Wednesday, September 12, 2007

wow, or WoW

Yea .. not much posting on the state of the arcade now. I've been coming home from work and playing a few games everyday.. which was the point of it all anyway.

Sometimes I try something new, but still havent found anything more fun on the arcade than shufflepuck, galaga, golden tee, bowling.

Notice I said "on the arcade" there ... lately I've been lost in World of Warcraft and haven't done anything productive whatsoever since the weekend.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Chaz did a lot of work on the pushpush site. We tweaked the online game and editor a bit, and he added a lot of cool stuff to the flash. You can now set up a different size playing field, the pieces on the editor are the same ones that are on the game itself. ... which is my job moving forward, to recreate the original mac game pieces.

We've got user logins and levels created by other folks. Chaz added a couple of stat trackers to the games.. if you login it counts your moves and which games you've played. Pretty cool.

There are also several new game puzzles, mostly fairly simple ones, just because the editor is so easy to use now. Even if it does require IE to work :(

Nothing else happening nowdays with the arcade... I'm just spending my spare time racking up high scores. My favorite games haven't changed much yet. Lots of Shuffleshot, a little Galaga, occasional World Class Bowling and a Tempest game or two.

Seems such a waste for all those other 460-odd games.

Friday, August 17, 2007


So I was talking with my friend Chaz in LA the other day and it resulted in us spending the last few nights reviving the pushpush site.
I moved the stuff over to the new hosting server, and we updated the online game files and have actually made daily progress on turning the system over to what we wanted to do originally so many years ago.

We now have a working dhtml editor, solved the caching problem with the flash game, and have made progress toward turning it into an open community site (logins, passwords, user-created levels, etc.)

Play the flash game here.

I also put in the request to change the dns to the new host, so should get you there sooner or later.

Friday, August 10, 2007

mala vs gameex

I'm still torn on which FE to use.. I finally got both mala and gameex working well in the course of this project.

I switch between the two constantly. I really like the look of the VSOP3 theme for Mala, but GameEx has much easier navigation, and shows the CP for every game before you play.

I suppose.. at some point ... I could get real industrious and create the Mala theme in Gameex .. but that's a lot of work, and I'm starting to get lazy now that I can play anytime I want ;)


491 is the number of playable working games on the system as of today. I added a couple more over the last few days, but now they have to look like pretty good games to make the cut.

I also started culling out some of the stuff that's just way too old to be much fun. There's still a bunch of old atari black and white things on there that just don't make the cut anymore, but still working my way through the game list to see what's worth keeping.

I've got snaps for all games now, and check the roms to be sure they're working before they get loaded in.

Interesting note .. I found another incarnation of push-push called Sel Feena whatever the heck that means.

And now I suppose one of these days I'll have to explain why i find that so interesting, if the first link doesn't explain it all.

fyi re: .. the online flash version doesn't actually play anymore. I need to re-write it and re-build the db before it will function. but that's another story.

Friday, August 3, 2007

50xx and bit torrent

Time for another update.. I've been busy playing games all week and haven't had time to post. I guess that's a good thing.

I downloaded a more recent romset via bit torrent, which gives me a grand installed total of 1540 .. of which 819 were working.

Wow.. bit of a bitch to scroll through that with a joystick ... but what the hell.

And now .. as of tonite .. I have 821 games working .. having finally tracked down and installed the elusive "54xx.bin" sound file. The only thing left to get more recent games going is the even more elusive and reclusive "50xx.bin"

New games now working: GALAGA YaaaY.. FINALLY .. and pole position also. :D

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

no news = good news

just slogging away through the games. I ran the rom splitter and ended up with about 200+ games in the list ... only half of which actually work .. same problem as before.

I think I need to locate an older mame version, and figure out how to run a rom check that will tell me what will work with the exe I'm running. I know that exists out there somewhere, but cant seem to locate it right away.

the other possiblity is just to go back to running mame32 (v.9x) instead of the command line mame (v.117).. but that has the added gui overhead associated with it, and I'm a bit short on the memory in the cab. I need at least another 128mb in there to really run things smoothly.

oh well, back to work now.

Friday, July 27, 2007

clean now, back to work

got the junk cleaned off and the scanners running now. downloaded some new games and only one interesting/good one in the bunch. .. forget what its called now, but it's a frisbee game. pretty fun, pretty hard to beat, too

havent figured it all out yet, but i've got plenty of time.

need to start deleting all of the crap off the game list that does't work, or figure out a way to make it work.

i've also been tweaking the trackball settings in shufflepuck cafe so tht works a lot better now... more tweaking to go, but its now possible to spin the ball between a short shot and a long shot with a noticible difference in effort.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

virused :(

Caught a virus last night by mistake. I was updating/adding some roms ... and accidentally clicked an ad link on one of the rom sites.

the system immediately started downloading and installing a bunch of crap.

no, i didn't have a virus scanner running at the time (yes, yes, slap me now)

there is now avg spyware and virus scan running, but the virus/trojans are still there.

I'll have to clean them out in admin mode tonite, then I'm just going to disable IE cause I don't use it anyway. (all browsing is done via firefox).

I love computers, but I hate what some people do with them, especially when they do it to mine.

Monday, July 23, 2007


The arcade and party was a success.

Picture of my friend Jon playing world class bowling. Big hits of the day: the tempest tournament (had to quit using the front end to get it to work), shufflepuck cafe and world class bowling.

All in all it was great fun.

This is Volunteer Jon testing out World Class Bowling.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

party time

Time is here ... party day

Mostly done i guess. Still lots of other stuff to take care of. I need a marquee.. I just covered the hole with black cloth til I can get something figured out. The speakers are up there and there's no holes for the sound yet. So, if the cabinet gets closed up, and plex over the marquee ... there's nothing but muffled sound. Have to think this one through before I do anything.

Good enough for now.

I can run galaga and tempest in Mame32 directly.. but they dont run through the front end. Tried pointing the fe to mame32 and it seemed a bit slow, just barely noticable.

I will probably go that route for the day, just so I have some of the stuff up and running. The Mame32 is version 9x something, the command line is version 117, so there's probably a difference in the way things are handled.

There's a pic of the FE through the smoked plex, I've got dogs, buns, a tank of gas, a new burner in the grill, ice in the fridge, and spanish coffee in hand.

Party on, dude!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

side art

Conch and Steve kept working after I went to bed, so woke up this morning to a nice surprise .. side art all done.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

art for industry

A picture of Steve and Conch working on the cabinet. Arting some cool space babes in galactic action. Should be pretty awesome when it's finished. These guys are great.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


So, the hardcore, final specs of the arcade machine in its current state:

AMD 1.6 Ghz
GeForce4 128MB Nvidia graphics
802.11g wireless
Sony 21" monitor
Altec speakers and subwoofer
4-usb ports -- all used:
1 for control panel keyboard encoder
1 for trackball
1 for spinner
1 for wireless internet connector

OS, primary software:
Windows XP SP1
GameEx Front End
MAME v. 117

Monday, July 16, 2007

I got GAME, again


$1 at norvac.. a little bit of soldering, and I'm gaming again.

Trying to figure out why a few games won't work, and discovered I may need some giant compressed files (multi-MB!!)

I'm happy now. all working again, good enough for the weekend.

Just gave Conch a call about doing some side art, hopefully he can come up with somethign cool and keep it in my budget.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

updated pic

i wanna cry

Got everything mounted in the cabinet last night. Spent today waiting for a plumber, and while I was doing that I got (most) of the software configurations figured out.

the machine works. in its own cabinet. cool. and its got wireless net connection.

