Cabinet Selection and Clean Up

Control Panel

Control Panel Shelf

Monitor Shelf

Update 8/13/10

Update 8/23/10

Update 10/12/10

Update 12/10/10



Well, Iíve got the bug again.   Iíve begun working on restoring/customizing another arcade machine.   This one I likely will not keep, as I have a friend who might be interested in buying it from me.   But nonetheless it still will be fun to build!   I thought Iíd make another web page for this machine since I heard from a few individuals that they enjoyed watching the first one progress.

Sidenote: for this webpage, it will be similar to my old arcade page in the fact that you can click on any picture and it will bring you to the full resolution / full size picture.   I just did this in case someone wanted to see some extra detail for some reason.


Cabinet selection and clean up

First things first, a while back I was able to acquire an empty shell of an arcade machine.  A few of them actually.   (Is that a hint at even more future projects?  I hope so!)    The one that I liked the best and wanted to work on first was this one shown on the left in the screenshot shown below.  You can ignore the Deer Hunting USA marquee.   I just put that up there that day to make it look less empty.  That's not even what game this used to be.

The cabinet has that faux wood grain look going on and I really enjoy it.   The cabinet itself is in pretty good condition.   Itís especially important with this cabinet that itís in good condition, as least if I want to keep the siding with that wood grain look.   If there was some damage in the middle of the siding, Iíd probably have to paint it as there would be no way to match that wood grain look myself.   Luckily, all of the siding on this cabinet is in tact.   The only damage there really is on the machine is at the very bottom corners of the cabinet.  This is really pretty standard for old arcade machines.   Theyíre fairly old by this point, and theyíve been moved around who knows how many times, and gotten dinged up in the process.   The corners are really not an issue though as there are new metal corner protector coverings that I can put over them to correct the issue (as well as protect it from future damage).


It did come with the original control panel, as you can see, but since it's metal, it's really hard to customize.  Also, it's a bit small for all the buttons and etc that I plan to put on this thing.   The best part is that it came with a coin door though.   It's a little beat up right now, but with a fresh coat of paint, it will be good as new!  Which is awesome, because those things aren't cheap.


The first to-do on my list was my least favorite part.   I had to clean out the inside of the cabinet.   Cobwebs, dust, and who knows what else thatís gathered in there after probably 20 years of use.   On the plus side, I am now 52 cents richer because I found some loose change down there!   Before cleaning I first tear out any old wood thatís in the cabinet.   These arcade machines have a few extra pieces of wood in there to hold the coin bucket, and the electronics.   Since weíll be replacing all this with a real computer and my own electronics, I need it to be as open as possible.   Once the excess wood has been removed, I sanded down all of the wood inside the machine to get rid of any left over grime and dirt.      Finally, I repainted the insides of the arcade with primer.   This just gave it an overall clean feel which will make it so much nicer to work with. 


Next, I wanted to put this thing on wheels.   Some cabinets have wheels on them already, but this one did not.   This thing is made out of one inch thick wood which makes it REALLY heavy.   Most arcade machines are typically made with ĺ inch thick wood or less.    Being so heavy, it makes the cabinet feel sturdy, but it also makes it harder to move.   This makes wheels much more important on this cabinet.  So I drilled the holes, and attached four wheels to the bottom of the cabinet.   The back two wheels do have locks on them, which you would ideally use to lock them in place once the machine is in itís final resting place.  In the picture below, you can kind of see the white that I painted the bottom (also the inside -- not shown), and you can also see the new wheels.   I will eventually paint the outside parts to be black, but I just thought I'd prime them up to look white for now to clean them up a bit.


The next thing I did was add some new handles onto it.  


Control Panel

With all of this done, the next big thing to work on was the control panel.   With my first cabinet, I ordered a control panel from someone else.   It was a great control panel, donít get me wrong, but it was also expensive, and I had some serious shipping problems getting it.   This time around I wanted to avoid that whole mess and make one myself.   I knew it wasnít going to be easy, but Iíve begun to amass quite the collection of tools, and I knew that I should have everything I need to do it on my own now.


The basic measurements for the control panel and box were based on the control panel I got for my first arcade machine.   I did, however, learn a valuable lesson from the first one.  Namely, make the top control panel board smaller so that it fits through a 32Ē door.   For whatever reason, on my first control panel, the top board was around 33.5 inches.   Most people donít have 36 inch doors through out their house, so this presents a serious problem when moving it.   Luckily the box itself was small enough to fit through a 32Ē door, so all I had to do with my first cabinet was remove the top panel while moving.    Because of all the wires and electronics inside, this is not ideal.   It was do-able, but not ideal.   Anyway, this time around, I shrunk the top panel a bit, so itís around 31 inches.   Itís still likely going to be ďfunĒ moving this thing, but at least itís possible to fit it through a door now.   Here are a few pictures of the control panel as I built it.



