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Author Topic: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender cab"  (Read 43545 times)

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RandyT

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Before I start, I want to stress that if you try to duplicate this effort, you will be working around parts that use lethal voltages.  Never attempt to work inside electrical appliances with the power connected, and always make sure that you work in a safe way with patience and care.  Aside from you being electrocuted, poor workmanship can cause fires and other manner of personal and property damage.  You are proceeding at your own risk, so minimize it whenever possible.

Here we go:

The LCD panel was purchased a while back and I kept tripping over it.  Finally time to do something about it.  This post may have a bit of a tutorial look to it, but what good is following a project if you can't learn something from it, so who cares :).

Here's what it looked like before the screwdriver attack, except mine was black:



I picked it up during one of the K-Mart clearance sales for $220 including tax.  It's a 23" HD-Ready LCD panel.  VGA, Component, S-video,  Composite inputs.  Native res: 1366x768.

The 15-pin VGA connector was the important one for me.  The size seems to be a good tradeoff in price, width and height of the top "mini-display"

Here's where I started:



Taking a panel apart is not difficult, but you have to always keep in mind that they are delicate!  Make sure that you don't put the face onto anything that might put pressure on the glass.  They break and then you can junk them

Usually the first thing you have to do is remove the base.  Not hard in this case, 4-screws and it was off.  Then just start looking for the rest of the screws, usually indicated by a little arrow.  Remove all of these.  The case is usually still snapped together by built-in plastic lips.  Stick a thumbnail a little way into the crack and slide.  It should pop.  If not, you may have missed a screw.  Look for it and then try again.

All of this was already done before taking the above photo.

<continued on the next post>
« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 03:30:49 pm by RandyT »

RandyT

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Ok, here's what it looks like inside.  TV's tend to have big metal boxes inside for some reason.  The box houses the circuit boards.  PC LCD monitors tend to be more compact, which can be a little nicer in the end.  Not a big deal, we'll work with it.

The next step is to start looking for anything and everything that is binding the guts to the plastic case.  The first one will be the speakers:



There is one if these wires on each side of the unit.  Disconnect them both.  You can remove the whole speaker if you want to use it, but these sounded so tinny and cheap, they are best left in the case.  Don't forget to pull the tape off to free the wire.

In this picture you can also see the clamps that hold the LCD panel to the plastic face.

<continued on the next post>

RandyT

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The next step is to find the control panel.  These almost always look like the following:



Just a skinny PCB held with a few screws (already removed).  This one had a couple of ground lines between the screws and the board.  Remember where these attach so you can put them back later.

Here's a picture of the face after freeing it from the plastic and flipping it over:



Pretty much just tactile switches and an IR receiver circuit for the remote.  You'll need to mount this somewhere accessible later.  You can disconnect it and set it aside.  I just let it hang.

<continued on the next post>
« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 02:46:13 pm by RandyT »

RandyT

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Ok, that should be it for wired components going to the plastic bits.  Now for the mechanical fasteners.



Here's a nice blurry shot of the clamp I mentioned earlier.  It's just about impossible to get a screwdriver in the case sideways to pull them from the monitor at this step, so we need to  pull the screws attaching them to the plastic.  In this case, two for each clamp and there are 4 clamps.  Also look for any screws holding the metal box part to the plastic and remove them as well.

Once you know everything has been disconnected, carefully lift everything out of the plastic face and set the plastic aside.  Note:  keep your screws and the rest of the plastic parts in a safe place in case you decide you want to use it as a TV again someday.  Everything about this is reversible (so far.)



Here's a shot with the unit flipped over and the plastic removed.  It didn't get much smaller, depthwise, but that's not that big of a deal.

At this point, you have to make a decision.  Do you have a large enough marquee area to accommodate the depth of the stripped unit, plus any speakers, etc ?  If so, you might want to go right to the cutting and don't do anything else to the LCD.  I didn't have the extra space, so I went further. 

<continued on the next post>
« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 02:57:15 pm by RandyT »

RandyT

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The only thing connecting the big metal box to the panel was a length of cloth tape.  Different panels may have different parts holding things together,  You'll need to analyze things and proceed slowly and carefully to make sure nothing gets damaged. Some of the wires and connectors are fragile, so don't pull anything you don't understand.

Now lets take a look inside;



Like I thought.  A lot of empty space.  But the benefit for this tends to be cooler temperatures on the electronics, so it's probably why it was done.

