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Author Topic: Blue Gene  (Read 6087 times)

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ButterGuns

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Blue Gene
« on: October 02, 2011, 07:44:42 pm »


I happend upon MAME about 5+ years ago and thought it was a great idea at the time, but i really didn't have the resources to go about then.  Now I've rediscovered arcade emulation and my situation now allows me to jump in with both feet.  ...actually when my wife finds out, there will be words, but what the hell, I deserve this  ;D.  In a previous life I was a graphic designer and desktop publisher and I know my way around Photoshop and Illustrator.  Now I'm not the greatest graphics designer BY ANY MEANS but I do have an eye for what looks good.

My idea for a cab:  I like all things cool, and one time I was hooked on this short lived anime called GeneShaft. The anime wasn't that great but what I thought was really cool was when they climbed into the giant robot, this operating system with cascading hexagons would pop up.  when all was good the OS gave a pleasant "enjoy" graphic, and when it was bad -"panic".  I always wanted my PC's "start" button to say "enjoy" instead :D. So this cab pays homage to GeneShaft, and we'll call it Blue Gene. (yes i know there's a IBM super computer Blue Gene, but they just went and took all the "blue" names didn't they)

I WANT A FOUR PLAYER CAB, so all you who say you don't need it -can go somewhere else.  The only reason I say this is because this cab is to bring back arcade memories; I had spent way to many quarters on Gauntlet II -and now you're telling me I can play for free! -I WANT the 4P option.

My list of games it must play is pretty simple...
Gauntlet II
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Pac Man
Toobin
and some fighters (I'm having a hard time getting my system up to speed for these)

The system I have on hand is a Biostar motherboard with LOTS of ram and a 2.3 Ghz Athalon 64 Dual Core and an ATI Radeon X1600 Pro vid card: That sounds good, but it's not cutting it. All of my 3D fighting games have choppy sound. I purchased an old copy of XP 64 to take advantage of my system, then nLite'd it. It made big improvements but stilll not good enough.


I've purchased the hottest processor that will fit in this motherboard, a 3.2 Ghz AMD Phenom II quad core. It arrives tomorrow, hopefully that will get me in the ballpark to play Dead or Alive 2 smoothly.

One game I'd REALLY like to play -but isn't gonna fit in this build is Assault -no room for 2 more (flight) sticks without overdoing it.

I'm nearly done collecting my parts. P1&2 have U360's and 6 ggg concave buttons w/ microleaf switches. P3&4 have 8way J-Sticks and 4 buttons. A big 3" Happ trackball is also in the mix. 


For a display I started with a 27" Sharp CRT with s-video, but it was just PAINFUL to look at -I spent my money on the Hanns-G 28" 16:10 LCD monitor which has a beautiful picture compared.


Here's my own design for the sides. -I left the construction lines so you can see where all the lines come from


I think I'm ready to start cutting wood. I'll post pics of my control panel endevours next.



drventure

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2011, 08:01:24 pm »
I read the title and kept thinking "David Bowie"  ;)

But it looks like your off to a great start!


mgb

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2011, 11:54:18 pm »
Nice start. Good luck with the project.

emphatic

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2011, 02:49:52 am »
Nice profile.

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2011, 01:44:37 am »
INSTANT SUCCESS with the processor (cpu) upgrade.  i upgraded from an 2.3ghz Athalon 64 X2 (dual core) -to a 3.2 Phenom II x4 (quad core) today.


Now ALL the 3D fighting games operate without audio stutter, AND AND AND Gauntlet Legends works fine! -I never thought that was attainable without a whole system upgrade, sooooo BIG WIN today.



I downloaded the Sandra software to benchmark my upgrade and I DUNNO WHAT THE HELL it was saying.  What I did glean from it's use was that originally I was ranked at 3% of systems (low performance); And jumped to 20% (low performance) of all systems. -i can almost taste the MDF.

