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Author Topic: Building 2x bartop cabinets (Second cabinet complete!!!)  (Read 17769 times)

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dmworking247

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Building 2x bartop cabinets (Second cabinet complete!!!)
« on: October 14, 2007, 03:16:51 am »
Hi everyone.

I'm a long time reader, first time poster of BYOAC forums (well for a while at least, as my membership expired).

I'm starting this thread to post the progress of my current MAME cabinet project.  This is also my second MAME project, my first was an upright cabinet which you can see on the examples page or on my project website.

This current project began with my friend wanting a MAME cabinet but lacked space, so a bartop/table top or a coffee-table style were the options. At the same time I was feeling the need to try a few new things, so I decided to make two at once.

The scope of my bartop was to strip down an old laptop and use the internal LCD as a lightweight rotating display. Additionally, the control panels would be removable to compensate for the small style of a bartop and my aversion to 'frankenpanels'.  Control panels in scope are currently: 4-way 3 button, 8-way six button, trackball & spinner, a jukebox control panel (possibly ruling this out as its a bit of overkill), and a 'kiosk' control panel (tiny keyboard & tiny trackball for surfing the internet).

My friends bartop is being built on the same basic design, albeit with some modifications to the control panel design (to allow for pinball buttons), and a fixed horizontal 17" LCD (much bigger than my rotating LCD will allow). They will also have different colour schemes and artwork so by the end (despite being based on the same design) they will look very different.

I wanted the design of these projects to look good but be generic enough to use in a variety of applications (fixed horizontal, fixed vertical, rotating screen, laptop or computer components, etc). The plans for both are completely from scratch (not using anybody elses plans/projects as guidance), and I'm intending to document these projects and plans on a website for others who want to build a bartop.

Given that I'm trying to be original and I don't like repeating steps, it pays to plan well... so I've spent several nights sketching ideas, which I then used to create a cardboard mockup. Based on this mockup, I made modifications to the size (made it smaller), and also altered some of the angles such as making the marquee perpendicular to the base rather than on 30' angle per the mockup.

Original sketches


Cardboard mockup


Plans (draft - Visio)



Today is the third day of working on the project (not including the designing, sourcing parts, or drawing the cut lines on the MDF sheets).

So far, I have:
    Cut out all pieces of both cabinets, allowing for 5 total control panels between the two (for now).
    Cut out the admin panel slots, and the speaker holes
    Carefully sanded all but the control panel parts
    Routed the T-molding slot on all of the side panels
    Ordered all of the components (IPACs, joysticks, etc)


Wedging each 'straight' surface between this work bench allowed me to sand the edges perfectly straight.



Cutouts of the taller (rotating display) bartop



The LCD mount that will sit on wheels, motorised by a cordless screwdriver (and use microswitches to cut out the motor when it reaches position).



Cutouts of both bartops



Another shot of all the main pieces + the rotating LCD mount.



Routing the T-molding slots. No mistakes... awesome!



I had forgotten how much work there is in building a cabinet, especially when you're obsessed with getting things right, even the things others wont see.


Next on the to-do list:
    Buy two more router bits to bevel the edges of each display bezel, and route recesses behind the speaker holes, admin panels, and the rotating display mount
    Join the pieces (probably next week)
    Start painting!

Ok, feedback gates open... I'll keep you posted on the next significant milestone.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 10:18:40 am by dmworking247 »

shilmover

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2007, 03:51:29 am »
Cool!

Quick question...  How did you get the T-Molding groove?  A router?  If so, what bit did you use?  (okay, okay...  three questions, but they are quick... :P)
My projects...

Finished:  Stargate (only 'cause I got it that way)
In progress:  Tron, 48-in-1 for School Auction, DKJr (currently a 60-in-1), Millipede, MAME System

dmworking247

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2007, 03:58:40 am »
Yes I cut the groove using a router with a 'slot cutter' bit, which looks like this.

I'm from Australia so excuse the metric dimensions but its a 3mm bit. The bit you get should match the T-molding (as the spine can comes in different widths).

Here's what my slot cutter looks like:

Franco

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2007, 04:05:34 am »
Beautiful work 8)

Ive seen quite a few bartops that have come out, how shall be say, not quite perfect but I can tell from your work so far that yours is going to be awesome.

Have you got any ideas for colour schemes etc?