Ok, parts identification time:  The big board with the transformers on the left is the power supply.  The one on the right is the tuner and NTSC input board, and the one at the top is the LCD panel controller board.  If one were so inclined, these could all be removed and arranged in a more compact way, but that's just extra work so it's not going to happen here (although I did consider it.)

Some panels have a separate high-voltage board (for the backlights) between the power and LCD panel.  Be careful around this stuff and always make sure power is unplugged when working on it.  This unit has the HV board attached to the panel (picture in a bit), and that's where I'm leaving it.

The next task is going to be to remove the metal box from the LCD panel.  This means removing the connectors from the LCD panel.  Usually there are two connectors.  One is the panel control and the other is the power supply for the lights.  Here's the panel control connector:



Note how delicate and small this thing is.  There are locking tabs on the sides.  Break these and you are screwed, so make sure you understand how the releases work before pulling any wires.  This one just requires pressure on the tabs, but even so, it wasn't easy to remove.  Be patient above all.

Also, make sure you note the orientation of the connector when you remove it.  They are keyed, but knowing how they go back makes re-assembly easier.

<continued on the next post>

superbigjay

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That will be interresting,

there were a few posts lately for "active".

First NickG with the Wa-hoo! thread in project annoucement with his "projected marquee"
Then LeapineLew with the "it's this even possible" thread in main with his split LDC used for both marquee and screen.
And finally, you with the dedicated marquee LCD   :applaud:

Can't wait to see the end result...

Are you planing to use only part of the LCD to have the right marquee ratio?

PS: so far this is probably the cheapest option for that kinf of marquee...

Jay  :cheers:

RandyT

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And finally, you with the dedicated marquee LCD   :applaud:

Are you planing to use only part of the LCD to have the right marquee ratio?

This has been burning in my skull for many moons now.  With me, it started quite a while ago (about August of last year) when Youki (AtomicFE) asked me about possibilities for cheap, small LCD panels and  controllers for instruction cards.  My idea at that point was to use a full-size 16x9 LCD panel in the marquee area, with the rest  of the panel appearing as a small LCD "topper" where the instructions could be displayed.  The cost of panels at that time made the idea prohibitive, but they are starting to get cheaper.  As I was able to put my hands on one without breaking the bank, I started on the project.

The aspect ratio will never be perfect, because of the many different marquee sizes.  But a little stretch in a marquee graphic never hurt anyone ;)

BTW, this is already 85% done.  Just doing the write-up.  And yes, I'm going to make everyone wait until the write up is done before showing the result  >:D

RandyT
« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 02:25:43 am by RandyT »

DarkBubble

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BTW, this is already 85% done.  Just doing the write-up.  And yes, I'm going to make everyone wait until the write up is done before showing the result  >:D

RandyT

Bastard. ;D  I knew it was only a matter of time before I saw you tackle this one.  Can't wait to see the results!

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Come on, let's see it in a cabinet!  ;D

RandyT

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Sorry I haven't added to this.  Busy past couple of days.

I really want to add another 5% or so before showing the end result.  But, I'll tell you what I'm battling;

The way the Defender marquee area was built, it doesn't allow the thick LCD panel to go as low as I would have liked it to.  So I'm lacking a little symmetry due to wanting to keep the larger marquee (vertically).  A cabinet built specifically for this purpose will have a better end result.  Interestingly enough, the amount of space on the display that is sacrificed will have a bigger effect on whether this can be "pulled off"  than the space that is used ;)

RandyT

Knievel

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Cool idea Randy, but I think a cabinet style where the marquee is flush with the monitor would be best for this idea. The Atari System1 cabinet comes to mind.

Then you could hide part of the LCD from sight by dropping it down into the monitor area.

I could be wrong but I think having the LCD stick out above the cabinet is going to look silly, even with instructions or whatever on it. :-\

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2007, 07:42:41 pm »
I agree that a cab built just for this type of setup would be a good idea.  It would probably come out as less awkward and wouldn't be so unusual to me, as I was used to cabs like Punch-Out!!, Playchoice 10, and the real money draws with an extra monitor up top since there were lines thirty bodies deep.  You've gotta start somewhere, though, and I can only imagine how Randy's projects look along the road to becoming a product.  I don't care if it turns out being a tad bit odd, I'm just interested in seeing how this turns out and where he goes with it after all's said and done.

