Due to the relatively high price and low quality of commercial arcade sticks available here, I decided to put together an affordable custom case which provides a high quality look without requiring much technical skill, all while maintaining my personal style of completely hidden screw heads (if an art layer is installed). The Ikea Ribba 50x23cm frame provides a pre-finished outer case, while the styrene sheet found in the cheapest of Ikea picture frames provides a smooth and durable replacement for the clear protective acrylic layer.

Materials:

  • Ikea Ribba 500 x 230mm frame (can be substituted for other frames like the lovely 400 x 300 Stromby)
  • Styrene sheet from second cheaper frame (a damaged Fiskbo from the reject section is perfect!)
  • 1x hobby-grade 7mm Plywood sheet
  • PVA/Woodworking glue
  • 6x 20mm M6 timber screws with countersink heads
  • Your choice of arcade hardware, with snap-in style buttons (I used full Sanwa kit, and a Wii CCP PCB)
  • A splash of spray paint and/or polyurethane clear coat

The kit, cut from a sheet of 7mm ply. The walls are all 50mm high to accommodate the internal joystick depth, and are inset 30mm from the edges to allow for the Wiimote install down one side. The button 24/30mm holes were cut using spade bits, with the top panel buttons being placed in a classic Vewlix arcade layout. The stubby posts are scraps of 18×18 Oak I had lying around after my build; I’m using them to anchor the timber screws, but they could easily be replaced by triangular ply gussets.

With a little PVA, the walls are clamped into position and cured. The thickness of the plywood is enough to keep them square. Then the posts are glued into place while a spare clamp handles the Wiimote spacers (more on that later), which are attached to the underside of the top panel. I left the plywood sticker in place for future reference, and because i couldn’t peel it off without it tearing. :p

A test fit for the Wiimote shows how the Ribba frame locks it in place. You can reach all of the buttons and unplug the stick controls, but it can’t fall out or move around! I also love the incidental “floating” look produced by the inset walls, one of my favourite architectural features from design school.

The other end houses three recessed buttons which take care of the system tasks (start/select/home). You don’t want to be able to accidentally hit these, but reaching them is as easy as operating the paddles on a pinball table.

The mounting holes are then drilled into the top panel. To achieve the countersinks i installed a very large bit into the drill, set it to reverse, then applied pressure. This makes a hardened indentation without risk of the bit biting and tearing through the very thin ply. Six screws fix the top panel, while four M6 bolts attach the joystick. The art layer goes over the top, with the clear styrene panel on top of that.

Once the glue was dried I applied a couple of layers of black paint to the outside, some white to the inside, then sealed the lot in some polyurethane clear coat. It’s all optional, but the urethane provides good durability and lap-grip.

The Wiimote installed into the finished piece. The spacers close it in from the top, and it sits snug between the end plates. Once the outer frame is dropped on it’s entirely secured.

And we’re ready to play! I was meaning to install a printed sheet of relevant gaming art, but that takes me far longer than building one of these. It’s easy to install later, and the raw ply looks good enough for now.