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Author Topic: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen  (Read 39319 times)

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theCoder

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Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« on: May 05, 2006, 09:27:28 pm »
My cab lives downstairs and gets so much play by the kids during parties that the parents (mostly me) don't get a chance to play.  I want to build a small lightweight cab that we can pull out and set on the kitchen counter or that we can throw in the trunk and take to special occasions.  This is my second cab project and first built from scratch.  I plan on formally documenting it at: http://home.comcast.net/~larmead/partybox  but am looking forward to sharing the experience and discussing the progress in this forum. 

Below is my original concept sketch (well, it's actually the 5th rev.)  I

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2006, 08:55:27 pm »
PartyBox - Laptop Hack
This post describes the steps I went through to prepare the laptop computer for the PartyBox project.  This laptop is a Compaq 610 with a broken hinge.  The hinge is no problem because I want to use a larger LCD on this project anyway. 

Top Cover Plate
Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of it, but the first step was to pry off the top cover plate near the top.  I had to hunt around, looking for something loose.  I found that if I pushed in from the sides, the center bulged a little.  With a little more effort, it popped off.  I was careful (up to a point) in this project to keep from destroying parts & pieces in case I wanted to use this thing again as a laptop.



Display Cables
There were two cables connecting the display to the main CPU.  This connector was very snug, but it came off with a little wiggling.  I took the cables off first (while the hinges were still attached) to minimize the chances of them getting damaged.


 
The right cable had a ground clip screwed to the frame.  After unscrewing it, the connector came off (very stubbornly) as well.  Both this and the other connector had to be pulled horizontally.



Hinges
The hinges were covered by a small plastic cap.  One was broken off, and the other came off with a little persuasion.  There were two small screws holding each hinge to the base unit.



Separated at last !



Power Button
The last challenge was to hack the power on/off switch.  Once complete with this step I knew there was no turning back.  I suspected that power switch was probably plastic pressing a surface mounted switch.  I was sort of right.  It was plastic sliding horizontally pressing against a vertically mounted piece of plastic with a 45 degree mating surface.  This piece in turn pressed against the surface mounted switch.  I could look into the modem port (right side) and see there was nothing "critical" in the area, so I started to cut.  I used a Dremel tool with a side cutting bit.  I carefully cut out the plastic casing around the switch.  The switch came off, but I couldn't get the 45 degree plastic piece off (white I beam looking piece).  I was afraid of breaking something on the board so I decided to get to the back side of the board, under the switch.



I could tell that I only had about 1/8" gap between the case and the PCB.  The power switch was directly behind the keyboard port.  I needed both so I was very careful at this step.  The plastic came off easily and exposed the backside of the PCB.  I consulted a PC repair friend of mine regarding what to do next.  I suspected that all that was needed was to short out the two leads, but I was afraid I'd kill the box.  He told me that "most" modern laptops use a normally open switch and that shorting the two leads should do the trick.  He also assured me that based on my description of the other leads in the neighborhood; I probably wouldn't fry anything by poking around (perform at your own risk, your mileage may vary).  There were two very distinct solder joints directly below the switch.  I was pleasantly surprised when the unit powered up the first time, by shorting the two joints together with a paper clip, and again when it powered off by doing it again.  All that remains is to solder a few wires and I'm good to go.  I will probably epoxy the wires to the case to keep them from vibrating loose or getting pulled off during construction.

In retrospect, I did not need to hack up the top switch at all.  I just needed to get to the two switch leads on the PCB from the bottom.  Oh, well.  Lesson learned and hopefully useful information for someone else.



Weight Considerations
To save weight, I took the battery out.  This saved me about 1.5 pounds.  I could also take out the dvd drive and keyboard.  Doing so will save me more weight and would allow me to hack off about 1/3 of the overall frame.  I decided against that because I'd probably misplace the drive and not be able to find it when I need to load something on the box.  Also, I'm still holding on the pipe dream that the unit may still be reassembled and used as a laptop again.  Yea right.

Finished Unit



Next project

babydickonboard

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2006, 09:24:33 pm »
i'm excited to see where this goes. i have an old laptop and planned to do something similier w/ it.  perfect cab to bring to parties.   keep the posts a coming.  ;)

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2006, 09:26:33 pm »
serious hacking going on here  :o

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2006, 10:33:01 am »
Hacking the LCD Monitor

This post describes the LCD display size and weight surgery.   A friend of mine recently bought a PC that included and a 15" LCD display.  He is not a 15" monitor kind of guy, so he graciously donated it to the cause.  It is a ViewSonic VG500.  It's just a little bigger than the one built into the laptop computer, but has better resolution and generally looks better when running games. 



I'm shooting for minimal weight and minimal size on this project.  I knew the stand had to go.  It weights 4 pounds and just wouldn't work in the box.  Taking it off was easy, all screws were visible and accessible.



With the base off, I thought I was done.  The thing was still heavier than I thought it should be, so I explored some more.  As with the laptop, I searched around for clues on how to get it apart.  There were no obvious screws, latches etc.  In the bottom portion of the monitor were buttons and what appeared to be speaker grids.  This looked like a great place to start.  I could tell it was a separate plastic piece.  I was less careful dismantling the LCD than I was with the laptop.  I knew I would never use it for anything else, so

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2006, 09:59:49 pm »
hack on!

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2006, 01:38:57 am »
Playing Paper Doll

One recommendation I read over and over again relates to mocking up your CP with cardboard before cutting wood.  Tonight I gave it a go regarding the profile of the cab, considering the layout of the CPU, Monitor, and trackball.  I used a piece of unprinted newspaper (end of a roll picked up at my local newspaper printing site).  It really gave me a lot to think about and helped me ponder the speakers, marquee, air flow, etc.



I learned the following:

1)  I'll probably want to force or draw air between the CPU and monitor.

2)  There's plenty of depth for my trackball & joystick. 

3)  The monitor can be moved back 1" to provide more room between the trackball and monitor.  Apparently people smack their fingers playing golf games?  This may be a problem but I'm not into this genre of games.

4)  My original concept is much too blocky.  With all the major components drawn on the paper, I freeform sketched a layout I've been toying with lately.  I recently saw a driving cab in the bowling alley down the street with this type of profile.  This design gets rid of the marquee, but gets me this cool profile and carves another 2" off the height.  I never would have tried something this radical without first playing paper dolls.



Comments?

vrf

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2006, 04:43:21 am »
I really wanted to have more curves on my design, too, but in the end decided it would be too difficult to build.

The profile pieces are easy to cut up all curvy and such, but it's harder to build the cross sections. Maybe you're thinking of bending material somehow?

Anyhow, great hacking job. This will be a cool little cab.

TOK

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2006, 07:41:40 pm »
Great project. I liked your initial design better than the new one, but I prefer a traditional looking cabinet.

markc74

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2006, 07:16:24 am »
Hi there.

I really like this idea - I've been toying doing something very similar for a while with a vertical screen (my in-progress full-size cab is horizontal only).



How are you planning on covering the monitor i.e. bezel?

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2006, 12:33:33 am »
Great project. I liked your initial design better than the new one, but I prefer a traditional looking cabinet.
Thanks for the comments.  I think I'm going to stick with the curved design.  The more traditional one has been done before.  I'm up for the challenge.


I really wanted to have more curves on my design, too, but in the end decided it would be too difficult to build.

The profile pieces are easy to cut up all curvy and such, but it's harder to build the cross sections. Maybe you're thinking of bending material somehow?

Anyhow, great hacking job. This will be a cool little cab.
I'm thinking about using 1x1" or 1x2" ribs along the top edge and lower front and skin it with 1/8" or 1/4" plywood.  It's going to take some experimentation to get it looking right.  The back and bottoms will be straight pieces.  I was thinking the contour on the bottom would only be cosmetic, done with flat black paint.  If that looks too cheesy I might route out a slight recess and let the shadows provide the effect.  We'll see.

How are you planning on covering the monitor i.e. bezel?

For the bezel I'm thinking about using 1/4" or 3/8" plywood with a rounded corner hole cut out; then come through with a router and give it a rounded chamfer.  I don't have much room to work with.  The monitor will be physically attached to the back side of the bezel piece.  As with the bent wood, I've got some experimentation to do.

I'm definitely open to suggestions.

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2006, 03:25:00 am »
Side Art

One thing on my todo list is to learn Photoshop.  I know you can make a career of it, there is so much you can do with it.  I just want to get to the point where I can generate the occasional logo or cool user interface graphic to add a little punch to my applications at work.  Now is the time.  After many nights doing tutorial after tutorial, I'm sort of getting past the initial brick wall learning curve.

Below is my first draft of the side art for the PartyBox.  I'm into abstract art.  This has the light hearted feel I was looking for with a slight hint of grunge.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2006, 04:41:12 am »
Your cyans, magentas and greens are "illegal". They will grey out quite a bit in the printing process. This piece also screams out "Hey, I'm learning photoshop!". I would tone down on the beveling and drop shadows. Right now your cast shadows and highlights (on the letters) are in conflicting directions.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2006, 10:36:15 am »
I had a MAJOR problem when I tried to use my Dell latitude in a cocktail. 

When I unhooked the monitor from the laptop + motherboard, things went very awry.  It had ran fine on the external monitor prior to disconnecting the laptop's monitor, but the screen resolution changed immensely despite reinstalling windows XP and the proper drivers after taking off the monitor.  Additionally, I had to reinstall all the usb drivers (it would no longer recognize usb keyboard, IPAC, etc).  Hopefully yours won't act as schizo as mine did when I took off the monitor....so test it out first BEFORE having your cab done....

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2006, 12:37:34 am »
Your cyans, magentas and greens are "illegal". They will grey out quite a bit in the printing process. This piece also screams out "Hey, I'm learning photoshop!". I would tone down on the beveling and drop shadows. Right now your cast shadows and highlights (on the letters) are in conflicting directions.
Thanks for the feedback.  What do you mean by "illegal"?  What printing process does that?  Regarding the screams... thanks.  I'll tone it down a bit.  I also need to change the shape.  The oval does not go with the crescent contour.  I'll post another image for you guys to throw rocks at, er, ah, critique. 

I had a MAJOR problem when I tried to use my Dell latitude in a cocktail. 

