Here is the desktop CP than RandyT built for me about two years ago. I did the basic design and Randy “enhanced” it quite a bit. (I missed the memo above about keeping comments brief).
There is very little about it that I would change and most of that is either done or has been done:
Stuff that I like that I/we did:
Dedicated Coin, Start, Pause, and Escape buttons I hate the idea of trying to remember shift key combo’s.
T Molding I planned to omit this as I didn’t have a router and it seemed a bit like overkill, but it gives it a much more finished look and is highly recommended, especially with kids using the panel.
PartsExpress Vinyl I like the colorful graphics, especially like the panels that Knieval has done, but it wouldn’t go over well with Mrs. Tiger Heli. Wood grain wouldn’t look right for an arcade CP, IMHO. The black vinyl was a good compromise and has held up extremely well.
Joystick Colors The red on the left and blue on the right is correct for Twin Cobra or Ikari and many other games. There are a few that it is backwards for, but nothing you can’t adjust to. I think it brightened up the panel over the standard black ones.
Button placement and colors I mostly play classics using the lower row of buttons. I wanted to mimic the Neo Geo pattern of Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, as many of this games have on screen instructions that tell you what each button does by color. But . . . I didn’t want to use a conventional Neo Geo layout as I mainly play 2 button shoot em up’s. Luckily I realized basically only the NG fighters use all four buttons, and I don’t play those, so shifting the colors over means red is the first button, followed by yellow, followed by green. For a four button NG game, I re map MAME to use the 7th button and for other NG games the finger placement is incorrect, but I never liked using the thumb for button one and I won’t be in any tournaments any time soon anyway. Randy suggested the button placement which has worked well.
Fit and Finish Randy spent more time on this than I would have. All of the screw heads are capped. The entire panel could be disassembled if required. Access to the interior (which isn’t really required) is just a matter of removing the two “bed post” screws and lifting the top lid.
Stuff that I changed or will change:
Plug position Randy originally had the KeyWiz mounted on the rear vertical (inside) face of the panel with the connector going through an opening on the bottom panel. This meant you had to pivot the entire panel forward to plug it in and then the keyboard cable was stressing the strain relief because it had to make a sharp 90 degree bend to avoid hitting the desk. I made an opening on the rear panel and mounted the KeyWiz to the bottom panel of the CP. This way, I can set the CP on the desk and then pull the cable over to it and connect it.
Escape button This is pretty well recessed, but I have hit this accidentally at times. I need to look up McCoy’s 3 second delay AHK script and load that prior to launching MAME.
F11 key (Framerates) The KeyWiz does not have a Shazaam’d default for this, and it would be useful. Fortunately, MAME allows it to be re mapped to something else so I will do that.
Stuff that I have mixed feelings on:
Right Prodigy This was also a bit of overkill by Randy. I don’t think I have ever put the blue stick in 4 way mode, so I could have easily gotten away with a Omni Stick in 8 way mode for this stick. OTOH, I have a hard time remembering whether the lever should be left or right for 4/8 way mode, and since the right stick is always in 8 way mode, it makes an easy reference. Also, if I didn’t swap sticks for alternating games like Pac Man, it could be useful for that.
Prodigy Sticks in general This is one of those things where you can’t really make an informed decision until you have tried out all the other options, but who wants to spend $100 on joysticks to find the nine types you don’t like. The prodigies are probably the best switchable joysticks available. They are very precise, but very short throw. However, I recently played a Hanaho Arcade PC (Happ Supers and Happ Reunion). I like the Prodigies better than either one as a 4 way stick, but would like a bit more travel on 8 way games. If I were building a full cabinet, I might look at Happ Comps for 8 ways and an Omni Stick for 4 way, but I wouldn’t want to add the extra real estate to this panel or cramp it, so these were probably the best choice for this panel.
KeyWiz Interface First off, the KeyWiz has performed flawlessly for me, and I don’t have any real complaints with it. Secondly, none of the alternatives are perfect. The I PAC VE also uses SDRAM and doesn’t have as good a default codeset as the KeyWiz, and the I PAC/2 USB has four less inputs, which would be okay for MAME, but not great for some of the PC games I occasionally play on this panel. However, the KW has four strikes against it when used in a removable desktop panel, especially under WinXP: 1) SDRAM, 2) Slow Programming, 3) No active keyboard pass thru, and 4) PS/2 Interface.
SDRAM would not be a problem with a cabinet, b/c you just run the uploader at boot up to load your custom setup. With my setup, it means I would have to ensure that the panel is plugged in BEFORE I fired up either MAME or my frontend. Combined with the slow (15 20 seconds) programming time, this would be a delay before running each game. As a result, I end up using the default codeset for MAME use. Fortunately, the default codeset is very well thought out, and MAME allows easy re mapping if required.
PS/2 is not a problem under WIN9x You simply plug the standard keyboard in through a USB converter, and hot swap the KeyWiz and both are active. It’s technically not a supported connection method, and it’s confusing to people who are used to USB plug n pray and unfamiliar with PS/2 connectors, but it works. Under WinXP, the KeyWiz will not be recognized unless a PS/2 keyboard (or the KW) is installed at boot up, so you HAVE to use a normal PS/2 keyboard. That means you either have to have another USB keyboard that you can plug in, or use the KW pass thru and select between them. Either way it’s an additional connection to make, but in normal usage it’s not that big a deal.
Hope the info helps.