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Author Topic: THE SYSTEM  (Read 8772 times)

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isucamper

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THE SYSTEM
« on: February 15, 2009, 05:26:11 pm »
Well, itís about time I start my project thread.  I started planning my project in February of 08 and I started building in May of 08, and as of today I stand at about 95% completion. 

My project is a scratch built, upright, 4-player arcade cabinet built from the plans described in John St. ClaireĎs book, ďProject Arcade.Ē  It is called ďTHE SYSTEMĒ and it is TRON themed.  The name refers to the ambiguous piece of hardware on which all of the programs run in the movie TRON. 





Iíve kept a build log for this project on my blog, so you can read all about it there.

Part 1-3 : http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?publicUserId=5723357&bId=8767158
Part 4 : http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?publicUserId=5723357&bId=8932225
Part 5 : http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?publicUserId=5723357&bId=8958171
Part 6 : http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?publicUserId=5723357&bId=8981270

Hereís a short summary. 

For the cabinet, I pretty much followed the plans in the book exactly using 3/4ths inch MDF.  I ran into real issues during the painting stage, unable to get a smooth finishing coat using foam rollers as described in the book.  I ended up laying the cabinet on its back and sides and used spray cans to get the final coat done and it turned out really nice. 

I deviated from the bookís design when building my control panel as I wanted to be able to support 4 player games.  I widened the top to 40 inches and increased the size of the box to fit all my controls.  I was able to hunt down the 5/8ths inch MDF for the top of the panel and I used 1/8ths in plexiglass to cover my control panel overlay.  T-molding is 3/4ths inch light blue from T-molding.com. 

I designed the marquee and CPO artwork myself using inkscape, and I got the overlay printed at Kinkos (canít remember the type of paper right now, but its in my blog), and I got the marquee printed by MAME Marquees.

Here is a list of parts I used in the cab, and a letter grade describing how satisfied I am with each product.

2 Ultimarc Ultrastick 360s with bat tops, hard springs (formerly medium springs), circular restrictor plates, and button harnesses.   A-. Buying these sticks is expensive enough, but tacking on another 30 dollars (each) for the accessories to get them just right is annoying (I top mounted these sticks so I wouldnĎt have to pay another 15 bucks for longer shafts).  Also, installing the restrictor plates was a huge pain in the ass during which I broke hardware and had to contact Andy for replacements.  Fortunately, Andy gets an A+ in customer service, and once these sticks are installed their performance is impeccable.  I donít think I would have wanted to build a cabinet with anything less than these sticks as my main controllers.  They really have no peers.  They are just a bit frustrating to deal with at times.

GPWiz40 gampad interface by Groovy Game Gear.  A.  Since I was using the U360 button harnesses, I was able to wire up the entire rest of my sticks and buttons with this interface.  It works perfectly and not only is it the only standalone interface to support mechanical rotary joysticks, it provides the most versatile rotary support on the market.  I did a little write up on this product on the Rotary Joystick thread. http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=76828.msg935105#msg935105

2 Happ Mechanical Rotary Joysticks.  B.  Iím pretty happy with these sticks.  The rotary functionality works perfectly (when paired with the correct version of MAME, see the above Rotary Joystick thread).  However, the normal joystick movement does feel noticeably bulkier because of the rotary interface hanging on the bottoms of them.  I donít think Iíd be happy using these sticks as my main controllers.  Then again, Iíve got mine sitting next to two U360s, so all their flaws are pretty noticeable.

MacSense iFunstick PC flightstick.  C- (and falling).  Sigh.  I took a gamble with this stick as I wanted the versatility of an analog stick in my cab AND I wanted it to look like a TRON stick.  It worked perfectly at first, but three months in, itís already feeling a bit mushy.  Iím dreading having to replace it and I certainly wish I had stuck a higher end stick in there to begin with.  On the bright side, it only cost me 10 bucks (what was I expecting for 10 bucks).

Happ 3Ē USB trackball.  A.  Havenít played a ton of games with this, but I have played some, and it works perfectly.  Iím not having any of the problems people have complained about with the USB model in the past.  Works great as a mouse in Windows too.