Btw, nice tip on using your work table to sand flat edges, Ill have to remember that one.

shilmover

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 04:30:46 am »
Yes I cut the groove using a router with a 'slot cutter' bit, which looks like this.

I'm from Australia so excuse the metric dimensions but its a 3mm bit. The bit you get should match the T-molding (as the spine can comes in different widths).

Here's what my slot cutter looks like:


Cool, thanks!  Is teh slot cutter a regular bit or a special order?

BTW, I am originally from Canada, so Metric works just fine...   ;D
My projects...

Finished:  Stargate (only 'cause I got it that way)
In progress:  Tron, 48-in-1 for School Auction, DKJr (currently a 60-in-1), Millipede, MAME System

dmworking247

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2007, 06:11:18 am »
They're not as easy to come by as a regular router bit, but they're not special order either.

A quick search at Home Depot (US store):
Slot Cutters at Home Depot

You need the blade, and an arbor (the shaft)... The shaft should have a bearing on it to glide it along the edge of the panel, and restrict the slot from being cut too deep.

Roughly the right type of shaft : Arbor shaft
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 06:31:07 pm by dmworking247 »

dmworking247

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Update #1
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2007, 08:28:58 am »
UPDATE #1

This morning I went to the hardware store to get a router bit I needed to cut a recess behind the side panel slots. After arriving at the hardware store, realizing I left my wallet at home, and heading back again... I found the router bit for A$37 (US$33) , which I couldn't justify for the few cuts I wanted to do.

However, I got a great deal on this 'spiral saw' for A$20 (US$18) which is basically a mini-router with attachments to do freehand routing or routing clean circles.  I used this to route the rebates by hand using a straight router bit and scrap MDF as a guide to keep the lines straight.  I already had a round-over bit which I used to curve the outer edges.

New Tool:


Round-over routing for externally visible edges


Recess routed for mounting the laptop LCD on the back of the rotating mount.


Routed speaker holes (external side). Router bit shown.


Side panels of both cabinets routed (rebates on inside for mounting, round-over on the outside for smooth curve)


LCD loosely mounted in rotating mount. Perfect fit.


Behind the LCD mount. LCD sits flush with the back of the MDF, which will allow the rest of the stripped-down laptop to be mounted.


The laptop (the battery will be removed for reduced weight, and I've yet to attempt hacking the power button which is integrated into the keyboard).


Overall I'm happy with the progress as routing is a delicate job (you can make BIG mistakes with routers). I've also glued & fixed the braces on all of the panels so its almost ready to put together. I had hoped to have some pictures of the pieces together and start experimenting with paint types on scrap MDF.... that will have to wait till next update.

While I'm still undecided on artwork themes, the colour schemes will be fluro green t-molding & joysticks on my cabinet, and sky-blue on the other.

IG-88

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2007, 10:26:22 am »

Hey dm, Can you shorten up these links so this baby can fit all on one page?  ;D  Nice designs by the way !
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 02:54:43 pm by IG-88 »
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leapinlew

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2007, 11:43:17 am »
Looking good...

It'll be cool to breath some new life into a Thinkpad. I used a laptop on my last bartop, the only thing I had to do before I could use the laptop was hack the power button since my laptop(and I assume most) didn't have a boot on power option.

Another thing you will want to do is get a good high quality fan to exhaust air. I went with a cheapy $2 job on one of my earlier cabinets and it's too loud for my comfort.

theCoder

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Re: Update #1
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2007, 12:28:35 pm »
...I've yet to attempt hacking the power button which is integrated into the keyboard).

Trying to hack the power button on my Partybox project, the solution ended up going in from the backside.  I demolished the switch from the front, but could not get at the leads until I took a dremel tool and hacked away the plastic beneath the switch.  With a power supply connected, I started shorting the leads together until it came to life.

Good luck with your project.

leapinlew

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Re: Update #1
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2007, 01:27:12 pm »
...I've yet to attempt hacking the power button which is integrated into the keyboard).

Trying to hack the power button on my Partybox project, the solution ended up going in from the backside.  I demolished the switch from the front, but could not get at the leads until I took a dremel tool and hacked away the plastic beneath the switch.  With a power supply connected, I started shorting the leads together until it came to life.

Good luck with your project.

