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Author Topic: My first build: "Mimic"  (Read 12329 times)

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Laythe

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My first build: "Mimic"
« on: January 14, 2016, 12:59:32 am »
Mimic: 

A slim, dual LCD, dynamic bezel, dynamic marquee, fully illuminated control panel chameleon, with custom frontend software.



Original build thread follows.



I've spent quite a while lurking here, reading about other projects, gathering the details that I liked - and noting the things I wanted to avoid.  Decided to give my own project a shot.

Note that this is a retrospective, past tense build thread - I didn't want to post anything until I was at least 95% finished, because that was the only way I could be absolutely certain I wasn't going to peter out and leave you hanging halfway through.  (I know, some folks here prefer the chance to chime in before it's too late to fix something they see - sorry about that.)  You can of course still speak your mind - I just can't retroactively take your advice.

I figure, I learned a lot from seeing what you all had built, so, I'll post pictures of what I did, in case that is of similar use to anyone else.  I documented my progress as I went, so this will be a bit more than a drive-by photo of a finished project.

This'll also serve as an introduction, of sorts, since I've kept quiet till now.   Hi.   :)
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 12:14:04 am by Laythe »

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2016, 01:18:06 am »
So, here goes.

I made my own plans from scratch, and I spent about a month tinkering obsessively with my design - taking measurements of the components I planned to use, building computer models of them, messing with different ways of fitting them together.  Finally decided that I was as ready to start cutting as I was ever going to get, and I'd better just go make some sawdust or I'd never stop fussing with it in digital form.

I went with 3/4" birch plywood for strength, reduced weight, and for the sake of having a friendlier sort of sawdust loosed upon my shop.  All the parts fit into a sheet and a half, since this is a semi-slim design that will be bolted to a wall for stability, in the end.


Transferred my plans onto the plywood, which required a whole heap of measuring in from various edges and doing a bunch of cartesian plotting...


Then, sliced all that out with a saber saw.  It's slow, but, I find that I make far smaller mistakes than the big exciting mistakes that I can make with a faster saw.  Went slow and careful, so I didn't lean the blade over and cut badly out of square anywhere.


Cleaned up the edges using an orbital sander, again with a bit of care to keep things square-ish.  Much sawing and sanding later, I had made something resembling a kit.  It's a good feeling, the first time you see the parts laid out. 
« Last Edit: January 14, 2016, 01:39:09 am by Laythe »

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2016, 01:58:13 am »
I had an old set of Altec desktop computer speakers laying around that sound pretty good.  Seemed perfect for the project.

The ampifier and volume knob were located inside the right side satellite speaker, which would not do.  The cases were glued shut, but, whatever.  I have tools.  They can't keep me out. 


That bit of butchery liberated the amplifier board.


I wanted the volume knob to be located in an admin panel on the center console, so I built a carrier for the whole board, to mount up behind the front plywood.


The amplifier board slides into it from the front, like so.  Pardon the zip ties, they'll become strain reliefs once all the cables are in place and routed.


The volume knob would need to protrude through the 3/4" plywood, so I fabricated an aluminum extension for it.


The extension is a tight press fit onto the original knob, which carries the spline interface for the potentiometer - which saves me some work, not having to duplicate it.  When mocked up through a hole in scrap plywood, it looks like this:


Next up, I knew I'd want USB jacks on this admin panel, for plugging in gamepads, or a thumb drive for file administration.  I've had
iffy luck with USB hubs in the past, though - some are good, but some are twitchy and unreliable, and I didn't have a spare one I trusted. 

However, the PC for this build had 8 freaking USB ports. 

So, I fabricated an aluminum housing for 3 USB extension cables that clamps them into place, which rides on top of the holder for the amplifier board.

Should look OK, when inletted and recessed into the cabinet.  (Also, those cables aren't going anywhere.)

My intention is to flank all this with two admin buttons, for Exit and Pause, and then mount the whole thing out of the way on the center column - something like so:


Looks a little like an old car radio.   I'm okay with that.

Vidiot

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2016, 09:42:06 am »
Looks like you are off to a great start! From what I can tell I like the shape of the cab. I love how you are fabricating many of the parts you need. Looks like you are very skilled and I am looking forward to watching this one!  :cheers:


Token

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2016, 11:05:21 am »
Thanks for documenting your build. I'm looking forward to watching your progress. You clearly have the knowledge and tools necessary to make this a successful project.  :cheers:

And I know its too late to offer advice, but I'm hoping you changed your mind about the Esc button on the center column. I would be on level 99 of Bubble Bobble and then hit that with my knee.  :(

vwalbridge

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2016, 11:16:37 am »
+1 On having a little work done and some pictures to show when you start the thread.

+1 On using a lathe. My Dad always used a lathe in the garage when I was growing up. Lathe guys know a thing or two for sure. :)

Why is it called Mimic?
If you can read this, it means Photobucket's money grab ruined my signature photos.

tomstewdevine

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2016, 02:56:31 pm »
Looks like great work so far, I will be looking forward to the next update.
Finished: 2 bartops and a cocktail
Not-Finished: 1bartop, 2cocktails, and 2 stand ups.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 05:39:39 pm »
Aw, thanks for the kind words.

Regarding the 'exit' button on the center column - I wound up winding my own VERY stiff spring for that button... after doing basically that.   :)
It's pretty safe...  now.  But you sure called it. :lol

Why the name Mimic?  From D&D lore.  It seemed to me to fit, for what I set out to try to do.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2016, 05:54:01 pm »
So, I know the normal go-to tool for inletting a control panel is a router, but, I like my milling machine, and thought I'd give it a try. Turned the speed up, and used a big end mill to rough it out, a small one to touch up the corners.



It actually worked reasonably well, here's the resulting recess so the trackball plate can sit flush.  The splintering out came from the subsequent sawing, not the milling - but none of that will show or matter much.




The P1 and P2 start buttons do intersect the trackball mounting plate, but I'll cut the steel back to clear them - they don't actually collide with the happ trackball underneath.  Doing that let me keep the layout a bit tighter.


A funny story - I actually settled on the 4-button diamond before ever seeing Vertical Retrace.  I don't play any 6-button fighters, let alone 8-button
console emulators, so 4 wound up being the sweet spot for my uses.  I knew I wanted to be able to play Gladiator well, with it's high-middle-low buttons, and I wanted to be able to play Missile Command, with left-middle-right buttons.  The diamond does both patterns elegantly in 4.

It also works for Xybots, with left and right buttons standing in for the twist-sticks.  (In a pinch, it makes a surprisingly usable sort of d-pad virtual joystick for two player Smash TV.)

So I was feeling like I was pretty clever for inventing that...  and then I found Vertical Retrace.  Had to laugh.  Well played, sir, you beat me to it.


Anyway, after a lot of priming, filling and sanding,  the trackball mounting plate blended in fairly well. 


Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2016, 02:29:21 am »
I didn't feel any need to go with a 2x4 inner skeleton - I trust the 3/4" plywood to bear any sort of loads this thing is ever going to see.  I opted for simple glued and screwed 1x2 corner batons to index everything together.



I buried the power entry box inside one of the batons to protect it a bit, since I'll be using the lower area of the machine for storage when it's all together.



The inletting I did with a dremel tool on the center console is perhaps a little crude, if seen from the backside -



But, it looks decently good from the front.  I went with the GGG NovaGem CDRs, and fake coin door.  An early assembly mockup to see how it would all fit together yielded this.



Not as authentic as a real coin door, but I particularly like the feel of the CDR buttons - they've got a very satisfying 'chunk' to them.




I folded up my own speaker grilles out of perforated aluminum on a finger brake, for the satellite speakers and subwoofer.



Internally, my plans are somewhat like a bartop, in that almost all of the actual running gear is in the upper half - aside from the subwoofer, the whole bottom half is empty.  I've got a CPU shelf dividing the space at the height of the bottom of the control panel swell, which has 4x 120mm fans, the CPU sitting between them, and a couple cable passthroughs.



The fans are set up above the ceiling of the storage bay, which keeps them out of the way.

As seen from the top, with my crudely breadboarded proof-of-concept fan power setup, and the PC in the center:



The number and size of fans may be overkill, but the 120s are nice and quiet.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2016, 10:12:16 pm »
The top of my cabinet gets a bit complicated.  It is made of 3/4" plywood and 1/16" aluminum sheet. 

I happened to have saved the side panel off an old Lian Li aluminum tower case, which served as good donor material.



A bandsaw made quick work of the aluminum.  I needed two rectangles.



These rectangles each receive a 90' fold to form a flange of 11/16" - this aluminum is quite soft, and bends nicely.



