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Author Topic: Vintage Bartop  (Read 885 times)

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thatpurplestuff

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Vintage Bartop
« on: February 19, 2019, 01:19:30 am »
This thread may be rambling and unfocused.   You've been warned.

...so I initially wasn't sure if I was going to post a build thread on this since the base bartop is not of my own making (it's a haruman widescreen bartop), but after Ond's thread about inactivity on the boards I figured I'd sack up and make a thread (plus I've hit enough bumps along the way that the build might be helpful for others).  One unique thing about this build is that I believe it will be the first project posted here that uses Kade miniConsole+ devices as the inputs.

A little background, I've started 2 arcade cabs in the past and never got past the control panel phase of both... well the first got so far as building a frame to hold the control panel and CRT, but that's it.  The first was a 2 player marble contact paper beauty of a control panel back in '02 (with a hacked keyboard that I had to painstakingly figure out the matrix for to avoid ghosting), then a glorious 4 player wood monster with angled joysticks back in '03.  Pics below of both of these beauties in their natural environment (a messy college apartment):





Fast forward to last year, my latest build all started with my amazing wife preordering a Rampage Arcade1up cabinet after I showed them to her back in early 2018... I have been planning on building a ridiculously huge mirror cab for years, but even with the parts in hand, with 2 young daughters there just aren't enough hours in the day to get beyond the planning phase (particularly since I've got a Skeeball build that is on hold as well).  I love the look of the original Rampage cab, and the idea of an easily built kid-sized Arcade1up for $300 seemed too good to pass up.

After preorder delays and reviews started coming out (particularly about the artwork basically wiping off the control panel), I decided to cancel the preorder and bite the bullet on a Haruman widescreen bartop.  I already had the vast majority of parts needed, so I figured that a precut bartop would be enough of a kick in the butt to finally get something going.

I started assembling this bartop in November and I've run into a pantload of issues along the way (most of my own making), but I'm close to being done.  Easily the hardest part so far has been real estate, and I've developed a newfound respect for all of the mini/micro cab builders... limited space is a mf'er!  I've vowed to not make this thing playable until it is completely assembled, so hopefully this one will actually get finished!

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 01:22:44 am »
First, why "Vintage" as the cab name?

vintage, adj: of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : classic.

Completely honest answer, pretty much because I wanted to hijack the Rampage art and it has the same 3 letters at the end haha.  Also, I have this idealized picture in my head that my daughters can use this bartop to explore old games and see that old games have value and can be fun.  More likely this will just end up being a way for me to play games while the wife and kids hog the TV.   Below is a quick mockup of what I'm hoping this bartop will look like:



Parts:
19" 16:9 monitor
Kade miniConsole+ & Arcade expansion boards (x2) ... I believe the new iteration of this device is the RetroPad32 but I'm not sure it has an arcade expansion board?
PacLED64
Pyle speakers
Kinter Amp

Controls:
IL RGB buttons (x14)
ServoStik with RGB balltops (x2)
HelioGemCDR buttons (x2)
Scavenged Happ buttons from old builds (x6)

Computer:
3.4ghz qc i7 processor
8 gigs ram
256gb ssd (OS, emulators, front end)
4tb hd (games)
gt430 1gb ram video card

Artwork:
I wanted to incorporate a bunch of old arcade games without having them look too out of place.  I think most "collage" style artwork struggles primarily because there is no cohesiveness to it... different line work, different colors, different systems, and no base "universe" in which the artwork lives.  I made a point to only use imagery that used similar line work, as well as adjusted all colors to match each other in order to make it feel like it could have been screenprinted at some point.  I also liked the idea of easter eggs and hard to notice elements that would be difficult to identify, so many of the images that I included are supporting bits that aren't necessarily the main focal point of their original artwork.

Goals:
Arcade/Consoles
I plan on including arcade games every console from the 2600 up to PS1... obviously many consoles just aren't suited to arcade controls, but I have 2 kade miniconsole+ devices along with the arcade adapter that will allow everything to be controlled with either the arcade controls or the original console controllers (hotswappable through 2 db15 ports).  I've got a divorce-worthy collection of console controllers and I am very excited to have a setup that allows me to finally use them (still need to fabricate the db15 cables for a few systems, but many are ready to go)!  Below is a pic from a few years ago, I've collected quite a few more since this was taken:



Pinball
I've purchased most of the tables within Pinball Arcade, so I figured throwing some flipper buttons to let me play those wouldn't be too crazy (particularly since I can potentially use those flippers as easy shift buttons for things like save/load/etc within emulators).

