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Building an Arcade1Up LCD Marquee

Posted by Jessica Jones on

Don't want to go through the hassle of doing it yourself? We now offer the marquee itself in our store here: https://www.agoodturnco.com/collections/arcade/products/arcade1up-after-market-marquee-blank-for-lcd-screens-1

So this week we're going to do something a little different. I've (Jason) recently become obsessed with mod-ing an Arcade1Up cabinet with a Raspberry Pi loaded with RetroPie. I won't go into a great amount of detail on that as it's already very heavily documented how to do it. Literally almost everyone starts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09DQCOr6zQM

"That's great," you say, "but now I've got a Street Fighter 2 cabinet and when I play my (legally acquired) games on there, they're not all SF2, and I want something a little more exact to show what I am playing!"

Well, I said that too, but figured I was going to be always stuck with a Street Fighter marquee unless I wanted to put all new artwork on my cabinet, and still wouldn't have the ability to have the marquee actually show the game I'm playing.

Enter Icculus and his mod to add a 7" LCD screen that changes to show whichever game you're working on. You can easily go here https://icculus.org/finger/icculus?date=2019-03-03&time=15-54-21 and just follow his post on how to do all this and I suggest you do so, but I wanted to do mine a little differently, so that's what this post is about.

I really didn't want to mess with the stock marquee in case something went horribly, horribly wrong and I had nothing to back up to. So I wanted to make my own. Here you go:

Materials:

Start by getting a 1/2" MDF board from your local hardware store. I think the one I got was 2 feet by 4 feet

Using your table saw cut a piece to 5 inches tall by 17.75 inches wide. This matches the stock marquee.

Arcade1Up LCD Custom Marquee

Adjust the angle of your table saw blade to 30 degrees and do the height of the blade to ~75% through the 1/2" MDF.

Arcade1Up Custom LCD Marquee slot cut

Set your fence to a little less than 4.5 inches. It's honestly easier if you've already pulled the existing marquee off and use the angled slot cut to set your fence length and blade height here.

Dado cut for Arcade1Up marquee

Perform the angle slot cut on your MDF board, repeat for a total of 3 blade widths to fit the slot of the backer board.

Find your center point of the 17.75 inch board. The back of the LCD that needs to be inset is 4 inches tall by about 6.5 inches wide. So what I did was measure a half inch from the top and bottom of the board at the center and made a mark. Since our board is 5 inches tall that should center it vertically. Then measure 3.25 inches on either side of the center mark to get your horizontal. Using your square, draw some lines so you know the outline. I put the green tape on there to remind myself where the top was!

Arcade1Up Custom LCD marquee

Next we need to cut out the depth for the LCD screen. You'll probably want to cut it to a depth of about 3/4 of the way through the 1/2 inch mdf. Quick math: about .375 inches deep. Your best bet would be a plunge router with a jig to set your width/height, but of all the tools I have I don't actually have a plunge router, so I had to use a dremel with a router attachment much like Icculus. A plunge router would make quick work of this, but with the dremel I think it took me about 30 minutes. It wasn't pretty, but you can clean it up with the sanding attachment for your dremel.

Here's a picture of it about halfway through:

Arcade1Up Custom Marquee

It's okay that you can see the angled slot through your cut. That's actually by design so you can fit the LCD ribbon cable through later.

Before you go through the effort of the rest of this, connect up your LCD to the Pi and power it on to ensure it's working. Otherwise you'll have to undo everything you're about to do to replace it!

You'll want to dry fit the LCD to make sure it's seated correctly. Mine wasn't initially because it turns out that the dremel bit worked its way out to a little bit of a different depth. I adjusted using my chisels and then finished cleaning it up with the sanding attachment.

Once you're satisfied with the cut, next step would be to paint it. I decided to go for flat black. 2 coats per side with 15 minute drying time between coats. I also did a light sand between coats as well. You technically do not need to paint the back, but I thought it would be cleaner this way.

Next step would be to cut holes for your dowels, so that it can fit back in the same spot in the cabinet. I honestly didn't bother measuring, but just put the original board on top of the original and eyeballed where it needed to go. I dryfit my drill bits into the existing hole until I found one that fit and used that to drill.

Arcade1Up Custom Marquee

Repeat for all 4 dowels and then remove the existing dowels and place them into your new holes.

The next step kind of pains me, because it's ugly, but no real way around it. If you're smart you can take off part L and do these cuts on your band saw, but I was lazy and thought it'd be easier to do with my hack saw and using my shop vac to catch the dust.