On the downside I realized that I'll need to order the wireing harnesses for the 2 U360s, so I can wire my 6 buttons ea to them (I didn't realize I would need those harnesses). Unless someone can tell me a nice way connect buttons to U360s??? a source for the plug?


ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2011, 03:52:23 am »
I think this is my final CP layout for this build, it took a while to get to this point (again, i left the construction lines so one can see).


This design features 4 player postions (for Gauntlet and Simpsons), player 3&4 are at 90 degrees, 1&2 have straight/perpendicular orientation and decent palm rests.
The button layout I call a "squashed hexagon", because that's what I did, it's a hexagon grid I squashed & rotated slightly , then centered the buttons on that grid.  I really like it so far -though I've never used it.  It makes sense with the hexagon theme, it closely matches other 6 button configurations AND... it's also (kinda) matches the button layout for Toobin' -which is a prerequisite game.


Here's the other designs I went through along the way


#1. First I wanted to design a "staggered" CP so that 4 players could fit comfortably and more compactly -I had been working on custom van seating with the same idea.  But this doesn't workout and causes more problems.  I had tilted 1&2 orientation towards the middle of the screen for elbow room, but it wasn't enough.

#2. Then I made a staggered design that was slightly wider so that 1&2 had enough elbow room.  I was thinking STRAIGHT orientation would be nice for 1&2, and again, not enough room.

#3. This is my favorite -but it has issues.  In this radical ROUND design, all players share the same aspect AND there's PLENTY of room.  I just have this NAGGING feeling that I'm gonna want straight/perpendicular orientation to the monitor.

#4. And the winner is -just like all the others :(  oh well I tried. P1&2 have enough room AND straight/perpendicular orientation.  P3&4 have gone to 90 degrees -exactly the same as Simpsons and Gauntlet. We sport nice'n'comfy palm rests for 1&2, and the trackball magically aligns in the center of the board.  -originally I had the track ball down low but the P2 stick was dangerously close.  this new centered orientation is way better IMO.


Your critiques are welcome! -The only way a designer can get better is to take in the critiques of others and BUILD upon that.

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2011, 05:01:43 pm »
A couple more planing images.

Gonna go buy some wood now. (2 sheets) 3/4" MDF, (1 sheet) plywood, and wood for homemade cutting boards.

madmatt

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2011, 06:41:45 pm »
Wow... I love the visual lines..... Great thinking!!! :applaud:

One question.... how about adding a spinner?  I know you don't want to mess up the "flow" of your
CP, but you clearly have enough room to slip one in at the top.  Also love the theme.  I look forward to
more updates.

MM

out

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2011, 07:16:06 pm »
Should I add a spinner?  Oh YA, I have plenty of room for a spinner.  The only game I ever remember playing with a spinner is Tempest.  I do like the Tempest sooo I dunno if it's currently worth it. What do you think?  ALSO I'm bummed I can't play Assault (a tank game) which requires 2 topfire sticks...

So I was thinking maybe of making a SMALL cp with 2 flight sticks, that suction-cups to that large blank area of my CP???  would a spinner look good in the middle of that?

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2011, 02:35:17 am »
HOLLY CR*P MDF IS HEAVY!  I mean I knew it was -but having to pick it up... my cab is gonna weigh like 300+ pounds.


I purchased my wood, like I said I wood -laugh out loud.

Ya know, right next to the MDF at Home Depot was a nice looking pile of 3/4" "cabinet grade" plywood that was looking pretty sweet on sale at $25 a sheet.  I bought one for my build, but after weighing the MDF -maybe 100% ply might have been the way to go (I'm laminating btw).  I'll play it safe though, and follow in the footsteps of those before me. My first build will have mostly MDF and structural plywood.  I also picked up some drawer runners, 1 5/8" deck screws, cp cabinet hinges, and a countersink bit.

I'm gonna start building.  The only things I'm missing are leg levelers (HD didn't have them?), and the cp overlay, marquee, and sideart.

