Thursday, August 29, 2013

Completed!

Sorry, no pictures today. My battery was flat on my camera, and I kept forgetting to recharge it, so I'll get some more pics on, but mostly, I've been having fun playing games - because I finished the machine yesterday! Woohoo!

I was able to find a small factory place about 15 - 20 minutes from where I live, that makes custom cut perspex (plexi-glass) for things like aquariums and custom desktop computer box cases, and stuff. They cut the pieces up for me.

So, there's a piece attached to the banner, superglued with a few dobs on the left and right side of the strip. Then there's another thin strip along the bottom front panel, also superglued on. The monitor panel has a big rectangle completely covering it, which due to how the arcade cabinet is designed, had a little slot between the control panel and the monitor panel, letting the perspex just slide in and stand itself up - holding itself in place! Also no glue was required on the control panel, as the buttons and joysticks sandwich the perspex in place when they get attached.

The buttons and joysticks were fun, as I've never done wiring and stuff before. It took me about three days, doing a little bit at a time in between other things (and getting distracted by some Doctor Who DVDs) but I finally got it all connected up, and plugged into the IPAC circuit board. Then by USB to my windows laptop, where I used the IPAC configuration program to customize what key strokes each button and joystick direction are emulating.

Then I just ran all the emulators, and assigned the controls using my new buttons and joysticks, and now it all works!

I'm super impressed with the perspex, which is ultra-clear, reflectiony, half a centimeter thick. People said that it can make cheap, dull-coated monitors look like expensive glossy displays, and I wasn't really sure what it would look like, but it looks fantastic! Somehow the colors look more vibrant, looking through the glassy thick plastic, and putting another of the same type of monitor beside the arcade machine, you can really see the difference in the visual 'pop' of the image, on the monitor with the perspex hovering in front of it.

Also, it's much more comfortable to wrest my hand on the control panel with the perspex sheet, then on the painted wood surface - and the paint won't rub off over time from hands and fingers touching it.

Anyway, I'm really happy with it! I'll try to remember to post some final pictures at some stage :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cabinet Assembled! Almost finished making the machine!

Today I assembled the cabinet pieces together, and installed the monitor in it. The blue molding strips to line the visible edges came today as well, so I began by hammering them into place with a rubber mallet.

The guy at Arcadeworx was right, the cabinet came together much like Ikea furniture, and was a fun project :)

Now I've got the cables for the monitor running to my Windows PC, and I can play games on it using my keyboard.

I've sat the joysticks and buttons in the control panel, but they aren't connected yet - all the wiring will come another day - as I still have to get a piece of clear perspex to put on top of the control panel (the buttons will clamp it into place) and another large piece of perspex (plexiglass) to cover the monitor panel. Then one last piece to cover the banner and help clamp the letters I cut out and glued on.

Anyway, here's a bunch of pictures of how it's come together now! Three bits of perspex, and some wiring, and it will be a fully functional machine!

here's the blue molding lining the visible-edge pieces.


Attaching the banner and control panel to one of the sides

Mounting the monitor by screwing two bits of wood at the top and another two at the bottom, and then a plank across the back. The monitor had small buttons protruding from the front of the bezel (on/off button, etc) and I wasn't sure how to get around that. I ended up cutting some flat strips from left over molding, and gluing them along the bottom bezel of the monitor, as a spacer, so that the monitor could rest against the main wooden panel without the buttons getting pressed.



And here's the finished cabinet with attached monitor!


I've sat two mini-usb speakers on top, and running the screen through my windows PC (which is underneath the table). The buttons and joysticks sitting in the control panel. They aren't functional at the moment, just sitting there. I have to put a sheet of perspex sandwiched between the buttons and the wood to protect the panel surface. Then I can wire the buttons to the IPAC circuit board, and usb cable it to the PC as an 'emulated pc keyboard'.




Here's Golden Axe. I got a bunch of great SEGA games on Steam as a collection.





Saturday, August 17, 2013

new computer render concept of finished machine



(I darkened out the background, to make the machine stand out)

Okay, so I like how it looked with being all white, so I brought the photo up on my computer, and painted over the top of it on the screen, to imagine what it might look like when all the parts are fully assembled, in pure white with the bright blue trim (that still hasn't arrived yet) and grills in the banner where speakers will be. The result is half-photo, half-computer drawing. I grabbed a screenshot of Commodore 64 DigDug off the internet, and stretched it's shape and embedded it onto the screen in the photo, to see what it'll look like if a game was being played.

The sides and the control panel are the only photo pieces, the rest was just drawn on, so it'll look a bit different of course when the real pieces are assembled together, and the plexiglass panels are put over the screen panel, control panel, banner, and front-bottom panel.

A) This looks definitely easier than hand painting patterns all over the cabinet, and B) the white and blue trim gives it a rather clean-cut kind of look I think, that should go well with the color scheme of my room.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Banner: I dub thee Retrotron

I decided to go 80's traditional, and call it the "Retrotron". I printed the letters out on my computer, and carefully cut them out with scissors and craft knife, then lined them up and glued the letters on. I left room to the left and right so I can put holes in for mini speakers.


testing sides WITH control panel !

After carefully balancing the sides beside my monitor, I got all excited, and just had to carefully balance the control panel piece - with buttons and joysticks sitting in it! I'm very, very glad, that it didn't fall over while I took the pics :)




painting pieces and testing side views

Okay, yesterday I put the 'sealer' coat onto the wood pieces and their edges. This helps prevent warping from humidity (of which my place can get very high sometimes, when my dehumidifier isn't on). It also prevents warping of the MDF board when applying acrylic paint coats onto it.

Here's a photo showing all the pieces after the sealant has been rolled onto it.


Then, today, I've started rolling on a coat of white paint. I've only done a few of the big pieces so far, but it's looking really nice! For a test, I stood up the two sides of the arcade cabinet, leaning against my monitor stand, which is roughly the same width as the machine will be, to get a bit of a sense of what it'll look like.



Just imagine it with a control panel, and a big flat bezel panel hiding the monitor (except the screen), and a banner panel up the top. What's more, seeing it standing up, in pure white, I think it actually looks pretty good. I'm thinking now, maybe I won't put blue stripes all over it - maybe I'll just leave it all pure white, except for the blue plastic molding that lines the edges.