Here's the shopping list from today: plastic for marquee, florescent bulb, coin door lock, usb wireless connector, usb hub, offset hinges for control panel, power strip.

I played some games, i finally figured out what was wrong with the gameex config and got the trackball working for missle command and centipede.

this evening I was making a few tweaks, i was trying to put the hinges on the control panel so it just flips up and i don't have to hold it ... and it slipped .. and ripped the ps2 port off of the encoder board. :(( ... i wanted to cry. I had everything going.

so, I took some time, unsoldered the old port.. and thought about ripping one off of one of the old pc boards, but it was such a bitch to get unsoldered, if I try to pull one of those others off I'll probably tear it up.

I'll wait til tomorrow and hit radio shack, and if they don't have one, I'll hit norvac on monday.

Anyway.. just made me wanna cry. .. i was there. .. victory was within reach, it was all working .... and now it wont work til I get a keyboard plug back on the board.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


The system worked, so I invited a bunch of friends over to play/test the arcade. I gave myself a deadline -- I have til the 22nd to get it all together, self-contained and playable.

It's the only way I'll ever get it out of my computer room. ;)

Working so far: MAME, Jukebox, Internet Radio (but doubt if I'll have an internet connection to the cabinet), C64 emulator (without controls).

NOT Working: Visual Pinball, Amiga, key mapping for the C64. GALAGA .. for some reason, can't get Galaga to work. This really sucks cause its one of my favorite games.

To do list:
* mount speakers (high)
* wire pinball buttons (high)
* locate and install offset hinge for cp top. (low low)
* build restrictor/re-wire 4-way stick - it's 90 degree off (high)
* stabilize monitor on shelf -- it shakes around too much. (high)
* install smoke plex front (med)
* mount PC in cabinet (high)
* put latch on coin door (low)
* buy fluorescent light for marquee (low)
* put in some kind of marquee cover (high)
* install single power switch for system (low)
* set up PC to boot directly into arcade wrapper (low)

Monday, July 9, 2007

we got GAME

oh ya... July 9, 2007 ... the front end worked (GameEx) .. the game worked.
I went back to the default keymap and then just made a few tweaks in the gameex config and we're off and running.

Next up ... I already trashed teh MameWah .. it was some new version, files were missing, everything all out of whack.. finally figured that out after going thru the byoac msgs. .. BLEH.. I'd spent hours on that thing.

Anyway, gone now.

Mala won't load the theme correctly.

AtomicFE ... still functional but eats too much resources.. and ever since I installed the plug n play modules, I'm completely lost how to set it up.

Maximus Arcade ... will play pinball .. but GameEx wont(at this point).. I'm going to try and steal the config.

so.. it's gameex for now..and see if I can get a few more better games loaded, map the c64/amiga setups, and tweak the vpinball. Then we oughta be good to go

Cool.. and it looks like I'll be out $30 for the reg fee. Well worth it.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

going crazy

I have several different front ends I'm trying.. but I'm going crazy trying to get the key config set up so it works.

I keep trying it on different FE's to see if it makes any difference. I re-programmed the CP to match a slikstik, cause there was already a drop-in cfg file for that, but can't get MAME or anything else to recognize it correctly. I know I'm missing something someplace on the ini or cfg files somewhere, but not having any luck.

I did have one bit of luck... found the 'plug n play' modules for Atomic FE.. drop in pre-configured setups for amiga, c64, and a bunch of other emulators. Nice. that stuff was driving me crazy too. The c64 started right up no problems, the amiga is a but fussy.

Had to re-program the system again just so I've got all the function keys available. Kind of useless to have a C64 setup without those.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

we got SOUND

oh ya... after a zillion errors and a bunch of drivers and a look at the bios... finally located the right software to turn it on.

the altec subwoofer system sounds a bit muddy, but it booms nice... i can tweak the eq a little so it'll be great for the arcade cab, but wouldnt want it as the desktop speakers everyday.

nice booming bass.

I have

Mame, virtual pinball, a 21" monitor, ... but no sound

winamp sez the system is missing a driver :(

quite possible. I haven't had any speakers plugged in til now, so quite possible it was never making any sound. Not easy to locate .. the system uses integrated Realtek audio on the MB.

I had to mount the extra USB ports into one of the front panel drive covers, but looks like the USB is working ok. It loads/runs a mouse and the external drive ok. It should handle the control panel inputs without any problem.

making progress. I guess I'm at the point of integration testing. Had to update the driver for the sony monitor.. its a little washed out, and tried messing with it, so it looks a little better now, but still kinda funky.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

forrest gump

just an fyi and ps ... see that link up there at the top ^^ ... the one that sez .. "Next Blog" ...

It's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

more fe's

Playing with more front ends .. didn't like the MaLa skin that much. DL'd GameEx .. very nice setup. I like this.. but I had to buzz off to MS and pull down a bunch of other stuff to get it up and running: .net, MDAC, DirectX9, ... bunch o crap.

It's very nice though, good detail setup. This is built for Media Center display, but supports the CP views as well as WinUAE and Vice

More futzing about required now. This blog posted whilst GX was updating the rom file.

At least its working, looks nice, and has about a thousand themes available. Need to update the control file so it will work with the CP instead of the keyboard.

I should also consider offering up the shareware donation if I move this into the cab.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

MAME installed

Its been a while since I posted any progress here, time for an update.
The old computer is in a new box now and working great. I may not have a USB problem after all.. but still has to be thoroughly investigated.
I spent a lot of time last week just getting WinXP up and running. Windows wouldn't even boot up. After several tries, eventually had to do a reinstall from the old cd.
Main problem is that this drive came out of a laptop, and is now moved into a box, so none of the drivers were relevant to anything, and there was lots of system level stuff that had to get deleted.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend just uninstalling a zillion old programs that don't need to be there. I probably still left too much crap on the drive, but doesn't matter anyway.

Last night I finally got the Mame installed, and tried two different front ends, MaLa and AtomicFE. I could never get Atomic to actually load up a game, so it's out. For the moment I think I'm going to go with MaLa. Can always load up and run another FE down the road, but this had a few features I'd like to set up, including support for the control panel viewer and multiple emulators. (Phase 2)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

good news

a new case. third time is the charm... yup ... the one from a friend didnt work, too old, the first one i bought from goodwill ($10) .. it looked new .. but it wasn't ... and finally picked one up today at the bins ($5) and IT WORKS! .. cool

I also picked up a sound system for the arcade while i was there... an altec subwoofer and speaker system, cause those games have to rock! but i don't know yet whether they work or not either.

back on track.. have to install the drives and whatnot, but its bedtime now and thats a project for another night.

My favorite part about the internet ... you can go online at 11 pm and download the manual for your old motherboard so you know where the plugs go. love it, love it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

crash n burn

or rather, burn-out ... something happened to the old PC ... it just quit/died/whatever. :((

So i asked around ... and found a new case and power supply. Picking that up tonite and hope thats the problem.

It just quit. turned off and wouldnt turn back on. I suppose i should be thankful that it didnt throw sparks adn smoke.

