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Author Topic: A Mame machine in an antique buffet - USB probs solved (I think!)  (Read 91579 times)

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drventure

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I've been lurking around here for ages getting up enough motivation to start a project of my own, and I've finally done it. Just wanting to share, and maybe get some feedback/ideas.

Anyway, I've wanted to Mame cab for ages, but I don't have a gameroom, and I really didn't want a tall, traditional black arcade box in my house (just no good place for one).

We were browsing through an antiques shop one day and it hit me that maybe I could fold all the necessary components into an otherwise unassuming, normal piece of furniture.

I started doing to research, acquiring various parts, sticks, buttons, controllers etc.

I decided on a 4 player panel. In retrospect, I probably should have gone smaller, but oh well.

I did come across this thread here on the board
http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=15128.0
but it looks like it died back in 2004<sigh>. Plus, he was doing a rolltop desk, which I'd considered at one point.

Anyway, I ended up finding an antique buffet in decent condition (queen anne legs, a bit roughed up finish, all walnut with a really nice solid 1" thick walnut top) for cheap on craigslist. The thing had been moved poorly and the front doors had cracked the veneer on both sides and needed repair, plus the finish was shot).

My project is underway but not completed yet. At this point, most of the major woodworking is complete (I had to extend the buffet back 4 inches for clearance, convert the top to flip open, like a piano, and rip out all the doors and drawers and convert them all to one big fold up door), the refinishing is done, etc. When folded up, it looks like a normal buffet again, so I could get it out of the garage and into the house without my wife complaining about "that ugly box"!

I've also got the control panel more or less finished. 4 player stations, lots of buttons, no Coin door (but that's ok, wouldn't look right on an antique buffet anyway), all hardwood, black ultra-sticks, 2 happ trackballs (for Marble madness), a spinner and a flightstick (heavily modified Logitech Extreme 3d digital USB stick). I probably went a bit overkill, but I also didn't want to get it built and then realize that I "really really should have just put in x"<g>.

Here's the rub, though. In the time that it's taken, I've kind of come to the conclusion that traditional arcade controls just aren't going to look right on this thing, so I've started considering a "steampunk" motif. Nothing over the top, but maybe using old ceramic or brass faucet handles for joysticks, a small solid brass knob for a spinner, some brass furniture tacks, some Victorian carving accents, wood inlays, etc.

Yeah, the flightstick won't exactly fit the bill, but maybe I can come up with some ideas for that too (something like those steampunk nerf guns I've seen floating around the net).

I'll post some pictures soon if anyone's interested.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 11:19:12 pm by drventure »

Demon-Seed

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2009, 08:31:57 pm »
Hello,
I too have also been trying to come up with a way to hide controls...I would love to see photos of your project.

thx
Jim
Life is like a video game, a good one never dies..

Bender

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2009, 09:53:43 pm »
please post some pic... I gotta see this!

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2009, 09:59:24 pm »
Hi

Thanks for the note!

I'm pretty new to posting on this board. I'm not exactly sure how to get images into the messages. I know it can be done, but, if they don't make it, I'll try again.

At any rate, here's a few pics.

The first is of the buffet all closed up. Basically, it looks...um, like a buffet. In this pic, I don't have the cabinet hardware on yet (the original antique brass ring pulls that were on the unit). They're a whole other story. Because they're ring pulls, they flop around, so when you drop the front door, they'd catch on the bottom of the cabinet. I ended up using magnets hidden behind the pulls to 'latch' them to the front, so you can still pull with them, but they'll stay "closed" and not catch when you fold the door up.

The second is with the top lifted up so you can see the control panel in it's "nested" state. There's no monitor yet, but the plan is to frame one with a gilt victorian frame and mount it on the underside of the buffet top, along with some additional fitments, though I'm not sure what they'll be yet. I plan on using gas springs to lift the top into place, but they aren't there yet either.

The last is with the control panel fully "Up", though that's not where it normally would sit (the position is too high). Mainly that position is for working on it right now. Also, the panel will be mounted on short throw slides so it'll slide forward slighting for better playing position.

