These directions are for the Gen 1 and 2 Cupcade kits. You probably don't have one of these unless you have a very old kit!
Fitting all the electronics inside the case is the most challenging part of this project. Our advice:
  • Don’t force anything. If something refuses to fit, it might simply be in the wrong position.
  • You might need to temporarily disconnect some parts (like the buttons or joystick) to re-route the wires in a less tangled manner. Sometimes repeatedly. If the wiring seems to magically change from one of our photos to the next, that’s exactly what happened.
  • Take your time. If things aren’t cooperating and you get frustrated, walk away, try again after a break.
Why not just design a case that’s easier to asemble?

It makes sense once it’s all together. There are just a few visible screws on the sides, and the area around the controls is perfectly smooth, with no screw heads scratching at your fingers. An easier case would have a lot more visible fasteners, some of them in uncomfortable positions!

With the Pi powered off, disconnect all of the separable parts:
  • Raspberry Pi board
  • PiTFT display
  • Ribbon cable
  • Joystick
  • Buttons (4)
The Cupcade board, speaker and audio cable should all stay joined as a single thing; don’t clip any wires!
A small screwdriver is sometimes helpful when unplugging the buttons from the JST sockets. A little twist is usually sufficient…use common sense and be gentle.
Remove all of the nuts and washers from the four buttons. You can leave the quick-connect wires attached.

Lighting and staging photos is time-consuming! A handful of images from different Cupcade revisions are still shown here. Don’t panic if your Cupcade looks a little different…it should all work the same.

Let’s do the credit and start buttons first. We chose the black buttons for this.

Look for the acrylic piece that resembles a startled face. Slide a button (with attached quick-connect) through each “eye,” then add a washer and nut from behind.

Tighten these with finger pressure only. Don’t use tools or you’ll crack the plastic!
Early on, we mentioned a choice to be made: centered or off-center joystick? Now is your last chance to decide.

There are two acrylic parts required for the controls. Select the pair that matches your desired control layout. The other two can be stored somewhere in case you want to switch it out later.

If you want the joystick on the right, just flip these pieces over.
Two red buttons are installed on the chosen control cutout. Because this part is thin in one spot, it must be done with care.

When tightening each nut, hold the acrylic piece close to the corresponding button, not at the far end.

(This is one of those beta photos. Yours will have the quick-connects attached.)

Notice the piece with the red buttons has two “bites” along the top edge. If they’re at the bottom, and if you’re using an off-center joystick layout, undo the buttons and flip this piece over. With a centered layout, just turn it around.
Masking tape. You’ll need it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the blue or tan type, but it does need to be masking tape. It has a relatively weak grip and doesn’t leave residue behind.
Locate the acrylic bottom piece and insert two #4-40 1/2" screws in the positions shown.

There are four holes, but only two screws. These align with mounting holes on the Raspberry Pi board. Most of the case pieces are symmetrical so they can be flipped either way…makes things a little easier.

Add a piece of masking tape over each screw head to keep them from falling out.
Set the piece down on your work surface with the screws pointing up, then add a nylon spacer over each screw.
Align the mounting holes on the Raspberry Pi over these two screws.

The SD card slot should be facing the edge with the “bite.” If you get this backwards, there will be pain and anguish later as everything has to be dismantled and turned around.
Add a nut on each screw and give them just a few easy turns.

Once the board is held in place, remove the tape and give each screw an extra half turn or so with a screwdriver. Don’t go overboard, you don’t want to crack the plastic, just make sure the board is secure and the screws aren’t rattling.
Install the joystick on its support piece, whichever one you selected (centered or off-center). Two screws at opposite corners are sufficient.

Note the orientation of the joystick and support piece here. With the joystick’s silkscreen labels upright for reading, the support’s two protruding tabs should be at the bottom of the piece. This is one of the few non-symmetrical parts, so make sure you get the orientation right. It’s very frustrating to do over.

There’s a little wiggle room between the parts. If using an off-center joystick (as shown here), scoot the joystick that tiny extra bit away from the buttons before tightening the screws. This keeps the joystick from bumping up against the buttons during play.

Optional: a dab of thread lock, super glue or hot-melt adhesive on each nut helps keep these screws from loosening with heavy gameplay.
Install the PiTFT on its backing piece using three tiny #2-56 screws and matching nuts.

This is another non-symmetrical part with a specific orientation. The screw holes should make it evident which way this goes.
Install the speaker grille using two screws at the top.

The bottom holes do not receive screws (yet). However, before tightening the top nuts, make sure the bottom screw holes in the speaker and grille are aligned; there’s a bit of play.
Awesome. Now the puzzle box stage begins. This is a good time for a cookie break.

This guide was first published on Apr 04, 2014. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Cabinet Part 1) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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