I don't own a table saw, so I had to use my skill saw to cut all the wood.   They key to this is just clamping down additional boards to use at the guide boards for cutting.  This way you can just run the saw  along the edge of the boards and still get a straight line.   Definitely not as easy as a table saw, but it works!


Next, once I had all the wood pieces cut, I had to cut the slot onto the edge of them.  This is where my new handy dandy router and router table come into play.   You just use a slot cutter bit, and you run the wood past the blade.



You can see the nice slot it cuts here:


Then you can see the little piece of T-molding I attached here to test it out.   This is just what you use on all the edges of the wood.  It makes it all look so much better.


Once I had all the pieces cut and the t-molding slots cut, I clamped together everything with this massive clamp I bought.


Next I screwed in all of these braces to hold it all together.  After these plates were attached, it was at least stable enough to remove the clamps.   


I also attached hinges on here.  This is for the control panel to attach to the box.  It will open up in the same way my first control panel does.   It's incredibly handy for fixing any wiring, or just to show people all the stuff inside.


To be honest, it was probably stable enough as it was, but I decided not to risk it.   After all, when people play arcade machines, they sometimes tend to put a little weight onto the control panel, so you really want it to be as stable as possible.   I decided to put some additional screws through the boards on the sides to hold it all together.  



Since I counter sank all the wholes, I will be able to patch them up with Bondo, and sand them down.  That way you won't even know they're there.


Now that I had my box assembled, I had to start on the control panel itself.   I cut the wood to size, like I said earlier, around 31 inches.    Then I decided that the square edges just weren't going to cut it.   So I decided to round the corners of the wood.   The first thing I did was place this pepper shaker on the corners of the wood and I traced a line around the bottom of it.


Then I just used my electric hand sander to keep rounding down the edges until I met up with the line.


4 corners later and voila!



Iíve begun to start thinking about the control panelís buttons and joysticks as well.   While Iím still very pleased with my first control panel I made, I definitely learned some things.   So there are a few things that I can improve on.

First hereís a picture of the test control panel from my first arcade machine to give you an idea of where I started.


The first and most major problem with this set up, is the location of the Exit button.   While I love love love my skull exit button, and I love the fact that everything is symmetrical, the placement of the exit button can lead to problems.   As you can see, itís directly above the trackball.   So if youíre playing Golden Tee for example, and you give it a good push, your hand sometimes has the tendency to continue on after the swing and hit that Exit button.   It REALLY sucks when youíre in the middle of a game and that happens, because it resets the game.   Iíve gotten used to it myself, but when others come over to play, you canít expect them to automatically know to watch out for this.

Anyway, the first thing I wanted to do was move the exit button out of the way, and make it so that there are no buttons on top of the track ball.


The second thing has to do with dedicated mouse buttons.   On my first control panel, you see there are three buttons directly on top of the trackball.   These are the three mouse click buttons.   The trackball is basically a big mouse, so itís nice to have these buttons there when Iím messing around on the computer, possibly maintenance, or whatever else, but the majority of the time Iím not doing those things.  99% of the time Iím, of course, just playing video games.   These buttons go untouched for all video games, so it seems silly to waste space on the control panel just to have dedicated mouse buttons.    Now, like I said, it does come in handy to have these there, so I didnít want to get rid of them entirely.   So Iíve had to think long and hard about a creative solution to this problem. 


What Iíve come up with is this.    First, let me say that I couldn't have figured any of this out, without the great people on the BYOAC forum.  This is where itís at for all arcade building questions.  

But this is the idea anywayÖ    I plan on putting a flip switch, probably on the bottom of the control panel, so itís hidden.  They call this a double pole double throw (DPDT) switch, shown below:


By using this switch, you can switch the controls of two separate buttons so that they do something entirely different when the switch is moved.   I plan on reusing Player 1ís buttons 5 and 6 so that they become mouse click buttons.   So the idea is that most of the time you will leave the switch in one direction, making it so that the two buttons are normal buttons used in games.   Then, should you ever need to use the trackball as a real mouse, then you flip the hidden switch, and it will make it so that those two buttons are the mouse buttons.   So this would eliminate having extra buttons on the control panel, but still give you the option of having the buttons when needed.   


Anyway, regarding the controls.  Iíve decided to do it the same as I have on my first machine.   1 joystick and 6 buttons per player.   Then there will also be a trackball.  And lastly there will be 4 admin buttons.  These admin buttons will be for Config, Pause, Reset, and Exit.  Iíve ordered and received most of the buttons and joysticks for the control panel as well.    Here is a picture of the layout I envision:

With this setup, it should fix the two things I mentioned above, yet still be symmetrical. 