It's just a shame that they don't have marquee sized LCDs.  It'd be great to run a 3-monitor setup, using one LCD as the marquee and the other as the instruction card that runs along the bottom of a lot of games, especially the fighters.

shardian

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2007, 08:03:35 pm »
There is already a cabinet that would pretty much fit this lcd:

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2007, 04:22:27 pm »



Here's the other connector.  This one is beefier and supplies power to the HV section.  No fancy locking mechanisms here, just a chunky connector that was pretty simple to remove.




This is just a gratuitous shot of the two separate parts to make me feel like I actually accomplished something.  Again, be careful with the panel.  Fragile, etc, etc...

<continued on the next post>

patrickl

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Why are you doing a writeup of how to take an LCD TV apart? Isn' t that something that will vary per brand, type, version of the used TV?
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RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2007, 04:44:06 pm »
Why are you doing a writeup of how to take an LCD TV apart? Isn' t that something that will vary per brand, type, version of the used TV?

I've taken apart dozens of LCD panels of different brands.  They are virtually identical as far as the types of components inside and the precautions needed to be taken.  IOW, if you've never done this before, you can learn quite a bit about how to take apart *your* LCD panel by following along.

________


Back to the pictures :)



so here we are with a couple of cables to re-route to the panel.  As I am separating the control board from the actual panel due to space considerations, I need to route the cables to the outside of the can.  If the cables are tied down to the metal box anywhere, you'll probably want to free them to get as much length as possible.   Note the metal shielding on the cable.  This is a problem which we will deal with later.



And this looks like a handy exit.  If you look at the previous picture, it's easy to see why this opening was used.  There just wasn't enough cable to do it any other way.  The other wire needs to come out here as well, but we need to deal with the shielding before we go any further.

<continued on the next post>

« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 03:32:35 am by RandyT »

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2007, 04:53:37 pm »


Here's where we fix the shielding problem.  As we are re-routing the wires and need every inch we can get, that means that the wires will inevitably be laying across the circuit boards or at least end up with the possibility of that happening.  If we didn't cover the metal shielding, a short-circuit could occur and would probably ruin the board.  No hi-tech stuff here, just good old electricians tape wrapped around the exposed metal shielding.



And this is what it looks like after the fact.  The power and control harnesses exit through the front and the remote control panel to the left.  It doesn't hurt to tape down the wires for some strain relief as well.

<continued on the next post>


RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2007, 05:09:35 pm »


Now it's time to turn our attentions to the panel.  This photo shows the HV board.  Sometimes this is a separate board and situated with the other boards in the metal box.  On this model, it is attached to the panel.  This makes the panel a little fat on one side, but it's nice and safe bundled the way it is, so it's going to stay that way.

At the bottom left of the photo, you can see one of the panel retaining brackets.  Depending on your installation, you may want to leave these on, and use them to aid in mounting the screen.  I'm ditching them.



And here it is removed.  Every panel will be a little different as far as mounting hardware goes, but most will have some sort of fastener threaded into the metal frame, just like this one was.

<continued on the next post>
« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 03:34:23 am by RandyT »

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2007, 05:24:32 pm »


Important to note:  If you have birds, don' t let them out of their cage....ever.

Ignoring what happens to the top of a cab after abuse from household pets, being stored for years in a damp basement, and repeated cleaning we need to lay out the profile of the monitor.  If I were building a cabinet specifically to suit, I probably would have inset the monitor a bit and left a strip of wood across the front.  But I didn't have that luxury in this case, so it's going to be nearly flush.  Note the extra depth to accommodate the end with the HV compartment.



I threw some paper towels inside the marquee area to try keep some of the sawdust contained.  Didn't work great, but probably better than nothing.  Then I went at it with a jigsaw.  Not a perfectly straight cut.  Oh well,.it got the job done and nobody will ever see it....(I mean once it's done :) )

<continued on the next post>
« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 03:02:42 am by RandyT »

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2007, 03:13:14 am »



Now, much like showing how a trick is done before the illusion is performed, here's the test fit.  It looks a bit silly, but you have to use a little imagination.  Ok, you have to use a LOT of imagination.  It gets better, trust me :)

A couple of things to note.  This pictures shows the brackets still attached.  These were eventually removed, but would have worked well to securely mount the panel.  Also, the panel is sitting lower than where it eventually ended up.  This is where I would have liked it to be, but the thickness of the monitor required that it be back a little bit from the front in order to allow the marquee plastic to be inserted.  This caused it to ride upward on the angled molding.  Again, if this were scratch-built, the panel could be closer to the bottom.