Malenko

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2011, 05:00:05 am »
every time I see a 4 player cab, especially one with rotated end players, I wonder why more people dont use NBA Jam/NHL Open Ice/ NFL Blitz as a base and just add buttons to the middle 2 players.
If you are helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business not kindness.

BurgerKingDiamond

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 02:07:21 pm »
Too bad you decided against S-Video. But your design looks nice.
-Welcome to the Fantasy Zone.

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 08:16:45 pm »
REPLY

every time I see a 4 player cab, especially one with rotated end players, I wonder why more people dont use NBA Jam/NHL Open Ice/ NFL Blitz as a base and just add buttons to the middle 2 players.


DUDE... I think the same thing.  I have churned over 4P designs for HOURS (it's fun for me), and I AM AMAZED... that the Kanomi cp works so beautifully.  When one gives up the pointed-at-the-screen ascpect and goes to 90 for P3&4, it saves a TON of space.  All my previous 4P designs looked like giant wings you should mount on the back of a Porsche. You know the Kanomi designers must have shouted "EUREKA!" when they came to that 90 decision.  When one looks at most 4P games you'll notice that pointed-at-the-screen aspect is not too important, 90 is fine. I came to that decision too, finally, BUT my design also includes AMPLE rest space for the hands (mostly for P1&2). That's why it's bigger than a Kanomi cp. -maybe there's too much space.


Too bad you decided against S-Video. But your design looks nice.

Yaaa, I dropped $50 on craigslist for a 27" crt but was unhappy with the picture. I bet I could buy a really nice crt for $$, but it's a money gamble when this giant computer monitor i bought solves all my problems (i think).  I'm a NOOB at this cab build thing but I'm giving it my best shot.  Axiom #12: anything you make should be world-class.



btw, I still own a 36" crt tv and have tought about using it -but it's HUGE and anything would be a monstrosity. AND, last year I sold a REALLY HUGE CRT TV (50" i think)... it was my parent's  :angel::angel:.




ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2011, 01:44:30 am »
More progress this weekend.  I discovered I'm not that good at using the circular saw.  I finally made some decent cutting boards, I then proceded to mangle them.  After a bit more practice than I wanted I started making some decent cuts.

I decided to start building the CP first and then see if the Cab would have to change any.  Some cheap-o sawhorses were a big help (duh).

1. Built the cp box from my full size plans printed and taped together.  I predrilled and countersunk the holes for the 1 5/8" deck screws and used some good glue to piece it together.
2. Using simple carbon paper (Staples) and a ball point pen, I taped my full size cp design to my board and transfered all the needed lines by hand.
3. Used a jig saw and carefully cut the shape of the cp top out.

notroubleclubber

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2011, 03:23:33 am »
If u don't wanna buy the harnesses for the u36Os I used an old IDE ribbon connector chopped down. It clicked into place nicely. The only problem I had was locating what each wire did with an old multimeter which you wouldn't have to do with a harness.

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2011, 04:08:29 am »
That's a good tip too -I was a little bothered by the thought of paying overseas shipping again for a simple little harness.

I thought the pins looked familiar on the U360; They use the same connector as the USB FireWire headers on a motherboard!  I went digging through my old computer parts and found 3 USB, FireWire expansion plates with the connectors and 10" of wire.

mgb

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2011, 07:41:38 am »
I like the control panel shape. Looks like it coming along nicely

Woodshop Flunky

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2011, 11:45:32 am »
I don't know if the blue side art with white title is what you've settled on, or if it's just a "mental placeholder"... but I really think it looks nice.  Very clean, and attractive.   :applaud:

The profile is nice too.

Complete mini arcade cabinet plans available.

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2011, 01:59:46 pm »
very interesting setup to see the 4 player CP, and the layout where people are overlapping each other.


My cabs
4 Player Arcade
X-men Arcade Remixed
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borals

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2011, 06:54:01 pm »
The art on this project is tits.

