Cardboard Control Panel

This guide will show you how to make a 2 player Arcade control panel out of just cardboard! You do not need any special building skills to successfully make your own, let’s do it!

An Arcade control panel made of cardboard


Let’s take a look at the materials and tools needed to build the control panel.

Go custom and adapt

Just like any cooking recipe, you might be missing some of the tools or parts shown here. Don’t let this stop you! This a general guide on how to build an arcade panel, you can complete the project in many different ways.

Required materials to build control panel


  • Cardboard box that will become the control panel. If you are buying a PC monitor to build the Arcade, use the box that the monitor came in.
  • 2 joysticks and 6 buttons for a 2 players OR 1 joystick and 4 buttons for 1 player, plus 1 button as an extra, optional RESET button. Search for “Arcade Game Kit” to find a kit near you as a source for parts (avoid using any LED buttons or analog joysticks).
  • 31 Male-to-Female jumper wires to connect the buttons to the Raspberry Pi (see later in this list). Buy a few more if you can in case you make a mistake.
  • Electrical tape to secure the jumper wires to the arcade button connectors.
  • Zip ties to secure the joysticks; you can also use machine screws if you have some at hand.
  • Raspberry Pi Zero Kit with a Raspberry Pi Zero (Wifi/BLE not required), HDMI cable, power supply, memory card (not all kits have one).
  • Clear tape (optional) to make name labels for the jumper wires.


  • Cardboard cutting tools: scissors, rotary cutters, or a carboard knife. You’ll need something to cut into the cardboard (our favorite is the “Canary Yellow Knife”).
  • Wire stripper, cutter to cut and strip some of the jumper wires.
  • Crayon or sharpie to mark where to drill.
  • Glue gun (optional) if you make a mistake, a glue gun can easily save the day. Optional but recommended.
  • 1 inch drill bit + cordless drill (optional): while you can drill the button holes with a manual tool, the 1” drill bit is the best at making a clean hole for the buttons. It’s recommended that you use a drill if you have one and can use it safely.


Let’s get started!