Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 29, 2012.

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A stylish, retro, and fun arcade cabinet for your Raspberry Pi, Mini-ITX, Pandaboard, or other mini PC from the makers of Pibow

UPDATE: We're now making the Picade work with other systems (esp. Mini-ITX) and turning the controls into a USB HID device.

UPDATE #2: We're bundling games with the Picade starting with retro classic from Sheffield's Gremlin Graphics. Thanks to games industry legend Ian Stewart for this. See the full update.

Don't know what to do with your Raspberry Pi®? Vexed by your Mini-ITX? Pandabored? Want an awesome mini arcade cabinet for your home or desk at work? Want it to double up as a second screen for your computer when not playing arcade classics? Want to build it yourself? You've come to the right place!

The Picade and Picade Mini are high-quality desk top arcade cabinets for your Raspberry Pi®, Mini-ITX, Pandaboard, or other mini PC. Designed and manufactured with care in Sheffield, UK.

Make it, don't fake it!

The Picade and Picade Mini come in kit form for you to build at home. All parts, panels, and components are included - you just need to supply the Raspberry Pi® or other mini computer. 

The only tools you'll need are a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Total build time is around one hour and full instructions are included with the kit.

You then load up your mini computer with whatever games or emulators you want to play, hook it up to the Picade and have a blast!

What you'll receive in the Picade kit:

  • Cabinet panels and fasteners
  • LCD panel mount with protective overlay
  • LCD panel and driver board with inputs (at least 8" for the Picade Mini and 12" for the Picade)
  • Amplifier and speakers
  • 3.5mm stereo panel mounted headphone socket
  • Panel mounted video input socket (allows you to use your Picade as a second display for your computer or laptop)
  • A proper arcade stick
  • Illuminated microswitch arcade buttons (at least 4 on the Picade Mini and 6 on the Picade)
  • All other required components and cables
  • Any software we can LEGALLY supply in terms of emulators and drivers for the Raspberry Pi
  • An awesomely hackable product :)

Why we need your help

Right now we're at the prototype stage. We have rough designs for the cabinet itself, the controls are functional, and we're working on improving the audio quality.

Currently the cabinet panels are laser cut (what else would you expect from the Pibow guys?!) but for the final product we need to invest in CNC routers to get the fit and finish we want.

We also need to design and produce a custom PCB (printed circuit board) that includes all of the power, controls, amplifier, and lighting circuitry. This will allow the kit to be constructed without any soldering. (It'll also include extra breakout points for other GPIO pins so you can hack it further!)

Finally to make it look really awesome we want to commission some custom artwork for decals that you can apply to your Picade.

Stretch goals

If we make our target and go beyond we have some ideas we'd like to integrate into Picade.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! £65,536 / Commodore 64: Why just Pi? Of course we love the Raspberry Pi and indeed it inspired this project because of its size and easy to work with GPIO interface. But why limit ourselves to that? There are tons of devices and form factors that could work with Picade such as Beaglebone, Mini-ITX, PandaBoard and many more. We want to research and test them to offer compatibility with the Picade.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! £49,152 / ZX Spectrum 48K: Decals baby! We'll commission some beautiful, original, and colourful custom artwork that you can apply to your Picade however you want!

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! £32,768 / BBC Micro B: We're funded, woo! Time to get to work, all those that have backed us will be able to follow our progress, access the designs as we tweak them, and give feedback. We'll be iterating on our design to improve every aspect of Picade.

Hack It!

The Picade has illuminated arcade buttons which you can control via the GPIO pins on your Raspberry Pi. Create your own custom scripts to light them up when you receive e-mail, or are mentioned in a tweet, pulse in time to music, or anything you can think of!

Want to play with a friend? Hack on another controller so you can co-op or compete in your favourite games? There are already projects out there providing compatibility with classic console controllers or you can work it all out for yourself!

Need more powah!? Swap out the Raspberry Pi for something else like a Mini-ITX based computer. If we meet our stretch goals we'll make Picade compatible with other platforms as well by adding the appropriate mounting holes and providing suitable drivers/hardware for the Picade controls.

The Picade also includes a panel mounted VGA port that allows you to use it as a second screen for your computer or laptop. Be the coolest hacker in the office with a mini arcade machine showing your e-mail, twitter feed, or even watching your Nginx logs!

Who are we?

Pimoroni was founded in 2012 and is the same people who brought you the Pibow (http://www.pibow.com) case for Raspberry Pi, a massively popular (and festive) case that has sold over 15,000 units all over the world. As a business we're focussed on creating great things that mix design, function, and technology in exciting and fun ways.

