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Just when you thought SketchUp couldn't be more fun...

We use software to solve problems. Sometimes that problem is tackling work email, and sometimes that problem is beating your friends at Mario Kart. Think about that for a second: video games are so engaging that you actually look forward to solving the problems they present. You even invite your friends over to help!

I’ve always been a believer that the more fun you can make a problem to solve, the more dedicated the people who are solving it will be. I had that feeling the first time I used SketchUp. I just couldn’t get over how fun it was to use.

Fast forward a few years and many SketchUp models later… here I am telling countless people to try SketchUp because it makes design fun. Then, I was tasked with creating something that really showed off this concept. I came up with this design:

Yep - you’re seeing that right. That’s a full size SketchUp arcade cabinet. The first of it’s kind! I can’t think of a much better way to show that SketchUp is useful and fun!

So what do you do when you come up with something like this? You build it! But, building this was far more than just pushing a button on a machine. It took a lot of coordination across several different disciplines. In every step, the 3D model was used to mill, fasten, fabricate, and assemble everything.

The wood cabinet was milled on a ShopBot. I used the SketchUp model you see above to mill out all of the parts. Then everything was test fitted to make sure it all worked. After that, I sent the parts to be coated with delicious shiny red and black paint. When it was returned, I installed the letters and had the stickers applied. The 3D model helped me choose the colors with the paint shop, and all of the stickers were printed from the SketchUp model itself.

Next, I called our friends over at SparkFun. I wanted to add LEDs, sound effects, and even a fog machine. I wanted each of these components to work together as a whole to create a genuine arcade experience. The electronics build was a massive effort in and of itself, and if you’re interested in learning more, read the post that details every step here:

But for now, check out it in all its functioning glory:

This is undoubtedly the most fun project I’ve created this year. The build was complex and the use of multi-media made it particularly interesting. I couldn’t have done this in a reasonable amount of time or effort if it weren’t for all of the pre-planning and design that was done in SketchUp.

About the Author

When Eric isn’t using SketchUp, he’s turning his models into real world objects. Anything from Maker Benches, 3D prints, full size buildings, and even geodesic domes.

Profile Photo of Eric Schimelpfenig