These electronics are optional. :) There are two ways to build the arcade cabinet:
- Just 3D print it and drop your Switch in place.
- Add some electronics that will charge your Switch while you play and allow you to connect USB controllers.
Because I love building things and this entire project can be done for about $50, I decided to go with option #2.
After removing the Joy-Con controllers from your Switch, slide off the top of the arcade cabinet and slide your Switch into place. If you install the charging/data electronics into the cabinet, as I did, your Switch will also charge while in the cabinet -- and you can even connect a USB controller!
First you'll need to print all the parts. This will take a while. I think it took 18 hours of total printing on my old ANET A8, but I think this would be much faster on my new Creality Ender 3. This time can be reduced further by adjusting the print quality.
There are two versions of the models available on Thingiverse: the "simple" version, which contains no openings/ports for the electronics, and the "electronic" version, which is what we're building here.
For the electronic version, there are 8 parts to print:
- Simple Bottom and Front
- Simple Cradle
- Simple Back
- Left Side
- Right Side
- The fan shroud
If your print bed is too small to print the sides, there's also a "cut" version included so that you can print the sides as halves.
No problem. A lot of people don't know there are tons of ways to get a 3D model printed without having a printer. Here are a few of the ways:
Use an online 3D printing service
Online services like Sculpteo will print your model and ship it to you for a fee.
Find your local hackerspace/makerspace
There's a good chance you have a nearby Hackerspace, and most of them have some sort of "Open Make Night" where you can come in and use the equipment without needing a membership. You can find your local hackerspace using this tool, which lists over 2,000 hackerspaces.
Ask a friend
Post on Facebook; you might be surprised that someone you know has a 3D printer. And in true maker fashion, they'll probably be happy to help you out while teaching you a bit about 3D printing.
Check your local library
Tons of libraries now have 3D printers available for their patrons to use. Additionally, if you're a student your university can likely provide you with access to one. Call your university library's information desk and they can direct you to the college/department that can give you access.
Many people advertise 3D printing services on Craigslist for a fee.
Buy a 3D printer
The cabinet assembly itself is pretty self-explanatory: just use super glue or 2-part epoxy to put everything together. I used a few books to add weight to the parts while they set.
Do not glue the top into place! This is supposed to slide off so you can insert your Switch.
Power and data for the Switch and cooling fan are provided by a powered USB-C hub. This small USB-C extension lives in the back of the unit, where a power adapter is plugged in. The hub I used connects to a 90-degree USB-C adapter which lives at the bottom of the cradle -- so when you slide your Switch into place, it connects to the hub automatically.
The default Nintendo Switch AC adapter won't work -- when you use it, the Switch thinks it's in its charging dock and the screen turns off. This is because Nintendo added an extra data pin/signal. Thus, you'll need to use a separate AC adapter. I recommend one that provides at least 3A.
I added this 5V USB fan that draws power from the hub. The fan's speed controls are accessible from the back of the cabinet. To be honest, I question whether the fan is necessary... It's extremely inexpensive so I added it, but I don't think the Switch will get that hot -- especially considering all the natural ventilation that the case provides.
This has been a super fun, super easy project. I love having this thing on my desk so I can pop in to play a game or two when I need a break.
This cabinet is a testament to the spirit of the maker community, blending mainstream gaming with 3D printing and hobby electronics, and I’m very happy that it exists.
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the build video for this project.
Post in the comments section below, I'd love to hear from you!
A 3D-printed house? What about a store that 3D prints you a custom shoe? And will we be able to, one day, 3D print our way to Mars? It's all possible!