When I unhooked the monitor from the laptop + motherboard, things went very awry.  It had ran fine on the external monitor prior to disconnecting the laptop's monitor, but the screen resolution changed immensely despite reinstalling windows XP and the proper drivers after taking off the monitor.  Additionally, I had to reinstall all the usb drivers (it would no longer recognize usb keyboard, IPAC, etc).  Hopefully yours won't act as schizo as mine did when I took off the monitor....so test it out first BEFORE having your cab done....
Good advice on testing before building.  Not that I've ever been burned on that before.  Sorry to hear about your experience.  Perhaps the monitor had a critical PCB embedded somewhere?  I lucked out.  It worked fine.

Last night I did the first test of the system following the surgeries on both the CPU and Monitor.  Success.   Next I need to test the hacked up a pair of amplified speakers.  I'll want to make sure they still work before cutting any holes.

Tomorrow I'm picking up the wood for this project.  I spoke with a cabinet maker friend of mine.  He recommended going with birch plywood.  He showed me some stuff he uses that has 12 plies.  He claims it is stronger than MDF, is a little lighter (remember my weight goal of < 25#), and takes wood screws much better.  Unfortunately it is more expensive than MDF (around $50 per 4x8 sheet).  I asked him about using formica for the rounded surfaces, but he said it is only good if you have a solid surface under the entire area.  He also said it does not take well to paint.  He recommended going with a "bendable" plywood for the rounded surfaces.  My neighbor had a stack of old 1/8" paneling that is 3 ply.  I'll give it a try.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2006, 02:21:47 am »
by "illegal" I mean it's out of the printable color gamut. Super saturated colors don't print well at all because of the CMYK printing process. In photoshop, you can preview in cmyk by pressing command/y if you have a Mac and I think Control Y in Windows. Also your color palette will warn you with an exclamation point inside of a triangle if you pick a color that isn't legal.

IG-88

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2006, 10:13:11 pm »

Tomorrow I'm picking up the wood for this project.  I spoke with a cabinet maker friend of mine.  He recommended going with birch plywood.  He showed me some stuff he uses that has 12 plies.  He claims it is stronger than MDF, is a little lighter (remember my weight goal of < 25#), and takes wood screws much better.  Unfortunately it is more expensive than MDF (around $50 per 4x8 sheet).  I asked him about using formica for the rounded surfaces, but he said it is only good if you have a solid surface under the entire area.  He also said it does not take well to paint.  He recommended going with a "bendable" plywood for the rounded surfaces.  My neighbor had a stack of old 1/8" paneling that is 3 ply.  I'll give it a try.

I wouldn't go for the Birch ply if I were you. The $$ is way too high. Have you ever thought of using "solid" wood? The store I buy my lumber at has this 3/4"x 36"x 48" stuff that is actually little strips of pine that are glued together to form the wide widths. I believe it is used for shelving. It's really cheap and as flat or square as MDF, lighter and MUCH easier to work with.

You could probably get away with using 1/2" ply that is surfaced on one side. I dunno. Heck, take a stroll around your local mega lumber yard you should be able to find something.

Oh ya, have you thought about using masonite for the bendable pieces? You may want to check that out also...
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theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2006, 12:22:56 am »
IG-88 - My cabinet builder buddy also suggested going with 1/2" wood to reduce the weight but the 3/4" t-molding is already in.  He ordered the 3/4" birch wood for me so I was committed.  Regarding solid vs. plywood, He has been building cabinets and fine furnature for over 20 years.  Who am I to question his recommendation. 

Today I had a chance to cut out the side panels.  When I transferred the profile from paper to wood I had a chance to double check the overall fit of the CPU, monitor, power transformers etc.  I further reduced the height by shortening the top point.  I also reduced the height of the control panel by

vrf

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2006, 09:44:42 pm »
wow, it's going to be plenty sturdy.

I'm interested in seeing how the curves turn out. (You're a braver man that I.) Keep up the good work!

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2006, 02:31:12 am »
Supporting Ribs

Tonight I made a lot of progress on the cross members.  These pieces provide the shape for the outer skin and are the retaining supports for the CPU and monitor. 

It is really critical that all pieces are the same length.  I clamped down a scrap piece of wood on the table by the cutoff saw at exactly 18".  This provided a jig for all pieces made.

I want the top leading edge piece to be smooth and match the contour of the outer edge.  I transferred the profile to both edges of a board.  I then very smoothly sanded it with a table mounted belt sander.  I had to work one side at a time, eventually matching the profile. 



Here's a shot of the top edge piece sitting in place



Originally I was thinking about skinning the front under the CP.  After evaluating things with the side panels cut, I decided to just go with a solid piece of wood.  It is going to be much stronger and less problematic.  So much for all the weight I cut out of the monitor and CPU.  Oh, well.



The skin on the back contour will start in a recess (yet to be cut out ) in the top edge piece, be glued to the two retaining supports, then straight down the back side with two more ribs and finally pinned in a recess in the back-bottom piece.  The skin will hopefully be a straight flat surface from the end of the top curve down to the bottom. 



The CPU and monitor will be held at the top and bottom with slotted cross members.  The monitor will be mounted on a piece of

whatzcrackn

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2006, 09:45:10 am »
flippin sweet!  Lemme have it, when you are done  ;D

much better den tots!!

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2006, 09:02:08 pm »
Man I

theCoder

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2006, 11:53:33 pm »
This weekend was very productive.  I

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2006, 04:11:51 pm »
This one has got "Mamey" written all over it    :notworthy:
"I know what a HAL 9000 is... I was wondering if HAL 7600 was his retarded cousin or something..."
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2006, 08:27:56 pm »
 :notworthy:

Wow.  Nice job.  This is looking really good so far. 

-D

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2006, 08:59:38 pm »
I'm very excited to see how this comes along.
I had to beat them to death with their own shoes...

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2006, 11:04:21 pm »
Thanks for the complements.  This stuff is a blast.  This is a lot different than modifying an existing cab.

Excuse my ignorance, I'm kinda new to this community.  I'm assuming it is good to "have mamey written all over it".  What is mamey?

vrf

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2006, 01:32:27 am »
The MAMEY award is a little award for excellence in arcade cab building. IG-88 probably thinks your cab would win the misc category. (KenToad's bartop won the last one.)

http://www.mameworld.net/massive/NEWMAMEY/awards.html

Great work on the curving back panel! It'll be fun to see this little cab finished.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2006, 01:54:26 am »
Control Panel Controls & Artwork

Attached is my current draft for the control panel.  There is a lot to talk about here, so

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2006, 09:02:20 am »
I think the CPO looks very cool!  The tweaks I would make would be...
1) Replace "$$" with "25c" (the "c" is supposed to be the cents sign)
2) Remove the "Fire" label.  I think it looks a little off labeling that button and not the others next to it

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #30 on: June 01, 2006, 08:53:47 pm »
The MAMEY award is a little award for excellence in arcade cab building. IG-88 probably thinks your cab would win the misc category. (KenToad's bartop won the last one.)

http://www.mameworld.net/massive/NEWMAMEY/awards.html

Great work on the curving back panel! It'll be fun to see this little cab finished.

Exactly.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #31 on: June 01, 2006, 10:16:11 pm »
Incredible effort !!!

There are so many ways to enter this hobby/obsession.

This is another seriously origional unique machine built for the joy of the games..

Well Done.

I hope to some day follow in your footsteps and have multiple cabinets of different types.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #32 on: June 01, 2006, 11:39:12 pm »
The MAMEY award is a little award for excellence in arcade cab building. IG-88 probably thinks your cab would win the misc category. (KenToad's bartop won the last one.)

http://www.mameworld.net/massive/NEWMAMEY/awards.html

Great work on the curving back panel! It'll be fun to see this little cab finished.

Exactly.
Thanks.  But not so fast, I've still got lots of opportunity to screw this thing up.

Incredible effort !!!

There are so many ways to enter this hobby/obsession.

This is another seriously origional unique machine built for the joy of the games..

Well Done.

I hope to some day follow in your footsteps and have multiple cabinets of different types.
So how do you plan to enter.  Go for it!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #33 on: June 02, 2006, 12:11:18 am »
Well at this stage I think I am following in the time honoured tradition of procrastination...

No actually as with everyone else around here. I literally stumbled on to MAME and BYOAC before realising the extent to which this could expand.

Basically I am collecting ideas and from day to day switch between upright 4 player cabinet, Cocktail Caninet, 3/4 upright for the kids, tabletop for the shack etc etc.

Other days (i'm dreaming) I imagine spots in my house/life for all the above.

Reality now kicks in and I realise that I have built nought yet.
Currently I have a new shed, where this project will be constructed, that has no concrete floor. (Money Issues) Still one can dream can't one??

Keep up the good work and I will keep collecting ideas.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #34 on: June 02, 2006, 02:08:18 am »
Very cool. I can't wait to see this cab finished. I'm a bit of a fan of curvy bartops...
Note: Out of town with limited internet access 2-28-08 through 3-16-08

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #35 on: June 02, 2006, 11:49:38 am »
coder,

Great project!

Couple of questions for you:

1) Sorry if you covered this and I missed it; why did you decide to use a 15" external LCD monitor instead of the LCD panel in the laptop?

2) The metal dimples that you used to transfer the location of the dowel holes to the opposite side and cross members, what are those called and where did you get them? I typically use a template to transfer the dowel hole locations, but those would come in handy as well.

thanks
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #36 on: June 02, 2006, 05:31:30 pm »
I can't answer for him but the main reasons *I* would use an external monitor over a laptop's  are that a) response time b) contrast c) resolution.  That laptop looks as though it's pretty old, and as such, it has an older lcd.  The response time on those is high to the point where moving images cause a blurring effect that is just nasty for gaming.  Besides that, the laptop lcd probably has a much poorer contrast ratio compared to the new 15" he got.  And then there's the resolution issue.  The laptop lcd may have a much higher resolution than the new 15" making the games that much more stretched and pixelated.

