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Author Topic: Yet Another Briefcase Build  (Read 2058 times)

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Semper Why

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Yet Another Briefcase Build
« on: March 18, 2022, 12:03:53 am »
Greetings and salutations! First, thank you all for this amazing resource. I am certainly not in your league but I had a need for your wisdom and it is all over this forum.

I have a good friend who just turned 50 and I am making a briefcase arcade for him as a belated birthday gift. It's belated because he already got a Magic Mirror for Christmas and I only work so fast. Anyhow, a lot of this build is inspired by adrktemplar's briefcase build and an Instructable that I have been using for ideas.

It's been a lot of fun so far. The plan is to give my friend the initial creation and then make one for myself that will incorporate the lessons learned. I might actually play it after I get through my Steam catalog, currently scheduled for half past "never" and just before "the end of time".  :D

But first... I need a case. I can build a box (badly) but why do that when your father no longer needs the briefcase that he carried for 20 years? A little leather conditioner and it'll be fine.

And after you have the leather treated and no longer in danger of cracking when you touch it, you can work on the interior. And by "work on" I mean "gut with a razor blade".

Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2022, 09:36:34 pm »
Now that we have a work area, it's time to add the divider. This is the basic structure of the chambers, with two speakers in the corners and an open receptacle for the power cord. The speaker chambers are a bit oversized so I can route the video cable to the top.


I considered making this a 2-up arcade, but after some experiments with my wife I decided that the briefcase just isn't large enough. You would be bumping shoulders with anyone you were playing against/with and it would be a mess. My friend has three kids and I expect that they wouldn't play well together if they were running into each other.

I  sketched out the pattern for the controls and the power plug on my laser cutter and burned some guide marks. The perimeter was cut out using the laser, which saved me having to break out the saws.


Quick test fit with the brace, the plywood and some spacers to keep it level.

Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2022, 10:05:48 pm »
Quick check for fitment on the buttons and power socket. I considered putting the power socket in the side of the briefcase, but I am not confident in my leatherwork skills to make it look good. Besides, this placement will encourage the users to shut down the arcade properly before closing the lid. One of my biggest fears with this thing is someone slamming the lid closed and driving the joystick into the screen.


The laser cutter makes labeling the buttons easy.


A close up of the power plug and the shutdown button with Molly Guard. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Molly Guard available on Amazon in the proper size. Silly me put the pattern on the board before the guard arrived, so the perimeter line doesn't quite match up. It's not worth doing over.

lomoverde

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2022, 06:51:54 am »
Loving that flip up power button guard,never seen that before.

 What thickness is that control panel material?Is it a test piece? looks very thin. The joystick hole looks very small.


Zebidee

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2022, 05:53:07 pm »
Loving that flip up power button guard,never seen that before.

They are somewhat important for, say, nuclear missile launch and self-destruct buttons :D
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lomoverde

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2022, 01:23:41 pm »
Loving that flip up power button guard,never seen that before.

They are somewhat important for, say, nuclear missile launch  :D

 ;D In that case Id rather have the 2 keys, spaced further apart than Putins arms.

Zebidee

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2022, 05:01:47 pm »
;D In that case Id rather have the 2 keys, spaced further apart than Putins arms.

I suspect Putin has already flipped his lid and seems to have pressed his own blue-and-yellow coloured "self-destruct" button.
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Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2022, 01:33:34 pm »
Sorry for the lack of updates. I was taking the family on vacation all last week.

Loving that flip up power button guard,never seen that before.
Thanks. That's one of those things you learn through hard experience.

What thickness is that control panel material?Is it a test piece? looks very thin. The joystick hole looks very small.
It's 5mm plywood. And you may be right about the joystick hole. I'm doing a test fit tonight, so I guess I'll find out.

lomoverde

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2022, 06:16:49 pm »
Thinking that might be a bit thin for the stress it will be under during gameplay.

Zebidee

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2022, 06:26:56 pm »
The importance of button covers:

https://coub.com/view/2y6uuc
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Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2022, 05:55:18 pm »
Well, you were right. The hole for the joystick was definitely not large enough. I also didn't realize that the Phreakmods EX Link was going to be thicker than the stock joystick shaft. So I ended up enlarging the hole to 22mm. I also glued some scrap wood to the underside to mount the joystick from underneath.


I debated a lot with myself on the speaker grill cutouts. In the end I went with a simple pattern rather than some video game themed design. Grills are in place, the holes for the hold downs are in place and countersunk.


Next step is to print the speaker mounts, add some structural support for the joystick and then start on the screen mount.

Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2022, 02:46:40 pm »
It's been quite a while of not much progress. Life keeps getting in the way. On the positive note, recovering from surgery gives you some time to work on your projects!

I finally worked through most of the design issues for the screen mount in the lid. Weirdly, the part that took the most time was the layout for the screen controls. I went through like 5 iterations to get it right. It turns out that the @#$?!! buttons are not spaced evenly from each other. Which explains why the buttons never lined up correctly.


There's about six spacers underneath the frame that I 3d printed and are holding the screen in place and providing mount points for the frame. Much easier than trying to trim wood scraps to millimeter accuracy.

Mounting the speakers wasn't too bad. The only real surprise was that the 3d printer managed to get the overhang printed without supports. I'll hot glue these to the base and it will put the speaker just under the grill holes.