Groovy Game Gear TurboTwist 2 Hi-Lo Spinner (USB).  A.  This thing is a really nice piece of bling and it works just as it should.  The later levels of Discs of TRON play perfectly and I couldnít be happier.  If thereís a nit, itís that there is the tiniest bit of friction when pushing and pulling the spinner, as if the shaft is slightly rubbing on the mounting plate.  Worth noting, but you only notice it when looking for it and it does not affect gameplay one bit.  I wouldnít even bother replacing it if Randy offered.  Highly recommended. 

Happ Concave and Happ Competition pushbuttons.  A+.  I ended up using the concaves for my game buttons and the competitions for my admin buttons.  They all feel great, but I found the competition buttons just didnít feel as authentic as the concaves when playing games.

Vinyl Button Stickers from Pongo.  Deffered.  If I had to rate them right now, itíd be an A+, but I just got them installed and I want to see how long they last.  They look spectacular though.

Marquee print from MAME Marquees.  B.  Looks great, but I had to go back and forth with Scott a few times to get it right (and ultimately, I went to the trouble of getting around the problem myself, see my blog).  Again, great customer service, but annoying that I had to bother with it.

Wells Gardner D9800 Monitor.  B.  If this thing lasts me 10 years, then I increase my rating to an A (my hopes are not high for that though).  Looks sharp and vibrant at all resolutions.  The only flaw is in the geometry and it ranges in noticeably based on what resolution you are running at.  Really, the geometry is no worse than any other modern CRT, but its certainly not perfect (itís way better than the pictures of the Beston Imperials you see on this forum though).  I would not hesitate to get this monitor based on itís geometry, since itís certainly good enough and the ability to digitally multi-sync to any arcade resolution is fast becoming a hard to find feature. 

Tinted monitor glass from One Day Glass.  A+.  Specs are on my blog.  Iím really happy I sprung for this.  It looks perfect and I donít have to worry about scratching it when I wipe it down.  Highly recommended.

Happ Coin Door.  A.  Itís a coin door.  Looks nice.  It works.  What else is there to say?

Big big thanks to everyone on this board.  We all make this possible for each other and I donít think many of us could actually do it if we didnít all congregate here.  Big, big thanks to Andy from Ultimarc, Randy from Groovy Game Gear, SailorSat for her brilliant Soft15-Khz program, Pongo for his stickers, Divemaster for his consolidating, the programmers of MAME, Daphne, and MALA (and its plug-ins) for their amazing programs, and everybody else for answering all my noob questions.  Oh, and of course, thanks to saint for guiding us all here.  To think, a year and a half ago I found myself on this site looking for reviews of the X-Arcade tank stick.  ďWhoaÖ these people build what now?Ē

Anyway, I would not have an arcade cabinet in my basement if it werenít for all you guys.  Itís really a dream come true.  Thanks.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 08:56:33 pm by isucamper »
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

wp34

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2009, 06:10:11 pm »
Very nice clean build.  I like your take on the 4-player.  Having the buttons for players 3 and 4 about the sticks saves a lot of room.  I've been working on a similar layout with the buttons under. 

You've got a lot of controls on that panel and yet it does not look like an aircraft carrier.  It all looks very well proportioned.

Does "ISU" stand for Iowa State University by any chance?

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009, 08:52:48 pm »
Does "ISU" stand for Iowa State University by any chance?

It does... or at least it did.  It was like 10 years ago when I came up with that name playing Quake 2 on the dorm LAN.  ISU's for Iowa State University, and camper is for camping on a spawn point with a rail gun.  I used to do that a lot. 

I really need a new name.
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 04:08:52 am »
I Like it, particularly the theme art and background on the CP, the blue and the black hmmmm blue and black gives me ideas.......
You might think that you're scared, but you're not.  That isn't fear.  That's your sharpness.  That's your power.

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2009, 10:30:31 pm »
How do vector games (specifically Asteroids) look on your D9800?  I picked up a TV off Craigslist and while I am real happy with non-vector games the vector games look horrible.  I'm debating between the D9800 and an LCD at this point.

OT: My wife is an ISU grad which is why I asked about your handle.  We were just up in Ames Saturday at Hickory Park!