Thinking about it, it may also be an issue of image adjustability.  Can't really adjust laptop lcd monitors manually.  That may also be part of the equation.  Not sure if that's what coder has going on, but that's what I think of when comparing laptop vs desktop lcd.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #37 on: June 02, 2006, 08:35:20 pm »

2) The metal dimples that you used to transfer the location of the dowel holes to the opposite side and cross members, what are those called and where did you get them? I typically use a template to transfer the dowel hole locations, but those would come in handy as well.


You can get those dowel jobs at any big hardware store, Home Depot, etc.  In the hardware section they might sell bags of dowels and in that same section they will have those metal markers for all the standard dowel sizes.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #38 on: June 02, 2006, 10:20:41 pm »
coder,

Great project!

Couple of questions for you:

1) Sorry if you covered this and I missed it; why did you decide to use a 15" external LCD monitor instead of the LCD panel in the laptop?

2) The metal dimples that you used to transfer the location of the dowel holes to the opposite side and cross members, what are those called and where did you get them? I typically use a template to transfer the dowel hole locations, but those would come in handy as well.

thanks

1)  Monitor - I really wanted to go with the laptop monitor.  I've already got it and it is light.  I went with the external one for 3 reasons.  The primary one is the image quality.  The LCD just looked better.  This may have just been a contrast setting or something, but that was my perception.  It is also about 1" bigger.  And finally I really didn't want to deal with cutting and soldering the micro-wires connecting the screen to the motherboard.  I hacked into a similar cable once and it was filled with funky nylon covered in copper foil.  Needless to say it was hard to solder.

2)  Metal Dimples - They are called dowel centers.  I didn't have to buy them, my friend had three sets of different sizes.  I found a site with them at: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=9978
They charge $5 for a pack of 8.  According to Timoe you can pick them up at your local hardware store.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #39 on: June 02, 2006, 11:42:38 pm »
1) Understand about the image quality. As far as soldering though, I've done a couple of bartops with laptops, and in both cases I simply used the existing cable/LCD panel and placed the panel on the back of the notebook. The picture below shows this, although it's a little hard to tell, the lcd panel is simply velcro'd to the back of the laptop.

2) Thanks for posting your progress with these. I've tried to mickey mouse something like those before, I didn't know things were made specifically for that purpose!

Looking forward to seeing the progress on your cab.

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." -Jonathan Swift

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #40 on: June 03, 2006, 01:39:42 am »
I simply used the existing cable/LCD panel and placed the panel on the back of the notebook.
Cool approach.  If you do this however, how do you get to the CD drive?  I was planning on having mine "point" up, putting a door in the top.  Doing so however would really complicate the back contour.  I decided to mount it so that the CD points down, and I'll cut a slot out the bottom.

2) Thanks for posting your progress with these. I've tried to mickey mouse something like those before, I didn't know things were made specifically for that purpose!
When my friend pulled them out, I knew immediately what they were for and though they were so cool.  Before he could set the box down I had my camera in hand taking shots.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #41 on: June 03, 2006, 10:23:16 am »
Skin - After Glue
I took a few hours of vacation time yesterday to work on the project.  The skin is now glued on!  No breakage!  I guess I could have wiped up after myself a little better.



The skin truly followed the profile of the ribs.  It went pretty much from one rib to another in a straight line, causing a 1/16" gap..  I want the skin to be flush with the edge of the side.  It looks like some patchwork is in order.  I've used wood putty in the past, but I'm looking for an excuse to try Bondo.  Apparently cab enthusiasts with a lot more experience that me use it a lot.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  If I were to do it again, I'd go with more ribs, say one every inch and a half or so.



I/O plates
I made two mounting plates for the IO.  They are made from the 1/8" plywood I originally tried to use as the skin.  The switches and ports will be mounted on these plates, then they will be screwed down to the inside.  I'll probably paint them black because the pockets on the other side are deep.





Fan
The CPU gets very hot after about an hour of use.  I'm glad we've had all the kids we're planning on having because after having that thing on my lap I'm not so sure...  I'm going to mount a fan directly behind the CPU.  Yesterday I was in a local computer shop looking at fans.  They had 2, one for $10 and another for $15.  Then I noticed a box of surplus stuff lying in the corner containing a bunch of Intel CPU fans for $6.  Sold.



I needed a way to cover the fan.  Many ideas came to mind.  My friend Jim recommended making it out of 1/4" hardwood.  "Just get me an AutoCAD file and I'll cut it out on my CNC machine."  I haven't used AutoCAD since college.  I've had lots of experience drawing the sweeping lines of the cab profile so I decided to go with this look.  I basically freehanded the drawing then cut it out with the scroll saw.  I smoothed the edges with a power sander, then put on a 1/8" chamfer with a router.  Lots of hand sanding later and its done.  The pictures really don't show it but the sides are very rounded and it has a nice 3D contour effect.  I'm going to take Jim up on his offer on the CNC but this time to drill the hundreds of holes in a cool sweeping pattern. 



Speakers
The speakers are hacked from an amplified PC speaker set I picked up at a garage sale for $2.  I didn't have room to make a hollow pocket in the top surface (where the marquee & speakers typically go), so I had to look elsewhere to place the speakers.  I thought about putting them in the back and also in the bottom.  There is just barely enough room (1/16" to spare) to mount them beside the monitor facing front.  Now the issue was how to cover them up.  I went with the same material and basic shape of the fan cover.  Hopefully it will sound OK.



And finally a picture showing the speaker plates in their approximate location along with the fan plate that will be mounted on the back.  I'm not sure how I'm going to finish the plates.  I'm leaning toward a high gloss paint of roughly the same color as the box (light gray.)   I don't want them to scream out like in this picture. I'd rather have a subtle contrast in either color or texture.



I'm starting to get a little nervous about the weight.  My original intent was to make it light enough for my wife to easily carry.  My goal was 25 pounds or less.  The CPU and monitor weigh about 11 pounds.  The box (minus the CP & bezel) weighs in at around 8.  I've still got the controls, wire, transformers, various cords, and who knows what else yet to go.  It is definitely going to be a very light cab, but I'm not sure if it will weigh in at less than 25 pounds when it is finished.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #42 on: June 06, 2006, 11:10:22 am »
Bondo Work
I wish I'd tried bondo earlier.  This stuff rocks.  I had a number of gaps and uneven spots along the contour of the box.  I used a straight edged piece of plyable plastic to spread the bondo.  Prior to application, I put some tape down on the t-molding slots (thanks to someone on the forum for this recommendation).

This shot shows a 1/4" gap at the bottom where the skin meets with the bottom rib.  The bondo covered it up great.  I also put on small strips of t-molding on the bottom to keep the edges from getting messed up while I'm working with it.


This shot shows what happens when you try to overwork bondo.  The mixture I made up was only workable for about 3 minutes.  Any attempts to re-touch after that was a disaster.  Your best bet is to smear it into the cracks, then cross your fingers and try to get one smooth stroke.  Retouching really doesn't work that well.  You really need it to be one continuous stroke. 


I got better at it by the 3rd application.  The good news is that when you mess up, it just sands off. 


I forgot to take pictures of the bondo after sanding.  It is pretty smooth with no visible lines or uneven flats.  I'm painting now, more pictures to come.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #43 on: June 06, 2006, 11:57:50 am »
From left to right I would put joystick, buttons, then trackball. Centipede and Missile Command had the buttons to the left of the trackball.

Wonderful workmanship on the cabinet!
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #44 on: June 07, 2006, 10:15:33 am »
From left to right I would put joystick, buttons, then trackball. Centipede and Missile Command had the buttons to the left of the trackball.

Wonderful workmanship on the cabinet!
Thanks for the compliment. 

Good catch on the trackball.  On my last cab I just put it in the center because that's where it made sense.  I also put the buttons to the right because that also made sense.  I didn't give it much thought.  Given that layout, I've grown accustom to using my left hand for the trackball and right hand for buttons.  It seams a little strange to use my right hand for buttons with joystick game, and my left hand for buttons with trackball games.  I understand the concern about matching the original layout of the the CP for Missile Command and Centipede.  I think (??) it is better to be consistant with which hand you use for guidance (joystick & trackball) and which hand you use for buttons.

I'm right handed but prefer to use a trackball with my left hand.  Do more people use their right hand for trackballing or their left?  Comments?

Crafty

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #45 on: June 07, 2006, 11:54:24 pm »
Joystick in my left hand (keep your thoughts clean), leaving my right hand free for trackball/button action
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #46 on: June 08, 2006, 08:33:54 am »
Joystick on the left and trackball on the right.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2006, 07:27:56 pm »
I think (??) it is better to be consistant with which hand you use for guidance (joystick & trackball) and which hand you use for buttons.

I'm right handed but prefer to use a trackball with my left hand.  Do more people use their right hand for trackballing or their left?  Comments?

The way I look at it is which is going to be more complex? Most trackball games only use one or two buttons and rely much more on the trackball dexterity. So for this, I will use my right hand. The same goes for older games that use a joystick and one or two buttons. When you start getting into fighters and things of that nature, differentiating the multitude of buttons requires more dexterity and I will use my left hand for the joystick and right hand for the buttons.

Does that make sense? It's kind of like playing a guitar. A right handed guitar has you strumming and picking with the right hand and holding notes with the left. There are more times where precise control is needed and more work is done with the right hand in this situation.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2006, 09:17:33 pm »
Thanks for the input.  I think I'll go with buddabing's recommendation (as backed up by Crafty, Nineten-doh, and johnperkins21).  I've played paperdoll with Visio, now it's off to Photoshop.  Another image to be posted soon.

Tapping into the volume pot
The amp I'm using has a very small, thin volume adjustment pot soldered on the PCB.  I considered mounting the board so that the knob stuck though the case, but mounting was going to be a big hassle.  I also did not like the wimpy feel of the thin plastic dial. 



Rather than unsolder the thing out, I decided to just bypass the existing one, soldering in my own.   The trickiest part was determining where to solder.  There were 5 leads directly behind the pot.  Of these, there were two distinct pairs.  One pair coming from what appeared to be a high(er) voltage cable plug (colored red in the picture), and the other pair going off to a few resistors (colored blue).  I never did determine what the other lead was.  I picked up a "audio" variable resistor (0-100 k ohm) from Radio Shack.  It is made specifically for stereo applications and has two sets of contacts, one for each channel.  I soldered one set of leads in and tested it out.  I could tell that it was doing something, but I couldn't get the volume completely off.  Thinking about what I'd done, I had the on-board resistor in parallel with mine. 




