Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Side Art?

I think I'm going to cave and add some side art to Bella's Arcade. From the outset of this project I was not planning on adding side art to the cabinet because I wanted to keep it simple, however after painting everything I realized that the cabinet sides are kind of plain so.... I had some side art designed! megashock05 was kind enough to put something together based on the marquee he previously designed. I really love what he came up with and I think I'm going to have it printed by mamemarquees and slap it on both sides of my cabinet! Check it out:

Pretty cool! It's not 100% finalized (I want to think about it for a little while before I have it printed) but I don't think I can make it any better.

Thanks for looking!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Control Panel Wiring!

OK, since I haven't been able to find a chunk of free time to finish painting the cabinet, I decided to wire up my control panel while watching TV. It was pretty easy to do - the whole process took less than an hour from start to finish. Wiring can be an intimidating part of building an arcade cab but once you know what to do it actually turns out to be the easiest part of the entire build.

The first thing I did was make a map of the wiring harness that came with my Ultimarc 360. There are 10 nodes and 9 wires coming out of it. One is "ground" and the other 8 can be hooked up to any button for any use. Since I only have 7 buttons on my control panel (Action 1, Action 2, Action 3, Player 1 Start, Player 2 Start, ESC and Coin) this is the perfect solution and it also means that I do not need any type of keyboard encoder like a KeyWiz or iPac.

As you can see from the diagram, the wiring harness is completely color coded which is very helpful - it doesn't even matter what button you decide to wire up to what color since the entire thing is customizable. The purple node is not being used currently but I'm debating on wiring up a hidden "pause" button so Bella can take a break if necessary - I haven't worked out the logistics of that though (there's nowhere to put it!).

Each button is operated by a microswitch which looks like what is pictured to the left. The top prong typically isn't used for an arcade button, the middle prong receives the wire from the wiring harness and the bottom prong receives the ground wire. The ground wires can be "daisy-chained" together meaning that the black wire from the wiring harness will be run to "ground" on the first microswitch and then to "ground" on the second microswitch and so on until it ends at the last button's "ground" prong. There is no need to complete the loop and wire back to the harness. That's all there is to it.

In order to connect the wires to the microswitches, I used "female wire disconnects" (shown) - they are sold in packs of 100 for less than $5. You strip the end of the wire, stick it in the insulated end of the connector and then crimp it shut so the wire stays in place. The connector then just slides on to the microswitch prong. Easy!

Here are some pictures of the completed wiring job:

Thanks for looking!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day 13: The Paint Job Continues

Now we get to the good stuff... sort of. This past weekend I was fortuante enough to apply the first two black top coats to the interior of my cabinet. I took a few pictures to show off how I'm going about painting it which is a little unusual for cabinets like this (I think). The pictures below were taken after I applied the first coat and you can see right through the black paint in a lot of places - it was very uneven and splotchy and I was quite scared that I ruined the entire thing. The second coat went on much nicer though (which isn't shown, unfortunately). Check it out:

Thanks for looking!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day 12: The Paint Job Begins

Not much to say about this part other than the fact that I applied three coats of a white oil-based primer to the entire cabinet. I waited a minimum of 24 hours between each coat and I sanded in between using 220 grit sandpaper. I used a high-quality foam roller to apply the paint on the large surfaces and a foam brush to get into the corners. It was a tedious process and it is actually quite difficult to get a smooth even coat of paint - I guess I should learn how to use a spray gun. The sandpaper did a pretty nice job of evening everything out though. I don't have any pictures of the all white cabinet, unfortunately but you can use your imagination. The real fun will begin once I start adding the colored top coats.

The plan is to paint any surface black that is visible on the outside that faces the interior and to paint the two side panels, the coin door panel, the top panel and the back panel pink. I can't wait!

Thanks for looking!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Display Problems

Ack! For the past week or so I've been trying to configure the software and get everything running properly on the computer. There is a TON of work involved because I basically have to manually go through 6,000+ games that I have and figure out which ones are displayed vertically and which ones work. I loaded up a few games I knew I wanted on there - just the basics - Pac-man, Donkey Kong, Mr. Do!, Super Pac-man (pictured), Frogger, etc. and they are not displaying to the edge of the screen or in the correct aspect ratio (they look squashed). There is about 2" lost on the top and bottom and about 0.75" on the sides and I'm not sure how to fix it. Check it out:

I know... it doesn't look that bad from the pictures but I assure you that it is quite annoying when I'm playing. If I can't resolve this issue I guess I could always cut the cardboard bezel to frame the area of the monitor that actually displays but that would be a last resort. I'm probably going to need some tech support once I really dive into the software configuration and am ready to finish this thing...

Thanks for looking!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Progress Pics

I took these a while ago and never got around to posting them - just a few shots of the finished control panel installed in the cabinet with the coin door, monitor and marquee all in place. All that's missing is the paint job and the t-molding!

I will be posting pics of a very white cabinet soon. I was able to recently put three coats of primer on the cabinet - I'm almost ready for the pink!!

Thanks for looking!!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Time To Get Organized - Again!


I still have a ton of work to do on my cabinet and it's time to make another "punchlist" so I have some sense of order to what I'm doing. Here goes (again!):

Cabinet Construction
1. Cut hole in rear for power attachment (See HERE for what I'm talking about)
2. Tape cabinet to accept the black paint on the interior
3. Paint black section of the cabinet (4 or more coats, as necessary, sanding in between)
4. Tape cabinet to accept the pink paint on the exterior
5. Paint pink section of the cabinet (4 or more coats, as necessary, sanding in between)
6. Spray on 15 coats of lacquer
7. Wet sand coin door panel and two side panels with 1500 grit sandpaper for finish
8. Apply rubbing compound and polish to coin door panel and two side panels
9. Cut marquee retainer
10. Install marquee
11. Install speaker covers (use screw caps)
12. Install pink t-molding
13. Cut posterboard bezel
14. Install glass over the monitor

1. Install recessed plug outlet in rear of cabinet (hook up SmartStrip)
2. Install coin door
3. Install monitor
4. Wire everything (buttons, joystick, coin door, etc.)
5. Set up MAME
6. Set up MaLa (front end)
7. Place computer in cabinet

To Buy
1. Recessed plug outlet

Wow - this looks like a lot more than it really is when you break it out. By this weekend I should have at least one coat of the pink and black paint on the cabinet (it's completely primed right now). Basically, all that's left is the finish on the cabinet and hooking up the computer (and some miscellaneous stuff). I'm getting closer!!

Thanks for looking!!