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Author Topic: Outer Heaven: Metal Gear Solid themed MAME cab *99% done - art, TV & controls*  (Read 13246 times)

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Timstuff

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As I mentioned in another thread, a few days ago my mom spotted an old Ajax conversion cab on the side of the road that was scheduled to be hauled away by the dump. The owner was kind enough to let me have the machine, and he told me that it still works. I have not gotten a chance to test it as of yet because it's missing a power cable, but it came with a 19" monitor, and if that still works then I'll be happy as a clam.





The woodwork needs some repairs and the paint job is hideous, but it'll make for a dandy MAME cabinet I think. I don't know what kind of cab it was before it was converted to Ajax, but whatever it was, it would seem that the original artwork and such is long gone. My gut tells me that there's very little nostalgia attached to this machine as far as old upright cabs go, so I don't think I'd feel much guilt about MAMEing it.

I built a PC about 2 years ago with the intention of putting it in a BYOAC unit which never got built, and I plan to use it as the heart of this machine. The plan for now is to make a Metal Gear Solid themed cabinet, which I'm code-naming "Outer Heaven." I'm planning on painting the whole unit black, giving it silver T-molding and adding sheet metal over the kickplate (which I'll have to build, since the original kickplate is missing) to stick with the "metal" theme. And although I initially had some reservations about it, I think I'm going to cut into the existing control panel area on the cab to make room for a larger one.



Here's a better look at the side art that I whipped up in Adobe Illustrator, based on an existing MGS illustraton. I might tweak it a bit in the following weeks / months, but for the most part I'm pretty happy with it.



I'll keep you all posted on future developments. The next step for me is going to be replacing the power cable and / or power supply, and then testing the machine to see if the monitor still works. After that, I can strip out all the hard war and get to re-finishing the woodwork! This is going to be quite a summer project, I'm sure.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 11:18:53 pm by Timstuff »

abzman2000

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those designs looks SWEET, I always imagined finding something other than the occasional printer ,or p3 in the trash; this would be a dream come true. 

Timstuff

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Glad you like them! BTW, I've got an art update today.

Marquee



CPO



And finally, the cleaned up sideart. I actually have two versions I'm trying to choose between. One of them has kind of a sunset color scheme that seems to compliment the CPO. However, the other is a cooler blue color, which seems a little more inline with MGS's tone. I'm not sure which I should go with yet.



« Last Edit: May 14, 2008, 04:11:41 pm by Timstuff »

Franco B

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Wow, this thing should look awesome!!

The sunset and blue sideart both look awesome but I think I lean towards the blue.

My only critism is that from your CPO mockup it seems that the control panel will be much bigger than the original and the cab may look a little 'CP heavy' so to speak.

It may be an idea to try and condense your CP my moving your contols closer together to reduce its size. Its all about getting the balance between aesthetics and ergonomics right.

I would make a cardboard mockup of your CP and attach it to the cab to see what it looks like. You can attach your controls to it too to see how it will play. You can then mess with the CP size and control placement etc until you find something that you are happy with before you start cutting wood.

Timstuff

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Actually, I already have condensed my CP considerably from when I was planning to use the Lusid templates. The CP I have now is 28" wide, and the cabinet I'm working with is 22" wide, so there's actually only going to be a difference of about 3 inches. It's actually very compact, but it looks a little large right now because you can't see it with all the components on it. This thing is going to have 3 joysticks, a trackball, a spinner, and several administrative buttons on it, so I myself am actually surprised at how small I was able to get it.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2008, 01:42:13 pm by Timstuff »

Timstuff

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BTW, here's my CP design if anyone's interested.


SNAAKE

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nice  >:D

Timstuff

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Not much of an update for today, I'm afraid, but I do have some news on the project: I finally got a chance to actually test the Ajax frankencab today, and the hardware seems to be in perfect condition, so I'll probably be selling the PCB once I've gutted the cab. The monitor appears to have some contrast problems, but I'm hoping I can fix them with some adjustments in the back and a clean power source ($90 for an Arcade VGA is a heckuvalot cheaper than $250 for a 20" LCD, after all).