I decided to cut the on-board one out of the circuit.  I had to hack & slice the leads on the PCB with a pocket knife to the point where you could barely recognize it.  The leads cut were those I've colored yellow in the picture.  Those leads must have been very thick or something.  It works like a champ.  Now I can mount the amp anywhere I want (probably on the back wall) and can bring the pot to one of the back lower I/O panels designed for this purpose. 




If you are going to be doing this kind of work, the magnifying glass with roach clips soldering tool from Radio Shack makes it much easier to handle and see.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2006, 01:01:04 am »
I forgot to include this shot showing the pot.  This was before I cut the "yellow" lines.  The finished version has the two wires on the right soldered to the "blue" spots.

While I had the soldering iron out, I soldered in the CPU on/off wires.  These will be routed to a pushbutton in one of the two lower I/O ports.  I had problems getting the solder to take.  I think I should have gone with smaller gauge wire.  To keep things in tact, I epoxied the wires to the side of the CPU.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #50 on: June 14, 2006, 02:33:23 am »
Paint
I decided to go with a dark silver textured paint.  I'm using Rust-oleum "Hammered" spray paint.  I really like the texture it leaves.  I first tried the light silver stuff, but it looked to much like metal.  This shade looks like a smokey gray plastic.  It is a semi-gloss and really looks good.

I started with two coats of white primer.  Then on to the paint.  The first couple of coats turned out terrible.  I did not do a good job of sanding.  I though the imperfections would be covered up by the paint.  My father would be so ashamed.  I wet down some wood putty to the consistency of drywall mud and smeared it over the entire surface.  I then did as I was taught, coarse grit, followed by medium grit, followed by fine grit.  When I finished, all the small scratches were filled in and the surface was much smoother.   



Man what a difference a little patience makes.  It's not perfect, but much better.  Hey Dad, take a look.




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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #51 on: June 14, 2006, 07:47:43 am »
Nice Paint Job

It must be so hard not to rush.....
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #52 on: June 14, 2006, 09:15:33 am »
Looks good.  Have you thought about laminating the sides?  A nice black laminate would give you contrasting colors and it would hide any imperfections in the paint and the finish.
Its probably too late now since the t-molding slot is cut.

-D
« Last Edit: June 14, 2006, 09:17:18 am by dweebs0r »

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #53 on: June 14, 2006, 07:30:48 pm »
Have you thought about laminating the sides? 
How do you compensate for the additional thickness of the laminate relative to the t-molding?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #54 on: June 14, 2006, 07:34:01 pm »
How do you compensate for the additional thickness of the laminate relative to the t-molding?

Yea, I guess its too late.  You would have to cut the t-molding slot off center and since its already cut...

I dunno.  Someone here probably knows a trick on how you might be able to do it.

I didnt realize you had t-molding slots when I first posted the laminate suggestion.

-D

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #55 on: June 14, 2006, 10:04:21 pm »
Yea, its definitely too late for this project.  I was just interested for the next one.  How thick is a typical laminate?  Do you split the difference and center the t-molding?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #56 on: June 14, 2006, 11:15:31 pm »
Its probably a hair less than 1/16".

Put it this way, if you are building your cab out of 5/8" material and you laminate both sides, 3/4" t-molding will cover it perfectly.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #57 on: June 16, 2006, 01:22:11 am »
Busy night last night.  I made a laundry list of small wood shop related projects then hit Jims place.  It was very productive:

1)   Mounted bottom ribs
2)   Cut and mounted bottom skin
3)   Drilled air holes in bottom
4)   Routed pocket for trackball clearance
5)   Made 1/16

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #58 on: June 22, 2006, 03:48:30 am »
I/O Mounting
When I was around 13 years old I helped my father rebuild a boat.  He constructed most all of his electrical, pulley, gas, and other sub-systems on custom fit pieces of wood, then mounted them into place.  This allows you to do the detailed work on a workbench or other more comfortable setting, instead of deep inside some potentially difficult place.  I used this technique for the power plate, the I/O plate as well as the sound amp.

The plates are mounted to the inside of the box with switches and plugs facing outward.  They are attached to the cab

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #59 on: June 23, 2006, 03:13:58 am »
Power
There are 5 different devices in this project that require DC power.  They include the CPU (18.5v), display (12v), sound amp (9v), fan (12v), and LED

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #60 on: June 23, 2006, 11:05:53 am »
I forgot to mention that it took me four tries to get the circuit right.  The first time one of the solder joints was bad.  In trying to debug the problem, I re-examined the schematic and determined that I had the leads on the LM317 reversed.  From there, each time I'd power it up, it would get hot, then cold.  The output voltage of the LM317 was always the same as the input.  A friend of mine said it sounds like I'm frying the regulator.  Taking another look at the schematic I noticed a note saying the pinouts are from the "top view".  I had the pinouts right the first time!  A couple of new regulators put in the correct way fixed the problem.  When at first you don't succeed....

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #61 on: June 24, 2006, 10:42:48 pm »
Major score today at a garage sale, I've just got to tell someone.  I picked up a relatively new (6 year old) 27" Sharp TV for $10.  Works great.  The guy recently upgraded and didn't have room for the old one.  He also reduced the price because he "couldn't find the remote". 

I've been checking the price of 24" TVs every time I hit the big box stores.  Nothing there anywhere near 10 bucks!  This will work out perfect for my next project.  My wife is starting to get suspicious.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #62 on: June 25, 2006, 02:21:30 am »
It has been a very fruitful couple of days.

Modified Power Board
I was done with the power board and ready to test the components.  Man, you want to talk about second guessing yourself.  My concern was that if something were to blow, it would let too much current through and fry something.  My primary concern is was the monitor.  Everything else would be easy to replace.  A friend of mine recommended putting in fuses for extra piece of mind.  I wired in a couple of fuse holders and put in 1.5 amp fuses.  Here is the finished power board.


Speaker and Fan Covers
Next step...drill the hundreds (at least it felt like it) of holes in the speaker covers and fan cover.  Jim offered to do it on his CNC machine, but it was going to be a major hassle getting him a cad file in the format he needed to drive the machine.  I just printed the patterns on paper, stuck them to the wood, then started drilling.  It took about 15 minutes per piece to drill all the holes. 


Blue cover plates will be a nice accent to the blue t-molding.  I'll glue them on just before I clear coat the box and bezel.

Ports
A back shot of the cab with the I/O in place.  I managed to find an 8 foot light gray power cable.  The standard is 6 feet.  That seemed a bit too short.  I want the freedom to strategically place the PartyBox between the drinks and appetizers.  I still need to track down a knob for the volume control.  The fan hole will eventually be covered by the blue fan plate.


Smoke Test
After several hours of shortening wires, various soldering, hot gluing, etc. all the major components are in place to test my handywork.  My primary concerns were whether or not I somehow killed the sound amp, and whether or not the monitor would drive from the LM317 circuit.  No problem with the first.  Sound works great.  The monitor though, that's another story. 

When I first hit the power switch, I was very pleased to see all components come to life, including the monitor.  I put my finger on the voltage regulator and is was just a little warm.  Not bad I thought.  After about 30 seconds however, the monitor started to flicker.  I went back to check the regulator and just about lost the finger print off my finger.  The thing was blazing hot.  Lets see, flickering monitor and extremely hot components (not to mention the smell of burnt flesh and melting hot glue)....I quickly hit the switch.  What a bummer.  Rather than screw around with the power regulator any more, I made a command decision to just use the transformer that came with the monitor.  Ouch, there's another 1/2 pound or so.  Oh well.  After installing the additional transformer, it was time to try again.  This time I was concerned that I fried the 12v regulator.  After all, it still needs to drive the fan.  I was very pleased when everything came up the second time.

Notice the clutter in this shot.  I'm doing this phase of the project on the dining room table.  My wife put up with a lot.


Attached Components
I used a lot of hot glue to hold everything down and to secure the wires.  In this shot, the loose wires on the right connect to the other removable parts including the CPU, monitor, and speakers.


It's just about time to get serious about the control panel.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #63 on: June 25, 2006, 02:54:14 am »
Coming together nicely...

Amazing job so far... :cheers:
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #64 on: June 25, 2006, 11:36:10 pm »
Awesome work so far! You're quite the electronics expert.

By the way, I'm insanely jealous of you having a friend who has a CNC machine. Oh the fun I'd have with that.

Keep up the great work!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #65 on: June 26, 2006, 01:07:31 am »
Awesome work so far! You're quite the electronics expert.

By the way, I'm insanely jealous of you having a friend who has a CNC machine. Oh the fun I'd have with that.

Keep up the great work!
Thanks for the compliments guys.  I got the general pointer for the voltage regulator circuit from a post I made in the Main forum.  I'm more of an electronics hack than expert.  I rarely get anything right the first time.  I slept through my 7:40 am electronics class in college.  You just need to be careful with the big stuff (live 220 or 110 voltage), the big red wire on the back of TVs, and things you've got a lot of money into.  The rest can generally be handled with a little Googling, and yet another trip to RadioShack.

Regarding the CNC...I took a year and a half of classes on programming CNC machines.  I was very pleased when my friend told me he was getting it.  I just need to get my hands on some CAD/CAM software.  No manual G code programming for me anymore.  I then need to prove myself and get the "keys to the ignition".  It has lots of potential.

The speaker plates are dry after three coats.  I'll paint the spaces behind the non-functional holes black to blend in with the speakers.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #66 on: June 26, 2006, 09:52:28 am »
This thing is looking great! I can't wait to see the final shots.

The 27" tv is a great find! You turn it on? I probably would've bought it for $10 also(and I have nowhere to go with it either). We just had a neighborhood yard sale here. I could barely give stuff away. I guess I'm used to the craigslist people who just want a good deal, and not necessarily a give away.

