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Author Topic: Help Building Control Panel  (Read 974 times)

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Scottes

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Help Building Control Panel
« on: September 21, 2017, 07:07:25 pm »
About 35 years ago I used to play a lot of arcade games. A friend and I recently visited Fun Spot for several hours of playing those old early 80s games, and we decided that we needed to relive that experience more frequently. So we've decided that I should build a couple control panels and run MAME.

And I'm overwhelmed a little, and need some help and suggestions. Any and all suggestions are very welcome.

First, to frame things, there are only about 20 games we're really interested in.

Robotron, Major Havoc, Centipede, Defender, Dig Dug, Galaga and Joust are the most important ones. Others are of that era, but those are important and cover the gamut of the controls needed, and also define the layout a bit, and the necessary controls. We have absolutely no interest in fighting games, shmups (whatever that is), Sega, NeoGeo, etc, etc. Just 1980-1983 arcade games.

My first pass at a proposed layout is attached, and is currently about 26 inches wide and 13 inches tall. I'm expecting it to get a little bigger once I get parts and do a mock-up, but that's the general idea. The plan is to use 1/2" birch plywood. I have to admit that I care little about aesthetics or authenticity - I just want a fun time with new, quality parts. The cabinet will come eventually, but for now the CP is required.

I should also mention that I don't have time to build 2 or 3 panels, and have little desire to swap them in and out of the cabinet, since I have room for only one cabinet. So I'm trying to build the best single CP for the games I want to play. If that's possible. I want to have a fun time with quality parts, not a perfectly authentic experience.


So, for the parts... I have to admit that I've only looked at UltiMarc and a little at GGG.

For the trackball, the U-TRAK FlushMount Arcade Trackball looks perfect to me. As does the SpinTrak Rotary Control with a knurled knob and heavy flyweight. Please correct me if I'm missing something.

For the buttons, it just seems sensible for me to go with the SuzoHapp Classic pushbuttons. But I am curious about the Competition buttons. Any comments about the feel beside the convex/concave difference? Are they "right" for the early 80s games? Not authentic, but what do they change when playing the above games?


Now for the big question... Which Joystick?

Yes, I know this has been asked and answered a million times, and I've read many many threads, and I'm still a bit lost for the games I want to play. I hope that the games above give some perspective into what I need and want.

I'm inclined to just go for the classic Happ "bat" 8-way, but will those really detract from those games that only support 4-way play? Cost is not an issue (within reason). I can easily purchase the U360, but will those be as good as the Happs for Robotron or other 8-way games? Are they significantly better then the 8-way Happs for a 4-way game? Is there a better choice?

Since I'm building the CPs, I know that I can always buy new parts and retrofit them, but I'd rather do it once. For now, at least - maybe the bug will bite me hard...


As for the PC to run MAME, I have my old HTPC, an ASUS Chromebox with an i3, and 4 GB RAM with a 16 GB SSD. I believe it has an Nvidia card of some sort, but it does have onboard Intel 4400 graphics capabilities. My thought is to use that to run Ubuntu on it. I can probably throw an old copy of Windows 7 on it if that would be better.

One concern that I have about this PC is that the choice of controls might not be ideal. With a I-PAC 2 or 4, plus trackball, spinner, and 2 U260s it will need a lot of USB connections. That's easily solved with a hub, but can Ubuntu or Windows even handle that many "mice" attached? Or am I missing something about how these USB devices act? Or should I look at purchasing a new mini PC that's more suitable, or building one? (Note that I'm very comfortable with computers, just not knowledgable at all when you put MAME on one.)


Again, any and all suggestions are very welcome. Thanks in advance.

PS: Sorry about posting the controller pic 3 times. I don't know how to delete 3 of them... [Fixed - DeL]
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 11:11:08 am by DeLuSioNal29 »

keilmillerjr

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2017, 08:23:07 pm »
No.
No.
No.

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2017, 08:30:47 pm »
I say go for it. Clearly you know what you want and have no illusions that itís going to be some kind of bad ass arcade, but rather a utility game pad, if you will.
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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2017, 08:52:23 pm »
Make a cardboard mockup with that panel layout before you make the wood version.

