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Old wardrobe gets second life as a retro arcade machine

IKEA TRYSIL wardrobe saved from landfill and converted into a retro arcade games machine.

We were dismantling our son’s TRYSIL Wardrobe to remove it from his room. It had been good wardrobe but the backing had started to continuously fall away.

It had some slight damage during dismantling and would have become landfill apart from a last minute idea….

A retro arcade machine!

retro arcade machine ikea hack

It actually looks pretty retro, and it plays like a real arcade machine.

IKEA items used: 
ikea trysil wardrobe

Related: MICKE desk with a built in arcade set up


Other materials and tools: 

DIY home retro arcade machine 

1. CABINET

First, dismantle the wardrobe (if it is already assembled).

Separate the 2 tall side pieces (Important! Leave hanging rod brackets ON! 2 x shelf pieces, 2 x drawer fronts, and any assorted bolts and screws. Dowel rods can be removed – I didn’t use them)

Mark out the side pieces to make 2 cuts.

cutting guide

Side Panel cutting Guide

This allows the cabinet to lean back at a neat angle. Ensure you identify the top and bottom correctly and take care to use the nicely edged side to stand towards the front. Cut with circular saw if possible. I used a jigsaw so cut is quite rough.

Mark out and drill pilot holes through sides to attach shelves between the 2 side panels. Use the long IKEA hex bolts that came with the TRYSIL to secure the shelves.

retro arcade machine ikea hack
2. SHELF FOR CONTROLS

On mine the middle shelf for controls is fitted at 93cm high and slopes very slightly toward the front.

retro arcade machine ikea hack

Once it is standing up use additional screws to fit the drawer fronts at the top.

retro arcade machine ikea hack

These are actually a little wider than the shelves but I squeezed mine in without cutting. But if you are better with a saw than I am you may wish to cut these down slightly to fit.

I also fitted the rear one at an angle and only used 1 screw on each side so it can flip up to access the TV.

Check that everything is holding together nicely then use 4 L-brackets to reinforce the structure.

I added an extra 2 brackets to the middle shelf for extra sturdy controls.

retro arcade machine ikea hack

Now, if you left on the hanging rod holders and measured correctly I found that the TV sat at the perfect height to support the 30” TV we had, donated by my in-laws.

LCD panel

I then fitted 2 screws in each top corner to allow TV to rest at the perfect viewing angle.

LCD panel

And that’s all I did for the cabinet.

If you want there are many other pieces that could be used to enclose the back of the cabinet and under the TV as well. (Again – I didn’t cut too much as I only had a jig saw and it cut this stuff very rough!). 

3. ARCADE GAMES SETUP

There are many instructional on Youtube on how to build an arcade games machine with a Raspberry Pi computer and Retro Pie.

retro arcade machine ikea hack

But here are the basic steps to fitting the joysticks and buttons to the USB controller, then connecting those to your Raspberry Pi mini computer.

First, search for a button layout online or design your own on a piece of paper.

Use this as a guide to drill holes for joystick and large buttons (28mm drill bit worked for me. Also some smaller buttons were 18mm I think – check your button sizes as they may vary). I did all this with the cabinet assembled.

The buttons should just drop in and screw tight and the joystick requires placement and a couple of short screws underneath.

The joystick kit comes with cables to attach to the USB board. These can also be fixed with a small screw or two.

controls

Then, take care to wire both player 1 and player 2 buttons in the same order as this will make the joystick configuration in the Retro Pie interface much easier.

How long and how much did it cost?
  • Joystick Button Kit: $50
  • Raspberry Pi computer starter kit: $99
  • L Brackets and other hardware: $20

The cabinet build took me about 3-4 hours, but I was making it up as I went along. Fitting in the joysticks and buttons took me about 2 hours. Programming Raspberry Pi computer was easy to do with lots of online tutorials. That took about 1 hour.

What was the hardest part about this hack?

Fitting the cabinet parts together. You may need another person to assist holding pieces in place while assembling the cabinet.

What to pay special attention to?

Cutting the large pieces so that the rubber edging remains in-tact for front edges of cabinet, which makes a nicer finish.

Be careful fitting the shelves as they are not particularly thick. They definitely need support with L-brackets.

Looking back, would you have done it differently?

No, it actually turned out almost exactly as I envisaged. I am still working out how to finish the cabinet with some more trimming beneath TV and control panel.

~ by Andrew Gelao (Katoomba NSW, Australia)