What Video Game Character Are You? I am an Asteroid.

Finding My Cabinet

Repairing My Cabinet

Control Panel

Latest Updates
-   11/10/2008
-   11/30/2008
-   12/02/2008
-   12/13/2008
-   12/28/2008

-   12/29/2008  
-   01/11/2009
-   01/15/2009
-   01/18/2009
-   01/26/2009


 The Obligatory Introduction

As a child of the 80ís, Iíve spent countless hours playing my brotherís Atari 2600 and his Commodore 64.  So Iím no stranger to good olí classic gaming.  Once I got a little older and was allowed to ride my bike to the mall, I went to the arcade.   I pumped quarter after quarter of my ďhard earnedĒ allowance money into games like X-men, The Simpsons, Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and games all the way back to the classics like Ms. Pacman, Timber, Donkey Kong 3, and Galaga, just to name a few.  Over the years my passion for video games has never really decreased.   Iíve followed along right up until the new video game systems like the Xbox 360, but Iíve always held a special place in my heart for the classic arcade game.   Iíve always wanted my own arcade machine, but I could never justify spending the money on an arcade machine that was dedicated to just one game.   Well, a few years ago I discovered MAMEÖ

Mame, for those of you who, donít know stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.   Itís a program which allows you to emulate thousands of classic arcade games right on your home pc.  But what fun is it to play an arcade game using your keyboard?   You definitely need to have a real joystick and real pushbuttons to play on just like that old dingy, poorly lit arcade of your youth.   Since I found out MAME existed, I have always had a secret dream of making my own arcade machine.   It is essentially a computer put inside of a real arcade cabinet, with real arcade controls.   Without getting too technical here, there are keyboard decoder devices which have been developed, which allow you to wire up real arcade controls to them.   The computer recognizes this decoder device simply as a keyboard.   Each different direction of the joystick, and different push button is just mapped to a different key on a keyboard.    For example, when I press up on my joystick, the computer interprets that as simply pushing the up arrow on the keyboard.  If Iíve lost you there with my description, letís just suffice to say that thereís a fairly simple way to hook up the classic arcade controls to a computer and make it work! 

Iíve had to put this project on the ĎTo Doí list for quite some time, but I just recently decided to fulfill that dream and make it happen!    I thought that Iíd post a little journal online as I progress through this project.    Iíve just been absolutely obsessed with this project for the past month or two, so Iíd like to thank my lovely fiancť, Jenny, for putting up with me during this process.   Sheís been more than patient with me, and Iím sure sheís sick of hearing me talk about it!

First off, let me just say that I knew virtually nothing about this stuff before I started working on this.    Iíve had to research every last thing I needed to do online.   One of the hugest resources for this was the Build Your Own Arcade Controls (BYOAC) website.

http://www.arcadecontrols.com/   -- this page has a lot of good information, although some of it is outdated, there is still tons of good stuff here, including links to other peopleís Mame projects like my own

http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/ -- this is where to post any questions you might have, and if you ever decide to build one of these yourself, you will have a LOT of questions!
You can search for just about anything you can think of on this website and find and answer for it.   If not, you can post a new thread on the forum and thereís a really large community of people out there who all help you out to find an answer.

Finding My Cabinet

The first step in creating an arcade machine is the figure out what youíre going to use for your cabinet.   There are basically three options here:

1.  Build your own arcade cabinet from wood.
2.  Buy a pre-made kit for an arcade machine (such as the ones at Mame Room)
3.  Find an old existing arcade machine, gut it, and then restore it yourself. 
Option 1 was a no go for me since I have virtually no experience working with wood.   I tossed around option 2 for a while, but I just didnít have the money to purchase a kit ($450 - $550, not including shipping).    I decided to go with option 3, find an old arcade machine, gut it, and then restore it.   I should mention that if you are going to do something like this yourself, be careful what arcade cabinet you choose to use.   If it is, or once was a classic game, such as Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man, Gallaga, etc, do NOT tear it apart and make it into a MAME machine.   Thereís a large community of people out there who are dedicated to restoring these old classic cabinets.   So make sure the cabinet you choose is either one that is beyond restoration, or that itís already been repainted over so many times that itís beyond recognition.   The chances of you finding one of these classic machines is pretty rare, however.   My guess is that you wonít have any problem finding any number of machines that are ok to convert.

