Building the Porta-Pi Arcade Lite

Porta Pi Arcade

After completing a number of simple Raspberry PI tutorials, I decided I wanted to try and build a Porta-Pi Arcade Lite Raspberry PI retro gaming system. Since I already have a projector, several monitors and a TV the lite model without a built in screen really appealed to me.

I also liked that the Porta-Pi kits are designed and produced by one guy, Ryan Bates, that had a successful kickstarter. I really appreciated that Ryan had continued to design and provide new DIY kits after his kickstarter since a lot of other projects seem to stop providing DIY kits and outsourcing everything once they become popular.

On top of the standard build I wanted to add a power button, and use a joystick with individual micro-switches so it is more obvious how everything works for my daughter.

I ordered the laser cut wood kit from RetroBuiltGames and downloaded the PDF build manual with a bill of materials and set about ordering parts. Being a software engineer every project needs to have some feature creep so some of the parts I got are not necessary to build a working arcade.

I also wound up buying two extra buttons and two ball tops after my daughter Elsie decided that we each needed a button that was our favorite color (hers pink, mine purple) and that we should have a pink ball top. It turns out that a pink arcade button is a a real hard to find item, I finally managed to find one in Hawaii at Paradise Arcade Shop. They also had a purple button and a Zippyy joystick with 4 micro-switches and changeable ball tops.

Simplified Parts List

  • Porta-Pi Lite Wood Kit and PDF Manual — $31.00 Shipped
  • 10 Arcade Buttons from SparkFun — $30.00 Shipped
  • Assorted Cables from DX .com— $13.00 Shipped
  • Mausberry Circuits Shutdown Circuit — $15.00 Shipped
  • PLATT Electric Solderless Connectors (50) — $16.oo
  • Joystick 2 Ball Tops and 2 extra buttons — $23.00 Shipped
  • Assorted Screws and Nuts for Joystick — $2.00

Total Parts Cost without Raspberry Pi $130.00 Shipped

I already had a rocker switch to use with the shutdown circuit and a raspberry pi and power supply. I also used rubber feet, stain, wood glue and clamps I already had.

All of the parts started shipping quickly after I ordered them and I received the wood kit and buttons in the mail in a few days.

Porta Pi Arcade

Wood kit and buttons mocked up.

I followed the instructions in the manual and fitted the pieces together a couple of times before staining and gluing. I have found my iPad to be really useful for viewing PDF’s, videos and tutorials while working on projects with the Raspberry Pi.

After fitting things together I laid out the pieces on some newspaper and stained the wood.