You may notice something about the Exit/Pause and spinner locations.   ::)


Scott

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2017, 10:27:49 pm »
You want original Wico sticks. The computer you use doesn't matter. You want to go with old leaf buttons as well.

Major Havoc doesn't feel right without that rolling pin controller and the vector monitor, don't go out of your way to support it.

Make sure you have a CRT or you wasted all your time.

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2017, 12:31:14 am »
The exit and pause button I would definitely not put there because you might accidentally hit them while playing them. Obviously if you want authentic feel keep the buttons concave.

Sent from my Atari 2600


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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2017, 12:37:28 am »
You want original Wico sticks. The computer you use doesn't matter. You want to go with old leaf buttons as well.

Major Havoc doesn't feel right without that rolling pin controller and the vector monitor, don't go out of your way to support it.

Make sure you have a CRT or you wasted all your time.
^ this right here. paigeoliver always seems to give the best advice that is always in the spirit of this place. Keep rocking on, paige.

Scottes

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2017, 09:19:14 am »
Quote from: PL1 link=topic=155326.msg1629557#msg1629557 date =1506041543
Make a cardboard mockup...
Absolutely.

You want original Wico sticks. ... You want to go with old leaf buttons as well.
Why? Are these better for 4-way games on an 8-way joystick?

Major Havoc doesn't feel right without that rolling pin controller...
I can't recall ever having played on one of those rolling controllers, just a spinner. So I'll be fine I guess.

The exit and pause button I would definitely not put there because you might accidentally hit them while playing them.
Thanks to you and Scott I can see that now. Thanks.

bperkins01

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2017, 09:36:29 am »
Very similar story to mine..  my game was Centipede.  I ended up playing a broken one that was maddening. 
Now I have a whole cabinet design / build started.  I have nearly all of the components and I'm just starting to design the CP.

As a small item - if you want to play Centipede - the original had the 2 1/4" ball.   I've played it with the 3" and its not the same.

I'd also recommend any admin buttons across the top and out of the way..
There is CP thread sticky with lots of layouts to look at..

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Scottes

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2017, 09:48:19 am »
As a small item - if you want to play Centipede - the original had the 2 1/4" ball.   I've played it with the 3" and its not the same.
That's not a small item. My primary game was Centipede. Thanks.

bperkins01

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2017, 10:25:10 am »
Well - then its a huge item :)
The next issue is that the nice Ultimarc recessed trackballs are only available in 3".
You will (likely) need to go to the Happ trackball route - but it is surface mount with a plate.  This is quite simple if you don't mind the plate.  I could not find a 2 1/4" recessed mount trackball.

I'm trying to come up with way to mount it so that I can have a panel overlay and plexi top.  It will require me coming up with a backing plate/mount for support.


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paigeoliver

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2017, 09:36:44 pm »
If you played in the old days then the most common sticks you would have used are the old Wicos. No 8-way stick is good for 4-way games, you should actually work a 4-way in. For that one I actually suggest the microswitched based replacement pac-man stick that happ's sells. The original Pac sticks have a huge footprint under the panel that makes it hard to squeeze them into a busy panel and I don't like the way Pac-Man plays with a 4-way wico.

Quote from: PL1 link=topic=155326.msg1629557#msg1629557 date =1506041543
Make a cardboard mockup...
Absolutely.

You want original Wico sticks. ... You want to go with old leaf buttons as well.
Why? Are these better for 4-way games on an 8-way joystick?

Major Havoc doesn't feel right without that rolling pin controller...
I can't recall ever having played on one of those rolling controllers, just a spinner. So I'll be fine I guess.

The exit and pause button I would definitely not put there because you might accidentally hit them while playing them.
Thanks to you and Scott I can see that now. Thanks.
Acceptance of Zen philosophy is marred slightly by the nagging thought that if all things are interconnected, then all things must be in some way involved with Pauly Shore.

Scottes

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2017, 09:53:06 am »
If you played in the old days then the most common sticks you would have used are the old Wicos.

Since I really haven't played in 35 years, I highly doubt that I'm going to remember the feel of the old Wicos. And my (current) goal is not to have an authentic 1982 arcade experience.