Those lifts will also be refinished (from the plain computer beige that's there now).


Like I said, in retrospect, going the "frankepanel" route may have been a bit overkill. If I did it over again, i'd likely go with a similar, two level approach, but used removable panels for each player station. Oh well. Live and learn.

The control panel itself is more or less finished, except that now, I'm wanting to "antique" it a bit to stay in keeping. So I'm considering doing some scrollwork carving on it, restaining and refinishing in a gloss like the rest of the buffet, with possibly some brass cornerwork, upholstery nails, leather instead of tmolding, etc. Just not sure what yet.

Bender

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2009, 11:41:37 pm »
right now this thing is kinda awckward...
but this has mad potential

you HAVE to steampunk that thing out!

and you need to keep the cp  lower and have an flat panel screen mounted to the bottom of the lid, man THAT would be cool
and while your at it make and oldschool ovalish frame for the monitor so it looks all steampunk like something from the movie Brazil

are those sewing machine lifts?
I was thinking of using those for a project too
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 11:50:47 pm by Bender »

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2009, 09:10:18 am »
Exactly, I'm right there with you on everything.
Yes, those a sewing machine lifts. I'd originally wanted to automate the whole folding process, but pricing linear actuators kind of forced me to reconsider that.

I'm kind of thinking of using something like the first pic for the spinner: pic 1

and

maybe ceramic or brass handles for the sticks. Pics 2 and 3

Spot on about the LCD and frame, I was leaning toward something like Datamancer's Computation Engine. Pic 4

Maybe some lamps with tasseled red shades, brass stems, etc.

The idea being, when closed, I could put a vase on it and it can just hang out in my Dining room and look utterly in place, but then, unfold and it looks like something out of the 18th century.

But yeah. right now, it's a bit funky looking. actually, once I got the brass hardware back on the outside, it improved 100%, so all the little things left to do I know will help a lot.

I'm mainly just open for any ideas, thoughts or feedback anyone has. It's been a blast working on it thus far, though its taken +forever+...

Bender

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2009, 02:55:26 pm »
never seen that datamancer site before, that some funky shiznit!

those examples are exactly what came to my mind

check out "City of Lost Children" a french flick but I think there are some pretty cool references in there for you!

if you can pull it off this will be one of the most unique builds EVER!
I'm really excited to see what you come up with

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2009, 03:17:39 pm »
Thanks!

That "City of lost Children" I'm definitely going to check out. Thanks for the idea. Just a quick check turned up the picture below:

Awesome stuff, very much like what I had in mind (though maybe a +little+ darker that what I was seeing<g>).

I had actually found an old phonograph horn at an antique store recently, but it was the real deal, all brass, and from, I believe, an old Edison unit, they were asking ~700$ for the thing. A tad to rich for this project<g>.

Any thoughts or ideas warmly welcomed!

I think my priority now is mainly to get a machine and a screen fitted out. I'm thinking a 24" dell widescreen. I believe it'll fit sideways, and I'm thinking of mounting it to a lazy suzan on the underside of the top, then using a brass gear mechanism to rotate it vertically when the top opens (probably manual at this point, but I still need a way to lock it into position once it's rotated).

Any ideas about where to find gears like that would be much appreciated! I'm definitely no metalsmith.

I was also thinking of that Via Artigo pico ITX box for the PC, just because it's small enough to tuck underneath the unit without being visible in the least. I could box it in, vent it and it'd become invisible.
http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/embedded/artigo/index.jsp

Once that's all in place, then I can really concentrate on cleaning up the mechanics and final fitments.

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2009, 03:22:20 pm »
BTW
@Bender
Your folding bar top design is AWESOME. I have a thing for folding contraptions though (if you haven't guessed!)


drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2009, 03:25:18 pm »
Oh man. @Bender,

I'm also a fan or your button layout<g>

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2009, 04:15:51 pm »
One other little tweak that isn't really visible in the picture.

The unit is intended to play Pinball games as well, (Visual pinball, and Future Pinball in particular).
I've already got the flipper buttons and a working plunger in place, and I'd considered putting in extra buttons for nudge left/right/front.

