Monthly Archives: August 2011

Installing the computer into the arcade machine





Hello interwebz,

So, here is where the arcade machine is now.  I think it’s starting to look really good!

All the buttons are in, the cabinet is painted and (mostly) assembled.  And now it’s time to get the electronics into it!

Here’s the computer I’ll be using.  I built this computer about 2 years and it’s been used as a 1)PC Gaming rig, 2) Windows Media Center, 3) Windows Home Server and now 4) Arcade machine.

This computer is a 2.4GhZ Intel Core 2 Duo (or something like that).  It’s *plenty* fast enough to do what we are doing here.






Here’s the start.  The mainboard is mounted into the arcade machine.  I used plastic mounts that screwed into the wood so the mainboard didn’t sit directly on the wood.





I then installed the power supply, the graphics card and the hard drive.  I wired everything up and got it to power on.






This mess has been in the living room for at least a week.  I really don’t know how my wife tolerates my ‘shenanigans.’

Here you can see the computer mounted in the arcade cabinet, running out to the TV, with the speakers on the left.  At the bottom of the picture you can see there’s still a wire connecting the case to the mounted computer.  That wire is to turn the power on and off.  Later that wire will be connected to a red arcade button mounted on the back of the unit.  To turn on and off the unit, all you need to do is press the button and voila!  Arcade GOLD!


Now all we have to do is stitch this thing together.  In this picture, the computer is getting screwed into the whole cabinet.









And now it’s time to install the monitor.  I installed two bars that go from left to right in the cabinet.  You can see the first black bar here above the control panel.  These two bars will prevent the monitor from falling inside the machine.  The monitor will be installed from the front and then covered with plexiglass that I will screw into the cabinet.  Once I do that, that monitor’s not going anywhere!






Here are the two bars fully screwed into the cabinet.  You can also see all the buttons and joysticks wired up.  The buttons were a bit of a pain, because each connector was a little too big so they were loose and kept sliding off their contact points (thus making the button useless).  I went in with a pair of pliers and crimped each connection so we wouldn’t have a problem with lost connections.







We are getting really close to having a finished cabinet here.  From here on out it’s mostly a game of tetris trying to figure out how to get everything into the arcade cabinet.

Thanks for reading!













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My control panel

Hello Interwebz

It’s been a while since I posted about the arcade machine.  Sorry about that.  I hope to post more over the next few days.

Today is the day that I made the control panel.  The process is pretty simple but takes a lot of drilling.

The first step is to measure the control panel so you know how much room you have to work with.  Once measured, it’s time to start planning out how you want to lay out the controls.

I knew a couple of things.  First, I knew I needed two joysticks.  I didn’t care about a trackball or spinner, but two joysticks is an absolute must so I can play Robotron and Smash TV.  I also knew that I wanted at least 6 buttons, but if there’s room 8 would be good too.  Based on that I hopped into Adobe Illustrator and came up with a few different layouts before I decided on my final layout.  And here it is…

You can see the joysticks on the left and the right with the buttons in the middle.  Once I was happy with the layout I pasted the printed piece of paper onto the wood and noted my drill marks.

Now that the marks are noted in the wood, I am ready to drill!  To drill the holes, you need a 1 1/8″ drill bit.  That’s a huge hole, but once drilled the buttons and joysticks will go right in place.




And here’s the panel drilled out.  My only complaint is that the button holes are a little close together.  On my next control panel I will space them a little further apart.


And now it’s time to put the buttons and joysticks in!


Here is the panel with the buttons and joysticks installed.  I was thinking about doing a vinyl control panel overlay (so I can put fun graphics on the panel) but ultimately decided against it.  So this thing is ready to go!

Next up, I need to put microswitches into the joysticks and buttons.  For those interested, microswitches are the physical switches that plug into joysticks and buttons that send signal to the machine.

To go a little more in depth, let’s look at the buttons.  The button is literally a piece of plastic and a spring.  The microswitch clips on at the button of the joystick so that when the button is depressed, it completes the microswitch connection and sends a signal to the electronics in the machine.  This is what causes Mario to jump.  A button uses one microswitch and a joystick uses four.

Here’s the bottom of the control panel with all the microswitches installed into the machine.

That’s it for today.  Next up, getting the computer installed.  Soon, we will play games!



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