Good image coder. On the thinkpads, it uses a slider type switch to make the connection. It has a switch on the side, at least I think it does).

So - I would decase it and find the points where it touches to make it's connection and solder some leads onto there. It could be some sensitive soldering. On mine - it was pretty easy with big contact points.

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2007, 02:49:20 pm »
Looks like a project worth following.   :cheers:  I like the sound of a rotating monitor/swapable controls bartop, and your craftsmanship looks like it should do the project justice. 

As far a shortening the links: (although, we'll now need IG-88 to modify his post with your quote too)

When you use the url feature on the forum instead of putting the web address in between the two boxes like this:
Code: [Select]
[url]www.webaddress.com[/url]put it in the first box with an = before it and then put a title for the link in between the boxes like this:
Code: [Select]
[url=www.webaddress.com]The name of the link here[/url]
The finished product will look and behave like this
Your first Home Depot Link
Your second Home Depot Link

There is also some TinyURL thing that I know nothing about and can't imagine it being as easy as that so I won't bother learning.  If you (who probably didn't know this) could fix your original post and IG-88 (who, probably unwittingly, actually compounded the problem) could fix his quote of you this thread would be much easier to read.

Good luck on the project, it looks great so far.  And thanks for sharing your progress.

Edit:
Just noticed that in the original post there is a shortened link, so maybe I'm trying to teach something you already know,  oops.

Thank you IG-88.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 03:29:29 pm by bfauska »

IG-88

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2007, 02:55:43 pm »
oops :-[ got it.
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dmworking247

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Re: Two bartops
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2007, 06:35:41 pm »
Hi guys,

Sorry about the URLs, I do know how to use the URL tag, unfortunately the post with the Home Depot links was a quick reply and I just pasted in the URL directly (no tags), and the forum automatically converts that into a link. I've fixed it now.

Regarding the Thinkpad power button, I did read the Party Box thread and I'll be looking for similar shortcuts before doing anything permanent.

Note that Thinkpads, at least the more recent ones, have a soft-touch switch integrated with the keyboard, not a slider on the side of the laptop itself like the old style.  This means there's no actual button on the system board, but a tiny button at the top of the mini-keyboard which is harder to get inside. I think I might have a replace keyboard for the Thinkpad, which if I do will allow me to experiment some more....

dmworking247

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2007, 09:00:02 am »
No progress on the cabinet today (nasty thing called 'my job' got in the way).

However, I thought I'd share a little feature I'm trying to build into the first bartop cabinet:

The ventilation holes in the top of the bartop would be drilled in the shape of a space invader (one hole per pixel).  The cabinet light will hopefully cast light in the shape of the space invader on the wall behind the cabinet (when positioned correctly).

Picture of the first template attempt.



Photo of the light being cast on the wall, using the template above on the cardboard cabinet mockup to practice positioning the light source. Note the invader gets wider at the top because the light has further to travel to the wall (as the panel is on a 45' angle)


A new template drawn/drilled on an angle and with different sized holes to compensate for the angle of the panel and disbursement of the light. This initially looked better, but I glued on a second panel to try and 'channel' the light


These are just practice attempts on scrap MDF. To pull this off correctly will take some careful planning, as the position of the light (distance from holes), the width of the panel the holes are drilled into, and the angles of the holes all make a difference to the light that hits the wall.   Since the light source for this will be the same as for the marquee, I also need to consider reflection (if the light has to be mounted lower in the cabinet), and I have to make sure the cooling fan does not block the light to the ventilation holes.

leapinlew

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2007, 09:14:53 am »
« Last Edit: October 15, 2007, 09:20:51 am by leapinlew »

dmworking247

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Update #2
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2007, 09:35:24 am »
Wow, theres some tough competition on these forums... you've got to do something a little out of the ordinary to get noticed :D

The last time you saw this project I had some MDF cut-outs, so that wasn't very interesting, but now at least the bartops are finally starting to take shape.

Gluing and securing the supports begins:


Bartop A (rotating model... taller and wider)

Beginning to take shape:


Air intake and thumb hole drilled (air output grille is not drilled yet)


Bartop B (fixed horizontal 17" LCD and different Control Panel structure)

Beginning to take shape:


LCD loosely fitted to demonstrate 'end product'. The back of this bezel is routed 4mm, so that the tinted glass will be mounted from behind and sandwiched against the bezel by the LCD.


