A Look Inside a Mini Pacman Arcade Cabinet

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September 12, 2022

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Repairs Teardowns
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arcade cabinet pacman
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I recently acquired a Numscull 1/4 scale mini Pacman arcade cabinet.

Arcade machine
Numskull 1/4 scale Pacman arcade machine.

According to Numskull, this is one of only 10,000 released worldwide, and are part of a collection of mini arcade cabinets they have produced.

It’s a great looking machine, featuring a a bright yellow body with unique Pacman-related images.

On the front of the machine, you’ll find a couple of imitation coin slots. The buttons here are fully functional, and used to digitally ‘insert’ a coin into the machine.

The detailed imagery extends to the display surround, which also gives information about the scoring used in the game.

A particularly nice touch is the panel above the display, which lights up when the machine is powered on.

That’s the outside covered – let’s see what’s going on on the inside. If you’re interested, be sure to take a look at our video looking at the machine.

Getting Inside

The cabinet is very easy to open. The back panel is held in place with two screws. Removing these screws allows the back panel to be removed.

From here, is possible to gain access to almost everything inside the machine.

A Dodgy Micro USB Port

This particular machine came into my possession in a lot of faulty items. The micro USB port on the back of the cabinet had become detached from the rear I/O board.

Damaged board
Damaged I/O board – note the missing pads and torn traces.

There’s obvious trace damage to this board, which had to be repaired before the console was able to charge. You can see some of the repair process in our video.

Repaired board
Repaired board. Enamelled wire has been used to bridge the missing connections.

As well as providing power to the cabinet, the micro USB port also allows the software on the machine to be reflashed. Numskull offer two different firmware files – one version containing the 5-life version of Pacman, the other with 3 lives for those looking for a challenge.

While the cabinet would function without the data pin traces being repaired, it would render the machine unable to accept firmware updates.

A Look at the Board

The board inside this cabinet is powered by an Allwinner V3 SoC. This is a low power ARM-based chip, which can often be found in dashcams.

Main board
The heart of the cabinet.

It’s not a massively powerful machine, but is more than enough to power an emulated version of Pacman.

Also visible is the AXP209 power management IC, which is commonly used with Allwinner SoCs.

Around the outside of the board are labelled connectors, used to attach the external controls (I/O board, joystick and insert coin buttons).

Upgrade Potential

Something that becomes immediately clear when opening the cabinet is the potential for upgrades. There’s a huge amount of empty space inside, which will be perfect to add extra LEDs, microcontrollers, or anything else you might like to add.

Inside the cabinet

The battery is a standard 18650 LiPo, with a JST-PH header. While the bracket is specific to this battery, some double-sided tape would be suitable to mount a larger one. That said, the 4-5 hour life of the original battery should be more than enough for a single gaming session.

The ability to update the firmware on the board opens up the potential to flash the cabinet with custom software, though this would take some work to get going. I plan to investigate this possibility further in the future.

Conclusion

For an arcade fan, something like the Pimoroni Picade would offer more flexibility, albeit at a higher price. The ability to play a wide variety of games on the machine gives much greater value, though it’s fair to say it is far less visually appealing.

If you’re a fan of Pacman, this mini arcade cabinet is a great looking novelty item to add to your collection. With a retail price of ¬£129.99, it certainly isn’t cheap, and you’re paying a premium for the detailed branding.

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