I machined 1/16" of thickness off the outside of each of the marquee sideplates, to sink the aluminum flush.



Then, countersunk and mounted the aluminum panels like so.  The 11/16" flange, plus the 1/16" cutaway, forms a matching 3/4" edge that lines up with the thickness of the original board.



These pieces then get a thoroughly chamfered 1x4" attached to their inside faces, to act as a rail.

The cabinet verticals get capped with the odd looking square-with-an-angled-tab pieces, inboard - here, painted black.  Then a 1x2" is attached, outboard, in line with the cabinet side, to form a C shape at the top.  This all leaves a 1x4" slot for the aforementioned 1x4 board to slide into, from the front.

Resulting assembly of cabinet sides looks like...




(For anyone wondering what the :censored: I am doing all this for - I promise it all makes more sense from here out.)

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2016, 03:12:33 am »
Next up, priming and painting.

This cabinet has a mix of painted and laminated parts.  Everything to be painted got sanded down, primed with Killz grey latex primer, sanded down, given a second coat of primer, and then sanded down again.



Shown here is the overhead speaker panel, the center column, and the L-shaped control access panel.

My control panel fits snugly between the verticals, and I couldn't figure out a good way to hinge it without risking it scraping up the cabinet sides that it nests between -  worse, scraping them up on the top, right where the damage would be most visible.  So, I decided to hard-mount the control panel between batons like any other permanent piece of the cabinet.   This L-shaped panel on the right forms the front wall and underside of the control panel ledge, and has 4 1/4-20 capscrews running up into metal nut inserts in the batons to make it removable and reinstallable.  Any scratches it accrues are on the bottom, out of normal sight. 

This gives me a big access hatch to remove, for the inevitable servicing of the control panel parts.  It works, but I don't know if I'd do things this way again - working overhead on the sticks and buttons, while laying on your back, is kind of a pain. 

I couldn't find an exact paint match for the color of my printed control panel artwork, so I bought the closest two colors I could find and mixed them 50/50.



The result went on DISTRESSINGLY purple, but dried to a pretty good match to the art I made for it -



Panels painted, with grills reinstalled:




The cabinet color scheme is two-tone, dark grey paint and black laminate. 

I learned a fair bit about applying laminate from reading these forums - using contact cement, spacing things with dowels, rolling it down, then trimming with a router afterward, made the whole task almost not unpleasant.   :)  (As compared to the first project I ever did with laminate, long ago, wherein I trimmed it all to fit with a large hand file.  I wish I was kidding.)



Here you can see the power strip mounted in the upper section, wired through the cable pass-through down to the power input box, the orientation of the CPU shelf and fans as installed, and the whole thing starting to take shape.  Also, a test fit of the white T-mold.

(Ignore the second power strip on the right - that's what I was plugging my tools into.)

Assembling everything onto the center column, and adding some small white vinyl lettering to explain the function of the buttons, produces this:




Thanks for the CDRs and the coin door art, Randy.  At knee height, in a dimly lit room, with the buttons lit - it's a surprisingly effective illusion.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2016, 04:07:06 am »
I got the control panel populated.  Ultimarc Servosticks for P1 and P2, with Paradise transparent balltops and roll-my-own RGB leds in them.  Electric Ice 2 buttons with RGB Drive IIs from GGG, going through an Ultimarc I-PAC Ultimate I/O...  I think I ordered parts from most of the vendors who hang out here. 



Things are tightly packed under my panel.  The neatness of my wiring won't be winning me any awards.  Considering that it's mostly prefab harnesses, it probably could have been worse.

Probably.



But hey, it looks better from the top.



This was the stage where I did a bunch of the software development, and committed the classic error of realizing the thing was playable.

(That panel may have sat on those stacked 2x4s for a few weeks as a result.)



Here's the cabinet, as assembled and freestanding for the first time, with the control panel in place.



The T-molding for the top box needed to be extensively modified - the center barb is shaved flush for the entire span it runs over the aluminum flashing.  At this point the insides of the verticals still need to be primed and painted black.  The wall mounting panel is visible in the back, above the power strip.


Looking from the CPU shelf towards the front of the machine:



you can see the tops of the four silver nut inserts that the L panel screws into.  There's a lot of room down there, for a reason I'll be explaining in the next post.


After painting the insides of the verticals, here's a player's-eye-view of the control panel, as installed.



(I know RGB controls get a mixed reaction here, but I wanted to be able to color-highlight the active control set for the current game, in the appropriate game colors.  Having anything be RGB, to me suggested that everything ought to be RGB.  If the trackball is going to light up when it's active, then the buttons should do the same, and if the buttons do, then I think the sticks should, too - consistency of meaning, and it seems to help people trying out a new game to see it.)

Token

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2016, 01:30:39 pm »
(I know RGB controls get a mixed reaction here, but I wanted to be able to color-highlight the active control set for the current game, in the appropriate game colors.  Having anything be RGB, to me suggested that everything ought to be RGB.  If the trackball is going to light up when it's active, then the buttons should do the same, and if the buttons do, then I think the sticks should, too - consistency of meaning, and it seems to help people trying out a new game to see it.)

+1

This makes a MAME cab much more guest friendly.

Alejo I

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2016, 08:35:46 am »
Not a huge fan of slim builds, but that CP is just lovely. Simple, yet so eye pleasing.

TheOne

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2016, 08:48:12 am »
Outstanding.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2016, 12:21:32 pm »
Your panel is tastefully done and your cab is a unique design, you won't hear RGB hate from me.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2016, 12:46:43 pm »
Excellent panel. And you're doing RGB the **right** way.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2016, 03:00:00 pm »
Token - Thanks.  It does seem to work.  Between that, and making whatever buttons I see guests try to push to operate the frontend work how they wanted wherever possible, the result does seem to be something that people can just walk up to and use, and that's neat.  I think that low investment, just walk up and play feeling is something that all the arcade machines had, and I wanted to try to keep that.

Alejo I - Thank you.  I kept the design very stark and simple, because all the color is going to be coming from elsewhere.  I respect that slim is not to everyone's taste; here, it fit the space I had to mount it in, which is an alcove where you can't get much of a side view on it because of the surrounding walls anyway.

TheOne - Thanks!

harveybirdman - Thanks, glad to hear it.  The unique design will be fully explained in my next post.

yotsuya - Thank you!  I was hoping you'd chip in with your opinions on this.


Next post:  Screens, sleight of hand, and all is revealed.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2016, 04:10:40 pm »
The goal of Mimic has been to reach what I considered the largest subset of most playable games with the minimum necessary compromises, and, to be as much of a visual chameleon as I can tastefully manage while doing it.

The main display is a 16:9 Samsung LCD/LED HDTV, 1920x1080, oriented in portrait.  I'm borrowing a page from Marvel Versus Capcom: Revolution v2 here, and using a 1080x1080 rotated display area in the center to make a 32.5" diagonal 1:1 aspect ratio square screen, upon which I can render horizontal or vertical games at correct aspect ratio without mechanical rotation.  32.5" is way too big for a game screen - but gives me enough room for bezel art around a roughly-correct sized game screen.   The cabinet design wraps quite tightly around the TV.  Only this center square display area is at all visible from the front, touched by the speaker panel and by the control panel.  The TV just almost sticks out the top of the cabinet, hidden behind the speaker panel and marquee box - and goes down way behind the control panel on the bottom to rest on the CPU shelf. 

All of the weirdness of the top marquee box, is to support an LG 29" M2900S-BN 1366x480 stretch LCD panel.   It's not as svelte as that gorgeous Spanpixel that Blip uses, but it is much closer to the right aspect ratio than the 21:9 monitors are, and I was able to find a factory refurb LG for about a quarter of the $1200 a Spanpixel was going to cost me. 

(Oh, and speaking of Blip, man, my respects to markc74 - of all the great machines I've seen build threads on here, it is my favorite.  Just in case the influence on mine wasn't, like, totally obvious.  Thank you for the inspiration.)

The LG top panel drove a lot of the dimensions of the design - the M2900 is 30.13" wide, and decasing it buys you basically nothing.  By sandwiching only 0.065" of aluminum and laminate over it, I was able to get the overall outside width of the cabinet down to 30.25" while hiding a lot of the inert area of the monitor under the structure and T-mold.  I'm skinning the spine off the T-molding that runs over the aluminum flanges and lays over the front and top of the monitor, making it all appear about 1.5" narrower than it actually is.  It looks like it nests between full 3/4" width plywood - in actuality, the monitor is pocketed so deep that the exterior laminate actually gets slightly warm from the heat of the backlight.

