Monday, April 28, 2008

Constructing the back of the cabinet

The past couple of weeks I have been busy with sanding and painting the coin door (which wasn't a big success :) and especially with building the backside of the cabinet - which turned out great.

The progress on the coin door is something for another post, probably like when I recieve the door back from a friend who's a professional (spray-)painter.

For the backside of the cab I started out putting the top- and bottom panels in place. As you can see on the pictures they each consist out of two pieces of MDF. One piece of the usual 16mm and another piece ontop which is just 8mm. The bevel created that way is for support of the door and to make the door flush with the rest of the backside. I used the thinner MDF for the door because it doesn't need to be as solid as the rest of the cabinet and that would only make the cabinet heavier.

Fixed a nice lock on the topside of the door to - duh - lock it in place. And it gives a real authentic look to it :) I glued a little plinth piece to the inside of the cab where the lock closes, because I had a margin of about 4 mm. But now it's perfectly tight when the door is shut.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coin door cut-out

This evening I cut the hole for the coin door with the jigsaw. It went pretty easy. Except, while the hole is perfectly centered, the coin door is 1.5 cm off-center due to the coin door frame itself. Hadn't thought about that before cutting. But who cares. It looks nice! Even though it isn't an original Nintendo coin door. Which bothers me just a little :)

Got my monitor repaired last week. No more hourglass special effect! While running in 800 x 600 resolution (Windows) everything is perfect. In 640 x 480 or something however (prior to Windows, eg. the bootscreen and bios), it's still crooked.. hmmm.. Can't be bothered by it any longer. Those screens flash by quick anyway. As long as all the emulation resolution are fine, it's ok.

Updating my roms to the lastest Mame .024 version. And check it out! No curves left and right! :)

Adjusted my newly ordered coin mechs to 20 Euro cent by the way! After a lot of searching I came across a website which explained it quite well. All we did (rough adjustment for now) was bent the cradle (no. 12 in the illustration) so it accepted 20 Euro cent coins. I did take some photo's of the adjusted mech but those came out very unclear. So, sorry no pics.

And I stripped my computer. Looks a lot cleaner than it did in the old ugly case. I mounted one of my newly aquired 4- 8-way Donkey Kong replica joysticks on my test-panel, looks great. Really close to the original. And plays fine, albeit a little firmer and less precise in diagonals than the Happs competition ones.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Monitor test-install

To check if the monitor support was sufficient, I put the Hantarex 21" screen in the cabinet and connect it to the computer running MAME.

1st thought - Very happy with the fact that the monitor was very well supported. It felt really solid and secure. And it looked real cool too!

2nd thought - What happend to my beautifull screen! The image is all distorted. Well, at least the sides are curved inwards, a bit like an hourglass. I tried adjusting the settings through the OSD but that didn't help. Auto-Degauss which is supported by the monitor didn't help either. I might have to try a manual degaussing tool.

One theory - Because the screen was perfect before I somewhat decased and mounted it, I thought that the distortion could come from the 45 degree angle the screen is installed now. So I got it out of the cab and tried it again, but the distortion stayed.

Another theory and probably more suitable - I think I must have messed up the magnetic fields while cutting the backside of the monitor case with the angle grinder. Can't be too good for it, the fast spinning of magnets that close to the tube.

So, after weeks of just reading and looking at pictures on the messageboard over at "Build your own arcade controls", I just registered myself there and am going to put a "Help" topic on :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monitor support platform and control panel mounted.

For starters I installed the board between control panel (CP) and bezel. I made the small panel little wider so I could actually screw it from the outside of the cabinet without splitting it. And making the piece wider also allowed me to install the CP support pieces. I have an order delivery coming up which contains a set of reproduction Nintendo CP clamps. With that I can lock the control panel tight in place. The CP board itself has a slight angle of about 15 degrees on the bezel side, because the panel is mounted under that angle. So it al fits nicely with no gaps.

I taped the bezel in place just to see where i wanted to monitor to be, considering all the artwork alongside the bezel. If you look carefully, there's this cardboard box on the background. I measured the Hantarex monitor case and carefully duct-taped this cardboard 'monitor' together.
This way I could easily move and try out different mounting positions without having to tow the 30 kilograms heavy screen around.

About the same time, I recieved my coin door complete with mechs which I had bought on Ebay. It is a used one, made in 1988. Nice feature, it has a coin counter as well, with 33.000-something plays on it :).
Unfortunatly it is not an original Donkey Kong coin door, but it'll do just fine. I was bidding on an original Nintendo coin door some time ago. It sold for 65 dollars. Considering this over-/under door was only 30, its not a bad buy. After I took the pictures, I disassembled it, straightend a couple of dented spots and cleaned it up real good with water and soap but i'll repaint it anyway. I don't especially like the Hammerite finish. I would rather paint it just black, more like the Nintendo one.

