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.