Depending on your location, there are many places that you could acquire an old arcade machine.   You could look for arcades that are going out of business, you could look on Craigís List, call up local trash yards, etc.   What I did was look up anyone from Wisconsin on both Ebay and Craigs List that were posting ANYTHING that had to do with arcade machines.   I was just asking them if they had any old non-working or gutted arcade machines that were in decent condition that they were looking to get rid of.    I got a surprising amount of responses back, however, most of them were trying to sell one to me for $150 - $250.   You should really never spend more than $75 - $100 on a machine if you ask me.  

Then finally someone responded back and miracle of miracles, he had an arcade machine for me for $50.  I should at least pimp this particular business a little since he did totally hook me up.  Itís a company called Dream Home Arcades.  They are based in Mosinee, WI, and they sell a lot of stuff on Ebay, so if youíre not interested in making your own machine, be sure to check them out.  Their moto is, ďYou dream it, we build itĒ and let me just say that after getting a first hand tour of their shop, I 100% believe they could make WHATEVER it is you want them to.  Theyíre that good.   I saw a few of his arcade machine, and I wanted them to have my children, thatís how nice they were. 

It was an old Nintendo PlayChoice 10 machine.  If youíre not familiar, thatís an old arcade cabinet that used to have up to 10 normal Nintendo games installed in it.  You could play the normal Nintendo game for X amount of minutes per quarter you put in it.   Most of these types of machines had two screens in them.  The top one would display the directions on it, as far as what button does what, and the bottom screen is where you played the game.   The cabinet still had everything in it, but the two monitors didnít work.   The guy who sold it to be said that he thought the actual arcade machine would work, but the screens just wouldnít.   It didnít really matter much to me anyway since I was planning on gutting the machine.   The guy who sold it to me was really cool and very generous.  He gave me the arcade machine, and 17 games to go with it (along with some other little bonus stuff like some Marquees and etc) for $50.   He said that he had originally intended to gut it himself for a MAME machine but he never got the time to do it since his company has their own cabinets they build in house now.  He also said that I should be able to sell the games on eBay, he just didnít have time to do it himself.   This was probably one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to me in my lifetime.    I went home and posted the 17 games individually on eBay and they sold for a combined total of $520!   Talk about a lucky break, I was already up $470!  This money pretty much funded the bulk of the project so far.   Also, just as a side note for anyone considering a project such as this, make out a budget for yourself, whatever you think you might need and the double it.   Itís the honest truth, youíre going to find that unless youíre really good at self-restraint (and Iím not), youíre going to go way over what you had planned originally.

Here are a few pictures of the arcade machine once I got it home.  Also, as a general rule, you should be able to click on every picture thatís on my webpage and it will show you the full size picture that goes along with it, not just the little thumbnail I have showing on the page itself.

In this picture you canít see the top monitor because thereís a piece of glass in front of it.  You will be able to see it better in a later picture:


Here is the original control panel in all of its dusty, rusty glory:


Here is the side view of the arcade machine.  Somehow the lighting in this picture makes the side art look better than it actually was.   The art on the side of the cabinet was fairly scratched up and pretty well faded.  The marquee however, is in good condition. Also, you can see the two screens in this picture because I removed the glass that was in front of it:


Repairing My Arcade Cabinet

Once I got the arcade machine home it was time to get to work.   As I mentioned earlier, I have very little experience working with wood, so this was all just a huge learning experience for me.     The first thing I did was completely gut the machine of every last thing that was inside of it.  I took the time to bag up all of the parts in case I wanted to sell them or reuse them later.   Next, I sanded down all of the sides to get most of the old paint off of it.  I got myself a powered hand sander from Wal-Mart for $7 from the discount rack.  Then I used 60, then 80, then 100 grit sand paper to get the sides nice and smooth.  To be honest, you probably donít need to sand as much as I did, but I guess I just wanted to be safe and make sure I have as smooth of a surface as possible

