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Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:34 am
by SuperDerpBro
I've been looking around for an arcade stick the last few days. Seems they are all geared towards fighting games. Flashy (ugly), huge and expensive.

Even the garbage ones are pretty expensive. And then there are the super cheap Chinese ones.

Anyways, i don't play many fighting games. Mostly Beat em ups (Bemups?) and Shmups VIA Final Burn on RetroArch. So i figured i might as well just make my own 4 button stick. I already know what stick and buttons i want but i cant find anything cheap to put them in.

Well, i did find these..
Image
.. for about $20 CAD shipped. Not quite what i want but i might have to go that way.

I did also find this, but its still pretty expensive (IMO). EDIT: Never mind, they want $50 USD shipping.

https://www.fasttech.com/products/0/100 ... controller

Anyone have any ideas that do not include (more than super basic) carpentry skills, Tupperware or shoe-boxes? lol

Cheers :mrgreen:

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:43 am
by Jagosaurus
These always remind me of us making custom speaker boxes in high school for vehicles. Ply wood, sealant, & boat carpet 8) ... they went behind or under the truck seat anyway.

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:50 am
by SuperDerpBro
Heh.. I did basically the same thing in high school :D

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:06 am
by SuperDerpBro
Shit, maybe i DO want to spend a couple hundred bucks! (Not really)

https://www.amazon.ca/Nintendo-Switch-R ... =1&sr=8-15

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:17 am
by bmoc
What platform(s) would you be using the stick with? You mentioned RetroArch so I assume either PC or Raspberry Pi?

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:52 pm
by marurun
Consider a Qanba arcade stick. The Carbon is a little compact, but only $70 US. They aren't HAPP or SANWA parts, but they're good for the price and can be replaced later with better. Also the Drone, which seems like a good deal.

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:10 pm
by Ziggy587
SuperDerpBro wrote:Anyone have any ideas that do not include (more than super basic) carpentry skills, Tupperware or shoe-boxes? lol


Caution: Typed in a hurry, and not consecutively. Poor grammar and spelling is likely!

I recommend making your own box. The whole point of making a custom stick is that it will be... custom. If you buy a pre-fab box, then it isn't custom. Also, you will get a lot of satisfaction making it yourself.

You should be able to make a decent box with only "super basic" carpentry skills. If you ever took a high school tech ed class, then you should already know all you would need to. You can make a simple box with a minimal amount of materials and tools. Even if it doesn't come out perfectly square or looking all that great, I'm sure it will be at least functional and definitely less flimsy than Tupperware or a shoe box. And if you're not satisfied with how it came out, then consider the experience as practice and build another box in 3-6 months (and reuse the arcade parts and most of the hardware).

Tools required:

I will recommend tools based on ease of use and a minimal purchase price. Or, borrow them from a buddy! Do you have Harbor Freight in Canada? You can get basic tools there for REALLY cheap. Borrow if you don't want to spend the money on the tools, but don't look at the cost of the tools as part of the cost of the project. The tools are an investment that you can use again and again.

Handsaw(s) - You would need one saw for rip cuts (cuts with the grain, teeth have larger spacing) and one for cross cuts (cuts against the grain, teeth are more tightly spaced). If you don't know what that means, just Google "rip cut vs cross cut" and there will be lots of articles and videos. If you don't already own these, you can get both rip and a cross cut Stanley handsaws for $20 or less. Or, if you use off-the-shelf widths, you could probably get away with just crosscuts and not even need a rip cut saw.

- OR -

You can use a power tool instead of a handsaw, I just recommend the hand tool version because it would probably be easier for someone with "super basic" carpentry skills to use. Also, a lot cheaper to purchase. You could use a jig saw, but you probably wont get the cleanest cuts. Or a circular saw, which can get you some pretty clean cuts with some practice. You would really want a guide to run the jig saw or circular saw against to get the cleanest cuts. Again, I think the handsaws would be easier to use and get cleaner looking cuts.

