Build log: Vigolix inspired arcade machine

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by azzachaz, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Hey Guys

    I've always wanted to build my own arcade machine.
    Because of things like cost and the sheer bulk/size of traditional machines i put it off.

    Then Elvis linked to a build log of a guy who built a simple arcade machine which is very cheap to make and smaller in size.
    He called it the Vigolix: http://www.instructables.com/id/A-Super-Easy-Arcade-Machine-from-1-Sheet-of-Plywoo/

    Perfect! Cheap, easy to build, and takes up less space.

    I have begun building a machine inspired by this, making changes along the way. For example I didn't grow up with 'real' arcade games so i'm going run RetroPie and SNES emulation mostly.
    I'm pretty time poor so my focus is on completing the build rather than getting everything perfect. The kids will want to help too so that can make it hard to concentrate.
    Basic rundown of my build ideas at this stage:

    Controls
    2 player arcade buttons and sticks. I haven't chosen a layout yet but I want it to be SNES friendly layout. It will probably be a tight fit to fit everything within the Vigolix form factor but I will work this out later.

    Compute
    Raspberry Pi 2 running RetroPie. I already have this up and running on the upstairs telly with fake USB SNES controllers and it's been in regular use.

    Monitor

    Spare 24" Kogan LCD I had laying around. It works out to fit nicely in landscape in the Vigolix. Unless anyone can recommend I run it in portrait instead?

    Progress
    Read the Instructable.
    I have gone with 16mm MDF. I also brought 1800x600 sheets which saved me cutting the larger sheet in half later on.

    A few bits and pieces like glue and screws

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    The MDF sheets (I brought 3 because it is cheap)

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    Sheet marked out to cut diagonally with a circular saw.

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    Main sheet cut. I'm not the best with accuracy but I find a circular saw is pretty good for long straight cuts.

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    As you can see I have limited space in the garage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  2. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Monitor mount.

    I haven't exactly worked this out yet. At this stage I am going to mount the 24" Kogan monitor in landscape.

    Looking at the mounting points on the back of the monitor I decided to go as simple as possible. I actually had some spare bolts from a TV mount kit that fitted perfect.

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    I then marked out the centres on 2 lengths of 40mm square pine and drilled holes to match the TV mount pattern. The holes were drilled full depth at the bolt shaft width and then drilled half depth to allow the bolt head to recess in.


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    The mounts are cut to be just shy on the cabinets internal width. I will work out how to mount this in the cabinet at a later stage.


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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Cutting out the control panel arms

    As per the Vigolix I cut out the 'notches' in the back of the side panels. These notches are then reused as arms for the control panel to sit on.

    I clamped both side panels together and made the cuts in one go.


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    Drill a hole to make the corner navigation easier when cutting with a jig saw.

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    Did anyone see the mistake I made? Not the end of the world though.


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  4. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Initial chassis assembly

    So the side panels are cut out.

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    As the 16mm is already pretty heavy I decided to use a sheet of MDF as the base rather than something more substantial (And I had the extra sheet of MDF handy).

    I offset the base board with the batons. This will mean the side panels will take the weight of the cabinet unless I decide the add feet/castors later on.


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    Assembly was pretty simple. Clamp, glue, screw.
    The design allows for a fair bit of wiggle room if you don't care exactly how it goes together. I did use a square to make sure the cabinet right before I screwed them together.
    I was aware at this stage that as the side panels are now separate any changes to the top of the cabinet and finishing will have to be done one side at a time.

    The main front panel I cut at 950mm, which ends up being about 900mm high on the angle. Just above that height is where I want the control panel to be.

    I didn't care though because I was keen to get the build moving along

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    It sits pretty nicely on the concrete and doesn't feel unstable at this stage. I can always add another base board if I need to later on.
    I held up the monitor and it looks like it's gonna fit pretty nicely.

    I wont make any changes to the side panel tops until i've decided on the monitor height.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  5. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Looking good so far.

    My last cabinet build took me over 6 months to get done. It was a gift for a friend, which was heaps of fun to make, but it was saddening to take so long.

