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Vector-gasm... Cosmic Chasm!

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bobbyb13:
I have been trying to assemble the parts to build a vector machine for a while now.

In the midst of some turmoil, there are actually a lot of cool things going on with vector action in the hobby recently as a result of a few guys who are obviously brilliant but also helpful and generous enough with their time to even help a jackass like myself.

In spite of that, it is remarkable that the written documentation about being able to do any of this stuff (and some fairly critical details of it all) absolutely SUCKS.

If I can succeed in actually getting this thing functional (and I feel like I am nearly there) it will be fun to be able to backtrack through my build and turn this into a fairly instructive thread in how to build yourself a legit vector machine without having ANY original components to begin with.

Kind of the pivotal thing to get this rolling (apart from actually learning some about XY monitors and amassing some parts) was ZapCon 8.2 when I got to play a REAL Cosmic Chasm.
I'll never forget the first time I played Tempest and getting to play CC (which I was entirely unfamiliar with except for knowing the name) gave me that same 'love this!' sensation that vector games gave me way back when.

Big props to Brian at classicarcadecabinets.com on this project.
I emailed him about the accuracy of the plans he has listed there (which consequently are almost identical to Dragon's Lair cabs too it appears) since I was considering having this one CNC cut to begin with and he offered to chat on the phone about the details.

His site is awesome and he is a another great community member generous with his time and knowledge.

I wound up just going cowboy on this one too as the place I asked about cutting it ghosted me.
Whatever.
I had Brian's plans and a protractor.



I have really refined the base building so that you wind up with a machine that is a solid build, easy to move, and still doesn't jump around when you are playing it.
Recently changed to using 2x2s to frame it so the side panels have something just sturdy enough to glue/screw to and make for a solid box.
2" hard rubber casters are key.  Fixed ones for the rear, locking swivels for the front, spaced inboard enough that the things spin freely and don't hit the side panels.



To make it so that sides aren't dragging on the floor I put 3/4" ply on the floor on either side and rest the side panels on it while I attach them to the base.

And if you make it so that the kick/coin door panel is off the floor enough (I set the bottom edge flush with the bottom of the base panel) then you have enough room to reach under and lock the front wheels without needing to pick up the whole cabinet.
No need for leg levelers either.

This has proven to be a fun build because the marquee area is pretty ridiculous.
When I had a good look at original cabinet pictures again it became obvious that there were some pretty weird angles to it all and to make it even more weird is that not only is the marquee on three different planes but the whole thing is tilted in a manner not parallel to much else on the cabinet.
Pays to have a good compound mitre saw for crap like this.



To skip through a bunch of boring stuff, I went through the cut list I made from Brian's handiwork with a DWG viewer and put the rest of the main body together.
The original designers made some weird calls with these cabinets but when you consider that they were trying to introduce games into a bloated marketplace it kind of make sense that they wanted the things to stick out like sore thumbs.
Odd angles to the whole thing, even if not really crazy, marquee lower, brighter and a really obnoxious shape, even the front of the control panel lit up (which I'm not doing round 1 at least.)



I altered the screen face angle a bit (so it isn't such a shoe-gazer) and also the control panel dimensions a tad.
The monitor carrying bit is very Ms. PacMan so easy, and I have stuck to the removable/back screwed kick panel so that I can add coin doors whenever I get around to it.
When I can stomach the cost of the damn things that is really.
Getting the bezel area built will be a ---smurfette---.

I couldn't wait to glass something and had some decent weather for painting (before it started raining incessantly a month ago) so I had at it.



I'm really liking the fiberglass over wood control panel thing.
If you rout the backside properly you have enough room for whatever you want for controls and the reinforcement offered by a few layers of glass makes it pretty tough feeling too.
If I ever feel like getting fancy with CP art then I can tape off and paint or resin up myself or anything you buy from somewhere will stick.

It was at this point in the project that I discovered that the marquee piece was actually a single piece of milky plexiglas that was bent to fit.
I had agonized about getting the angles of the parts carrying the marquee back(plexi)glas as true as possible because I knew that I was going to need to use the actual cabinet as the mold to get the freakin piece bent to fit properly.
I went back and forth with a piece of cardboard and a pencil and razor knife and got the pattern so that the plexi would be the right size and dimension.