In any case .. its on hold again til i get it up and running on the old laptop drive.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Yay! Finally got stuff transferred from the old PC to the new one. After lots of frustration with the the Windows Easy Transfer .. it would just quit somewhere in the middle of the transfer for no reason. I gave it about three tries, with specific directories and it just wouldn't do it.
Then I tried to go the Map Network Drive route ... wasted all day Saturday on that one. Screw it.
This morning i just gave up. I wasn't going to keep the main drive in there anyway, just needed to get a bunch of important files over to the new PC. And i didn't need a zillion crap files spread all over the place.
This time, i'm going to keep things organized. Really. I promise :(

After wasting all the time yesterday. Started looking around for an IDE to USB cable. I found this pretty little thing at Radio Shack up the street for half price ($20). Sweet. Just yank out the drive and stick it in the box. Now I've got 120 gig portable external.

Oh boy .. just plug it in, move what i want, and i'll get around to cleaning it up at some point (yea, yea, probably not).

Now, I can boot up off the ancient laptop drive in the old pc, clean it off and get to work on turning it into an arcade machine.

progress. slowly.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Soviet Games

Nothing new here. Still playing with the new PC .. and the new games that came on it. Hopefully this weekend I will make some serious progress on the data transfer to the new pc.

This has never been a problem before, because I would always just install the old hard drive in the new pc. The new dell doesn't have any way to do that though, there's no IDE interface. Everything is USB or SATA.

Cool link popped up on wired today, retro soviet computer games under restoration.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

new me, new pc

back from vacation now, the new pc was here when i arrived. whoo hoo.
runs great, no problems. one more headache gone.

back to work now. need to get a bunch of files transferred over to thenew system, and then I can start working on cleaning out the old one so it does nothing but run the emulators .. and probably a jukebox or something too.

nice change but my eyeballs are hurting from too much computer yesterday. i guess thats what happens when you don't stare at one for a week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

still testing

I've been busy beta testing various games and settings since Sunday. I can't get the spinner to work with Arkanoid, but other than that it works great.

Somehow I mis-wired the old leaf joystick .. it's 90 degrees off of what it should be so I'll need to fix that at some point. Also trying to figure out how to change the setup so it will only do 4-way output.

When I'm not playing, I'm working on getting a front-end set up that I like and trying to make it work. The coolest front end I have seen is the Flash Mame Front End by Dan Hall. Way cool .. but kind of messy with files everywhere. I'd like to clean it up and tweak it a little, customize it to my CP. It also needs a utility to write the xml and batch scripts.

Dell is sending a new PC .. it should get here after I get back from vacation. whoo hoo. finally.

Now, back to trying to make the spinner work ... this is driving me crazy. Can't figure out which config / setup file that information needs to go in. Nothing has worked so far.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Over the shoulder action shot of CP beta test.

and the winners are ...

Primal Rage

Those winners being games 1, 2, and 3 for successful cp testing. bwahahahaha!

yea yea .. its running on the new pc, not the old one. ok. I don't have time to see if i have a usb problem on the other computer. I need to get back to testing. ;)

down is up

and right is left ... when you're working with a joystick from the bottom... :(

yup ... i wired carefully .. the joystick down buttons went to the switch on the bottom, and the one on the right went to the right ... except from the bottom of a joystick ... that's all backwards.

Back to the splicing lounge again. Most of these I can just move the wires, but a couple will have to be re-spliced cause they're just not long enough to reach the far side.

I honestly thought about just reprogramming the eeprom, but that would be too easy.

I'm also wondering about the viability of the USB port on the old PC ... I ran into some strange errors that weren't visible when I plugged it into the other computer.

I am aware that one of the ports has been pretty flaky, but didn't know I had any problems with the others. More investigation needed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

testing, 1,2,3

As of 3:30 pm Saturday, May 12 ...

one of the problems with having a computer this old is that I seem to have at least 3 different installations of mame and several front ends. This will get cleaned up when the pc is finally "dedicated" to the arcade. In the meantime, I still need a lot of stuff on there, and nothing has been moved to the new pc yet.

Having trouble how to type an "OK" in mame games ... cause the joystick left/right doesn't seem to work. So I've been spending the afternoon trying to figure out the keymappings and ini files and concentrate on just setting up one instance of the mame that will eventually be used.

hard to tell if the buttons are working completely, because a lot of them are things like shift and control, etc. the trackball and mouse buttons are ok at least.
looks like a test system, don't it?

Thursday, May 10, 2007


need more wire.

I need to double up for the 4-way joystick, the far connection for the player one stick won't quite reach, the pinball buttons haven't even been touched yet, and I need a few more feet of ground wire, too.

Off to lowe's again. I hate making connectors. yuck.

Also .. I either need to figure out how to plug the trackball and spinner into the miniPac or I'm going to need a USB hub also. The tball and spinner both came with USB's installed, but I think I can unplug them (carefully ... and with much consideration), and route them through the miniPac.

beauty, eh?

Wow.. that looks like progress!

Only a small headache last night ... I had never put a hinge or velcro in there to keep the top from sliding around.. can't believe that. Went to do that last night and there was no line marked for the inside of the box. I know I had done that at some point, but then I remembered I had also flipped the top over early in the drilling process, and never marked the inside dimensions. So I had to drop it on the box again, stick my arm in there, and this time fight around all the joysticks and buttons and trackball that were hanging down and try to get some edges marked so I could mount a few pieces of velcro.

I really wanted to put a door hinge on it, but to do that I'd have to make/bend a weird hinge edge that would go over the plywood. Hard to explain, so I won't even try. I'll just say that if you're thinking about building one of these for yourself, it's something you'll probably consider when you get to that point.

I also had to mount the spinner. And then for some reason I'd never screwed the back of the panel on, so I did that. Finally got around to start on the wiring.

It may look like a mess to you, but it's beautiful to me...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


the minipac wiring diagram. this should keep me busy for a while.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Parts is parts ... and they have finally arrived safely.

I'm sooo happy.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

nothing new

Just wanted to post an update .. nothing has happened here with the arcade for a couple of weeks.

Hopefully I have gotten all of the shipping problems worked out now, but no results yet. The spinner and minipac have been reshipped, but not yet received.
We have a new receptionist on the first floor, so I had a talk with her, as well as give her my business card, so hopefully things won't land in the deadzone of their mailroom down there anymore.

Ditto for the guy on the 2nd floor who took in the first shipment of controls ages ago. He knows how to get hold of me too.

I was hoping that stuff would get here yesterday, but now I'll have to wait til ate least Monday.

That's it for now. Looks like it's a good weekend, and hopefully I'll be off sailing today or tomorrow if I can find a first mate.

Friday, April 27, 2007

real flamingo nightmare

So .. my backorder of parts should have been here a week ago .. I checked in with the merchant and he says they were returned by UPS cause no such person at that address ..

I think the shipper just took my paypal address and used it, instead of sending it to me personally at the address I sent him. .. Long story, but short version is that my pay pal name is actually 'Flamingo Nightmare' -- a business I used to run. Well .. it's easy enough to change your address in paypal, but not so your name. As in, impossible.
Since I have eveeything shipped to the office where I work, I'm quite sure there was a bit of confusion when the UPS guy gets there and starts looking for a "Flamingo Nightmare" on the tenant list .. and probably the sweet lady on the first floor that re-routed my t-molding told him there was no such company there (it's a government office). And then the shipment goes back.

You would have thought there would at least have been a phone call from the ups guy or something.

This is what I think happened. I received the first part of the order no problem, but my info was fresh in the shippers mind, and I specifically told him to ship to me (not the pay pal name/address) .. and I got it straight away.

Oh well .. another week, at least. I'm ready for this stuff now. Really. I am. I wanna play. :((

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

photo update

Nice .. no updates here for the last couple of days -- The cabinet moves forward, slowly now.. Photo update with the new paintjob and t-molding. I installed the coin door over the weekend.

