Need more instructions? figuring out your way around a Pandoras Box Arcade

Pandoras box 3D user manual/ guide

Pandora Box arcades come in many flavours however the user guide, manual that comes with them can miss key elements. That said models can be grouped by features that we will cover off in this guide.

From saving games, favourites, search function, adding games, adding game pads and allocating player 1,2,3 or 4 and much more. This guide will step you through the key elements your console does and give you a clear indication of what it doesnt have - no smoke and mirrors here.

Lets start with the heart of your Pandoras Box, 99.99% of these and many other consoles have either everything or atleast the games stored on a MicroSD card.
The console reads this card constantly and over time turning the device off during read can cause corruption. There is also the chance of potential card failure. This doesnt happen often but can and as such we recomend backing up whats on the card. Even more so if you're device supports adding games.


Exit, Pause a game and Shutting down safely

Depending on how your console has been setup you can either Hold the >Start OR >Select buttons. This will prompt an exit menu and can also be used to Pause gameplay.

To maintain the health of your MicroSD card, its recommended to shut down the console when the card is not being accessed. In order to do so we recommend accessing the search function by Pressing >START. This will turn off video preview and allow you to then safely power off the unit.


Power supply

Should you experience issues and need to troubleshoot your Pandoras box, the first thing you should be checking is the power source. Most Pandora boxes require a power pack that outputs 12V 5A. We have seen some run up-to 10A to accommodate more intricate LED setups.

Some of the use a wall mount, while others use a brick like you would see with a laptop. If your power pack has an LED please not that doesn't mean its sending the required power to your gamesboard. Before going off on a wild adventure, make sure to check if the problem still exists with another power pack.

The barrel plug/ jack that connects to your Pandora gameboard has a 5.5mm outer. Older consoles tend to have a 2.5mm inner while newer ones like the EX2 have a 2.1mm inner. That said the 5.5mm outer with a 2.5mm inner should work on both, but you will need to check for good fitment.

Please check your product specs to ensure console output of 12V 5A and barrel of 5.5mm outer and 2.5mm inner is suitable.


Troubleshooting your Pandoras box

Here are a few pointers if you are experiencing issues with your Pandoras box. Apart from checking the power pack as outlined above, you can check;

- power socket on the gameboard is firm and once plug is inserted it doesn't wiggle

- For any HDMI issues, check gameboard HDMI connection to ensure no wiggle and if doing so affects picture or sound. Try a different screen if possible, then a different cable and if your cable is quite long it might pay to try a shorter one as some boxes can struggle with signal strength over longer cables.

- Moving to internals, if any game load issues try reseating the games card which in short is the process of removing and re-inserting to ensure a good connection. Any other odd issues or seemingly bad joystick, button response check all cables are connected firmly and that they all sit nicely and properly in each plug as can push out at times when plug is pushed in. If a button or specific direction is still failing you may need to trace and replace a specific wire. Before replacing connect the specific cable to other direction of Joystick or other button to ensure it is faulty. For Joysticks you have 1 wire for each direction and buttons have 1 coloured trigger wire each. The black is common ground that connects to all.

As these are very modular, you can replace from a wire to loom, button, joystick or gameboard. The trick is to methodically check everything off.


Backing up your games card

When importing games the Micro SD card is modified. Depending on your console it can be anything from 16GB - 128GB. The EX2 boards come with 8k games 64GB and 10k games on a 128GB Micro SD card.
With anything tech, things can go wrong so its strongly advised that you backup the card. Keep in mind that in most cases your computer wont be able to read the contents and may prompt you to format the card which you must avoid!

In order to backup the card you will need atleast 128GB free space on your computer and preferably a USB 3.0 Micro SD card reader.
This guide should assist in finding and removing the Pandora Box card.

Once removed insert it into the card reader and if prompted to format or anything else click cancel/no.

Depending on your computer you can use programs like

  • Win32 Disk Imager
  • balenaEtcher

Once you have inserted card into reader and started your desired backup program, you will need to select source being the card and destination being a folder on your computer.

This will create an .IMG file that cant be read. Its sole purpose will be to restore the existing card or a replacement card should you need to revert to the current state at any time. Keeping a backup is highly recomended. 