Keep up the good work.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #67 on: June 27, 2006, 04:25:59 am »
Based on a lot of input, head scratching, and prototyping, my CP layout is taking shape.  The 4/8 way joystick is on the left.  I swapped the primary buttons to the left of the trackball.  With the trackball on the right side I had to move the admin buttons.  I didn't want them in the top center so I moved them down the right side.  I'm using low profile 1/2" buttons from RadioShack for the admin buttons.  Hopefully they won't interfere with the trackball.  The shifted values of the buttons are labeled in a light blue so I can still read them without them being too dominate.  They include (Y)es, (N)o, 3, 4, (P)ause, and Tab.  The first and second (left and center) play buttons will be wired to the left and right mouse button inputs.

The artwork follows the flowing bell bottom, tear drop lines of the cab profile.  The colors match the blue t-molding & gray paint of the cab.  Any concerns / comments / recommendations will be appreciated.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #68 on: June 27, 2006, 10:06:53 am »

The artwork follows the flowing bell bottom, tear drop lines of the cab profile.  The colors match the blue t-molding & gray paint of the cab.  Any concerns / comments / recommendations will be appreciated.

You've got feedback! (On the art forum)
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #69 on: June 27, 2006, 11:11:59 am »
I like the curves on the artwork, but I have to confess that the drop shadows and mosiac filter effect really turn me off. They just look cheesy in my opinion, and not up to the level of craftsmanship on the cab itself. Maybe you'd be better off with solid colors and dark outlines?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #70 on: June 27, 2006, 06:04:44 pm »
I still think you should change "$$" to "25

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #71 on: June 27, 2006, 06:11:08 pm »
I still think you should change "$$" to "25

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #72 on: June 27, 2006, 10:28:04 pm »
better yet, change it to a picture of a coin.

I personally like the second idea best.  A coin would look better.

-D

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #73 on: June 28, 2006, 01:19:32 am »
I still think you should change "$$" to "25

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #74 on: June 28, 2006, 06:18:46 am »
I like the first one - the swirl version.

-D

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #75 on: June 28, 2006, 09:44:41 am »
Not exactly what I was thinking, but it does the job. Now the elements aren't floating on their own and the trackball (in the first image) becomes the anchor that visually ties everything together. Good job!
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #76 on: June 28, 2006, 12:41:11 pm »
It looks like your drop-shadows may be too dark. The "pads" are semi-translucent, which would mean that the shadows are lighter. Now, where the buttons are, that would be dark and you couldn't see the swirl through them, but the rest of the drop-shadow should have a little less opacity.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #77 on: June 28, 2006, 04:12:05 pm »
This project is nothing short of amazing.  It might be the most unique design I've seen yet.  Keep up the great work!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #78 on: June 28, 2006, 09:50:40 pm »
I like the first one - the swirl version.

-D

I Agree the first version is far better..

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #79 on: June 29, 2006, 01:16:35 am »
This project is really shaping up to be something great.  I love the design.   :applaud:

Keep up the good work.

 :cheers: ,
Ian

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #82 on: June 29, 2006, 03:45:18 pm »
I was the one with the idea of a picture of a coin, yet my name was deleted from the quote.  I think Ninten-doh paid someone off.
I did...with a quarter.   :laugh2:

My lame quip aside, let it be officially recognized that the quarter graphic idea came from AtomSmasher, not me.   :cheers:

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #83 on: June 29, 2006, 04:45:33 pm »
I was the one with the idea of a picture of a coin, yet my name was deleted from the quote.  I think Ninten-doh paid someone off.
I did...with a quarter.   :laugh2:

My lame quip aside, let it be officially recognized that the quarter graphic idea came from AtomSmasher, not me.   :cheers:
hehe, no worries, I just thought it odd how he edited my name out of the quote.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #84 on: June 29, 2006, 05:42:35 pm »
I was the one with the idea of a picture of a coin, yet my name was deleted from the quote.  I think Ninten-doh paid someone off.
I did...with a quarter.   :laugh2:

My lame quip aside, let it be officially recognized that the quarter graphic idea came from AtomSmasher, not me.   :cheers:
hehe, no worries, I just thought it odd how he edited my name out of the quote.
Sorry for the omission AtomSmasher; cut & paste error.  Actually, I was trying to help you avoid the hit for your blaphemy comment. 

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #85 on: June 29, 2006, 05:56:57 pm »
Excellent work! I must say, countertop cabs are really nice, hope I also can make one some day.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #86 on: June 29, 2006, 08:59:20 pm »
Sorry for the omission AtomSmasher; cut & paste error.  Actually, I was trying to help you avoid the hit for your blaphemy comment. 

Phew!  I thought I might have made the cut and paste error.  I'm glad that's settled.  Now back to the topic at hand.....

Very nice looking cab.  Can't wait to see more!

-Stobe

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #87 on: June 29, 2006, 09:21:59 pm »
Sorry for the omission AtomSmasher; cut & paste error.  Actually, I was trying to help you avoid the hit for your blaphemy comment. 
I only said picture of a coin, you came up with a picture of a quarter all on your own  ;D

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #88 on: June 30, 2006, 03:53:10 am »
Thanks again for the input.  I think I'm about ready to call this done. 

Changes from last:
1)  Quarter replaced with BYOAC Token.
2)  Drop shadows lightened up & made more transparent.
3)  My own addition - transitioned the swirl from lighter & crisper at the trackball to darker and more fuzzy further out.  I believe this draws more focus on the trackball providing the anchor gamecreature was recommending.

I'm printing up a couple of copies on large format photo paper at work tomorrow to see how it looks and to make a trial run cutting my CP. 

Any additional comments/recommendations?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #89 on: June 30, 2006, 11:56:33 am »
The BYOAC token looks kind of hard to make out, while it might be better after printing out, its not exactly self explanitory to new users so you will always have to explain what it is.  Maybe you should try making a simple coin design that just says "1 Credit" so its easy to understand the purpose of the button.  Just a thought.  Either way, I like the coin better then the dollar signs :)

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #90 on: June 30, 2006, 12:23:38 pm »
Also, the outer circle of the trackball design doesn't look perfectly round... maybe it's just me...  looks great though!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #91 on: June 30, 2006, 11:35:55 pm »
The BYOAC token looks kind of hard to make out, while it might be better after printing out, its not exactly self explanitory to new users so you will always have to explain what it is. 
I agree.  By the time it was shrunk down to the size I needed, you can barely make out the image.  I switched it back to the quarter.  At least my guests will recognize it as a quarter.

Also, the outer circle of the trackball design doesn't look perfectly round
True.  It appears to be a problem with the chrome effect.  I will add a few rows 1 pixel wide to clean it up.

Today I printed the CP on a HP DesignJet 130.  Man, this thing puts out one heck of a quality print.  I made one with all the graphics (to hang on my wall at work), and another with cross hairs marking where I need to drill holes.  Once I've verified that everything will fit using a proof-of-concept board, I'll print another to make the holes on the final piece of wood.  I think it will work out fine, but the CP will be 5/8" wood.  Unfortunately I could not find 5/8" wood, so I'll be shaving down a piece of 3/4" wood.  After all the work to make the 3/4" piece of wood into a 5/8" piece of wood, I'd hate to ruin it.  So... I'll verify everything works out first with a trash piece of 3/4" plywood.  Anyway, you've got to love the print quality of modern HP inkjet printers.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #92 on: June 30, 2006, 11:59:35 pm »
Yeah you have to love the quality of all of these new Wide Format inkjets. I am still very amazed by my Epson 10000 Pro. It uses archival inks which don't have the best color gamut, but the prints just don't fade out.

Your artwork is looking awesome!!!! I'm a big fan. :applaud:

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #93 on: July 01, 2006, 01:14:57 am »
$6.75 the hard way-one quarter at a time.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #94 on: July 03, 2006, 06:05:02 pm »
Twisted Pair
Another trick my father showed me was how to make a single strand of two conductor wire.  It's pretty easy when you use power tools for the job.  I've used this trick countless times.  Place the wire in the chuck of a drill, pull gently at the other end, and drill.  If you do it tightly, it will reduce the overall length by almost 50% so plan accordingly.  Works great.


LED Wires
I will be lighting most of the buttons and the trackball on this project.  The monitor bezel is removable, forcing me to mount the LED power lines flush with the side walls.  I used a dremel tool to pocket out a slot in the sidewall.  The wires were then glued in place with hotglue.  I put a small wood board over the hotglue while it was still wet, trying to get a flat surface.  To avoid gluing the board to the sidewall, I put down a piece of tinfoil.  I thought the tinfoil would just pull away, but most of it stuck.  Oh, well, no problem.



Bezel Is Ready To Mount
Today I mounted the speakers and monitor to the bezel.  Not much excitement here, but it's progress.




I'm taking this week off from work, and hope to make significant progress on the CP.  Stay tuned.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #95 on: July 05, 2006, 12:17:15 am »
Tight Squeeze
All the pieces slid in as planned, but holy tight squeeze Batman.  There is something about seeing the drawings, then the actual pieces in place.  I knew it was going to be tight in there.  There is about one inch between the CPU and monitor at the top, transitioning to about 2 inches at the bottom.  There are a few inches to the sides of the CPU to allow air flow to the monitor.  However there are a lot of wires in between.  Hopefully it won't get too hot inside. 



Wireless LAN
I want to be able to connect the cab to my wireless LAN.  Unfortunately the antenna for the system was the titanium lid surrounding the original LCD.  With the LCD gone, I needed to come up with something else.  I

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #96 on: July 05, 2006, 12:28:20 am »
...if nothing else, it keeps me off the streets at night.


And for that we are thankful.

Keep up the good work. (And the pictures.)

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #97 on: July 05, 2006, 02:51:48 am »
Coming together nicely...

Good use of hot glue for all those tricky areas... :cheers:
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #98 on: July 05, 2006, 07:17:17 am »
I hope you guys are not getting sick of the quantity of pictures I'm posting.  I'm sure some of this stuff is no-brainer to you more experienced cab builders.  But I

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #99 on: July 05, 2006, 11:33:18 am »
Thanks again for the comments.  I'll keep it up.   

Its how people who are much less talented live vicariously through the work of others.
I can relate to the "living vicariously" comment.  It is cool to see how different people solve similar problems. 