Also, tonight I started the rather dubious process of accounting the finances necessary for the project, via a list of supplies necessary with prices and vendors attached to each item. There's still a lot of details I need to hammer out, but what I will say is this: it's a darned good thing I'm working more hours this summer. I'm going to go the "pay as you go" route, and try not to rush into buying things too far in advance. That already got me into some trouble in the past, so I'm hoping not to repeat that again.

Timstuff

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Yay, I began control panel construction today! I was able to get the top piece mostly cut out before I had to go to work.



I temporarily put a blue button from the old Terminator 2 CP I bougth ages ago in one of the holes to make sure that they fit nicely in the holes I cut.



Also, the other night I poured through a bunch of pics of arcade cabinets, and I think I can confirm that my Ajax machine began life as a generic cab. That would certainly explain why it has a JAMMA harness on a drawer beneath the coin door-- this thing was likely designed to be quick and easy to convert, although the JAMMA harness in the drawer is not connected to anything since the Ajax PCB is too big to fit in it. At any rate, I don't think I should feel guilty MAMEing this thing.





I think that I'm going to have to stop at Home Depot tomorrow because I underestimated how much MDF I was gonna need. I still need to cut out the hole for the trackball and take care of all of the routing/countersinking necessary, so I'm going to be borrowing my Grandpa's router this week (I'm too cheap to buy one yet).

I'm glad to finally move forward with my project, although there's a bit of a decision I have to make regarding the monitor. The monitor that came with the cabinet doesn't work properly, and for me it wouldn't be worth fixing it, so I'm probably going to sell it (as I intend to do with the Ajax PCB, which is in immaculate condition). That leaves me with two options for the monitor:

The first option is that I can spend $150 on a 20" RCA TV from Wal-Mart, which will give me that arcade-authentic image quality at a very reasonable price. The downside, however, is that this thing is huge and heavy. It weighs 45 pounds, and I need to make some measurements to find out if it will actually physically fit in my cab without taking it out of the case (which is something I have no interest in attempting, since real arcade montiors are dangerous and hard enough to mount as it is).

The second option is to order a 20" Samsung LCD monitor from the internet. It would cost me $198 plus $25 shipping, which isn't bad but still more pricey than the TV. It would also have a somewhat less "arcade authentic" look to it since MAME would look basically the way it does on my PC. However, the big advantages are that it would be easy to mount since it's so small, and it's so light that it would put the cab's center of gravity a lot lower, which means there'd be little risk of it tipping over.

So, what do you think-- considering the pros and cons, should I go with a TV, or LCD monitor? That is, assuming that the descision isn't made for me if I find out that the TV won't even fit in the cab...

Timstuff

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I'm making good progress on my control panel. I'm not much of a carpenter, so there was a lot of tweaking I had to do to get everything to fit together correctly, and it involved some very sore limbs afterwards. There are a few gaps here and there where the pieces didn't sit 100% straight on the bottom panel, but once I fill them in with putty it should be fine. I currently only have glue holding the box together, so I need to go to Home Depot and pick up some 1x1s and carriage bolts. Aside from that, I need to cut the hole for the trakc ball mount and do all the necessary routing. I think I'm in pretty good shape overall though.



Oh yeah, and after measuring my cab's interior and weighing the pros and cons of a TV vs. an LCD monitor, I've decided to go with a TV. It's cheaper and gives a more authentic picture, so I think I can put up with the hefty weight and more involved mounting process.

IDDQD

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This is going to look great when it's done.

One thing I haven't been able to figure out, though -- what games use the thumb button? There are the six main buttons, and then the one thumb button lower and to the left. I don't know that I've ever played a game like that, but a good number of cabs seem to have them.

Also, what did you use to design your CP? I like it!

billpa

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One thing I haven't been able to figure out, though -- what games use the thumb button? There are the six main buttons, and then the one thumb button lower and to the left.

That set up is for neo-geo games that used 4 buttons. The fourth button on the bottom row is the same button as the first button on the top row (wired to the same encoder port). So really, there are only 6 buttons, just a duplicate of one so you can play the games that had a straight 4 button layout.

To OP: The artwork looks awesome! Cant wait to see it on the cab.

IDDQD

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One thing I haven't been able to figure out, though -- what games use the thumb button? There are the six main buttons, and then the one thumb button lower and to the left.

