Buying a DDR Cabinet

Owning a DDR cabinet has become much more affordable in the past few years. Time has not been good to traditional arcades and with many going out of business private ownership has become an accessible option for those who have the space to keep a machine at home.

Where to Buy

For the purpose of this article I’m assuming you’ve skipped the option to buy a new machine for $10k+ and are ready to buy second hand.

As of this writing you can find a DDR cabinet in decent condition for $800-2000 (USD). Depending on where you live, the condition of the machine and how quickly you want to get your hands on one, you can expect to pay more or less. Patience will pay off if you have a budget to consider.

Below are a few sources to consider when looking to purchase an arcade cabinet.

Depending on your area you’ll likely find some good deals on Craigslist. Often you’ll see machines sitting in a warehouse somewhere or come across a private owner looking to get rid of theirs.

Call your local arcade
Arcades and movie theaters may be open to the idea of selling their machine or have something sitting unused somewhere they’d be willing to sell. I’ve seen a surprising amount of machines just sitting in someone’s storage as the owner hasn’t gotten around to finding a buyer.

In California there seems to be one city or another having an arcade auction at any given time. Machines can pop up on auctions that won’t be listed elsewhere. Sometimes you can grab a new machine for a great price, other times they can be rather inflated. All depends on who’s bidding. Most arcade auctions have a showroom period, and many allow you to bid online.

eBay occasionally has listings for arcade machines, though I recommend avoiding this method. With eBay you have to pay up front without getting the chance to inspect the condition of the machine. Depending on the auction price it may be tempting, though it’s a risky bet you likely don’t want to take. But hey I’m not your real mom so you can do what you want.

DDR Cabinet Checklist

After you’ve found a cabinet, make sure to visit the machine to inspect before buying. Your new machine is likely over a decade old and has seen all sorts of abuse from heavy-footed teenagers and spilled bowling alley soda.

If anything is not working (or even missing) from the checklist below, this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the machine. Pretty much anything on the machine can be fixed or replaced with time and effort. It’s quite rare to find a machine in perfect condition these days. However, use the checklist to make an informed decision on your purchase.

The below checklist is based on a DDR Extreme cabinet. Other versions may vary.

☑ 6x front panel buttons
☑ 8x pad arrows
☑ 32x individual pad sensors
☑ 1x coin mech (if your machine comes with one)
☑ 1x test button
☑ 1x service button
☑ 1x volume control dial
☑ 1x bass control dial

☑ 4 x marquee lights
☑ 2x bass neons
☑ 16x pad neon lights
☑ 6x front panel button lights
☑ 1x marquee light

☑ 2x subwoofer
☑ 2x marquee speakers

☑ Display works
☑ Colour distortion
☑ Fading or monitor burnout
☑ Display fills the screen without distortion
☑ Dead pixels
☑ Flickering

☑ Cable condition
☑ Molex connectors
☑ Frayed or exposed wires
☑ Odd soldering or tied cables

☑ Keys to any locks (if applicable)
☑ Bar paint
☑ Bar base weld
☑ Screws (stripped, rusted, there at all, etc)
☑ Decals/marquee
☑ Bezel glass
☑ Bass plastic
☑ Marquee plastic
☑ Arrow panels
☑ Dents, scratches or stripped paint
☑ Metal trim

Service Manuals

Once you have your cabinet it’s a good idea to read up on the service manual to familiarize yourself with the hardware. These manuals give you information on assembly, connections, parts, wiring diagrams and other stuff you should know for ongoing maintenance.

Note: The copyrights to these documents are the property of their respective owners.