The Elusive Retro Arcade Cabinet

The Elusive Retro Arcade Cabinet

Picade retro game arcade running Pac Man.

I have been looking for a good arcade cabinet for years and finally found the Picade. It's small with a maximum screen size of 12 inch but being small meens you don't need a man-cave in order to find a place for it. It is typically powered by a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 running RetroPie but there are mounting holes for a Mini-ITX mainboard as well if you prefere a more powerfull solution.

The Picade started out as a Kickstarter project and there is a lot to like about it - but still, everything is not right about it. If you look around, you'll notise a lot of owners trying to fix its shortcommings. The main one being the power supply. You might expect it to come with a power connector and switch at the back of the case. It does not. You are supposed to use a normal USB charger, open the back door and connect the charger to the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi then poweres everything else trough its USB ports, including the audio amplifier and the screen. This is not a good solution, if you ad as much as a WiFi USB dongle, you might breakt the camels back and the Picade will go dark. And if you go for a bigger screen that needs 12 volt then you will have to power supplies.

The screen included in the kit is a good quality but small 8" with only 800x600 resolution. There is space for a 12" inch 4:3 screen, but such screens are difficult to find these days when everything is 16:9. Emulation station for example does not work well with only 800x600 and really needs 1024x768.

Fortunatelly I managed to find a 4:3 screen with 1024x768 resolution on Alibaba. It fits and it works but it's kind of dim with washed out colors and poor viewing angles. If I ever come across a suitable sized IPS screen or something similar I probably will upgrade.

And the sound is kind of awfull. There is a lot of hissing and noise.

To avoid the two-power-supply problem, I bought a power supply with an old fashioned Malex connector intended for old fashioned 3.5" PATA hard drive. The great thing about the Molex connector is that it outputs both 12v and 5v - both at 2 amp each. The screen needs 12v and the Raspberry Pi 5v. I ordered a few molex to barrel connector and molex to USB adapters and put them together into a single adapter and now I can power the entire Picade with one power brick.

Despite all of its shortcomings it's still a ton of fun.