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009, 08:16:29 am »
How do vector games (specifically Asteroids) look on your D9800?  I picked up a TV off Craigslist and while I am real happy with non-vector games the vector games look horrible.  I'm debating between the D9800 and an LCD at this point.

OT: My wife is an ISU grad which is why I asked about your handle.  We were just up in Ames Saturday at Hickory Park!

To tell you the truth, I haven't tried any vector games.  I really, really want to do a second cabinet with a vector monitor, and to keep myself motivated, I've been keeping vector games off THE SYSTEM.  I have been itching for some tempest though.  I'll have to fire it up and see.  I'm assuming they are going to look pretty crappy though.

It's been far to long since I've been to Ames... i'm only a few hours away too. 
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2009, 12:34:18 pm »
Finally got around to trying out Tempest on my D9800.  It looks horrible.  I'm running at 640x480, and you can't even see your bullets. 

I need to try at 800x600, but I can't imagine it looks a whole lot better.

I've been fiddling with THE SYSTEM all winter, and I still have to do the side art and wire up the coin door... but my desire for a Zector Vector MAME cab is burning brighter each day.
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2009, 01:15:02 pm »
Good luck on hunting down a vector monitor. Have you checked out the AAE software? It's specifically built with vector games in mind.

At this point, Vector games need the highest resolution monitor you can find. It still looks like crap but it's the best we have until someone brings back vector monitors.

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2009, 01:59:58 pm »
Finally got around to trying out Tempest on my D9800.  It looks horrible.  I'm running at 640x480, and you can't even see your bullets. 

I need to try at 800x600, but I can't imagine it looks a whole lot better.

I've been fiddling with THE SYSTEM all winter, and I still have to do the side art and wire up the coin door... but my desire for a Zector Vector MAME cab is burning brighter each day.

Any chance of getting some pictures of the cabinet running Tempest at 640 x 480.  I am curious as to how it looks.  I have a D9200 running 640 x 480 in my cabinet.  I haven't tried Tempest yet because I don't have a spinner on the control panel yet.  I have played Asteroids, Lunar Lander and Space Duel and they do not look bad.  Not perfect but I am pleased with the picture and you can see everything. 

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2009, 03:36:19 pm »
Have you checked out the AAE

I have.  Great little emulator.  Can't use it in my Cab until I upgrade my PC because right now I'm using a pretty decent Dell but it's got onboard video.  It's a fast, quiet little pc that works great for MAME, but only runs AAE at about 1/4th speed.

Any chance of getting some pictures of the cabinet running Tempest at 640 x 480.

I'll try and take some pics this weekend, and I'll also try those games you mentioned.  Other than the game screen looking dull, the bullets weren't appearing, I'm assuming because the resolution was so low that they got washed out.  I suppose it's possible that my version of MAME (.129) isn't running the game right.

THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2009, 04:07:23 pm »
I must have missed this announcement the first time around, but:

1) Nice job on the build - it looks great.

2) Great job on the component list and grades. That kind of stuff is very helpful for people to see not only what you used, but what you think of it.

 :cheers:


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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2009, 04:19:19 pm »
Indeed, the review of the equipment is very helpful for those of us scheming to build one of these someday.  ;)
WANTED: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 322, Oakview, CA 93022. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2009, 10:57:39 am »
Thanks guys.  Glad my impressions are helpful.

I tried to get some pictures of Tempest this morning.  I can't really get any that are representative of what it actually looks like on my d9800 (pictures keep turning out more aliased than what I see with my eyes).  I would suggest just firing up Tempest on your own monitor to see what it looks like.  Play it with your joystick just to see how it looks.

I did confirm that the bullets do not display at 640x480, but they are there at 800x600.  Other than that, the picture looks pretty similar between the two resolutions.  Dark, blurry, uninspiring.  It's playable, but it certainly doesn't burn vibrantly like Tempest should. 
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2009, 10:35:23 pm »
Just wanted to chime in again on Tempest.  I cranked up the contrast on my d9800 (I think it's at like 60 now, it was at 40) and it's quite livable at 800x600.  The tinted glass was really making it look bad. 
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2009, 10:51:58 pm »
Seriously I am going to just SNIPE the heck out of that tron stick idea for my control panel.