Hard Drive brackets ($2) with pan-head screws used to hold LCD in place. These can be adjusted back/forth/up/down unlike using wood for supports.


Air intake, air out grille, and thumb hole for removal of the back panel. (Back panel will be attached with magnetic latches and be easily removable).


Control panel being clamped and glued. Remember these are removable control panels (the sides of the control panel overhang the base that sticks out from the bartop itself, so there is no left/right movement at all.
Note the horizontal brace in this photo: This will support a vertical piece of 12mm MDF which the motherboard will be mounted on, 'suspended' in the middle of the cabinet for maximum airflow. The PSU and HDD will be mounted on the bottom of the cabinet.


I'm really happy with the way these are coming along.. especially 'Bartop B' which has the fixed LCD. Everything is fitting like it came out of a factory (eg the LCD)... I guess thats the benefit of careful planning. I am however still having some challenges with the LCD and I haven't got to the 'motorised rotating mechanism' yet but I'm confident it can all be achieved. I can't wait to start the painting & electronics phases.

Next on the to do list (probably next weekend)
  • Finish fitting the panels for Bartop A (front panel, bezel, and marquee bottom)
  • Drill out the air outtake of Bartop A (will be in the shape of a space invader)
  • Build 4 more control panels
  • Cut out control panel tops and start drilling out holes for joysticks/buttons (the rest should be arriving this week)
  • Carefully hand-sand all of the pieces ready for priming and undercoat.

Since I'm nearing the stage where I'm going to need the artwork done (especially bezel or control panel art), please let me know if you've got the skills and would like to help create some designs!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2007, 09:45:40 am by dmworking247 »

javeryh

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Re: Update #2
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2007, 10:53:58 am »
LCD loosely fitted to demonstrate 'end product'. The back of this bezel is routed 4mm, so that the tinted glass will be mounted from behind and sandwiched against the bezel by the LCD.

Nice.  I really like this idea and I don't think I've seen it done like this before.  Your cabs are coming along very nicely - very clean build so far.   :cheers:

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Re: Update #2
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2007, 12:04:43 pm »
Wow, theres some tough competition on these forums... you've got to do something a little out of the ordinary to get noticed :D
For me, the competition is not with anyone else but myself.  My knowledge, my abilities, etc.  With that said, nice job on the vent hole pattern.  If you've got to have holes, why not do something cool with them.

For air intake/output or speakers, don't forget about the often underutilized bottom panel.  Great place to "hide" them.

... and I haven't got to the 'motorised rotating mechanism' yet but I'm confident it can all be achieved. I can't wait to start the painting & electronics phases....  Since I'm nearing the stage where I'm going to need the artwork done (especially bezel or control panel art), please let me know if you've got the skills and would like to help create some designs!
I'm way behind on the artwork projects and am not in a position to "do" any work for you, but will critique your artwork ideas/designs.  On the other hand, I'd be glad to help you design/develop the control system for the rotating monitor.  Just let me know.

leapinlew

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2007, 01:43:02 pm »
Question - I was looking at your pics and it appears the one bartop doesn't have enough room for controls?

dmworking247

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2007, 05:52:48 pm »
Question - I was looking at your pics and it appears the one bartop doesn't have enough room for controls?

Which one? Bartop A or B from the photos above?

Bartop "A" will have control panels that slot inbetween the side panels and the T-Molding is only on the cabinet. Because the removable control panels fit between the side panels pinball buttons aren't feasible.

Bartop "B" specifically needed to have pinball buttons, which is why the side panels dont extent out with the base panel and instead the control panel will be full width. You can see the control panel for this bartop being constructed in the last photo.

leapinlew

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2007, 06:08:51 pm »
This one doesn't look like it's deep enough to support controls. I mean, I'm sure you've got it all figured out - I just don't see how it's all going to work just yet.

dmworking247

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2007, 06:51:10 pm »
Yeah it'll be a tight fit but all of the components I've considered will fit within the height of the control panel.

There is 5cm (2") clearance under the CP surface and the floor panel at its lowest point, up to 8cm (3.xx") at the back.

The only thing I might have a little trouble with is my trackball, but thats going to be routed underneath too which will give me back another 1cm (2/5").

