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Review: Build your own Joystick kit.


Ok, I decided I wanted to see for myself what was up with the "Game Cabinets inc. Build your own joystick kit."  From their web page to playing Puck man, I will describe what the process was like, how hard it was, and whether it would be worth it for my technically or woodworking challenged friends.  I'm not going to discuss cost, - that was beaten to death many threads ago - it'll fly or fail at the price they set...we can't change it,it's not really aimed at the byoac crowd, blah,blah,blah, so it's pointless saying "I can build the same thing for 100 bucks cheaper with a drill and bubblegum!"..:-) it is just another option.

Ordering was easy...I'm sure you all tried it out.. click the options and populate your board at their site.  I decided to go with the two joystick model and as I'm planning on staining it a dark clour (rich red mahogany), I went with all black buttons.  Ordered it on a friday, and a large box was in my hands the following wednesday afternoon, not bad considering it was shipped from the States to Canada..  Opened the box to find everything very well packed, and all the pieces were there in little bags and bubble wrap.. the laser cut birch was amazing.. I dry-fit it the second I opened the box and the fit was outstanding- probably would have trouble getting that precise at my shop..has a nice sqaure dovetail look about it at the corners, and the laser burns every edge black so you don't see plys.. looks great even without t-molding.

The joystick mounting holes for the carriage bolts are perfect squares. Too wild (i don't get out much :-)  I'm not sure I like the carriage bolts they supplied, they seem much larger/heavier duty than they should be for this size panel, more like something you'd use to mount leaf springs in your car..:-) And they have markings on the rounded head.. I may grind off the letters/markings and paint them black later, or buy some smaller unmarked carriage bolts...dunno yet..

The cdrom instructions are well thought out and detailed.. every option is covered with regards to assembly and finishing - lots of pictures too, so any idiot could build it.. I glanced through it before starting and figured I could go it alone until the ipac hookup part..(it's a guy thing..kinda like driving around looking for a street while your wife says "ask someone for directions!" till you run out of gas..:-)

the wood itself is presanded, looks like they went about 120 grit. The parts really don't need any further prep, but since I'm staining it, I went and broke the edges and sanded it 150 and 180, just to be sure..:-)  

I can't get over that laser cut, no chips, no chatter, it's perfect,'d have to work with wood to get why I am bringing this up again, I'd just kill for a machine like that..:-)

Anyways, staining went as expected, (did it before assembly) and I glued the four side, front and back'puzzle pieces' together and left it to dry before clear coating it.  Three coats of clear, and two sands with 320 later and I was ready to finish screwing it all together.  I lined up the box as best I could on the upside down CP top and mounted the L-brackets with the supplied screws.  easy enough. flipped it over and it was looking like something.

put the joys and buttons in (hated buttons..used channel lock pliers to tighten, but the buttons are really close together, and had troubles getting in there with the pliers) I think next time I'll follow directions..:-) I should've screwed the CP top to the box with the L-brackets and then unscrewed the top to mount buttons and joys leaving the L-brackets attached to the box..would've been much easier to remount the top with 4 screws after the buttons were in and tight/wired..

really wasn't able to find any good prices on .187 crimp disconnects locally (4 for a buck, screw that!) , so I got the wireing harness.  After pricing the crimps and a roll of wire, (and my time to sit and squeeze 40 of those puppies onto said wire..), it wasn't that bad..ymmv..

Mounted the Ipac and connected all the wires to the cherry microswitches. Then moved the crimps to the opposite sides I had put them onto the joysticks..
ok, when looking at the joystick from the bottom,  the upper switch is actually gonna move ms.pac man down, and the right switch moves things left.. and vice-versa.."doh!")
(can you tell I didn't bother reading the directions about the ipac hook up part either? hey, it's my first actual panel, gimme-a-break here :-)

Got everything hooked up right, the bottom screwed on, and plugged it in and fired up Mame.. too cool, it works!

Probably more than any of us would want to spend, but if your friend is nagging you for a CP of their own, and you don't have time to build it for them or handhold them through it, You can point them to the gamecabs web page without a guilty conscience.


<disclaimer: this is only one person's review (mine:-), you may or may not agree with any or all of it, but it's just my opinion..if you have questions on any part of it, ask away, but let's keep it civil..:->

That's nice!  The stained finish looks really good.  Those carriage bolts are hideous though, you should definately replace them.


Thank you for the great review. I didn't even consider buying this, but exchanging experiences is 'the salt in the soup' for this forum.


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