A drill of some kind - Get an electric drill, either battery powered or corded. If you're buying, I recommend corded for entry level. If you can't borrow one, you can invest in one for really cheap. A hand drill would probably be more money than a cheap electric drill, and an electric drill would be easier to use. For this project, you don't really have to be concerned about power. You can get a Black+Decker corded drill for about $25. https://www.amazon.com/BLACK-DECKER-Cor ... 00T2VJ93C/

Drill bits - You can purchase a set for really cheap, and again, the quality will be more than enough for this project. Alternatively to getting an entire set, you could purchase only the bits you need (which would be 2 or 3 drill bit sizes and maybe some screw driver bits). https://www.amazon.com/BLACK-DECKER-BDA ... 009QYLOD8/

Optional:

A basic screwdriver set might come in handy, but you most likely already have at least a few screwdrivers on hand. You can also purchase "loose" screwdrivers from any hardware store and get just what you need. Or just use screwdriver bits from a drill bit set. https://www.amazon.com/CRAFTSMAN-Screwd ... 07QQ8P86H/

A couple of clamps would help with the assembly, but probably aren't totally necessary.

Some kind of framing square would really help to make sure your angles are all 90 degrees.

You will need a tape measure if you want specific dimensions. A framing square could also be used as a measuring device.

A sanding block would come in handy, but you could always sand by just holding sheets of sand paper without a block. Pine will be mostly sanded already, but you'll wanna touch up the cuts since those will definitely be rough.

To sum it up, you could do this with a bare minimum of a handsaw and a drill with some drill bits.

Materials:

Lumber: - Go to Home Depot, or whatever lumber yard. I would suggest getting pine boards. It's cheap and easy to work with. The thickness of the boards will be (approximately) 1 inch. They will have varying widths and lengths to choose from with the 1 inch thickness. You may want to get two different widths so you can avoid rip cuts.

Get one width for the four walls that will make up the box, if you chose a width that would be the dimension of how deep you want the box to be then you wont have to do any rip cuts. Maybe 6 inches would be good. Get another width for the top and bottom that is wide enough so you don't have to join two boards together. Something like 8, 10 or 12 inches I'd imagine. And again, if you get the right width then you wont have to do any rip cuts.

As for the length, you can determine this after you decided on the size of the box. So let's say you want the box to be 6 inches deep, and something like 14 x 10". Well then you would need 48" length of 1x6, but I would get a 6' length to allow for a margin of error (and 6' might be the smallest length you can purchase). So, get 1 piece of 1"x6"x6'. Now for the top and bottom you need 28" of 10" width, but again 6' might be the smallest length available, so get 1 piece of 1"x10"x6'.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/1-in-x-6-in ... /100015248

https://www.homedepot.com/p/1-in-x-10-i ... /100022066

Glue: I mean, you could probably just assemble the box with finishing nails, but I would suggest gluing it up. Just get any old wood glue.

Hinges: I would recommend hinging the top of the box. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-1- ... /202034166

Sand Paper: Just grab a variety pack that has 3 grits and you should be good. Or a sanding sponge might be enough (in the paint department). Or, I guess sanding is optional if you want it to be really rustic!

Finish: Also optional, and totally up to you! You could sand it and then just rub on a danish oil. Or paint it black! I wont even bother going into detail since the possibilities are endless, but let me know if you want tips for a specific finish! If you want a black box, maybe try getting a black stain since it would be easier to apply than paint.

That's about it. You could use finishing nails or maybe 1/2" wood screws to help assemble the box, but it's unnecessary. A cabinet magnet might be a nice touch for the hinged top, but gravity will keep it closed. A rubber grommet would be nice if you're gonna have a wire sticking out the back of it.

Assembly:

I'm not gonna bother going into depth, as I'm sure there's lots of guides and YouTube videos available, but here's a bullet point. Let's assume you're going to build a 14x10" box that's 6" deep.

1) Take the 1"x6"x6' pine board and cut 4 pieces out of it. You need two lengths of 14" and two lengths of 10". Save whatever is left over from these cuts.

2) Take the 1"x10"6' pine board and make 2 cuts. You want two lengths that are 14" long. You may want to slightly undercut the piece for the bottom by like 1/16th of an inch. And you may want the top piece so overhang the left and right sides, but that aesthetic choice is completely up to you! Again, save whatever is left over after the cuts are made.

3) From your leftover cuts, you will want to make four 1"x1" pieces that are 6" long.

4) Arrange the 14" and 10" cuts to make a rectangle. You will want to glue all of the corners together. This is where you would want to use clamps. If you don't have clamps, there are substitutes. If you can tie string tightly enough, that would work. Or if you have a belt that you could ratchet tight, like the kind that you find in a truck or a car trunk. Otherwise, you could use finishing nails or wood screws to attach all the pieces while the glue is drying. If using screws, be sure to drill pilot holes first (yes, pilot holes are absolutely necessary). Nails or screws will be good enough if you can't clamp it.