Thank you, now if I only had a foot of navy tmolding left.........damn you braddock!!!!!
"George Bush doesn't care about arcade people"

My FrankenPanel: http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=110312.0

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isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 08:27:41 am »
So my inability to get the vector emulator AAE running on my 64-bit system, and the realization that building a zektor vector cab is probably not going to happen due to rising cost and complexity of finding the needed components, led me to mess around with MAME's emulation of vector games a little bit more.

Wow.  I take everything back I said about how Tempest looks on my D9800 when running in MAME.  After cranking up the contrast on my monitor as mentioned a few posts ago in this thread, I added the folllowing options to my command line for vector games.

-contrast 2.0 -gamma 2.0 -beam 2.0

And I got big, beautiful vectors glowing incredibly bright.  Not as quite as good as what AAE looks like on the monitor (I tested it with my 32-bit system) but pretty dang close!!!  It'd be nice to have just a touch more resolution as well, as 800x600 leaves some noticable flaws in some of the diagonal vectors, but for now at least I'm pretty content.  I'll try and get some screen shot differences and post tonight.

As far as work on THE SYSTEM goes, I've finally choosen a design for the side art and I've got it about 60% complete in Inkscape.  I hope to get it done and apply it within the  month.  Basically, I'm plagerizing the Discs of Tron side art, but changing the colors to be various shades of blue, changing the "Discs of Tron" text to be an ENCOM logo, and removing the TRON characters and the disks they are standing on.  It's shaping up pretty nice.  Eye catching, yet simple. 

If I could just quit playing with Zinc and vector games in MAME, maybe I could get it finished up. 
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 10:50:10 pm by isucamper »
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 08:48:22 pm »
I took some pictures, but I put it in its own thread where I thought more people might see it:

http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=92176.0
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 09:06:20 pm »
Thanks for posting those pictures.  I've been leaning towards LCD specifically because of vector games.  That doesn't look too bad.  I may have to rethink my plan.

A couple of other questions for you.

1.  How does Asteroids look?
2.  Have you run into any games that do not look decent?

I tried a 27" TV with component hookups as a test.  I was real happy with most games but the vector games were unplayable.  Particularly Asteroids which is a must for me.

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 10:49:38 pm »
Thanks for posting those pictures.  I've been leaning towards LCD specifically because of vector games.  That doesn't look too bad.  I may have to rethink my plan.

A couple of other questions for you.

1.  How does Asteroids look?
2.  Have you run into any games that do not look decent?

I tried a 27" TV with component hookups as a test.  I was real happy with most games but the vector games were unplayable.  Particularly Asteroids which is a must for me.

They both look pretty nice with the tweaked settings.  In fact, with the backdrop applied, I'd say that Asteroids Deluxe is the nicest looking vector game I've tried yet.  However, I'm running at 800x600 which is a bump up from what you'd get on a TV. 

As far as games not looking decent, are you talking about just vector games?  With the tweaked settings, all vector games I've tried look quite good. 
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 10:52:57 pm by isucamper »
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2009, 12:26:18 am »
That's good to know about Asteroids.  Real good.

I was just curious if there were any other games (vector or otherwise) that did not look right.  Sounds like you have not seen anything else.

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2009, 08:19:24 am »
I was just curious if there were any other games (vector or otherwise) that did not look right.  Sounds like you have not seen anything else.

I'm using SailorSat's Soft15Khz app to get native resolutions so most of the games look arcade perfect.  There are acceptions.  Verticle games aren't quite right.  Real low res games like Donkey Kong and Gunsmoke look fine accept the scanlines go in the wrong direction.  With these low res games, you can match the verticle resolution and then pick a horizontal resolution that's big enough that MAME just puts black bars on the sides and usually the refresh rate will still match the game's native res so it runs at the right speed and you don't get sound skips.  With slightly higher res verticle games (Ikari warriors, Contra) you can do the same sort of thing, but the refresh rates won't match so you have to turn off v-sync or else the sound will skip (and even when you do this, the screen doesn't scroll very smoothly because of the mismatched refresh rates).  On much higher res verticle games, (more recent verticle shooters) you can't match the verticle resolution so I just end up scaling it to 640x480.

