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Author Topic: "It's On Like Donkey Kong!" - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.  (Read 12299 times)

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Anubis_au

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Hi guys

After months of research and discussion on these boards I finally took the plunge on Monday and purchased the last of the major hardware purchases for my arcade project; that being, the monitor. It's due to arrive by the end of the week, after which I will dimension it up in CAD and being planning my cabinet.

I know it's still early days but with the investment already put into this project (PC, monitor, joysticks, encoder etc) this is not going to be a stalled project.

Before I continue, let me first thank all the people who replied to my numerous threads in these boards during my months of research, and also for the many awesome cabinets that have been built before mine that served and continue to serve as inspiration.

As you all have no doubt gathered from my numerous threads, I intend on building an Aussie Lowboy cabinet. It will have a genuine arcade monitor for the most authentic arcade experience I can make.

I will be basing my design on the lowboys previously built by Holdennut and hbm*rais, although I plan to deviate slightly. The main reason for this is that I want to make the monitor rotatable, which will mean that my lowboy will end up being a few centimetres wider (and maybe deeper) than normal. But, as anyone who's played side-by-side on a lowboy knows, these extra few centimetres will probably be a good thing.

I also plan on adding a few bling factors to my cab, such as Neon MAME style side neon rings and lit transparent buttons.

The control panel will be a simple 2-player setup, with 6 or 7 buttons per player. There is not going to be a spinner or trackball installed, as lowboy control panels do not have space for these. I do not know how many admin buttons I will end up with, although I want as few as I can get away with.

So, without further ado, here are the specs for my cab and some of my current plans for it:

PC
Pentium 4, 3.2GHz processor, 1Gb RAM, on-board sound etc, ArcadeVGA video card (already purchased and setup)

Monitor
20 inch CGA arcade monitor and chassis from Highway Entertainment here in Australia

Other hardware
2x UltraStik 360s from Ultimarc (already purchased)
I-PAC2 keyboard encoder from Ultimarc (already purchased)
LED-Wiz and NovaGem arcade buttons with graphic inserts from GroovyGameGear (yet to purchase)
T-molding (yet to purchase)

Arcade Software
MAME v1.18 (have acquired the full romset from a burner)
Daphne (have acquired the full romset from a burner)

Intended Front-End
MaLa with LED-Wiz and UltraStik mapper plugins

Intended Colour Scheme
I am planning a light blue and yellow colour scheme, influenced greatly by the colours in the control panel of Knievel's Evolution.

The current idea is a black cabinet with yellow T-molding, blue and yellow themed graphics for the control panel overlay, menu interface and marquee, and blue and yellow buttons on the CP.

Cabinet name
There is no name yet for my cab, but the working title is "It's On Like Donkey Kong!"

Immediate items on my to-do list
My immediate plans are to go through the games list and cull it down to several hundred of my favourites / classic games. The resulting games list will dictate the number of buttons per player. In other words, if there are some NeoGeo games that survive the culling that are best played with four buttons in a row, then I will build the CP with seven buttons per player, otherwise it will be six for SF2 etc. If pinball arcade games survive the culling I might install buttons on the sides of the cab, pinball-style.

The build diary
It hardly needs to be said, but this build will proceed with lots of posts along the way, lots of pictures of the build process, and no doubt even more questions along the way.


That's all for now. More posts as things start to happen.

Cheers,
Anubis_au aka David.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2007, 08:45:28 pm by Anubis_au »

philby85

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Re: It's On Like Donkey Kong - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2007, 02:49:50 am »
Sounds great David. I'll be watching with interest! Nice to see another lowboy on the way.

cheers

Philby

hbm*rais

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Re: It's On Like Donkey Kong - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2007, 10:42:45 am »
Anubis,

Congratulations on finally starting you project and having the courage to go for a rotating lowboy (I think that will be a first). I'll be watching this thread closely.

Good luck!