In addition to the hidden DPDT switch, I also plan on putting a USB port there under the control panel.   I purchased one of these:

I wanted to put one of these there just so that the owner of the arcade machine could plug in any USB devices without having to dig around inside the cabinet.   Thereís a possibility that the arcade machine will also have some jukebox software on it.  So I wanted to give the owner an easier way to add new MP3ís to the machine if they wanted to.



Control Panel Shelf


The next thing I started to work on was the shelf for the control panel.   This is yet again, one of the least fun parts of the whole build process.   You have to get a little creative in how to attach the control panel, since the cabinet obviously was not designed for this.   What I had to do was basically make a shelf to sit the control panel box onto.   The other sucky part is that the wood siding tends to chip or break off when you saw into it.  So for that reason, I had to cut off as much of the material as I could, and then sand off the remaining about 1/4 of an inch of wood.   Sanding the wood with the faux wood siding didn't crack it at all.   It was an EXTREMEMLY slow process in the end.   In the picture below, you can see the far side is done.  It took me about 3 hours of cutting and sanding to get it nice and level like that.   Then on the close side, you can see that I had to start by cutting the wood out chunks at a time.    Eventually you get down to about that 1/4 mark from the desired point, and then I have to switch over to the hand sander to do the rest.    In hind site, I should have used my jigsaw, but I guess I figured I had more control this way because the last thing I wanted to do was chip the siding.


After another 4 hours of sanding...I wish I was kidding...really shoulda used that jigsaw...anyway, Voila!


One shelf to set a control panel box onto and then bolt it on...


I put the CP box on there just to get a feel for how it looked



Monitor Shelf


Next, I had to work on making the monitor shelf.  Once I had it all measure and leveled out, I glued and screwed some blocks on both sides.  The monitor shelf will sit on top of here.  This is the same as I did with my first arcade machine.   I guess the most important part of this, is just making sure you place the monitor shelf so that the screen is as centered as possible between the control panel and the marquee.  I've seen so many arcade machines out there with the scren thats too high, or too low and it looks sort of silly...


I let the above pieces dry over night.  Then I put the shelf on top and sandwiched it in with another piece of wood that I glued and screwed in.


I put the control panel box back on there again.  I think I just like lookin' at it.  Once I actually attach the control panel box, I will be painting it black.


This is just the test control panel wood, just to give you an idea.


Thatís as far as Iíve gotten so far.   The rest of the build will likely be documented through incremental updates, like I did on my previous arcade machine.   Right now, itís a long shot off from finished, but itís at least started!





Update 8/13/10


Well, an update was long over due.   But in my defense, I did finish off my entire basement and get a puppy since my last update.  So as you can imagine, I've been very busy up until now.   One of the many upsides of having my basement finished is that I have a work room now for all of my tools, and a good place to work on this arcade machine.


So with that said, lets get started with those pictures!


First I needed to put in the new holes for the speakers.  There was originally only one speaker hole on this thing, and it was up on top of the monitor.  I'll be moving the monitor forward and onto a shelf, so that speaker hole on the top was removed.  So I decided to put the speakers on either side of the coin door.


So I put down some tape to prevent chipping of my nice faux wood finish and then drew my cutting template on top of the tape:

Next I used my router, and my demel to cut out the speaker holes.

Viola!  Two holes!

Then I installed the speaker grill on top of the holes:

The finally I installed the covers on top of the speaker grills.

Inside the cabinet, I installed some blocks for the speakers to rest on.  I also installed some O-rings that, as you can see, I am using for bungee cords to hold the speakers in place.     I've since painted over this area with white paint again to clean it up a bit.  Sure, it's on the inside of the cabinet, and no one will ever see it, but hey, apparently I am picky...


Next, I decided to work on ventilation for inside the cabinet.   First I wanted to install a fan near the bottom of the cabinet that will be sucking new air INTO the cabinet.  Started some holes here, and later cut through and connected the dots to cut this piece out:

These are the fans that I installed.  You can't tell from the picture, but when turned on they have red LED lights on them that will light up:

Here it is installed:

I bought a circl cutter tool that I will use later for the trackball install on this cabinet.  It definitely came in handy here as I cut a hole on the top of the cabinet.  The hole cutter works pretty slick!  Wish I had this when I cut those speaker holes before!   I will be installing a fan here that blows air OUT of the cabinet.  As you know hot air rises, so thats why I went with the one intake fan at the bottom, and then one blowing out on top.

Here it is installed.   

I have some cool fan covers that will be covering these that you will get to see later.  I needed to prime and paint first before putting the covers on.

Although there will likely be a gap between the back panel of the arcade and the shelf, I decided to still drill some holes in the shelf to allow for at least some air flow.  

Next, I decided it was finally time to tidy up the bottom of the machine.  As you can see here the corners and bottoms have a few chips from the cabinets many many years of use.   I needed to find a way to clean this up.

