Bartop Arcade Cabinet

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by shredder, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. shredder

    shredder Member

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    BARTOP ARCADE CABINET
    IMG_0002.resized.JPG
    I'm on a general mid-term mission to revive some retro gaming fun in my life.

    I realised the other day that I've got all the parts lying around to throw together an arcade cabinet. That is:
    • old PC junk pile
    • some MDF sheets
    • a modest but reasonable collection of tools to work with
    So I did a quick search, which netted this bartop cabinet template. And without spending too much time on it, I quickly decided that it would do the job as a first attempt. Having no shortage of MDF and old PC junkpile, there's no pressure for this build to be ideal.

    Basic (unsmoothed, un-vajazzled) outline :
    cabnie.png

    I'll be using my own retro PC running emulation, (conceptually) a focused MAME build or similar, or (as an easy fallback) even just Win2K-or-similar based.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    PROGRESS REPORTS
    Project Start (i.e. this post) - 9 Nov.
    Side Panels - 10 Nov.
    Joysticks & Buttons Decision - 13 Nov.
    Lateral Panels - 14 Nov.
    Cabinet Construction pt. 1 and pt. 2 - 20 Nov.
    Control Panel pt. 1 - 21 Nov.
    Control Panel pt. 2 - 21 Nov.
    Speakers / Screen / PC Construction - 30 Nov.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


    IMG_0036.resized.JPG
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  2. OP
    OP
    shredder

    shredder Member

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    I'm in the process of building the physical cabinet now.

    The main decision to be made is with regard to the arcade controls. They are the main expenditure, the only core item I don't already have.
    Bring it on, when time permits, your advice always appreciated. I understand ;) you have some experience in this area.

    I hope to order some controls late next week. No doubt there are some Australian suppliers but as usual kiwi-no-bueno.

    It's hard to discern much between the mass-available controls, that is, the ones I can viably have shipped to me. Here's a look at the options I've nominally discovered:

    [Struck out below, is a list of what-not-to-get, if you're serious about building a high quality machine. See further posts for detailed advice on controls.]

    1/ There are the pay-double-for-the-mainstream-convenience (+ consumer protections, which is something I suppose) Jaycar ones :
    https://www.jaycar.co.nz/search?text=arcade

    jay.jpg

    2/ Then there are the masses of Aliexpress options :

    https://www.aliexpress.com/popular/arcade-buttons.html
    aliexpress.jpg

    3/ And, what I assume to be Aliexpress clones shipping out from China :

    https://nz.dhgate.com/usb-arcade-joystick-buttons-new-zealand.html
    dhgate.jpg

    4/ And there are NZ-version-of-Gumtre/ebay offerings, which are perhaps the same as the Chinastore ones above, but with the China-to-NZ portion of the shipping already done (which is nice, for convenience/time) :

    https://www.trademe.co.nz/gaming/arcade-pinball-machines/parts/listing-2385457140.htm
    tm.jpg

    My initial bias is just to grab a Number 4 above, because it's quick and easy for 90-odd bucks, reaches me within a week and I can then get on with it.

    But, much like an actor 4 series away from the hindsight realisation that he was at his career peak, I know nothing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  3. mR_CaESaR

    mR_CaESaR Member

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    I understand it's supposed to be on the "cheap" but for me, it's MUCH better to spend some extra money on buttons and joystick. After all, it's the one going to be used quite substantially.

    If you want the "old school" feel, you can't go wrong Suzo Happ or IL sticks with it's respective button combination.

    I for one, am a big Sanwa fan - everything I use is sanwa, the sanwa jlf and obsf series, being a bartop with mdf control panels, you might want to consider obsn series (the screw ins).

    A lot of people get attracted to the led buttons but from my experience, it's nice for that intial startup, then it gets all too distracting (but that's just me)

    Other things to consider is the button layout. For bartops, if you choose to do a 2p cp, I would highly recommend using the Sega layout for 1p and 2p - it's a bit more work, but the "curve" of the 2p makes it much easier for 2p

    Easier to show in a pic..

    IMG_20170907_231101_156.jpg

    IMG_20170907_231101_160.jpg

    All these layouts can be easily downloaded from slagcoin.com http://slagcoin.com/joystick/layout.html

    A lot of people just don't appreciate how good having that curve is on the 2p as that's the natural way the hand sits..