You will want to put the 1"x1" pieces that you cut in all four inside corners, that will reinforce it. These would be best to clamp on while you wait for the glue to dry. Luckily, you would only need a couple of spring clamps, which can be bought for very cheap. Don't skip this step! For two reasons. One, you'll be doing "butt joints" which aren't strong. Having these 1"x1" pieces in the corners will really help keep the box together, especially if you drop it. And two, you will have the scraps left over to make the 1"x1" pieces, so there's no reason NOT to.

5) After the frame is glued together with the corner supports, it's time to glue the bottom on. I would recommend gluing the bottom side on so that it's facing up. That way you can just put heavy objects on it to get clamping action. A dumbbell, or a large rock, or whatever. Again, you could put some finishing nails or wood screws in there, but it's unnecessary.

6) Attach the hinges to the top piece and the box. Be sure to drill pilot holes first! If you miss-drill the holes, you can move the hinge slightly left/right and try again. The placement of the hinges really don't matter, aside from aesthetics, but you will only see them when it's open!

7) Mark with a pencil where you want to drill for the joystick and triggers. Pretend to use it with these markings to confirm if you like the layout or not. Adjust as needed. Then drill the holes for the stick and triggers. This may be easier to do with the lid not attached to the box. You will, of course, need the appropriate size drill bits for these holes.

8 ) Sand the box as desired.

9) Apply finish, if desired.

10) Assemble the electronics and enjoy!

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:39 pm
by samsonlonghair
SuperDerpBro wrote:Anyone have any ideas that do not include (more than super basic) carpentry skills, Tupperware or shoe-boxes? lol
Cheers :mrgreen:

Dude, I see really nice boxes with hinges all the time at goodwill, and I think they'd make good boxes for arcade sticks. It took me a minute to figure out what they originally were.
Image
They're silverware boxes. I see 'em on the shelf at goodwill all the time. They come in different sizes.
Image
They never have the silverware left in 'em of course. They're just wooden boxes with velvet lining.

I'm thinking an appropriately-sized hole saw would make quick work of a box like these to build your arcade stick. Check your local goodwills. I tend to see one or two of these every couple weeks.

Alternately, I also see wooden jewelry boxes at goodwill too. They are kind of hit-or-miss on quality of materials. Even one of those would be much nicer than a shoebox.

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:44 pm
by stickem
Jagosaurus wrote:These always remind me of us making custom speaker boxes in high school for vehicles. Ply wood, sealant, & boat carpet 8) ... they went behind or under the truck seat anyway.


3/4 particle board, not plywood lol. Did that back in the day myself.

Re: Ideas for cheap "box" for DIY arcade stick?

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:06 pm
by SuperDerpBro
bmoc wrote:What platform(s) would you be using the stick with? You mentioned RetroArch so I assume either PC or Raspberry Pi?

PC :)

marurun wrote:Consider a Qanba arcade stick. The Carbon is a little compact, but only $70 US. They aren't HAPP or SANWA parts, but they're good for the price and can be replaced later with better. Also the Drone, which seems like a good deal.

Carbon and Drone are a bit more than i want to spend.

Ziggy587 wrote:
SuperDerpBro wrote:Anyone have any ideas that do not include (more than super basic) carpentry skills, Tupperware or shoe-boxes? lol


Caution: Typed in a hurry,

Wow, thanks. Let me digest this..

samsonlonghair wrote:
SuperDerpBro wrote:Anyone have any ideas that do not include (more than super basic) carpentry skills, Tupperware or shoe-boxes? lol
Cheers :mrgreen:

Dude, I see really nice boxes with hinges all the time at goodwill, and I think they'd make good boxes for arcade sticks. It took me a minute to figure out what they originally were.
Image
They're silverware boxes. I see 'em on the shelf at goodwill all the time. They come in different sizes.
Image
They never have the silverware left in 'em of course. They're just wooden boxes with velvet lining.

I'm thinking an appropriately-sized hole saw would make quick work of a box like these to build your arcade stick. Check your local goodwills. I tend to see one or two of these every couple weeks.

Alternately, I also see wooden jewelry boxes at goodwill too. They are kind of hit-or-miss on quality of materials. Even one of those would be much nicer than a shoebox.

This might actually be perfect. I will have to go have look! Thanks.