    I've been wanting to find something much easier to punch out for future gift-cabinets. I think these Vigolix cabs are the way to go.
     
  6. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

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    Watching with interest :D Considering doing one of these myself.
     
  7. buckraban

    buckraban Member

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  8. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Control panel

    I decided to go ahead and build the control panel even though the buttons/joysticks haven't arrived yet.

    I decided on a very simple design. One difference from the Vigolix is I decided to run the support arms inside of the chassis.


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    Glued and screwed the control panel board to the arms. I still need to fit a front plate to finish it off.


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    Then I clamped the control panel to the chassis and used a level to make sure everything was sweet.
    A couple of things; I decided to have the control panel come out as far as the base and I wanted the panel to be removable.


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    I used M12 bolts (3 on each side) to attach the panel to the chassis. I used a 1/2" spade bit to make the bolt holes and it worked out really well.


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    I will buy some stainless bolts later. I only had some old gal ones laying about and they are too long.


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    First ideas of where the monitor will mount.
     
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Mounting the monitor

    I kind of changed course with the way I mounted the monitor. Originally I had planned to be able to remove the monitor/mount at any time, but once I got into making the bezel i decided that removing the monitor from the mounts will be easier if I ever need to remove it (such as for painting the cab).


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    I those pics you can also see the stainless M12 x 65mm cap head bolts I used to secure the control board to the cab. Once tightened the control board is absolutely rock solid with no play at all.
     
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Monitor bezel

    I went simple simple with the bezel and simply glued/screwed 4 pieces of 16mm mdf to the cab. To move the project along I just screwed the MDF from the outside of the cabinet.
    The bottom piece I cut the bottom edge at 30 degrees with the saw so that the edge could sit flush over the control board. The bezel is not attached to the control board to allow it to be removable.


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    I also fitted a board to the front of the control panel and to the top of the cabinet. The space above the monitor will be used for a back lit marquee. I have some spare Plexi for this but I haven't worked out how to fit it yet.


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    Progress so far.
    My daughter (16) has not taken an interest in this now that she has seen it need to be painted soon. I brought a heap of flat black and some neon green but things might change if I let her run with her own ideas.


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  11. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Something that I thought you guys might like to see if my grandfather's (RIP) band saw. He worked as a woodworking teacher at the ANU when he first came to Australia and liked to make his own tools. Some of his tools were left to me when he died and I love getting a chance to use them as they help me remember the times I spent with him.

    This band saw was completely hand made. The blade is probably over 3m in length. The bed angle can be adjusted and there are sliding adjustable angles to make angled cuts. If you look inside you can see the original motor/gearbox he fitted and later upgraded. The original gear is left in to add stability/weight.


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    I also have his hand made wood lathe which I used extensively with him over the years. I have my own lathe but nothing ever beat his!.
     
  12. MonoJoker

    MonoJoker Member

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    Nice build, looking very good so far :thumbup:

    @azzachaz I started a quick Vigolix after seeing your thread a few weeks back. Quick Q, did you increase the dimensions, as yours looks quite large compared to the 1200 tall uprights I've ended up with - and the fact you can shoehorn a 24" in there :)

    Anyway I bought a single 1200x900 sheet of 12mm from Bunnings as I wanted to try as cheap as possible build either using some old C2D bits I have (free) and buttons and stick I also have already. Cut it out - similar to you, using circular saw so a few nicks and wobbles along the way - nothing a belt sander won't tidy up later. Only took me an hour to mark it out and chop it up which is great as I can build it over a couple weeks only needing the odd hour here and there.

    You made the right choice going landscape - when I built my first bartop I only had a 14" LCD so mounted it portrait thinking it would be too small if you played portrait games on landscape - I was very wrong, at the distance you sit from a bartop 14" is decent for portrait games on landscape.
     
  13. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Awesome. The more builds the better
    My MDF is 1800x600x16. This makes the cab quite a bit taller once you cut down the diagonal.
     