...I have started 3 cabinets-- sold one, the other 2 are still not playable.  :(
So what's keeping you from from finishing one of them?  Too much time modding XBoxes and selling them to unsuspecting fools like me.  Thanks again for the unit.  I can't wait to finish this project and build a cab around it.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #100 on: July 05, 2006, 11:37:22 am »
So what's keeping you from from finishing one of them?  Too much time modding XBoxes and selling them to unsuspecting fools like me.  Thanks again for the unit.  I can't wait to finish this project and build a cab around it.

haha, lack of time, money, tools and ability.    :dizzy:
I'll finish one someday.....

-D

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #101 on: July 05, 2006, 01:18:20 pm »
That is the craziest wireless lan setup I've ever seen-man, what's so hard about Mini-PCI that makes laptop designers want to go with a custom solution? Three cheers for industry standards.
$6.75 the hard way-one quarter at a time.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #102 on: July 05, 2006, 02:08:42 pm »
It's looking great!

Quick question - where does your wrist land when playing games? I ask because I generally install my joysticks higher to allow my wrists to rest on the cp.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #103 on: July 05, 2006, 09:04:26 pm »
It's looking great!

Quick question - where does your wrist land when playing games? I ask because I generally install my joysticks higher to allow my wrists to rest on the cp.
The screen is only about 1" higher than the top of the CP.  I'm concerned that my left hand will block the view of the screen.  That is the primary reason I placed it where I did.  I didn't consider a place to rest my wrist.  I'll check it out tomorrow and see if any adjustments make sense.  Thanks for the input.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #104 on: July 07, 2006, 05:02:26 am »
Plexiglas Covered Control Panel

I searched this site for write-ups on how to make the Plexiglas over artwork part of a control panel.  Lots of people have done it, and many have written various notes on it.  I found one by Timoe to be particularly helpful.  Based on his input and that of many others, I

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #105 on: July 07, 2006, 08:29:47 am »
Amazing work.  Looks great.  And great job documenting the process.  Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #106 on: July 07, 2006, 08:36:42 pm »
WOW - that came out really well.  I need to see a full frontal shot.  :o

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #107 on: July 09, 2006, 01:16:29 am »
Lighting the Trackball
I've seen a lot of people that have come up with fancy LED mounts for the bottom of trackballs.  Rather than mess with a fixture to hold the LED's then figuring out how to mount the fixture to the trackball, I decided to just drill three holes into the bottom of the trackball and glue the LED's in place.  There is plenty of room between the ball and the bottom of the housing.  I slipped a thick shim of scrap plastic through the hole, under where I was drilling to keep me from damaging the ball.  It works like a champ.


Control Panel Wiring & Lites
It was a long night last night wiring things up.  Here is the standard shot of my wiring job.


I've heard other people mention it, and now I truly understand, it is hard to photograph LED lit buttons and trackballs.  This shot was taken with a flash.  The colors and brightness are flattened out.  In real life they look much more distinctive than this.


This shot was taken without a flash.  Obviously it is not this bright in real life.  Notice the small black admin buttons on the right side of the panel.  They turned out nice.



Things are very cramped inside now with the pinball buttons, control panel, IPac and trackball cables, etc. etc. etc.  Tonight I put it all together and tested my wiring.  I found a few problems.  One I've tracked down to a shorted switch, which I proceeded to destroy while removing the hotglue around it.  Lesson learned...test all your wiring before assembly.  It took at least 30 minutes to get the control panel on (LED wiring, adjusting leaf switches, moving wires around, dropping screws, etc.)  It took another 5 minutes to get the control panel off to debug the wiring.  It's getting late and I'm tired and frustrated.  I'm probably better off letting it sit over night or else I may trash something else.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #108 on: July 10, 2006, 11:01:52 am »
Hardware Mostly Complete
Yesterday I did some additional work on debugging wiring problems.  I tracked the main problem down to a bad Ipac-4 board.  It is either bad physically, or I've got the wrong version of the configuration software or something.  I'm working with Andy at UltiMark to figure out what is going on.

In the mean time, I put the t-molding on.  Given the blue highlights around the perimeter, I'm considering leaving off the side art.  Comments?

I've getting so close I can smell it.  I've just got to load up my menuing software (going with Mamewah), load up my various games, configure the menus, do a custom Mamewah skin, and get the wiring/IPac "fixed".  Here are some shots of the project in its near-complete stage.










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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #109 on: July 10, 2006, 11:26:43 am »
awesome dude. Just awesome.

Couple quick questions and a comment.

The trackball - which model did you go with? I would love to flush mount mine, but I didn't go with a high lip model. Is yours a high lip?

My comment is on the sideart. I think sideart would make it too busy. You've built a machine that makes a statement in design. Let the design be the art. Take the side profile of your machine for example. It's uniquely shaped and thin. If you add art, you'll add dimension that may not showoff the thin characteristics that I believe make the machine so nice looking. It's just my opinion, but I subscribe to the less is more philosophy.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #110 on: July 10, 2006, 11:39:37 am »
I'm sorry, this is unacceptable. It is totally unacceptable that this board lacks the jaw-dropping smiley that reflects the way I looked when I saw those pictures. I'll have to settle for this instead:  :notworthy:

I have to agree with Lew - keeping it clean and simple may be the way to go here.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #111 on: July 10, 2006, 11:52:27 am »
I really like the look, but I gotta say...

The first thing that popped into my head when I saw it was "Hot Wheels Laptop".





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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #112 on: July 10, 2006, 04:17:20 pm »
Couple quick questions and a comment.
The trackball - which model did you go with? I would love to flush mount mine, but I didn't go with a high lip model. Is yours a high lip?

I could be wrong but I think all the Happ trackballs are sold "high lip" now with spacer plates if you want no lip.  Then there's the "high ball" which is something completely different.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #113 on: July 10, 2006, 04:48:24 pm »
I think Gamecreature's "blue" layout that he did for Mala would look great on this.



Of course, you're probably planning to use your stylistic flair for a custom skin.  Just a thought.   Great cab!  :cheers:

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #114 on: July 10, 2006, 06:21:08 pm »
Thanks for the compliments.  It's been a fun ride.

I think Gamecreature's "blue" layout that he did for Mala would look great on this.
I'm all for re-use.  Gamecreature, did you do this in photoshop?  Could I get a copy?

gamecreature

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #115 on: July 10, 2006, 08:06:56 pm »
I'm all for re-use.  Gamecreature, did you do this in photoshop?  Could I get a copy?

Yes I did. It's over 9 megs in size. And to answer your second question, let me think about it.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #116 on: July 10, 2006, 10:28:59 pm »
Awesome Effort

Thanks for the ride....

It's projects like yours (unique and well documented) that inspire us all..

:applaud: :applaud: :applaud: :applaud:
A Bad Day Playing Is Better Than a Good Day Working

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #117 on: July 11, 2006, 09:46:02 am »
Could I get a copy?

If you're up for trying Mala (I'm giving it a go after a few months of testing out Mamewah), you can find this layout and others here:

http://mala.arcadezentrum.com/layouts.html

Gamecreature has generously given Mala users his "Blue" and "AlienDashboard" layouts to use.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #119 on: July 12, 2006, 01:16:48 pm »
Very nice work!

I was originally going to do something like this, but when I tried the old AMD K6-2 3d/400 laptop I had for it, it ran MAME so slow, I gave up on it.  It probably should have worked OK, but this is an old laptop (2 upgrades ago) and when it boots up it thinks it's a 755mhz P3 instead of an AMD K6 3d/400.  Strange.  I think it's just fried.

BTW: If you like gutterball, try World Class Bowling in MAME - it's awesome with a trackball.  Shuffleshot is also very addictive.

- DigDreams

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #120 on: July 13, 2006, 05:26:29 pm »
I like World Class Bowling.  The game play and graphics are much better on Gutterball however.  I also like Shuffleshot, but it always had a sound "stutter" on my last cab.  Hopefully it will work out on this new machine.

Andy at UltiMarc is sending me a new Ipac.  The one I've got is defective.  It should get here in the next few days.  I hate debugging electrical problems !!!

In the mean time, I'm playing with a custom skin for Mala as well as figuring out how to configure it for both Mame and Windows games.  As pretty as GameCreatures images are (that's an understatement), the colors don't work for my cab plus I need more playtime with Photoshop.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #121 on: July 13, 2006, 06:12:57 pm »
I like World Class Bowling.  The game play and graphics are much better on Gutterball however.  I also like Shuffleshot, but it always had a sound "stutter" on my last cab.  Hopefully it will work out on this new machine.

I tried gutterball, and the graphics are great, but I don't like rolling the ball by pushing a button.  I like the way World Class Bowling uses the trackball and picks up on the speed & spin when you roll the ball.  Does the downloadable version of gutterball work like that, or is it "click" like the web version?

- DigDreams

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #122 on: July 13, 2006, 09:46:01 pm »
I tried gutterball, and the graphics are great, but I don't like rolling the ball by pushing a button.  I like the way World Class Bowling uses the trackball and picks up on the speed & spin when you roll the ball.  Does the downloadable version of gutterball work like that, or is it "click" like the web version?

You also get the speed and spin with Gutterball.  You hold down a button, draw back the trackball, then roll forward while letting go of the button.  The direction and speed the ball goes is based on the direction and speed of the trackball when the button is released.  While the ball is rolling you can affect the direction somewhat with the trackball.  It models inertia well, making it challenging to control.  It is always a hit when we have parties.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #123 on: July 14, 2006, 03:57:58 am »
I'm thinking of going with Mala for the front end menu.  I like the cool features you get for the menu lists.  Below is the first draft of my background image configured in Mala.  Comments?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #124 on: July 14, 2006, 10:28:58 am »
I'd probably start with a bolder font - this one's getting lost. Have you browsed 1001fonts.com? Using the screenshot as an anchor is a good idea, but it needs a frame, preferably something that contrasts with the blue that dominates the rest of the menu. Feel free to hit me with any questions you have.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #125 on: July 15, 2006, 02:13:57 am »
I'd probably start with a bolder font - this ones getting lost. Have you browsed 1001fonts.com? Using the screenshot as an anchor is a good idea, but it needs a frame, preferably something that contrasts with the blue that dominates the rest of the menu. Feel free to hit me with any questions you have.