I wanted to pack all this into as close to a normal sized cabinet as I could manage, which is why the top box steps out one plywood thickness;  that gets the main interior width between verticals down to 27.25", which is a little over the traditional 24" but not TOO monstrously oversized.   This is all absolutely as narrow as I could possibly get things, given the 30.13" top panel.

So, with both screens in, from front and back:



(Pardon the right-side storage door sitting on the floor instead of in it's frame in this shot - it does actually fit correctly.)

You can see the degree to which the thing is designed around the TV.  The deep control panel helps match the tall marquee box and gives me the space I need to hide the inert ends of the television that I am not using.   The TV is set for a 20 degree lean back, and the top edge of it almost touches the wall, leaving a half inch slot for warm exhaust air to blow out the top of the machine.  That set the overall depth limit on how slim the machine could be.


Here's how the machine looks, when turned off, with the screens installed and the T-molding in place.  (This picture is from prior to glass installation - there are still to be glass panels over both the TV and the marquee monitor, with black paint on the back of them everywhere but the display areas, to prevent you seeing past the sides of the main screen, and to hide the badges on the display cases.)




I agree wholly with markc74 - if you are going to go the chameleon route with a dynamic marquee, a conservative black and white cabinet is a great way to keep it from clashing colors between the game and the cabinet.  Mimic takes all it's colors from the control panel lights, the dynamic bezel art and the changing marquee, and that's really enough for it I think. 

The resulting chameleon effect, with a few games:



vwalbridge - THAT is why the name, Mimic.   ;D   


After installing the glass to hide the edges and badges, here's a player's eye view of a few games:





And, finally, as wall-mounted in the alcove in my house:




On the software side: 

I wrote my own front end software for it from scratch.  My custom front end talks to the Ultimarc servostiks to switch 4-way or 8-way as appropriate, and talks to the Ipac Ultimate I/O that controls the RGB LEDs per game.  It either displays my Mimic logo (when in the menus), or the appropriate game marquee, on the upper panel.   Then either fires up MAME, Nebula or AAE, depending on the game.  I'm running a game list of about a hundred.

I'm using the marquee art, as the menu selection art, which I think works well.  Up and down on the P1 stick scrolls through the list; left and right jump one letter at a time through it.  The list is shown as the marquee art, and when you select a game (via just about any button) that jumps up to the marquee.

I've spent a lot of time touching up and reformatting marquees and bezels to work optimally with this setup.  I have done a whole bunch of photoshop work cleaning up 1366x480 marquee art.  An awful lot of games turn out to have no original bezel art at all - in those cases I've adapted the art and instructions from the CPO of the original machine to form a bezel.  1080x1080 is just enough resolution that all the instruction cards on bezels are readable.  I have reformatted all the bezels so that the game display is an integer scaling of the original game resolution, which fixes one of the common LCD display problems of uneven resampling.  I've also painted my scanlines directly into this bezel art, translucent black, which fixes another.  It helps to turn the contrast and brightness on the bezel art WAY down - it's supposed to be cardboard, after all, not the emissive phosphor of the CRT that would have been next to it.  If the game display is very bright, and the bezel art is very dim and washed out, the pairing really tricks the eye in person.


I'd like to thank you guys for the ideas I've borrowed from other projects, and for the nudge that made me decide to give this whole project a try.

emphatic

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2016, 04:40:23 pm »
Nice cabinet!  :cheers:

Vidiot

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2016, 06:16:30 pm »
Absolutely awesome! I love the way you have used LED lighting in a practical way and how you spent so much time getting the marquee and bezel art right. Also making your own front end is very impressive. Please consider sharing your work with the community. I bet lots of people would like to use what you've created.  :notworthy: :applaud: :cheers:


Slippyblade

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2016, 06:36:22 pm »
When I first read your description of how you were mounting the TV, I was a little confused.  But now actually seeing how you implemented it...  wow.  That is just sexy as hell. 

I want a video.  Make it happen!

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2016, 08:12:04 pm »
Alright! Another member of the vertically-mounted oversized LCD club. :cheers:

Overall outstanding work! It's like MvC 2.0 and Blip had a baby and named it Mimic. :applaud:

You spent some serious cash on this cabinet. Why no functioning coin door? It's not to late, ya know...  ;)

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2016, 08:44:40 pm »
Great work man. The marquee and bezels look fantastic.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2016, 08:54:00 pm »
Token -

Cash price wasn't too terrible, actually - the TV ran me just <$500, and the refurb LG marquee panel was about $300.

Vertical oversize LCD club - cheers!   :cheers:  I went back and forth many times while building it, between feeling like a genius for getting a huge 1:1 square display on the cheap as compared to something like an Eizo ev2730q 26.5" 1920x1920 square @ $1,400 - and feeling like a total idiot for throwing away 43% of a perfectly good screen by hiding it inside the cabinet.

I got over feeling like an idiot, after seeing it running from the front side.  It's like a magic trick, almost nobody recognizes how it works.

Re: coin door, I guess we all come to associate our nostalgia with different details.  For me, it was the T-molding - when that went on, it was like Pinocchio had become a real boy - whoah, this is an ARCADE MACHINE now all of a sudden.  Putting in a quarter wasn't "it" for me, but I can certainly understand where it would be for some.  I suppose it's true, that it is not too late.  I like the feel of the CDRs though, so if I did go that way, I'd probably end up doing some sort of unholy surgery on a coin door without mechs to hang CDRs flush to the square openings.  I'm sure they're probably both the wrong size and the wrong aspect ratio...  hmm...  ...maybe later.  :)

MvC 2.0 and Blip having a baby -  :lol.  I can only take that as a compliment, thanks!  I hope that neither of them mind the resemblance.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2016, 09:38:25 pm »
That is a stunning cabinet man.  I love the fact that you made your own FE...that is a commitment to a build.

I am fully of cabinet envy.
Nothing witty here...move along.

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2016, 09:51:50 pm »
If I may be honest, I'm not a big fan of the size of the marquee area. It makes the machine look top-heavy to me.

With that said, I appreciate the craftsmanship and subtle design choices, and I think you have a nice cab there. :cheers:
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

vwalbridge

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2016, 10:20:23 pm »
The dynamic marquee is nice but the best part of this cab is the notch in the back for baseboards.  ;)

I was also wondering why you had the power inlet on the side but then I put it all together when you said it was wall mounted. Necessary I'm sure during aggressive gameplay and being top heavy.

Well thought out and great execution.  :applaud:
« Last Edit: January 18, 2016, 10:35:34 pm by vwalbridge »
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Laythe

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2016, 10:52:58 pm »
If I may be honest, I'm not a big fan of the size of the marquee area. It makes the machine look top-heavy to me.

With that said, I appreciate the craftsmanship and subtle design choices, and I think you have a nice cab there. :cheers:

Honesty very much appreciated, thanks!

I agree entirely, actually.  As you allude - I pocketed the marquee panel into the sideplates to make it smaller, avoided having any structure over or under it to make it smaller, made the control panel belly area very deep and tall to try to balance it top to bottom and make it look smaller, avoided horizontal bands of T-molding up there to avoid visually emphasizing the bulk... and... it's a still a bit too big.  Blip does it better, no question.

(That said, is it $800 too big?  I decided, no, I could live with this.)

The real killer build, if anybody wants to pony up to do it:  Mimic has about 1.5" of dead space beside the TV.  A 46" LCD like this will sandwich into a 24" wide cabinet, with what was the bottom up against the left wall, and a slight gap to the right wall, to center the display area.  If you run a Spanpixel like Blip does, it will also fit nicely inside that 24" space.  You could make something with absolutely classic lines, a dynamic marquee, and your dynamic bezels will go within a half inch of being edge-to-edge as well as top-to-bottom.  It'd be great.  It'd be $1,800 in panels, but it'd be great.   :D

thePrimativ

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2016, 10:59:10 pm »
WOW[emoji33]

that it

Other than I want
Kudos to you


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Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2016, 11:10:25 pm »
The dynamic marquee is nice but the best part of this cab is the notch in the back for baseboards.  ;)

I was also wondering why you had the power inlet on the side but then I put it all together when you said it was wall mounted. Necessary I'm sure during aggressive gameplay and being top heavy.

Well thought out and great execution.  :applaud:

Haha, thanks.   I've built enough bookcases to know that notch is well worth doing.  Here's a closeup shot of it with the back on, and the short sill that it adds to the lower portion of the machine.  And also a shot of the power inlet and cord that I used - since it's visible on the side, for the reasons you identified.