All will be revealed in time :D

leapinlew

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2007, 08:04:39 pm »
I saw you ask about the USB ports in another thread. The solution I used is a bit pricey, but looks real nice.

http://www.datapro.net/products/usb-dual-horizontal-plate.html


dmworking247

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2007, 09:13:29 pm »
Hmm, seems that whatever is on the back of that plate (minus the plate itself) is exactly what I need.

dmworking247

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Update #3
« Reply #25 on: October 22, 2007, 04:46:16 am »
Another small update as I got a chance to cut some of the control panel pieces and the bezel for "Bartop A" today.

Bartop A with control panel, bezel, and marquee bottom loosely fitted (not yet secured).


Space invader fan exit on angled back of Bartop A


This is Bartop B (see previous update) with its control panel top routed and loosely fitted (not attached yet)

dmworking247

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Artwork concepts
« Reply #26 on: October 22, 2007, 10:01:08 am »
Here's some artwork concepts I'm playing with (the designs are just rough... I haven't really decided on a 'theme' yet, nor even decided whether the panels will be black or some other dark colour!

The only colour I know is a given is the bright green T-molding.

A green bubble bobble themed marquee


6-button control panel layout


Another variation. Note the 'scanlines' on the buttons/joystick circles look better than this in high res...


Other ideas:
"Barcade" written in large pixel-style green font, with a row of white space invaders above it, and little 'chunks' being shot out of the letters by the space invader ship as if they were the shields. This is probably the least impressive marquee idea, but it goes with the space invader 'air vent' on the back and would go with those control panel layouts above.

A scaled up screenshot of the game 'tapper' since it goes with 'bartop'. This wouldnt influence the kind of control panel artwork I could go for though.

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #27 on: October 22, 2007, 10:05:19 am »
I like the bottom one.  Might be cool if the trackball and button surrounds were scan beams coming out of the aliens' eyes.  The Bobble one feels like two separate ideas coming together, and the middle one I'm not a fan of the blobby button surrounds.

+2cents
-csa

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #28 on: October 22, 2007, 01:15:54 pm »
No 7th button for Neo Geo?

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2007, 09:11:35 pm »
No 7th button for Neo Geo?

Nah, I haven't played a Neo Geo game through MAME to date... and even the 6 button fighters only get played occassionally... so a 7th button is overkill, especially for a small bartop (button overload)... although its perfectly possible for anybody to add one if they wanted to use this design.

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #30 on: October 22, 2007, 09:36:12 pm »
I like the bottom one.  ... The Bobble one feels like two separate ideas coming together
I agree.  Aliens, no Bobble.  What about having the buttons be the aliens fingertips.  Him reaching out, palm up, with green lit buttons/fingertips.... or not.

dmworking247

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #31 on: October 22, 2007, 09:42:37 pm »
I'm not convinced on the bubble bobble one either, although it is one of my favorite games. By the way, that image looks crap as its scaled by the forum... try THIS LINK instead.

I'm not sure about how far I'd go with the alien concept... I have a marquee, bezel, multiple control panels and possibly even side art to consider... the aliens were just because it looked cool in green and went with the 'space invader' on the back.

I actually like the idea of a screenshot from 'tapper' as the marquee but that leaves me short of ideas on all the other artwork to go with it. Hmm.....

Oh by the way I'm putting black buttons and black batton-top joystick on the six way... on the 4-way control panel I have a green balltop and more black buttons (I do have some green buttons but they're not the same hue). This is why I was going for bright green surrounds on the artwork for the buttons.

The other alternative to leave out the artwork, and paint the CP surface bright green, or black with green 'halos' around the buttons... and either put plexi over the top or try and source some kind of fluro green vinyl overlay.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2007, 09:47:38 pm by dmworking247 »

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #32 on: October 22, 2007, 09:47:42 pm »
personally i could see these pics better if your retaining the slime/goo theme

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #33 on: October 22, 2007, 10:41:05 pm »
What about having the buttons be the aliens fingertips.  Him reaching out, palm up, with green lit buttons/fingertips.... or not.

Yeah right, like aliens have 6 fingers... duh. ;)

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CP Layouts
« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2007, 10:44:10 am »
Tomorrow I'm going to drill out the control panel holes.

Since I have a lot of space for a single player control panel (420mm), but not enough for two players on the one CP... I figured I'll put in a spinner on the right hand side of the '4-way 3 button' control panel as well as the '8-way 6 button' control panel.