Thanks for the input, and the link to 1001fonts.com.  I found a light hearted font called GeekAbyte.  Attached is my latest rev. using it.

I'm struggling with something and could use some input.  There are no hard straight lines anywhere in my artwork, or cab for that matter.  In the meantime the snap images are square and/or rectangular.  To complicate matters, they vary in dimension and background color.  I'm not planning on having hundreds of menu items and could probably edit each image.  Perhaps putting in a rounded corner fade to transparent mask.

Most of the images have black backgrounds.  I'd love for the image to blend into the container, and have the container transition from black to blue or yellow.

Another option would be for the image to somehow lock to a fixed dimension with the image in a recessed pocket.  It would be nice if Mala could stretch the image to fill the box.  Again, I could edit and re-size them to a common dimension.

Any recommendations on dealing with a container for the snap images would be appreciated.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #126 on: July 15, 2006, 02:17:57 am »
It's looking good! Gamecreature is much more suited to helping with the artwork department.

Don't forget to edit your gamelist to clean up your gamenames!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #127 on: July 15, 2006, 09:55:58 am »
You could go with a transparent mask that overlays the snapshot - that's what I did with the "Blue" layout to make the images look rounded. It's not perfect, but overall it seems to work. Don't be afraid to go big and bold!
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #128 on: July 15, 2006, 12:07:03 pm »
You could go with a transparent mask that overlays the snapshot
Sounds like a Mala thing.  How is that done?

Where do you go for Mala help in English?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #129 on: July 15, 2006, 02:55:43 pm »
You could go with a transparent mask that overlays the snapshot
Sounds like a Mala thing.  How is that done?
If you haven't done so already, download the Blue layout and see how I've prepared the art. If I recall correctly, the mask is called "bluesnap.gif". Go to the pulldown menu where the elements are and select one of the custom boxes (preferably one you haven't used yet). Click on it, tell it what art you want to use and make sure the transparent box is checked. The custom window automatically sizes to the size of the art.

Quote
Where do you go for Mala help in English?

I go to the software forum on this board. I seem to recall a recent thread there with a link to view the MaLa forum pages in English.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #130 on: July 15, 2006, 11:40:19 pm »
If you haven't done so already, download the Blue layout and see how I've prepared the art. If I recall correctly, the mask is called "bluesnap.gif". Go to the pulldown menu where the elements are and select one of the custom boxes (preferably one you haven't used yet). Click on it, tell it what art you want to use and make sure the transparent box is checked. The custom window automatically sizes to the size of the art.

Thanks.  That helped a lot.  I put a black box on the original background image, a couple of pixels bigger than the transparent pocket overlay image.  I had a problem with the overlay image and the transparency.  I filled in a rounded shape with hot pink, and drew in a couple of pixels in the corners with the same color.  Somehow the dithering of Photoshop made about 6 other shades of pink that did not make it as transparent.  This put a weird dark pink halo around the images.  I had to go in find all of these pixels (magic wand tool) and change them to the transparent color.  The snap images with a black background now fad in perfectly.  The others have a black band on one or more sides.  It's not perfect, but much better than what I had before.

Thanks again GameCreature.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #131 on: July 16, 2006, 08:08:23 am »
I agree, it's much better. The great thing about skins is that they're not permanent and changing them is a lot easier than changing the rest of the art on your cabinet. I had completely forgotten to warn you about paint tool's tendency to want to make things "smooth." When using freehand paint, the pencil tool (not the brush) will insure that all of your pixels are solid. When making shapes, I think I made a mask on the channels layer and played with the contrast until all of the greys were gone.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #132 on: July 17, 2006, 06:46:56 am »
The antenna you have made wont work very well at all. it needs to be tuned for 2.4Ghz, a long bit of wire will work worse then one just the right length

You can pop the modem mini-pci out of the n600s and put a wireless card in there, you will still have to get a pigtail for it to a normal connector and an antenna, preferably near the top of the unit. Otherwise get a cheap USB stick and a usb extension cable, the key is to get ip up away from the laptop itself

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #133 on: July 17, 2006, 08:40:14 am »
Coder,
What about making the background behind the featured game black or something so that it "pops" a little bit more?  See my very crude mockup below.  I think this ties the game name and screen shot together a little better.  My 2 cents for what it's worth.   :cheers:


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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #134 on: July 17, 2006, 03:42:53 pm »
Apparently the package from Unimarc with my replacement Ipac is on my doorstep at home.  I know what I'm doing tonight.

The antenna you have made wont work very well at all.

Boy you got that right.  I pretty much figured I'd be plugging in to the copper until I could come up with something else.  Unfortunately my PCI slots are at the very top of the cab and are blocked by the top rib/skin of the cab.  I could possibly go USB, but I wouldn't want it to be a permanent thing.  I've only got 2 USB ports to play with. I guess I could put in a small hub.  Do you have a particular wireless lan USB brand/model you'd recommend? 

Coder,  What about making the background behind the featured game black or something so that it "pops" a little bit more? 

Great input.  I'll toy with it and post another.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #135 on: July 17, 2006, 09:00:37 pm »
The antenna you have made wont work very well at all.

Boy you got that right.  I pretty much figured I'd be plugging in to the copper until I could come up with something else.  Unfortunately my PCI slots are at the very top of the cab and are blocked by the top rib/skin of the cab.  I could possibly go USB, but I wouldn't want it to be a permanent thing.  I've only got 2 USB ports to play with. I guess I could put in a small hub.  Do you have a particular wireless lan USB brand/model you'd recommend? 

Read here - http://www.motherboardpoint.com/t38829-w200-multiport-modification.html - will tell you how to use the mulitbay connector as USB for any old wireless stick to free up the 2 real ports.

For an antenna try just having a 1.25 inch piece of straight wire from the pad. Orient it vertically since thats how accesspoints are. That should be better then a random length of wire.

You could try getting some 50 ohm coax (think BNC networking cable) and soldering that to the antenna point on the wireless module board, taking it to the top of the case and having 1.25 inches of the centre core exposed (can have the insulation on it still, just no shield) - this will get it up above the noisy screen etc, RG58 cable is really lossy at 2.4Ghz so it may end up just as bad, but doesnt hurt to try if you have some old cables around the place.

Ive had good luck with zyxel branded USB sticks, keep in mind there are only a few chips for it, and most manufacturers just follow the referecnce design from atheros or whoever make the chip. Just avoid ones that require you to install megs and megs of crap just to get it to work (cough linksys cough) because you just have to remove all that crap again anyway

edit - messed up the quoting
« Last Edit: July 17, 2006, 09:31:46 pm by richms »

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #136 on: July 19, 2006, 01:08:34 am »
The new Ipac works great.  Thanks Andy for a quick resolution.  I made the mistake of allowing my daughter play it while I was in the middle of tuning the Mame games.  I can't get 10 minutes on it now.  It's a pain, but it makes me proud.

richms - Thanks for the info.  I'll try the coax with 1.25" lead trick.  If that doesn't work I'm very interested in the USB hack you referenced.  Thanks.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #137 on: July 21, 2006, 04:59:00 pm »
absolutely fantastic work!

.....really sweet set up you've got there!!!
Seriously. Will it fit in my basement or what?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #138 on: July 21, 2006, 06:05:00 pm »
absolutely fantastic work!

.....really sweet set up you've got there!!!

Thanks.  We've got a party coming up and I know it is going to get a lot of use.  I'm a little worried about how to handle the "could you make me one?" requests that are sure to come. 

And then there are the "wow, you could make these and sell them".  Yea, sure, if I didn't mind working for $1.25 per hour.  I think I'd go broke.  I'll keep my day job.

Yesterday I did some tuning of the computer to reduce the appearance of Windows and to speed things up.  The write-up at: http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=53467.0  really got me going. 

With no optimization it took 71 seconds, from power on to menu ready.  After doing most of recommendation in the thread, it is down to 52 seconds, plus only a few glimmers of windows during the boot.  I'd like to get it down to 30 seconds or less.  Most of the improvement came from turning off 19 services.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #139 on: July 22, 2006, 11:51:22 am »
Most of the improvement came from turning off 19 services.

I screwed something up in the course of turning off services.  I'm now fighting a problem with Mala dealing with both .bat files and .lnk files (discussion on the software forum).  I have no idea which services I turned off, so I'm doing some research and trial and error to get it running.

In the mean time, using Bootvis, I've carved another 10 seconds off the boot cycle.  It did not work initially.  It needs to call defrag, and defrag needs dcom and com+ services.  I had shut these off in my quest for more optimization.  Turning these back on, Bootvis worked.  I'm now down to 42 seconds from power up to working menu. 

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen - FINISHED
« Reply #140 on: July 25, 2006, 11:35:33 am »
PartyBox Project - FINISHED



Well, after approximately 2

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #141 on: July 25, 2006, 12:00:00 pm »
Looks terrific. You're going to have a lot of fun with it. I know it's an anathema to most pinball purists, but will you be playing any of my 3D Ultra Pinball games on your machine? Thrillride was always a personal favorite.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #142 on: July 25, 2006, 12:04:58 pm »
Anyone else twitchy at the thought of a wooden arcade box sitting on top of a stove with front-mounted controls and the potential for small children running around?

Looks awesome, for the record-I had never really had any interest in a countertop cab, but seeing something this nice has at least planted the seed of interest.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #143 on: July 25, 2006, 12:12:21 pm »
This is simply an amazing accomplishment.  It came out so nice and you used some serious ninja hacking skills to put it together.  The fact that I could never build one of these makes it that much cooler to me.

 :cheers:

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #144 on: July 25, 2006, 01:06:30 pm »
Now you need to make a matching jukebox :-)

I can see it now, during the party, you have a great game going and someone tells you "You're on fire"...and you are.  I'm thinking that once you actually use it in a party setting, it won't last in that location for long.  You are clogging up too much of the kitchen and the women-folk can't wait on you like they are supposed to!

BTW:  Amazing work on this cab.  Time and money well spent.  And thank you for doing a very good job documenting the entire process.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #145 on: July 25, 2006, 07:46:25 pm »
Crowd applauds

Then shouts encore encore....