 

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #32 on: January 19, 2016, 01:26:15 am »
Wow that looks great.  :applaud:

I can't even imagine how long it must have taken to get the hi res bezels and artwork together for it all but it looks so good together. That joust shot looks fantastic.


stigzler

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #33 on: January 19, 2016, 03:50:55 am »
Ingenious. You've married together some great ideas with this one + can't begin to imagine the coding behind getting mame to run in the bottom 60% of the screen. Love the changing CP control colours too - preserves the form and function ideas.

Great build.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 01:40:43 pm by stigzler »

tomstewdevine

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #34 on: January 19, 2016, 11:57:23 am »
Great cab, the bezel looks so good.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 10:41:57 am by tomstewdevine »
Finished: 2 bartops and a cocktail
Not-Finished: 1bartop, 2cocktails, and 2 stand ups.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2016, 12:16:56 pm »
Who cares if it's a tiny bit top heavy?! The lcd marquee and bezel make up for it 100x, what an awesome cabinet!

I'm also interested to know how you use only part of the screen. Is it possible to define it so windows only use that part as well?
For a cheaper (and less realistic looking) version, would putting the marquee on the top part of a vertically oriented lcd tv be possible in the same way? (both marquee and main screen on same rotated lcd tv)

stigzler

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2016, 01:45:22 pm »
The dynamic marquee is nice but the best part of this cab is the notch in the back for baseboards.  ;)

I was also wondering why you had the power inlet on the side but then I put it all together when you said it was wall mounted. Necessary I'm sure during aggressive gameplay and being top heavy.

Well thought out and great execution.  :applaud:

Haha, thanks.   I've built enough bookcases to know that notch is well worth doing.  Here's a closeup shot of it with the back on, and the short sill that it adds to the lower portion of the machine.  And also a shot of the power inlet and cord that I used - since it's visible on the side, for the reasons you identified.


Just make sure your next house has the right sized baseboards. :)

yotsuya

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #37 on: January 19, 2016, 01:58:10 pm »
Who cares if it's a tiny bit top heavy?! The lcd marquee and bezel make up for it 100x, what an awesome cabinet!

I'm also interested to know how you use only part of the screen. Is it possible to define it so windows only use that part as well?
For a cheaper (and less realistic looking) version, would putting the marquee on the top part of a vertically oriented lcd tv be possible in the same way? (both marquee and main screen on same rotated lcd tv)
Who cares? I care, or else I wouldn't have said anything about it.

I've also said it's a nice cab. And I appreciate how the OP appreciated my honest feedback. Honest feedback helps us grow as a hobby.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

Token

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2016, 02:14:29 pm »
For a cheaper (and less realistic looking) version, would putting the marquee on the top part of a vertically oriented lcd tv be possible in the same way? (both marquee and main screen on same rotated lcd tv)

Yes, it is possible. Check out MAMELayPlus (page is in Spanish).

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2016, 11:18:45 pm »
I'm also interested to know how you use only part of the screen. Is it possible to define it so windows only use that part as well?
For a cheaper (and less realistic looking) version, would putting the marquee on the top part of a vertically oriented lcd tv be possible in the same way? (both marquee and main screen on same rotated lcd tv)

Restricting windows to a portion of the screen is not easy.  I was able to use some nvidia specific software to choke the 1920x1080 screen down to 1440x1080, but it wouldn't resize any smaller than that, so portions of the native desktop display are inaccessably out of reach.  (I think Maximus was able to get his all the way down to a 1080x1080, though I'm not sure how he did it.)  Amusingly, the way my particular 1366x480 top panel works, it reports itself to be 1366x768 - but the bottom 288 pixels don't physically exist.  So this poor PC does not have a single screen that works right, as far as the OS thinks of them.


However - controlling MAME in this regard is quite easy once you know how to write .lay layout files.  They're pretty simple and fairly powerful.  You'd need to build one for every game you plan to run, but you'll be doing some work for every game you plan to run to gather good versions of all the artwork anyway.  Putting the marquee, bezel and game screen together on a single screen would be much easier than what I did on two heads.

So, yes, a single panel solution would absolutely work and I bet it'd look pretty good.  You could run something like a debarbed strip of T-molding horizontally across it at just the right height, to really hide the fact that it's all one panel under there.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #40 on: January 19, 2016, 11:35:29 pm »
Wow that looks great.  :applaud:

I can't even imagine how long it must have taken to get the hi res bezels and artwork together for it all but it looks so good together. That joust shot looks fantastic.

Thanks!  I'm really glad you like it.   :D 

The art has been a long term project, indeed.  I think I've got about as many hours in that as I do in fabrication and design.

Your marquee panel on Blip - is it 1366x384?  Mine is a little too tall, at 1366x480, but I might be able to adapt my adaptations to fit yours if you'd be interested.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #41 on: January 20, 2016, 06:53:00 am »
Awesome cabinet!  That dynamic marquee is sexy as hell.

Unfortunately we may now have to have a new rule that people with obviously too much woodworking skill can only post grainy out of focus pictures so the rest of us hackers don't feel so bad  ;D

I'm looking forward to the video!
its better to not post and be thought a fool, then to whip out your keyboard and remove all doubt...

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #42 on: January 20, 2016, 08:04:54 am »
Restricting windows to a portion of the screen is not easy.  I was able to use some nvidia specific software to choke the 1920x1080 screen down to 1440x1080, but it wouldn't resize any smaller than that, so portions of the native desktop display are inaccessably out of reach.  (I think Maximus was able to get his all the way down to a 1080x1080, though I'm not sure how he did it.)

Maximus used Powerstrip for custom resolutions. However, this utility centers your custom resolution (you can make some micro-adjustments off-center). On my build, I was able to just center the screen physically and so didn't need to adjust it.

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #43 on: January 20, 2016, 05:33:50 pm »
On my Slimtendo/RetroEcho build, I created a custom resolution in the Nvidia control panel.

I'm running Windows 10, with a GTX 750ti.

In the Nvidia control panel, go to Display->Change resolution->Customize->CreateCustom Resolution. Then you can create a 1080x1080 resolution, which gets displayed in the middle of the monitor for Windows and anything that runs.


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Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #44 on: January 20, 2016, 05:45:42 pm »
I want a video.  Make it happen!

I'm looking forward to the video!

... I guess I've got a video to shoot, then.  Give me a couple days, I'll try to put something together.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #45 on: January 22, 2016, 12:02:07 am »
By popular* demand, here's a short video of Mimic in action and the transition between games.

Mimic, switching games.

(For the sake of keeping this short, I switched fairly quickly between games, which makes the gradual fades of the control panel lights seem a little too slow.  In normal use, the fade duration is nice.  Also, this video was shot on a potato, which overexposed a lot of the brighter stuff on the screens that are of course not all bright white in reality - sorry.)




*:  Well, two.

drakmarr

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #46 on: January 22, 2016, 01:07:32 am »
Super nice job!!!


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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #47 on: January 22, 2016, 01:36:18 am »
Good lord that is amazing.  I want it to have my children.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #48 on: January 22, 2016, 01:48:06 am »
Good lord that is amazing.  I want it to have my children.

 :laugh2:   Thanks!  That makes it worth my trouble to have shot the video, right there. 

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #49 on: January 22, 2016, 02:52:19 am »
I guess there's a few things I might as well explain before anybody calls me to task on them, from the video. 

Just in case everyone but PBJ is too polite to say the following:

"Championship Sprint... without 360 wheels or spinners?  On joysticks?  That's terrible!"
Yes.  It is.  But it's equally terrible for both players, so it's still a fair race, of sorts.  The computer cars will of course ruthlessly destroy you after a few races - but they always did that.  (Or maybe I always sucked at Sprint.)

"Armor Attack used an array of buttons, not joysticks!"
This is true, and if I set Mimic to the alternate 'Solo' mode, it maps 4 buttons in a horizontal line for one player in a pattern like Phoenix shows.  But, that only accomidates one person.  This video is in the default (2p) mode, and moving Turn Left + Turn Right onto the sticks makes it fit two players.  (Same deal with Rip Off and Space War.) 

"Why does Frogger light 4 buttons?  Frogger has ZERO buttons!"
The throw on a Servostick in 4-way is kind of long for the tap-tap style of Frogger.  I was testing to see if the game played better if I just tap buttons for movement.  (This button layout is basically a D-pad, after all.)   It's...  maybe a little better, but it's very weird.  I am undecided, so for now, they both work.

"That's not the correct marquee art for Shadow Over Mystara!"
Yes.  Because the real marquee art on Shadow Over Mystara sucked.  I made my own.