With that said, is there another stick that will be very good for Robotron *and* for other 8-ways games? Another 10-year-old old thread had some suggestions, but what are the current contenders for a fun Robotron experience that will also serve well for other games?

No 8-way stick is good for 4-way games, you should actually work a 4-way in. For that one I actually suggest the microswitched based replacement pac-man stick that happ's sells.
With that and a bit of reading and a bit of thinking, I've decided that I must do 2 panels, and I've thought of what should be an easy way to switch the panels in and out. But I need to do more research, thinking and design for this.

n3wt0n

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2017, 02:28:58 pm »
Glad to hear you have decided that one panel won't have the space to support everything you need. You will get a better experience in the end.

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2017, 04:52:14 pm »
Wico sticks generally win out for every type of 8-way game except for Streetfighter type games. Microswitch sticks were actually standard by the time I really started playing, however most of my games today have leaf switch sticks.

Robotrons came with Wicos, every competitive Robotron player uses them, they were basically in every 3rd game from 1981 to 1993 or so, including all those popular Konami games like TMNT and the Simpsons. Not to down anything else currently available, but a good condition original Wico stick is still the best thing you can buy.

If you played in the old days then the most common sticks you would have used are the old Wicos.

Since I really haven't played in 35 years, I highly doubt that I'm going to remember the feel of the old Wicos. And my (current) goal is not to have an authentic 1982 arcade experience.

With that said, is there another stick that will be very good for Robotron *and* for other 8-ways games? Another 10-year-old old thread had some suggestions, but what are the current contenders for a fun Robotron experience that will also serve well for other games?

No 8-way stick is good for 4-way games, you should actually work a 4-way in. For that one I actually suggest the microswitched based replacement pac-man stick that happ's sells.
With that and a bit of reading and a bit of thinking, I've decided that I must do 2 panels, and I've thought of what should be an easy way to switch the panels in and out. But I need to do more research, thinking and design for this.
Acceptance of Zen philosophy is marred slightly by the nagging thought that if all things are interconnected, then all things must be in some way involved with Pauly Shore.

Scottes

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2017, 05:00:10 pm »
Wico sticks generally win out for every type of 8-way game except for Streetfighter type games.
Wico it is.

Or whatever the closest is that I can get. I came across one post where someone was selling refurbished Wicos, so I have to assume that they're not made any more. Since I don't remember how old that thread was, do you have any suggestions for finding them? And if I can't find them, what's the next best bet?

Thanks.

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2017, 01:31:34 am »
They stopped making them about 25 years ago. Easiest way to find them is to look for control panels that have then already have two of them installed. Ebay and craigslist.


Wico sticks generally win out for every type of 8-way game except for Streetfighter type games.
Wico it is.

Or whatever the closest is that I can get. I came across one post where someone was selling refurbished Wicos, so I have to assume that they're not made any more. Since I don't remember how old that thread was, do you have any suggestions for finding them? And if I can't find them, what's the next best bet?

Thanks.
Acceptance of Zen philosophy is marred slightly by the nagging thought that if all things are interconnected, then all things must be in some way involved with Pauly Shore.

Scottes

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2017, 09:13:30 am »
I found a 4-year-old post:
The best 8-way joystick is the Suzo-Happ Perfect 360. I put the "happ joystick heavy spring" into mine and changed out the handles for 4" balltops. These sticks just make everything else look sad, even the ever famous classic 8-way wico leaf joystick isn't as good as these.
Have you changed back to thinking that a refurbished Wico is better than the Perfect 360? (Not just for Robotron)

Any thoughts on the Dominux 8?

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2017, 10:27:29 am »
I stopped recommending them because they are almost impossible to find. Unfortunately the guys who reproduced the original Berzerk bat handles made them for the P360 base, not realizing that Happ ran out and wasn't ever, ever going to restock, which just makes the issue worse.

Or to put it another way, I have been looking for more of them for 5 years now and haven't been able to find a single one at a price point I was willing to pay.