What you'll want to do is find the mid-point of L and cut a notch in there a few inches wide and blade length or so deep. This is for your ribbon cable and the USB for when you re-assemble. I colored in the exposed wood with a Sharpie.

Arcade1Up Custom LCD MarqueeArcade1Up Custom LCD Marquee

Now we can finally get down to business.

Take the LCD screen out of the box. Mine came with the circuit board already screwed in and hooked up, so undo the screws and gently take the ribbon cables off. There's a little black lever there holding the cables in, so gently pull it out before removing the ribbon.

Next you need to drill the holes for the 4 mounting brackets through the MDF. There's the hope and pray method like Icculus used, or you can use the toothpaste trick that the Mrs. reminded me about. Apply a small dab of toothpaste to the screw holes and then place it into the recess firmly and pull it back out again.

Arcade1Up Custom LCD marquee

And voila, you know where to drill your holes.

Arcade1Up Custom LCD marquee

I again just picked a drill bit that looked to be about the right size and drilled through all 4 holes.

Once they're drill though just hold the LCD screen firmly into the recess, feeding the ribbon cables through the slot, and using a bolt/washer, screw all 4 in. Tightly, but not too tightly as you could break the mounting bracket or go too far. Sorry, I forgot to take a pic, but you can see it in the next step.

Next you'll need the circuit board. Attaching the 2 ribbon cables took me longer than almost anything else in this build, including a couple swearing breaks. After watching some videos here's the trick i came up with:

  • Dry fit the ribbons so you know where to place the board
  • Flip the board over and ensure you're attaching the bigger ribbon cable without twisting it
  • Pull out the black lever
  • Gently place the ribbon cable underneath the black level. Underneath is the key here
  • Once it's pushing in all the way push the black lever all the way back in.
  • Flip the board back and place the smaller ribbon cable in the small connector on top
  • Neither of the cables should be twisted.

At this point you can use some double-sided tape to affix the circuit board to the marquee.

Arcade1Up Custom LCD Marquee

Attach your right-angle USB cable to the top.

Attach the LCD ribbon cable to the right side. This one just goes in like a normal cable.

After this I also decided to use a hole saw to cut holes for my speakers so that I could mount them into the marquee. I won't go into that here, but all you have to do is cut the holes, mount the speakers, and then mount the speaker grills. (Pre-drill your holes!)

All that's left now is mounting it and running your cables.

Place your new marquee back into the mounting brackets. If everything was well done all your holes for the dowels should line back up. It might take some wiggling but everything should close back up snug and tight. Make sure none of your cables get bound up here, especially if you also did the speaker mod.

Route your USB to the power strip and your ribbon cable to wherever you mounted your Pi. Depending on how your Pi is configured you might need to pull it out of its case and take off he cover of the display/DSI port. Route the ribbon cable to the port and plug it in.

Sorry, I forgot to take pictures for these steps.

Power everything back on.

At first power on everything will route directly to your LCD screen, which is fine. It's the default screen when it's detected.

This is a great time to go back to Icculus' tutorial. I'm not taking any credit for his scripts as I'm not a Linux developer!

Putty into your Raspberry Pi.

The command he wants you to run is this:

curl -L https://bit.ly/arcadelcd |sudo bash

That actually didn't work for me, but if it did you're pretty well set and you can meet me back up below.

What I had to do was open that in my browser: https://bit.ly/arcadelcd

Do a CTRL-A to select all, CTRL-C to copy it. Then on the Pi:

sudo nano lcdscript.sh

CTRL-V to paste in the content.

CTRL-X to exit

Y to save.

Then run:

sudo bash ./lcdscript.sh

It will take some time, and once it's done do a sudo reboot to reboot it.

If you're lucky, everything should now be working fine, but I still had issues where my LCD was still the only screen that was being displayed to. To fix:

Log into the Pi

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Make sure you have the following options enabled:

hdmi_force_hotplug=1
hdmi_drive=2
display_default_lcd=0
framebuffer_priority=2
lcd_rotate=2

Reboot again. If you're lucky you'll be all good. For me, this only got me about halfway there.

sudo Retropie-Setup/retropie_setup.sh
Update RetroPie-Setup script
Update
Update All Installed Packages
At some point it'll prompt if you want to update all system packages. Say yes to that too

That took a long time to finish. Once it was done, everything worked as expected. If you keep your RetroPie relatively up to date you probably don't need to run this step.

Arcade1Up Custom LCD screen

We're all good! I took a quick video for you to see it in action: 

 

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