But then I came across this little accelerometer
http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/3231-PhidgetSensor-Accelerometer.aspx?feed=Froogle

It's USB and, as far as I can tell, looks like a joystick to the system. My plan is to use one of them, mount it in a removable block, either wood/brass/marble, etc and make it "dockable".

Basically, when Docked, it can detect bumps to the cabinet and "press" the appropriate nudge button.

But, when you pull it from the doc, it becomes a kind of tiltable controller, possibly for games like those tilting table labyrinth games or Marble Madness.

Anyone ever done anything with those accelerometers?

Jetson

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2009, 04:47:46 pm »
Very interesting...can't wait to see the finished product

DaOld Man

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2009, 05:12:44 pm »
If you like Benders work, you need to check out his invisible project:

http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=88374.0

 ;D

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2009, 05:40:25 pm »
 ;D

Too funny!

Looks exactly like a custom Volkswagen project of mine :)

Demon-Seed

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2009, 09:13:21 pm »
Dude that is pretty cool!! Now will it fold up inside that cabinet??

thx
JIM
Life is like a video game, a good one never dies..

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2009, 10:49:57 pm »
Definitely
The list mechanisms are in place and functional, the front door is mounted and folds (it's manual, but that's good enough for now).

Getting the doors operating was a real trick. I had to chop up the entire front of the buffet, cut the fronts off the drawers and then biscuit everything together and hinge it 4 ways (so the folded doors would clear the flipper door hinges on the inside.

The real pain was the clearances. I'd already built the control panel, so I had to find a buffet that'd fit.

The one I ended up with didn't quite, so I had to extend the back.

I've attached a couple shots of that process, with the back all clamped up, and the hand carving I had to do to make the extension trim look like the original solid walnut top (it's 1" thick, and as far as I can tell, was all hand carved).

That was in interesting all day affair  :banghead:


Demon-Seed

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2009, 09:35:35 pm »
Hey
that looks like a neat cabinet.. I can not wait for the finished project.

thx
Jim
Life is like a video game, a good one never dies..

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2009, 09:48:29 pm »
Thanks!

I'll upload more pics soon. Right now, I appear to have a prob with my ultrastiks, I guess 6 months of sitting in the control panel without being hooked up horked them. They won't recognize anymore on my machine when plugged in.  ???

drventure

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Double Screens?
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2009, 12:50:53 pm »
I'm in a bit of a quandary about how to handle the screen on this cabinet.

I've got a couple possibilities (maybe there's more I'm not seeing though).

Originally, I was envisioning a single, largish (maybe 24" widescreen) lcd mounted to the underside of the buffet top.

The main prob with that is that I can't mount it such that it's over the flightstick, because of clearance issues.

So. I'd considered mounting the LCD on slides, so that it could slide to the left when closed, and be slid back to the right (to the center) when opened. Possibly even rotated for those vertically oriented games.

But... that's getting, shall I say, complicated.

Now, I'm starting to think that maybe using 2 smaller screens (say 19" 4:3 or 22" widescreens) might work better.

The outside players would be able to look directly at a screen and the inside players would still be almost directly in front of  screen.

The only real downside I see is that my out player sticks, I mounted at a 45' angle (which I'm starting to regret, based on some comments around here), so having the screens directly in front of the player 3/4 positions might make that a little odd.

Any thoughts?

The buffet's 5' wide so there's plenty of space for either approach. It's also still pretty rough. There's lots of detailing work that still needs to be done.

Bender

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2009, 03:14:38 pm »
I think you should really consider lowing the flight stick and going with the largish screen, it might be a pain, but in the long run I think you'll be glad you did it that way. Much more simple and aesthetically pleasing.

It seems like you may have two ways to lower the flight stick, either lower the whole top tier of the CP or angle the flight stick slightly forward and recess it a little into the CP

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2009, 03:22:12 pm »
Thanks
Yeah, I definitely am not sold on the 2 monitors idea. A friend suggested it and at first I thought it might be a simple solution, but... I'm having my doubts.