Still no spinner and encoder board. I expected it Friday, and still hasn't shown up here as of Tuesday afternoon.

I still havent figured out exactly how I'm going to mount the plex front either. I am looking forward to just plugging in the cp to the computer here and see how it plays though. One of these days .. if the parts ever arrive.

Dell finally got the message to call my cell phone. I spoke with them over the weekend. My problem has now been escalated past the call center to a "technician" I guess that's good news, but I haven't heard back from him yet. la de dah la de dah.

Nothing new on the home front .. I've been bathed in solvents last couple of nights trying to get the weed eater motor running. It sat in the garage for the last 6 months without being started up and its acting up and needs a good cleaning out top to bottom.. not there yet though.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

no parts :(

No more parts arrived this week. Disappointing. I was hoping I could spend the weekend wiring things up and then see if it all actually works.

I started cleaning off the old laptop drive which I decided I'd use to run the pc on.
It's just been plugged in as a 2nd drive. So I built the root mame folder and started dropping stuff in there.

I'll still need to do a bunch of tweaking to get the system running but shouldn't be a problem. I just hate to drop a 120gb drive into the mame machine. That would be such a waste. The old laptop drive is perfect - 30gb. I can fill it with mame games and mp3's and still have plenty of space leftover.

There's probably a few tweaks I can still do to the cabinet .. I need to hit the thrift store and pick up some PC speakers. I'd like to find a set with a subwoofer attached. Might get out and look for that today.

Or I might just go sailing. It's been ages since I've been out. Its nice and warm but the sun's not up yet so can't judge the weather .. (5am) If its not raining by midmorning that would feel really good.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The t-molding finally arrived after having been lost in first floor limbo for a week. I'm actually pretty happy .. and it took about 15 minutes to go slap on the few pieces I needed. It looks much nicer now .. and no splinters in the fingers.

I'm thinking one of these days if I ever want to upgrade it might be cool to use some hot blue molding or something .. just buy 50 feet of molding and run around the edges and brighten that box right up.

The spinner and miniPac should be arriving tomorrow or Friday, so I'll be having a wiring weekend. Wow.. good thing, too.. I'm starting to lose steam.

Dell support keeps calling back my home phone every day even after I called them twice and left messages to use the cel phone number. Idiots.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

progress update

I just finished putting a new coat of black paint on the cabinet. I scraped, sanded and filled a bunch of holes and scratches with wood filler friday night and yesterday. As soon as I was done painting I remembered I had at least a quart of a really cool purple back on the shelf never opened ... maybe I'll do some trim / graphics with it?

I tweaked the monitor just a bit, raised the back of the shelf a half inch, leaving the front height intact. Now I'm trying to figure out how to mount the smoked plex in front of the monitor. It looks like it will just drop right in behind the control panel but I need to make some little slotted blocks or something just to hold it up in the right place at the top.

The other night I also made a new back door with a hole in it for the monitor to poke out. I had some spare 1/8" stuff that worked pretty good. It wasn't straight on any side though, so I had to do a lot of sanding, planing and fitting to get it to sit just right. Screwed in a little plastic wire holder at the top to latch it in for now, which will probably end up being permanent.

Update on other stuff:
The miniPac and spinner was shipped Friday .. whoo hooo ... I can start wiring next week.

The t-molding has apparently gotten lost as of friday afternoon .. no one knows what happened to it after it was sent back to the central office :(

The new computer is still rebooting randomly a couple times a day. I was on the phone with dell warranty support in india friday morning. We had to leave it hanging when I went to work. They said they'd call back -- which they did yesterday afternoon, but I mistakenly erased the message without writing down the phone/extension to return the call..
Hopefully I can get hold of them tomorrow morning .. the same person I was talking to before. The problem was escalated to the floor manager or something. I have his phone/extionsion, but it doesn't seem to work when I called back.

Dell should improve its phone menu system .. it's very hard to navigate.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

i give up

I've had it. I've mounted, remounted, adjusted, moved, tilted, twirled, jammed, twisted, grunted, groaned, and finally ... just gave up.
I literally mounted and re-mounted the monitor shelf seven times trying to make it fit in the cab, at the right height, and try not to stick out the back. I give up on it not sticking out the back. It's just too big, and easier to cut a hole in the back panel than to re-engineer the front.
The inside of the cab is marked with about eight different angle lines for mounting the shelf. The shelf sits on four 2x4 blocks which are screwed into the side of the cab (I'll take them out one more time and glue them in addition to the screws.)
There's a small block at the back to keep the shelf from sliding out the back.
There's also a brace made from three 1x4's that trap the monitor base. Those are screwed into the shelf.
Looks good for now, time to move on.

My t-molding arrived yesterday at the office, but the ups guy delivered it to the first floor, and the girl there sent it back over to the mailroom in the other building. :(
So, now, I have to wait til tomorrow afternoon for it to get opened, inspected, and delivered back up to me on the third floor. What a waste.

Where the hell is my spinner and miniPac??????? I'm ready to start wiring!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

size matters ;)

and I missed it by that much ..

I got the monitor shelf (temporary) put in the cab, and pushed the 21" in there ... and it's too big. I tried dropping the angle of the shelf and everything.

Even uncasing the monitor is not going to give me enough space. As it is, in that picture .. the screen is jammed up against the CP.

Not sure what to do here .. I could pull the CP an inch forward, and then I'd have to figure out some way to fill the gap.

Easiest ... put the monitor up for sale and go looking for one that's not as deep.

As for the temporary shelf ... I want to glue the supports in, not just screws, but the height and angle need to be customized to whatever monitor is going in there.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

21" monitor

Picked up a 21" monitor ... except its not really that big. A sony, looks good and all that but the whole case will just sit right in the cabinet .. i was hoping for something huge that I would have to squeeze in there :(

I didnt see anything bigger on cl though .. I know they make 27's .. maybe 25's ... but I don't know of anybody that actually buys them.

Add another $50 to the project cost. At some point I may add it all up, but I probably don't want to see the total of how much I spend on this if I start including the tools, router bits, spare parts, etc.

I put the pinball buttons in and mounted the original control panel clamps onto the cp and cabinet today. They just snap it down tight to the cabinet.


I finished painting the control panel box ... gave it a few light coats of black spray paint.

I also started looking around for a monitor to put in. Went out to measure the interior width and realized it was time for more deconstruction. When I originally ran the jig saw and power saw through the speaker board, there was still about an inch or more it left running down both sides. I had to use the chisel to get the leftover pieces out. There were tongue'n'grooved into the side of the cab.

After pulling that scrap out, the max width inside the cabinet for the monitor is 22-1/4" ... tight. The original game held a 19" vertical mounted monitor. I'm hoping I can fit a 21" in there, but I know the case will have to come off.

There were three for sale on craigslist, $50-$75. A sony, a dell, and an HP. Waiting to hear back from the emails now. I'll probably take the first one that replies, so long as it works and looks good.

I'll take the tape measure when I go look .. hopefully I can guesstimate the interior dimension.

If it's too tight, there are a couple more shims on the inside of the cab that could be removed, but they're skinny and that's only going to free up an extra 1/2".

Saturday, April 7, 2007

the cp

mounted but not wired.

and now looking at this picture .. .i think the orange and yellow buttons are supposed to be the other way around.

put in the pinball holes and put a first coat of black paint on the box.

another oops

oops! ... i mounted all the buttons in, then dropped in the trackball plate ... the mounting screws for the tball plate aren't long enough now that it's sitting on the additional 1/8" abs.

so... cheap and dirty fix ... I took the 5/8" spade and just made a bigger hole about 1/4" down ... that's large enough to just put the nuts on with a small socket.

live and learn ... hopefully, I'm not going to have to take this whole thing apart anytime soon now. I think I've got all the prep work done.