4:3 Aspect mode - remove stretching

Pandora boxes fill the whole screen, so if you have a widescreen TV in most cases the picture will be stretched. Electro Arcade consoles come with additional software that auto reduces and removes picture stretching. On games that this isn't the case you can manually adjust picture ratio output by pressing P1 START & the E button. Each time you do this it will step you through 1 of the 3 pre-defined Aspect Ratios. Once you have the one you want, just keep playing :-) This can be done whenever needed.

While this feature works in our MiniBeast arcades, if using a 19" screen its likely you wont need this.

In addition depending on your specific TV, while most modern screens don't have a horizontal or vertical adjustment, you may have Aspect Ratio adjustments in your picture settings such as Auto Adjust, Stretch, Full screen, Zoom. If needed you can use these to reduce potential top and bottom image chopping. 

Button and Joystick diagnostic

If you have any concerns of potential faulty or non responsive components the IO test section should be your first stop.

Replacing a button is easy once you have confirmed if it has failed.

Press the Configuration button on the rear of the unit near USB ports.
Press your A button to select the following 2 menu entries in order being >Key settings >IO test.

From within the IO test you can test joystick direction and all the buttons for P1 and P2. If any doubt try each one a few times to check for consistency and response. A non responsive button could be a faulty button or cable, so when diagnosing its a good idea to swap the trigger cable between two buttons to see if the behavior remains or is transferred to the new button meaning its the wire/cable.

To exit the IO test you need to press the A and 1P buttons together followed by D and D again to exit back to the games list.

If experiencing IO test issues, we highly recommend checking all cables and plugs to ensure there has been no movement and that everything is sitting in and connected firmly.

Keep in mind that when checking over multi cable plugs, to look at each wire to ensure it is also sitting firmly in the plug as they can also move back during install meaning a specific wire isn't connecting properly.

In most cases you will notice the Play/Pause button for P1 and P2 are wired to trigger Coin/ Select & Pause functions.


Button layout and order

You can change your button layout to your liking, keeping in mind this is system wide and cannot be done on a per console be it N64, Arcade, Playstation etc. Most Pandora box button are set at, from top left;

You might find some are;

As any change will be applied to all consoles, you’ll need to find what consoles you play more and a subsequent layout that works for you. To change your button layout we access the settings section by pressing the little 'configure' button on the back of your Pandoras Box usually near the USB ports. From setting menu click >Key Settings >Redefine Keys. Once set to exit click 


Recently Played, Search, Favourites and Hide Games

The Saga 12s, 18s, EX2 and 3D+ Pandora Box boxes include a recently played list. This holds upto 1 page of games you have played from recent to oldest date. This is the easiest and quickest way to replay a recent game.

The next easiest way to find a game is the Search Function. This is accessed by clicking the P1 button which brings up search and allows you to scroll along the top 4 tabs being All, Category, Recent, Search. Pandora Boxes use a simple search meaning its a single phrase with no spaces. That said depending on search phrase filtering through one to a few pages is still better than a few thousand titles. The good thing is the search results show the console icon next to each title, the not so good is there is no video preview in search results.

Onto Favourites, this one takes a tad more effort, but provides easier long term results for your most wanted titles and you can relatively easily add/remove from this. This isnt an individual list, but instead shows your chosen games at the top of the standard games list, so you maintain video preview as well - just incase you need it ;-).

You'll need to access the settings section, this is done by pressing the Configuration button on the rear of the unit near USB ports.
Scroll down and select >Enter Game Settings >Edit Favorite List

From here you will need to scroll through the standard game list, hover over the desired game and click A to add it to favourites. What we recomend is before going into the Settings section, document the game number of each favourite, that way when in the Settings section you can quickly scroll through by number to find it and add it as a favourite. Keep in mind while in the favourite settings section you can remove individual or all games from here, so tread with caution.

Much like favourites, you may wish to hide some games based on who is using the console and what you decide is suitable. This allows you to chose which games to hide from the main menu and is set up much like favourites.

Press the Configuration button on the rear of the unit near USB ports.
Scroll down and select >Enter Game Settings >Edit Game List

You can now scroll through the list of games and hover over game you wish to hide and Click A. 

What you can also do here is Press B to Hide All. Then Press C to show hidden list and go over titles you want to show and Press A to display each title you want shown. This can give you a vetted list of a few titles for parties, kids or any occasion. 

Once done Press the D button (by default is the 1st button on row 2 for Player 1) until you are out of settings and back to the Main games menu. 