That set up is for neo-geo games that used 4 buttons. The fourth button on the bottom row is the same button as the first button on the top row (wired to the same encoder port). So really, there are only 6 buttons, just a duplicate of one so you can play the games that had a straight 4 button layout.

I see, so you would rotate your wrist to the left and hit the top four buttons, which curve gently? This means that I don't need to use seven buttons on the U360s, just that I need to wire one connection to two buttons, right?

IDDQD

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Sorry, I can't make it edit, but I meant the bottom four buttons.

billpa

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This means that I don't need to use seven buttons on the U360s, just that I need to wire one connection to two buttons, right?

Correct. Your wrist would turn a bit more to the left (not a thumb button as you initially thought). This way, when playing a four button game, you dont have to have one button up top.

Timstuff

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Progress is going quite nicely on my project. I've been blessed with some very beautiful weather this week, and I could certainly have found worse things to do with it than working outside on my cab, even hauling it in and out of the tool shed every day is a pain. I did pay a visit to my local arcade today for inspiration though (6 player X-Men cabinet = awesome). Earlier this week I completely gutted the innards out, which meant that I was now free to start stripping the paint and modifying it. I also removed the monitor rack since I'm going to put a TV shelf inside.



Also, what's unusual about this cabinet is that it actually had two floors. I ripped out the top floor using a jigsaw and a crowbar, so now I should have no trouble fitting my PC inside.



Even though I've ended the my last two work days covered in black dust and with gray boogers up my nose, it was worth it to sand off that awful green-speckled paint job. I just have to use the chemical stripper to get it off of the spots too tight for the electric sander, rub it down with mineral spirits, and then she'll be ready to prime.

Also, although some people out there might want to hang me for what I've done to a Bagman cabinet, I think that my modifications have been coming along very well. In addition to removing the monitor rack and second "floor," the biggest visible change is what I did to the control panel. Instead of having a flush-mounted control panel like before, I actually ended up cutting into the cabinet frame so that I could attach an external control panel. I know this may be arcade sacrelig to some people, but the way I see it, Bagman used a generic cab design anyway, and it's not like there were any real remnants of it to restore it from.

The control panel before:



After:



Here are some photos of the cabinet with my new control box placed on top. Although I was careful in the design stages, a few times I was a little worried about whether or not my bigger panel would fit, but I was relieved to see that it fits perfectly.





Well, that's the big update for today. After I'm completely done stripping the paint, I need to install the TV shelf, and fill in the current speaker holes so I can cut holes for stereo speakers. It needs a few repairs too, with a few spots that need to get filled in with Bondo, and a few spots on the bottom where the plywood is peeling that to be glued and clamped. I'm probably also going to put in a few wood screws, since the cabinet is currently held together with nails, and I don't trust those. Lastly, I need to replace the pathetic old casters this thing has, because I wouldn't trust them rolling through my house. Then, I'll finally be set to prime and paint!
« Last Edit: May 30, 2008, 03:59:49 am by Timstuff »

isucamper

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Where did you get that control panel art?  I'm a huge MGS fan and I've never seen it before.
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

Timstuff

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I'm not sure where it originated from, but I found it as a PC wall paper. The largest I could find it was 768p (and that was w/ black letterbox bars) so I had to do a lot of retouching in photoshop after upscaling it to 12" x 28" at 300 dpi. Here's the original.

Timstuff

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Progress has been great over the past 48 hours. Today, I finished up the TV shelf inside of the cabinet, cut out the new speaker holes, and put in the hardware for the new marquee light. I've finally moved my machine from the tool shed into the house, as well. With the speakers, I copied someone else's idea put in some eye hooks on the inside of the marquee area, and I'm using some little bungee cords I bought at Home Depot to strap the speakers in place. I tested it out earlier today, and it worked great. I'm probably going to fill in the original routing for the speakers using bondo.

I'm really psyched, because this means that the major woodworking for this cab is finished. All that I need to do now is fill in the screw holes with wood putty and do a few repairs using bondo and wood glue, and she'll be all ready to paint! I also bought a new set of casters, which I'll probably install when I'm repairing the base of the cab.

I couldn't take very good pictures since it's night and the light's not the greatest, so I'll take more tomorrow. But for now, enjoy these pics. :)

Timstuff

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Yay! Last night, I finished painting my cab, and this morning I put the T-molding in place.