After all of the sanding, it was time to repair all of the holes and scratches in it.   On the sides there were mostly just a few smaller holes and scratches, but on the front of the machine, there were a few fairly large holes to repair.   Mostly because of the security bar that was on the original cabinet in front of the coin door, and then also the gun holster that was on it as well.    To repair the holes I used a product called Bondo.   I decided not to use wood putty or anything like that since Iíve been told that stuff can shrink over time.  So Bondo was a good fit.   Itís typically used for car repair, but it can be used for any number of other things, including wood repair.  Once you mix the Bondo putty together with the hardening agent you better move quick!  That stuff starts to really dry after maybe 3 minutes or so.   So make sure you only mix a manageable amount that you think you can apply before everything hardens.   Also, you do NOT want to inhale the fumes from that stuff, or even get it anywhere on your body, so when you use Bondo, make sure that you have all your skin properly covered, as well as a mask and eye protection.   I got a little bit of the hardener agent and putty on the tip of my finger and I before I realized it, a water blister formed right under it in a few minutes.   It wasnít painful at all, but still, best to be careful and avoid this.    Once I filled the holes, I simply sanded them down to be flat using the before mentioned grit sand paper.  It took me several attempts for a few of them before I was satisfied with how flat they were, so if you have a few bigger holes to fill, donít expect the holes to be perfect on the first try.

Here are some pictures of what the arcade machine looks like completed gutted, sanded down and repaired:

Here is an up close view of the front holes that I repaired:

Thatís about as far as I can go with the cabinet at this point.  There are two ďTo DoísĒ before I can prime and paint the arcade machine. First, I need to build and attach a control panel with all the buttons and joysticks.   The original control panel will not work, as it is metal (and hence hard to convert) and also it is too small for my needs.   More on the control panel in the next section.  And then secondly, I need to build a new monitor shelf.    I purchased a 21Ē CRT monitor for $20 off of Craigís List, a pretty good deal if you ask me.  So far its working great with the computer, but that thing is HEAVY.  So I need to build a more study shelf that is both in the position that I want, and also strong enough to support that weight.    I wonít know exactly where the monitor shelf needs to go until the control panel is attached.

Control Panel

The next step is to make a control panel for all of my joysticks and buttons.   Since as Iíve mentioned before, I have no wood working skills, Iíve decided to purchase a pre-built 2 player blank control panel from the Arcade Shopper website online.  I decided to go with Arcade Shopper, even though I could have gotten a cheaper one from Mame Room.    I just liked the one from Arcade Shopper better, plus it will allow me to put a hinge on the control panel so that it would be easier to open for maintenance.  The 2 player control panel from Mame Room is able to be opened, but not without unscrewing two screws hidden on the bottom inside, so that would have been virtually impossible for me to get at.  The control panel should arrive in a day or two.

Now that Iíve got a control panel for myself, I needed to decide what buttons, joystick and etc I wanted.  There and countless different options out there.   Itís all really personal preference and what type of games you like to play.    There are 4 way joysticks (for real classic games), 8 way joysticks, full blown flight (plane like) joysticks, spinners, normal push buttons, illuminated push buttons, trackballs, and etc.    I personally decided to go with a configuration where each player has 6 buttons and one 8 way joystick.  Then there would be 2 coin buttons, 2 player start buttons, and 5 buttons used for admin functions like Escape, Pause, etc.   Then there is a trackball as well for games like Golden Tee and many other various games.   Here are the three sites where I purchased all of my controls from:

www.happcontrols.com/ -- pretty much the be all, end all company for video game controls, when in doubt, buy from Happ.
www.xgaming.com/  -- I bought a trackball and my keyboard encoder from here.  They have cheaper prices for a few decent items if youíre on a budget.
www.groovygamegear.com/   -- I bought most of my pushbuttons from this site.

