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Author Topic: Mini Polybius Bartop  (Read 2827 times)

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BeastlyBoy

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Mini Polybius Bartop
« on: August 12, 2021, 09:46:17 am »
Hello! I'm about to start making a tiny Polybius 'bartop' cab. My idea for this is that it's going to look sort of like the full size Polybius cabinet but much much smaller (roughly 30x30x30cm with an 8" screen). Based off those grainy old photos that are floating around of 'original' Polybius cabs. For reference:



So I want to take some of the form factor and design from the full-size version and shrink it down - square cab shape (I think the 'original' is a Galaga cab), nasty 70s woodgrain, black trim. Almost like it was found in an old warehouse some time, a relic from a lost time. Here's my first Sketchup mockup:





Going to run off a Raspberry Pi. It's going to be a little smaller than a Picade kit. I would go with the Picade HAT which looks like a cool piece of kit but I didn't like that to add illuminated buttons I'd have had to pay so much for their add-on set (50?!). So I'm going to botch it together myself with a few breakout boards and some kind of USB hub or something.

Definitely took some inspiration from markc74's gorgeous Micro Polybius build. And edekoning's super high-quality Nes bartop.

Going to build it over the next few months but would love any feedback / comments / suggestions before I dive in! What do y'all think of the initial design so far?

Cheers!
« Last Edit: August 29, 2021, 03:35:41 am by BeastlyBoy »

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2021, 05:17:15 am »


I'm leaning towards the 1-button (with a few utility/coin/start buttons stashed on the side) for weirdness factor alone, especially since that's what's traditionally on the Polybius cabs. 6 would be cool but I already have a fully playable cab so playability is not hugely vital with this project.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2021, 11:25:19 am by BeastlyBoy »

firedance

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2021, 07:00:28 am »
Would love to hear people's thoughts re. 1-button vs the full 6-button setup.

I'm leaning towards the 1-button (with a few utility/coin/start buttons stashed on the side) for weirdness factor alone, especially since that's what's traditionally on the Polybius cabs. 6 would be cool but I already have a fully playable cab so playability is not hugely vital with this project.

What do you think?

guess it depends what games you are planning to use on it, that will decide how many buttons you need  :)

what size screen are u going to use 15",17" or 19" ?


BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2021, 07:06:42 am »

guess it depends what games you are planning to use on it, that will decide how many buttons you need  :)

what size screen are u going to use 15",17" or 19" ?

Yeah I think I'm happy for it to be just for 1-button games, since I'm building it more as a 'thing' than a totally useful/functional machine.

And the screen is going to be 8"  >:D

Mike A

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2021, 07:09:00 am »
Seems pretty pointless to build a functioning arcade cab that is just going to sit on a shelf.

Why not just build the shell? It would save time and money and still serve the same purpose.


BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2021, 07:20:15 am »
Seems pretty pointless to build a functioning arcade cab that is just going to sit on a shelf.

Why not just build the shell? It would save time and money and still serve the same purpose.

Fair point but it'd be cool if you can pull it off the shelf, plug it in and it works :D

I have a Taito cocktail cab with no innards that I use as a coffee table, people are always disappointed when I tell them it doesn't actually 'work'.

Mike A

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2021, 07:41:59 am »
Of course they are disappointed.

Arcade machines play games. That is their purpose.

I own full sized cabs. I have never felt the urge to own a smaller version that plays the games worse.

Bar tops are about the limit for me. You can still have a full sized screen and real arcade controls.

firedance

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2021, 04:23:51 pm »
if the screen is only 8" then yeah 1 button it is :)

javeryh

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2021, 08:01:30 pm »
I would make this a vertical (3:4) cabinet.  Most of the single player classics are built for it.  4-way joy and probably 2 buttons because of Qix and some others.

bobbyb13

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2021, 11:15:21 pm »
Seems pretty pointless to build a functioning arcade cab that is just going to sit on a shelf.

Why not just build the shell? It would save time and money and still serve the same purpose.

Fair point but it'd be cool if you can pull it off the shelf, plug it in and it works :D

I have a Taito cocktail cab with no innards that I use as a coffee table, people are always disappointed when I tell them it doesn't actually 'work'.

Seems like maybe you should rebuild the Taito machine first!
 ;)
What's that watermelon doing there?

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2021, 04:34:19 am »
I would make this a vertical (3:4) cabinet.  Most of the single player classics are built for it.  4-way joy and probably 2 buttons because of Qix and some others.

Excellent point! Vertical it is. 4-way is a good shout too but I'm sticking to one button just for the novelty.




Seems like maybe you should rebuild the Taito machine first!
 ;)

I've had it almost a decade, I don't think it's going to happen  ;D
« Last Edit: August 14, 2021, 05:19:27 am by BeastlyBoy »

leapinlew

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2021, 10:11:02 am »
I think a neat gimmick for a Polybius cabinet would be to put a camera in it facing the player, super-impose an image of the player on the background to give them a creepy feeling that they are being watched.

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2021, 10:59:58 am »
I think a neat gimmick for a Polybius cabinet would be to put a camera in it facing the player, super-impose an image of the player on the background to give them a creepy feeling that they are being watched.

Haha that'd be so funny. I could hide it in the marquee...

javeryh

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2021, 12:14:04 pm »
Excellent point! Vertical it is. 4-way is a good shout too but I'm sticking to one button just for the novelty.