    Enough about layouts :)

    I previously mentioned about screw ins vs fixed, the option 4 you're looking into is a "fixed" seruon meaning it's designed to "snap" into a metal control panel or a perspex panel, they usually only have a tolerance of 2mm. If you choose these buttons, you will need to route out your cp to 2mm which also in my experience is not great on mdf/chipboard - should be ok for ply though.

    If you're not really too fussed or particular, the last couple of paragraphs is null and void :D

    Don't buy buttons from jaycar.. They're essentially the same as the ones from ebay/aliexpress with a massive mark up.
     
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  4. Cryogenic

    Cryogenic News Monkey

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    I reckon I have a set of arcade controls out the back that I had grand plans for but never used if you’re interested.
     
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  5. OP
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    shredder

    shredder Member

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    Awesome info thanks. I'll refer back to it in due course, and if I have any questions.

    I'll certainly look at that Sega 2p layout when it comes time to drill the holes. I'm adding 50 to 100mm to the cab width as it is, just to make it a bit more comfortable inside and out.

    I also think any kind of lighting/LED in buttons is a gimmick and wouldn't particularly want it.
    Sounds promising :thumbup: let us know the details if you get a chance in the next couple days, and if they suit we could sort something out. (14 Nov update: cheers but all sorted now!)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  6. Pierre32

    Pierre32 New Member

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    Not hugely surprised to hear this. Glad to have it confirmed. :thumbup:
     
  7. OP
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    shredder

    shredder Member

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    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  8. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    I highly recommend the zero delay encoders, you have to use one per player but if you end up using linux it's a must. I had a dual encoders (2 usb devices in 1) i had issue with it in linux (would not recognize second virtual device so only 1P worked).

    my 2c on buttons:
    Sanwa buttons are convex rather than concave and don't have a tactile click when you press them.
    They also have a short engage distance so it's very easy to activate them with a light touch.
    I used them in my build and haven't had any complaints but I completely understand the desire for a tactile click.

    As mentioned above whether you use the OBSN (screw in) or OBSF (clip in) depending on how thick your control panel material is you may have to route out clearance on the underside. If you use a HAPP button with long thread it may save you a lot of extra work. depending on control panel design/material it might end up being a bit stronger too.

    pic below from slagcoin: http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/attributes_brands.html - I recommend giving this page a good read to help you choose parts and design the control panel.

    [​IMG]

    If you check out this post in my build:
    https://forums.overclockers.com.au/posts/18340966/
    You will see the wood routing required on the underside to accomodate the short OBSN buttons. If I had used long thread HAPP buttons the routing wouldn't be required and I would have gotten away with just drilling out the actual button holes.

    If you want to embed the joysticks so that they are flush and no bolts can be felt on the top control panel you may need to consider wood routing anyway. again the pics in my post should give you a fair idea of what is involved to do this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
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  9. OP
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    shredder

    shredder Member

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    SIDE PANELS

    Let's get started.

    First, a square outline frame for the first panel :
    03 start.resized.rotated.JPG
    (how short does your pencil get before you chuck it???)

    Georef a paper template on to that outline :
    05 paper template on.resized.rotated.JPG

    Transcribe the template on to the wood using a craft knife, pencil and ruler (let's pretend the eraser wasn't necessary) :
    06 template transcribed.resized.rotated.JPG

    Do some cutting (imagine 80's montage music here) :
    15 cutting montage.png

    Basic side panel cutting complete :
    17 panels.resized.rotated.JPG

    Working on the other panels now.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  10. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    Sounds like youve got spare MDF to trial and error the control panel if need be anyway.
    I see you've got dust extraction too, I'm getting flashbacks from my first wood routing session and filling my garage with dust :tongue:
     
  11. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    That bubble bubble art and layout is AWESOME!!!!
     
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  12. JSmithDTV

    JSmithDTV Member

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  13. flain

    flain Member

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Argh OK, finally responding (I swear I did, but I can't find the post anywhere - maybe I shut my browser before posting? Anyways...)

    You asked about sticks and encoders. Answering each separately:

    Sticks: The sheer variety in sticks is insane. Whether you look at common styles in various countries (USA, Spain, Korea, Japan, Australia, China - each of these countries have pretty particular styles in their locally made sticks). But company to company there are traits across all their gear as well as within specific brands.