You never want to jump right into making your final control panel, you first want to make yourself a test control panel.   I bought a cheap ľĒ thick piece of wood to use for this.   I printed off the different controls and taped them to the wood where I envisioned them being:


Once I had everything taped right where I wanted it, I drilled a few pilot holes right in the center of each control.   This made it easier to get the spade bit directly in the center:

Then once the pilot holes were drilled, I just drilled in each hole using a spade bit.  I drilled right through the paper:


And hereís the finished product.  A few of the holes werenít perfect, specifically the one for the trackball.   I wasnít too concerned about this though.  This was just the test control panel, so I was cutting the holes quickly.   I also will be using a router for the trackball hole on the final layout, so there will be a much more exact hole:

Then I put in all of my controls and wired them up.   I donít have any pictures of the wiring, but Iíll try to remember to take some once I wire up the final product.  Here it is with all of the controls:

As you can see above, I totally botched up attaching player twoís joystick.  No, this was not to simply give myself an advantage when playing against someone else.  But again not to worry, this was just the test control panel, and I really only needed to use the Player 1 controls for the most part.

I decided to get a little creative with a few of my buttons.   The big button at the top is my exit button.  So if youíre playing a game and you want to quit it and return to the menu, you just hit the big skull button to kill it.   Here is a picture of the button a little closer up:

This is an illuminated push button, so I think it should look pretty interesting once itís lit up.  Iíll just have to wait and see.

Here is my cool little skull that I made myself for the button.   The colors are orange in the picture, but once itís behind the blue pushbutton cover, it makes it appear much darker as seen in the picture above:

I also scanned in some actual quarters, shrunk them down a little bit, and put them under some of my other pushbuttons.  The quarter ones will eventually be illuminated as well:

They pretty much look like real quarters which I like.   Once you press one of these buttons, of course, the Mame arcade machine will give you one credit.

Once I had everything wired up, I connected it to the computer and set up my little test arcade machine area.   My lovely fiancť let me take over her desk while I configure the software part of it:


Right now I am in the middle of configuring all of the software. I wonít go into too much detail on this, as itís pretty involved.  Besides, there are plenty of resources out there that cover the topic much better than I ever could anyway.  But just to summarize, my machine is going to have all the Mame games on it, but it will also have all the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Atari 7800 games on it as well.   There may be a few more systems, but those are what I am currently positive of.  If I had to estimate a count of the number of games it will have between all of the systems, Iíd have to say that it will be around 8000 or so!  Pretty crazy I know.  Sure I will probably never get to play half of them, but itís good to just know that I could. 

 Thatís basically everything that Iíve done so far.   Itís been a real blast, and Iíve loved learning everything.  From here on out, I will be giving incremental updates as to current new development in my project and there will be MANY!


Update 11/10/2008:

My coin doors (without the whole coin door mechanism, just the front plate for looks) arrived today!  They look great:


To go along with them, I ordered some blue coin return buttons:

I plan on lighting these up with some LEDís as well.


Then my cup holders came too!  As you can see below, they close up when not in use.  Then when you want to use them you can open then up, adjust the arms, and set whatever beverage you want in Ďem!   These will definitely come in use when I have some friends over for a few beers and some video games!


Update 11/30/08:

This is really more of a "no update" update.   As I mentioned before I ordered a control panel online, and it did arrive a few weeks ago.  Sadly the control panel top arrived damaged and the corners were all banged up.   Now there's all this drama between the seller and UPS, so it's forced me to put the whole hardware aspect of my project on hold for a few weeks.   I am hoping very desparately that this will get resolved this week, and that I'll have my new control panel some time next week.   I guess the plus side of this whole ordeal is that it's forcing me to work on the software part of the project.   I am making a lot of progress on that front.    I haven't posted anything online, because it's not something that's very exciting to talk about.  It's repetitive, and boring.   What's nice about it is that once it's finished, I will never have to do it again.   So far I've configured my computer to work with MAME, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Atari 7800.   There's still a few more game systems that I'd like to add, so thats what I'm currently working on. 

I will be sure to post again once the control panel arrives.    I do have one small update on the hardware front.   I bought a translucent trackball for my control panel.  I just opened up the trackball, took out the old one, and popped in the new translucent one.  Then beneath the trackball I've mounted a blue LED light.    It makes the trackball light up really nicely.   These pictures don't do it justice as far as how cool it looks.  It's sort of the thing you have to see in person, but these pics give you the general idea anyway...