First, I got some edge guards.  They sell these are normal hardware stores, but unfortunately, not in any colors, only in transparent.  So I actually had to find a store on the internet, just to order these guards.  The one in the picture below is VERY dusty, but you get the idea.   I put this edge guard on all the undersides of the cabinet, which covered up the chips and etc.  Also, it will help protect the bottoms going forward:

Next I puchased some corner guards.  Pretty self explanatory, but you just screw these onto the corners to protect them:

And here you go, the bottom is all new looking, and protected.

Next I decided to do a bit of fancy lighting for the bottom of this cabinet.   It's difficult to describe where this piece of wood goes. You will be able to tell better in the later pictures.   But for now, just note that this piece goes in the bottom front of the cabinet, and it has a recessed area in the front, where I will be putting a light.

Painted that part next:

And then I installed this light bar onto here.  This is just a little "bling" that I am adding to the cabinet.  This light bar is actually sound sensitive.  So it will flash every time it hears a sound.   The actual sound sensor for the light will be inside the cabinet, where the subwoofer is located.  So ideally, this light should flash when ever there is noises coming from the game.   I thought this thing was pretty sweet.  Wish I had one in my first cabinet...

Here is where this light bar is going, the location that I said was hard to describe.  This is looking directly down into the cabinet.  You can see the coin door hole, and then the floor with the wheel bolts coming through. 

Here it is installed:

Then, here's a look upwards from the floor to give you some idea where this thing is:

Next I installed some T-molding onto the cabinet.  That's the black plastic molding that goes on all the edges of the wood.  As with many old cabinets, getting the T-molding to wedge in there was a challenge.   I just had to use a little glue in a few parts to make it hold a little better.  Those clamps are just holding the T-molding in place while the glue dries.

Ugggghhh, painting.  I hate painting.   It just takes so long.   You have to do several coats, hours apart.  It just turns into an all day event.   Anyway, I used my primer to fully paint the inside and outside of the cabinet.  

I also repainted the front insides here:

Oh so clean.  :o)

Then I began painting everything black. Well, not everything.  Just the walls where the monitor will sit, the front insides, and the top and back of the machine. 

Next I began to get the control panel ready to attach.  First, I filled in all the holes where I put the screws with Bondo filler. 

Once dried, I sanded down all the filler to get everything flat again.

The next big project was the coin door.   This coin door is original to the machine, but as you can tell, it's seen better days.

So first I took the coin door entirely apart so that only the metal pieces were left.   The two long metal bars in the picture are what will later hold the marquee in place.

Here are some of the tools that I used to take the paint off the metal.  Just a normal drill with some wire brushes, and for the hard to reach places, I have a Dremel tool with some brush attachments.

Here you can see the coin door all polished up and shiny.   Took forever, but everything came off nicely in the end.

Now that everything was ready, I began to prime everything.   I apologize for the picture quality, had to use my cell phone to take a few of these pics.  Anyway, heres the stuff primed up and ready for black paint.

And the control panel primed up too:


Once the black paint on the top and back of the cabinet dried, I then put on the fan covers. Here is the one on top:

And here is the one on the bottom.  Stupid cell phone camera...

Next I installed the lighting for behind the marquee.  I got a fancy LED bar to light it up.   Should be brighter, and more energy efficient.  I think it is supposed to outlast any normal light bulb too.   Plus it wires into the PC power supply, so I don't have to use up a normal outlet on it.   Plus, it's super cool...

Here is a closer look at the LED light:


I am in the process of paiting the coin door and the control panel box black right now.  I hate painting, did I mention that?  It takes 4 hours between coats of paint and you have to do probably 3 coats, and then you have to flip it over and do the other side too.   So I've been sanding, priming and painting for a week now.  Almost done with painting and I can't wait!



Update 8/23/10


Alright, I FINALLY got done painting everything.   I'm fairly pleased with how everything turned out.  The control panel box looks very good.  The coin door looks pretty decent as well.   I think if I were to ever restore another coin door, I would probably have to recommend a spray paint over using a brush though.   Just to avoid any streaks left by the brush.   But really, I'd have to say that restoring a coin door was just plain a lot of work.   I don't think I will be doing it again.   I will probably just end up buying a new one, or a gently used one instead.


Ay any rate, here is the newly restored coin door:

Here's the before and after shot.   Sorry, had to use my cell phone camera again so the quality of all these pics isn't great...  But as you can see, there is a world of difference between the two:

Next, I took on the task of attaching the control panel box to the cabinet.  First, and there's no picture of this, I used screws to simply screw the box onto the shelf.   This in itself was pretty secure already.   But, as I've said before, the control panel is the part that people can tend to lean on a little bit.  So you want it to be secure as possible, so I went that extra mile.   I attached some extra brackets on the inside of the cabinet to bolt it on there.  And if that wasn't enough, I used some real heavy duty construction glue along the edges, which you can see in the picture below.   This control panel box is going NO WHERE.

