Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Button Decals

This past weekend sure was productive. After completing the coin return button hack I turned my attention to labeling the admin buttons on the control panel. This thing has to be user-friendly so everything needs to be clearly marked. Four unlabeled black pushbuttons isn't going to cut it.

There's not much to say here other than to show before and after shots and maybe a brief explanation of what I did. It's really as easy as applying a sticker. Here goes:
  1. Clean each button with some rubbing alcohol and a q-tip. Blow it dry. A super-clean surface is essential.
  2. Cut out each decal as oversized as possible. The decals are small and if you have giant hands like me you want to be able to be precise with the placement.
  3. Peel the paper backing off the vinyl decals leaving a clear plastic film and the vinyl decal (it's sticky on the bottom, duh)
  4. Line it up and apply the decal to the button - be careful - you only get one shot!
  5. Using something like your fingernail, rub over the vinyl decal to make sure it is securely in place.
  6. Remove the clear plastic film leaving the vinyl decal on the button!
Here are the before and after shots:

Close up:

The decals are "Exit" to the far left for exiting out of the current game you are playing and back to the list, the single female icon for the "Player 1 Start" button, the double female icon for the "Player 2 Start" button and "Pause" for, um... pausing the game.

I have an additional decal that says "Launch Game" which is in the shape of a semi-circle which was made to go directly on the control panel above the "Player 1 Start" button. The reason for this is that when you are browsing the game list from the front end, the "Player 1 Start" button doubles as the "Launch Game" button. I'm not sure if I need it though which is why I haven't put it on yet. Start is start, right? Are people honestly not going to be able to figure it out?

Big thanks to Pongo over at BYOAC for printing up the decals for me!

I'm getting closer...

Remaining items:
- Pink Plexiglass Dustwasher
- Relocate Power Button
- Coin Box
- Software Configuration Tweaks

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Coin Door (Return Button Hack)

Holy bananas - an actual update?!?!?!?

As previously mentioned (like 3 months ago), having to insert a quarter every time I want to play a game is a huge pain. However, it will be nice to be able to limit Bella's play time because I can just give her $5 in quarters or something and let her play until it's gone (this should also force her to get better if she wants to stretch that $5). When I'm playing, I don't want the hassle of popping in a quarter every single time so I needed to do something about it.

I thought about it for a while and did some research over at BYOAC and decided the easiest way to do this was to install a microswitch behind the coin return buttons. When the coin return button is pressed, it will trip the microswitch sending the signal to the computer. The hardest part was figuring out the placement of the microswitch and how to get it to stay in place.

Here are a couple of "before" shots of the back of the coin door. The yellow plastic is the return button and the red plastic is what will come into contact with the microswitch I'm installing.

I couldn't attach the micrswitch directly to the plastic on the coin mech because the cherry button on the microswitch would not be activated in this position. My lovely wife suggested using some fireplace kindling as a shim - what a great idea! I cut the shim to size and then positioned the microswitch on it so it would be activated once the coin return button was pressed - I marked everything with a sharpie and then glued everything together in one shot using some Gorilla Glue and a spring clamp. Check it out:

Finally, I ran the wires in parallel from the actual coin door switch to my newly positioned microswitch. The last shot really gives you a good idea how the whole thing works. The yellow coin return button is pressed which pushes the red plastic into the cherry actuator on the microswitch. Pretty cool.

Now that the coin door is set up, I can insert coins whenever I want but if I don't tell anyone, maybe I can sucker a few friends into dropping some quarters in the machine!