Update 12/02/08:

Small update on the control panel.   I heard back from the vendor I bought it from.   He will be shipping out the replacement CP within the new day or two.   I guess at this point, I'll believe it once I actually get the tracking number though.

I've done a little more work on the lighting while I'm waiting though.   Here are some new pics for you.

In this picture you can now see my "kill" button and the two coin buttons also illuminated:

Here's a closer picture of the Kill button all lit up.   Looks pretty sweet if you ask me:

This button was a little more difficult to photograph  You really have to see the coin buttons in person to appreciate them.  When you see the coin button in the dark, it looks just like a real coin, I love it:

I also lit up the coin return buttons:

One more thing to check off the list I guess.


Update 12/13/08:

The control panel finally arrived!   And it was about time too.   I'm just very excited that the drama surrounding that whole thing is taken care of.   It's been almost a month since the first control panel arrived damaged, and I was sick of the waiting!  The replacement CP was double boxed this time around and it arrived in perfect condition.   Eager to get moving again, I've spent the entire day today working on putting it together, and drilling all of the proper holes into it.   Here are some pictures of the progress:

First I had to assemble the box of the control panel.   Below you can see the box and all of the brackets around the outsides, which are all screwed in to hold it all together:

Here is just another view of the control panel box.   In this picture and also the previous one, you can see the two latches that I installed on the box itself.  These will connect to the actual control panel.   The guy who made the control panel didn't include these, so I had to drill special holes for them.   Fortunately, I did a good job and it all works.

Here is the latch thats on the CP Box:

Here are two pics of the connector that I put onto the control panel itself:

When you connect the two, bada-bing!    One cool looking CP box with the CP on a nice hinge:

In the next stage, I had to again, place my cutouts for the controls onto the CP.   Measure twice and cut once, as they say.

Another shot of the CP with cutouts attached:

As I did with the test control panel, I first drilled a pilot hole through all the different areas where I needed to make holes:

Here is a shot of all the drilled holes.   I left the trackball sticker there for now because I had to come back to that later.

Here is a shot of the CP with all of the holes drilled into it.    I've now removed the trackball sticker and traced the shape of the trackball itself.    I drew on the control panel with a pencil.  The nice thing about that is, its easy to clean off.  However, I plan on putting a "control panel overlay" on top of it anyway.   A Control Panel Overlay (CPO) is basically just a large sticker that has art on it, and you put it on top of the control panel.    I ordered my CPO online today, so you will hear more about that in a few days once I receive it.

Here is just another view of the trackball area that I need to cut out. 

For everything else I was able to just use a normal drill and some Forstner bits.   But the trackball was another story.  This is the part of the CP that I was secretly dreading having to do.   I didn't think that I'd be able to cut in such an exact shape into the wood.   That's where my friends router came in handy.   He was nice enough to let me borrow it for a few weeks.  

As you can see I was able to cut out the shape as needed.   Sometimes when you try stuff on your own, you can really impress yourself by what you can accomplish.   As I mentioned before I'm normally not a "handy man", I am a computer geek, so the fact that I'm now cutting stuff out with a router is amazing to me. 

Here is another shot of the trackball hole.   I've actually smoothed out that left side since I took this picture.   It doesn't matter all that much though, my trackball fits in there snugly, and that's the most important part.   There is a metal panel that covers the top of it anyway, as you could see in the pictures of the test control panel.

Aside from the blister I got that one time from the Bondo, I haven't really hurt myself making this arcade machine.   I did scratch myself today though.    It was a really wimpy little cut, but I wanted to post it to show you that I'm a real man and that I kept working even through that MASSIVE injury.  :)

And here is your final product, looks pretty amazing to me!

Here it is again attached to the CP box: 

The next hurdle I need to take on is mounting the CP onto the arcade machine.   Obviously the arcade machine wasn't built for this exact CP, so I will need to some how figure out how to cut it out and attach it onto the cabinet so that it's secure.    My dad said that he would help me do this.   I will make sure to update once I have it all attached.

Update 12/28/08:

Making some good progress now!  There are four things that I completed over the past few days.