I thought that the other day, too.

safety third

after all that agonizing over router bits I realized last night maybe I should have spent a bit more time thinking about how to keep from slicing through my femoral arteries...

no, I didn't slice anything, but that was just a miracle.

I put the fixed base on the router, and mounted the slot cutter there cause I was just gonna fly around the top edge of the cp and slot about a foot on the cabinet where it had been cut back.

so I'm buzzing around the cp, and the router starts taking off on its own out of control... screwed up a bit of the slot, but its in the middle of the back so it doesn't matter... then i did the same thing to the cabinet, except i just left the cabinet standing upright and i'm holding the router there on it at 90 degrees .. yea, real smart. all of that was real smart.

when i get done, i look down at the router and I've got this self-powered razor-sharp ninja krull blade on there spinning around at 24000 rpms and there and i'm just holding it up, free handed ... looking at this thing ... and say holy shit .. what the f*** am I thinking?????

now this morning I can start mounting all the parts and have that ready to go. whoo hoo!

anyway... that whole job took a total of about 30 seconds ... and the human body can die of blood loss in about the same amount of time.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

cheap slots

now that i've got t-molding .. i need a place to put it ... so i buzzed by harbor freight at lunchtime and found a set of slot cutters for the router.

I know its cheap junk .. but i'm only going to use it this once. I get 6 for the price of one anywhere else... ($24.99) so maybe if sometime i need to cut another slot, I'll have a little variety to choose from.

so ... too much plastic t-molding and too many slot cutters cheap. I suppose i should consider that a good thing. .. maybe I'll just rip out most of the existing molding and replace it. what the heck.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

beer n buttons

Met Justin last night for a beer at the lucky lab.
He has a monster arcade machine, too. It was good to have a beer and talk about the arcades and front ends and such. He knows a lot, it was good to get some ideas.

Ordered the t-molding .. it cost as much to ship as it does for the plastic. oh well.

I'll stop by woodcrafter's tomorrow after work and pick up a slot cutter. I can start working on that, and then just put the molding on when it gets here.

Finally as a last resort I sent the trouble ticket off to dell and got an email answer back. they want me to tear the machine all the way down, rip out all the cards and memory and what not. quite an involved process, but I'll get to work on it tomorrow when i get home. don't feel like tearing down the pc before i go to bed.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

you want what

Trimmed back the top of the cp to fix the screw up and finished routing the abs.
Looks pretty nice. i love that textured surface.

Then I think I'm ready to put the controls in ... and realize its got the crappy looking front edge. I go over to Woodcraft to see if they might have some t-molding.. no good, but they're an awesome store. Within walking distance. I probably don't hang out there enough, but their prices seem a little steep sometimes. On the other hand, I'll head back there for router bits next time I need one. Which I will, soon. They've got lots of them and reasonably priced. For the record ... the selection of router bits at home depot sucks. At least Lowe's has a little variety.

So I head off to HD to see if I can find it. Nobody there has any idea what i'm talking about. Ditto for lowe's. I hate this... if I'm going to use the t-molding I need to rout the slot for it, but I need to know the size and depth in order to do that.
I also don't want to wait a week for it to get here. Didn't have any luck locating anything locally on the web either. I'll call around tomorrow and see what I can find.
Worst case, I have to bite it and send off a web order-- with a minimum order of 20' from what I've seen. Which is about twice as much as I need.

Looks good doesn't it? ... Just bolt the abs onto the plywood, the 4-way is sandwiched in there as a test .. no plate needed.

ps .. check out the new link over there. Paper arcade. cool.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

plastic fantastic

what a difference a little plastic makes. Maybe the whole should be covered in plastic. make it pretty and people go 'wow'. It really is a shiny pretty world if you don't look too hard. All that plastic is so good at hiding all the flows that lurk below the thin façade.

Made it over to Tap plastics this morning. After I drove half way across town to where they used to be. Of course when I got there I remembered that they're only about a mile away from me now. DOH!
Looked at some sample pieces and talked to a nice kid who seemed to know a bit about how things handled. The polycarbonate (lexan) only comes in clear and smoky clear .. no good for my purposes. I took a sample piece to check out though. Finally settled on some 1/8" black ABS. Its easy to work, no cracking problems, and it's got this cool texture that actually matches the trackball mounting plate.

Heres what I ended up doing. I bought a piece a bit larger than the cp .. in this case 18x36 (about $13). I clamped it over the cp board, drilled holes in 4 corners, put in some screws -- cause I still haven't been able to find cool carriage bolts any smaller than 1/4"... then, once it was held in place, I flipped it over, drilled some pilot holes right through the middle of all the control holes -- including all the screw holes.
Flipped it back over -- so now there's a piece of plastic with a bunch of small holes in it ... and drilled all the 1-1/8" holes with a 5/8" spade bit. For some reason, the 5/8 I had really did a nice job of cutting clean holes in the abs. (Yes, I did spend some time playing with the scrap, drilling holes and figuring out at least 3 ways NOT to do this :D )

Finally .. clamp it all down again, put a 1/2" straight laminate edge trim bit in the router, drop the router into the 5/8 holes, and buzz out all the big holes, including the trackball mount.

Finish up by running the trim bit around the edges. ... Which is where I screwed it up. I kept having to move the clamps and screws so the router could do the various corners .. and the last time ... I forgot to put one of the screws back in, the plastic slipped, and it got trimmed in about 1/4" too far. Luckily it was on the back side of the cp, so I can just take that much off the wood, too and nobody will know the difference but me.

And so it goes .. that's the way it always is... screws up just before you're done ... or maybe I get too excited about getting done and screw up by not thinking towards the end. whatever. It's coming along.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


making progress ... i just had to see ...

Monday, March 26, 2007

making progress

ok .. the vista problem over .. but looking back on it, i think it might have been a really stupid thing to do.

oh well, too late now.

played with the router, got that working. I routed the happs into the back of the cp, and they look great when they stick up another 3/8".

Time to do the front now. Picked up a plastic electrical cover at home depot. I can trim it down and use it over the 4-way. It's a cool color blue and I think it'll work just great. I went back to what I originally planned -- cut about a 2" dia hole for the 4-way stick, and I'll route the top so it sits down in there. That should make it good and solid, and I don't have to get a cover plate for it.

Realized I don't need a cover plate when I reallized I was going to have to cover the whole thing with lexan or somethign. I'll go down to Tap next weekend and see what they have in stock. Lowe's and HD only have giant size sheets of the Lexan, and it's pretty spendy. They're also all clear. I'm hoping I can pick up something in a solid color blue, maybe black.. and just cover the top of the cp with it.

If not, then formica, but the only formica I've seen has been in giant size sheets also, and they all have the crappy counter-top designs. Haven't seen any cool solid black or orange yet.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

vista crash

Spent all fri nite and sat. morning getting soooo frustrated with Vista. Vista would crash every time i did anything. it even has an old style bsod. open browser-crash, open folder-crash... took me about 4 hours to get it to connect to the dsl. called in to verizon and everything else, they walked me through the settings, and then started saying things like my dsl modem was just too old. Maybe because Vista is running IPv6? Anyway, after I got off the phone with them and it still wasn't working, so I tried a few more things. Like turning off the IP6. The connection finally tarted working after I ran it through the wireless router. It was running straight from the modem to the pc when i was talking with Verizon so they couldn't say it wasn't their problem.

