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Author Topic: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh  (Read 1326 times)

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dth930

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X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« on: January 08, 2021, 02:22:35 am »
A PC failure has led to the need for a full overhaul of my 18-year-old Konami 4-player cab.  Amazingly, it has worked and worked well for a long time but it's finally ready for an update.

In the process of figuring out to what to do about replacing the PC I came to the realization that my CP had some limitations... mostly being that neither my trackball nor spinner are USB and my Optipac connects via serial.  My iPac connects via PS2.  And my Arcade VGA card seems to be on its last legs. 

In any case, a desire to replace the PC led to the conclusion that I need a full CP refresh.  Plus, I'd like the option to fool around with Reotrpie, which would require everything to be USB.

The monitor is a WG 25K7401, and I prefer to keep it.  It's working well (I bought it new) and see no need to replace it.  All of the controls are Happ.

And while I'm at it, I'll update all the artwork as well.  And by "update" I mean put artwork where there currently is none.

Before I start playing with panel layouts, I need to figure out what I want to do for a CP.  Here are my desired changes relative to what I have now:
  • 4-player support
  • Update trackball and spinner to USB
  • Support switchable 4/8-way joysticks (probably Servostick, but open to other options)  Is 4-way needed for p3 and p4?
  • General update to newer controls
  • Add JAMMA support for ease of swapping different systems in and out
  • Add admin buttons - pause & exit
  • RGB pushbuttons
  • Digital marquee (trying to find some options here - I think a prefer something hi-res as opposed to Pixelcade style, but not sure what's available)

Optional, but nice to have:
  • Driving wheel attachment on spinner
  • Tron or flight stick
  • Pinball buttons
  • Light guns

While I may dabble in other emu's, this vast majority of use will be playing classics on MAME.

My current CP is OK for 1 and 2-player games, though the layout could be improved even for that. 

With that background, my first decision is how I want to execute the CP.  These are the choices I've been contemplating:
  • Try to jam everything I want within the panel size I have (probably not possible)
  • Build 2 panels... one for 4-player and another for 2-player plus all the extra controls
  • Build a single frankenpanel (which would mean redesigning and rebuilding the control panel box - has anyone done this?  I'd be interested in design inspiration.)
  • Remake this cab as a 4-player and build a second cab for 2-player

Functionally, the 2-panel approach probably makes the most sense, but realistically I doubt that I would swap it that much.  I would want to and it wouldn't be hard but it just seems unlikely to happen because it's always easier to play games that support the CP that's currently installed.

I want to include a lot of controls, but it seems like a reasonable list.  I'm not sure that the frankenpanel option is that bad.  This is probably the easy, logical choice if it can be done without too many playability compromises.

I have the skills, time and ability to build CPs and boxes, but I don't think I would undergo a complete scratch cab build.

With that, here are some pics of what I'm starting with.   I know there are builds that cover all of these options.  I'm hoping to get some feedback and guidance from those who have done this before... what's worked and what hasn't, given what I have to start with?
 - Dave




dth930

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 03:45:10 pm »
Since it doesn't look like I've gotten any feedback yet, let me start with a very simple and direct question...

For convenience, I'm leaning toward the single larger CP, rather than swappable CPs.

Are there any designs or commercially-available products that fit a larger CP on a Konomi 4-player cabinet?  There are lots of options for the original OEM design, but I haven't found anything that supports a larger surface.  I can lay out and finish the CP but need to find an off-the-shelf enlarged CP box or drawings that I can use with a local cabinet shop to build the panel and box. 

Or am I the first one to try and do this kind of build?
 - Dave

javeryh

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 04:18:00 pm »
It looks like you could just cut a new top panel, install new joysticks, buttons and whatever and then connect everything to a newer PC and you'd be all set.  I would not put a raspberry pi in there.

Also, ask yourself if you really need to make it accommodate 4 players.  It's a lot of added expense and hassle but YMMV.  A digital marquee in the correct shape is going to be either hard to find or very very expensive.  If you add some of your optional controls, I think it will get too ridiculous/confusing for people to actually use - mainly thinking of the flight stick.  Side buttons for pinball and an attachment for your spinner are no big deal.  Light guns could be cool too if you keep them out of the way.