  14. MonoJoker

    MonoJoker Member

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    Yeah and it looks still in proportion. In the original thread you linked there was some discussion about how making it twice the size would lead to some weird dimensions and a much bigger monitor requirement. Anyway, thanks that makes sense I saw you said you got 1800 sheets but didn't realise you meant you used the full height. Great dimension IMO, I will try that next. Once I see if the 12mm is too flimsy or not for the 1200 tall option I'll decide on that or 16mm too.

    Cheers.
     
  15. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Looks great. Love that custom bandsaw too!
     
  16. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Buttons and Joysticks

    So a heap of the bits turned up so I decided to work out the button layout. I went with a 'snes' style layout that I found online.

    http://dumbpcs.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/arcade-joystick-for-mame-howto.html

    I used the diagram in there to draw up a template on paper.

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    I then used a punch to mark the centers on the control board and drilled the holes out with a spade bit. I brought a 28mm spade bit specifically to suit my buttons and it worked out great. The holes are exactly the right size and very neat.

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    I did try out the layout on an off cut first but in the end I found the combination of a spade but and the punch made the hole alignment very accurate. This was important as the layout I chose put the buttons so close together they are almost touching.

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    I simply repeated the process for the 2nd player controls.

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    I set the control a fair bit back on the board because I find using the buttons more conformable that way

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    I haven't done the 'start/select' button holes yet. Should the go at the back or on the front of the control panel? I'm thinking up the back.

    Afterwards I removed the control panel and took it inside to test with the RetroPie. I wired up the buttons with a couple of 'zero delay' keyboard controllers that I brought. Worked great first try. I'l post more details about that stuff later.

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  17. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Ah, grasshopper. You have much to learn.

    There are many arcade button layouts. The one you've chosen was popularised with the birth if the Japanese "Candy" style cabinets:

    http://wiki.arcadeotaku.com/w/List_of_Candy_Cabinets

    You've got all your major arcade vendors there. Sega (Astro City, Megalo City, Versus City, etc), Namco (Exceleena), SNK (Neo, Super Neo), Sammy (Atomiswave, almost identical to Sega Astro City), and my personal favourite, the Taito Egret II and III cabinets (pure sex).

    These vendors worked out a few things:

    1) Button layout needed to be arced to ensure finger comfort

    2) With a very slight variation in the curve, players would naturally tilt away from each other, eliminating elbow clashing when sitting side by side.

    What you've used there is the classic Sega variation, specifically the Player 2 side:

    http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/layout.html

    The Player 1 side has more of an arc to it, which would prompt the player to turn their body ever so slightly away from Player 2.

    Not really an issue that you've used 2x "Player 2" sides (looks like you've got quite a bit of space on your control panel, so no problems there). Just a bit of arcade history for anyone who's interested.
     
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  18. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Wow, that a nice heaps of history/info there :leet:

    I must say, aesthetically speaking, none of the 'white' cabinets do it for me. My childhood memories only remember black or wood grain laminate :)

    Thanks for the info though. Only time will tell if the layout is OK or not. I have designed the control panel so the top can be easily replaced. I could change the layout down the track if I want to.
     
  19. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Yeah I totally get that. I was the same until about 7-8 years into my hardcore arcade obsession, and I found a rekindled love for "shmups" (Shoot 'Em Ups). I went down that rabbit hole, found the shmups.com forums, and a whole new world of modern arcades and games, and pretty much just went full retard.

    I still love the old stuff, but I love the new stuff too. My collection is currently about 50/50, and covers a good 30 years of different hardware and games.

    I think it'll work. You've got plenty of width there, and it won't be an issue. Looks great so far.
     
  20. OP
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    azzachaz

    azzachaz Member

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    Wiring and interim completion

    Well i've been pretty keen on completing this project and getting it out of the garage. I finished up the wiring and put it all together.


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    It all went together pretty well. The rattle can flat black looks worse in the photos that in real life but is far from perfect. If I had more time I would have spent more effort sanding and filling correctly.


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    Kids are pretty stoked with it. They found it pretty easy to navigate the RetroPie menus although sometimes they ended up in config land and I need to reset the Pi


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    Still need to complete the marquee and install t-moulding along the edges. Not in any particular rush though.
    I also have some ideas to artwork that I think will be pretty cool but I will leave that as a surprise for later.
     

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