First, I figured out how I wanted to mount my speakers within the cabinet.  In the picture below you see how I've attached some rings to either side of the speaker and I'm using little bungie cords to hold them in place.

In between the two speakers I've drilled a hole.  This is where my volume control knob will poke out of.


Next, I worked on placing the marquee in the correct position.  The original Playchoice machine had a standard length for its marquee from left to right, but the height of the marquee was much shorter than normal.  So I had to move down the bottom holder to account for a normal size marquee.  As you can see in the picture below, there is now a two inch gap between that back piece of wood and the metal brace beneath it:

Once that was in place, I mounted the light fixture behind it and put my marquee in front.  Since it's so shiny, its hard to photograph, but here it is...

Even harder to photograph, but here is a picture of it all lit up.

I ordered the marquee off of the Mame Marquees website.  Here is the picture from their site:

Next I finally worked on mounting the control panel onto the cabinet.  This was one of the parts that I was least looking forward to.  My dad helped me out immensely, however, and we were able to get it done.

First, we cut out a nice little shelf for the control box to sit on.  Originally these sides were about an inch or two longer and were rounded:

Then we made little wooden wedges for both sides to correct the angle and made it a nice right angle for the box to fit on.

Then we glued it on and also screwed it on as well.  Theres about 15 screws holding it on there now, plus the glue, so I don't think it's going anywhere.   Here is a picture of it attached:

Here it is attached with the marquee on it as well:

Lastly, I finished working on my Control Panel Overlay.   I also purchased it from the Mame Marquees website.  Here is a picture of the art work from the website:

Here it is attached to my control panel.   I've also cut out all of the holes as well.  Since it's sort of glossy, it's hard to photograph as well...

Here is another shot of it.

I think the marquee will work nicely with the art on the control panel.


Update 12/29/08:

Just a small update.   I received my light guns today.   Theres actually two parts that you need to buy to get a light gun working with your arcade machine.  First, theres the actual plastic light gun.  Then second there is another box it wires into that hooks up to the video card.  The box is the expensive part.   As of right now I only have two light guns and one box.   I have to purchase the other box at a later date once I have the money.  But for now I can at least get one gun working!

Here is a picture of the two guns.  Should go well with the blue on the rest of my art work.

On the back of each gun there is another button.  I assume that for most games you could set this up as the reload or grenade button.

Don't mess with this guy...


Update 01/11/09:

This past weekend I got the time to work on quite a few things.   First, I finished up the shelf.   My dad cut the wood for me and luckily it fit perfectly!  

First, I attached a piece of wood to either side of the machine.    I attached it with both glue and about 10 screws.   This shelf is going to have to hold a 70 lb monitor so it had to be tough!

I let the glue dry over night and then I finished the rest.  I placed the actual wood shelf on top of the wood and then sandwiched it in there with another piece of wood as you can see below.  I was pretty excited that I got it to be perfectly level too!

Here is a front view of the cabinet:

Then I did a test run with the monitor.   It fits perfectly into the cabinet and the shelf seemed to manage the weight nicely:

The next thing I did was attach some small blocks in front of the monitor.  These blocks will eventually have velcro on them.   The glass in front of the monitor will hang from the velcro.  See the blocks below.

And for the last pre-painting part of the work, I installed some U rings on the sides of the cabinet.  These will be the holsters for my light guns:

Next, it was finally time to start the painting!   First, we primed it.   My lovely assistant, and fiance, Jenny, helped me paint.   Before we actually got to the paint though, I spent a couple of hours cleaning up my entire work space.   I had to sweep, sweep and resweep about 5 time before it was entirely clean.    Then I used some tack cloth to wipe down the cabinet itself.  This grabbed any extra dust that was sticking to it.     Then once all the sawdust and other dirt was gone, I had a fun time covering everything with paper.   This was just to catch all the paint and avoid making my landlord very angry with me.   I may have went a little overboard covering everything, but I was having fun.  In the picture below you see that all the walls and floors are covered:

Here is the primer that I used.

And below are two pictures of what it looks like all primed up.   We put two coats on, although one probably would have been enough.

