I want to first start off by saying I’m a HUGE fan of the Arcade1Up cabinets. I’m a proud owner of PAC-MAN, Street Fighter 2 Championship edition and the latest Teenage mutant ninja turtles cabinet which I reviewed. Those who know me know that I’m no stranger to making modifications to my devices.
However for some reason, the idea never popped in my head to perform a mod on an Arcade1Up until 2 months ago. My friend “Sheets” was over playing some SF2 and asked “hey, can we mod these cabinets?” I went online and upon researching discovered an entirely new world full of colorful characters and extremely creative individuals performing jaw dropping mods to these cabinets.
The goal of this article is to place you future modders on the right path to completing some of the most popular mods successfully. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time researching this project and quickly discovered that there are multiple ways to perform these mods ranging from those experienced to the novice. I will also be giving full credit to those who created the scene and continue to produce some amazing Arcade1Up mods.
The birth of a scene – October 3rd, 2018
If you were to Google or YouTube search Arcade1Up mod then the first name that will appear is ETA PRIME, and if it doesn’t then the guide or video showing the process will absolutely give credit to ETA PRIME for being the first to perform a full system modification. He was able to install a Raspberry Pi with Retropie and replace existing joysticks + buttons with higher quality alternatives.
ETA PRIME is the MacGyver of building / modding emulation units. I first came across his channel a few years back when building my launchbox PC. He’s created great emulation performance videos for almost every emulator running on the Raspberry Pi. If you are interested in performing this mod for a particular retro console then I recommend you check out his channel first to see how it performs on the Pi. Below is his step by step video on how to:
– Replace original PCB with a Raspberry Pi 3 B plus (Pi 4 is available but still not recommended due to some compatibility issues with multiple applications)
– Replace stock joysticks + buttons and connect to new USB control board
– drill 2 new holes on the control deck to function as player 1 & 2 select buttons
– Convert monitor to work with HDMI adapter
– Connect new amplifier and speakers
Now if you are experienced with performing hardware mods this shouldn’t be too difficult. The same rule also applies to PC gear heads. The only tricky part could be drilling the 2 new holes and making sure that they are properly aligned with the existing player 1 & 2 buttons. If you are a novice don’t worry. I also discuss some “plug & play” options later in this piece.
In this 2nd video ETA PRIME shows how to install & configure Retropie + Emulation Station on a Raspberry Pi. Retropie is a software package built on the Raspbian OS and Emulation station is the official frontend. As of this writing Retropie supports 40 emulators on Raspberry Pi.
In the first video ETA PRIME talked about which style of joysticks + buttons to use and recommends getting some inexpensive Sanwa clones. However, some you may be asking what is Sanwa? They are regarded as the best arcade joysticks and buttons.
Manufactured in Japan, they are very popular in past & present arcade cabinets as well as home fighter control decks. Madcatz used Sanwa parts in their high end Street fighter control decks. There are other manufactures which offer different feel & response. To better explain this, I would like to direct your attention to the video below created by youtuber Retro Ralph.
Retro Ralph’s channel is dedicated to home arcade cabinets. The man is a master tinkerer and pulls off some of the most amazing Arcade1Up mods you will ever see. As seen in the video above, he is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about every aspect of an arcade cabinet. I highly recommend subscribing to his channel and scouring through his vast collection of videos for invaluable information.
With that said let’s look at a similar mod, which is to replace your stock marquee with a beautifully authentic backlit model. There are multiple DIY methods but there are some quality plug & play models worth considering. In the video below, Retro Ralph discusses the install process along with pricing for 2 backlit marquee options.
Below are the links to the two marquees Retro Ralph showcases with a third addition.
I personally went with Arcademodupfor two reasons
1 – Arcademodup offered a quick turnaround time. I received my marquee in 2-3 business days. At this time, Arcade Game Factory had over a month wait time.
2 – The marquee uses the existing wood panel attached to your marquee. This in turn prevents the LED light bleeding down on to the screen. At this time, Arcade Game Factory had not yet released the “black out” model.
If you are looking for a quick, easy and inexpensive mod ($50 – $60) to make your Arcade1Up shine, then I highly recommend Arcademodup and Arcade Game Factory.
So let’s say you performed some or all the mods mentioned above. Why not go that extra step and give your cabinet a brand new design? There are some great websites that offer high quality Arcade1Up cabinet graphic wraps.
Arcademodup has a great collection of pre-designed wraps which will cover every visible inch of your cabinet. The side panels, stock marquee, screen bezel, kick plate and control deck. They offer the option to get the full kit priced at $99 or get individual pieces with some priced at $15. They also offer the option to upload your own design as a Photoshop file. Side note: this custom image upload option is also available for their backlit marquees.
Arcade Grahix also provides high quality full kit wraps for Arcade1Up and other home arcade units. You can purchase the pieces you need individually including riser art. They also accept Photoshop files for those looking to do a more custom design. If you are unsure of how to properly apply these wraps then Arcade Grahix has you covered with detailed “how to” video guides for applying each art piece.
Plug & Play
If you don’t have the time or feel comfortable performing some of these mods then I do have an easy alternative. For those looking for a full control deck mod + preconfigured Raspberry Pi then I’d recommend Arcademodup “full arcade1up mod kit bundle”.
This is a massive bundle which includes everything you need such as a new 2 play controller deck, upgraded joysticks, buttons, with additional “select” buttons installed, new J panel (board right under control deck) which has stereo speakers installed, Raspberry Pi pre-loaded and ready to play attached under the control deck, the video converter and so much more. Below is their bundle video and install guide. NOTE: you will NOT have to disable your cabinet to perform any of the mods in this bundle. You also do not have to purchase the full bundle. You can pick and choose the pieces you want.
I personally have performed all the mod methods mentioned in this piece excluding the full graphics wrap which I’m currently working on. There are plenty of sites and services available to go about these mods but as I stated at the beginning, this is the path I took and feel that content creators and part retailers are reliable sources. I hope you found some useful information and feel free to share your mod experience in the comments section.
Side note – For those looking to dive a bit deeper into the arcade / mod scene I’ve provided a few additional YouTube channels & websites worth checking out.
Arcade Punks – Great site for up to date arcade scene news, Pi images and other useful information.
Retropie – This is the official site and were you can download the image for your Raspberry Pi. If you come across any issues with installation or configurations this should be your first stop for answers.
Retropie Github – This will be your new favorite site in regards to finding out which emulators work best on the Pi. All supported emulators are listed but as you will see for almost all of them there are at least 2 different emulators which can be used to emulate a particular device. Also worth noting all emulators can be downloaded directly from Retropie running on your Raspberry Pi, so no need to transfer executables from another PC. Supported rom formats, bios versions, control layouts and more can be found here as well.
Dwayne Hurst – Once you get familiar with Retropie and emulation station you will want to change things up by applying some new themes. Dwayne Hurst is by far the master creator of some if not all the best themes for emulation station. Not only does he create beautiful images for each console but also images for sub folders like “beat’em ups, fighters, wrestling, etc. Like the emulators these themes can be installed directly from the Retropie. Check out his YouTube channel to see all his beautiful themes.
Madlittlepixel creates some very informative retro gaming videos, especially when it comes to tweaking Retropie and some of the newer retro home consoles.
Glen Planamento Last but not least his Glen’s retro show. Everything and all things retro gaming can be found on his channel. Glen is the friend we all wish lived next door so we can spend countless hours talking about all things retro gaming.