The third is a dedicated trackball CP, with a mirrored button layout on either side for right or left hand side play.

4-way 3 button (Zippy ball top). Button 2 is 10mm higher than button 1, and Button 3 is 5mm lower than button 2 (arc layout).


8-way 6 button (Sanwa batton top).   Buttons are offset like the 3-button CP, but also the second row is 5mm to the right of the top row (so the buttons are angled the way the arm sits on the CP)


Trackball CP (with mirrored button 1 / button 2)


The second bartop is only going to have one initial control panel (although like the first, its made to be interchangeable so we can add more later). This will be the same as my 8-way layout above, except with a tiny ball-bearing trackball I picked up from an unused server-rack keyboard drawer. It was too cool not to use.






Any comments/ideas?
« Last Edit: October 27, 2007, 10:46:14 am by dmworking247 »

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Re: Building two bartop / tabletop cabinets
« Reply #35 on: October 27, 2007, 12:06:34 pm »
How about a 2 joystick panel for some Robotron?  Cabinets look amazing.

Zeosstud

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Progress Update #3
« Reply #36 on: October 28, 2007, 06:05:32 am »
Well, another weekend has gone by working on these bartops, and although I've done a lot there's not much to show for it. Here's where I'm at:

My major order of control panel components arrived from OzStick ( http://www.ozstick.com.au/ ) this week. Many thanks to Chris who endured several order amendments and was very helpful as usual. here's the package:


Box o' microswitches


Here you can see the comparison of blue T-molding I got from GameDude (upper left), and OzStick (lower right). The OzStick colour was more suited to the bartop I'm making. As I suspected, the blue buttons don't really match either T-mold, which is why I'm going to use black buttons.


Green T-mold from GameDude, with green buttons and coin-credit buttons from OzStick. Again the green doesnt match the T-mold so I'm going to use black buttons.


Lots of black buttons, and some player start buttons.


This is a trackball I bought from OzStick for less than half the price of a Happ trackball. This trackball is excellent from what I can see. It has wires for up to three microswitches (buttons), and a PS2 connector (which you can plug into a a USB converter). It sits on 4 ball bearings and (with a bit of WD-40) it spins like a commercial Golden Tee trackball. Its a 2 1/4" trackball so it should be easy enough to replace with a billiard ball (I'm going to drop an 8-ball into it). I highly recommend it for people considering a trackball and can't justify the price of a Happ. It should be noted though that you'll need to mount this to a metal control panel or a mounting plate made of plexi or metal, as the encoder wheels sit too high for mounting directly under MDF.



The downside (bad news) is however, that the rollers are on 45' angles, which means the 'box' itself needs to be mounted on a 45' angle aswell. This shouldnt concern most people with a 'normal' control panel, but I realised that it was going to be very tough to fit into my bartop control panel that is only 150mm (6") from front to back. Whilst I could grind off 10mm from the top & bottom of the housing to make it fit (I've measured this), the control panel surface wont give me enough room for travel in a game like golden tee, so I just can't do this trackball justice. After much thought, I'm going to put this into ( my upright cabinet ) instead. For my bartop, I'm going to use this A$20 Apple I-Ball, which has a smaller ball, a small flat PCB with low-mounted components and will be much easier to mount in my little MDF control panel. I feel this 'cheaper' trackball is more suited to the bartop for classic trackball games and not 'golden tee/bowling' style games.


Other progress....

Control panels cut out (4 of the 5 I've cut shown here)


One of the control panels for "Bartop B" (the fixed screen one), with pinball buttons (there will be a launch/tilt button on the front depending on the game... I'm not doing side tilts for the bartop).


It occured to me that I hadn't cut a hole for the power cord (d'oh), so here I've chopped the lower 100mm from the bottom of the 'back panel', and I'm jigsawing out a plug hole for the type of plug on the back of a PC power supply, to which I'll wire a 4-outlet power board on the inside of the cab.


Securing and filling the pieces:
« Last Edit: October 28, 2007, 09:25:00 am by dmworking247 »

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Re: Building 2x bartop cabinets (Decisions decisions 2007-11-17)
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2007, 02:58:02 am »
Alright guys, I've reached a crossroads on my project.