The prob with lowering the stick is it definitely won't be simple. Even if I tilt it forward and drop it, I've only got about 1/8 inch clearance currently.

the thinnest LCD I've found yet is about 3 inches think. Add a little for mounting plates etc, and I'd have to recess the stick almost 4 inches, which would make it a little on the weird side<g>.

I +really+ should have picked the furniture piece before I built the panel<sigh> but cest la vie! As a first cab, this is all about the learning for me...


Griffin

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2009, 04:25:54 pm »
Few resources to check out for design inspiration...

Movies:
Brazil
Metropolis
Serenity (and Firefly series)
Gattaca
Dark City
All movies I could think of that are futuristic with an antique style.

Game:
Bioshock
Crimson Skies (not a lot in the way of furniture but might spark some ideas).

Google image searches:
Art Deco Furniture
Vintage Radio


drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2009, 05:01:08 pm »
Hi Griffin

Thanks for the ideas. I'll check em out. I've looked at Dark City, and I completely forgot about Serenity and Firefly, but they are some favorites.


SavannahLion

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2009, 06:37:20 pm »
Few resources to check out for design inspiration...

Movies:
Brazil
Metropolis
Serenity (and Firefly series)
Gattaca
Dark City
All movies I could think of that are futuristic with an antique style.

Game:
Bioshock
Crimson Skies (not a lot in the way of furniture but might spark some ideas).

Google image searches:
Art Deco Furniture
Vintage Radio



It's a bit toony, but he might be able to grab ideas from anime flicks. Steamboy immediately pops into mind.

Moving along. Don't forget your silk wrapped power cord. These were very common on lamps and the like prior to the 1930's. They're generally not longer available in their original design, but UL cords are readilyl available. It's basically the standard cord with the fabric woven around. It makes the overal cord thicker, but the look is still there.

I used a similar product when repairing a lamp from the 1920's. The site I used had a huge variety of cloth patterns which is what I needed at the time. Most sites sell plainly wrapped cords. Watch your gauge too.

I can't find the site where I ordered the orignal cord from, but some examples are:
http://www.sundialwire.com/index.aspx
http://www.victoriandesign.com/notions.html
http://www.antiquelampco.com/Catalog/Cord.htm
http://www.electricalrestorations.com/cloth_covered_wire.html

However avoid companies that sell the original cord to spec unless you want an insurance payout.
http://www.paxtonhardware.com/products.asp?dept=183&grp=1

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2009, 11:58:59 pm »
Cool idea. I need something like that to hide the USB cord from my Control panel to the PC (it'll be below the buffet, hidden. Also, I think those cord wraps might work very nicely for hiding the gas struts that will hold up the top. I'm thinking I might also setup a brass stop, kind of like these brass shutter stays

http://www.vandykes.com/product/cd190001/lacquered-brass-window-sash-stay-12-

Right now, I'm mainly concentrating on a good looking way to mount an LCD to the underside of the buffet top.

I want to frame it in a victorian style frame (an oval frame was suggested, which would be awesome if I could find an oval LCD<g>)

SavannahLion

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2009, 01:44:57 am »
I want to frame it in a victorian style frame (an oval frame was suggested, which would be awesome if I could find an oval LCD<g>)

Oh suck. If I knew that was an idea in your head, Michaels was having a 40-50% off sale on all picture frames including their custom frames. I'm sure you'll find something interesting there complete with an entire line of paints to color the frame to match your cabinet, you just won't have the sale prices. Keep an eye out for coupons though, they have them on a regular basis.

Ond

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2009, 03:46:38 am »
This is a great idea and could result in a really unique machine.  Another movie to check out for ideas is the 'Time Machine' I mean the original one with Rod Taylor.   Good luck with this one.

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2009, 09:10:21 am »
@SavannahLion
Nuts about the timing, but it's not a big loss, cause I don't have the monitor picked out just yet anyway. I'll check Micheals out though. I actually picked up some wood appliques from them that I plan on using on the control panel to "Class it up" a bit<g>. Maybe stain and then give them a light gold leaf?

@Ond
Excellent movie. Heck I just google image searched it and there's a TON of stills out there.