First I coated it with gray primer. Then, I gave it a light sand. I then gave it two coats of black semi-gloss, and lightly sanded in between. I'm quite pleased with the results.







I really like how the chrome-stripe T-molding looks. It was a pain to put in since it's slightly thicker than typical T-molding, but it was worth the extra fuss. It almost makes it look like the cabinet is made of metal.


Timstuff

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I'm prolly going to post an update in the morning, but I found something online tonight that gave me one of those "small world moments." I was looking at the classic arcade game locater to see what's in my area (Connecticut), and I noticed that my local arcade, which folded about a year ago, was still listed. I never got a chance to go inside the place (I haven't lived in my current town too long), but I saw something very odd in the comments...

http://arcadelocations.classicgaming.gamespy.com/PlaceSearch.php3?code=ctderbil

Quote
2007-01-19   STUART   place is now closed ,i do now own 5 games from that place and they did need a lot of work they were worn out i own TIME PILOT 84, SEGA TURBO,BUMP N JUMP,TANKERS,AJAX

I can't help but wonder... Is the Ajax machine that this guy acquired the same one I've been working on? Like I said, I never went inside this place (:(), so I never saw the Ajax machine they had there. But really, how many Ajax machines could be in my dinky area of Connecticut anyway? Furthermore, is "Stuart" the guy who left the machine on the road for garbage pickup before I rescued it, or was he the guy who that guy got the machine from? It may seem kind of stupid that I show such interest in where this machine came from, but I can't help but be curious about it all...

Really, I can't blame this cab's previous owners from giving up on it. It's a generic model that seems to have undergone multiple conversions, and was in pretty awful shape when I got it. However, it makes me all the more happy to see how far it's come in the weeks I've been fiddling with it.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2008, 02:58:20 am by Timstuff »

Timstuff

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Wee, I definitely can see a light at the end of the tunnel on this project. Today, I went to Home Depot and got a big sheet of plexiglass for $15, and I borrowed Leapinlew's technique for cutting out the plexiglass overlay for the control panel. I had enough left over that I was also able to cut out the two pieces to make the marquee "sandwich." There's a rough spot or two on the panel overlay's edge that I might straighten out tomorrow, but overall I'm very happy with how it all turned out.



I test mounted some controls to see how it all fits together. All the holes are in just the right spots, and the thing is the perfect size for my CP. I almost seriously effed up the plexi, because at first I was trying to drill my pilot holes directly ontop of the CP (BAD BAD BAD IDEA!). The plexi ended up cracking on the third or fourth hole, and then I realized how stupid I was and decided to do it the right way, on top of a piece of solid wood. Fortunately, the sheet was big enough that I was able to start over without mistakes.



You'll find carriage bolts or dust washers on top of my panel, because I did it the "correct way" and recessed them into the wood (also, I used machine posts instead of bolts since they're flatter). It'll all be nicely hidden under the CPO art and plexi, leaving a smooth and junk-free surface.



The trackball hole is perfectly lined up, and I used a bevel bit on the router to prevent palms from getting pinched during frenzied trackball use. I couldn't find a 45 degree angle, but I think 22.5 degrees should be plenty to get the job done. Basically, I cut out an appropriately sized hole in a scrap piece of MDF using a hole saw, then drilled a pilot hole in the plexi with a forstner bit and clamped it to the MDF. Finally, I used the router w/ the bevel trim bit and went around the circumference of the hole.

The marquee with no light-- (it's blue because I decided to leave the protective film on it until I get my marquee printed)



And with light



Even without any light-diffusing marquee material in it, the lighting looks pretty even, which I'm happy with. I need to get some foam or other such material to put on the sides though, since I don't want the light peeking through there. All in all though, this was a very productive day IMHO, and I can easily see myself finishing this project by mid July (possibly sooner, depending on my finances and free time).

jeffhlewis

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you're either slackin' or not posting pics.

love the theme by the way, I'm imaging this will be awesome for the old school konami games from the late 80's early 90's.
 

Timstuff

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Actually, the cabinet is almost done. The only thing left to do now is wire up everything to the Ipac, and then I'm going to stick a fork in it. Expect a huge update this week!