By about 2 pm Saturday i couldn't take it anymore. I bought a copy of XP, formatted the drive and installed it. Trashed everything. I did that on the assumption that I'll wait about a year, vista will have a few updates, I'll have a decent video card, and then work out something with dell about getting an install disc.

XP cost me about 5 hours of loading drivers and whatnot, but its not crashing anymore.

My brother was here Friday nite, too, then off again about noon saturday for a ski trip. So in the meantime I havent gotten much done on the cab. Spent too much time playing with the PC.

I'll hopefully make a bit of progress today. I did get the 5th button marked in and marked the joystick templates up enough to accommodate it. Time for some more drilling today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Have to re-draw cut lines for the joysticks ... and I decided I wanted to add the 4th button on the bottom row. that means the joysticks have to move up centered with the top row.

so... they'll be 3/4" farther away from the player.. no big deal. I can live with that. It's either that or start all over again.

Had another good email conversation with Bob Roberts today too. I asked if I could send the joystick back. Not. ... He pointed out what I needed was a mounting plate, and don't rout the board, just cut the hole for the stick. If I use a formica top, then, I don't need a plate, I can just mount it to that. should be strong enough.

Thinking I'll head over to Lowe's again. Need to look for formica laminate for the top. Maybe pick up that router, too and start playing with it.

road trip!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

more drilling

finished (maybe, for now) drilling the button holes. then started to look at the trackball and the trackball template.
Cant figure out why the trackball template says to cut out the huge diagonal hole, when it doesnt look like the trackball needs any more than about a 3.25" square.

Hmmm. Looking for more information on that one before I dive in.

Started trying to figure out Mamewah tonite too. Ended up picking a game at random that requires a 4-button setup. So I'm going to have to go back and add that 4th neogeo button down by the corner of the joysticks.
Lots going on with the Mamewah front end. Trying to figure it out so I can set it up to run the C64, Atari and other emulators off the CP.

tick tock tick tock ... more controls on the way soon I hope, and hopefully a new PC before the weekend.

Monday, March 19, 2007

the screw up

Ok.. its only fair that I document the screw-ups as well as the successes.
This is a photo of the cp top ... you can see the partially drilled hole .. I drilled that after the top row. that was exactly as far as I got before realizing I'd messed up the measurements.

I was so mad yesterday, couldnt even think. Went to the Home Depot and Lowe's ... started perusing MDF and what not. I just quit work on the cab cause I wasn't sure what to do. Just walked around the stores, trying to think of something but my brain wasnt working. Bought a pizza on the way home after I realized I hadn't eaten all day.

Told a friend at work this morning about it, he said just cover it in formica. Why didn't I think of that? Actually... I did kind of think of that, but I was considering colored plex or lexan. I like the formica idea better.

The only redeeming part is that I marked a centerline, which became the new drill mark for the 2nd row. So now the centerline of the joystick is aligned with the bottom row of buttons instead of the top ... or I can move the joystick up a bit. not sure what i'm going to do yet. doesnt really bother me to just leave it inline with the bottom row.

I also decided to pick up a router. I did a bit of research and found a Hitachi with decent reviews. They have it at Lowe's ... but my closest store only has the display model, none in stock at the moment. I'll have to get on the phone and check out some other places. Price seems to be the same everywhere, about $179.

Hate to bother Robert to do some of this routing, because it's going to be very time consuming making jigs and what not. He's got a good business going and shows every weekend so he has his hands full already without me taking up time in his woodshop.

Time to go watch a movie now. Started drilling again and the battery is near dead. I'll finish up the last few button holes after the netflix.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Started drilling holes.

As soon as I started on the 2nd row of buttons, I realized I'd measured them wrong.

time for a new top. no salvaging this except maybe for a monitor shelf or something.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

feeling better

Ok.. I'm feeling a bit better now. Spent the afternoon measuring and cutting down the old cabinet. I took my time and measured 3x and double checked and thought again.

I'm committed now. No design changes. I cut the cab ... you can see the first cut ... one more cut to go ... and the final product.

I just love how that looks. the cp sitting there. It fits well .. oh boy. It feels good.. I'm still stoked.

That last pic also shows where I cut the overhead speaker board earlier to make room for the monitor.

More woodwork coming. I need a router.

bummed :(

While I was out working on the cabinet .. the post lady shows up with the box from Bob Roberts.

Cool . 4 new leaf switches ... and a chinese knockoff wico stick. I hate that stick. the ball is too big, it's cheap plastic, the shaft is larger diameter.

I wanna cry.

The idea was just to switch shafts and use the old original mount. No good. I can't do it. I just love the feel of the old one too much.

Of course it means a bunch of extra work on the panel top, cause the original is going to have to be mounted from the top, which means the panel has to be routed and drilled special to accommodate that.

the play's the thing

I'm SOOOOOO glad I poked these buttons into that linoleum..

I also incorporated an idea from the BYOAC board about putting some instructional information on the deck. My disgusting sense of artistic balance always getting in the way of things. Which of course was responsible for the very first layout way down there below.

After actually setting up the buttons though, I made a few tweaks. Put the spinner next to the joystick on the right side, dropped the spinner buttons completely, moved all of the start/coin buttons to the far left, and reserve the new free space as a hole for some basic instructions.

What a headache. I thought going thru the cardboard test setup was just going to be an exercise, but wow, what a change after you actually put your hands on things and move stuff around a bit.

The trackball is now 1/2" off center as well, but it should work fine. Besides, screw what it looks like artistically, it's all about how it plays, right?

Friday, March 16, 2007


I'm stoked. I'm ready to start messing up some real wood now. I still need to get some routing done -- and the lawn mowed --- but these things shall not deter me from the goal.

I didnt have a solid piece of cardboard laying around. But there was an old roll of nice stiff linoleum in the garage when I was trying to find a box.

I poked the buttons and stick handles into that just to check there wasnt too much problem reaching over joysticks and such. Nice to work with. Just cut a couple of slits and poke the stuff in. The only possible problem I can see is occasionally bumping the spinner knob off of the trackball. doesnt look like it'll be a big problem to just move those over a little bit more to the left.

I need to trim a bit of the overhang on the panel top, too. Need to do that first. Looks like I can safely take an inch off of the front of that. Probably improve the looks a bit, too.

new computer

I was so bummed out today ... fry's online had a great deal on a pc but it was only good for 2 days, and I passed it up because i had to feel pressured. Of course thats why they do that, salesmanship 101. But I let it slide by figuring I'd find something else as good. Except I didnt. Looked everywhere. Spent half my time surfing computer deals all day at work today.

I got my tax refund back, and I promised myself a new pc. So I needed to get one before I piddle it away on useless trinkets.

Dell Outlet rocks. Seriously. I went for it. I found a screaming PC, better than the fry's deal, for only $399 .. scratched and dented .. not even a refurb so it comes with the full warranty. And it's BETTER system than the one I passed up.

I feel better now. It's been ages since I upgraded the pc. And this one has to go into the arcade cab.

amd 64 dual core, 2 gig ram, 250 gig hd, and dvd burner. $399. plus shipping. awesome. who cares if the case is dented. It'll get arted eventually anyway.

I'm spending the evening poking controls into an old piece of linoleum. nice surface for testing the layout.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

parts is parts

I bought too many damn buttons.