Here is a picture with the coin door installed, and the control panel box attached. 

Here is just the inside view of the coin door installed:

My next task was to build my administrative panel to hide behind the bottom coin door. Here it is all cut out.   If you will notice on the previous picture, there are those metal brackets holding the coin door in place.   I cut those slots on the sides on the wood below, so that it would go around the metal brackets.   Then I figured out that the coin door would not shut with the admin panel attached that close.   So in the end, I had to screw in some wood to buffer it, and make the admin panel a little farther back.   So I really wish I had not cut those weird looking slots into the sides in the first place, but oh well.

Here is the back view of it.  I had to recess that one hole a bit because the switch I am installing there isn't very deep.   Also, that big slot in the middle was for the DVD drive for the computer.  As you can see in the picture below, I installed a little block for the DVD drive to rest on for some extra support.

Here it is with everything temporarily in place, just to get an idea of what it looks like.   There's that DPDT switch to enable the mouse buttons, as I discussed before.  Then there is a USB drive and a DVD drive.  Then there are two additional pushbuttons in there.   Not sure what I plan to use these buttons for yet, but I figured what the heck, they're hidden, you can always use two more buttons for something.  Just now, as I am writing this, I realized that I forgot to install the volume knob on here.  So I will have to drill an additional hole and attach that knob on here as well.  Shouldn't be too difficult.

Just another view of the back of it, with everything installed:

Here is the view of the inside with it installed.  You can see the extra blocks I installed to buffer, so the admin panel was further back inside to allow for the coin door to close.

And finally, here's the view from the front, through the coin door.  You can see those little side slots I mentioned before a little, but not too bad.   This things going to be hidden anway, so I was not willing to recut everything for something like that.

Now onto a bit of the artwork.   I've decided to go with a Tapper theme for this cabinet.   Now the original artwork for Tapper was blue and red.   I really wanted to go with the red and black color theme instead.   Luckily, I know someone from my work who is great with the graphic art type stuff.  He took the original Tapper artwork and redid it for me.  He brought in the red and black colors, and replaced the name of the company on top with MAME instead.   It looks amazing:

I got the marquee in the mail the other day.   Not the greatest lighting in this picture here, but it does look extremely good printed out:

Here it is installed onto the machine.  Really starting to look like an arcade machine now!!

Just another view:

Then, I just really wanted to hook up the lighting temporarily so that I could see everything lit up.   Here's just a shot of what the fan looks like lit up.   It's pretty amazing.  The photo doesn't do it justice, but you can imagine what it's like in person.

Then here is a short video I took of the lighting stuff.  Again, even the video doesn't do it justice, but it gives you some idea:



I received the side art for the cabinet now too, but I'll cover that probably in the next update.   I'm pretty pumped about it, but it'll be my little secret what it looks like until next time.




Update 10/12/10


Well, I've been steadily putting in a night here and there over the past month and a half working on this thing.   I've just been trying to build up what I would call an exciting update.   Exciting to me anyway.  :o)   Well now that my busy summer has come to an end, I should have a little more time to spend finishing this thing off.  So without further adieu, your update...


Ok, first I made a new back door for the cabinet.  The old one was warped, and since everything else in this cab is new, I thought I might as well make a new door too.

Two holes, the top one with the recessed ring around it is for the barrel lock.  The bottom one is just a finger hold to help you grab a hold of the door when you remove it.

Here it is all painted  up with the lock in place.

Next, I installed the cup holders.  Here is a picture of one closed up:

And here it is opened up.  The arms expand to hold different size things.  Can't exactly hold a 40 oz'er but it'll hold most frosty beverages just fine.

Next I installed new T-molding on the rest of the arcade.  You'll see the T-molding throughout the rest of the pictures, but just in case you didn't know what it was, its the black stuff in the picture below that I am inserting into that groove, to covers all the edges.

Well, I had custom tempered glass cut to cover up the marquee, and it turned out that it was a little bit too big.  So I had to improvise.   I knocked out the bottom piece of wood that was previously in the cabinet for the marquee holder, and I decided to build my own.  I just had to install it a bit higher to account for the taller glass.  This worked out very well because I was able to easily install my make shift glass holder.

I found this stuff at the hardware store.  Not sure what it's supposed to be used for, but it worked well for this.  You can see that it's got a slot in it, that I will be using to hold the top of the monitor glass in place.

Here is where I installed it, in case you didn't follow what I was referring to:

Next I installed some O rings in the front here, on either side of the monitor.  

And I used some ratchet straps to hold the monitor in place.   I just like to do this to keep the monitor as still as possible.   People tend to beat up on the controls a bit, and I wanted the monitor to stay put.  Love those ratchet straps...

