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Author Topic: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion  (Read 6012 times)

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wonderalex

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Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« on: July 03, 2010, 10:48:32 pm »
Hi folks,

Longtime time listener - first time caller.

This is my first project not based on a kit and is technically my second project ever.  The first, is the MiniCade is a 2 player bartop based on a kit shell I bought from someone online - I'll post some pics of that one once I finish tweaking it (just added light guns) and getting the decals done to my liking.

Anyways.

I recently picked up a gutted Taito cabinet (Rastan) along with a coindoor, keywiz, original PSU and various components off a fellow enthusiast that had basically had this thing in storage for years and just needed to get rid of it. So now it's mine - and I'm calling it the RetroCade MKI (there's a MKII already waiting in line - but that's another post and I promised the misus I'll work on one full sized unit at the time). I'm making this for my brother, the MKII for a very old friend.

Here are some pics (see attachments).

There's a lot of cleaning up to do on the cabinet, the CP decal is peeling and the veneer the previous owner installed is split and bubbling (glue didn't set- I might replace it or restore it back to the wood) - plus the coin door and coin box need to have their locks drilled out and changed. The bezel fits a 19in monitor and I'll likely stick with that - although there's enough space to get a 22in CRT in there too, but I like the bezel.

The CP is a decent size (25in wide by almost 6in) but due to the CP was made (see attachements) I really only have 25x5.25 to work with.  I figure I could easily set up a 2 player Astro City type layout - but I was inspired by ST's CP and I can get a spinner in there - but a trackball - even a 2 1/4in trackball - might be too tight - not to mention mounting it (unless I use a mounting plate and I recess the plate to be flush with the CP surface and place a decal over it) - I'll have to cut out a 1:1 cardboard template and see.

I'm rambling, so I'll stop here for now. I'll post again once I've cleaned up the cab and hammered out the plan.

Suggestions are welcome, wish me luck.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex
 
EDITS: Renamed the thread to avoid confusion
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 09:54:24 pm by wonderalex »

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Re: Taito Cab - MAME conversion - RetroCade MKI
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 02:59:25 am »
So this is the cab!

Looks to be in good shape. Good luck with the build :)

Paladin

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Re: Taito Cab - MAME conversion - RetroCade MKI
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2010, 10:59:14 am »
That ain't no Taito cab, it's a converted Williams.  Looks to be a Robotron cab.

wonderalex

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Re: Taito Cab - MAME conversion - RetroCade MKI
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 01:28:40 pm »
Paladin's right.

I assumed it was a Taito cab because of the Rastan CP graphics.

When I started cleaning up the cab and when I got to stripping the peeling CP I found that the CAB was a Williams Robotron cab (the old Robotron CP graphics were still visible in places - and the joystick impression made it kinda obvious) that had been converted to a 2 player config (Joust?) and then finally to the Rastan.

Still happy though.

Unfortunately the CPO has many patches in it - I'll take some pics for you all to see. I need to think of some options for the CP.

OH - and yeah ST - that's the cab I mentioned in my PM.

Be seeing you,

AB

wonderalex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - MAME conversion - Second Thoughts
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2010, 11:17:33 am »
I've got a question for you all.

I'm having second thoughts about converting this cabinet to MAME - It's an original Robotron, it seems a shame.

I'm toying with the idea of restoring it to a Multi-Williams. I've already got a bar-top mame machine I'm happy with, so making a second one I no longer have room for (and can't sell) seems silly.

Why not Robotron, you ask?  Not sure, maybe because I think it will be easier and more affordable to find the PCB, 19" monitor, harness and power supply for the multi-williams. Not to mention a new CP - the old one looks more like swiss cheese thanks to the conversions it has gone through.

I need some advice and or suggestions. 

All that's left from the original cab:
- Coin Box (needs cleaning and a new lock)
- Coin Door (needs cleaning and a new lock)
- 19" monitor Bezel (needs cleaning)
- Ancient Power Supply - VERY rusted - I don't trust it.
- Wood CP - Looks like it was converted 3 times from Robotron, to Joust (I think) to Rastan - bad shape. Will replace.
- Marquee Light
- Wood board that the PCB was mounted too
- internal grounding wires

Harness, buttons, counter, on-off switch - all gone.

I'm all ears - thanks,

WonderAlex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Restore or Convert?
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2010, 01:16:41 pm »
If you wanted a Robotron, it's a good start.

If you didn't want a Robotron, mame it. It's not a rare cabinet and you have a lot of work to restore it.