And this shows the fit from the back, sawdust and all.  Not too bad, but I need to do something about the top of this thing  :P

<continued on the next post>

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2007, 03:30:43 am »



And this is where the box is going.  Yeah, it's going to be a bit fugly from behind, but I can live with that.  The appearance is something that can be addressed down the road with a nice looking box to enclose everything, with vents or a small fan for cooling.  What I'm concerned with right here is whether my estimations of position and wire length were correct.  Luckily for me, they were and everything will connect back up as expected.  This also shows the eventual placement for the LCD control panel and IR receiver.



Ok, I'm sure as heck not going to start mounting things to the top the way it looked.  It was cleaned, any blistering wood-like-product scraped smooth and a nice piece of textured 10-mil PSA backed black vinyl installed.  Much better looking than before and it will give me a nice, clean mounting surface..

<continued on the next post>

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2007, 04:07:04 am »



This is a piece of 1/16" clear acrylic I was using as a window for the previous marquee.  Rather than mess around taking measurements and hoping everything lines up, I just put the LCD panel in its final place, slid in the acrylic and made a few marks with a permanent marker to show where the edges of the screen would be.  Add an extra 1/16" to each line for a little extra insurance, mask off the screen area and paint with some black spray paint.

This part does a couple of things.  Primarily, it masks off the left over area surrounding the LCD panel.  But just as importantly, it gives the marquee a more authentic look.  LCD panels usually have an "anti-glare" surface that would blow the illusion pretty readily, and this goes a long way to hide that.



And here's the part installed, sans LCD panel.  The wider band at the bottom is annoying, but that will be addressed later with a little creative obfuscation :)  After a little clean up, this thing can start going together.  I still need a way to retain the front plastic and the LCD panel, so that will be next....

<continued on the next post>

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2007, 04:40:01 am »


This is the original marquee retainer that has been modified to go around the LCD panel.  It was done rather precariously on a router table and I still have all of my fingers.  Bonus for me!  Obviously, much of the structural integrity of the part was forfeited.  The white strip is double sided tape, which will adhere it to the plastic window.  When screwed in place, it will act much like a strap and hold the LCD in its "slot".



And just for a little extra security, a pilot hole was drilled and a small screw on each side also holds the window in place.  This isn't going to be moved anywhere fully assembled, so I'm not concerned about solid mounting.  I just don't want the panel to end up on the floor, and these two things will prevent that nicely.

BTW, the flash made the black marker on the screw head look worse than it really does.  The retainer molding will cover the screw anyway.

<continued on the next post>
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 02:39:56 pm by RandyT »

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2007, 06:19:56 am »

Was that really an original Defender?

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2007, 10:37:19 am »
Interesting.  For a few days.. I was expecting that maybe Randy figured out how to slice half of the LCD to "remove" the height, and just not use the entire screen resolution for image display (since that half was cut off anyways).  I'm kinda with Spacies.. I'm not sure I would go this route, but you can bet I'm excited non the less, to see the final result.

-csa

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2007, 10:37:47 am »
Was that really an original Defender?

The last time it was a "Defender" was close to 20  years ago, which was before I traded a 10 meg (yes, I meant meg) harddrive for it.  Just an empty wooden cab, no boards and a rough monitor.  It started its second life as a housing and control means for an Amiga computer and a 20" TV / "monitor" before the IBM PC even had decent color graphics.

Why do you ask?

RandyT
« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 11:06:51 am by RandyT »

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2007, 11:05:32 am »



Ok, the panel is in place, and everything lines up as it should.  The molding and plastic window are keeping the panel nice and secure.




And here the box is mounted by 4 screws using holes already present in the metal case.  The LCD control panel was screwed down to the top of the cab with some nylon spacers underneath.  Remember when I said to remember where the ground wires were on the panel?  This is where they need to be put back under the screws.  Also, make sure it's mounted where it won't interfere with cables, or the casing you might wish to install later.  If the panel has a remote, you can also just bury the circuit board somewhere with only the "eye" exposed.  I wanted access to both (I just aim the remote at the ceiling and it works great) so this is where I put it.