Now that I had my new piece of wood installed for the marquee holder, that I mentioned earlier, I simply slid the glass into the slot on the top, and rested the bottom of the glass on the monitor shelf as shown below.   I use those little black paper binder things on the bottom of the glass so that I would have something to pull the glass off the shelf with.  Otherwise, if those weren't there, the glass is wedged in there pretty good, so I wouldn't be able to get the glass out easily.  Also in the picture below, you can see the bezel I made, covering the screen.   This blocks out most everything but the screen, to hide the fact it's a computer monitor, and add to the real arcade machine feel.

Then here it is, all installed.   The control panel will rest against the glass, effectively holding it in place more securely.  It will also be high enough that it will cover up those black paper binder things, so that you can't see them.

Finally!  It was time to apply my side art.   I'm very proud of this side art.   When I started this project, I didn't think there was any way to get legitimate Tapper side art, much less modified tapper side art.   Well, I was very lucky to find the ONE person likely in the entirely world who has the Tapper side art available to print.  The reason he's the ONE person who has it, is because of the process it takes to get the side art onto a computer.  #1 you have to find a Tapper machine with it's side art in tact.  #2 you have to get said machine to a location that has a scanner big enough to scan in an ENTIRE arcade cabinet side in at once.   and then #3, find someone to digitially remaster the art work to make sure the colors match up after the scan, correct any imperfections and etc.   So bascially what I'm saying, it's incredibly amazing that someone went through this entire process.    Now I didn't have a use for the entire Tapper side art.   My cabinet isn't the same size as an original Tapper cab, so I had to think outside the box.    Rich from was nice enough to modify his amazing Tapper side art for me.  He put my customized Tapper logo along the top, and then framed in a nice portion of the side art for me, so that it would have a black frame around it.    Below I was in the process of applying it to the cab, so it still has the protective covering on it.

Here it is installed on the machine.   This went on MUCH MUCH better than my side art on my first cab.   I guess it helps not applying it in a 30 degree cold garage...    There were a few bubbles, but not too many. Most of them I was able to use a pin hole to release.   Anyway, I think the side art looks great, and it will only look better with the marquee and the rest of the matching controls and stuff.   More pictures of the side art and etc in a bit...

I also installed a power button on the back of the cabinet.   I extended the computer power button, and wired it up to this one.   I had to make use of my cool skull logo (from my first cab) somewhere on this machine!   So here's the kill switch.   When the user presses it, it will trigger Windows to start shutting down.

Just another view of the top of the cab.

And here's a more final look of what it looks like.   I couldn't be more pleased with how this is turning out so far.    I love this red and black theme.   I'm not going to want to get rid of this thing when it's finished!

A view of the back of the cab, with my new backs door in place:

One last "money shot" view of the arcade.  Can't wait to get the control panel finished and in there.


So with all that done, the last major thing to tackle is the control panel.  Below is my control panel that you saw me start in previous pictures.   Unfortunately, you might be able to tell, there was some water damage to it on the right side.   Plus it's not quite the right size exactly, as I want the back of the CP to rest on the monitor glass.   Anyway, this will make an excellent Test control panel.   I am installing the trackball and joysticks much differently this time than I did on my first cabinet, so I will need to practice before I do the real thing.    The layout of the buttons below is pretty close to what I will have on there in the end though:

Then here's my REAL control panel all cut, and I put this grid on top to help with the placement of the controls again.

Here's the controls placements on the real control panel.  These are in the same places as what's on the Test control panel.  So, assuming I like everything on the Test control panel, once it's done, then I will just do the same thing on the real one.

As I mentioned before I want the control panel to rest against the glass to hold it in place.  So I will be cutting the corners off the CP, about where my hand is below, so that it will fit inside and rest against the glass.




Update 12/10/10


Well here it is!  The final update and the big reveal on this cab!   There's lots of pictures coming up for you.   Lots of ups and downs in the process but I am happy to say that this thing, hardware-wise, is about 99% done.   I still have a fair amount of software work to do, but it's definitely playable now!   Next time I do this, I should really categorize this stuff better so there aren't like 500 pictures on one page huh?   Oh well, it's functional.


So no more delay, here are your pictures...


Ok, so first things first, I needed to do a little testing with my test control panel just to make sure everything worked, and I liked how everything was set up.   I printed off my control panel artwork just on plain white paper, and taped it to the control panel.  This makes sure that the artwork will line up with the real controls.

I drilled all my holes.

Here it is, sans the joysticks.

Now, I decided to use a balltop Sanwa joystick.   These are sort of designed to work better with metal control panels, but I liked the look of the joystick so much, I decided it was worth the extra effort.   The joysticks attach to a mounting plate, shown below.   This mounting plate needs to be level with the top of the control panel.  More on that in a minute.  First thing I did was modify the mounting plate.   I need the bolts, that are holding the whole joystick in place, to also be level with everything else.  So I used the drill below to recess the bolt holes.