Anubis_au

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Re: "It's On Like Donkey Kong!" - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2007, 10:57:12 pm »
Hi guys

Here is the latest on my project:

Setting up the Monitor

The courier company dropped off the monitor on Thursday and over the weekend my Dad and I have found time to have a play with the new monitor and get it going with the computer.

At this junction I should mention, to my very good fortune, that my father is a retired TV repairman, and so has a lifetime of experience with TV chassis, high voltages etc that should prevent us from killing ourselves working with my new monitor.

Images 4479 and 4483 show the front and back of the new monitor and chassis. The four corner brackets on the tube are screwed onto a bracket which secures the chassis at the back.

My plan is to remove this supporting bracket and have the four corner brackets mount onto a wooden circular plate that is the basis of rotating monitor setups. The reason I want to remove the bracket is to minimise the diameter of the circular plate needed for this monitor.

Whilst the bracket provides protection for the chassis and the yoke, I estimate that keeping it will add another inch or more to the diameter of the plate required for rotating the monitor. My aim is to attempt a rotating monitor setup while still keeping (as closely as possible) the shape / look of an Aussie Lowboy. The wider the cabinet (ie the bigger the circular plate), the less and less it will resemble a traditional Lowboy.

Image 4483 also shows (bottom LH corner) the new isolated 110V stepdown transformer I bought to power the monitor. It's currently connected to mains power, but in the future I will replace the connector and piggyback it through the computer.

For those interested, the transformer was bought at Jaycar Electronics.

Image 4484 shows where the input signal terminates on the chassis. The system came with a Molex-type connector with five wires for connection (R, G, B, Composite Sync and Ground). We thought of getting a DB-15 connector for the PC end and making a signal cable, but the wires were unfortunately too short for that.

Instead, we decided to re-use a PC signal cable and connect via an intermediary. I went to my local Dick Smith Electronics store and bought a solder termination strip (Image 4487) which was screwed onto the chassis. The five wires were then terminated on the block (Image 4490). Then the PC signal cable was terminated and the whole thing soldered (Image 4493). The black Ground wire was terminated in the middle so that the multiple ground wires in the PC cable could easily reach it. The Horizontal and Vertical Sync wires were wound together to form a Composite Sync signal.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2007, 12:12:48 am by Anubis_au »

Anubis_au

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Re: "It's On Like Donkey Kong!" - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2007, 11:09:10 pm »
The Working Monitor

I had to do a second posting to get over the eight pictures per posting limit.

Below are three pictures, showing the working monitor displaying a horizontal game (1944 from memory, Image 4495), a vertical game (1943, Image 4499) and Windows (Image 4500).

As you can see, the monitor works properly and the signal connection described above worked well.

There are a few things I need to work on: the picture is not centred correctly on the tube but the chassis has the required controls and so this won't take long to correct. The tube also needs a de-gaussing.

Any moire effect that is visible on the screen is due to the protective wrap still on the tube. The actual picture on the tube is fantastic.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2007, 02:17:59 am by Anubis_au »

theCoder

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Getting Mame to rotate the image is easy.  The hard part is getting the monitor to physically rotate.  Good luck with that.  Are you going to do it manually or drive it with a motor?

For a name, how about Lowboy Kong?


Anubis_au

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The hard part is getting the monitor to physically rotate.  Good luck with that.  Are you going to do it manually or drive it with a motor?

I want the monitor to be motor driven. Unfortunately I have no experience with motors / the mechanical side of things, so I don't know how I would implement a motor driven solution.

Anyone have any ideas?

As to Lowboy Kong, will take it under advisement, but it's early days yet to name the cab.

Anubis_au

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Hi guys,

Just a quick update on the latest with my plans:

Rotation Plate Size / Cabinet Width
It turned out that the webpage for the monitor (linked above) gave the exact distance between the screw mounts. With the help of old Pythagoras, I've calculated the screws are (diagonally on the tube) 54.7cm apart.