Other than these sorts of issues (which, really, are more technical emulation issues rather than anything to do with the monitor), all games look about as good as can be expected.  I've very pleased with the monitor at this point.
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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2009, 06:04:36 pm »
I really appreciate you providing this detailed feedback on your monitor.  :cheers:

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2009, 10:14:33 pm »
Finally got my side art order in to MAME marquees.  Scott got it shipped to me in like 3 days.  Thanks Scott! 



I cut each side into 4 pieces and then applied them using the technique described in this video.



It was a little tricky since my pieces were so obtuse.  I got quite a few air bubbles in the first couple of pieces before I got the hang of it.  Fortunately, you can't see them at all with the lighting in my basement.  The whole right side is almost perfect too.  Best advice I can give is to go very, very slow.

I'm very pleased. 
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2009, 12:44:28 pm »
 :applaud: That looks very nice!!!

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2009, 09:43:56 pm »
That looks real good.  Did you design the side art yourself?

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2009, 10:22:05 pm »
AIR BUBBLES -- If you got the textured laminate from Scott, here's what I did.  The smallest sewing needle from your wife's sewing box, poke a small hole in the center of that bubble.  DON'T PINCH THE BUBBLE OUT!  Just let is set overnight and it should be gone.

I was hesitant to try this cos it always turns out like poop on regular calendared vinyl.  I did this on my cocktail and I can't even find the pinholes (or bubbles) anymore.

Good job on the cab, by the way.

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2009, 08:35:05 am »
That looks real good.  Did you design the side art yourself?

Not entirely.  I downloaded a vector version of the Discs of Tron side art from here: http://www.localarcade.com/arcade_art/details.php?image_id=892

and I altered it to make it more simplistic. 

I'll have to try that sewing needle thing.  I wish my wife sewed. 
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2009, 10:25:25 am »
Finally got my side art order in to MAME marquees.  Scott got it shipped to me in like 3 days.  Thanks Scott! 
I cut each side into 4 pieces and then applied them using the technique described in this video.

It was a little tricky since my pieces were so obtuse.  I got quite a few air bubbles in the first couple of pieces before I got the hang of it.  Fortunately, you can't see them at all with the lighting in my basement.  The whole right side is almost perfect too.  Best advice I can give is to go very, very slow.
I'm very pleased. 

Woot! My video helped someone apply sideart!  :applaud: Sorry you got some bubbles. In my video I thought I had some, but it turned out that there weren't any at all. There were a couple bumps from an imperfect paintjob, but that's it. Usually if you stick very closely to the backing as you pull the backing downward the static cling of the whole thing somehow prevents bubbles from happening. But anyway your sideart looks great, I'm really digging the colors and design of the whole project.

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2009, 01:20:56 pm »
Woot! My video helped someone apply sideart!  :applaud: Sorry you got some bubbles. In my video I thought I had some, but it turned out that there weren't any at all. There were a couple bumps from an imperfect paintjob, but that's it. Usually if you stick very closely to the backing as you pull the backing downward the static cling of the whole thing somehow prevents bubbles from happening. But anyway your sideart looks great, I'm really digging the colors and design of the whole project.

Hey, thanks for the video.  I started figuring this out after a few pieces.  The bigger and more oblong pieces were the hardest.  I should have really gotten someone to help me.
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2009, 04:35:39 pm »
Well, I got some momentum going the past few weeks, and I finished construction on THE SYSTEM. 

The final update to my build log can be read here:
http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?publicUserId=5723357&bId=9001597

I'll quickly summarize. 

Aside from various construction odds and ends (mounting the monitor properly, making a shelf for the PC to sit on), I replaced the flight stick (what was a 10 dollar MacSense iFunstick is now a 114 dollar CH Fighterstick Pro):



I wired up the trackball lighting kit and coin door:



And I also printed out some custom coin door reject labels:



That pretty much completes what I set out to do a year and a half ago.  I'm going to update with another post, re-reviewing all the parts I used now that I've got close to a years worth of use out of them. 

Again, thanks to everybody for their help!