"Lunar Lander isn't a trackball game!"
True.  But the throttle was an analog input.  The trackball is my only analog control.  It's quite playable, with vertical trackball roll mapped as throttle.  I figured it was this, or motorize a throttle lever that pops out for that one game, and that way lies madness.

"All these wheel-based driving games.  With no wheel.  What is WRONG with you?!"
I initially had a notion of building a detachable steering wheel L panel that could swap with the current blank L panel below the fixed CP, which would have stuck the wheel out the center of that tall grey vertical wall.  That lead me to do the graphics work for those games and add them in.  I later decided that panel was a terrible idea and that swapping it in and out would kludge up an otherwise slick cabinet far too badly... but in the meanwhile, I had kind of gotten used to driving those games with the trackball.  It's not that bad!   At least, until I build a sit-down racing cabinet for all of them, someday.  Then I'll take them off this machine.

Token

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #50 on: January 22, 2016, 05:25:22 am »
This whole thing is great, but it's the custom-made front end that really impresses.

I'm a hyperspin guy, but your Fe is perfect for this set-up.  :cheers:

stigzler

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #51 on: January 22, 2016, 10:11:11 am »
Wicked. When you select a game it sounds like there's a motorised whirring - what's that? Or do I need to stop eating cheese before bed?

You haven't got a friend with a HD Potato have you? Been awesome to see this closer in HD.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2016, 10:19:16 am »
It's impressive despite all of the caveats you mentioned.

Personally the different sized screens for each game would drive me nuts, so I don't think I'd ever use the virtual bezels but from an aesthetic point of view it's no less impressive.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #53 on: January 22, 2016, 11:00:08 am »
Wicked. When you select a game it sounds like there's a motorised whirring - what's that? Or do I need to stop eating cheese before bed?


The whir is the motors on the two Servosticks.  The front end keeps track of whether the prior game was 4 or 8 way; if that does not match the game you just selected, then it rotates the actuators to spin the restrictor gates on the sticks the correct direction. 

2 way Games like Joust or Battlezone feel a bit better on the 4-way setting, as that gives you an angled pocket to fall into versus a perpendicular wall to possibly slide against.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #54 on: January 22, 2016, 11:09:19 am »
It's impressive despite all of the caveats you mentioned.

Personally the different sized screens for each game would drive me nuts, so I don't think I'd ever use the virtual bezels but from an aesthetic point of view it's no less impressive.

Thanks!  Appreciate the frank feedback.

That is a tradeoff that one could favor either side of.  I'm using different sized screens for each game because I'm integer scaling the screen, and many of the games ran at different resolutions.  So if a game were actually, say, 256x224, I would probably go 3x on that and make my display 768x672 to have room for some bezel and to keep the playfield about right.  Keeping it on the integer means there's a minimum of resampling going on to fit the LCD, because uneven resampling is what drives me nuts.  Integer scaling also helps with making the scanlines hit the source pixels correctly.

If different sized screens are what drives you nuts, though, it'd be simple to set up the art and .lay files to make every game have a precisely matching screen size, at the expense of the scaling being non-integer sometimes. 

Betafini

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #55 on: January 22, 2016, 01:44:39 pm »
Wow.  :notworthy: I love this cabinet.

If I may ask, how long did it take to build? Frontend AND cabinet...

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #56 on: January 22, 2016, 01:53:39 pm »
It's impressive despite all of the caveats you mentioned.

Personally the different sized screens for each game would drive me nuts, so I don't think I'd ever use the virtual bezels but from an aesthetic point of view it's no less impressive.

Thanks!  Appreciate the frank feedback.

That is a tradeoff that one could favor either side of.  I'm using different sized screens for each game because I'm integer scaling the screen, and many of the games ran at different resolutions.  So if a game were actually, say, 256x224, I would probably go 3x on that and make my display 768x672 to have room for some bezel and to keep the playfield about right.  Keeping it on the integer means there's a minimum of resampling going on to fit the LCD, because uneven resampling is what drives me nuts.  Integer scaling also helps with making the scanlines hit the source pixels correctly.

If different sized screens are what drives you nuts, though, it'd be simple to set up the art and .lay files to make every game have a precisely matching screen size, at the expense of the scaling being non-integer sometimes.

All good to know if I ever build an arcade project with an LCD which will be let me see.... NEVER   :cheers:

vettetek

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #57 on: January 22, 2016, 02:39:55 pm »
All good to know if I ever build an arcade project with an LCD which will be let me see.... NEVER   :cheers:
Then WHY are you reading this thread?? :laugh2:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #58 on: January 22, 2016, 03:26:55 pm »
Because its pretty damn good.  I can like Wu Tang Clan but still hate rap...
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 04:09:32 pm by harveybirdman »

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #59 on: January 22, 2016, 05:00:33 pm »
Very nice looking build. I really like the simplicity of the front end from what I could see in the video. Great thought to create a nice clean cab and let the marquee and screen do all the talking.

 :applaud:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #60 on: January 22, 2016, 05:15:05 pm »
Well done laythe.  This is a great cabinet and I enjoyed the build pics.

 :applaud:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #61 on: January 22, 2016, 05:19:41 pm »
Sorry for the dumb woodworking question but does this work similar to a CNC?

So, I know the normal go-to tool for inletting a control panel is a router, but, I like my milling machine, and thought I'd give it a try. Turned the speed up, and used a big end mill to rough it out, a small one to touch up the corners.






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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #62 on: January 22, 2016, 06:49:40 pm »
I'm really, really digging your cab  :cheers:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #63 on: January 22, 2016, 11:14:33 pm »
Sorry for the dumb woodworking question but does this work similar to a CNC?

It's actually more a metalworking question, which may be why the tool is unfamiliar.  I just happen to be using it on a piece of wood here.

Yes.

Many CNC machines are computer controlled milling machines.  The difference is somewhat like an Etch-A-Sketch, versus an old pen plotter or vinyl sign cutting machine.  At its heart, CNC is basically a system by which you can get a computer to accurately and rapidly spin the handles for you along a predefined path - but the types of machines driven by CNC programming generally existed before the computers did.  So, all the mechanical principles of the machine are similar, but I turn the knobs by hand.


If I may ask, how long did it take to build? Frontend AND cabinet...

Cabinet, it was about two months between first sawdust flying, and it being finished and installed.

Front end, most of the programming happened over a span of about two weeks... but, there's a lot of extenuating circumstances to that.  I did -not- write a user maintainable, extensible, configurable front end that is versatile, simple to administer, sure to work on any combination of hardware and software, and well documented - because I had no use for any of those things.   I wrote a front end to do exactly one thing, on one set of hardware.  If I want to reconfigure it, I do that by hacking on the source code directly and then recompiling it.  Easy, for me, but not really viable for another user.  By analogy,  what I needed was not a very fancy 1/4" drill - what I needed was one 1/4" hole.  So it's not like I whipped out Mala in two weeks or anything like that.  It's purpose built, and that simplifies the task greatly.

Collecting and fixing up marquee and bezel art for it has taken by far the most time.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #64 on: January 22, 2016, 11:32:56 pm »
I don't often make it into PA to check things out, but am glad I did tonight.

Beautifully clean build with nice lines, elegant control illumination and the visuals are possibly the best I have ever seen.

 :applaud:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #65 on: January 23, 2016, 05:12:43 pm »
Menace, Drakmarr, Slippyblade, n3wt0n, wp34, Brouhaha and CheffoJeffo - Thank you. 

I was not anticipating such a positive reaction when I started this thread - this has really been a pleasant surprise to me.  It makes me glad that I posted - for the commentary, and because it suggests that some other people might get some ideas they like out of seeing what I've done here, just as I did from reading the other project threads here before I began.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #66 on: January 25, 2016, 06:05:19 pm »
Beautifully executed concept. I personally very much like how you used bezels to keep the image as pure as possible. I do NOT have your patience to duplicate your effort, though.

Kudos sir, and congrats on having a fantastic looking and functional plaything.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #67 on: January 27, 2016, 07:59:23 am »
Man I love that whole dynamic bezel/marque thing. Looks stunning! Though I also found that the marque made the cab look top heavy, its not that noticeable once the the cab was placed in an alcove. Good job on the front end  :applaud:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #68 on: February 06, 2016, 04:30:56 pm »
Here's an image out of my plans that better illustrates how Mimic fits together internally, in case anyone is considering a similar approach.  Screens are highlighted green, and the centered viewable 1080x1080 area of the main screen is shown in blue.


