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Author Topic: Custom control panel build  (Read 2139 times)

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dth930

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Custom control panel build
« on: December 19, 2021, 06:30:14 pm »
I'd like to upgrade my Konami 4-player cabinet, which was converted to 2-player, back to 4-player with an updated and slightly larger control panel and more modern controls.  I'm looking for recommendations on someone who can produce this CP based on my general design and layout.  I can take the parts in knock-down form and assemble it myself.

And before someone says "it's fun and easy to do with a hand drill, router and circular saw" - yes, I know.  And I've done that before.  But in this case there are some angles and mounting points that would be much easier to build for someone who has experience with these cabinets or can work off of the CAD drawings to CNC the parts.  This will ensure the correct angles, holes and dimensions are machined.  If I wasn't trying to get it to bolt up to an existing cabinet it would be a little different.  I just need to tweak the overall size and, obviously, update the top panel layout.

I know that Haruman is well-regarded and I've reached out to him but it seems he's too busy to take on this project.

I've considered local cabinet makers, but that would require a lot of detailed design and explanation about how the controls are placed and need to be mounted.  I'm more confident working with someone who has experience with arcade machines.

Is there anyone recommended on the forum who's currently in business and can take on this kind of project?
 - Dave

bobbyb13

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2021, 02:02:06 am »
Even someone who has built one of these before would hesitate because you want a custom built box.

But it is just a wood box (a cabinet) that you put electronic components in, so why not a cabinet maker?

If you brought the existing panel (or better yet the whole machine) to a local cabinet maker and told them what you wanted different that is your best bet by far.
Drilling holes and routing panels is laughably easy for any decent cabinet making person, but be prepared to pay some $$ because it won't be cheap for them to drop what they are doing for a custom piece.

I'm not afraid of much with cabinet building at this point and I wouldn't even bother trying to do this unless I had the cabinet (or existing CP) in front of me to measure, especially for a one off item.



Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools! I can fix it.

dth930

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2021, 12:26:51 pm »
I understand your point, so let me ask about your thoughts on a few different ways to proceed...

1. Presumably, I could get a replacement top for the CP in the original size with the new control layout.  Obviously, there are builders who have made these before as exact duplicates.  It would be easy enough to get one that goes back to the traditional 4-player layout.  My challenge is fitting the extra controls that I'm looking for - trackball, pause, start & coin buttons, etc.  I'm not confident I can get all of those to fit and work comfortably within the footprint of the original box.  But maybe I need to spend some more time testing mock-ups of potential layouts.

1.a. For ideal playability, I may be able to fit all the controls within the stock-sized CP box, but running up to the edge of the top surface.  This will need a little larger top panel for hand rest area, etc.  Then I would only need a custom top panel, with slightly larger dimensions than stock.  This should be a simple project for someone who has built these before.

2. While I agree that having the original CP box or full machine would be helpful... it's really just a rectangular box with a slanted top.  If you ignore the mounting holes and hardware (which I could install myself), there isn't a lot of specific design or precision required.  Admittedly, there are some radii and chamfers, but they're not critical to the mounting or functionality of the CP.

My hesitation going with a cabinet maker is the need to explain and/or provide drawings for the controls... routing joystick bases and trackballs.  I agree that it would be laughably easy for them, but it's still design and setup time that someone accustomed to building CPs wouldn't require.
 - Dave

bobbyb13

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2021, 01:55:45 pm »
I would bet you are right that someone here has tried option #1 successfully already.
I've found that sometimes a google search that begins with forum.arcadecontrols is the best way to find an existing thread.

You may be able to squeeze a trackball into the middle of the original size panel (above the sticks) but it may limit playability if too close to the screen.
I'm not familiar with the layout or the panel size or I would offer specific advice.
If it is a MAME build you can always use shifted keys to take care of the admin button issue (and greatly reduce panel clutter) if you configure it well.

The other (maybe best?) option is to have two panels that can be swapped.
One original layout panel and a second that could have a trackball, 2 sticks and buttons (and even a spinner if you care for it.)
That one would get the most use I imagine.

In the (probably rare) event that you have 3 other players you can swap in the original.

Don't sell your local cabinet guys short.
If you showed up with an original panel in your hands (with or without controls and wiring) you would probably be pleasantly surprised with the result if they can dedicate the time to you.
Someone unfamiliar with our hobby might not be good at design/layout to begin with but execution should be no problem if they are worth talking to at all !

Exactly which cabinet are we talking about?
Post a picture of your panel with rough dimensions and maybe I could design something for you.
Bobby
Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools! I can fix it.

dth930

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2022, 04:35:50 pm »
It was a hacked up Sunset Riders cabinet before it got to me.  A long time ago I modified it to a 2-player cabinet with some additional controls, but now I want to go back to something a little more traditional. 

My concern with the swappable CPs is pretty much as you stated... it will be somewhat rare to run 4-player and most likely would never swap them.  I don't see the 4-player CP getting much use if it has to be swapped.  However, if the controls are there and 3-4 people can jump on all at once, I could see that happening often.  Rampage, the Simpsons and Gauntlet are some favorites.



Here is a picture of the CP with my desired controls.  This is within the original footprint of the panel, which is 37" x 14".  The top row of admin buttons work because the box is open on that side.  The light gray shaded area is what's open within the CP box itself.  The circle on the bottom-right is a spinner.  I could take it or leave it, but it would be nice to have for certain games, even if it's in a compromised location.

If this looks reasonably usable, I would definitely give it a try.  The next step would be to find someone who can make it.  As I mentioned from the start, it would seem relatively easy for someone who has built this CP before to make this version (or even a blank one).  I'd like to exhaust that option before spinning up someone locally who will have to design the top before adding the controls.
 - Dave

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2022, 05:57:33 pm »
1.  The rectangular footprint of the trackball is definitely not correct.