Glad to see you're interested in the project though! :)

P.S.: While I was waiting for the last parts to arrive, I ended up building a PS3 / PC compatible arcade stick from scratch. It was based mostly on the arcadecab.com plans, although I made a few tweaks to the button layout. It's not quite as pretty in person as the crappy Macbook camera makes it look (it's the webcam whore effect), but it works great. I'll probably get a CPO printed for it at some point, and I eventually hope to put a perfect 360 and some micro leaf switches in there.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2008, 03:37:16 am by Timstuff »

Franco B

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I do like that chrome stripe t-moulding. I had considered using iot before but I wasn't sure how it would look. After seeing it on your project (and the Mario Bros. bartop??) I think I may use it for a future project.

Do you have any recent pictures of your build? Don't be greedy, share please!  :)

leapinlew

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Very nice work with the routing and the dustwashers

Timstuff

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Well, this project is about ready to stick a fork in, as I said before. Please forgive how crappy these pics are, but I took them at night using ceiling lights, so the lighting was pretty crappy (also, I need to clean up my den a lot). I'll be taking some high quality photos in the near future, for sure, but for now I just want you guys to see how she's coming!

Basically, the only things left to do are tightening a few things up. I accidentally broke the mouse hack that I did two years ago when I was installing my controls, so I decided to just order an Optiwiz since I decided that doing another hack wasn't worth my time. The rest of the controls however are wired to the Ipac2 and work like a dream. I also automated Mamewah to load up profiles specific to each emulator, which I was relieved to discover was extremely easy. I still need to hack a TV remote so that the TV turns on automatically (and I haven't set up Mamewah to automatically load up just yet), and I've also got a few odds and ends I need to take care of with the monitor and marquee glass, but other than that it's pretty much done.

Scott at Mamemarquees.com did an excellent job printing up all of my custom artwork. I used the spray-and-soak method for getting the sideart on, and I had almost no air bubbles to deal with afterwards.







I also got some custom coin door stickers with the Foxhound logo printed up. They were a serious pain to photograph while my superbright LEDs were on, so I'll probably take more pictures of them later later.





Also, despite popular belief, even a 20" CRT television can play vertical games just fine. As long as it has component inputs, I'd dare to say it'd take a pretty experienced eye to spot the difference between a TV with component cables and an actual arcade monitor. It's not quite "arcade accurate," but it's as close as you can get with an American TV.



Here are some more game pics.





And yes, you can run MGS and MGS2 on it... ;)







Well, that's all for today. For my next real update I'll hopefully have tied up most of the odds and ends, and have some high quality photographs of it!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 11:45:15 pm by Timstuff »

Spaced Ace

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Sweet!  Looks mean as sh*t too.  The CPO rocks...

jeffhlewis

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love the side art, where'd you get it printed?
 

Portnoy

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Looks Awesome!!  :applaud:

Timstuff

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love the side art, where'd you get it printed?

Mamemarquees.com ;D

Franco B

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Fook me!!  :o  :o

That looks awesome! Even better than I imagined it being (and thats was pretty damn awesome too!)

 :applaud:  :applaud:  :applaud:

Have you got any full length shots of the cab? (front on, side on etc)

nullb0y

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« Last Edit: August 08, 2008, 03:04:10 pm by nullb0y »
Alright. Who wants some? Who's next? Huh? How 'bout it? Who wants some? Huh? Who wants to have a little? You.
  You want some more? Huuuh? You want a little? Do ya? Huh? You want some more? Huh? Huh? Hh!

Timstuff

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Have you got any full length shots of the cab? (front on, side on etc)

Not just yet. It was kind of hard to photograph ATM because it's currently partially in the corner. When I take the high quality photos of it, I'll be sure to include full length shots of it.

8way

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Very nice work. Love that side art, i was wondering how much did that cost you?

briktop11b

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what are you running MGS and MGS 2 with? Emulator or console? Big fan of metal gear series and cab looks awesome buy the way. Good job.

Rakae

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That is big bosses dream, a place where warriors like us live as we should...