I'm thinking of using a 59cm diameter rotation plate within a cabinet that has an internal width of 60cm. Another thread I started discussed the width of lowboys and it came about that 60cm internal width is perfectly acceptable in terms of lowboy aesthetics.

Thoughts / Musings / Research into how to Motorise a circular plate
There is a thread begun by Jimbo (also building a rotating monitor cab) where lots of people, including myself, have been pondering how to implement a motorised rotation. The most popular suggestion at the moment seems to be a bike chain on the plate circumference driven by a motor with a bike gear attached.

More research to follow.

Colour scheme
The last couple of days I've gone away from the black painted cabinet with blue and yellow colours. My thoughts now are to use some sort of wood, not MDF, stain it *very* dark, with have blue neon and maybe some brushed metal / sheet metal (like for the kickstand). I think glowing blue LEDs / buttons against a really darkly stained wood grain, might look very slick. Any opinions?

Colour Purity / Weak De-gaussing Coil?
The brand-new colour monitor never achieved purity with the colours since it first arrived. We couldn't hear it trigger when the monitor was turned on. This was potentially disastrous, as it will need a de-gauss after each rotation when inside the cab. So we really require the de-gaussing coil to get purity back with each and every triggering.

In the end, we had to resort to a wand to de-gauss the monitor, just to ensure the problem is with the coil and not the tube itself. We just hope that the colour distortion was due to a massive magnetic shift during shipping, and now that purity has been restored, the seemingly weak coil will be enough to restore purity from now on, even after a rotation. We will cut into the coil's circuit to allow a manual trigger when we want, and see if it is enough.

But, we are also on the lookout for thrown out 51cm TVs, because we may just take the coil out of an Australian TV running off 240V, one that hopefully gives a more powerful de-gauss effect when triggered.

Mortal Kombat Not Syncing
When I ordered my MAME romset, upon receiving the shipment I noticed one of the discs was accidentally a copy of another disc. The missing roms covered games beginning with the letters L through N, roughly. The burner very generously burned a replacement, which unfortunately took some time to arrive to Oz; roughly a month. The disc arrived two days ago. As soon I loaded the roms, I tested Mortal Kombat. It's not that I am a fan of the game, I just know it has a unique vertical frequency (53Hz) and wanted to test my setup.

Well, it didn't work. I have an ArcadeVGA which is supposed to have this exact video mode programmed in for precisly this game. The monitor's FAQ on the vendor website says it can sync between 50 and 60 Hz. But something, somewhere, is not working. Something else to nut out, on a different thread.


That's it for now, except a few pics of the monitor with nice colours (and with the picture now centred in the tube):

« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 07:03:06 pm by Anubis_au »

Anubis_au

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Hi guys

Sad to say that work has been keeping me very busy lately which means I haven't had much chance to do anything on the cab. Mostly I've been spending my "arcade time" thinking about how to motorise a rotating monitor plate, and following Jimbo's thread about the same topic.

Arcade cabinet Paper Design

I found some free time today during my lunch break and used it to do a paper design of the arcade cab, and how the rotating plate would change the cab's proportions.

I started with the design (rbm*rais' I believe) that I am basing my cab design on.

There are two aspects of this design that I deemed sacrosanct:

1.The height of the CP from the ground.

2. The height of the monitor at the point where it meets the CP (so that no matter how the cab changes shape, you are always looking down to the screen at the same point).

With these two points in mind, I went through two iterations of design.

In the first iteration (full plate.jpg) I lengthened the monitor area to 58cm so that the entire monitor rotation plate fits in front of the CP. As a result, the monior area finishes higher up and thus the cabinet becomes somewhat taller. But the most obvious change is that the cab has to become ALOT deeper to fit the rotating plate.

The depth went from 649mm in the original drawing to 753mm, and increase of 10cm (4 inches) which, in my opinion, distorts the lowboy too much and away from the look / shape I want.

