Video Guide to Building an Xbox Powered Arcade Cabinet

For my latest arcade build, I decided to document the steps and produce an easy to follow video guide.  If you are setting out on your own arcade project, then I hope this will be a useful reference to you. 
This bartop size arcade cabinet will be powered by an original xbox and will run the all new CoinOPS4 frontend.

Plans are available to download from the bottom of this page.  I have included links to my artwork files (they're too big to host on this site).
If you want to start out by working the MDF then you can skip straight to video 3 and come back to 1 and 2 later on.  In the first 2 videos we prepare the xbox for mounting in a small cabinet.
Inset: Arcade after part 6 completed     
Enjoy the videos.

Part 1: Disassembly of original xbox console

I build small cabinets so removing the case is absolutely necessary for me. It also provides convenient access to components and means you can be flexible with the positioning of the parts inside your cab. You will see that this comes in very handy in my subsequent videos.

This particular xbox cost me £15 from a local seller and came with one s-controller, a dvd remote and a carry case (why would anyone need a carry case for an xbox?). 
The xbox did not come with a video cable but fortunately I have plenty of them lying around.  The reason it was missing became apparent when I got home and plugged it in...the video output was not working.  After some investigation, I identified a problem on the motherboard and swapped it out with parts from another broken xbox.  

I soft-modded the xbox and installed CoinOps4. I will not cover the detail of Coinops4 installation in these videos.  You can find a lot of information and a helpful crowd over at the Coinops project site.

In this first video I will take the xbox apart and remove the parts that are used to power the arcade machine i.e. motherboard, PSU, HDD, CD drive and fan.

Part 2: Running an xbox without a DVDROM drive

This is a short guide to running the xbox without a DVDROM drive. This is useful when you are building a small cabinet and are restricted for space. This is an optional step, If you want to keep the DVDROM drive then that is fine. 

Refer to part 1 to see how DVDROM drive is removed from the xbox.

I will show you how to open up the DVDROM drive and remove the circuit board (which controls the IDE interface) so that this PCB alone can be connected to your xbox motherboard. 
This will fool your xbox into thinking that a DVDROM drive is connected.

There are other ways to achieve the same results by flashing your xbox. Personally, I like it better this way because it is very easy, it also works with softmodded xboxes and there is no chance of bricking your xbox.

Part 3: Getting ready to build the cabinet and an overview of the construction

To build the cabinet shell you are going to need some stuff.  For starters, you will need a plan for the cabinet.  For this cabinet, I will be using the bartop style as shown in my other videos. I have adapted koenigs weecade plans and have a simplified procedure for building the control panel. 
My adapted plans and speaker grill template are available to download at the foot of this page.
The cabinet shell and control panel are constructed from 12mm MDF. I buy 2440 x 1220mm large boards and have a guy at the DIY store cut them into 450mm wide strips.  The panels are all based on 450mm widths so this saves a few cuts. 2440 x 1220mm is almost enough for 2 cabinets and allows plenty of room for error. 
I use 15mm x 15mm wooden batons to join the panels and these are glued and screwed.

You are going to need some tools to cut the panels...
* Jigsaw - I am not going anywhere near a circular saw
* Router - to give a nice rounded edge on your panels. Bit should be 6mm.
* Drill - You will need a 28mm flatbit to drill holes for the joystick and buttons.
* Sandpaper, pencil, ruler, tape measure, beer/tea bags

You are going to need some stuff to stick this all together...
* Wood glue
* Woodscrews - I use: No.6x1 and No.6x3/4
* "L" brackets - for fixing the 2 control panel pieces
* Nice screws - For securing the control panel. These will be visible so I try to get the nicest looking slotted black screws i can find, about 25-30mm length. 

Quick check.  Hopefully you have 10 fingers before you start. Obviously you need to follow all safety steps for using your tools and you need to be confident using them.
Panels can now be cut out for the cabinet shell and control panel with jigsaw as per my template (available to download at the foot of this page).
It is nice to router the edges of the shaped panels to give a smooth rounded edge. I use an edging/roundover bit and router both sides (6mm deep on each side) to form a circle edge and then sand lightly. Wooden batons can now be roughly cut to size and fixed to the 2 shaped panels.  Panels can now be put together.
First, I put it together with screws to check the fit is right. If everything is good then I take it all apart and put all back together (with screws and glue) except the speaker panel. The speaker panel needs some work for mounting speakers before it can be fitted to cab. The control panel is added to the cabinet later after controls have been fitted.  For the speaker panel, I like to use a drill template (available for download at the foot of this page) to drill lots of holes into the panel for speakers to go behind. These will be 4" speakers. 

At this stage we should have the assembled MDF components: cabinet shell, drilled speaker panel, control panel. 
This is a good time to check the fitting of the 17" LCD screen (you could also use 15").  These typically have a VESA 100 mount. We can drill holes in the monitor panel to match those on the back of the LCD screen. We do not want to mount this quite yet though.

You are going to need some stuff to paint with: small paint roller, MDF Primer and gloss paint spray for finishing.  The panels should now be lightly sanded to a smooth finish and then primed  with 2 coats of MDF primer. Only takes about an hour to dry. I like to apply with a small foam paint roller.  For painting, my preference is to use spray paint, as it is really quick drying, you can apply many light coats about 10 mins apart. Alternatively, you can use gloss paint with your roller but this would require at least 4 coats and take a long time for drying inbetween coats.