« Last Edit: August 22, 2009, 06:45:09 pm by isucamper »
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2009, 05:41:24 pm »
So I wanted to re-review all the parts I used since I feel like I've gotten a lot of use out of them now and can provide more in-depth insight into what I like and don't like about them.  I'm going to leave my initial impressions that I gave in the first post so I can record how my opinion has changed (or not changed). 

2 Ultimarc Ultrastick 360s with bat tops, hard springs (formerly medium springs), circular restrictor plates, and button harnesses.   
Old score:  A-.
New score:  A. 
I can't get enough of these sticks.  With the high price and difficult installation a distant memory, I can do nothing but heap large amounts of praise on the Ultimarc 360.  Their versatility is unmatched.  I'm always finding new uses for them.  In addition to the 2-way/4-way/4-way diagonal/8-way games they make playable, I've found that other games with more unique controls also play beautifully with these analog sticks.  Escape from ithe Planet of the Robot Monsters, Sinistar, Hang On,  Paperboy, 720, they all play great (even if some of them aren't completely authentic).  I also find myself using them as a throttle in addition to my flight stick for games like Afterburner and Steel Talons.  It's just really nice having a mapable analog sticks at the heart of my control panel.  You can get as much out of them as your willing to put in by fiddling with them.  I even went and tweaked seperate 8 way maps to get perfect controlling fluidity for games like Street Fighter 2 and Robotron.  I can't say enough great things about these sticks.

GPWiz40 gampad interface by Groovy Game Gear
Old score A.
New score A.
I haven't had a single issue with my GPWiz.  It's working as good as the day I got it.  I've even got it powering my 5 volt trackball light.  One issue I ran into with MAME is you cannot map joystick button 17 (which shows up in MAME as button 16) to an input without MAME changing it to button 16 (shows up in MAME as button 15) upon reboot.  A weird bug.  Kinda leaves you minus an input, but it happens that button 17 is the UP direction of the Frontline rotary mode, so it really only impacts a few games.  I wired the player 2 rotary controls to my player 1 stick to get around this because there are no 2 player Frontline style rotary games. 

2 Happ Mechanical Rotary Joysticks
Old score B.
New score C+.
First, let me say that I'm still happy with the Rotary functionality of these sticks.  Combining these sticks with the Roto X functionality of the GPWiz40 and a newer version of MAME which supports rotary functionality for all rotary games is a dream come true.  However, I've come to the conclusion that the UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT control of these sticks is horrid.  Way too oversensitive.  In it's nuetral position, the actuator rests on the microswitches and barely touching the stick causes movement.  I'm always ducking or jumping when I don't want to.  I'm actually trying out a little mod to get around this.  I unscrewed the switches from the joystick base and used double stick tape to stick them back on with a little more space between the switch and the actuator.  So far, it has helped, but I have my doubts that this will be a good long term solution.

MacSense iFunstick PC flightstick
Old Score:  C-.
New Score:  F-. 
Oh well.  It was a good try.  After only a few months, this stick needed to be replaced.  The axises kind of seized up after too much use and I couldn't hit  a damn thing in FireFox.  Replacing it was a pretty tough job, but it had to be done.   

CH Fighterstick PRO PC flightstick
Old Score:  NA.
New Score:  A-.
Ahh.  So much better.  I've only had it mounted a few weeks now, but the difference is night and day.  It's probably actually overkill for an arcade control panel.  I ain't ever going to use all those POV hats.  But I broke my high score in Afterburner 2 and Discs of Tron the night I installed it.  Very smooth control.  Very sensitive.  It is a high end stick for sure.  One thing to know.  This stick is humongous and does not lend itself well to being mounted in an arcade control panel (the base was about twice the size of the Funstick's base).  I just barely had room to fit it on my existing panel design.  Additionally, I had to spend some time routing out room for the LEDs and axis wheels so the josytick would sit flush with my panel.  No kidding, this stick was very hard to get mounted.  See my build log for more details on how I did it. 

Happ 3Ē USB trackball
Old Score:  A.
New Score:  A.
The ball's been perfect.  Not a single issue.  I've gotten a lot of time in on Marble Madness, Missle Command, Sonic Arcade, and Capcom Bowling.  It's a lot of fun. 