From an aesthetics standpoint, some black spray paint would be beneficial here (for the metal box, NOT the back of the LCD panel..too many holes and you don't want paint inside!)  As I plan to eventually case this in, it would have been a waste of time.

<continued on the next post>

blueznl

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2007, 11:47:07 am »
There's no 'next post'!  :angel:

RandyT

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2007, 02:41:40 pm »


And here's the front.   Not terrible, but it needs a "certain something", namely some of that aforementioned "illusion."  Remember that the goal here is to make it NOT look like an oversized monitor stuffed into a marquee area.

So how does one do that?  By separating the space into the individual elements you are trying to "emulate", of course.  First and foremost is the marquee.  This is a no-brainer.  Fill up as much of the space as possible in the marquee area.  But what about the rest?  Well, that's going to be up to you.   You could easily print a nice real paper card that says "How to Play" and place it over one section of the remaining space and then use what is left for a standardized electronic instruction card.  I opted to use as much of the remaining space as possible...think Beta-Brite style "topper" display on steroids!!

<The conclusion follows...on the next post  ;D>
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 04:02:06 pm by RandyT »

shardian

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2007, 02:50:38 pm »
Or, you could incorporate the entire lcd and create a custom jpeg for each game. mainly, the marquee on the top, a controls diagram below, and maybe a game flyer too to fill up some space. Being the awesome custom controller designer that you are, this really is a bad design with the way the lcd juts up out of the top. Maybe you could have laid down the lcd on the speaker/ light area and used a mirror to reflect the marquee? Either way, this project is screaming out for better planning before tearing up the expensive tv, and molesting the cabinet.

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2007, 03:23:40 pm »
Or, you could incorporate the entire lcd and create a custom jpeg for each game. mainly, the marquee on the top, a controls diagram below, and maybe a game flyer too to fill up some space. Being the awesome custom controller designer that you are, this really is a bad design with the way the lcd juts up out of the top. Maybe you could have laid down the lcd on the speaker/ light area and used a mirror to reflect the marquee? Either way, this project is screaming out for better planning before tearing up the expensive tv, and molesting the cabinet.

You haven't really been following the thread this long just to crap on the idea before you even see the end result, have you?   :angry:   :D




This is the final result and mirrors quite closely that which was in my "mind's eye" when starting this adventure.  I didn't show you all of the steps but they are simple enough to describe.  First, however,  I want to let you in on a minor goof I made.  In the previous photo, you'll see that the frame of the panel is black.  I spray painted it to prevent the metal from being visible at the edges of the marquee area.  While this is fine, and had I opted to take a different route to dress up the upper display, it would have been no problem.  But I had an epiphany to use the nice stainless steel frame of the display as part of the finish, so some painstaking use of solvents was required to remove the paint.  It cleaned up very nicely, and with the help of a strip of brushed metal Contact vinyl across the screen (almost a perfect match, BTW), I have a very simple and classy finish for the front of the "upper display." 

The red outline of the marquee area does two things.  It accentuates the difference between the marquee and the topper.  It also provided an opportunity to mask the asymmetric space around the marquee.  This was done by simply stripping the spine from two lengths of red t-molding, applying some thick double-sided tape to the back and then just sticking it in place.

So the end result is a hi-resolution, software controlled marquee, with a completely addressable top screen that can be used for anything, limited only by your imagination (and proper software of course)

Speaking of which, here's a video showing a crappy little app I cobbled together that just cycles a few marquees, accompanied by a nice winamp visualization on the "topper".  Keep in mind that it's difficult to photograph illuminated objects.  The quality of the marquee is not being fully represented, but it should provide a taste.



A note to the "detractors":  If I had shown you the above picture first, and a video with a static marquee, I can pretty much guarantee that you would be asking me where I got that skinny LCD panel from  :cheers:

RandyT


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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2007, 03:34:02 pm »
You haven't really been following the thread this long just to crap on the idea before you even see the end result, have you?   :angry:   :D
Maybe... ;) ;D

I do think the final product is very nice, but I still am not a big fan of the "betabrite" floating up there.

Do you have any other creative uses in mind for the top part yet? Maybe some creative use of the hiscore.dat file to scroll the top 10 score list for the game being played?