    If you know what you like, the answer is pretty obvious. If not, it can be hard to buy things without trying for yourself. My go-to is Sanwa JLF (not the JLWs, which I don't like as much) for fighting games as well as most generic titles, and Seimitsi LS-32 for shooters where I need tighter control (shorter throw). Both of these have pretty loose springs, which some people prefer to mod to tighten up, but I like them vanilla. Likewise I know a lot of folks who prefer the octagonal gate on the Sanwa sticks for quarter/half/full circle motions, but again I'm happy with them as stock.

    Old timers I know prefer Australian MCA sticks. Very short throw and tight springs. Nostalgically they're what I used a lot of as a kid, but I don't like them when I'm playing seriously.

    US (and now Spanish owned) sticks like the Happ Competition Pro (Happ merged with Suzo some years back) were popular in US cabinets. Any American TMNT or Mortal Kombat cabinet had these. They're nice mid-sprung sticks with a big bat handle, which are pretty good for general gaming.

    I see a lot of fighting game players getting into Korean sticks like Qanba of late. I've not used them, but they get great reviews, even converting some die hard Sanwa lovers across.

    Buttons are all similar discussions. Sanwa and Seimitsu are similar, with the Seimitsu's having slighting shorter throws. Happ/Suzo have the longer throw buttons, and were popular next to Aussie MCAs in our cabinets here.

    My only advice is don't cheap out on these. The physical hardware is a big part of how an arcade machine feels. Maybe even more than the display, which you can fudge with various effects and shaders. But you can't fudge how a joystick feels with software.

    Encoders: This used to be a real problem, and options were pretty limited. Thankfully these low-lag USB inputs that have flooded the market solved that. They emulate a standard USB JoyStick HID, and the button and stick microswitches just close the circuit. All up they have very low lag (mostly around the USB protocol itself, but there's not much getting away from that even if you use more expensive USB keyboard emulators). So much less of an option there.

    If you are super serious about lag (i.e.: are a fighting game tournament player), however, and want your sticks to be multi-platform, then query this list. However if you're making a MAME cabinet or PC gaming only, those cheaper USB encoders are fine.

    These are rebadged Suzo/Happ sticks and buttons.

    Excellent article. Mirrors my experiences with many brands they cover.
     
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  15. OP
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    shredder

    shredder Member

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    Bonus moment of extreme serendipity : cleaning out a dark corner of the shed, found an 8 year old can of white filler, and the damn stuff is still good (so much for the "might still be ok in 6 months" on the label!). It's freakish, because it's exactly what I'm going to need (hopefully-not-too-much-of) during the fit finish, and it's just been sitting mouldering there on a shelf in the corner since the previous owner of the house left it there.

    Since I'm on a low income and doing this project on a shoestring budget, that made my day. I mean, I can afford it, but every $ saved is a $ on the everpresent bills, you know??

    I leapt into this project when I realised it could be done for about $100 outlay, which I've now extended to about $200 based on the advice to get good controls. A few bit and pieces will be additional later, e.g. t-moulding and marquee, but initially I just want to get the basic build and finish done.

    Everything going great so far.
     
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  16. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    Apologies if this is super obvious but... cut the grooves for T-Moulding before you assemble it :)

    When Sanwa buttons are ~$4 a pop it's pretty easy to exceed $100 on controls.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    shredder

    shredder Member

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    Any specific pointers on that, e.g. which router bit to use, or other method I haven't thought of? It'll be ~15mm width t moulding, if available.
     
  18. JSmithDTV

    JSmithDTV Member

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    I assumed as much, but was more posting about the type/style than who had rebadged them.

    I would personally prefer this style if building, rather than the spherical types... definitely for fighter games anyway.

    https://www.austinamusements.com.au/joysticks/happ.html


    JSmith
     
  19. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Typically more common on US fighting games - Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, etc. Again, mostly because they were (originally) a US company.

    Japanese fighters like Street Fighter and the like tend to see more players using Japanese style sticks.

    You can see how, often, the game was play tested and thus somewhat "designed for" a particular style of stick.

    But, whateves. Personal preference wins every time. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  20. JSmithDTV

    JSmithDTV Member

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    I'd be quite happy with an MK and SF machine only... :D

    I just currently run mame from a PC... will need to get around to a proper build one of these days, so always watch these threads with interest.


    JSmith
     

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