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Restore or Convert?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2010, 04:49:06 pm »
If you wanted a Robotron, it's a good start.

If you didn't want a Robotron, mame it. It's not a rare cabinet and you have a lot of work to restore it.
I agree. Though I wouldn't say it's not a rare cabinet. It's still somewhat difficult to get a original Robotron, depending on where you are.

If you restore it to a Robotron , it would probably be harder to acquire all the parts needed.  Specifically, 4" shafts for leaf-switch Wico's will be a pain to get.

The innards wouldn't be so bad. A Williams CPU board, PS, and harness, are easier to acquire. I would bet that your biggest issue is getting a Robotron Rom and Sound board.
Buttons are fairly easy if you don't care for the original leafs..but then again, there's NOS versions you can find out there. There's NOS marquee and CPO art available...not sure about the monitor bezel art though...

For me, it would be a tough call -- but I'd probably lean towards a multi-williams cab, as the resale value of those would be higher...and I wouldn't worry about getting 4" shafts for that, since it'll be used for other games as well.


wonderalex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2011, 11:37:25 pm »
"Blows dust off post" ** Cough *** Cough **

It's been a horribly long time since I posted an update - I think it's due.

Back in September I put this project on hold. I had come to the realization that I was confused and had NO IDEA where I was going with this project and that with out a plan or clear vision I was doomed to failure and would have likely ended up hating the experience.

So I put on the breaks and started to think and research.  I asked questions here, to KLOV members and when February came along -  I got back to work.

Before I get into it  - I want to thank everyone who has commented on this thread and my other posts on various subjects across these forums- you've all contributed in big and small ways.  :applaud:

THE PLAN: Convert gutted Robotron cab to MAME with the following features:
  • 19in CRT
  • 2 Plyrs (U360s), 6 buttons each
  • Spinner  *Decided against the high-low
  • Light Guns
  • Removable/storable Foot Pedals
  • Lit Buttons (leafs, if I can afford it)
  • Custom Graphics

I didn't go with a restoration to a dedicated cab for a simple reason - I'm not ready for it, I'd rather wait and restore a more complete cab.

(NOTE: I lost all the pictures I took of this stage - the missus apologizes - she thought I had already downloaded them to my PC.   :hissy:  )

That being said - I got to work by first removing the CP (and piano hinge) and the lower part of the the marquee where the single speaker was located (I had already removed the fluorescent - I'm going to use LED to light the marquee). The speaker was toast and the grill covering it was broken. I decided that I would replace the piece with a new piece of 3/4in russian-ply cut to accommodate two 4" speakers (and covers) salvaged from some old speakers that came from a RCA theater-in-a-box kit - hooked up to a 2.1 channel t-amp I picked up on ebay. Easy peasy.

Next I removed the old feet supports - notice that the previous owner had already removed about an inch of material from the bottom of the cab - judging by the rust on the feet probably water damage - I'll fix those edges with Bondo.  I initially was going to install new feet - but I opted to install wheels instead - 2 fixed, 2 rotating with breaks. All I did was drilled holes and used carriage bolts to secure - I'll cut those bolts down later with my dremel.

I then tackled removing the laminate applied by the previous owner of this gutted cab.  Luckily - the contact cement didn't adhere well and the laminate peeled off with just a little coaxing.  FYI - if you ever need to remove stubborn laminate that has been applied to a painted or non-porus surface you can use an iron to help soften the glue enough to get a tool in there to help lift.

I almost wished I didn't remove the laminate - the cab sides had been painted 3 or 4 times (not including the glue residue) and hid a multitude of deep scratches, dents and nicks. As the saying goes, "Paint can hide a multitude of sins."

Using my little sander to remove the glue residue was out of the question, the glue being old could be removed manually by rubbing the surface with a leather work glove (works surprisingly well - but slow). I ended up using the paint stripper I planned to use to remove the paint - I didn't know it at the time that I purchased it but the stripper could also dissolve glue and epoxy.  After 2 applications the paint and glue nearly slid off the cabinet sides - exposing the old Robotron side art - which sadly was in bad shape (I had hoped to salvage it - wishful thinking). The top-layer of the the plywood had begun to split and bubble in areas and the cab sides had gone through a lot of abuse. Repairs weren't difficult - just time consuming - but once done and edges repaired by bondo it looked very good - especially after the first coat of primer.

I pulled out the camera and took a pic of the cab as it is now (see attached - I apologize for the poor quality, I'll take another in the daytime when there's better lighting) - sides primed and sanded (twice), the rest of the surfaces are also sanded.  I'm not going to paint the first coat of black until I've finished building & installing the shelving for the PC, the gun holsters, pedal plugs, et cetera.