The original arcade machines would use Cathode Ray Tubes  -yes an old school TV tube. The electron beam would sweep the screen line by line building the image. A 50Hz screen would sweep the screen 50 times per second. Visible horizontal sweep lines were a CRT signature.

As many associate scan lines with retro gaming some gaming consoles offer simulated scan lines. To achieve this on newer Pandora boxes you can Press the Configuration button on the rear of the unit near USB ports.
Scroll down and hover over >Image Optimisation > by moving your joystick left/right you can chose either HD or Scanline. Make your selection and press the Player 1 D button being the 1st button on the 2nd row.


Adding and Allocating USB controllers

While older arcade titles only had 1 player setup, meaning P1 and P2 would take turns sharing the joystick/buttons, newer arcade and console titles gave each player their own controls. 

A number of titles will support 2 Player and some 4 Player. Games and Consoles that support 4P will need compatible USB gamepads or fightsticks. In the Pandoras Box world compatibility is king and a rarity. In addition using any Pandoras Box manufactured pre June 2022 means you will have 2 USB ports. 1 for gamepads and 1 that allows it to be used to play games on a PC/PS3.
This includes 11s,12s,18s, 28s, 3D+, CX, DX, EX and first release of EX2.

The later/newer EX2 has 3 USB ports meaning you can connect two controllers direct to the unit, instead of going with an additional USB hub that would split into 2. For the newer 3 port machine, the two outer ports (outer left and outer right) are for controllers, while the middle port is for using your PB as a PC/PS3 controller. Connecting a controller to the middle port can cause your console to exhibit odd behavior including joystick movements. If you're experiencing random joystick movements check you're plugged into the correct USB port(s).

Back to how this is all achieved, when connecting 1-2 USB controllers they are usually allocated as P1 and P2. That's fine as you might want to play a particular game with a gamepad instead of fightstick.

However, if you're wanting to go 4Up you'll need to access settings via the Configuration button on the rear near USB ports.
From the Menu click on >Key Settings >Gamepad Settings
From there if plugged in, you will see additional gamepads/fightsticks, if not click the big silver button or analog button on your controller which on most devices will turn red. If not, you can remove and re-insert the USB controller. 
You can then hover over the detected USB controller(s), if not showing press the bottom left D button on P1 fightstick to exit and then go back into >Gamepad Settings.
Once USB controllers are detected, using your joystick you can hover over each one and click left or right to allocate either controller to player 1-4.
Once each has been assigned click the D button again all the way back out of the Settings section. Once back at the games menu this allocation has been saved and will be kept until changed even after restarting the console.
Keep in mind some games will only be 2 player and some will be 4.

In addition some of the super old arcade games only ever had 1 player controls so both players had to share the same controls - in this case it would be swapping the P1 controller when its you're turn.


Coin or Free play

While most of our consoles are set to Free Play you can set them back to Coin, meaning you will need to either add coins or press the P1 button for credits before you can play a given game. You might find some old school games like Xevious which has been removed, only work in Coin mode as they are so old they don't recognise free play. Coin mode can be set to 1:1, 2:1 etc meaning how many credits you get per coin/coin button press.

Press the Configuration button on the rear of the unit near USB ports.
Hover over >Coin Settings > make your selection by scrolling left or right. Press the D button to exit


High Scores and Game Progress

Our EX2 consoles run updated software which enables the "save state"  function to work on more games. That said it wont work on all as there are so many different consoles and games.

For those that it does work on, while playing you can press the Play/Pause button. This brings up a menu with the following options;

A - Continue game

B - Exit game

C - Save state

D - Load state

While this can be used to pause and resume a game if you need to step away for a short period, it can also be used to save the progress of a game and resume it should you be at a difficult stage of the game, or resume it at a future date. To save your current status/position simply click the C button which is "Save state", to the load your previous save which includes high score press the Play/Pause button followed by the D button to "Load state".

Keep in mind you only have 1 save slot per game, so any new save will replace what was already there.

Unless you have changed the order of buttons they are usually from top left,

ABC - top row

DEF - bottom row



Pandora boxes support English and a number of other languages. This only applies the the main menu and admin, not to the games themselves. To change language shown in the main menu interface 

Press the Configuration button on the rear of the unit near USB ports.
Hover over >Language > make your selection by scrolling left or right. Press the D button to exit.

On the EX2, this list should help identify what is multiplayer >>