I found a 4-year-old post:
The best 8-way joystick is the Suzo-Happ Perfect 360. I put the "happ joystick heavy spring" into mine and changed out the handles for 4" balltops. These sticks just make everything else look sad, even the ever famous classic 8-way wico leaf joystick isn't as good as these.
Have you changed back to thinking that a refurbished Wico is better than the Perfect 360? (Not just for Robotron)

Any thoughts on the Dominux 8?
Acceptance of Zen philosophy is marred slightly by the nagging thought that if all things are interconnected, then all things must be in some way involved with Pauly Shore.

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2017, 11:22:34 am »
It's worth looking at the Dominux8 sticks.  http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=407

It's the closest thing your going to get for the Wico feel (with the rubber grommet).  Plus you can choose the color of the ball on top to fit your them (the screw off and on, unlike Wicos).  They sound like they may fit the bill for the games you want to play.  But, they are pretty awful for Street Fighter type games.  Perfect for Robotron, Smash TV, Golden Age games.  These are leaf sticks and feel retro.  Period.

But for 4 way games, I suggest the Ms. Pacman stick from Tornado Terrys (comes in two lengths, metal control panel or wood control panel).  Great for Pacman, Dig Dug, Mr Do, Donkey Kong, etc.
http://www.tornadoterrys.com/surplus.htm

DeL
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 11:27:32 am by DeLuSioNal29 »
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Scottes

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2017, 11:25:05 am »
It's worth looking at the Dominux8 sticks.
But for 4 way games, I suggest the Pac Pro leaf stick.
I have been definitely leaning towards these since I have no desire to deal with 30-year-old parts and don't require perfection. I'm happy to see confirmation on both. Thanks!

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2017, 12:18:25 pm »
It's worth looking at the Dominux8 sticks.
But for 4 way games, I suggest the Pac Pro leaf stick.
I have been definitely leaning towards these since I have no desire to deal with 30-year-old parts and don't require perfection. I'm happy to see confirmation on both. Thanks!

Dominux are nice, they follow the same basic design principles as the Wico but just aren't quite as industrial grade as the Wicos are. Note to others though, don't be afraid of the old parts, most of them are far more reliable and heavy duty than what is commonly available today. Fact is, if it isn't broken now then you probably won't ever break it. In my 20 game arcade I replace about 1 microswitch a year, and in 16 years I have never had to replace a leaf switch that wasn't already broken when I got the machine. The trackball in my main mame cabinet was bought new 15 years ago, and the rollers have only worn enough to show a tiny line that you can't actually feel with your fingers, this stuff lasts, at least the American style stuff does (if you get a candy cabinet freshly imported then the controls will likely be wrecked).

Acceptance of Zen philosophy is marred slightly by the nagging thought that if all things are interconnected, then all things must be in some way involved with Pauly Shore.

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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2017, 07:38:32 pm »
It's worth looking at the Dominux8 sticks.  http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=407



If one were to build a control panel with Robotron in mind and use these, what restrictor would you choose, or is no restrictor the correct option?



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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2017, 01:55:29 pm »
If one were to build a control panel with Robotron in mind and use these, what restrictor would you choose, or is no restrictor the correct option?
I would go with the circular restrictors that Randy has.  I bought them without the restrictors and the throw was too long for my liking.  So I made my own.  Randy then offered them based on my feedback (He sent me samples of his final product too).  They slip right in and it makes the joystick have a shorter throw.

DeL
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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2017, 01:48:45 pm »
If one were to build a control panel with Robotron in mind and use these, what restrictor would you choose, or is no restrictor the correct option?
I would go with the circular restrictors that Randy has.  I bought them without the restrictors and the throw was too long for my liking.  So I made my own.  Randy then offered them based on my feedback (He sent me samples of his final product too).  They slip right in and it makes the joystick have a shorter throw.

DeL

Very helpful, thanks so much.  Been wanting to build a little dedicated Robotron stick box for quite awhile. I know it's not ideal with leverage and all but dangit I miss that game.
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Re: Help Building Control Panel
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2017, 10:33:04 pm »
been playing robotron on a set of jlf8 and have been very happy with them. They replaced some happs comps

slagcoin is a good place to go for a quick read on button layout :applaud:
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