screen monitor or get any size monitor that will fit in your desired assembled or DIY case that hooks up to a HDMI cable. If you want to make a mini-cabinet system you can even get a 7″ or 9″ TFT LCD screen, it’s up to your build and preference.

If you want a choice of pre-fab designs for cabinet assembly you can check out the Mameroom kits. If you are handy with tools and reading layouts, and want to build your own, you can check out tons of free plans for actual retro arcade cabinets here, in .eps and .jpg formats.

Small tabletop kit

If you are looking for a real small tabletop kit that comes with everything except a Raspberry Pi, solder, wire and tape, you can check out the Cupcade kit, but it does tend to go out of stock pretty quick.

Other Resources

Some kits come with pre-formatted SD cards with operating systems or NOOBS already installed. If you want to make your own burn of different operating systems for your Pi or swap disks around, see below.

A Windows utility to burn operating systems or NOOBS to your Raspberry Pi SD card (it’s disk drive) while in Windows, called Win32 Disk Imager, found here:

And the RetroPie operating system to burn to your Pi’s SD card for your arcade if needed:


Total Cost for your own home arcade is $172-$405 for complete kits (to sky-is-the-limit custom $$$)