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Published on January 8th, 2013 | by Jules Yap


Lack Arcade Coffee Table

Materials: Lack coffee table, Raspberry Pi, Happ arcade joystick and buttons, Dell LCD monitor, speakers, Logitech MK260 keyboard and mouse, i-Pac keyboard encode by Ultimarc

Description: I had purchased a Raspberry Pi (RPi) credit card sized computer and wanted to do something fun with it. I saw another article on how to make an arcade coffee table and thought I could do it easier by hacking an Ikea Lack table.

The Lack is easily hacked by cutting it’s hollow core material using a utility knife. I outlined the shape of the LCD monitor and carefully cut out the hole.

Next I cut out the holes for the joystick, buttons, and control board area. Initially I tried using a 1 1/8″ hole cutter to cut through, but it was tricky. I ended up using that hole cutter to score the shape of the holes and then finishing the cut with a utility knife.

The RPi runs a version of Linux. I hacked together a simple front-end for selecting the games in Python using some sample code I found on pygame.org. For the games, I used a version of advmame compiled for the RPi.

Sound is provided by a pair of cheap speakers I got from Walmart. These items are hidden by a small enclosure I made that is glued to the bottom of the table. It also has a wireless keyboard and mouse for programming and configuration. In it’s final form, the table is completely controlled by the joystick and buttons so the keyboard is only used occasionally for fine tuning.

The kids love playing the the old arcade games like Donkey Kong and Galaga.

~ Manny Flores, Chicago

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

31 Responses to Lack Arcade Coffee Table

  1. Martin says:

    Excellent build! How did you mount the monitor?

  2. Pingback: Raspberry Pi : "Le codage pour les nuls !" » Toile de Fond

  3. Manny says:

    Didn’t think anyone was posting comments anymore!

    Wiring was easy since I used a keyboard encoder. I just tied on lead of all the buttons together for ground and then the lead was attached to the corresponding input on the encoder.
    The monitor is just plugged into a power strip inside the little box I built. It’s always on. The cat likes to sleep on it because it’s slightly warm!

  4. Mallory says:

    Hey – wondering if you ended up having time to write up the wiring of the controls, as well as how the monitor powers up – I am trying to build one this week as a gift and am in a bit deep lol

  5. It’s a funny table ! I love this kind of inventions ! Congratulations !!

  6. Anonymous says:

    What did you cover the monitor with? Glass / Perspex? I’m thinking of doing this myself, I needed a new coffee table anyway :)

  7. Ce site ne m’aime pas beaucoup. Il a été constaté que tous les types d’information. Jeux de créer un super boulot. J’ai essayé de faire des jeux. Cependant, j’ai réussi et.
    “Jeux de vehicles”

  8. Midloo says:

    Love this hack. My Pi is on order and I want to do something similar to your project. Wife Acceptance Factor is a concern for me as well :) I’m a coder, but I don’t have a lot of hardware experience. Think this is something a noob could handle?

    About the monitor – how do you power cycle it? Does it turn on without having to press a physical button?

    Thanks so much for this inspirational post!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think a few folks are interested in the frontend I created. Is there a good spot here somewhere to post it?

  10. Excellent job. I just built an xbox 360 laptop with a pi inside for extra entertainment. Can you post a copy of your pi front end files.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It’s a nice hack, I’m really impressed but my question is: do you have a wife/girlfriend sharing the house with you ?

    • James says:

      He mentions his kids playing on the table, so I’d guess it’s likely he does.

    • Anonymous says:

      The pic I posted was when the table was in our front room during the holidays. I then moved it into the loft where the kids hang out. However, while it was in the frontroom, the WAF (wife acceptance factor) was relatively high!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I want this for our living room but I’m not a programmer, any chance you could make a list of what is needed? basically a step by step how to guide, Raspberry Pi and how to download the files to it, how to connect the LCD etc.

    [email protected]

    • Anonymous says:

      Like I said earlier, I kind of made it up as I went along. The only thing I can really share that is re-usable, is the frontend that I hacked together in Python. I can share that somewhere or send it to you. I need to package up the latest version.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The thin wood of the Lack supports the joystick and the button mashing just fine!

  14. Sean Lavery says:

    I’ve been working on the exact same project. Except I used the smaller LACK side table as I am working on putting the controls on a side box made out of 1/4″ plywood – I was worried the thin wood wouldn’t support the forces put on the joystick – and it was on sale for $9.99.
    Check out Shea Silverman’s blog for his PiMame image

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the kind words on my project. As far as a tutorial goes, I kind of made it up as I went along. I still need to backup the config files and python script as I continue to tweak it. I think it’s pretty stable these days but I may have to remove a few games where the audio is weird or the game doesn’t work at all. I filtered out the MAME ROMs to only include game that use a joystick and up to 4 buttons. Most of the games work, but some don’t. I may also need to see if there is an updated MAME emulator out there.
    If there are any more questions, post them and I’ll try to answer them.

  16. Deco Review says:

    That is a wonderful job

  17. Anonymous says:

    Do we know what monitor was used in this build?

  18. zweldon says:

    i’d kill for a software step-by-step done in dozuki, or something similar…

  19. Anonymous says:

    YEAHAAA man good job love it.
    Nee the setup can you make a tetorial?

  20. Scott says:

    Very cool hack! Great job!

  21. Marko says:

    Can you provide any additional infos about wiring the whole thing together and your Python program?
    Thank you so much.

    Best regards from Europe

    • Anonymous says:

      The wiring was pretty straightforward. I connected all the ground terminals together, then wired the other side to each of the inputs on the keyboard encoder.
      The Pythong front-end was also very simple. I found some code at pygame.org for a more elaborate front-end, but I couldnt get it to work. I hacked it up so it just presented a simple menu driven by a text file. I can post it somewhere if you’d like.

    • Please do post. I’ve been looking all over for a diagram on how to wire it up. Thank you!

  22. OMG! You have inspired me with this great article. I think I might make a standing traditional style arcade machine but thanks for the great idea. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to have a look at some of my families carpentry skills on our website? http://robinsoncontracts.com
    Your feedback would be great, thanks

  23. Anonymous says:

    you’re my hero! i like the way you use the raspberry. <3
    nice work! keep it up!

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