I guess we all need a few extra buttons. They're always missing from my shirts. Maybe I could put a few in the next art car. They're nice and big and colorful, and could actually be functional in some weird way if I wanted to do that. They're fun to play with. Maybe I could hand them out as stress relievers. Or Christmas presents. Put them on a string and hang them on a tree.

Just endless possibilities.

Since I ordered the parts, I changed the design, found out I could double-up on button assignments, cleaned up the layout, etc etc etc ... and now I have too many buttons. I suppose I can always sell them to somebody, even after keeping a few spares.

Received box #1 today at work. Nice ... the trackball, buttons, joysticks ... still waiting for a couple of things, but this is enough to get me started. I can stick em in some cardboard and see what things look like. One last chance to do that before I commit the wood.

I'm really sad about one thing though .. the purple buttons aren't the same color purple as the spinner knob. Just blows my color scheme all to hell :(

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

bob roberts

Wow. I just got a response from Bob Roberts. This guy knows his stuff.
I sent him a note asking about getting some leaf switches for the old joystick ... which someone here said no, its not a wico, it's probably a taito .. etc. ...
Check out Bob's response:

That is a Wico 15-9540 stick & there are no parts for it, but I think the switches used on the repro 15-1000 Wico sticks will work, although I don't have an OEM here to test with. The breakdown that I have supplies the same part number for the switches as on the -1000 model, the -9540 & the -9454 which someone described to you on your blog.

He even sent a link to the detail pictures.

As for the old grommet, he suggested I just replace the shaft (with grommet) for $10, get a longer one so I don't have to do all that cutting and routing. I can just mount the longer shaft under the plywood.

Cool. You can see his site of arcade parts over there on the right.

update 10:06 p.m. ... joy shaft and leaf switches Ordered.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

hmmm and oh boy!

Hmm ... looking at the cabinet again, trying to figure out what/how to remove or trim back the board under the marquee ... It'll have to come out or at least get cut down in order to make room for the monitor. The cabinet is put together really well, all the pieces are morticed into the sides.

and.. OH BOY ... the controls are on the way. Whoo hoo! .. still haven't located/ordered the leaf switches yet for the old stick though. I'll get on that tonite.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Version 3..

I got some good feedback from the design, and now I've got a cleaner version.
Dropped the mouse buttons out completely. Eliminated the pause buttons, and moved the 4-way to the right of the buttons.

I like this better, so long as I can live without the mouse buttons. Very clean. Lots of space above the trackball.

goofin off

Played around with some things and finally put this together in freehand.
My proposed cp layout. Not shown are hidden pinball flipper buttons and administrative buttons that go on the sides and front under the panel overhang.

I should go eat something now, and sleep on this design for a while. The controls should be here at some point, then I'll put them on a piece of cardboard and see what it REALLY looks like.

After dinner I'll go see what needs to be done to the old cabinet.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

cp started

Okay .. so I didnt get any sanding or finishing or any of the work done on the old cabinet, but I at least managed to get the control panel box cut, screwed and glued.

I think it's kind of cool how that birch plywood matches the top of my workbench.

I'm pretty sure the bottom and back pieces match a bar cabinet at my old house too. ;)

Ahead ... layout the control design on the top, and drill some big button holes.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

saturday morning

It's the weekend. oh boy! woodwork time.

I can sand and sand and sand and maybe even paint the cabinet. Need to get the upper shelf removed and relocated also.

I'll see how it goes by the end of the day. Hopefully make some more progress, maybe even get the top of the CP drawn for drilling and routing before the weekend is over.

I'd love to have it ready to go by the time the controls get here.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Parts ordered! Whoo hoo! (no, just chose not to look at the bank account til next month. I'll be too busy in the garage to go do anything anyway.)

Now I can spend the next few days and the weekend getting the control panel box together.

Just wait around for the big box o parts to show up at the office .. .yum

I still have to go dig around for the leaf switches for the old joystick, but I came across them at one point when I was researching parts supplies.

Personal day off work ... Had to get rabie shots for the dog, go shopping, and various other odds n ends.

Saw a nice show at the Schnitz last night for my birthday: Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, John Hiatt, and Guy Clark. I realized how old I must be when I mentioned that I'd been listening to Joe Ely for 25 years ...

the quote

I got a quote for all my parts ... $333 + shipping ...
40 buttons
2 joysticks
1 trackball
1 spinner
1 encoder

Still have to dig around elsewhere and get the leaf switches for the old stick.

I'm excited.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

bills are paid

Nice thing about getting paid once a month ... all the bills get paid, too.

Now, hopefully there's enough leftover to finance the arcade economy with one big order.

2 sticks, 40 buttons, encoder, leaf switches, trackball and mounting hardware.



Here's what I wanted to do... attach a control panel to this cabinet.

I was admin/programmer for this network of touchscreen kiosks for about 4 years, and then they were decommissioned due to government budget cuts.

We pulled them all in last fall and I've been waiting around since early Dec. for these things to go up for auction.

I was really hoping I could pick one of these up cheap and keep one for sentimental value .... except I'd turn it into a game machine. Cool. Complete with touchscreen.

So, I've been waiting for surplus for 3 months and nothing shows up and finally I find out they're probably not going to get surplused to the public.

I finally said screw it and started looking for a cabinet.

Monday, March 5, 2007

noobius honor

Wow. I made the front page of BYOAC ... I had been trying to get on there and ask some questions.
I realized later that I'd posted my request in the wrong place, but I couldn't post it in the forums til they authorized me. Sort of a Catch-22 thing.

It's an honor, even if a dubious one for a newbie. (Would that be a noobius honor?)

Started laying out and cutting some pieces tonite. I have one piece of 24x48 birch that's big enough for the CP top, front, and sides. That's all that matters for looks anyway. I can use some lesser grade wood for the back and bottom.

Dinner time, and gotta get the colors picked for the buttons. I'll go over to slick stick and play with the color picker while I wait for the tv dinner.

Probably won't get much done next couple of days. Guests coming in.

CP time

I think I've figured out how to mount an oversize CP after playing with some sketches and sleeping on the problem.

Tonite I'll start work on sketching out the CP pieces. I'll be using birch plywood - I think I have enough leftover from a previous project to do at least the top and sides.

I need to go ahead and put in the order for some CP parts. So they'll be here when I'm ready for them. The only thing I can't decide on right now is what color buttons. I think I should consider myself lucky.

Here's what I've got on the list so far:

2 competition sticks
3" trackball (translucent blue)
36 buttons, including the 1player/2player. (a few extra for some admin functions I want to put in.)

Tornado spinner and knob

Mini-PAC and wiring harness

Sunday, March 4, 2007

short stick

There it is. An original short-shaft Wico (Taito?) leaf switch, sans worn-out leaves but with the original worn-out grommet.
It's got a lot of play in it, and I don't know how to fix that yet.
I'll have to rout the panel and mount it from the top. It'll need a metal plate on it. The template and routing plan are behind the red ball.
I like this pic too ... "solar-powered" Quarter lights. Nice.

Anyway .. that's it for the day. Bedtime.

Ser 14397

That might make a cool name for this thing. Cool.. stamped into the side of the cabinet, and also on the front: "14397"

Got the cabinet stripped and ready for some wood modification. Don't know what I'm going to do yet but most of the pieces have been removed.

I pulled out the monitor mount, bezel, and control panel. I'm keeping the joystick, but hopefully I can find somebody that wants those pieces. I'll put them up on CL, and then ebay if I can't sell them locally.

Removed the coin door and door frame pieces. There's still a quarter stuck in there.

It was a good day.

the cab comes home

I finally got the cabinet into the (now somewhat-clean) garage.