You'll need almost a 6" x 6" footprint under the panel for a typical 3" trackball.
http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,140560.0.html





2.  P3 buttons are probably fine, but P4 buttons may not be comfortable when angled that way.  I strongly advise that you make a cardboard/hardboard mockup with the actual controls installed so you can confirm for yourself the ergonomic feel of that layout.

3.  I like the separation of the Pause and Exit from each other and from the other buttons.   :cheers:
- Consider swapping the Pause and Exit buttons because most people are right handed.
- With the current layout, it's easy to press Exit with your right index finger without accidently hitting Pause, but if you press Pause with your right index finger, your right pinky finger is very close to accidently hitting the Exit button.   :banghead:
- If you swap them, it's easy to press Pause on the right without accidently hitting Exit on the left.  If you intend to press Exit and accidently hit Pause too, it's no big deal, right?   ;D


Scott
« Last Edit: January 01, 2022, 05:59:32 pm by PL1 »

dth930

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2022, 11:38:10 am »
That's good feedback.  Here's an updated layout.



You're right about the trackball... I actually had the correct footprint but forgot that the orientation mattered.  It's now updated with the proper positioning.  I think it still works, though it's tight.  I could slide the P1 and P2 controls out a little bit to create more room.

I will definitely mock it up before committing to wood.  But I don't understand your concern over the P4 buttons.  They're positioned the same as the P3 buttons.  Is your issue because they're close to the edge of the CP?

PAUSE and EXIT are swapped - excellent suggestion.
 - Dave

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2022, 02:47:17 pm »
I will definitely mock it up before committing to wood.  But I don't understand your concern over the P4 buttons.  They're positioned the same as the P3 buttons.
Yes, the buttons are positioned the same relative to the joystick, but the player's upper body is turning in the opposite direction.

For P1 and P2, their shoulders are mostly square to the monitor and the angle of the buttons brings the right elbow out a bit.  Good ergonomics.

With P3 standing off to the left side of the CP, their shoulders will tend to turn CCW so they don't have to turn their head as far CCW to get a more square view of the monitor and the CCW angle of the buttons brings the right elbow out a bit.  Good ergonomics as long as the angle of the buttons feels natural and doesn't cause P3 to lose track of where the buttons are during gameplay.

With P4 standing off to the right side of the CP, their shoulders will tend to turn CW so they don't have to turn their head as far CW to get a more square view of the monitor and the CCW angle of the buttons can bring the right elbow out a bit.  If it does, that applies CCW pressure to the shoulders.  If it doesn't bring their right elbow out, the angle of the buttons can be awkward.
- If P4 buttons 2 and 4 are angled in a CW direction it can bring the right elbow in a bit, applying less CCW pressure to the shoulders.

One other possible consideration is to go with an "angled-square" layout for P3 and P4 buttons like in this image instead of a "smushed-diamond" layout.
- Some people like curved layouts like your current setup.  Some people prefer straight layouts like this image.  Some might prefer a curved layout for P1/P2 and a straight layout for P3/P4.
- Try several mockups to find which layout or combination of layouts you prefer.




Scott

dth930

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2022, 12:19:57 am »
Great points.  I understand what you mean and what to look out for when trying different layouts.  Mock-ups are definitely in order.

Back to the original point in my first message... I'm still not how to go about getting a CP like this made besides a local cabinet maker.  Is there anyone on the forums who would be able to build either a blank original top panel or, preferably, one drilled and routed with the layout that I eventually select?  Is there anyone to ask?
 - Dave

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2022, 05:11:37 am »
Scott is spot on of course and mock up before you start with building or you will probably not be satisfied with the result.

That trackball could be pushed up an inch toward the screen edge to make it more playable, but that is a lot of controls to try to cram into that much space.
Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools! I can fix it.

dth930

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2022, 01:24:17 am »
I made some mock-ups and did a lot of testing over the weekend.  This is the layout that way came up with as the most playable and most comfortable.  The trackball moved, I got rid of the spinner so I could adjust the placement of the P4 controls and everyone seemed to prefer the square button layout for P3 and P4.



I might have a small amount of adjustment left to make but I think this is pretty close to final.

But it brings me back to my original problem... which is finding someone to make it.  Or make the initial blank that I could finish.
 - Dave

bobbyb13

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2022, 02:47:25 am »
You had a 3rd and 4th player who were satisfied with that layout?
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KenToad

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2022, 10:06:51 am »
Move the admin buttons, at least away from the trackball, off the topside of the panel, ideally. People rolling the trackball will inadvertently press them.

I would also recommend removing the 3rd and 4th players so that you can move the 1 and 2 player layouts toward the outer edges and move the trackball more toward the front edge of the panel. A lot of trackball games (Bowling, Golf, Shuffleboard) are mainly rolling the ball forward, so the more space you have for players to extend their arms, the better.

Personally, I think you need at least 10 inches of width on your CP per player. Good job testing it out, though. If you have willing players, then the layout that works for them is what you want.

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Re: Custom control panel build
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2022, 04:51:13 pm »
You had a 3rd and 4th player who were satisfied with that layout?

I agree with Bobby, this would be really difficult for P3/P4.   I am in the same stage of development as you, and after reading hundreds of messages, I have decided to follow the advice of many and simplify to a TWO PLAYER CP.  I think most 4 player CP's are a case of diminishing returns.  That's just me though, 4 player CPs can be done tastefully and ergonomically, it's just the exception rather then the rule.

- Steve

 
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