Here are the bolts, you can see they are level with the rest of the mounting plate.

Here you can see that I used my trusty router to recess a hole on the top of the control panel.  This is where the mounting plate will rest.

I made a rough template to use for the base of the joystick.   I bolt this onto the bottom of the control panel.

Then I use my flush router bit to cut out the shape.   So I can re-use my template over and over and make the same shape with my router.

Here's the top view with the joystick installed.   The whole mounting plate and bolts are even with the top of the control panel.

Here's the bottom view of the joystick.

Here's a little test run with the control panel.    I played around with this for a bit and decided this was all set and I was clear to start working with the REAL control panel.

Here's the real control panel in place.  You can see that I cut it out so that it almost goes all the way up to the glass.

I decided to use a plexiglass cover with this.  I had never done it before, but it turns out it's not too hard if you have a router.  I used that flush router bit again to cut out the plexiglass so that it's the same shape as the wood.

Here you can see that I offset the t-molding slot on the ends of the wood.  I did this so that the t-molding would cover up the edges of the plexiglass, so the player isn't able to grab it and lift or anything crazy like that.  It's held in place under the t-molding.

Then I cut the holes on the control panel.  I used some tape on the bottom side of the wood so that there would be no chipping or anything like that.

Here's the front view.

I decided to do something a little different for mounting the trackball.  I got the ultra high mounting kit from Groovy Game Gear.   It's pretty cool actually, and it makes the trackball stick out much farther than it would otherwise.  Anyway, the first step was to trace the template around the trackball hole.

Then I used my router to cut out the shapes, and then inserted the threaded bolt holes.  These bolt holes are there so that there are no bolts showing on the top of the control panel.   It'll look much cleaner that way.

Now the reason those shapes are cut out there is so that the mechanics of the trackball fit in there.   Basically what I did was remove the top half of the trackball entirely, and I won't be using it.   The parts that protrude out, fit into the shapes above.  So the piece of wood acts as if it's the top part of the trackball.

Here I started the joystick work on the real control panel now.   You can see I have a new template, that has a much cleaner shape.

Here it is all cut out.  I repeated this for the other joystick as well.

Here's the rest of the joystick.   It doesn't fit into the hole just yet.  What I did was put it over the hole and trace around the outsides, so that I know what has to be cut out still.

Here you can see the lines I drew above.

Here you can see that I routed those areas out.  I didn't go all the way through the control panel with these.  I just figured it was better to have the top of the control panel be as solid as possible, that's why I did it this way.

And lastly here is the bottom of the joystick in place, and it fits in there great.

So here's the control panel all ready to go, with all the holes cut.

So now it was time to get back to working with my plexiglass.  First I just used these clamps to hole everything securely in place.

Then I drilled out a pilot hole here in each of the holes.

Then I used my router and the flush router bit again to cut out the exact shape of the holes.

Next I sandwiched the REAL artwork inbetween the two and I cut out the holes. 

Next it was time to paint the control panel.  The top of it didn't matter so much, but the bottom of it needed to be black.

Here she is all painted and ready to go.

Just a test run to make sure everything was still lining up, and it was.

The last part I had to do with the plexiglass was to cut out the hole for the trackball.   Now this was the tricky part.  The hole needed to be large enough so that the trackball would fit through.  But it also needed to be small enough so that the trackball would not be able to fall out.    In addition to that, the hole needed to, obviously, be in the exact correct position.   After buying four different hole saws, which sucks, I finally found the one that's the right size.   It's 2 7/8".  Not 3", not 2 3/4", but 2 7/8".

Well through luck or skill, I did manage to get the hole cut in the right positon.

Next I did a bit of work on the admin panel behind the bottom coin door.   I applied some black vinyl over the wood to make it match a bit better.   I also got some vinyl stickers made from Pongo over at   They just really make the admin panel look so much cooler.    I also installed an LED pointing down on the admin panel, so it's lit up a bit.   With all the LEDs on this cabinet, it looks pretty bad a$$ when the lights are off!

Then it was finally time to start working on wiring everything up.   Here you can see the wiring of the admin panel.

Here's the wiring on the back of the coin door to light up the eject buttons.

Here's just a wider view of the front panel of the cabinet.

Back a ways, I installed the power supply.  I used a real arcade power supply to power all the various lights and fans and such.   Here I am using terminal barriers to split one wire into many.

I used a smart power strip.   The computer is plugged into the control outlet, and then the other outlets get shut off when the computer shuts down.   So when you hit the power button on the cabinet, the PC shuts down, the power strip realizes this, and shuts off the lights, fans, speakers, screen and etc.