Good news.. the cabinet is in good shape, complete with casters on the back side so you can just tip and roll it.

Possible problems: The monitor in the old cab was set in only about 20 degrees off the horizontal. It looks like it hung from a bracket that way. I'll have to change that.

... The power board for the monitor is still intact in the bottom of the cabinet. I won't be using it for this project but it WILL be powering my Jacob's Ladder next Halloween. Bwaaahahahahaha!

what I hate

I just realized that what I hate about starting a new project is cleaning up after the last project.


There is one question that has been bugging me to death, that I can't find the answer to: How do you mount a full-size MAME control panel onto a standard converted arcade cabinet????? The panel on my cab is only about 6" wide.

No help in the book so far, and no help through the online forums either.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


I've been trying to decide which joysticks to install in the new panel.
I did decide I would use the existing stick on the panel for the 4-way. A nice homage to the cabinet to include the old joystick in the new design. It feels well used. Hopefully there's some way I can bring it back up to par. Maybe just give it a complete rebuild with new switches and grommet, and put a restrictor on it.
As for the primary sticks, I can't make up my mind which ones to buy. So many choices. There are some retro wico-style leaf sticks available on e-bay, but I wonder about the quality. Also, leaf sticks seem a little bit "mushy" to me, and I think I prefer the microswitch versions for most games. Top of the list right now is Happs Competition.

key encoder

I'm leaning toward either the Hagstrom USB36 or the Ultimarc Mini-PAC. Only about $10 difference in the two. The wiring harness is a nice bonus with the Mini-PAC.

They both handle plenty of keys PLUS the trackball and spinner all on one board. I think either one can handle both a spinner and trackball at the same time, but the Mini-PAC auto-switches depending on movement. The other one probably does too. I'll wire them through a select switch under the panel. I don't like the idea of bumping the spinner and losing tball control.

As soon as the housecleaning chores are done I need to head down to Powells.

Friday, March 2, 2007

more ideas

I like this. It's a good place to store ideas.
Just had another one this evening. Instead of mounting an accessible CD in the cabinet, why not just put a wireless card in it.
Then I can just do any uploads, data updates, etc over the wifi net.
I AM going to want keyboard access there, too, so I don't have to ever open the cabinet. Either a USB port on the front, or a keyboard in a drawer.

item 4

Was just thinking about item 4 in the list of what I want to do. That is probably way too much to deal with. Who wants to stand there all weekend playing adventure games. However .. I do have the C64 and Amiga emulators, with lots of games that would work real well using joy/mouse controls.

Scratch item 4 below.

Replace with:
4. Play C64/Amiga games via emulator.

I'll also need to update the layout so that there are 2 mouse buttons to work with the trackball. I found this key layout of the SlikStick console:

Time for some more reading. There's a lot of buttons there.
I hope when this is all over I don't wish I had just plunked down $500 to drop one of those consoles on the cabinet.


I just had a pang of regret about tossing out my Microsoft Easyball ... What you don't see is that the big yellow ball is actually about 6" diameter. Way cool. I picked it up in a junk store years ago, and eventually returned it to whence it came. I thought it was fun to use, even if it did only have one button. :(
What a cool trackball that might have made.

So many choices

I've been looking and reading and trying to decide which controls to use, how much they're going to cost me, wondering if my layout will handle everything I need, etc. etc.
What's the best joystick to use? Even with multiple reviews and comparisons out there, it's hard to decide.
$161.40 for a trackball????????
I came across a book review of "Project Arcade" -- I'll probably head down to Powells Technical and pick up a copy tomorrow morning. (Support your local bookstore).

Thursday, March 1, 2007


My plan (cause ya gotta have a plan):

1. Primarily a MAME system, running MAME32.
2. An MP3 jukebox
3. 3D games .. I have some 3D arcade games and 2 pair of shutter glasses I want to incorporate into the system.
4. Capable of playing other non arcade-style games. (I love my 3rd person RPG adventures like NWN, Baldur's Gate, etc). Dependent on difficulty of keyboard mapping or having keyboard available. These require lots more keys than arcade games.
4. Play C64/Amiga games via emulator.

Cabinet mods:
Will need to have a cabinet-mounted CD for non-MAME games and music uploads.
A set of good speakers mounted alien-antenna style off the top sides of the cabinet, curving around to face the players.
Subwoofer mounted in the cabinet base. Will probably require some holes/grillwork in the bottom.
The control panel housing will have to be enlarged to accommodate a new layout with more buttons and a trackball.

Control panel:
Original control panel will be replaced. The buttons and joystick seem functional, but they are old and cheap enough to replace. (Maybe keep the buttons for the pinball sides and use the existing stick in locked 4-way mode?)

The control panel housing will have to be enlarged and modified to accommodate a good standard MAME setup with 3 joys, 16 top buttons, 4 side buttons, trackball and spinner.

Basic layout, with pinball buttons on the side not shown:

J3 is 4-way stick.

x1, x2 are 1/8" jacks for 3d shutter glasses. They may get moved to the front of the cabinet. They connect to a video-synch splitter, not the key controller. Depends on the amount of room underneath the CP.

I'm buying a new pc, so I will just move my old one into this cabinet. Strip it down and reload it with nothing but games and mp3's.
The 3d games only run on an Nvidia card, which I'd like to move to the new pc, so may need to locate another old one.
I'll need a 19 or 21" CRT monitor. (Must be CRT for the 3d games.) My old 17" just isnt big enough.

WinXP on my current PC.
A MAME32 front end.
There's a particular MediaPlayer skin with a full-screen jukebox mode I want to use, but cant remember the name of it just now.

I'll write a custom front end that boots at startup to choose between MAME, MP3, 3d games, CD-based games. Maybe with Flash.

Cabinet graphics:
I'll paint them on myself. Being a part-time artist has its advantages ;) No ideas just yet though.


On my way downtown to pick up the cabinet last night, my brother called to tell me he's getting married.

It's his first. He's 52.

I'm happy for him.

And so it begins

I had been thinking about building a MAME box for a while, and recent events in my personal life inspired me to take the plunge. Read that as "something to keep a single guy busy for a couple of months instead of being a mouse potato".

I really decided at one point that that I wanted to start with an existing cabinet, and modify it as needed. I'm capable of doing the woodwork, but if the price is under $100 it's worth much more than the time and money it would take to build one up from scratch.

I also didn't want to take a working system and gut it for a MAME system ... I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

When I started poking around classifieds and craigslist, there were some possibilities. But anything that was actually functional was going to cost $250 and up to a couple thousand. Even some "classic" but unworking systems were offered in the $200 range. Good. The price alone was going to save me from violating my principles.

About a week ago, I came across this ad and it inspired me to take the plunge. .. A completely empty cabinet offered by a local arcade for $50. Perfect.

Arcade Videogame Cabinet - $50
Reply to: --
Date: 2007-02-22, 8:48PM PST

Ground Kontrol, Portland's classic arcade, has an upright video game cabinet for sale. This cabinet would make an excellent starter for the hobbyist who is interested in building their own home arcade game.


* Control panel with working 8-way joystick and two pairs of buttons

* Frame for mounting a standard 19" arcade monitor (not included) in vertical orientation

* Smoked plexiglas monitor bezel

* Wired for power, sound, and marquee light

* Coin door with start button installed for coining games that lack a free-play option

* coin box

* back door

Note: In a past life, this cabinet was Scramble, one of the first side-scrolling shooting games. See Scramble's KLOV entry to learn more.

Etc., etc. ...