Friday, December 30, 2011

iPad repaired.

A while back I dropped my iPad 2 from a height of about 3 feet onto some concrete.  I had a Smart Cover attached, but that was the only "protection" it had.  It landed right on the corner and ended up looking something like this.

I went to the Apple store and they wanted me to pay $319 for them to swap it out for a new one.  With Christmas coming up, I didn't have the extra cash to fix it so I waited a while before looking for other options.  I found several places selling replacement screens and I watched several "how-to" videos about replacing the screen myself.  I was just about ready to tackle fixing it myself when I stumbled upon  Their service looked good so I gave them a shot and sent it off for repair the week before Christmas. Their price was $139.95.  Despite the timing, their turn around time was great.  The Post Office held the shipment longer than I would have liked, but I was very happy with the repair job.
You can seen where they had to reshape the corner to get the glass to fit correctly, which is just fine with me since I didn't want to have to replace the back as well as the front.  Overall I'm very happy with the job they did.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Controls Are In

My X-Arcade Tankstick arrived today and I dropped it into the cabinet.  I had to do a little work to get it to fit, but it's in.  I tested it out with a little Centipede.
I know the hard core cabinet builder will scoff at my addition of the pre-made controls, but it was the best fit for me right now.  I would like to eventually salvage the parts out of it and build my own, but I'll wait until after Christmas to break it.  I'm going to enjoy it with my kids a while first.

If you look closely you can see that I changed the way the marquee is mounted.  I went with aluminum retaining frames rather then the weaker pvc j-moulding I was using.  It's much stronger now and I don't have to worry about it falling apart.

I also installed two rails inside the monitor area to hold the bezel and front glass.

It's really coming together, a few more weekends and it will be basically done*.  I still need to enclose the speaker box area and clean up the keyboard drawer as well.

*I don't think projects like this are ever really done.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Coin Door

Earlier this week I got my coin door from X-Arcade.  Here is how it looks.

 I was impressed by the quality of the door.  It seems to be well made.  The coin return has a red LED that has it's own AC adapter attached.  The coin mech seems to work well, it accepts quarters and rejects other coins.   I haven't tested the microswitch yet, but I expect it to work.

The Tankstick I ordered last weekend is on back-order but I should have it in another week to 10 days.  Then I can wire the coin door into the controls.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Photoless update

No new pictures at this time, but I have made a little progress.
I spent some time this weekend working on the software side of the Arcade.  I gave HyperSpin a look and was really impressed with how shiny it was.  My biggest problem with it was that it was just too heavy for the old PC I'm running the arcade on.  Even with the effects turned way down, the performance was poor.  Maybe if I upgrade the PC I'll take another look.
I had been testing both MameWAH and MaLA, and right now it looks like I'm sticking with MaLa.  I found a theme that I liked for a starting point and I've spent a little time customizing it.  The more I tweak it the more inspired I get to make more changes.
I also made some decisions about the control panel.  I had just decided to start from scratch and build everything myself when I happened to take a look at the X-Arcade website this weekend.  They were running a special holiday sale that was too good to pass up so I ordered the Tankstick.  I know, I know, I took a shortcut and robbed myself of part of the fun of building my own.  But, I have a plan.  I figure I'll install the Tankstick and play with it a while, but eventually will strip it down and use the parts build my own.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A little more progress...

Not much of an update, but I did install the t-molding and I put in a different Marquee.  I'm still working on the design/theme.
The red trim with the black makes me think of the old Batmobile.

It looks a lot better with the molding, but I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with the control panel.  I'm torn between buying an X-arcade Tankstick and buying all the parts and building my own.  I built the cabinet so the Tankstick would drop right in above the keyboard drawer, but now I find myself wanting to do the controls from scratch.  There isn't much more I can do until I decide which way to go.  I can finish the sound system, but I don't want to tackle the bezel until I decide on a controller.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Paint is done.

I got back from my business trip Thursday night and was able to get some work done this weekend.

Saturday I applied my first coat of paint, installed the lock on the front door and starting putting the marquee together.  I bought the acrylic panel and hand a heck of a time cutting it.  I cut 2 pieces to fit the marquee area and sandwiched a test marquee between the glass.

Today, I put in all the shelves, built the backboard for the marquee and installed the new light.  I attached the back, sanded and applied my second coat of paint.  Tomorrow I'll try installing the T-molding.

Sill to do...  Design the real marquee, design and build the bezel.  Build or buy the control panel.  Buy the amp and swap the speakers out and build the speaker panel. Design the side art.  Plus I need to decide on and configure a software front end.  I'm testing MameWah and Mala right now and both are pretty cool.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Arcade Cabinet

Some time in late 1998 or early 1999 I first heard of a program called MAME.  MAME stands for Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator.  What it does, in a nutshell, is allows a modern computer to emulate the hardware that was in old arcade machines.  This allows you to play classic arcade games on your computer.  I'm not talking about updated versions of old games, you can actually run the machine code that originally ran the games in the arcade.  This code comes in the form of software ROMs which are dumps of the code stored in the hardware ROMs of the old machines.

Shortly after I first downloaded MAME, I found out people were building arcade style cabinets to house computers running MAME.  Not only that, they were building control interfaces using original arcade hardware and doing lots of other cool stuff to trick out their cabinets.

I knew back then, that some day I'd have to start my own MAME cabinet project.  But, aside from playing some MAME games on and off over the years I didn't think too much more about it, until I fired up MAME one day to show my 6 year old son some of the old games I like to play.  One thing lead to another and a trip to the hardware store was in order.

The first thing I did was dig up the old plans I had printed out years ago.  The ones I had were drawn up by Lucid, I really like the general shape of his plans.  But the ones I finally went with were based on Lucid's but modified a little, and I modified them a little more for my project.

This is the basic side panel design I went with.

I measured out the dimensions and drew the shape onto a sheet of 3/4" MDF and proceeded to cut it out.  I then traced the outline to another sheet and cut it out as well.

I cut the first sheet late in the day on Saturday (Oct. 22), then cut the second one on Sunday (Oct. 23), total time of drawing and cutting was less than 2 hours.
The next weekend I was out of town for a football game and didn't work on it at all, but I did get the router bit I ordered and was able to cut the groves for the t-molding that Monday night.

This past Friday after work, I cut the piece for the bottom and attached the casters, then Saturday between watching football games I attached the sides to the base.
Sides are glued and screwed to the base and the monitor shelf is roughed in.
Later on Saturday I put a computer in the box so I could see how it looked and my son promptly took charge and I didn't get anything else done on Saturday.
I lost control of the project while my son played some DBZ.
Today, again between football games, I got a lot more work done.  And again, I had to fight my kids for control so I could work on it.  Will and Abby had a lot of fun playing it today.

Now it's ready to be stripped back down and painted.  I put in a different monitor and speakers than I had yesterday, and I may end up changing these again, but this will do for now.

I got the keyboard drawer in, the front door hinged and installed, the speaker shelf and marquee box is there, but not completely done.  I'm about to leave town for 10 days and will get back to work on it when I return.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First Post!!

I decided to switch to Blogger because my old self hosted WordPress blog got hosed and I got tired of trying to keep the software updated and free of exploits and script kiddies.

I may try and reproduce some old posts from my old blog, but for the time being, I'll just post about what I'm now.

The project of the moment is my Arcade Cabinet.