Sunday, August 14, 2011

I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I'm very hungry!

It's been far too long since my last update. The cabinet was playable (albeit without any artwork) for quite a while. What's the best thing to do when your cabinet is in a perfectly playable state?

Tear it apart and redo parts of it, of course.

The original planning and design on the control panel was done quite backwards. Instead of properly laying out the control panel in a digital template and then drilling from there, I drilled and worked backwards. This created a number of accuracy issues.

Close probably won't cut it if I decide to get artwork done, and then spend a hundred dollars or more to print it. With that in mind, I spent close to a month playing around with different layouts to ensure I could still fit 3 trackballs on the control panel.

It initially started out as a way to find a better design, and resulted in a significant reduction in the size of the massive control panel.

I shaved 8" off the horizontal and more than a full foot off the vertical. It should still provide more than adequate shoulder room for playing, while bringing the panel in closer to the monitor.

It keeps the same general feel of the panel, but removes a lot of the empty space. It also reduces the feeling of being oversized.

My friend did a great job of a very precise fit and finish to the panel and the panel box. At one point he was 1/16" out on one of the sides and scrapped the entire side. I probably would have been fine with it, but his attention to detail shows.

Once I got it home, I taped it and prepped for painting. I used a roller and a brush to apply multiple coats. Bondo was applied at any imperfections.

The finished look is a nice smooth matte without any brush strokes showing through.

I've managed to move over all the controls and as of this date I'm 50% of the way through wiring. The wiring turned out to be a bit of a headache because I didn't do a proper wire map to begin with.

Fortunately I followed the Mini-Pac wiring guideline in order, which maintained my sanity if a connection had pulled loose and I wasn't sure where it belonged. More updates as it is completed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did... Do you want to know which of them are cowards?

It seems like I lost my focus with this Blog. It was intended to provide some insight and tips with things that I uncovered as I progressed.

So in keeping with that theme, I'm listing the repairs that were done to my monitor.

The repairs that were done to my Betson/Kortek KT2914F Multisync monitor were:
A 33UF 50V Radial Cap was replaced.
A 2SC5584 was replaced by an FJL6820.

Perhaps that will help someone down the road.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We'd better get back, 'cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostly.

Its been a while since my last update. The monitor board has come back to me repaired. In its absence I managed to blow off Vista and put XP back on.

In order to accomplish that I had to purchase a 500 GB hard drive to store all the cab files on. During that process I accidentally snapped the back off the hot swap bay. $50 down the tube. I ended up getting a non rack style bay so I can just pop the drive in and out.

Hopefully my main PC motherboard will be back to me next week and the electronics in my house can return to normal.

Still no luck with artwork. I have no idea what I'm going to do about that one.

This weekend I'll try and get the neck-board reattached and the control panel back on and functional.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'm requesting national authority command override; Angry Man is unsecure. I need everything we have at my command in order to stop his movement.

Good news, of sorts.

My sales rep from Betson replied promptly and advised the monitor comes with a 1 year warranty. Called the technicians at the contact numbers she provided, and I'll need to grab the p/n off the neck board.

So tonight's task will be to disassemble the cabinet, pull the monitor and obtain the p/n without damaging the cabinet or myself.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I never did mind about the little things.

I've been a big supporter of Microsoft products for a lot of years, and I've been using Windows Vista since the RC1 without a problem. Without a problem, that is, until I attempted to install SP1 on my Vista Home Premium. That was almost two weeks ago, and I finally got to the point that I've given up on Vista.

I'm going back to Windows XP.

That is until I realized that the forces of the universe were aligning against me. First off -- going back to Windows XP after having Vista on your machine is not an easy task. You can't simply just reinstall Windows XP. I forgot that Vista installs a new 'boot loader' which has to be removed by destructive or sneaky ways first.

In my initial attempt to reinstall Windows XP, during the install process I hit one of the buttons on my cabinet, which apparently was a shortcut for c, and that prompted the install to attempt to create a new partition over top of my existing partition.

Did I mention I don't have my cab files (all 250 GB of them) backed up?

Thankfully I didn't panic, and found this amazing tool called TestDisk. It allowed me to completely recover the fubar'd partition, with all my files intact.

Praising myself for my calm demeanor (I should have known better) I proceeded to determine that the way to remove the Vista bootloader was to boot off the DVD and run a bootsect.exe /nt52 command from the recovery console. This would remove the Vista bootloader and replace it with the XP NTLDR.

The universe, sensing my impending victory, decided that this would be the optimal time to have my Betson 27" arcade monitor fail. The monitor that has less than 50 hours of logged time on it. The monitor powers on to a 'ticking' sound which sounds like either the monitor is trying to change resolutions or degauss itself. Either way, it is non-functional.