Cant wait to see the xbox based driving cabinet in the future.....
A Bad Day Playing Is Better Than a Good Day Working

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #146 on: July 25, 2006, 08:59:34 pm »
Thanks for the compliments guys.  It's been a blast.

will you be playing any of my 3D Ultra Pinball games on your machine? Thrillride was always a personal favorite.
I've got the CD somewhere, but it is not on my short list of pinball games.  I'll dig it up and take a second look.

Anyone else twitchy at the thought of a wooden arcade box sitting on top of a stove with front-mounted controls and the potential for small children running around?
My wife said the same thing.  It was more like, "You've got to be crazy if you think...."  Actually, I've got a much better place to put it, on the edge of a counter on the other side of the kitchen, but I didn't want to clean up the clutter before taking the shot.

Now you need to make a matching jukebox :-)
I'd rather spend my effort (and money) on another cab.  I'm the only one in the family that is really into music (Classic Rock and the occasional bit of Metal).  I've got a very nice pair of Sennheiser headphones that let me rock out without disturbing the household.

Cant wait to see the xbox based driving cabinet in the future.....
I mentioned it to make sure you guys pressure me to get started on it.  Stay tuned.

Thanks again for all the compliments and recommendations along the way.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #147 on: July 25, 2006, 09:57:43 pm »
If you can't find it, I've got a link to the demo in the media section on my website. If you like Pokemon pinball and the like, you'll probably like this one as well.
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #148 on: July 25, 2006, 10:54:35 pm »
Awesome work! Your very detail oriented! What I like most about the cab is it's form factor. It not only doesn't overwhelm the countertop, it looks like you could take it with you.

I can't remember reading if that was a magstik or not, if it is a magstik - whats your thoughts?

I would reconsider your plans and do a jukebox next. I actually need to build another jukebox. It turns out mine is so popular - it's staying in the family room. So... I need to make one for the gameroom. Just a thought! Either way I look forward to reading about your next project.


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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #149 on: July 25, 2006, 11:36:53 pm »
How do you find it plays with it's lower weight? Any issues with the cab moving around alot, especially on a smooth surface like a counter-top?
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #150 on: July 26, 2006, 12:25:30 am »

Wow, that's one sharp little unit...very professional end product alright.

Looks like LCD's are taking over this hobby. ;)

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #151 on: July 26, 2006, 02:36:23 am »
What I like most about the cab is it's form factor. It not only doesn't overwhelm the countertop, it looks like you could take it with you.
I wanted it small and light enough to be ported around to various parts of the house, as well as lent to friends when they have parties.  The CPU has a thin layer of foam rubber around it where it touches the retaining ribs.  It should travel well.

I can't remember reading if that was a magstik or not, if it is a magstik - whats your thoughts?
It's a 4/8 way magstik, top switchable with the magnetic centering mechanism.  So far so good.  The action is very light.

I would reconsider your plans and do a jukebox next. I actually need to build another jukebox.
This might be a good little project if I can track down another semi-dead laptop.  I wonder if there is jukebox software out there that could be driven by buttons only (no joystick or trackball)?  You got me thinking about a small, thin box, limited only by the size of the speakers.  Hum...

How do you find it plays with it's lower weight? Any issues with the cab moving around a lot, especially on a smooth surface like a counter-top?
  No problem so far.  I should have a much better idea in a few weeks when it gets christened at its first party.  Yea... PartyBox's first party !    I'll post some pictures.

  Wow, that's one sharp little unit...very professional end product alright.  Looks like LCD's are taking over this hobby. ;)
Thanks for the compliment.  I seem to recall studying a black and blue cab with lots of lit buttons before beginning this project.  I probably won't use LCD's on all projects that I may do in the future, but hey, I had to do it at least once.  I think it works on this cab.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #152 on: July 26, 2006, 01:14:00 pm »
No doubt... I been looking for a junker tablet that I could use for the additional jukebox. But even old tablets sell for quite a bit, and touchscreens are still expensive.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #153 on: July 26, 2006, 01:30:40 pm »
A tablet would work fantastic.  I've got one and it is really small (HP TC100), but my company owns it and they would probably frown upon me using it as a jukebox.  I think the limiting factor on size is still going to be the speakers.  That is of course, assuming you want a small "portable" unit.  I don't think my wife would go for a dedicated jukebox cabinet in the living room.  If I were to build one, it would want it to have the form factor of my PartyBox, maybe even smaller.  But if we wait, it probably won't be long before we can buy a MP3 boom box with a small LCD display from StuffMart for $59.00. 

What software are you running in your jukebox?

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #154 on: August 18, 2006, 10:23:47 pm »
I'm in the process of wrapping up this project.  I needed to pull the good stuff out of this forum and get the info into a webpage.  Yesterday a friend showed me a cool photo album he made on the web.  He used a freeware software program called jalbum.

I downloaded a copy last night and played around with it a little bit.  It took me a whole 2 hours to pull the text and images from this site and put together a pretty cool "site". 

Check it out at:  http://home.comcast.net/~larmead/partybox/

You can download jalbum for free at http://www.jalbum.net

Coming soon.... xbox based driving cab.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #155 on: August 18, 2006, 11:18:14 pm »
That's kind of cool. I think anything that automates the process is a good thing in my book. Though I think I really should continue my study of cascading style sheets.  :dizzy: Thanks for passing that on. :)
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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #156 on: November 13, 2006, 05:06:06 pm »
I'm currently building a bartop based off a laptop, and I wanted you to know I found the tips for hacking the power switch very useful.

I originally planned on using a BIOS setting that is a boot on power. This laptop doesn't have a setting like that and come to think of it - I don't know how useful that would be on a laptop.

Thanks for the details - they come in real handy.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #157 on: November 14, 2006, 07:01:39 pm »
... I wanted you to know I found the tips for hacking the power switch very useful.... Thanks for the details - they come in real handy.
My pleasure.  It is nice to know my documentation efforts are occasionally more than just entertainment for the causal reader.  If you want to pay me back, take a picture or two of your hack and post it in your thread.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #158 on: November 14, 2006, 07:35:50 pm »
You got it. I'll be doing it soon...

I'm a little unsure of my work in this area, so I'm going to not even bother doing any computer work yet. I'm going to wait and make sure the computer still works.

cross fingers

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #159 on: June 04, 2007, 01:37:28 pm »
Just stumbled across this cabinet last night. This is one the sleekest things I've seen in a long time. I'm very inspired by the design and can't wait to start yet another cab myself! It takes a lot of planning for something like this. Great job and thanks for sharing the progress!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #160 on: June 04, 2007, 02:30:37 pm »
Ahh... I just love seeing this cab on the front page. Nice bump!  :)

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #161 on: June 04, 2007, 11:29:02 pm »
Just stumbled across this cabinet last night. This is one the sleekest things I've seen in a long time. I'm very inspired by the design and can't wait to start yet another cab myself! It takes a lot of planning for something like this. Great job and thanks for sharing the progress!

Thanks.  I wasn't necessarily going for sleek, just something different and mobile.  I haven't played that thing in about a month.  My current project is operational and I'm spending way too much time playing it instead of finishing it off.  For those that missed it, I wrapped up this blog, dropped a lot of the dialog, and packaged it up in a cool website presentation at:

http://home.comcast.net/~larmead/partybox/

Here's a picture of the completed project.  Has it been that long?  Thanks for the bump.


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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #162 on: June 04, 2007, 11:44:10 pm »
What a beautiful little cab!
Great job! This really motivates me to get my butt in gear and do something nice!
Alex

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #163 on: June 05, 2007, 10:36:14 am »
Just stumbled across this cabinet last night. This is one the sleekest things I've seen in a long time. I'm very inspired by the design and can't wait to start yet another cab myself! It takes a lot of planning for something like this. Great job and thanks for sharing the progress!

Thanks.  I wasn't necessarily going for sleek, just something different and mobile.  I haven't played that thing in about a month.  My current project is operational and I'm spending way too much time playing it instead of finishing it off.  For those that missed it, I wrapped up this blog, dropped a lot of the dialog, and packaged it up in a cool website presentation at:

http://home.comcast.net/~larmead/partybox/


Great site coder.  I might do that with the bartop I just finished.  I would be a nice finishing touch so Dad can see all the work I put into the project. ;D

TTFN :cheers:
Kaytrim

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    • ARTIFACT - my scratch designed & built arcade cabinet
Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #164 on: July 29, 2007, 01:48:06 pm »
i love this party box!

it is very elegant... compact and lght, and yet captures the spirit of the arcades ery well, it seems.

are you using a mame overlay effect to help simulate good ol' CRT sanlines / aspect of the montor? before i got the old tv for my cabinet project, i was quite impressed by how much these improved the feel on the 15 inch LCD I was testing things on.

 very inspirational!

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #165 on: July 29, 2007, 06:27:43 pm »
Stunning... absolutely stunning...

I live in a flat which really doesn't allow for a full sized cab - this would be perfect... you've given me great inspiration with this effort.  Thank you so much for sharing it.

Cheers

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #166 on: July 30, 2007, 10:23:05 am »
Thanks for the compliments.  As far as inspiration goes, what comes around goes around.  I've been inspired by a lot of other projects on this site and am glad to give back.

Great site coder.  I might do that with the bartop I just finished.  I would be a nice finishing touch so Dad can see all the work I put into the project. ;D
What I like about doing a post project site is you can cut out a lot of the discussion, jokes, and not-as-valuable photos.  You end up with a concentrated documentary that takes 5-10 minutes to read through.  I'd rather point my friends and relatives to that than a 7 page blog.


...Are you using a Mame overlay effect to help simulate good ol' CRT sanlines / aspect of the montor?
Yes, I've got the scanlines in there.  It really makes it look original.


I live in a flat which really doesn't allow for a full sized cab - this would be perfect...
They definitely don't take up much space which also helps with the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor).  Mine is also very portable (29 Pounds / 13 Kilos)  My friend that owns the shop where most of the woodworking took place is having his annual barbecue blowout party next Saturday.  If this year goes anything like last year, it will get quite a workout.

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Re: Party-Box...Countertop cab w/ laptop & flat screen
« Reply #167 on: October 15, 2007, 01:50:07 pm »
theCoder, awesome work.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 12:30:51 pm by wIrEs »