Groovy Game Gear TurboTwist 2 Hi-Lo Spinner (USB)
Old Score A.
New Score A.
Still happy with the high low spinner.  I'm getting way more use out of the push/pull than I expected too.  Caliber 50, Forgotton Worlds, Zwackery... all fun games.

Happ Concave and Happ Competition pushbuttons
Old Score A+.
New Score A+.
The buttons are still perfect.

Vinyl Button Stickers from Pongo
Old Score:  Deffered.
New Score:  A+.
These still look perfect after some pretty heavy use.  They hold up to kids and cleanings.  They look as new as the day I got them.  It's just occured to me that I don't think I've posted a proper picture of them here or on my blog. 



Marquee print from MAME Marquees
Old Score B.
New Score B+.
Still looks great.  My design has grown on me a bit.  :)

Side Art from MAME Marquees
Old Score:  NA.
New Score:  A-.
Looks great and reasonably priced for providing such a niche product.  Scott is very adaptable to any unique requests.  I had no hiccups with my order like I did the Marquee and it was at my door 3 days after I placed the order.  Can't ask for anything better. 

Wells Gardner D9800 Monitor. 
Old Score:  B.
New Score:  B.
I haven't changed my overall rating for the monitor, but there's definitly stuff about it that I've grown to love more and stuff about it that's bothered me more, so it kind of evened out to the same grade.  The good news:  It's working like a champ.  And I've really put it through its paces.  I've thrown every resolution at it that I could come up with and with a little click, it switches right over and displays it beautifully.  As I was configuring games, I'd go through 50 or 60 resolution switches per night and the monitor didn't so much as flinch.  I wouldn't want to hammer on it like that all the time, but I'm not so sure that it wouldn't be able to handle it if I did.  The bad news:  There are severe geometry issues with this monitor at certain resolutions.  Most games you won't notice unless you really look, but other games (medium res games in particular) are all out of whack.  It's like I can't get the pincushion dialed in.  There's always this pear shape I can't get rid of.  I'm kinda kicking myself for not getting a refurbed D9400 when I had the chance, as I've heard no one complain about the geometry on that monitor.  Overall, I'm still pretty happy with it.  It's really not an issue with 90 percent of the games I run on my cab, so its hard to be too critical.

Tinted monitor glass from One Day Glass
Old Score:  A.
New Score:  A.
No issues with this other than a single pin point scratch on it that I've noticed.  With the lights out in the room, if you look at this point it kind of obscures the monitor behind it, but it's pretty tiny.  Still happy I got it. 

Happ Coin Door.
Old Score:  A.
New Score:  A.
It now works... with quarters!

I'm really pretty happy with all the stuff I used in THE SYSTEM.  Aside from the iFunstick, there were no duds.  There's a few less than stellar performers, but overall, everything gets used and performs sufficiently.  Between the flightstick, U360s, and mechanical rotaries, I like to think that my panel offers exceptional playabilty in 99.9% of all joystick games, 1-4 players.  It's probably what I'm most proud of in the entire project, the playability that is.  There are certainly better constructed, better looking cabs out there (some of you guys are artists), but as far as playability goes, I think THE SYSTEM can hang with the best.   
« Last Edit: August 22, 2009, 06:37:15 pm by isucamper »
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

CthulhuLuke

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2009, 01:36:55 am »
Very nice looking system. I like all the tron details, I wonder how bad UV reflective marquees would cost?  ;D

Quick question about the finish on the cab, do you have any problems with the cab rolling on the casters with the kids? Or does the weight keep it pretty stable? Also did you have any problems with the plexi-glass cracking when you were routing out those weird cuts? I've heard going slow is the key, but I've cracked a few plexi sheets before so I was wondering what you used for that part of the process.

Good work!

isucamper

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Re: THE SYSTEM
« Reply #32 on: August 30, 2009, 08:21:31 pm »
Sorry, was on vacation.  Would have replied sooner otherwise.

It actually takes all of my might to roll my cab.  It weighs so much and the casters sink into the carpet.  If it's been sitting for months in one spot and I want to roll it out a bit to take a look at it, I've actually got to strain a bit.  No reason to be concerned about it moving when I don't want it to.

I had no problems with cracking plexi either.  I went real slow with a router.  It just melts away the plexi real easily. 
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

  
 

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