Plus I guy built his own version, and that gave me a great idea for the marquee.

How about nixie tubes (if I can find them with the alphabet)

harry

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2009, 01:27:22 pm »
Nixie tubes are cool looking and would fit right in with style and look of your masterpiece.

We had an old Digital Volt Meter laying around the shop in early 80's and I loved the orange glow of the digits. Good luck finding letters.

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2009, 01:32:56 pm »
Yeah, that could be tricky (that, and I'm not really an electrical engineer, more a software guy).

But I did find some Alphanumeric nixies online. The prob is, they're freaking >20$ +EACH+.

Ugh.

I may or may not go that route... Especially since I was considering a name that included
"Perceptuo-Emulatron"<g> Yikes, I'd end up spending 600$ on tubes for the Marquee!

polaris

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2009, 01:44:54 pm »
Yeah, that could be tricky (that, and I'm not really an electrical engineer, more a software guy).

But I did find some Alphanumeric nixies online. The prob is, they're freaking >20$ +EACH+.

Ugh.

I may or may not go that route... Especially since I was considering a name that included
"Perceptuo-Emulatron"<g> Yikes, I'd end up spending 600$ on tubes for the Marquee!


how about just glowing valves lighting a clear marquee with a bold print on it
got COLOR codes from projects, post them here

add stuff to the uk wiki section

SavannahLion

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #31 on: January 29, 2009, 03:18:48 pm »
I may or may not go that route... Especially since I was considering a name that included
"Perceptuo-Emulatron"<g> Yikes, I'd end up spending 600$ on tubes for the Marquee!

How about some orange EL wire? If you can source some glass globes, a bit of patience from Jobes and some fine modeling-type construction skills, you could build fake Nixie tubes. Even if you just restrict yourself to a fixed letter arrangements (therby saving yourself building complex circuits to show every letter of the alphabet many times over), you might be able to construct something very convincing looking.

Just an idea. A quick Google search shows some shops selling ten feet of wire for about $50. Much lower than the $600 you're pricing for Nixies.

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #32 on: January 29, 2009, 03:32:04 pm »
Very interesting. Actually, I'd really intended on the marquee being a fixed message, so the alphanumeric tubes were really only to be able to light individual letters.

This EL wire is pretty sweet. I'd have to get some pretty thin stuff and it'd need to be bent pretty tight, but it looks like that should be doable. And a WHOLE LOT cheaper than real nixies.

I'm seeing a set, mounted horizontally, (like the horizontal nixies that have the letter/number shown on the TOP of the tube rather than the side) mounted directly into a hardwood framed polished brass plate.

Thanks for the heads up on the EL Wire!

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2009, 05:53:35 pm »
I got the EL Wire and transformer in a week back or so. Very cool stuff, although the "Orange" comes out more yellowish if you ask me.

Still, it'll work for now.

I'm in the process of figuring out how to disassemble vacuum tubes without completely destroying them. I'll post pics as soon as I have something concrete.

In the meantime, here's a few from the build process of the control panel itself.

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2009, 06:08:56 pm »
Oops. Hit post with no pics.. Here they are.

First up, the raw panel cutouts.

Next, the panel, underside, prewiring. Yeah, it's not hinged :(. My original design was for it to be a semi portable CP I could stick the closet. That didn't pan out.

Next, a detail of the pinball plunger. Works a treat!

And finally, the whole thing, minus the flightstick.

Yes, those are hole plugs<sigh> I'm not sure exactly what I was on that day, but I couldn't measure right to save ---my bottom---. Eventually, I'll likely rebuild the whole panel, now that I know more. But, for a first attempt, it didn't turn out too bad.

It's not as, shall I say, colorful, as most of the Cp's ive' seen here, but since it's going in a old buffet, that just keeps in line with the aesthetics.

I do plan on making a few additional mods. Mainly the replacement of joystick handles (already discussed on this thread) and likely adding some carving/moldings, and brass button nails with possibly some leather.

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #35 on: March 14, 2009, 07:11:11 pm »
Ok, One more post for the day.

Since I'm in a bit of limbo right now while I find the right screen for this thing, I decided to have a go at some front end design.