Then once everything was wired up inside the cabinet, I hooked up the monitor and tried to put the back door I made on there.  Now, when I made the cabinet door, I tested it out with the monitor and it did fit.  Unfortunately, I didn't think about how far the cables stick out the back.   So I ran into a little problem and had to do some improvising.

I routed out a square on the back cover so that there is a little room to work with.   I was pretty hasty with the routing, since I wanted to play this thing, so its a bit rough. But its just the door that no one will see, so it doesn't really matter what it looks like, as long as it fixes the problem, which it did.

Now with that all done, it was finally time to wire up the control panel.  Here you can see I installed all the controls and controller devices.

Now before, I show you what this cabinet's wiring looks like, I have to show you something else.   On the page for my first arcade machine I built, you might notice there are no pictures of the wiring.  Well, there's a reason for that.  I didn't really know yet what I was doing, so it's incredibly sloppy.  I'm kind of embarassed of it actually. It works, but it's ugly as heck and it's hard to do any troubleshooting on.   For the record, I do plan to correct this some day...   But, I only show you this now, so you have some comparison for what the new machine's wiring looks like...

Here's the new machine's wiring!   As you can tell, I'm pretty proud of this.   It's not the cleanest I've seen, from looking at others on the internet, but for me, it's pretty dang good.   I've learned so much since I made the first cabinet, it's pretty crazy.

Now certain wires needed to go inside the cabinet to various things, like the admin panel and the coin door and etc.   I wanted the control panel to be removable.  So what I did was use quick disconnects so that I can easily unplug the labeled wires and take off the control panel if I need to.

Here you can see the inside of the control panel box.  You can see the quick disconnects connected, and you can see the that this cabinet has real authentic Nintendo controllers for it.   There's a second one not shown by the way.  These aren't the cheap USB ones from China either.  These are real NES controllers that someone hacked for me, and gave them USB connectors.   When you hold the controller, it just feels right, like it's the real deal, because it is.

So now, pretty much everything was hooked up and ready to go.  Before I show you the final picture of the cabinet, I thought I'd show a few screenshots of what the menus look like on the machine.    I tried to use a wood background that would work well with the siding of the cabinet.  I used the same background for all the menus, and I think it really ties everything together and makes it feel like it belongs.  I really learned a lot about photoshop making these backgrounds!  A few late nights spent figuring out how it all worked.   But here is what the main menu looks like:

When you pick MAME for arcade games, there are various categories that I made that you can choose from.  Here's the menu for picking a category.

Here's the MAME screen.   It lists all the games on the left.   Under the list of the games, it will show a picture of the original arcade machine, if known.  On the right it shows the original marquee on the top.  On the bottom the original control panel.  Then in the middle first it shows just a screen shot of the game.   When you pause on a game for a few seconds, it shows you a video preview of the game play.   It all works pretty slick.

The other game systems menus all follow the same idea.  They show the original box art, a screen shot, and then a video when you pause on a game.  Below is the Nintendo menu.   I found some of these menus online and modified them to suit my needs and tastes.

Here's the base screens for the rest of the game systems:

And's all done!  Here's a picture of the finished conrol panel.   In the pictures the arrows and such around the joysticks look a little orange, but in person, they are red.  They just didn't turn out very well in the pictures.

Here are the admin buttons along the top.  You can see that I created my own labels for the buttons.  Then I put some additional labels under each of the buttons.   The descriptions under the buttons tell you what they do when you are looking at the menus.  When you are inside a game, playing it, the buttons do what they are labeled on the buttons themselves.

I just thought this was a cool view of the controls.   You can see the trackball mounted pretty high.   The normal person wouldn't notice the difference maybe, but when you compare it to how far the ball sticks out on my first cabinet, it's quite a bit of difference.  I like it.

Here's the finished cabinet with the control panel open.

Then here's the final cabinet.   I'm incredibly please with how it all turned out.   It just looks really smooth and clean, not too gaudy.

Then, I had to do at least one before and after comparison picture to show how far it's really come!


As often is the case, the pictures just don't do it justice.   You have to see it in person to really appreciate it.  

I made a little video here showing off the cabinet a bit more.    It also shows off the LEDs a bit.  These really add a LOT of flare to the machine and really give it that extra something.  Anyway, here's a video.


Well that's it everyone!  Thanks to all who followed along.  I'm sure there's probably too much information on this page, more than people care to know about, but that's ok.  I recognize that most people just flip through and look at the pictures and that's more than ok.   I think I post most of this stuff for my own enjoyment, and if others enjoy reading about it too, then great!  


Well I do have another project lined up for myself.  I bought a 4 person showcase arcade cabinet with a 33" screen.   I'm pretty excited about it because I've always wanted a 4 player machine so we can really play games like Xmen, Simpsons and etc to their fullest potential!  But, I'm not really sure when I'll be able to get to the project because of both time and money.   But you can be sure that I'll make a web page for it when I do!  Until next time, game on!

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