We let the primer fully dry over night.   Some time very soon I'll sand down any spots that need it, hopefully there won't be many, and then we can paint it black.   Despite the name of the paint I chose, I have nothing to hide...


Update 01/15/09:

So far Jenny and I have put 3 coats of black paint on the arcade machine.  I think we will probably put 1 or 2 more on it before it's done.   Hopefully we'll be able to finish that this Sunday.   I will post some pictures once the paint is all done.   It's looking pretty amazing so far!

I have a few other updates, however.   First, I did order a piece of tempered glass that's cut to the shape I need it to be to cover the monitor and everything.   It should be ready in about a week.  Once I get it, I need to figure out where the screen will be officially, and then I can paint the glass black everywhere else but where the screen is.  Also, I went with the tempered glass so that it would be less likely to break should anything ever happen to it since it's 4 x 5 times stronger than normal glass.

And then I finally finished working on the side art for my arcade machine.   Here is a picture of what it will look like.   It'll be printed at around 20" x 30"

I can't take credit for the artwork, I did find a version of it on the internet.   I totally changed the colors to it and then added my own text along the top.   It's gonna look pretty sweet on the arcade machine, and it better, it's not going to be cheap to print it!


Update 01/18/2009:

First, I'd like to apologize at the growing ridiculousness of this page.   I'm aware that there's like 70 images on it now and it takes forever to load.   Perhaps once everything is finished I'll take the take to split it up into proper separate pages that load quicker.  In the mean time, you'll have to make do with it how it is.  I figured that anyone who is actively reading this website would appreciate me spending more time on the arcade machine versus working on the webpage...

Anyway, here are some pictures of my arcade machine painted!   We put 4 coats on total and it looks great!   On the edges of the arcade machine I have some black plastic t-molding that I will be putting on there.  So the edges will not be white as they appear in the pictures:

Frontal view:

Once the paint dries I can begin working on a few other things.   I can install the coin doors, t-molding and speakers.   Then I have to wait on the glass and the side art still!    More updates coming as always!


Update 01/26/2009:

Over the past 4 days I've worked on my arcade machine for a total of about 25 hours.   So needless to say, this is going to end up being quite a BIG update!   So without further ado...

First, it occurred to me that I had never tried to fit my coin doors into the holes.   I tried it out, and of course, they wouldn't fit.  They were just slightly too big.    So I had to use a jigsaw and free hand to make it a little bigger.   Then of course, I had to repaint the area since it got a little beat up in the process:

It also occurred to me that I had never painted the coin doors so they didn't match well at all.  They came with a glossy finish but my arcade cabinet has flat black paint.   So I had to remove all of the stuff from the coin doors so that I could paint it all.  

Here's a shot of the coin door all attached and painted and finished:

Next, I had to do a little work on the monitor.   I colored in the outside around the monitor first with a black Sharpee.  As shown below.    Then I decided to later purchase a "paint pen" and I covered it all in that paint.   I don't have a picture of the updated version, but it made the black around the monitor much darker and more solid.  Below is a picture of the Sharpee stage:

Next I drew a blue line around the ideal, completely centered place for the monitor.  This is so that when I move the cabinet, I can easily place the monitor right back in the same spot.

The next part was to work on the glass.  First I measured and tested out where my monitor would appear in the glass.  Then I covered the screen area so that I could paint everything black.  Then once it's painted, I could just peel away the center square.    I painted this glass with 4 coats of paint.

Next I attached velcro to my little blocks that I had created before.   I also attached velcro to the back of the glass to hold everything on there securely.   Don;t worry, it's not that scratched up any more.  I've since touched up that area with a little paint.   The walls got a little scratched up because I had to slide the glass in and out so many times to get everything lined up.

Then I installed a little shelf with some felt pads on top.   You can see these little shelfs in the picture below, right beneath the monitor shelf.   The glass wedges in here really nicely.   So the glass fits between the top of the arcade machine and these bottom shelves, then the heavy duty velcro I placed holds it in there even more securely but still makes it easy enough to remove if I need to.

