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Author Topic: ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop  (Read 2455 times)

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severdhed

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ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop
« on: May 19, 2016, 12:31:26 pm »
A few weeks ago, i picked up an ion iCade unit at a thrift store for $6.95.  I don't own an iPad, and have no intention of ever doing so, but for the price, i couldn't pass it up.  Initially i was going to maybe use it with either an android tablet that i have, or a 8" windows 10 tablet that i have.  I discovered that it is simply an bluetooth keyboard, but due to limitations in the IOS, the bluetooth controller interface in the icade does not function like a standard keyboard.  it sends one key stroke when the button is pressed, and a different key when it is released...this makes it stupid.

so the first thing to do was to replace the bluetooth interface with something else.  I had a minimus AVR lying around from another project that was abandoned, so that seemed like the best way to go.  I also decided against using the tablets that i had, opting for a stripped down laptop instead.  I had an hp 2710p laptop with a 12" screen just lying here collecting dust.  it took a good bit of work to get everthing to fit, but this way i can have a fully functional mame cabinet.  so let the process begin:

I started by removing the control panel from the iCade.  it is a self contained plastic unit that attaches to the wooden cabinet with a few screws.  I opened it up, removed the bluetooth controller pcb and wired up the controls to my minimus avr.





the next step was to disassemble the laptop.  I didn't take many pictures of this.  I wasn't sure how much i would have to take apart to get it to fit....as it turns out....a lot.  i basically stripped it down to the motherboard and lcd panel. 






I had to drill a hole in the wood behind the screen for the cable to run through.



due to the odd shape of the motherboard and the location of the power jack, i had to tilt the board at an angle to get it to fit on the back side of the cabinet.




the screen was just slightly too tall to fit .  It sits on the top of the plastic control panel at the back, but it would now allow the top board to fit on.



to resolve this, i cut a slot in the back of the plastic control panel box for the screen to sit down in.  in only goes in about half an inch.  this covers the bottom half of the windows taskbar, but does not impact mame at all ( it is a 16:10 aspect ratio screen, so mame naturally leter boxes it anyway.




i also had to route a slot in the top board to get the screen to fit.  i did a really crappy job because it started raining and i wanted to get it finished.



the power switch on the motherboard was located in the top right corner of the cabinet, where i couldn't get to it.  I simply soldered two wires onto the board and used a power switch from an old pc case.  i attached it with really powerful 2-sided tape.




I also removed the plastic ipad cradle from the top, which left a large hole.  There is a channel through this control box, this is where the power cord for the ipad would have run through...this will become the speaker grill.  I cut a piece of steel mesh from an old PC case, folded the edges with a pair of pliers, and screwed it in place.   







i took the tiny laptop speaker and used some duct tape to mount it on the bottom of that channel.   the sound travels up the channel and through the i just mounted.



The  laptop only had two usb ports.  one of them is right near the power switch, and unusable.  I decided to add a 4 port usb hub.  it is mounted to the side with 2 sided tape.  this allows me to connect a keyboard/mouse  while still keeping the control panel plugged in.



the power supply is also mounted with 2 sided tape on the opposite side.



i used a few small pieces of wood to make braces for my back/bottom panels.  they are held in with 2 sided tape and screws.



I cut a back and bottom panel out of an old piece of paneling i had lying around.  i will eventually paint it all black since it has some paint on already.  i drilled a few holes at the top, and also on the bottom panel for air flow.




here it is in it's current state.  I made a Mala layout that closely matches the art style of the icade.  I didn't feel like destroying the artwork, i kinda like it.






Here it is running a horizontal game.  I dind't want a huge black area around the screen, so i made a generic custom bezel for all of the horizontal games on my game list.  it left plenty of room for a simple graphic at the bottom explaining how to pause and exit the game, insert coins and start. 



here is the loading screen




and here it is with a vertical game.  because of the extra wide aspect ratio, there was some blank space at the top and bottom, so i also made a generic bezel for the vertical games




I also picked up a microsoft sidewinder usb controller at the thrift store for $1, i currently have it configured for player 2, just in case. 



the only things i have left to do are:

>add a few screws to keep the top board from flipping up like a lid.

>add some kind of volume control.   the laptop speaker plugs directly into the motherboard, there are no hardware adjustments for it.  i can either add a powered set of speakers and mount a knob somewhere, or more likely wire up two small switches to mount on the rear of the cabinet that connect to unused inputs on my controller interface, then use autohotkey to make them adjust the windows system volume.
Current Projects:      Zak-Man | TMNT Pedestal | SNES Pi | iCade Bartop
Former Projects:     4 Player Showcase | Donkey Kong

Slippyblade

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Re: ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 01:33:31 pm »
Love the bezel art for the overflow screen space.  That is a great idea.

beaches

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Re: ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2016, 05:50:57 pm »
It's amazing, good job. Congratulations.

tomstewdevine

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Re: ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2016, 12:14:54 pm »
Very cool project.
Finished: 2 bartops and a cocktail
Not-Finished: 1bartop, 2cocktails, and 2 stand ups.

firedance

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Re: ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2016, 12:22:26 pm »
Looking good so far :)

severdhed

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Re: ION iCade converted to Mame Bartop
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2016, 02:54:21 pm »
thanks guys.  i know it isn't the same as building my own bartop,( which i still plan to do) but i figured i got this thing for $7, i might as well do something with it.  The buttons are a little stiffer than the happ buttons i'm used to.  i don't know what kind of stick it has, but it has a square restrictor, which makes it work very well for qbert. 

i did a little more to it today.  I screwed the top panel down so that it will no longer lift up.  This makes it easier to carry and also a little more stable.



I needed a way to adjust the volume of the pc speaker.  I dind't want to bother with external speakers, so i needed a way to adjust the windows system volume.  I had a broken ps2 style controller that i had gutted years ago.  it still had the small PCB for the two right trigger buttons, with the little rubber actuators.  i simply wired these two buttons up to two unused inputs on my control interface and mapped them to two keyboard keys i wasn't using for anything.  then i hot glued them to a piece of plastic and glued it to the cabinet.    I created a simple autohotkey script to send the volume_up or volume_down when one of those keys is pressed, then simply put that script in the windows startup folder.








i'm not sure what i'm going to do with this thing once it is finished, i already have an upright 2 player cab and a 4 player pedestal, so i don't really need this one.  i might just keep it for little kids to play when we have company over and for portable use.    I just need to paint the back, and tweak the software a little bit yet
Current Projects:      Zak-Man | TMNT Pedestal | SNES Pi | iCade Bartop
Former Projects:     4 Player Showcase | Donkey Kong

  
 

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