I first tried Hyperspin, but it's just a tad to "animated" for this cabinet, I think.

I tried atomicFE, but it just crashed on me constantly. Not saying it's bad, but I couldn't get it to work out of the box.

I looked briefly at maximus and GameEx but didn't like any of the sample layouts, none of them came close to what I was envisioning, so I'm assuming I couldn't either with them, but I could be wrong  :)

Anyway, Mala seemed +highly+ recommended so I decided to give it shot.

Wow!

Very cool. There's a few things I'd like to see, like being able to display the history (or part of it) in text on the main screen, and a slightly different "clock-esque" spacing algo for the gamelist (you can see why from the screenshot), and better handling of scaling images (maybe it's just me, but I could not get images to scale consistently when in free scale mode), but those are all relatively minor things.

Here's a shot of my first draft of a layout for Mala.

The game list scrolls around the clock edge like you'd expect. Of course the snaps and cabinet pics are dynamic.

It's designed for 1920x1200 (I plan on running at this res on a 24" widescreen LCD), but the shot is shrunk down for file size.

Each of the History, Exit, game start, and menu screens also have similar themes.

The machine name isn't set in stone yet, but I am leaning toward
"The No18 Arqadium Engine"

Or just "No18 Arqadium" for short.

Why 18? It just has a steampunk/old railroad ring to it. This is definitely not my 18'th build!

If anyone has any suggestions, or thoughts, please let me know.

And if anyone's interested, the fonts are Peake, Acadian, and PCOrnaments. The clock is from a screensaver I found online, and the DaVinci-look drawing is via Google Images, searching for "steampunk" and spending WAY too much time browsing ::)


Lyellin

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #36 on: March 14, 2009, 07:14:06 pm »
Love that frontend.

I'm currently playing with Maximus right now, but MaLa keeps on looking interesting.

Nice cab so far!

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #37 on: March 15, 2009, 11:22:14 pm »
Thanks for the comment on the layout.

To be honest, I didn't even install Maximus. I just checked out the sample layouts on the site and none of them even came close to what I was looking for, so I didn't bother.

But it did look like it could do some nice tricks!

drventure

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2009, 12:53:14 am »
Well, a little progress.

I've run a tad low on cash, so picking up a monitor or PC for my cabinet is out for the time being.

So, I decided to have a go at getting the Marquee started.

The basic idea is that it'll be all exposed wires, pipes, gears and nixie tubes.

BUT, 1) real nixies are $$$, 2) the only real nixies that do alpha characters are segmented (like the old LED calculators), and that just wouldn't look right.

So, I found a snap online where a guy had disassembled a nixie to get the numeric cathodes out, went through all my fonts (more than I care to think about) and found a pretty good match.

I ended up using Bauhaus

So I cut some pieces of EL Wire, bent it into the proper forms and wired it all up. Works great!

Now then, I just had to build a fake nixie.

I'd picked up some busted vacuum tubes on craigslist a while back, so I smashed one to make sure the things weren't going to explode on me (they don't).

So I clipped the pins off another, twisted the base off (they tend to come right off, though a few have been a challenge)

Then, I took a triangle file and scored all the way around the bottom of the tube. A couple knocks with a glass cutter's mallet and the bottom of the tube fell right off.

I fished out the guts, bent up some wire to look like all the other letters/numbers that are usually in a nixie (normal nixie tubes actually have a separate cathode for each numeral, you can see them all stacked up on top of each other when the thing is off, it's a very cool analog look.)

All nixies have a wire mesh that surrounds the tube on the inside (that's the anode), so I found some window screening, sprayed it nickel, cut a piece and wrapped the inner assembly in it. epoxied it all up, and, well, the pics are below.

You can see the font template in the background I used for bending the wire.

The dark pic is with the tube on with the lights dimmed.

That's the first letter.

Hopefully the rest will go faster!

Bender

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Re: A Mame machine in an antique buffet
« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2009, 11:35:58 am »
just wanted to reiterate how cool this is!

love the FE and light up letters BRILLIANT!

  
 

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