We've been experimenting with the idea for the Picade since April 2012, before the Pibow was even conceived but haven't had the time or resources to invest fully into it until now.

Paul is a designer, hacker & maker. As well as doing award-winning work in Interactive DVD, he also designed the Raspberry Pi logo and is the brand and design lead for the Foundation. He wants everyone to be able to understand, hack, reuse and recycle the things around them. He lives in Sheffield with his Macbook Air and one Quadcopter.

Jon is a software guy and electronics hobbyist. Co-founder and technical lead for Netcopy (a digital archiving solution). He generally wants to control the world via GPIO pins and Python code but only in a mildly megalomaniacal sense. He's looking forward to teaching his six-month-old daughter about all manner of geekery as she grows up.

We also have a team of talented people who we can lean on for support in areas ranging from electrical engineering, finance, product design and illustration, supply chain and logistics to cross-stitch and quilt making.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

COMPONENTS AND SUPPLY CHAIN

We have a working prototype and a good idea of the components we wish to use in the final product. Depending on the level of interest in the Picade we will need to find reliable suppliers who can provide enough of the parts we need in a timely manner to deliver the Picade on schedule.

Pimoroni Ltd also brought you the Pibow which has shipped thousands of units. We have previous experience of manufacturing a high volume product and have already experienced and solved some of the difficulties involved in procuring parts, packaging, and shipping at that scale.

We've been testing and evaluating various parts for the Picade to find the best balance of price, performance, and reliability for the product.

SOFTWARE

Currently the audio support on Raspberry Pi is a little shaky, the situation is improving all the time though and is a software problem. We are actively seeking workarounds to this and if the problem is not solved by the time we ship then the Picade will include a USB sound card.

FAQ

  • We're getting samples of as many styles of button as we can and testing them for feel and durability and how easy they are to hack and maintain. We'll use the buttons that allow us to put as many good feeling, durable buttons on the Picade and Picade Mini as possible. We'll also bear in mind that some people will want to change the buttons to their favourite brand.

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  • We're planning to at least include any drivers needed to make the buttons work properly and as many decent emulators as we can legally provide. These will definitely be available as downloads. If budget allows, we could include a custom SD Card, that's down to how many people back the project and the deals we can negotiate based on that.

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  • The Mini and Maxi Picade will include one joystick and buttons on the unit, but we will see what other input sources we can support. If we can find a way to link 2 units easily or provide extra controls, we'll shout about it :-)

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  • In the current prototype we are using the GPIO of the Raspberry Pi to read the control states. However if we reach the £65,536 stretch goal (to support other platforms) we'll extend the PCB (printed circuit board) to provide USB support.

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  • We will include useful utility buttons on the Picade so you can do most things without a keyboard. These buttons are not included in the minimum 4 or 6 buttons we mention. Those numbers are for rootin' tootin' fightin' buttons ONLY. The Picade will technically have more than 4 or 6 buttons.

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  • No! We're pretty set on the kit not having any soldering for you, the backer, to do. It's time consuming and many people do not like soldering. We want building the Picade to be a fun achievement, not an Odyssey

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  • All backers at the £8 level or above with get the blueprints/plans for the cabinet (Mini and Maxi) and any other info we can reasonably supply such as part numbers or mechanical data on sizes of buttons and the joystick etc and where you can replacements/upgrades. We also hope to supply hints, tips on how we make the Picade a nice unit. How we paint and finish it. How we construct it and all that.

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  • We're not sure how long it'll work on a nice Lithium Polymer battery, but you should be able to get hours from a biggish LIon battery. We're not intending to support this ourselves, but we should give you the info for the community to work it out.

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  • Having a proper coin slot as you used to have in the arcade will not be possible we think. They're too large and costly. We might be able to fake something nice so the Picade is also a piggy-bank though :-)

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  • We don't know yet. We'll let you know more about specific cases once we've sorted out the bigger questions and have a unit that looks and plays nicely. We think better software and games will continue to appear long after the Picades are in your hands.

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  • We're not sure yet. This depends on the £64k stretch goal a lot, as that changes how we do the PCB for the utility bits. We'll keep you posted.

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  • Current plans use a joystick that has a 2/4/8 switch plate to limit directionality.

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  • We're not sure yet. Gut feeling: simple physical rotation of the screen is probably too tricky with a kit to make it robust, but we should be able to support changing the screen from wide to tall with less than 5-10 minutes work and taking the back/front/side off the cabinet.

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  • No plans yet. Never say never though.

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  • See above :-)

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