Probably a good call.  A machine this small is definitely more novelty than something meant to be played seriously.  One button looks good in your mockup.

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2021, 07:21:08 pm »
The weekend's progress - cutting out most of the wooden parts from 12mm MDF. I did these on a sliding mitre saw. For the rounded edges I'm gluing on 12mm corner quadrants for a nice smooth 90-deg angle. Then this'll all be primed and painted up.

Still haven't decided how to attach everything together. I'm experimenting with those plastic cabinet fixing blocks, but the screws don't go deep enough to get much purchase in 12mm MDF. I'm hesitant to glue it all together but might have to compromise for stability's sake.





Also cut the sides by making a router template from a paper template and then 'tracing' the template with a flush trim bit on a router. Magic stuff! Next step for the sides will be veneering them with real wood veneer.





I also made an attempt at labelling the buttons. I wanted to try out a creepy 'illuminati' symbol on the main button but I think I might ditch it. The other buttons I wanted symbols on showing their function (coin, start, back/cancel). The power button didn't work at all so I took the paint off and will just leave it blank. Should be fine since it's illuminated anyway.

I did these by cutting tiny stencils out with my Cricut, then spray painting. Not the best finish in the world but okay here.





« Last Edit: August 16, 2021, 07:27:18 pm by BeastlyBoy »

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2021, 02:21:42 pm »
Update - veneering! I was going to use self-adhesive vinyl to get a nice 'cheap' 70s look, but in the end went with a real wood veneer to get a luxury feel instead. Plus I've never veneered anything before and wanted to give it a go. It was pretty straightforward and it's not even that expensive, I paid 15 for almost 3m. Did a few tests before sticking it on to my MDF with cold-press glue; Sandwiched in-between some clamps, then trimmed with a flush router bit - this makes the hardcore veneer guys cry but I don't have the patience to go round it with a veneer saw. The edges came out great:





I'm using 12mm MDF, and the veneer is .7mm. As it happens, 1/2" T-moulding is exactly 12.7mm! So I pulled out the slot-cutter and cut the T-moulding slot while I was at it:



Love that perfect fit  8)



Really looking forward to getting this veneer finished up with some oil, it's gonna pop.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 02:26:05 pm by BeastlyBoy »

bobbyb13

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2021, 08:32:30 pm »
Nice look.
And I didn't realize there was anything BUT a flush trim bit for that chore!
 :lol
What's that watermelon doing there?

ericball

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2021, 08:53:10 am »
Game suggestions for vertical 4 way + 1 button
Burger Time, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, Donkey Kong 3, Frogger, Galaga, Galaxian, Gorf, Jr. Pac-Man, Mappy, Moon Cresta, Ms. Pac-Man, Pengo, Phoenix, Pooyan, Pac-Man, Space Invaders
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Mike A

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2021, 08:57:30 am »
Circus Charlie is a 2 way, but it will work okay with a 4 way.

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2021, 05:00:27 am »
Game suggestions for vertical 4 way + 1 button
Burger Time, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, Donkey Kong 3, Frogger, Galaga, Galaxian, Gorf, Jr. Pac-Man, Mappy, Moon Cresta, Ms. Pac-Man, Pengo, Phoenix, Pooyan, Pac-Man, Space Invaders

Awesome! Was meaning to do a rundown at some point but this looks like a fantastic list. Thanks!

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2021, 06:17:18 am »
Make sure you get the joystick far enough from the edge. I slam into the sides while playing. annoying and painful.

BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2021, 06:35:09 am »
Make sure you get the joystick far enough from the edge. I slam into the sides while playing. annoying and painful.

Yeah good call. Will be finalising the CP once I get the skeleton of the thing assembled.

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2021, 07:56:24 am »
That veneer looks PROtato, great job.
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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2021, 12:27:47 am »
Yeah, love the veneer! Great job!


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BeastlyBoy

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 01:03:06 pm »
Not made a huge amount of progress lately due to work etc, but put some time into (obsessively) getting the veneer finished on the side panels. So here's one for the wood nerds!

No lacquer / varnish here, I've never got on well with it - so I'm going with just straight Finishing Oil. Did some tests first - I tried out some black grain filler to get a totally smooth finish and dark streak to the grain - but it felt too dark:



Plus when I tested the finishing oil without any grain filler I found it had a nice dark streak on its own. I decided the woodgrain texture would actually be cool to keep so ditched the fillers entirely:



I didn't dye or stain the wood (black walnut) at all, just went straight in with the finishing oil. The difference after you apply the first coat is night and day! The oil really makes it pop, brings out the reds, and gives the grain a gorgeous look.



It's easy to apply - wipe it on liberally with a rag, then 10 mins later wipe it again to remove the excess. Leave it to dry for 24hrs. Rub with 0000-grade steel wool, then reapply. That's it! Finished result:



I did 4 coats and got a gorgeous finish, and it's rock hard too. Where the bare wood could be marked with a fingernail, this is solid. Cannot recommend finishing oil enough, it's lovely stuff!

javeryh

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Re: Mini Polybius Bartop
« Reply #25 on: Today at 08:39:03 pm »
That looks sick.  Love the form factor - going to be a cool little build.