But seriously, great job this cab is so well don the craftsmanship and art are just awesome.
From one metal gear fan to another well done.
 

ivwshane

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Do you have a template or something I could print out for your 7 button layout? Your button layout is exactly how I want mine to look but I haven't figured out a way to transfer it to the cp top so I can start drilling.




Very nice!

isucamper

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How's your control panel design working for you?  Got enough room to rest your arms when using the joysticks?  Enough room to use the trackball without bumping stuff?
THE SYSTEM          Popeye

Timstuff

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Wow, thanks for all the feeback guys! I'm pleased to announce that today, I got my Opti-wiz installed, and now all of my controls are fully operational! Nothing beats playing Marble Madness, Golden Tee Golf, and World Class Bowling with a trackball I tell ya! Also, I found out that I may not have to hack a TV remote to turn on my TV automatically! Apparently, the error message I'd been fretting over actually goes away on it's own well before Windows finishes loading, so I might be able to get by just wedging something into the power switch to keep it depressed. I might still hack the TV remote eventually, but it's looking more and more like it won't be necessary.

This Friday is when this thing is going to get a real workout. I've invited a bunch of friends over to play it, and I'll be supplying pizza, chips, and drinks. Since I'm quite aware that a 2-person machine is going to have a long line with a group of the 15 people that might potentially show up, I'll have the PS3 on backup (Rock Band and COD4 are always crowd pleasers, plus I just got Soul Calibur 4). I'll try to snap a couple photos of the event so you guys can see what kind of reaction my cab gets from my friends. :)

Now, let me try to answer some of your questions.

Very nice work. Love that side art, i was wondering how much did that cost you?

It ended up costing me $128. It was a tough pill to swallow, but in the end it was definitely worth it. I considered going the next size down at one point, but when I test printed the art (at super-super low quality on my own inkjet, of course), I was not satisfied with how the smaller art looked. So I test printed the larger art, and I was very happy with it, thus I decided to pony up the dough for the big stuff.

what are you running MGS and MGS 2 with? Emulator or console? Big fan of metal gear series and cab looks awesome buy the way. Good job.

I'm actually not using an emulator or console. I'm running the PC ports of Metal Gear Solid: Integral and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, and using no-CD hacks so that I can run them from Mamewah with ease. MGS actually looks and plays quite a bit better than when running the PSX version on Epsxe, and it has some nice new options like quick saving. The PC version of MGS2 is pretty much a direct port of the Xbox version, so if you didn't know better you'd probably think it was running on a console.

Do you have a template or something I could print out for your 7 button layout? Your button layout is exactly how I want mine to look but I haven't figured out a way to transfer it to the cp top so I can start drilling.

Very nice!

If you PM me your e-mail addy I can send you the PDF of my control layout. My best advice for transfering it to your material is to tape the paper down on top of it, and then use brads / wood tacks (the really small skinny nails) and a hammer to poke holes into the little + sign at the center of each button / joystick hole (and make sure it goes into the wood). After that, I remove the paper, then take a pencil and circle all the pinholes so they're easier to keep track of. Unless you're using a hole saw, your spade bit / quick cut bit or forstner bit should have a little pointy nub in the center. Stick that into one of the pinholes, and you can start drilling away. Also, if your drill has a built-in level on it, make sure you pay attention to it while you're drilling!

How's your control panel design working for you?  Got enough room to rest your arms when using the joysticks?  Enough room to use the trackball without bumping stuff?

In retrospect, I would probably have moved the joysticks and buttons forward a bit more, or had a little bit more lip on the front of the panel to give the palms a bit more resting area for 4 button games. But it's only a minor issue, and it's not really noticeable if you're standing up (I need taller stools to sit on). The dedicated 4 way is quite useable, but depending on how your arms are situated it may be difficult to access some of the player 1 buttons. It was kind of a hard situation though, because if I moved the 4-way further to the right to make it more comfortable to use, you wouldn't have access to the buttons; but if I moved it further to the left, you'd be at risk for bumping the 8-way stick with your forearm. The ultimate solution would have been to have a set of buttons just for the 4-way, but my panel simply wasn't big enough for the extra clutter that would have caused. Other than those two minor issues, everything works well. There's plenty of room for all the other controls to be comfortably used, and I haven't gotten any complaints so far about people having to stand too close together.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 02:47:58 am by Timstuff »

  
 

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