Arcade

Jason's Classic Arcade, old fashioned gaming hardware and software

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Cabinet and Control Panel

I began my arcade cabinet hunt looking at complete arcade cabinets ready for PC's, such as the Hanaho ArcadePC and Hyperware Ultracade, even an empty Dynamo cabinet. Those are nice, except for the large price tag. Then I considered constructing my own custom cabinet, but I saw many do-it-yourself results in the arcadecontrols.com examples page that looked very do-it-yourself. I'm not much of a carpenter so I didn't think I would fare much better. The next option was to find a real arcade cabinet, and put my PC in it.

As for the control panel, I started with the plan to buy some prefab control panel and affix it to the cabinet somehow. The Hotrod, SlikStik, X-Arcade, and OzStick all looked great. The SlikStik web site was nice enough to list the exact parts they used, so that along with encouragement from the regulars on arcadecontrols.com and alt.games.mame got me thinking more homebrew on the control panel.

Following the rec.games.video.arcade.collecting group for a while, I learned that classic arcade cabinets should be preserved, and not destroyed to become MAME cabinets, so I proceeded with caution. I narrowed my search to only empties, conversions, and truly crappy games.

Two arcade auctions come to Atlanta, about every other month:

http://www.superauctions.com

http://www.auctiongamesales.com

The first one in 2002 was Auction Game Sales, so my buddy with a minivan and I headed down to McDonough bright and early that Saturday, and I won a machine for $40! It had about $3 in quarters loose in the bottom of the cabinet too. (note: AGS no longer includes Atlanta in its rotation)

Me immediately following the winning bid

Brian is stoked too

Now how to load this thing into the van

This was a semi-working Bloodstorm game in a Double Dragon cabinet. The 2-player control panel had some homebrew inkjet labels instead of a real overlay. The right joystick stuck when trying to move it left. There was no sound, and the video shown shrunk down onto one bright horizontal bar, possibly in need of a vertical hold cap kit according to the fellow with the LSU cap I was waiting in line with. I learned that Bloodstorm is one of the most violent, gory games of all time, so based on that and the condition of the hardware, I justify taking it out of circulation and turning it into a MAME cabinet.

The cabinet just as it was when I got it
In its new home in my game room, still got the old tagger on it

I have the carefully removed Bloodstorm board for anyone who wants it, along with the Bloodstorm marquee in decent shape. The cardboard Double Dragon monitor bezel is in fair shape too, but I use its reverse side in the cabinet now. (note: I have since sold the Bloodstorm parts to Jammaparts.com)

I bought some new joysticks from Happ Controls, some 8-ways (Competition) for general use, and the ones that can go 4-way or 8-way (Super) for a more specialized control panel later on. Someday I was also have an "exotics" panel with a trackball, spinner, trigger joystick, and some buttons. (Think Tempest, Tron, Arkanoid, and Crystal Castles) I love the Competition joysticks so far.

I also got the Universal Beverage Holder from Happ, and now have it mounted on the cabinet side.

The monitor is a Wells Gardner U3100. I needed 800x600 VGA for my Windows front end I made. I ordered the monitor from the Wells Gardner web site directly. Actually I ordered the cheaper of the two U3100's, and I received an email from the next day saying they were out of those so they'd ship me the better one for the same price. Thanks WG, you are awesome!

Out with the old non-working monitor...
In with the new WG 3100

Of course the wonderful Ultimarc I-PAC provides the interface between the controls and the PC. I had the control panel resting atop a cardboard box while I configured the software and wired the controls to the I-PAC.

My temporary workspace while setting up the control panel

So once I figure out the best way to swap a 2nd or 3rd control panel onto the cabinet, I will have that "exotics" panel and possibly a fine-tuned 4-way for more competitive Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and Ms Pac Man play.

For a while, I had a "Jason's Classic Arcade" marquee I made with a sharpie drawn on some spare cardboard. It didn't look very good so I eventually put the Bloodstorm marquee back in it.

Temporary hand-written marquee

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