You listed a lot of directions you are considering - you need to figure out what are your must have games and go from there.


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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 04:30:05 pm »
You listed a lot of directions you are considering - you need to figure out what are your must have games and go from there.
Agreed.

The FAQ has a design process that can help you work through the relevant questions in an orderly fashion.

http://wiki.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/FAQ#What_type_of_build_meets_my_needs.3F


Scott

dth930

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 02:47:23 am »
We play a lot of Rampage, Gauntlet and The Simpsons... so (unfortunately?) I think I really do need 4-player support.  In addition to that, all the classics (which is why I need 4-way joysticks)... including Centipede, Milipede, Mad Planets, Tempest, Arkanoid, etc.  I haven't played driving games with my current setup but would like to if I can get a wheel on the spinner.

That leaves me with basically the same configuration that I have now, plus 2 joysticks and at least 3 buttons per P3 and P4.  I'm having trouble laying it out so that fits comfortably on the panel size that I currently have.  A little bit of extra width and depth just makes everything feel better.  This is why I've been wondering if anyone has done an expanded panel on one of these cabinets.  It would give me a reference to work from.

I agree that I could drop the flight stick.

Why do you say not to put a Raspberry Pi?  I probably will update the PC anyway, but I'm curious as to your reasoning?  Because of the difficulty in getting it to work with an arcade monitor?

That design list will definitely be helpful.  I'll take a look when I have some more time to spend with it.
 - Dave

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 07:20:22 am »
We play a lot of Rampage, Gauntlet and The Simpsons... so (unfortunately?) I think I really do need 4-player support.
How often will you have more than two players at a time?
- If the answer is, "rarely, if ever", you might consider using USB gamepads for P3 and P4.

Also, there are 2-player versions of Simpsons (simpsons2p, etc.), TMNT (tmnt2po, etc.), Gauntlet (gauntlet2p, etc.), X-Men (xmen2pa), and other 4-player games that allow each player to choose which character they want to play.

For Rampage on a 2P "stick and 6-buttons" CP:
- Map your favorite character to P1 stick/P1B1/P1B2.
- Map your second favorite character to P2 stick/P2B1/P2B2.
- Map the remaining character to P2 stick/P2B4/P2B5 or have P3 use a USB gamepad.


Scott
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 07:21:55 am by PL1 »

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 03:24:31 pm »
I'm inclined to ask "are you sure you would use a 4-player setup often enough to justify building a panel around that idea?" but if you've been playing that cabinet for 18 years and you still think you have a use for 4 players, then far be it from me to say you're wrong. 

It doesn't make much sense to have more than one 4-way stick.  Yes, there are multi-player games that may technically benefit from multiple 4-ways (e.g., Trog), but IMO the primary benefit of 4-ways is the golden age classics, the vast majority of which used a single joystick. 

A 4-player panel is a lot of stuff so you probably want to avoid adding much else beyond that.  Spinners are small and easy to squeeze in, but big track balls and flight sticks might make for a bit of a mess. 

I think if I were you and I wasn't willing to cut out any of the control types, and I wasn't willing to build another cabinet, I'd look long and hard at the swappable panels idea. 

Quote
Functionally, the 2-panel approach probably makes the most sense, but realistically I doubt that I would swap it that much.  I would want to and it wouldn't be hard but it just seems unlikely to happen because it's always easier to play games that support the CP that's currently installed.

I retroactively converted my cabinet to swappable panels and after a few years of using it, your statement in bold above is 100% true.  But that doesn't mean I regret doing it.  It simply means that I play the games on panel A for a few months, then switch to panel B and play those for a few months, and back and forth.  It's nice because every time I switch it feels kind of new again, like how when I take my summer car out of the garage when the weather starts to warm up it's like getting a new car every year. 


dth930

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2021, 01:23:38 am »
That's a good point about 2-player versions of 4-player games and that configuration trick for Rampage.  That would definitely work to get to all the players.

If I had to estimate, I would say that we would play with > 2 people about 15-20% of the time.  Not a lot, but it's not insignificant either.  It's probably not enough to make a big compromise in design, but I would like to accommodate it if possible.