It's been months, so I was a little nervous plugging it all in and powering it on. I was afraid that I had cross wired something and I was going to short out the Pi or worse yet, the screen driver board. But no, it fired right up.


Right now the current problem/challenge is the non-standard buttons I'm using for SELECT and START. The USB controller expects you to use their light-up buttons, so they use a 3 pin connector. The buttons here are typical two-terminal switches and I cannot find the pinout for the USB controller for love or money. Sigh. Time to break out the multimeter.

Zebidee

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2022, 06:00:04 pm »
Looking good! I like the name   :applaud:
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Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2022, 03:30:06 pm »
This isn't working. In order to keep the lid from flopping fully open to 180 degrees, I replaced the briefcase's one working brass hinge limit thing with some leather ones I made from an old belt. A couple of brass rivets and they work fine. By the way, leather in the laser cutter works great but smells like burning flesh. It is quite unpleasant.


Originally I was just going to have long strips. But this prevented the case from closing as they were too inflexible to just fold sideways. So I created the small ones you see here and the rivets will allow them to pivot. But then the rivets started impacting the frame and the base. So I trimmed those a bit, adding some gaps in the side. And then the rivets pushed down on the screen frame and popped the spacers off the back. So I re-cut the frame (added some instructions) and re-glued the spacers.

I finally got all the rivets to fold up properly and closed the lid. Or at least... I tried. There's not a lot of space between the buttons and the screen with it closed. Which wouldn't be terrible, but the driver board for the laptop screen is thicker than the spacers keeping the frame away from the lid. I can't close the lid because there isn't enough room for the screen, the driver board and the frame in it. I can't lower the button platform because it has to be flush with the edge of the case.

Back to the drawing board. I think the solution is to move the driver board to the lower portion of the case and cram it & the wires into the cavity under the joystick & buttons. It's going to be tight. Plus, I'm going to have to figure out some kind of cutout for the wire that will give it enough flexibility to bend when the lid closes.

Mike A

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2022, 03:37:28 pm »
Take some sandpaper to the laser scorch marks.

It will make the whole thing look cleaner.

Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2022, 09:19:13 am »
The hardware is done! In the fine tradition of two steps forward and one step back, I reworked the wiring and the screen driver board has been relocated to the base from its nonworkable location behind the screen. There's not a lot of room in the base and figuring out where to put it was a bit tricky. The solution was to hide it under the cavity for the power cord & joystick. Hot glue some simple spacers that are all of 2mm taller than the driver board sockets and cover it with a very simple piece of wood with a cutout for the wires. There was some cutting underneath to route the HDMI and power leads, but nobody is going to see that.


With that solved, I re-cut the screen frame and the controls frame, both with several millimeters shaved off of the sides. I took the opportunity to move the screen up in the case a bit, giving me more wood to play with on the lower edge. This let me quickly print some thinner spacers to hold the screen in place.

Four of these spacers are screwed into the frame, the rest are glued in. I put hot glue on the backs of the screwed ones and set it in the lid. Once the glue hardened, I can unscrew the frame and remove it along with the screen for maintenance.

I was having a little trouble routing the wires due to the fact that the screen wire goes up the left and the monitor control wire has to go up the right. I really didn't want to cut two notches. I did have a minor bit of inspiration when it occurred to me that the control board doesn't have to be right side up. I flipped its orientation and simply re-ordered the button labels in software. I was re-cutting that piece anyway. So now both wires stick together. I also took the opportunity to re-cut the wooden staples that hold the board in place, shaving off a few millimeters.


And we're done! The lid closes with a little care (you have to pull on the leather hinges to make sure they rotate the correct way) but it closes. A quick function check made sure that the power & screen all work. Next up is software configuration.

Zebidee

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2022, 09:43:21 am »
Cool   :afro:

Now you can take that to those pointless meetings to ease the boredom. Get there early for more playtime and so everyone thinks you are super-keen. If anybody looks at you funny, just tell them you are "entering a bunch of data and hammering out reports before deadlines". You may even get a promotion for working so hard!
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Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2022, 10:29:20 pm »
It's alive! Alive!

I gave it to the dude for his birthday tonight. We were a bit rushed due to time, but I got a great text later that night:

"Dude. I just played my first game of Dig Dug since Junior High School. Thank you."
This was quickly followed up with "We may need our first tech support call. What's the combo on the locks?" :o

Thanks again to everyone on the forums here. Lurking has been educational.

.

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2022, 11:00:43 pm »
What's the combo on the locks?
Is it the same as Druidia's Air Shield and President Skroob's luggage -- one, two, three, four, five?   :duckhunt


Scott

Semper Why

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2022, 12:17:38 am »
Is it the same as Druidia's Air Shield and President Skroob's luggage -- one, two, three, four, five?   :duckhunt

Snerk. You know, resetting the combination was one of those things I kept meaning to do but never got around to it. Thankfully one of the first things I did when Dad gave me the case was to take photos of the locks in the open position.

My biggest fear with this thing is that one of his rambunctious kids would want his attention and slam the lid shut on the joystick ball, cracking the screen. Apparently I should have worried about one of them spinning the combo lock because... well, who knows why? Kids.

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Re: Yet Another Briefcase Build
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2022, 12:39:45 am »
Just don't tell them the nuclear launch codes, or it'll be five, four, three, two, [....],  :blowup:
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