Arcade Cabinet Upgrade: Custom Acrylic Sign with RGB Backlight

As someone said, “always leave things better than you found them… especially people.” I have co-opted this motto in my life. I try to help others and upgrade things that I love on a daily basis. I can’t get a lot done each day, but I can do something. Every. Day. Over time, the changes really add up!

I recently was looking around my game room for some inspiration for a quick project. I have a custom arcade cabinet based on RetroPie running on a Raspberry Pi attached to a smart TV. It has been a lot of fun playing my video games from 30+ years ago. My project this time was to add a custom acrylic sign with an RGB backlight. I wanted the cabinet to look more like an actual arcade cabinet.

My go-to site for graphic printing is Signs.com. I have used it many times for upgrading Arkham Horror: The Card Game and for other projects around the house. I designed a sign using Adobe Illustrator and got it made out of acrylic. I cobbled together vector logos of many of my favorite systems plus the RetroPie logo and named the arcade cabinet, “The Scharcade”. See what I did there? Do you see it?

I used an RGB Led Strip with IR Remote Control as a backlight for the sign and to edge light the TV screen. The IR remote is handy to change the color of the lights. Just make sure that you expose the IR receiver on the power supply so you can change the color from the front of the cabinet.

My upgrade to the upgrade was to frost the arcade cabinet sign to make it look better. The original sign was completely transparent and you could see the lights shining through from each one of the LEDs. LEDs love diffusers. To fix this issue, I used Rust-Oleum Frosted Glass Spray Paint on the backside of the sign. I tested out the spray paint on a scrap piece of acrylic. I was really worried about ruining the custom sign. Once I was confident with the results, I went ahead and sprayed one even coat of the paint on the backside of the sign. It takes about 20-30 minutes in order for the paint to activate. I wanted in anticipation for 20 minutes and I gradually saw the clear acrylic turn frosted. I was really happy with the results. The 20 minutes felt light an eternity.

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