Riser/Pedestal (nothing final yet)
I plan on building a pedestal/riser for this bartop that includes a trackball and spinners and an area below for controller storage.  My old arcade setup had games like Shuffleshot and Shuuz see HEAVY use, so I'd love to be able to have a bartop that allowed it to dock into a setup that allows for expanded controls.  Still not sure exactly how I am going to pull this off but I've got some ideas that I think might work.  The bartop itself needs to be completed before I even think about the logistics of this, as I've got a tendency to feature-creep as I go and never actually complete something (see exhibit A: my Skeeball build or exhibit B: the pics above).
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 01:29:19 am by thatpurplestuff »

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2019, 01:54:04 am »
This project was off to a rocky start when I couldn't even assemble the kit correctly.  I got the glue in the joints, one side went in flawlessly and the other side just simply would not fully seat.  I honestly don't know what the issue is, my best guess is that the MDF was slightly swollen (it was shipped and delivered in the rain and I built it pretty much right after delivery... no idea if that was actually the cause but that's what I'm telling myself.  As the wood glue was drying I got more and more desperate, smashing the side panel with a rubber mallet and putting my full weight on it in an attempt to brute force it.  This did push it in a bit further, but it also ended up splitting one of the side panels and it still wasn't seated correctly.  It was close enough though, and since I didn't want to risk any further damage I just left it alone and decided to fortify it like crazy afterwards.



First, I wanted to contain the split and attempt to fix it as best I could.  I used a syringe to inject wood glue as far as I could into the damaged area, then clamped it for 24 hours.  It actually seemed to fix most of the issue...





Because I didn't know that I was going to make a build thread, I didn't take pics after I took the clamps off but it definitely closed the cracks.  The final step I took to salvage the frame was to put a bunch of right angle brackets inside.  This only shows a couple, but the bartop is filled with right angle brackets anywhere I could fit them to make sure it stays in one piece.



I will post more tomorrow regarding other issues I've had (depth of ServoStiks, button depths, motherboard layout, etc) and get the thread caught up to speed.  The cab is 95% built now, I just ordered artwork through Brad and I'm hoping to get this thing put together soon!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 02:02:27 am by thatpurplestuff »

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

Ond

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2019, 07:10:36 am »
Great stuff and thanks for choosing to post your project.  I particularly like that you posted your early projects and provided some background as well.

You recovered that damaged MDF nicely, I would have used the same approach to the repair as you did. 

I hope your wife wasn't too disappointed that you cancelled the Arcade1up, getting this done should make up for it  :P

I like the artwork, it just has a really fun look about it.  :cheers:

J_K_M_A_N

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2019, 08:56:12 am »
I love the artwork and the name. The marquee is very cool and the name and font fit beautifully. The first two remind me of my first projects. :) I had marble contact paper also. I like to think I am getting better at it.

J_K_M_A_N

Mike A

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2019, 09:06:30 am »
That's a nice job on the artwork. You worked the other characters into the "story" that the artwork is telling.

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2019, 08:05:18 pm »
One of the issues I ran into that I already mentioned was space, both in getting all the pieces to fit next to each other but also to get certain pieces to fit in the bartop at all.  Specifically, the ServoStiks fit when I first tested them, but after I put the RGB attachment that allows the wires to spin on the bottom I quickly realizes that they would not fit.  I had already been considering where I wanted to put my intake holes for good airflow over the motherboard, and this solution of making the holes directly below the joysticks just worked out perfectly.  I didn't take any before pictures, but the pictures below show how the sticks themselves would hit the bottom if the holes weren't there.





Now, air gets pulled up through the bottom of the bartop and then passes over the motherboard, hard drives and graphics card before exhausting out the back.  It works great and seems like I planned it that way, but in reality I was just trying to get the damn things to fit and I lucked out.