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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #69 on: February 06, 2016, 05:28:20 pm »
Nice diagram. Always nice to see how everything manages to fit inside. Again, thanks for sharing!
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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #70 on: March 02, 2016, 04:08:52 pm »
How big the main TV? Like what size is the actual screen (including the hidden part)?

Also, are there any issues with sync when running an LCD vertically like that? Like do you get sync/scanning issues that run from left-to-right instead of the usual top-to-bottom? Or is it just a non-issue?
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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #71 on: March 02, 2016, 04:49:51 pm »
2016 BYOAC upright of the year right here... ;)

It's a long year yet, but the amount of custom work that went into this thing still makes my head spin, and wish I paid more attention in computer class....lol.

Great work, better attention to detail!  :applaud:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #72 on: March 03, 2016, 12:00:49 am »
How big the main TV? Like what size is the actual screen (including the hidden part)?

It's a 46" 1080p bottom-end Samsung TV.  The screen glass measures about 40" x 22 1/2", and the case isn't much bigger than that.  So, flipped portrait, it's 40" tall and 22 1/2" wide.     The square that remains showing is 22 1/2" by 22 1/2", which equates roughly to a 32" TV (though there are no square TVs that I know of.)

I think 46" is about the right size for doing this.  It'll fit in a 24" wide classic cabinet if you like.  It gives you enough room and resolution for readable functional bezel instruction cards and whatnot, if you are careful with your graphic editing.  A game shown full screen without bezel becomes Really Almost Too Big.  (I make a few exceptions in my setup for things like Xybots, where you were playing on one corner of the screen anyway - making that huge isn't a bad effect overall.) 

Also, are there any issues with sync when running an LCD vertically like that? Like do you get sync/scanning issues that run from left-to-right instead of the usual top-to-bottom? Or is it just a non-issue?

If you don't have vsync enabled, sure - you'll occasionally see the tearing artifact as a vertical tear line, instead of as the usual horizontal tear line - but I don't find that to be a big plus or minus.  It's no worse looking than the normal artifact, just slightly different, and it becomes a non-issue if you can vsync.   I also haven't had any problems with viewing angle.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #73 on: March 03, 2016, 12:08:22 am »
2016 BYOAC upright of the year right here... ;)

It's a long year yet, but the amount of custom work that went into this thing still makes my head spin, and wish I paid more attention in computer class....lol.

Great work, better attention to detail!  :applaud:

Hehe, thanks!    :D  Feel free to nominate it when the time comes, if you still feel that it deserves it by then.

I'll go back and add some completed pictures to the beginning of the thread, now that it is finished.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #74 on: March 04, 2016, 07:34:58 pm »
This is just great work. After seeing this and blip I think my plans for my cab, HAVE to be changed . I just need a Dynamic Marquee . I was going with a Tron Theme, But i think I might scrap it for a more generic theme and get a dynamic marquee , It just adds so much to the cabinet.  Really nice work. I guess i will save on artwork and printing, to pick up the right LCD for the marquee.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #75 on: March 04, 2016, 08:14:41 pm »
Great cab and great execution, that marquee is brilliant. Bit big but it works so well.

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #76 on: March 06, 2016, 12:34:32 am »
This is just great work. After seeing this and blip I think my plans for my cab, HAVE to be changed . I just need a Dynamic Marquee . I was going with a Tron Theme, But i think I might scrap it for a more generic theme and get a dynamic marquee , It just adds so much to the cabinet.  Really nice work. I guess i will save on artwork and printing, to pick up the right LCD for the marquee.

Great cab and great execution, that marquee is brilliant. Bit big but it works so well.

Thanks!   I agree, it's a bit big.  The ideal panel is the spanpixel that Blip uses...  but buying one stateside would literally have cost me more than the total price of Mimic as built.  I was getting numerous quotes at around $1,300 - so I decided I could live with this.

One thing I'd like to say about LCD based dynamic marquees, for those who haven't seen one in person.  An LCD panel isn't totally *right* replacing a CRT, and I really understand the people here who are therefore still holding the line of "CRT Or Bust".  That said, an LCD is totally right as a marquee.  The arcade original marquees were generally a backlit color film translucency, usually lit by flourescent tubes.  This LCD monitor is, internally, a backlit color film translucency, lit by flourescent tubes.  So, from any distance beyond nose-to-the-glass where you can see the pixel screendoor, it's a perfect feeling fake.

At one point in my development, I had some animations going on up there.  I learned that - for me, at least - it's actually a lot worse.  As soon as anything MOVES up there, it's obviously an LCD screen.  But as long as you only leave a static image up there, it looks like every other arcade marquee - aside from it just magically always being the correct marquee.

So, if you're thinking about it, I'd highly recommend it.  The effect in person is better than pictures suggest.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #77 on: April 10, 2016, 04:35:53 pm »
Beautiful build! I wondered when someone was going to use a vertical LCD TV this way.

nVidia custom resolutions (via nvidia control panel) are your friend for this kind of project. Very easy to do and has been around for ages. However, you also have to check the scaling method used under "adjust desktop size and position". This may have to be changed depending on your TV and your methods. I do this to have a 21:9 resolution (3840x1640) in my UHD TV for my racing games on my simpit.

I just got done setting up MAME on my virtual pinball cabinet. The playfield screen is used to play MAME games similar to how you do (42 inch vertical), but my entire screen is always exposed. I use Pinball X as my front-end.

I feel your pain when it comes to "lay" files. Even with the nice bezel art out there (I collected everything I could find), there is no way to completely fill my screen with ANY bezel art. So I used Rocket Launcher to manage bezels. I use a "default" bezel / background (or a random one) that automatically works for all games while allowing the game to fill up as much of my screen as possible (with HLSL effects for scaling,etc). If there was a MAME bezel / artwork that filled the leftover space nicely enough I would use it. There is nothing normal about my setup so its never going to be perfect.

I made over 2700 marquee images for the backglass screen (which acommodated the various different sizes), so I am NOT going to make hundreds of custom lay files.... especially after spending all this time making media for around 500 pinball games (1500 videos!). Not to mention I have hundereds of MAMe gameplay videos to do.... (no other source for videos available for this kind of setup for MAME, and I'm too picky)

This is what I'm talking about.... its not as nice as your bezel setup, but its the best I can manage with this type of cabinet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c11Vhd-136k





Again, great job and beautiful execution. You have inspired me to maybe make use of my spare 42 inch TV for another project!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2016, 05:00:28 pm by thagerty »

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #78 on: April 13, 2016, 02:38:03 am »
Beautiful build! I wondered when someone was going to use a vertical LCD TV this way.

Thanks!  Though, I'm not the first.  I think Maximus might have been (with a plasma), or maybe Token if you are specifically only talking LCDs.  I am probably missing some folks, I apologize - who here does have the earliest claim on slinging an oversize 16:9 display in portrait?   (I owe them a  :cheers:

I feel your pain when it comes to "lay" files. Even with the nice bezel art out there (I collected everything I could find), there is no way to completely fill my screen with ANY bezel art. So I used Rocket Launcher to manage bezels. I use a "default" bezel / background (or a random one) that automatically works for all games while allowing the game to fill up as much of my screen as possible (with HLSL effects for scaling,etc). If there was a MAME bezel / artwork that filled the leftover space nicely enough I would use it. There is nothing normal about my setup so its never going to be perfect.

I've got just a few more bezels to go, my target is for every game in my list to have a custom .lay layout and bezel and I'm maybe 98% there.  I have to manually adjust the bezels anyway from Mr. Do's excellent work, because I want the screen portion to be integer scaled so I can line the scanlines up correctly, I dim them way down so they look more like cardboard instead of glowing CRT phosphor, I paint vignetting and scanlines on the monitor area directly in the .PNG (which is almost free as compared to HLSL effects), and I'm frequently thinning the bezels down a great deal to look right aesthetically on my setup.  The square "screen" is pretty easy to fill completely, which is nice.

In a lot of cases I've had to paint my own incorrect homage bezels - many cabinets simply never had bezel art, so for them I'm remixing the control panel overlay art into bezel art.  Otherwise, the often cool control panel art would go unused, because I just could not figure out a way to give Mimic a dynamic control panel overlay.  I wanted to.  I thought of a lot of half baked ideas.  Tight grid-packed LED lighting with missing elements to make holes for the controls to go through... retroreflective glass bead screen material CPO with a topside projector in the speaker panel under the marquee monitor...  back projection from the foot of the cabinet shooting up onto a translucent CP and an insanely clean wiring job to avoid shadows...  no.  None of it was going to work well.  Defining my own custom colors for RGB lighting the controls per game was as close as I could get.  Maybe someday we'll have scissor-cuttable OLED film and somebody can do it then.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #79 on: April 20, 2016, 02:04:24 am »
Wow, Laythe. This is really an impressive cab. The screens are gorgeous and I really like your control panel. Great job with the software. The amount of work you put into configuring it really shows. Shout out for the cool admin panel too  :cheers:.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #80 on: April 21, 2016, 03:08:47 am »
very good job, guy

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #81 on: April 21, 2016, 10:39:13 am »
This is a great example of a guy building his first cabinet, taking a whole bunch of feedback, opinions and compliments, and really rolling with it. See, not every N00b  gets picked on.