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2007, 03:43:03 pm »
So do you think this is a cheaper solution than a projector?   :dunno NM, I see the price you got it for.  It's basically half the price.  :) I think it kills that idea with the quality but the top piece is still missing something.  Maybe wrap the top part of the LCD in a Golden Tee LED Header: eBay Link

BTW, Looks pretty incredible.  It was worth the wait!  :applaud:
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 09:26:42 pm by Peale »

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2007, 03:46:04 pm »
So do you think this is a cheaper solution than a projector?   :dunno  I think it kills that idea with the quality but the top piece is still missing something.  Maybe wrap the top part of the LCD in a Golden Tee LED Header:

BTW, Looks pretty incredible.  It was worth the wait!  :applaud:

Yeah, I think you are on the right track. It just needs something to make it look more integrated.
In my mind, I visualize a single piece of plexi covering the whole lcd, with a bezel separating the two areas of the lcd.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 09:27:06 pm by Peale »

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2007, 04:06:46 pm »
Do you have any other creative uses in mind for the top part yet? Maybe some creative use of the hiscore.dat file to scroll the top 10 score list for the game being played?

What the topper can be used for is pretty much limitless.  The high-score idea is a good one.  Here's a few more;

 - Take a picture of your control panel, and label each control with their function on a per game basis.

 - Display the actual instruction cards for the games

 - Run a custom video animation that identifies the machine as "(Your Name here) Arcade machine" while still being able to display the actual marquee for the game being played.

 - Scrolling stock market quotes and international time and weather updates (ok, that one was a joke, but an informational scroll of any type...including high scores, instructions, etc..)

You also don't have to use the full area of the "topper" display just because it's there.  .  Parts can be can be covered, and it absolutely can be framed in with whatever graphics you want.  You can even put a graphic over the middle of the topper and turn it into 2 smaller, separate screens.  However, I don't think that "integrating" the upper section with the marquee section will be nearly as effective, even through a common window.  Doing this is actually a step backward in making the two appear as separate entities.  To keep the effect lucid, the marquee should probably also be static, and the "topper" exhibiting motion of some nature. 

Of course, the marquee area can be used for other things when the cabinet is not in "arcade" mode.  Consider a winamp visualIzation in the marquee area while song/album details are shown on the topper, with music selection choices or the actual music video being shown on the main screen.  This type of thing presents some pretty incredible opportunities for customizing a rig based on what it happens to be doing at that moment.

As for why things were done the way they are... I had an afternoon of time available to do this and I wanted it done.  Originally, a larger frame with some graphics were considered, but the current form is what was dictated by the time I had available to do it.  What you do with yours is limited only by you ;)

RandyT
« Last Edit: December 26, 2007, 10:02:48 am by RandyT »

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2007, 04:16:24 pm »
Very cool!  Are you going to write a software app that will split the display and call up the appropriate images based on what is needed?

In other words, how do you make the bottom half of the screen show the marquee of the current game playing in MAME while displaying something else on the top half of the screen?

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2007, 05:02:51 pm »
Very cool!  Are you going to write a software app that will split the display and call up the appropriate images based on what is needed?
In other words, how do you make the bottom half of the screen show the marquee of the current game playing in MAME while displaying something else on the top half of the screen?

I have a simple app that will scan the title of active windows.  It would only take a couple of minutes to modify it to look for MAME: and then match the marquee graphic to the game being played.  The bigger issue is the positioning on the second screen.  When the screen res changes on one screen, the co-ordinates change on both screens.  At the moment, I haven't found a reliable way to monitor the screen res switched to under MAME and compensate the position, but I haven't spent that much time on it yet.  In all actuality, it's probably a function that would be best added by the FE writers, or be accomplished by means of a "plug-in."  Hopefully seeing one of these setups in action will provide a little motivation for adding features like this in the future.

On a side note, another real benefit to this arrangement is that the marquee and topper now becomes usable desktop space.  This can be very handy for systems running arcade accurate resolutions as desktop space tends to be pretty tight at 640x480 resolutions.  For instance, at the moment I have a regular explorer window open on the main screen to browse for music, while the Winamp control panel and playlist are filling the "topper" and G-Force visualization is running in the marquee area.   I mentioned something similar above, but didn't try it until just now ;D

RandyT
« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 06:05:35 pm by RandyT »

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2007, 06:42:27 pm »

I admit.

I was a skeptic. But I think it looks kinda cool now.

How about a video?

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Re: LCD Marquee Project: AKA "How to put even more money into an old Defender ca
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2007, 06:47:58 pm »

I admit.

I was a skeptic. But I think it looks kinda cool now.

How about a video?
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