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2019, 08:26:38 pm »
Controller ports

I mentioned earlier that this bartop is using miniConsole+ devices to operate the controls.  What's awesome about these things is that you can use the arcade controls and hotswap most controllers on the fly in order to control each game however you want.  The controllers plug into a DB15 port, so I had to decide how I wanted them integrated into the machine.  Honestly DB15 ports aren't the sexiest looking things, and after trying many layouts with the ports on the front I decided on a less conspicuous placement by putting them on the back and having cables as opposed to fixed ports.  I bought a DB15 cable to butcher, and then both male and female terminal housings in order to hook everything back up.  You don't really need the terminal housings, you could just solder it all using standard cable ports but I wanted to be absolutely certain that each wire was going where it was supposed to. And I'm lazy.

The plugs that I cut off and threw away


The female housing with all of the wires hooked up


The back of the bartop with the finished cables coming out of tiny holes and then attached via industrial velcro.  We'll see how this holds up over use, but so far it seems pretty sturdy.  Oh, the cable I used was tan and looked really out of place back there, so I just took a couple black heat shrink tubes and threw them on the parts of the cables that would be visible.


For those not familiar with the miniConsole+, here's a pic of a snes cable plugged into one


I already have cables for most systems, and plan on fabricating duplicate cables for 2 player games (assuming that I even have 2 controllers for whatever system it is).  There are wiring diagrams available on the Kade forums for most systems, so all you really need is an extension cable for the specific game system and a DB15 male port with shell.

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

Gilrock

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2019, 06:46:33 pm »
I've currently unplugged the light wires from my ServoStiks.  They kept trying to get wrapped around the shaft and I could feel it messing me up.

Ond

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2019, 01:03:56 am »
This is why other folks should post their projects.  I knew nothing about KADE miniArcade until this posted.  The hardware caters to console enthusiasts filling a real niche in the hobby.  This gives me all sorts of ideas, nooooooooooooo.    :laugh2:  Good stuff, I'm following with interest!

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2019, 03:45:47 am »
Ond- yeah from what I understand the miniArcade is pretty similar in functionality to the miniConsole+ and sounds cool, but I honestly don't know a ton about it other than I provided some pics of Saturn controller connectors a while ago to help out the project haha.  I would love to see them gain popularity!

Unfortunately I think the miniConsole+ is no longer being developed (the kickstarter that I got these from was a pretty big disaster... if I recall correctly the goal was to have all units and cables delivered by end of 2015, and I think I just read that there are still a few people in the UK waiting to get their shipments over 3 years later).  I don't want to get into the drama of it all, but I believe one of the members that had a lot of the parts had some things going on personally and just sorta disappeared for a while.

Good news is that it looks like everyone is finally getting their devices, and also Bruno is selling a revised version of the device that looks promising called the RetroPad32.  The only thing that it seems to be missing is the board to hook it up to arcade controls... hopefully he starts selling those too, if he does I'm definitely picking up some for future builds!  It's really unfortunate that the kickstarter went the way it did, because I feel like if it had gone smoother these miniConsole+'s would have really caught on like wildfire.  The ability to use arcade controls AND hotswap any controller you want without worrying about USB ids or anything is freakin awesome!  It can also plug into actual consoles, so you can use a SNES controller on a Genesis console or a TG16 controller on a Playstation.  Not really my thing, but just shows how powerful these things are.

Gratuitous shot of Nintendo cables below:


Regarding this build, I got my artwork from Brad in the mail today and his reputation as an amazing printer is well deserved! 





I've got the sideart, control panel art, and menu art installed... I still need to mount the bezel artwork and the reverse printed marquee artwork.  I could not be happier with the quality of materials used... the polycarb on the control panel feels and looks great, and the glossy vinyl sideart looks awesome and went on surprisingly easy.  It's been years since I've installed vinyl, and this went on without bubbles or any issues.  That's a testament to the quality of Brad's materials, not my ability to apply vinyl.

One fun thing of note is that the bolts on the CP and red/yellow buttons on the menu panel were actually salvaged from that very first marble contact paper control panel that I made in 2003 (as seen in the first post).  Ol' Marbly didn't die in vain!