As you've been able to see in this thread, the two bartops have been making good progress so far. For the past 3 weeks however I haven't had much time on the weekend so I've been doing the time consuming bits that aren't very interesting like routing the underside of control panels, designing artwork concepts and tinkering with the PCs/software.

Last weekend, the 20gb HDD in the T41 laptop I was using for my bartop (the one with the rotating screen) crashed ('clunk clunk'), which forces me to reconsider my options for my bartop.

A quick refresher:
I'm building two bartops, both with interchangeable control panels. The one for my friend has a fixed horizontal 17" LCD using bare PC bits inside the cabinet, whereas my bartop was going to have a motorised rotating screen using the LCD of a laptop.  The other thing bothering me (aside from this dead hdd) is that my bartop requires a larger cabinet despite smaller screen than my friends bartop in order for it to rotate, which means a significant compromise on screen size.  It's also not upgradeable because its a laptop.

So here's my decision I have to make before I go any further on my bartop (the one for my friend is fine and on track):

Keep the laptop:
- I have to get another 2.5" hdd
- Its not upgradeable
- Its only a 14"(?) LCD
+ However it'd be motorised with automatic cutoff switches (I intended on using a cordless screwdriver motor to rotate the disc with 'normally closed' microswitches that cut out the motor once the screen reached position). I've got all the wheels, routed disc and motor already for this...

or

Make it more like my friends bartop using PC gear, but with a 19" (yes 19") LCD on a removable bezel that can be pulled out with two thumb holes, rotated 90' then put back into place (I would hook up a sliding switch to automatically sense the rotation and switch orientation automatically).

+ The PC is upgradeable
+ The LCD would be a full 5" larger
+ I've got faster PC bits than the laptop was going to be
- The disadvantage is that I'd have to buy an LCD ($) for the project, and I reckon it loses some of the 'coolness factor' of the motorised-auto-shutoff rotating mechanism that inspired me to build this in the first place!!!

So lets hear it... what do you think of those options. For that matter, which one would you buy/prefer to have yourself?

PS: Yes I'll have some progress shots soon, once I've progressed pass this decision :D
« Last Edit: November 17, 2007, 03:02:15 am by dmworking247 »

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Re: Building 2x bartop cabinets (Decisions Decisions: 2007-11-17)
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2007, 11:57:29 am »
sounds to me like you could convert it later easier enough.

If you go with the bigger monitor and if you have expect lots of people playing your arcade, I would make as much of the process automated as possible. Otherwise you'll have people yelling at you from the other room "CAN YOU ROTATE THE MONITOR FOR ME?" I've had some kids play my arcade for hours on end. In that time, they don't just play 1 game, they play 5 dozen. Thats a lot of manual rotating. The idea of pulling the LCD and rotating it scares me. I can see someone dropping it on the floor.

Aesthetically speaking, the manual solution is best. The 14" may look out of place on a large bartop.

If it were me... I'd buy the larger LCD and affix it in one orientation and start planning out my next bartop with the monitor in the other orientation.

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Re: Building 2x bartop cabinets (Decisions Decisions: 2007-11-17)
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2007, 07:02:55 pm »
I take your point about people saying 'rotate the monitor please' however I'm hesitant to stick to a fixed orientation (I have that in my upright) when I set out in this project to do something truely versatile.

If I go with a 19" screen, remember that I don't HAVE to rotate to vertical to play a vertical game... no more than they HAVE to remove the 8-way/6-button joystick and install the 4-way/3-button panel.  I'd reserve changing it around for when you want to have a 'serious' game of pacman/frogger/1942 etc, and leave the 'kids' with whatever setup its on at the time.

I've had suggestions that 19" might be overkill for a bartop and consider a 17" instead. I do have a 15" lying around but thats back to the 'too small' argument of the laptop. Here's some visual clues to think about:



This is my friends bartop... this is a 17" LCD, and the width of the cabinet is 380mm (15").


This is my bartop, remember that it was larger to accomodate a rotating screen (its 420mm (16.5") wide and also taller). So a 19" would look 'proportionately' the same as the one above... a 17" would have a larger bezel area.


This is with the bezel fitted that would host the 14.x" rotating LCD. Imagine a normal ratio rectangle LCD within that square. IMO it looks like a LOT of wasted bezel/cabinet space.