It was a pleasure meeting you at ZapCon, and I look forward to future years.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #82 on: April 21, 2016, 10:56:27 am »
Great job. Great build thread! Thank you for sharing!

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #83 on: April 22, 2016, 11:49:18 pm »
Umpa and Jamesyan - Thanks! 


Wow, Laythe. This is really an impressive cab. The screens are gorgeous and I really like your control panel. Great job with the software. The amount of work you put into configuring it really shows. Shout out for the cool admin panel too  :cheers:.

Heya, RetroGreg!  Glad you dig it.  I'm still tinkering on the artwork and software, but, I probably always will be.   :)  Was cool meeting you, and hanging out with you at Monastery.   :cheers:


This is a great example of a guy building his first cabinet, taking a whole bunch of feedback, opinions and compliments, and really rolling with it. See, not every N00b  gets picked on.

It was a pleasure meeting you at ZapCon, and I look forward to future years.

Aw, thanks.  Great meeting you, and likewise!

I don't think I've seen anybody get jumped on here out of meanness, in any of the build threads I've seen.  I didn't get roasted much, and the differing opinions I got were all very reasonable.

To pick an example - sure, Mimic isn't HarveyBirdman's favorite cab.  He's really enthusiastic about CRTs, and a stunt with a portrait LCD for a main screen is at most going to get his grudging "not as bad as I expected" shrug.  But look at BulletReign, with the incredible marquee art and the awesome level of overkill of the painted board rack, and it's obvious he cares a whole lot.  He's not busting my chops because he's some cretin - he's expressing what he cares about, and he's got a build to show what it looks like when attention is paid to the parts that matter to him.

If his build was two cardboard boxes and a tankstick, I'd maybe shrug off his opinion, but it isn't.  I respect the heck out of his build, he knows what he's talking about, and I can see where he's coming from.  I'm glad he's level with me about it.  I'd rather get an honest "not as bad as I expected" over a fake "every cab is equally beautiful and special in it's own unique way" participation trophy, any day.

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #84 on: April 22, 2016, 11:54:42 pm »
Umpa and Jamesyan - Thanks! 


Wow, Laythe. This is really an impressive cab. The screens are gorgeous and I really like your control panel. Great job with the software. The amount of work you put into configuring it really shows. Shout out for the cool admin panel too  :cheers:.

Heya, RetroGreg!  Glad you dig it.  I'm still tinkering on the artwork and software, but, I probably always will be.   :)  Was cool meeting you, and hanging out with you at Monastery.   :cheers:


This is a great example of a guy building his first cabinet, taking a whole bunch of feedback, opinions and compliments, and really rolling with it. See, not every N00b  gets picked on.

It was a pleasure meeting you at ZapCon, and I look forward to future years.

Aw, thanks.  Great meeting you, and likewise!

I don't think I've seen anybody get jumped on here out of meanness, in any of the build threads I've seen.  I didn't get roasted much, and the differing opinions I got were all very reasonable.

To pick an example - sure, Mimic isn't HarveyBirdman's favorite cab.  He's really enthusiastic about CRTs, and a stunt with a portrait LCD for a main screen is at most going to get his grudging "not as bad as I expected" shrug.  But look at BulletReign, with the incredible marquee art and the awesome level of overkill of the painted board rack, and it's obvious he cares a whole lot.  He's not busting my chops because he's some cretin - he's expressing what he cares about, and he's got a build to show what it looks like when attention is paid to the parts that matter to him.

If his build was two cardboard boxes and a tankstick, I'd maybe shrug off his opinion, but it isn't.  I respect the heck out of his build, he knows what he's talking about, and I can see where he's coming from.  I'm glad he's level with me about it.  I'd rather get an honest "not as bad as I expected" over a fake "every cab is equally beautiful and special in it's own unique way" participation trophy, any day.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #85 on: April 23, 2016, 12:34:33 am »
I really like your approach to this cab and the innovation taken in construction - nice work!

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #86 on: April 23, 2016, 12:52:29 am »
I like this cab, I think it looks great.

I think you're over complicating restricting Windows to a certain screen size. I'll have to look at Nvida drivers again, but I know on my machine with Intel drivers I can set almost any resolution I want.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #87 on: April 26, 2016, 10:27:50 pm »
I really like your approach to this cab and the innovation taken in construction - nice work!

Wow.  Thank you.  Coming from you in particular, that means a lot to me - I consider you to be one of the experts on innovation here, given the designs you've come up with. 

Thanks!

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #88 on: April 26, 2016, 10:52:13 pm »
I like this cab, I think it looks great.

I think you're over complicating restricting Windows to a certain screen size. I'll have to look at Nvida drivers again, but I know on my machine with Intel drivers I can set almost any resolution I want.

Thanks man! 

The resolution thing really isn't a big deal to me - I've set up my layout files and frontend to work around it.  It'd actually be quite a pain to redo all of them for 1080x1080 at this point, even if I figured out how to.  I only mention it as a possible caution for anybody looking to do a similar build - the "adjust screen size for television" sliders in the specific win XP nvidia drivers I've got, only go as far down from 1920x1080 as 1440x1080, and not all the way to 1080x1080.

So, my start menu is sitting about two inches hidden under my control panel.  (Which is not a bad outcome, necessarily.)  This result doesn't bother me - I know all the keyboard shortcuts for things, and when in use the cab looks great.  It's only even a mild wrinkle when doing admin work on it. 

If you want to look into restriction methods, anything you come up with might be of assistance to anyone else who may consider building a similar setup.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #89 on: January 14, 2017, 01:55:22 am »
Ive been away from the forums for a while, and stumbled onto this.

My god this is just incredible. Just unbelievably cool.
Project mega thread HERE

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #90 on: January 14, 2017, 03:29:35 pm »
Ive been away from the forums for a while, and stumbled onto this.

My god this is just incredible. Just unbelievably cool.

Thank you!

Mission Control is one of the most amazing cabinets ever made, so that carries a lot of weight.

I greatly admire your work.  You and Ond, markc74, vwalbridge, and others, who have built things that I would be proud of had they been mine, are inspirational.  The kind words in this thread about my project from many of the people here that I respect the most, are just a heck of a thing.   :o   (I guess that may sound like a circlejerk to some, but it's significant to me.)

So, thanks.

In the spirit of the awesome flyers you did for MC:


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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #91 on: January 14, 2017, 06:56:43 pm »
Crazy workmanship! Inspires me to aim high on my own projects!

Gary

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #92 on: January 16, 2017, 12:05:22 am »
I can't stop thinking about this project. There is just somehting about the cabinet itself becoming part of the emulation of the game I just can't get over. I was telling my wife about it at Target yesterday and I think she got scared.  >:D

How did you handle the differing aspect ratios of the marquees? I know you created art for non existent bezels... did you have to extend artwork to avoid strectching/scaling issues for the marquees as well? Did I miss that in the thread?

Love the flyer! It totally reminds me of those Matchbox car storage cases from the 70s I always wanted but my mom would never buy.

BTW thanks for the compliments. It goes both ways.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2017, 11:53:23 pm by Pixelhugger »
Project mega thread HERE

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #93 on: January 16, 2017, 04:16:33 am »
Crazy workmanship! Inspires me to aim high on my own projects!

Gary

Thanks!  I've always believed that a beginner can make something as nice as a pro - the difference is that the pro can do it a whole lot faster.  Not knowing which parts will matter and which parts will show, the beginner just has to be careful about everything, whereas the pro knows which corners they can safely cut.  Take your time, have fun, and you'll do fine.   :cheers:

My god, I can't stop thinking about this project. There is just somehting about the cabinet itself becoming part of the emulation of the game I just can't get over. I was telling my wife about it at Target yesterday and I think she got scared.  >:D

How did you handle the differing aspect ratios of the marquees? I know you created art for non existent bezels... did you have to extend artwork to avoid strectching/scaling issues for the marquees as well? Did I miss that in the thread?

Love the flyer! It totally reminds me of those Matchbox car storage cases from the 70s I always wanted but my mom would never buy.