Getting it bent to shape wasn't really that hard, just took some patience with a heat gun set on high (both temp and air flow) and getting it JUST soft enough to bend but not get gooey.
 Maybe I should go get some pics of that part in case anybody else is dumb enough to try this and wants some hints.

javeryh:
bobby this is incredible.  What a cool looking cabinet.  Great game too - I had never played it before but I installed it on my cabaret because of the spinner and really like it.  Of course, the vectors on my CRT donít look so great but itís passable.

Iím really interested in your resin control panel - how are the results?  Iíve seen a few people attempt it but it seems like it would drip off the edge and make a mess plus I am not sure I could get it 100% level.

Canít wait to see more updates and Iím glad I have another project to follow around here!

bobbyb13:
I don't know about incredible but it has been fun up until now at least- so thank you!
Really is a fun shape cabinet.
Part of my scratch repro build mantra has been 'make something iconic' so this certainly fits.

It really is impressive how good you can get vector games to look on a raster monitor in mame really, but I liked the challenge of building a vector and therr really is no substitute..
It was really intimidating before I started but they are easier to deal with than rasters it turns out.
It's a simple system and between Fred, Barry, Jason, Mario, et al literally everything for a scratch build is a known entity and very do-able.

The resin thing can be tricky depending on how you go about it but this is the 8th one I've done in fiberglass over plywood and I won't make them any other way now.
Maybe the time has come that I do a detailed tutorial with good pictures?
The Neo Geo cabinet build will be a fun one for that, so maybe that is the one to document glass work.

Seperate faces require some steps be done twice but gravity makes it level for you if you do it properly!

I'll see if I can get some pictures to look right and add a few more.

bobbyb13:
Getting better at picture tweaking!

So the marquee bit was not really so hard once I thought about it.
Get the frame (top and bottom panels) set solidly.
Make a cardboard template of what the plexi needs to be.
Cut plexi to shape and then heat along line to be bent and use the cabinet as the mold for how the bends happen, doing one of the creases at a time.

It actually worked out that way.

I did need to take two shots at making a cardboard template.
It hadn't hit me until I looked at my first attempt that not only were the top and speaker panels on different planes, that also the sides of the marquee panel would not have square corners- anywhere.



Thankfully I only had to do the bending part once- probably because I was agonizing over screwing it up.
I used two plywood scraps for that- one to brace the piece in place and then the other to press the other side to the right angle against the marquee frame.
I worked from the outside edge in and it worked like a charm.

After I had the plexi bent properly I just needed to get some aluminum L bracket bent to match and hold it in place.
A single cut at the proper angle to one side of it and then I only needed to bend it into place and trace the line to cut the triangle out to get it look OK without needing to weld the silly thing.



Repeat for the other angle and then dupe for the top edge.
Spray with a little black primer and then top coat with matte black and there it is.
After that it was easy to pilot holes for trim screws (it is nice to use aluminim for this stuff) and it really fit together pretty nicely for something that I tossed together without having done before.



After I got the plexi to fit well with the brackets in place I needed to figure out how to backlight the thing- because for one, it is a huge cavern of space actually and two, I was concerned that getting light through that milky plexi might be tough.
I opted for ultra low tech in order to flood the space with light and it appears to be okay.
I bought a $3 old school style medium base bulb holder and screwed it to a piece of plywood.
Stuffed an LED floodlight bulb in it and I'm satisfied.



I also got the monitor going (that is a month long saga all its own) and have the USB-DVG working too, although the damn thing hangs here and never loads the VMMenu to actually be able to play anything.
Especially irritating since I have the spinner and buttons all wired up and ready to go too.
Rrrrrr....

I hate being Linux stupid still, but there it is.

javeryh:
Great work!  I love the marquee shape.  Looks so much nicer than the flat ones.  I am so jealous how quickly you work. It snowed last night so I'm not getting into the shop any time soon (although I'm kicking around some ideas).

So that's a vector monitor in there?  I know less than nothing about them.  Are you converting a regular CRT somehow or are they completely different animals?  How do you source them?  Seems like there would be next to none in the wild...

 :cheers:

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