The only way to have a rotating plate in such a small cab AND keep the overall shape / look is to extend the monitor area only as much as is needed.

What I decided to do is to have the circular plate fit partially *UNDER* my CP so that the visible bit (the monitor area) will show only to the bottom of the arcade monitor when in its vertical position. The plate will rotate under the CP, but given the height of the CP above where the rotating plate will be, there should be sufficient space for both the joystick / button mountings and the monitor as it rotates underneath all the electronics.

The third picture (bottom hidden.jpg) shows what this system will look like, side-on. Measuring the new depth with this design, it came to 679mm, only 3cm deeper that the original lowboy. A depth that I am entirely satisfied with given the rotating system that can fit inside.

Of course, I still need to verify all this with a CAD package, but at least, on paper, I can do what I want and keep the look of my beloved lowboy.

I've also done a quick hand-drawn top view of the plate / CP area. Because the circular plate will eat into the CP area, the weight of the CP will rest on supporting blocks on either side of the plate, rather than being a completely enclosed box.

« Last Edit: October 22, 2007, 08:12:22 am by Anubis_au »

shock_

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Take your time and measure everything seventeen times, is all I can say.  Well done on getting cracking :)

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Re: "It's On Like Donkey Kong!" - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2007, 09:05:46 am »
Hey Anubis,

Nice to see some progress!  How are you planning on supporting the monitor, just out of interest?  With the circular frame and "seat" desgin that I am using, I needed more room at the back/top of the monitor for the seat to fit (well, more room than you show available in your plans).  Just curious, maybe you found a better way! :)  I like the idea of sitting the front of the frame under the control panel... means the monitor won't be too far away from you... that's something I've tried to avoid in my design. I've seen pics of a few rotating monitor cabs where the monitor is so small and sits way too high because of having to fit the circular frame in.

Quick update on my motor... the car window motor seems like it might be more trouble than its worth, there's complicated circuitry on there and its all glued together really well, plus it gives of quite a magnetic force.  I have a spare old 12v electric drill at home, so I'm planning on pulling that apart and seeing if that will work better.  It should have the torque/power I need, variable speed, and it rotates in both directions.  I'll let you know how I get on.

Keep up the good work :)

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Re: "It's On Like Donkey Kong!" - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2007, 09:13:42 am »
When you figure out the drill rotation, can you please take lots of pics and document that?  A bunch of people have mentioned using a drill but none have really gone into depth about how they limit the speed, reverse the direction etc.  This assuming you are not going to mount the actually DRILL trigger and direction button on your cp  ::)

Thanks!
-csa

Anubis_au

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Re: "It's On Like Donkey Kong!" - another scratch-built Aussie Lowboy cabinet.
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2007, 01:15:28 am »
How are you planning on supporting the monitor, just out of interest?  With the circular frame and "seat" desgin that I am using, I needed more room at the back/top of the monitor for the seat to fit (well, more room than you show available in your plans).  Just curious, maybe you found a better way! :) 

Jimbo, I'm planning on using the same plate / seat mechanism that your cabinet has. No new or better way to do it, just thinking about things a slightly different way.

I plan to offset the rotating plate from the back of the cab only as much as is needed to ensure the back of the monitor has the clearance to rotate. This means that the "seat" will have its top chopped off, rather than all four sides supporting the rotating plate. As long as the seat is secured to the sides, some of the back, and somehow braced at the front of the cab, this should not pose a problem in terms of supporting the monitor.

I like the idea of sitting the front of the frame under the control panel... means the monitor won't be too far away from you... that's something I've tried to avoid in my design. I've seen pics of a few rotating monitor cabs where the monitor is so small and sits way too high because of having to fit the circular frame in.

Thanks. One of the things I was trying to avoid is having the monitor too far away, which you might have if the full circular plate was in front of the CP. I believe my modified design achieves the twin purposes of keeping the monitor close to the CP, as well as minimising the cab space requirements.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 01:19:40 am by Anubis_au »