BTW thanks for the compliments. It goes both ways.

Haha, thanks.  Blip similarly just wouldn't let go of me after I saw the pictures of it, I know the feeling.   :)

The marquee panel I've got is 1366x480 - I think the 1366x384 like Blip uses is a little more optimal.  There's no one standard aspect on marquee art on original cabs, but the average is a little shorter than this.  (There's plenty of exceptions.  Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters and Super Puzzle Fighter are much too tall.)  So about 1/3rd of the marquees I find fit just perfect, the other 2/3rds of them, the panel is too tall / the art is too wide.  I've done a lot of tinkering on the marquee artwork to reformat it to fit.  Sometimes I can get away with a little squish, sometimes I'm cropping in a little closer and discarding the left and right edges, sometimes I'm rearranging the art to kill some deadspace to crowd it together a little tighter, sometimes I'm extending the artwork vertically.  Occasionally I just have to leave black deadbands top and bottom, or add a colored stripe.  Frequently, it's a little bit of all of the above simultaneously.  If I do a good job, most can't tell I did anything unless they see the original side by side.  I take comfort knowing operators did similar surgery and worse when converting real cabinets back in the day.

Neo-Geo games are kind of a pain, because the strictly historically correct thing to do with the marquee panel - mostly red with the little mini-marquee - just ends up looking like a cop-out in my menu.   :D   So I end up taking liberties with many of those.

It's also a project just to hunt down high res marquee source art for everything.  I've got my set mostly complete, there's a few that maybe could be better quality, but nothing is still out and out bad anymore.


Overall, this approach leads to a different feel for the cabinet, I think.  Mission Control has a big strong identity to it - no matter what you're playing on it, it's Mission Control and there's nothing else like it.  Mimic fades out like a chameleon - it feels like a Joust when it's being a Joust.  I think there's value on both sides of that; the magic to me is that I feel like I've almost got an entire arcade of dedicated machines in one 29"x18" footprint, but there really is something to be said for a machine that has a bold character and presence of it's own.  I don't think it's possible to achieve both outcomes at the same time from the same cabinet.

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #94 on: January 16, 2017, 05:07:01 am »
  I think there's value on both sides of that; the magic to me is that I feel like I've almost got an entire arcade of dedicated machines in one 29"x18" footprint, but there really is something to be said for a machine that has a bold character and presence of it's own.

This.

One thing that bugs me about about MAME machines are the fact that they have no clear personality and this is coming from the perspective of a grey-beard that spent lots of time in arcades growing up. When you walked in you could spot the Pac Man game, the Space Invaders game, the Donkey Kong game, etc. The cabinets and artwork themselves had personality that was part of the experience! Maybe the younger crowd feels this less since most of their gaming is/was done on consoles which <cough old ---fudgesicle--- cough> in my day even the consoles had only one game in them for a time!

Mimic is a lovely attempt to address this and I salute you!

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #95 on: January 20, 2017, 02:58:05 pm »
Hi Laythe,

Where did you buy your angle power cord. I can't find it with this angle :(

Thanks!

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #96 on: January 20, 2017, 05:34:19 pm »
Where did you buy your angle power cord. I can't find it with this angle :(
You can find some like this if you search for "down angle power cord", but you'll get more hits and better prices if you search for "right angle power cord" like this one or "left angle power cord" like this or get a right-angle adapter like this.


Scott

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #97 on: January 20, 2017, 11:47:41 pm »
What Scott said.    :)

I got mine from Amazon.  Left and Right are fairly plentiful, Up and Down take a little more hunting but should be there somewhere.

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Re: My first build: &quot;Mimic&quot;
« Reply #98 on: January 21, 2017, 01:44:23 am »
Thx guys!

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #99 on: January 06, 2018, 11:41:22 am »
OK. I'm a bit late to the party. But wow. I have to say, this cab is astonishingly good. It's pretty much the holy grail for anyone who has limited space.
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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #100 on: January 06, 2018, 11:48:54 am »
Here's an image out of my plans that better illustrates how Mimic fits together internally, in case anyone is considering a similar approach.  Screens are highlighted green, and the centered viewable 1080x1080 area of the main screen is shown in blue.



One thing that occurs to me is that maybe you could have somehow projected the hidden top section of the TV onto the marquee using something like a fresnel lens, and thus avoided the need for a second monitor.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." - Samuel Johnson

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #101 on: January 06, 2018, 08:04:02 pm »
Thanks, Grasshopper!  Appreciate the kind words.

I'm really happy with the machine, and I think people should consider this sort of masked-off portrait-oriented 16:9 screen if they're going to go LCD anyway - it works really well.

I thought about ways to try to project or offset the marquee portion of the image to look like it was further forward using that unused real estate.  An enormous bundle of coherently laid parallel fiber optic strands would do it, or a crystal that has a similar internal structure - but neither of those would be cheaper or easier than just sourcing the weird aspect ratio second panel.  (You could also give up on the marquee being on a separate plane, redesign the machine to maybe be more Viewlix shaped or Tempest shaped or something.  Some of the unused Blip designs did that, and a Nintendo bartop project did too - it'll work.)  Any tricks with mirrors I could come up with actually make it look further -back-, not further forward, by increasing the light path distance.  I think that a fresnel might make it bigger but I don't think it'd make it look closer - though I might be wrong there.

Speaking of fiber optics, I also thought about running bundles of fiber optic strands taped up against the lower screen area, emerging cut off flush at various places on the control panel - you could have a huge number of fully RGB "lights" that were actually just light pipes that you drive by putting color splotches on unused parts of the screen in your mame layout file, kind of for free.  Decided against it, but, it's a thing a person could easily do if your build has unused TV real estate hidden in the cabinet like this.

morton

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #102 on: January 07, 2018, 11:27:27 am »
The button indication lights on this are so slick... and just everything else... Makes me wanna make my cab over again. Looks so clean and non-obtrusive.  :notworthy:

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #103 on: January 16, 2018, 10:54:29 am »
This has to be the best "stretch LCD" marquee build I have ever seen!
A+!!!!!!
What was your logic and reasoning for making the top part of the cabinet separate and not seamless with the rest of the cabinet?

Laythe

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Re: My first build: "Mimic"
« Reply #104 on: January 16, 2018, 10:32:27 pm »
The button indication lights on this are so slick... and just everything else... Makes me wanna make my cab over again. Looks so clean and non-obtrusive.  :notworthy:

Thanks!  Lot of people seem to get tired of their first cab and want to do it over, that's a comment sentiment around here.  Mimic is still a machine in the corner that just makes me happy - I haven't wanted to redo it, and I think I'm in the minority in that.  I haven't gotten the bug to start collecting real arcade machines either, so something's probably wrong with me.   :laugh:


This has to be the best "stretch LCD" marquee build I have ever seen!
A+!!!!!!
What was your logic and reasoning for making the top part of the cabinet separate and not seamless with the rest of the cabinet?

Thanks!

The top part of the cabinet will slide off the front on rails, if I ever need to service or replace the marquee LCD panel.  But mostly, my design does that because I don't want the main cabinet to be any wider than it is - it's already too wide to be perfectly authentic. (I'm a bit wider than I was when I spent my childhood in arcades, too, so it's still reasonably proportional.)  I don't really like the aesthetic of cabinets that cram a big 16:9 screen in conventional orientation, and are then just a mile wide to fit it in, like a stretch limo or something.

So, the marquee ear overhangs were my compromise - the top absolutely has to be that wide.  The marquee monitor is that wide.  But I can at least slim up the machine underneath it a little.  When you look at it, you'd guess you are looking at a monitor between 3/4" thick plywood panels with T-molding on them - you aren't, it's hollowed out razor thin up there.  The marquee monitor is 30.125" wide by itself and the whole -exterior- of the top of the cabinet is 30.250" wide counting laminate.  The T-molding you see is debarbed and actually in front of the marquee monitor, not beside it.  Making the marquee sides seamless would have required making the whole cabinet 1.5" wider, and that looked worse to me.  28 3/4" outside width for the main body looked about right, 30 1/4" looked fat - and you also start noticing the gaps where the main screen bezel art doesn't quite go edge to edge in the cabinet, the wider you make the main body.



I kinda like the resulting accent lines of T-molding that the top got, it's an interesting shape.  It's not authentically any actual cabinet, but I think it doesn't look wholly unlike something that could have been at an arcade in the day.  Or so I think.

To do it perfectly... well, that's Blip.  Or an LCD TV slung like this in a cabinet like Blip, if you like dynamic bezel art more than CRT authenticity.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 10:45:04 pm by Laythe »

  
 

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