The coin mechanisms themselves work perfectly fine. Though it took me a day or two to get a hold of American quarters to test it :) As show on the image above, taken from the coinbox, there are two screws which you can adjust to modify the mech so it accepts different types of coins. One screw for the width and on the other side of the mech a screw for the height of the coin. But the plastic screw that is in my mech didn't age very well, it is very brittle so I'd rather leave this one on US quarters.

Though I allready orderd some new mechs which I can alter as well. So once I recieve them I'd probably set them up to accept 50 eurocent coins. They are a little easier to come-by on this side of the ocean.

Next up was installing a strong platform for the heavy 30 kilo monitor. So I cut out a piece of MDF the size of my monitor bottom, screwed and glued to two big wooden beams underneath and installed that inside the cabinet. Af first I wanted a more genuine Nintendo cabinet structure concerning the monitor support (metal bar on top or metal L-pieces on both sides of the monitor), but this was more easy and should do the job. It's not completely done yet, still have to fit a beam for the backside of the monitor to keep the thing in place, but I was out of wood.

When that's done I will fit some brackets into the sides of the monitor and onto the platform so the screen can't go anywhere when moving.

It might look awkward, the 45 degree angle at which the support platform is mounted, but in fact this is the original style and I really love how steep it is. Can't wait to see Street Fighter 3: third Strike in action! Keep practicing John!

About the monitor mounting, at first I really wanted to strip the monitor out of it's case and have it supported by a metal bar like the original Donkey Kong. But after decasing the thing I noticed there are no bolt holes on the corners of the tube! It is just clamped by small metal triangles on the corners, which themselves can be bolted in the metal case. So leaving it in the case is the only option, and the easiest one too.

Not to mention I had to cut a small 15 centimeters of the top-backside of the monitor case for it to even FIT in the Donkey Kong cabinet :).

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Building the bottom

For the bottom I build a rectangular frame but out of wood instead of MDF. Because MDF is not really sturdy, corners damage quickly when dropped on the floor (Johnny, check this website line 1a :). When done sanding it I attached it to the underside of the cabinet with woodglue and screws from the inside of the cabinet. At first I wanted to connect it with the metal L-brackets I bought, but this was easier, looks nicer and is probably even firmer.

Someone please notice the fine 45 degree cuttings and assembly of the frame. Took me quite some lengths of lumber and various test-assemblies to get it this good. Not to mention time and patience.

When the bottom frame was installed it was time to put the casters (wheels) on. Measured out where they had to come, drilled the 4 holes (5mm) for each caster and put the bolts trough. I used bolts this time because of the weight the casters must be able to handle.

The idea of this bottom is really nice. When the cabinet is standing it rests entirely on the wooden frame. You don't see the casters because they are on the back and are about 1mm above the floor. But when you tilt the cab just a little bit backwards all the weight is left on the casters, leaving the cabinet off the ground.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Assembling the cabinet, speaker grill and marquee!

During the past week and a half I assembled most of the cabinet. After test-fitting the panels with clamps, I bore little holes from the inside of the cabinet (where I had drawn the lines) to guide the screws. Then I applied the woodglue, assemble the panels again with clamps and then drill another hole through the panel but this time from the outside of the cabinet with the countersink drill bit and then put the screws in. Worked great! But just make sure you don't put the screws to close to the edge of the MDF, else it might split.

I haven't got very nice and sharp pictures of the assembly but I'll put one up anyway.

Next thing to do was to create the speaker grill.

I had copied the dimensions I had from the Jakobud cabinet-plan onto the MDF which I had to cut out.

I drilled two 6mm holes next to each other to be able to put the jigsaw in and cut the straight lines.

After the rough cuts were made I used a file to fine-tune the slots.

At first I was a little unsure of how it would turn out but it looks really good and straight!
When this was done I could assemble the speaker panel to the cabinet. And yes, the panel is short half a cm on the top. But after testing how the control panel would look on it I decided that it was no big deal. Still, it feels like cheating though.

Next up the agenda was the marquee- bottom and light. Well, putting the fluorescent light in a this stage of building isn't really necessary but it sure makes the marquee light up nice when we test it later! :)

Test-aligning the marquee-back panel.

Attaching the light fixture to the back panel.

Done installing! And testing without marquee (plexiglas artwork)

Below you'll see the rest of the pictures my brother and I took. Marquee isn't attached yet ofcourse, we just taped it in place for the pictures and our own enjoyment :).

Next up is building a square frame for the base of the cabinet. So the sidepanels won't touch the ground as they do now and which makes the cabinet rise another 6.6 cm. I was actually making one before but it didn't turn out as nice as I wanted. And some other parts, complete backside of the cabinet and the piece between control panel and bezel.