DONOR-2 – This time it’s portable

Over the last few months we’ve slowly been accumulating parts for the next charity arcade machine DONOR-2. Applying what we’ve learned from DONOR-1, we came up with a few design criteria:

Improve portability

Something that doesn’t require a full-sized pick-up to transport. Ideally something that can be transported by one person.

Cabinet simplicity

Most of the time spent on DONOR-1 was fabricating the cabinet. Designing something simpler (or using an existing cabinet) would make building these a lot faster & easier.

Smaller “vault”

The amount of DONOR-1’s cabinet that is dedicated to holding quarters is so large that it takes a lot of games before the donations are even visible. If it were to be filled to capacity, it would weigh so much that I don’t think it would be movable without a forklift. This makes sense for long-term (year or years?) installations but for the venues we’ve been working with something with 1/10th the capacity would be more than enough.


It’s more fun to be able to play with/against friends, and there’s a lot of games which kind of require more than one player.


So far we’ve tracked down a few of these things and recently started putting them together.


Jamie painting the cabinet

With the criteria above in mind, Jamie went on the hunt for a cabinet and found a great candidate. Not only was it inexpensive ($2.00!) but it’s a recycled end-table which means one less piece of furniture that was likely to become trash.

amazing what a difference some paint (in the right hands) makes


sizing things up for the first cut

DONOR-1 used a display from my parts bin but since that was my last VGA monitor I needed to go shopping to find a screen for DONOR-2. Based on the measurements of the cabinet Jamie found I thought we could use a 19″ monitor this time (DONOR-1’s display is 17″). I figured this might be the most expensive component of the build but after a trip to UW SWAP I had a very nice 19″ LCD monitor for a mere $20.00.

not perfect, but sooo much better than last time


DONOR-1 was originally designed for an 80’s-themed fund-raiser and as such the 60 super retro games were a perfect fit. However this didn’t include Jamie’s favorite arcade game so this time around she made sure we wouldn’t make the same mistake with DONOR-2. The result is that DONOR-2 will be able to play 645 different games, (including X-Men).

The rest

There’s still a few things undecided about DONOR-2. A common complaint about DONOR-1 is that it only accepts quarters, so we’re looking into options to allow DONOR-2 to accept other forms of currency. Another issue with the design of DONOR-1 is that serviceability is a bit of a hassle and requires tools, so this is another area we’re looking to improve with DONOR-2.

One major design task that remains is the housing for game controls. The current plan is to build boxes containing the controls which will then be attached to the sides of the cabinet but the exact nature of the design, construction and materials for these boxes is still undecided. This will become more clear when the control hardware arrives and we can begin to experiment with layout, etc.

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