NEXT POST: The CP and the great graphics/cab name/controls waffle.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex

** UPDATE: Better pic of the cab.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2011, 10:57:57 pm by wonderalex »

wonderalex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2011, 11:30:59 pm »
I was going to talk about the CP in this post, but first - I need to share this, I'll get to the CP on another post.

For the last little while I've been working on a way to attach my light guns to this cab - and was resigned to building my own holsters for the sides of the cab - which I wanted to avoid, but couldn't find a way to make it work otherwise - until today - we'll Friday actually.

I was in the hardware store picking up some light bulbs when something caught my eye - a screw-in "u" hook. The kind used in sheds to hold up rakes and stuff. (see pic below) While I was handling one in my hand and flipped it upside down at an angle and it hit me - I could use this for the light guns!

During my trials I had considered making a hole next to the coin door to hold the gun (like at the arcades) but my tests failed or weren't solid enough - but with this hook it could work.

Tonight - I worked it out. I won't bore you with the tests so I'll get to it.

The "u" was actually too wide at first and I had to bend it so that the gap was less than 1.25in in order to support the gun. I then made a 2 1/8in hole and drilled an angled hole about 3/8' from the bottom of the larger hole - I took a chance and eye-balled the angle - risky. I then screwed in the "u" hook and voila - gun port.

It's not completely finished, the 2 1/8in hole will be lined with foam and I'll use some speaker cloth to make a sock inside the cab for the barrel. Plus - about 4 inches below the large hole (green tape) I'll be installing the USB pass-throughs (when they arrive) for the guns themselves.

"I love it when a plan comes together."

Sorry about the pic quality - the lighting in my workshop stinks for pictures. 

FYI, the guns are PS1 "Enforcers" that I modded with aimtraks originally for my bartop. I gave the bartop to my brother, but I kept the light guns.  >:D

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex


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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2011, 02:37:21 pm »
I did something similar for my lcd topguns.  I just put them on the side instead of making a hole in the front.  They work great.
DOC! YOU HAVE A TABLE OVER THERE WITH A SIGN THAT SAYS, "LASER DEATH RAY BARGAIN BIN!"

wonderalex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2011, 05:09:12 pm »
Hey Brock,

I like the setup. Those guncons look good like that.

I ruled out a similar solution pretty quick for a simple reason - the cab is going into a tight space between a wall and a shelfunit - couldn't spare the space. Oh - and they wobbled a lot.  :-\

In hindsight I should have gone for the smaller guncons - but those enforcers are very comfy in my big hands - I just need to add some weight to the pistol grips to make them perfect.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2011, 04:20:37 pm »
Interesting.  I purchased that same cabinet recently, and it went through the same conversion (then from Rastan to BustAMove).  Good luck with the build.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 04:22:33 pm by Freedan »

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2011, 02:50:00 pm »
Glad to see you went with MAME.  Its a lot more fun, and to be quite hones the only reason (according to me ;)) that anyone should restore an old cab is if they either plan on selling it, are REALLY attached to that one particular game, or have so much money (not me) that it really doesn't matter to them and they could have a room full of arcade machines.

wonderalex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2011, 07:42:47 pm »
Just A quick post.

Freedan- Really?  You're not the first person to tell me that. Seems to be that a lot of Robotron cabs went through conversions - but to Rastan? That's three.

CapriRS203 - Yeah - I went MAME. I figured I'd have more fun with a MAME build rather than take months to hunt down all the parts for a restoration.  I'll eventually will do one - but as I said above - I'd rather wait until I have something more complete.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex


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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2011, 11:56:27 pm »
THE CONTROL PANEL - Part One

Been wanting to post this since the beginning of the month of April - but life & things got in the way (as usual). That said - here's the story. 

The original CP was in rough shape - but with some elbow grease it cleaned up real nice - however while I was preparing to fill in the holes I noticed something metallic shining from one of the holes.  After some exploring I discovered the original T-Nuts we left in and covered up with Bondo! What followed was brain dead stupid - I tried to pry one out and nearly ruined the CP - luckily my better sense took over after the first t-nut was removed (see pic) - I used a 1in diameter hole saw an drilled approximately where the T-nuts were - not too deep - just deep enough to expose the tops of the t-nuts, making it very easy to pry out.   The result was dis-heartening - I had basically doubled the amount of bondo repair I had to do on the CP - but I persevered and the result is great (see pic - I've include a pic from the underside of the CP, the top look A LOT worse before the paint).  For those paying attention  - that's why I was looking for alternatives to Bondo on other posts on BYOAC.

