One Australian Turned A Wine Barrel Into An Arcade Cabinet

One Australian Turned A Wine Barrel Into An Arcade Cabinet
The barrel in its original state.
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I’ve always wanted an arcade cabinet of my own, but I don’t have the materials, tools or the know-how to get started. Fortunately that’s no problem for Matt Shaw, an Adelaide gamer who has enjoyed a little bit of internet fame after he decided to transform an unloved wine barrel into something special.

The idea, Shaw told me, came from a post on the Arcade Controls forum where someone took an oak wine barrel of their own. “With a mind to do something like that I asked for a Wine Barrel for Christmas last year as we do a Kris Kringle thing,” he told me.

Cut-out for the sticks.

Shaw scored the 4:3 screens, which are perfect for arcade machines, for free from work. “They were getting rid of a bunch of monitors around at work they’re trying to get rid of (all about wide screen now, not much use for the old 4:3 monitors in my industry any more),” he explained.

The casing for the controls were built with medium-density fibreboard, an angle grinder, circular saw and a jigsaw, while the glass was picked up for free after a search of the local online classifieds.

I wonder how a red or a yellow would have gone against the wood.
Coming together.

The cabinet itself is running off a Raspberry Pi machine with PiPlay, a custom-build OS designed for gaming and emulation on the Pi’s low-end hardware. Interestingly, there isn’t a single soldered connection and wiring was relatively easy, with the configuration for the controller proving to be a more substantial (but not insurmountable) problem. “The guys at the PiPlay forum were an AMAZING help, and still help me out (and anyone else that asks it seems) today,” Shaw says.

The inner wiring.

The glass is mounted on some non-slip rubber edging and thanks to the weight — around 20kgs, Shaw says — there are no issues with it moving around. It’s also quite comfortable for someone sitting at a bar stool or standing (if you’re around 6 foot).

“I reckon its cost me $200 as I’ve only had to pay for the [Raspberry] Pi, buttons/sticks, paint, cables and I did recently grab a wireless keyboard that works with it,” Shaw explained. “It probably took me 6 months all in all as I have a 1 year old kiddo and work in the film industry so do long hours. I reckon I only found about 3-4 hours a week to spend on it.”

He added that while this is his first project building a custom cabinet or DIY gaming machine of any kind, he was formerly a boilermaker and welder and has always had a penchant for making things. “This was an opportunity to lean a bit more Python scripting (which i can use at work) and do some fun DIY stuff.”

Shaw says that old arcade games and the early versions of Street Fighter run perfectly fine on the Pi’s hardware, although newer versions have been a little problematic. But the effort has clearly been worth it: Shaw’s a massive fan of the older arcade games, which remind him of his childhood spending time in the arcades.

“Wonder Boy I love as its such fun and a long game … but the Street Fighter 2 series are the best, such epic battles with friends (which we’ve already done over many many beers).”

Something I’m sure he’ll continue doing for many, many weekends.

This story was originally published on August 20, 2015.


  • Neat.

    It’d be cool if you could rotate the screen/top of the barrel into a portrait configuration, for games like DK.

  • The idealist in me wishes he could do his own where I cut the barrel in half and put one set of controls on either side for the classic tabletop arcade gaming experience. The realist in me remembers that his DIY ability is limited to following IKEA instructions. *Looks at the bookshelf that has the top and bottom shelves switched around* Mostly.

    • that was my thinking too, doesn’t look terribly comfortable to sit around. Great idea though.

  • 2 articles in and it’s good to be reading your stuff again Alex 😀

    Love the idea of this build, a great way to use a wine barrel for more than just a bar table 😀

  • If there’s a way to combine video games and drinking or something to do with drinking, you bet an Aussie is behind it

  • Pure brilliance.

    I am one of the proprietors of a company that sells all the gear to get these projects done.

    You can find us on the web at

    If you are looking to start your own project like we would love to help you out!


    DIY Arcade

  • 1. If it is an old work monitor, it probably isn’t ips, and doesn’t have a good viewing angle.

    2. A barrel is just asking for a rotating monitor setup, like a lazy Susan.

    3. A barrel is huge, no reason to use a shitty pi, that will fit any size pc.

    Other than that, it looks great as a novelty arcade.

    • If you are only playing from one side you don’t need a good viewing angle, rotate it upside down and flip on the pc and it’s fine I’ve got one in a cab at the moment that isn’t IPS.

      These wine barrel set ups have been around for years their pretty cool but I prefer a standard cocktail set up.

  • Made a few wine barrels cabs from around 2008 or so old Aussie Arcade site should still show something. Cut in half on casters, 51 cm CRT for good viewing angle. Black Acrylic control panels.
    I got the idea making wall cabinets for Dan Murphy. Way too many crap imitations came out soon after.

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