How to build Lifehacker’s retro coffee table on the cheap

Lifehacker posted a nice weekend project this week, a retro coffee table, but the price tag seems steeper than it needs to be. If you’re craving some retro goodness but think $300 is a bit much to spend to play old video games, I have some ideas for you.

Hit the thrift store for a coffee table. You don’t need a $100 Ikea coffee table that’s going to fall apart in 18 months anyway. Pay a visit to your local Salvation Army store. They almost always have coffee tables, you’ll probably pay $20 or less for one, and you’ll be supporting a good cause to boot.

Hit an estate sale for a small LCD TV. Yes, believe it or not, you can score sub-32″ LCD TVs at estate sales fairly easily. Search your local Craigslist for an estate sale in a wealthy suburb, then go. Some ads tell more than others about the contents of the sale. Just be careful; sometimes an ad will say “flat screen TV” and they mean a late-model CRT with a flat front. But if you see a picture with a 20-inch LCD in a bedroom, go. Expect to pay $40-$60 for a small set.

Just be careful to make sure it has an HDMI port. Some early LCD sets didn’t have them.

Got a Playstation? Recycle its controllers. They don’t feel quite as retro as SNES controllers, but if you have Playstation controllers, you can use a cheap adapter to connect them to a Raspberry Pi. And unlike modern SNES-alikes, the quality of the Playstation controllers is pretty consistent.

I think you can easily shave $100-$150 off the cost of the project.

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