The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning away from the swappable CP idea.  It would be nice to have, but I don't think it's necessary.  I like your concept of leaving one on for a while and changing every few months.  The problem in my case is that I'm talking about 2-player and 4-player panels.  If the 4-player isn't installed at the right time then we'd probably just skip 4-player, making it nearly useless.  I'd have the 2-player on most of the time and probably wouldn't swap to 4-player on demand.

And good info on the 4-way stick.  The classics are most of what I play, but I never thought it about it that way... all of the 2-player games of that vintage are sequential not simultaneous, so there really isn't a need or benefit from a P2 4-way stick.  I just like the idea of not taking up extra real estate for a separate stick like I have now.

In the interest of seeing what I can do within the footprint I currently have, I started looking at some layouts that accommodated what I'm looking for.  This is what I came up with. 



I was actually surprised at how much I was able to fit while still maintaining what seems like reasonable spacing (judging from looking on the computer, not actual testing).

The only thing I'm not happy with is the spinner location.  It needs to stay around the outer edge to accommodate the wheel.  Otherwise I would probably move it to a more central location.

The thing I'm most unsure about is the spacing between each player's cluster. 
 - Dave

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2021, 06:22:39 am »
1. You may want to move Exit and Pause further apart to reduce the chance of someone (especially P4) accidently bumping Exit when they only meant to hit Pause.

2. At least one build a few years ago had the spinner on the front of the CP box with a vertical plane of rotation.

If that's too extreme an angle, maybe make a small (3" x 3"?) 45 degree surface in front of the trackball.


Scott
« Last Edit: January 15, 2021, 06:30:38 am by PL1 »

dth930

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2021, 02:38:00 pm »
Good call on the admin buttons - I'll definitely make that change.

I like the idea of the 45-degree spinner mount, but I'd be concerned that it would interfere with P1 and/or P2, even without the wheel on it.

I had thought about the vertical mount on the front of the panel.  That obviously wouldn't work for typical spinner games, but it would probably work well for driving games.  It would have to be a secondary spinner so I could put the primary spinner to the right of the trackball.  I might need to see if I could make some more space between P1 and P2.

Another few inches would make all the difference in this case, just to get some more real estate.  But I'm still intrigued by the idea of making it work within the existing footprint.
 - Dave

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2021, 02:48:41 pm »
I just configured one button to be both pause and exit.  Press to pause and hold for 2 seconds to exit.  Works great.

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2021, 06:42:36 pm »
I like the idea of the 45-degree spinner mount, but I'd be concerned that it would interfere with P1 and/or P2, even without the wheel on it.
Obviously you don't install the steering wheel when it's not needed.
- The regular spinner knob will be lower than the top of the control panel so you should have plenty of vertical clearance.
- Unless players are humping the control panel during game play, the layout shown in the diagram above won't interfere with them.   :lol
- Doing some quick math, a 3" x 3" mount should stick out about 2.12" past the front of the control panel or a 4" x 4" mount should stick out about 2.83".

If you're not sure about dimensions/ergonomics, do some cardboard mockups.

Also you might want to consider using either sheet metal or a 3d print for the spinner mount since wood is more bulky.   ;D


Scott

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2021, 12:08:32 am »
Yes - obviously the wheel would be removed for normal play.

I guess I need to mock it up and see how it works.  If it's the middle and P1 & P2 are offset it won't be a problem.
 - Dave

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Re: X-treme Arcade Long Overdue Refresh
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2021, 01:25:21 am »
Regarding the spinner idea... I think it would have to be removable because the CP pivots open at the front.  Anything permanently mounted would get in the way.  I don't think there's enough surface area to mount it in a way that would still allow the CP to flip open.

Here's my latest design with some tweaks to the layout.



It's the same general layout but I shifted some things around and paid more attention to the hand rest areas in front of each of the joysticks.  It looks like it works but is pretty tight.

I'm considering making it just a little but bigger in length and height but maintaining the same spacing from the edges to the controls.  I should be able to get another 1" or so in each direction without having to rebuild the box.
 - Dave