My initial reaction is to go to the local Canadian Tire, purchase a sledgehammer, and bring all of my anger and frustration to bear onto the cabinet. Unfortunately J has informed me that there will not be a second cabinet constructed in his garage. As such I will be forced to vent by destroying something else, and venting my rage on the Internet.

I've left a message for Betson. Everything I've read indicates their service is great. However I am several thousand miles away from them, and this only reinforced my original fear of buying an arcade monitor. The fear that something would fail on the monitor and I would be left hanging with the choice of having it repaired locally (costing several hundred dollars), or shipping it back for repair (costing several hundred dollars more than local repair).

I'm not willing to invest several hundred dollars into a monitor that has hardly any usage on it. So at this point I'll have to wait and see what Betson's response will be.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. I play video games, which I think is a far superior addiction to any of those other ones.

Making real progress now. I'm almost at the point where I can call the project 'done'. The only major thing that's left, is the artwork. My albatross. My white whale.

Here you can see the 25 cent stickers and the admin stickers applied. All of the admin buttons are wired and functioning now.

One of the things to be aware of with the small momentary contact buttons is that they're very shallow. I had to route out quite a bit of the backside of the 3/4" panel I had. Even then the nuts didn't seem to want to hold all the time.

Wider shot of the admin buttons.

The power button, when unlit, seems hardly noticeable with the labels in place.

This shot shows the labels reflecting off the glass. Again, the glass is so dark that you don't see these types of reflections unless you're hitting it with a camera flash.

Nice close up of the 25 cent vinyl. Looks much better than just a plain black button.

The more I look at the admin buttons, the more I'm glad I went with the smaller momentary contact buttons as opposed to a regular push button. They just look ... more admin.

What would any project be without some pimping here and there. I decided to spice up the inside with some cold cathode tubes. It also helps if I'm doing some work inside, as opposed to using a flexible work light.

The edges of the cabinet now have this eerie blue glow to them. It's also a nice effect when opening up the coin door.

Managed to take a stabilized shot without the flash so you have a better sense of the lighting.

Just a reminder that I was able to get the vinyl admin buttons from Pongo in the BYOAC forums. It's a great resource for artwork and other arcade related goodness.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What's worse, thinking you're being paranoid or knowing you should be?

So I took the admin panel from J's garage and brought it home to mount the buttons. I originally went out looking for a 3/4" nut for the Bulgin Vandal power button. I should have been more observant, because it already comes with a half height 3/4" nut on it.

Lots of driving around wasted on that.

After mounting the admin buttons and the power button the paint ended up getting scuffed up, and the paint had some indents in it from behind handled.

Sanded it with a 120 grit sand paper, put a few more coats of enamel paint on it (after taping off the buttons. It's now nice and shiny.

Very difficult to get a good shot of the button. The button doesn't come with the 'power' symbol on it, I ended up getting a sheet of vinyl decals from Pongo in the BYOAC forums. I'm very happy with the results.

I had originally planned on 2 inch spacing between the buttons, but I was concerned about the vinyl labels overlapping. I increased it to 3 inches and I'm very happy with the results. All the buttons are vertically aligned and the net resulted is a very appealing look.

J came over to look at the progress I was making, and I managed to leverage him to help me install the glass. The L brackets I was using were too large, so we ended up putting a slight bend in them so they wouldn't cover the control box bolt holes.

I'm very pleased with the results. The glass, as you can see, is quite dark. It adds that missing element of 'arcade feel' to the cabinet.

The challenge with taking a picture with a dSLR is that it's constantly trying to increase the light levels. The net result is light reflections off the glass, when in reality there is very little reflection at all.

Here is the heart of the machine. Motherboard on a Lian-Li motherboard tray, with a Vantec hot swap drive case, and the power supply. I used some beefy panel clamps on the top and bottom and they hold very securely.

Another angle.

I need to practice taking more shots with my camera. This is with the ISO turned up and the flash turned off. The effect doesn't quite come out like I wanted, but you get the idea.

This is the back of the control box with the admin panel securely mounted. I used 4 x 1-1/2" L brackets.

A picture inside with the motherboard mounted securely. Looking much more tidy now.

The admin panel serves to fill the gap at the top of the control panel, and add that little bit of polish.

I can't wait to see the control panel with some artwork applied.

My Pac-Man 4-way reunion stick came in. Now I can mount it, and use it on the games I need to, rather than trying to struggle with an 8-way.

Unfortunately the mount is slightly different from what I had routed. As you can see there's some damage to the wood that requires some bondo to repair.

I finished the afternoon by taping the underside and applying bondo liberally to fill the holes and the notched areas. I'll drill new holes tomorrow, and securely mount the 4-way.