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

PL1

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2019, 05:41:15 am »
from what I understand the miniArcade is pretty similar in functionality to the miniConsole+
Bruno is selling a revised version of the device that looks promising called the RetroPad32.  The only thing that it seems to be missing is the board to hook it up to arcade controls
A few minor points of clarification:

KADE miniArcade is the old Minimus AVR encoder (AT90USB162 or ATMEGA32U2)
- As the name implies, it is mostly focused on arcade controls
- No support for analog controls



KADE miniConsole+ (ATMEGA32U4) http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,142133.0.html
- As the name implies, it is mostly focused on console controllers
- Support for analog controls



KADE miniArcade 2.0 (ATMEGA32U4) http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,154126.0.html
- As the name implies, it is mostly focused on arcade controls
- Support for analog controls
- Documentation focused on how to "roll-your-own" that covers cable pinouts/fabrication and using a wide variety of different 32u4 AVR boards to avoid some problems encountered with the miniArcade (Minimus board availability) and miniConsole+. (waiting for someone else to fabricate cables)

 

RetroPad32 - http://www.brunofreitas.com/node/84
- As the name implies, it is mostly focused on console controllers




Scott

thatpurplestuff

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2019, 02:35:32 am »
Thanks for the clarification Scott!  If I'm understanding correctly, the miniArcade 2.0 can basically match all of the functionality of the miniConsole+ combined with the arcade adapter, it's just a much more DIY option?  If so, I'm definitely going to have to dig deeper since I've never come close to anything like having PCB's fabricated and much of the miniArcade thread is completely over my head haha.  It sounds awesome though and something I will definitely incorporate into future projects!

Build log update: What NOT to do for your marquee!

I bought a 78" RGB strip thinking for some reason that it would be cool to change the color of the marquee lighting from time to time while also being able to have it white.  Spoiler alert, it wasn't cool.



I cut it up and used the adhesive backing to stick it on a piece of plexi scavenged from a previous iteration of my Skeeball build's monitor bezel.





I was feeling very fancy even though my soldering skills are lacking.  Then I installed it and realized it is a bad idea and has 2 major flaws that make it worthless for my purposes.  First, the strip I bought doesn't come very close to an actual white color and frankly looks like crap when lit... the closest it comes is a "white" that is really a weak looking light blue and also doesn't light it up very well.  The second issue is that it doesn't turn on as it's "white" color, you have to cycle through other colors first with a flimsy button on the wire and it defaults to an even darker light blue color any time it is powered off and turned on again.



It looks bluish in that pic, and even more bluish in real life.  It also looks brighter in that pic than in real life, and it just isn't bright enough to properly light the marquee.  I ordered a warm white LED strip that should get here tomorrow that will hopefully be brighter, and I'm going to stagger the strips a bit to avoid having the lines of light be so obvious.  Fingers crossed!

Will post more tomorrow about issues I had with the ServoStik motors and how I got them working.  I have the last batch of stuff from Amazon being delivered tomorrow (so far I've had about 6 "last orders" for this project but realized yesterday that a few of my cables were either too long or too short).  I think I'm almost ready to finally put this thing together, knock on wood!

Oh, also started trying to figure out a way to incorporate a trackball and spinners into the pedestal concept... haven't started to design the bottom portion yet that will contain the controller storage, mainly just trying to find a setup on the top that will actually work ergonomically with the bartop controls and I'm just not sure it's possible.  Below is a super rough idea that I mocked up but I think it makes player 2's side very difficult to use... I think if I do include a trackball it will need to be in a way that it can slide out of the way (or inside the pedestal) when not in use.

« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 02:48:18 am by thatpurplestuff »

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

Ond

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Re: Vintage Bartop
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2019, 12:46:36 am »
I like that you cover lessons learned in your project. It really is useful for others thinking of similar solutions.  A matrix of offset, warm white strip LEDS should work really well.  I'll be using a very similar solution to back-light my marquee on my Xenolix bartop project.  The thing you need for LED lighting is soft diffusion.  Several layers of semi opaque white acrylic work really well.  Even consider a thin white cloth layer sandwiched between two layers of acrylic to really diffuse those hot LED spots.  I did this on a large rear lit movie poster for my home cinema some years ago and it worked really well.  The resulting glow was very smooth and even.