I tried a slightly angled 4player CP so that players 3/4 were facing slightly inwards, and it was a pain in the arse. I'm building another cab now to recify this, so that all players are dead on with the screen. I'm not sure how the 90 degrees works as I've never tried playing on one, let me know.

mgb

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2011, 08:25:43 pm »
tits is good, right?  :dunno

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2011, 01:19:59 am »
The art on this project is tits.

tits is good, right?  :dunno

I like "tits", AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  In a previous life I was a graphic designer. Now I'm a pretty good carpet cleaning biz owner. One of the reasons I'm building my cabinet is that I'm working ALL THE DAMN TIME and don't get to use any of the money I make -I'm working. so this is for me.

I'm keeping my finish artwork a secret until later, but yes the side is pretty much done. I wanted the BIGGEST title I could fit on there.  What you don't know is that I hand created that font (type face). I couldn't find a close match to the GeneShaft font; It was a simple enough techno font so I could make my own close match of the 4 or 5 words I wanted.


very interesting setup to see the 4 player CP, and the layout where people are overlapping each other.

Ya, very promising overlapping the players to save space.  I've also got a '76 dodge street van that I'm rebuilding (on hold) and I've spent HOURS "overlapping" the seating for 5 people in the back with good results.  With the CP, In the end, it would work with angled players but I decided to go with straight 1&2 players.  The space savings ended up being negligible.  Gaunlet and Simpsons use 90 degree 3&4 and I'm happy trying it.  It's all about elbow and hand room.  The round one really works well -but again, I wanted straight 1&2.

Dude, dude, DUDE!! My new plunge router (craftsman $89) is AWSOME (tits).  I probably say that because I've never owned/or used one, but DANG it's fun. The cut profile my jig saw left around the edge was angled out a little, so the router cleaned that up by riding just the top 1/8" of cp with the smooth part of the bit. nice 90 degree cut profile angle now.  I made my button holes with a 1 1/8" paddle drill bit.

I had a decision to make -buy a plunge router, or replace my crappy circular saw.  I learned to use my saw more correctly. "measure twice, cut twice"

Im going to surface mount my controls btw, and just lay my overlay over it and put plexiglass over that.  It allows me work access to my controls and I get the full height of my controls without having to do it in metal.

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2011, 02:10:28 am »
fitting the parts to see how it looks.  the top will have an overlay -man that mdf sucks up the paint.
also i'll still have to find a good way to hinge the top. the cabinet hinges i have aren't gonna work and i'm not sold on using a piano hinge.

ButterGuns

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Re: Blue Gene
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2011, 11:37:42 pm »
Oh Yeah, got it all wired and now I'm testing out everything.  It took about 125 feet of wire, but I could have saved allot if I had just placed the keyboard emulator in the middle of the buttons instead of way down on the bottom of the cp box. -I just preferred the clean look of it down in the box, like it's supposed to be there. My standoffs for the the kb emulator haven't arrived yet.

Also, I did go with the 30" strap hinge (piano hinge). It saved allot of issues... It's strong with like 30 screws, it's instantly squared by aligning it with the wood's edge. It even came in 1.5" width which perfectly sinks with the 3/4" mdf.

Wiring the lit coin buttons and trackball lamp was easy too after a quick check of a PC power supply connector. 2 black wires were ground, the red was 5V and the yellow 12V. I tried the trackball lamp with both 5V and 12V (12V was stated in the directions) and 12V was much brighter -but it still looks DIM from the top with the lights on, hmmmm.

I've had this bucket of zip-ties for like a DECADE so it's nice to finally use some up.  The square sticky zip-tie anchors were sitting right next to the zip-ties and Lowes (10 pack).  The cable routing sticky squares I've had, got those from Staples.

Testing consist of checking that all the buttons work for important games, And I'm searching for more games at the same time.  I need some killer titles to test out.

I guess next will be to cut the pattern for my cabinet sides.  I'm gonna make a perfect pattern outta thin plywood, rough cut my sides in mdf, then attach the pattern and using my shiny new router, finish cut (route) out 2 perfect sides.  We'll see.