After the paint dried on the glass I also taped some black construction paper over the black parts of the glass.   It probably would have been fine with just all that paint, but I wanted to protect the paint so that it won't be easily scratched.

Then I made a last minute decision to add a headphone jack onto the arcade machine.   I figured that this thing is going to be, basically, in my living room in my apartment.  Theres no way my fiance is going to let me blast it all the time.   So I added a head phone jack so that me playing the arcade machine wouldn't bother anyone thats in the living room watching TV.   Also, in the picture below you will see that I also attached my volume knob in the front.    This also fit very well on the front of the hole I drilled.

With all that finished, we carried the arcade machine up into my apartment.   I then started in on wiring up the control panel.  First, I removed all of the buttons from my old test control panel and put them into the real control panel. 

Everything fit great into the CP and I am easily able to open it if I need to:

Here is a back view of all the controls:

I installed all the cherry switches onto the buttons. This is the part that all the wires connect to:

Then I installed the trackball.   It fits in there very snugly:

Then I worked on wiring up all of the buttons.   Let me first say that it's INCREDIBLY hard to get that many wires look organized.   I didn't do a very good job, but you do what you can with what you have...   Nonetheless, every wire is labeled, just in case, and every thing does work!

This is the keyboard decoder device that I mentioned earlier.  This is what all of the wires connect to.  This chip then converts everything to USB and plugs directly into the PC.   As I mentioned before, the computer just recognizes this as a keyboard.

Lastly, I installed some straps that hold the monitor in place.   It is a shelf, so I could probably have done without these, but I didn't want the monitor to rock back and forth because you were pounding away at the buttons.  So these straps just hold it totally still so theres no rocking.  You might have a hard time seeing the one on the left, but it's there!  It's just camoflague colored.  :o)

I also earlier applied the stickers to my arcade machine.   I did it in my garage and since I live in Wisconsin it was freezing out there.    I was running a heater in there, but apparently that wasn't enough.   This was the most painful part of the process, and it shouldn't have been!   It was just my own stupid fault.  But we attached it in the garage.  It went on perfectly and there were no bubbles or anything.    I came back and checked on it two hours later and it was starting to fall off!   So I pushed it back on and then put some blue painters tape around the outside to hold it up a little bit and give it a chance to dry.    I came back 30 minutes later and it was falling off again, even with the tape.   So at this point, my best guess was that these problems were because of the temperature.  So we carried the arcade machine upstairs into the apartment.  I reapplied them a third time and used the blue tape again.  This time the stickers held much better.   But about 30 minutes later I saw that there were several air bubbles under the sticker.   It was completely flat before, so I was very angry that they were there.     I was able to iron or pop (with a tiny needle) a few of them.   I emailed Scott at Mame Marquees where I bought it.  He was very understanding, and said that he'd work with me on a price, should I need to order some replacement stickers.  I thought that was very nice of him.  He said that in the cold the paint on the cabinet probably didn't dry completely.  Then once it was indoors, the paint fully dried.  And as paint dries, it releases some small amounts of gasses.  This gas is what probably caused the bubbles.   Right now, I'm not totally sure that I need the new stickers though.  I removed the blue tape and the stickers are still applied.   There a few air bubbles left but you need to get up real close to see them.   We'll see.  If it gets any worse, or if the stickers fall off or something crazy, then maybe I will order some more.   It still looks pretty amazing right now.  Don't worry you will get to see some pictures in just a minute.   The moral of the story is...IF YOU LIVE IN A COLD AREA, APPLY YOUR SIDE ART STICKERS INDOORS WHERE ITS WARM!!!!!


Now time for a SURPRISE!   My arcade machine is finished!  There's a few minor things that I still need to complete, but for the most part the hardware is finished!   I do have a decent amount of software work to complete still, but now I will have a lot more incentive to work on it!!!!



I am an Asteroid.

I am a drifter. I go where life leads, which makes me usually a very calm and content sort of person. That or thoroughly apathetic. Usually I keep on doing whatever I'm doing, and it takes something special to make me change my mind. What Video Game Character Are You?

Written By:  Mark Ronsman   m a r k @ m a r k r o n s m a n . c o m