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.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Well, we kinda face to the north and real subtle-like turn left.

Well the admin panel is mounted to the control panel box, and it fits into the space it needs to. There was some serious concern on my part I wouldn't be able to mount it properly the first time around, but I marked out the edges with chalk and that seemed to do the trick.

I also mounted the motherboard and associated computer equipment to the board I wanted to use. I'm using large panel clamps on the inside, and that seems to hold with a significant amount of force.

After years in the computer industry I figured it would be a walk in the park. I couldn't have been more wrong. For starters, I decided to dust the motherboard a bit. At that point I realized it looked like someones scalp was stuck in the heat sink. I disassembled the heat sink and fought back my gag reflex. It was pretty nasty. Put some new silver thermal paste on there, cleaned it up and reassembled. (totally expected it to boot with beep codes but had no issues).

The challenge became when I attempted to mount the motherboard to the Lian-Li tray I had purchased. Two brass stand offs broke off (yes, broke) in the mounting holes. I was pissed off and took an 1/8" drill bit and expanded the holes. That seemed to work perfectly.

Just need to finish mounting the hard drive, wire up the admin panel, and attach the wood piece that will keep the glass in place.

That will finish things until the artwork is done.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I just blew up a hotel. How the hell do you think I am?

Well I've been busy. The cab has gone through some serious play testing, and it's clear that setting up all the games with all the controls is going to take some time.

The trackballs had to have the y wires reversed, as it was functioning like a flight stick. Down was up and up was down. Easily fixed by reversing the outside wires that plug into the Mini-PAC.

It's alive! A beautiful sight indeed.
Here's Lyle playing some track and field.

Here's Darcy playing some track and field.
The camera doesn't do justice showing off the greylite #14 glass. It's dark. Very very dark.
Had to load up joust, because it's a classic.

Here is the glass outside of the cabinet.

Spent 2 days applying bondo, priming, sanding and painting the control panel box. It looks significantly better if you check out some of the older pictures.

Nice curves to it now.
The admin panel, waiting for the paint to try so I can install it.

The diamondplate came in, after I ended up going to the FedEx depot to pick it up. FedEx claimed they attempted delivery, yet no truck appeared in my parking lot and no one rang the door bell.

Tomorrow I'll take pictures of the work I've done mounting the computer onto the wood panel. I'll also take pictures of the admin panel mounted, with the cool illuminated Bulgin Vandal power switch.

Also, the cab has a name;


Monday, February 18, 2008

My CPU is a neural net processor, a learning computer. The more contact I have with humans, the more I learn.

I'm tired.

My goal was to take the cabinet apart to do some work on it (it's fully functional, Canuckles played a few games).

My initial plan got screwed up when my buddy J came over and I was unscrewing the lag bolts and realized I had cross threaded one of the lag bolts the entire way up. Needless to say it took the two of us to get it apart, and the bolt was about 200 degrees by the time I was done.

Took some bondo, patched up some of the parts I didn't like. 80 grit sandpaper on it and threw on some Tremclad primer.

I'll have to use a 160 or higher sandpaper tomorrow and then put another coat of primer on it before it'll be ready for paint.

We also managed to cut the admin panel, and the piece that will hold the glass in place. On Saturday I cut up the piece that I'm going to mount the motherboard, hard drive and power supply to.

I'll post some pictures in the next few days.

Also, the cab has a title.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then - explode.

Interesting weekend.

Saturday was supposed to be the day I finished wiring my control panel, configured the buttons, and finalized my cabinet so it was playable for Sunday.

The reality was a bit different.

To start with, I encountered all manners of issues with the buttons. It turned out that the ground and signal crimps weren't tight enough for the leaf-style micro switches I had installed on some of the buttons. It was causing them to disconnect intermittently. Once I compressed the end very tightly, they were reliable.

Then I ran into an issue with the coin door. It turns out you can't ground the coin door switches to a second Mini-PAC, they have to be grounded to the same Mini-PAC that the signal is connected to. Important lesson learned.

Then the button configuration. You have to make sure you've unplugged all but the Mini-PAC you intend to program, otherwise you're going to drive yourself nuts.

So I finished at 11pm on Saturday, got up at 7am on Sunday and worked until about 3:30 pm to get it up and running.

I'm still going to have to remap some of the keys, as the CTRL and ALT keys seem to cause all manners of conflict in Windows. As well, I have an issue with the blue trackball not wanting to reliably detect a spin on the X-axis. 'Fozzy Bear' on the BYOAC forums suggested it might be a trackball spindle that needed more oil, and after disassembly I'm inclined to agree. The spindle seems to have far too much friction.

So tonight I'll be focused on putting some oil on the 2 spindles and 4 bearings that seem to need it, as well as re-configuring the key map.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

If there's a world left when this is all over, I'd like to buy you a beer.

I settled on 4 x 1/2 inch bolts to secure the control panel box to the cabinet.

I couldn't find a 1/2" drill bit, then I remembered that I had the 1/2" spade bit that hadn't been used yet. I pre-drilled with the largest bit I had (3/8") and then used the spade bit.

Here all the joysticks and buttons are installed. I wasn't completely certain on the color scheme, but after seeing it assembled I'm very happy.

Once the artwork is in place, the joystick base will be hidden nicely.

Some of the internal wiring.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. Come back when you're worthy.

Managed to get quite a bit accomplished. Sat down with a few bad movies and started wiring.

Player 1 buttons. The wiring won't be tidied up until the artwork is applied, as I need to take the entire thing apart to apply the artwork.

This is the Happ trackball X axis connector. They have a AMOA plug in place with a harness. You unplug the X axis connector and Y axis connector and the Mini-Pac plugs directly in.

These are the Mini-Pac trackball connectors. Y-axis on the left and X-axis on the right.

Spinners installed. Had to countersink the bolts for them to fit flush. I probably could have used a #6 screw, but I went with a #4 as the mounting holes seemed quite small.

Player 2 buttons.

A start and coin button. The coin button is black.

The control panel is a monster and I wasn't able to reach from the bottom of the panel to the top to attach the coin buttons. I purchased some male quick disconnects and used those to plug into the Mini-Pac wiring.

Here is a nice shot of the Mini-Pac wiring.