I haven't yet made the holes for the components as I haven't finalized the art or ordered the components ... more on that in my next post.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex




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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2011, 09:08:32 am »
Test
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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2011, 08:03:02 pm »
The Control Panel - Part 2

The graphics/layout of the CP was/is the most frustrating, infuriating, gut-wrenching and most amazingly fun time of this build so far.  

I had written a fairly complete (and funny) description of my mis-adventures in designing the layout and theme for this cab (I went through 4 before this one), but the forum ate my post (Thanks Saint for getting that cleared up) So never mind.  I'll re-write it someday - maybe.

I began by carefully mapping out the CP's dimensions, taking into account mounting hardware, cp curvature and its actual construction (see pics).  The shaded portions show those areas that can't accommodate controls.

I knew right away that I could not possibly fit everything I wanted - so I focused on maximizing playability while avoiding a frankenpanel. I did by working backwards from the games I wanted to play.

As you can see from the pictures the resulting layout works out fairly well. The dotted circle in the centre denotes the diameter of the racing wheel.

Due to cost - I've given-up on the lit ElectricIce and the u360s - opting for ClassicX with TrueLeafs and either the Leaf/Pro or Zippyy, Spitfire joysticks. I'd love the Leaf-Pro - but the fact you can't change the top is a bit annoying.  I'm open to suggestions here.

The graphics are inspired from the Multi-Williams base layout. I never liked it much so I basically started over - incorporating Tron, Space Invaders, Burgertime and even Breakout. I'm not quite finished with it - still tweaking the layout, colours and figuring out how to add Moon Patrol and a few others.  

Suggestions/comments welcome.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex
« Last Edit: May 08, 2011, 08:07:07 pm by wonderalex »

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2011, 01:32:02 am »
Looks pretty nice!  Just make sure the latch that holds down the CP doesn't clash with the body of the U360 on the left. It looks pretty close.

wonderalex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2011, 12:02:13 pm »
LeedsFan - Yeah I'm a little worried about it too - but I think I've given the joysticks enough room.  Plus I've decided to drop the U360's for financial reasons and will likely go with GGG Leaf/pro or Zippyy joysticks - which may be more forgiving.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion (And we're back)
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2012, 12:06:26 am »
Hiya folks!

{blows dust off thread}  *Cough**Cough*  Wow - it's been a while. ;)

Log story short:  Lost Job - car accident - family visits - new job - xmas - sick (bad flu) - back on track.

Now that's out of the way - back to the fun stuff.

When i last posted I was still waffling about controls, CP graphics and the like. Since then I've had no choice but to grow a pair and dive in. So right before xmas I ordered leaf switches, a pair of zippy's and assorted parts from GGG and waited impatiently for them to arrive - hoping to get the cab done over the hoiday break (see above) - it didn't happen. I basically got to the testing phase and had to leave it alone until a couple of weeks ago.

I won't go into the details of the steps I took - I didn't document as I went - I just wanted to get it done. So here are some pics. I know - the CP wiring is terrible - it's because I bought my keywiz used - it game with the cabinet actually. And the previous owner has soldered a 40pin ide connector - not a bad idea at first glance - but it makes for a terrible wiring experience.  It's an embarrassment really - DON'T DO IT.

As mentioned earlier in thethread - the CP was a tight fit (see pic), mathematically it fit - however I forgot to take into account the depth of the leaf switches.  I ended up having to cut notches into the plexi supports - easy enough, but was mad at myself for not considering that.

I'm currently at the software testing phase - making sure everything works the way I want.  It's a little challenging because I'm installing quite a few indie PC games. Despite configurable controls some just don't work well on a cabinet.  Good news is that if you contact these indie developers they're sometimes happy to help with patches!

Anyways - I'll post a bit more later - I'm beat and I just want to get these up for now.  If you've got questions ask away!

PS: the chrome t-molding still has the protective film on it - I won't be removing it until the cab is installed in our den.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex

« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 12:11:58 am by wonderalex »

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2012, 09:36:09 pm »
Back for another quickie update...

I've received the artwork and have applied it to the cab (see below) - results are great, those who have seen it love it - but I only see the flaws. Sigh.

