The Arcade1Up is a .75 small arcade toy, you see at big box retailers such as Walmart, BestBuy, Target, Kohls, etc.  They are very economically priced, but also made of cheap materials in order to do so.  They come in different game variations as far as artwork and typically have 2 to 3 games loaded on each.  This article will give you the basics of what you need to upgrade your Arcade1Up cabinet to play 1000’s of games.  Check out our store or our blog for parts or more information.



The cabinet shells are uniform no matter the flavor you decide to buy with a couple exceptions.

  1. The control deck is customized to the game title cabinet you purchased
  2. The monitor will be in a vertical or horizontal orientation
    • Horizontal is for typically fighting or multiple simultaneous player games like Street Fighter or Rampage
    • Vertical are for older style typically 1 player at a time games like Pac-Man or Galaga

For reference on Arcade1Up cabinets

  • Horizontal Monitor Games
    • Street Fighter, Rampage, Asteroids, Mortal Kombat, Final Fight, Golden Tee
  • Vertical Monitor Games
    • Pac-Man, Galaga, Centipede, Space Invaders, Karate Champ

This plays to a lot advantages if you want to upgrade your cabinet because no matter which cabinet you originally purchased it is pretty much the same.

What you will need to convert your Arcade1Up

Here is a top outline list of what you will need to get your Arcade1Up playing 1000’s of games from your old arcade days as well as your home consoles.  It is more detailed out below.  You can find all of these parts and kits in our store.

  1. Video converter board – Allows you to plug in a computer that runs hdmi into the Arcade1Up monitor
  2. USB Encoder Upgrading Joysticks/Buttons – Will allow you to plug your joysticks and buttons into your computer
  3. Updated Control Panel – Allows you to have the correct amount of buttons to navigate and play a wide variety of game
  4. Computer – In this article we will use a Raspberry Pi and a micro sd card
  5. Audio – Small amp to run sound to your speakers

We will walk through each one of these.

Item 1: Video Converter Board

This board will allow you connect up a computer with an hdmi connection into your Arcade1Up monitor.  The monitor that comes with it is not a standard computer monitor that has connections like hdmi, VGA, or DVI.  It is just an lcd panel.

In your Arcade1Up cabinet, gain access to the back of the monitor.  You will see a box with a couple screws.  Remove them.

You will remove the ground wire, power cord, and connector.

Mount the new controller board using double sided tape, command strips, or whatever you have.  Connect the control board, power, ground, etc.

You will use the stock Arcade1Up lcd monitor power supply you unplugged originally to power this board.

At this point you could plug anything Hdmi, VGA, or DVI into your Arcade1Up lcd panel to test that you are getting picture as expected.  

Item 2: USB Encoder – Changing Controls

The buttons and joysticks that come in the Arcade1Up cabinet are very poor quality.  You can upgrade them or stick with them, but you will need a USB encoder.  Basically a USB Encoder takes button presses or joystick moves and translates them for your computer via a standard usb cable.  

Example of a usb encoder

Basically each button and joystick will have a positive/negative wire running to it so when you trip the microswitch by pressing them it will complete the connection and your arcade character will jump/punch, whatever.

On the bottom of the Arcade1Up control panel you will notice buttons, joysticks, and wiring.  This all goes to another encoder that is not compatible with a pc.  So you can disconnect the wiring and use what comes with the usb encoder or you can remove all the controls and upgrade everything.

You will essentially follow the provided wiring diagram to plug in each buttons so the computer know what each button is suppose to do. 

Item 3: Arcade1Up Custom Control Decks:  

We will STOP here for a min to talk about different controls setups.  There are tons different setups for specific games or some that catch a majority of them.  We offer a tons of different configurations in our store as you can see below.

The challenges with the current Arcade1up decks is the are very specific to the single game in which the cabinet you bought was created.  They did not take into account navigation buttons (to pick from 1000s of games) or select/coin buttons.  Why does this matter?  

Let’s take a super Nintendo controller into account.  You have a directional pad, 6 action buttons, a select, and start button.  Most arcade games translate very well to this setup.

So even the 2 player 6 button street fighter layout on the Arcade1Up cabinet is still missing the “select” button.  Also when playing arcade games you still need to “insert coin” as the software (MAME) believes the computer or your arcade is an actual arcade machine that requires coins to play.  The “select” button will double as an add coin button on MAME games and still be used as select on consoles like nes, snes, genesis, atari, etc.

Custom Layouts

For this reason if you plan to play lots of games, not just specific ones in which you would want a custom layout we highly suggest you get a custom panel that can be a great catch all for games.  Our best one is the Street Fighter Layout with 2.5″ trackball.  It will let you play the vast majority of Mame and consoles on your arcade1up cabinet.  It also allows for a dual usb port if you wanted to plug specific controllers that are unique to a certian system.  Think N64 usb controller.  More importantly it already has the “select” button that would be missing from the standard Arcade1up cabinet.  If you wanted to use that panel you would need to drill a 30mm or 1.2″ ish hole for each player’s select button.  See our custom arcade1up control decks here.


To simply this arcade software will want to read the following layout per player

Joystick up/down/left/right


Top Row left to right = Y X L

Bottom Row left to right = B A R

When prompted to configure software of any kind those are the inputs you will want for each player.  See below for illustration.


Item 4: Computer

There are so many directions to go when it comes to a computer.  In this blog we are going to go with the best cheap computer available for retrogaming.  A Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer.  It simply needs power from a wall plug, a microsd card for the operating system/storage (like your phone), and an hdmi plug.  The processor, memory, etc is all built into the unit.  It even has both wifi and bluetooth built in.  Oh yea, and they are $35!


So what makes them so great is you can simply download an “image” file.  Flash it onto your raspberry pi, plug in your usb encoder for the controls, and boot.  It will already be setup and ready to play for the most part.  It will prompt you on first boot to configure you controls which you do as we described above pushing each button as it asks for it.  There are tons of different images that have a different look or organization to them.  You can do it on small 32gb cards for smaller systems or large 256gb (or larger) images that have preview videos and about every system from the 1970s through the 2000s.  There is a great walk through on how to get an image file here.

At the high level.  

  • Go to and find an image under Frontend Downloads Pi Images 
  • Once downloaded extract the file using a free program like 7z or winrar
  • Use the free program win32diskimager to flash the extracted image file onto your microsd card
  • Put Microsd card into your raspberry pi and with your usb encoder plugged into the pi boot
  • It will ask you to configure the controls which you will do as we discussed above
  • Play!

Item 5 – Audio

The led panel in the Arcade1Up cabinet does not have built in audio.  You can use the speakers, but will need a small amp.  We have them in our store made perfect for arcades.  You will simply run from the 3.5mm audio jack (like a headphone plug) from the raspberry pi into the amp.  Then speaker wire from the amp to your speakers.  This will give you sound for all of your games!


That’s it for this guide.  Be sure and check out our conversion kits that make this entire process simple.  You can also upgrade your arcade1up cabinet artwork, control deck, or internals from our store.