It is also time to start thinking about the artwork.  For this build I will be using a Coinops4 theme.  I created artwork to fit the 450mmx260mm control panel and 450x95mm marquee.  My "Coinops4 vs Street Fighter" artwork is available for download in print quality (200dpi) at
The artwork will be printed on laminated/self-adhesive vinyl.

For this build I will be using only 1 set of controls for simplicity.  One joystick and a total of 10 arcade buttons.
So this was just a prep talk before the build for planning purposes.  Please check out the plans and feel free to ask me any questions. 

Part 4: Assembly of the Cabinet Shell

In this video we build the shell of the arcade cabinet from MDF following the plans and procedure that we discussed in the last video.
Please check out part 3 for a download link to the plans and for an outline of the build process.

Part 5: Add Control Panel, Marquee and Speaker Grills

In this video we complete the cabinet shell by adding the control panel, marquee and speaker grills, as well as applying a final layer of yellow gloss paint. 

For the control panel, I am using a Hori layout from at . This will be a single player control panel with one joystick and 10 buttons. 
8 buttons on the top map to A, B, X ,Y, Left Trigger, Right Trigger, Black and White on the xbox controller.
The 2 buttons on front are for Back(Coin) and Start

I wanted to match the button colours to those on an xbox controller,  but the only ones I could find in these colours were a bit nasty. They have a horrible feel and built in microswitches. I will definitely swap these for proper concave buttons later.

The control panel and marquee artwork can be downloaded from 
The template for the speaker grills is available at the foot of this page.

Part 6: Fitting and Powering the Screen

In this video we fit the screen and connect up the mains power.
My preference is to use a 17" LCD Monitor, but this design also works nicely with 15" monitor. I know some folks following the build on YouTube are fitting out with 19" screens, but this requires a wider (than 450mm) panel width. My plans are easily adjusted if you have a 19" monitor.

As I mention on the video, my intention was to use a 17" LCD but I dropped it while recording, so have used a 15" LCD instead. I did not have another 17" and I was keen to make progress. At some point I may replace it. I will see what it turns out like.

The VGA converter I am using was picked up from ebay. Look for "video to VGA converter" or "component to VGA converter". I get mine from China and it takes a long while for them to arrive.

The junction box is 30amp rated. Nothing special.

Part 7: Mounting the Xbox parts into the cabinet 

In this video we fit the xbox motherboard, psu, hdd and other xbox parts into the cabinet.  These parts were removed from the xbox in my part 1 video.  Please refer back to that video if you have not yet disassembled the xbox.

In the video,  I fit the fan to the front of the cabinet.  I will later move this to the rear and it will be mounted in the rear panel.  

This is a fairly straighforward part and no further explanation is really necessary but feel free to ask any questions.

In my next video (part 8) I will fit connect the control panel to the xbox.  This feature has been requested a lot.  I will also connect up an arcade button to control the xbox power - by soldering a wire to the on/off board.

Part 8: Wiring up the controls 

In this video, I connect up the arcade controls to the xbox console using my xbox gamepad encoder 
I am working on other simpler ways to connect xbox controls and will put some information out if I make any progress on that.

I wire up a balltop joystick, 8 arcade buttons on the top of the controls panel (A, B, X, Y, Left Trigger, Right Trigger, Start and Back) and 2 buttons on the front of the panel (Back and Start).  I also wire up an arcade button for use as an xbox on/off switch.

For testing,  I have been using the xbox controller test tool.  I can't give out a download link for this but you should be able to find it with a google search for "Xbox Controller Tool Download"

I also move the xbox fan to the back of the cabinet, ready for mounting in the rear panel. I have some bigger 5V and 12V fans which I might swap out later.

Part 9: Fitting Amp, Speakers and Lighting

In this video,  I connect up the amplifier, speakers and marquee lighting.

I'm using a 12V power amplifier and a 12 volt strip light.  Both are powered from the Xbox supply via the molex cable.

I cut the molex cable between the xbox power supply and the hard disk drive.
The cable is colour coded:

Red = +5Volts
Yellow = +12Volts
Black = Ground

The speakers are 20W, 4Ohm

Part 10: Fitting the Back Panel and Bezel

Apologies for the delay in getting this video out, it's been a long while since the last update and this video was actually recorded at the end of September. For those who have been waiting, thanks for your patience. I've had a shave since then.

In this part, I fit the back panel, which is actually quite easy, it is drilled with holes for the air vents and has a hole cut for the Xbox fan. You can download a template for my back panel from: ... _panel.pdf

I mount the fan backwards so that air is pulled into the cabinet rather than blown out of it. I think it cools better this way, but you can mount it whichever way you like.

Refer to part 3 of the series to get the plans and dimensions for the back panel and the acrylic sheet.

Music is courtesy of - with a cameo from me in the middle :mrgreen:

Jon Wilson,
7 Nov 2012, 13:49
Jon Wilson,
24 May 2012, 11:37
Jon Wilson,
24 May 2012, 11:35