My biggest disappointment is on the cp and the cp graphics (the cp wiring is embarrassing, but I've mentioned that before) - not only was I a smidge off on my measurements (about 2mm or 5/64in for you imperialists) - the cp isn't perfectly (or near perfectly) flat on the right side of the CP, right where it meets the side panel. So much that the adhesive cp graphics won't stick properly - I'll need to find a way to fix that.   I must have worked that corner too much with the sander and not noticed the flaw after I primed it. You live and you learn I guess.

Build-wise, this project is complete - though I still needs to be moved to the "office", calibrate the light-guns and have the software tweaked.  I learned a heck of a lot and I wish I documented this project for you all a lot better and I will try on my next ones.  Yep - I haven't given up on my versions of the nanocade, bender's bend-o-rama and econ - so stay tuned.

Once it's officially in place I'll record a video and post it here.

And finally - again - thank you to everyone who has helped me on this project, directly with their advice here and on other posts and indirectly by posting their experiences.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex

{edit}  Why Pinnochio 222?  It's a mash-up my two favourite arcades (sadly both long gone) - Pinnochio and Amusements 222 (which called Two-Twenty-Two).  Lots of good memories... n'uff said.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 09:46:55 pm by wonderalex »

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2012, 02:39:02 pm »
I adore this cab. Love the bright colors, the art, and the tribute to the arcades of your memory. Wonderful job. :cheers:

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2012, 07:21:22 pm »
Very nice, the CP is pretty awesome.


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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2012, 03:28:52 pm »
Thanks for the kind words - I just moved it into its spot.  Time to break out the video camera for a proper tour, still debating over the side art.

gbeef - I'm glad you liked the CP -  the graphic design process on this project nearly killed me with the different paths and inspirations. BTW your Attack of the Pinz was the inspiration for one of my upcoming builds - even the missus approves. Still being designed on paper tho. :)

Be seeing you.

WonderAlex

Raktageno

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2013, 11:03:41 pm »
I'm making a MAME cabinet from a desecrated Joust cabinet whose side art I'm currently restoring (http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,135853.0.html)

I say this to state that I came here after searching about what size monitor to put into the cabinet, and after reading through your control panel caught my eye. It's amazing! Did you put that together yourself or have it made up? Basically, whose permission do I need to request to use that as my CP? It's exactly the button layout I'm looking for as well (minus your light gun setup).

Also, it's been almost two years since your last posting here. How has it gone since then? After having time with it, is there something you would have done differently?

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2014, 08:12:51 pm »
Hiya Raktageno,

After two years - it's gone relatively well.

Not long after getting her done I had to put her into storage as we gutted and renovated the basement. Once that was done and I finally got her back home last spring, and that's when things go weird.

1st (and still ongoing) issue was the light guns not cooperating - bad alignments/accuracy, games forgetting they exist and sometimes the drivers won't recognize them. So I've shelved them for now until I've got the time to disassemble the guns and sensors to see what might be causing the problem - i suspect the way I installed the sensors above the monitor and inside the guns are creating blind spots. I was an early adopter of the AimTrak system and never waited for Andy to complete the gun casings - I may just order a pair and replace my enforcers.

2nd issue are the zippys - not popular with my fiends - to soft or "mushy" for most of them - so I'm looking to replace them.

The final issue is that my FE (AtomicFE) is starting to let me down - often freezing between screens and not wanting to run PC games anymore (though I'm starting to think that a Steam update may be behind it). So I'm looking at replacing it with MalaFE install along with a complete wipe/clean of the PC - maybe move to Win7 from XP.

After two years I'd say it has gone well - the above issues are minor and we still love playing it. Just needs some tweaks to make it perfect.

Lessons learned that I'll put towards the three builds I've been asked to build over the holidays - one full sized cab for my Bro (Ond's Metropolis most likely) and a pair of bartops.

As for the CP artwork - by all means go ahead, I hold no rights, and if you want the illustrator files let me know by PM and I'll send them over. That goes for anyone else.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2014, 11:21:34 am »
Awesome, and good travels in your new projects. Moving from 7 to xp eh? I might have to keep that in mind as I'll be using a vista machine that I wiped and upgraded to 7.

About the cp. This may be somewhere else on these forums or the vast internets, but do you have the dimensions? I'm going to have to rebuild it as mine is without, and that way your artwork will fit like a glove.

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Re: Williams Robotron Cab - Mame Conversion
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2014, 12:03:12 pm »
My artwork is all at 1:1 scale so that's a start.

I'm sure it exists too, but likely difficult to find.

I'll take some accurate dimensions of the CP for you so that you can reconstruct it (I came close to rebuilding it myself). I'll post that here for future reference too.

Be seeing you,

WonderAlex