Virtua Cop Clone Cabinet Conversion

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by WuZMoT, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    I had been on a bit of a CRT and PS1/PS2 light gun spree when it was brought to my attention that an old shooting cabinet was up for sale. Andyj965 posted a Virtua Cop clone cabinet right around the corner from my work so I went and took a look. It was a bargain compared to flat packs available on the market at $100 ($120 if I wanted the guns but I did not need them and he was happy to keep them). Financial documentation of the project will cease at this point ;) however a substantial amount of the expense has been tools.

    He mentioned it originally had a mirror inside that had deteriorated. Based on that and the internal rails I assume it had the CRT mounted horizontally down the bottom with the mirror mounted at a 45 degree angle above. I assume this would have been done to create a greater distance perception from the targets on screen while the players still stand fairly close to the cabinet. I have no knowledge of the actual hardware that was originally inside.

    Here is the cabinet, as received:
    IMG_20180927_184656.jpg IMG_20180928_204647.jpg

    I removed the control panel and screen glass and cleaned it up and stripped out what little there was inside, just a fluorescent tube for the marquee backlight and a pair of rusty speakers.

    IMG_20180927_194503.jpg IMG_20180927_194443.jpg

    power assisted me with gutting the NEC 68CM CRT TV as seen in the background of the following photo. At this stage I was not sure how I was going to go about mounting it though. I knew that the 45 degree rails for the mirror would be of no use so these were also removed. The panel above with the lime green contact on it was removed too. It's unclear what this was for or why it was there. Beware of cyclops laser cat.

    IMG_20180929_171844.jpg

    We went to bunnings and grabbed some aluminum square tubing and a few brackets. This resulted in the following so we could easily move the loose tube around as it lived in a spare bedroom while I mulled over how to mount it. The right angled brackets were kept in the final frame, the aluminum tubing was replaced with flat bar stainless steel. In the end this tube had power issues despite recapping and was replaced with a Sony Trinitron 68CM.

    IMG_20180929_171818.jpg IMG_20180929_142320.jpg
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    I'll split this up into multiple posts at this point as there is a 10 image attachment limit per post.
     
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    I decided to use the horizontal rails as the foundation for a main shelf upon which to mount the tube with a triangular steel frame. The existing rails were extended with some more trim of ply that was glued and screwed. The shelf itself was made from a single piece of ply cut into two sheets and they were also glued and screwed together for extra rigidity.

    IMG_20181001_132839.jpg IMG_20181001_151809.jpg

    The triangular frame for the tube was cut from flat bar and angled stainless steel. You can see in the above photos measurements masked on the side of the cabinet to try to get the tube nice and centered. The square aluminum tubing ended up being the cross bars to connect the triangular frames.

    IMG_20181006_120305.jpg IMG_20181006_135832.jpg

    The lower plastic housing of the TV was trimmed back to serve as a loose PCB tray, the angled base pieces allowed this to rest on them.

    IMG_20181006_185328.jpg

    Initial mounting success and Virtua Cop 2 via PS2 over component input. Despite this tube ending up being replaced due to erratic power issues seeing this was memorably one of the most satisfying moments.

    IMG_20181006_192231.jpg IMG_20181006_192453_1.jpg
    IMG_20181014_171307.jpg

    Here is a snap of the Sony Trinitron which ended up replacing the NEC. It was the same size (68CM) but slightly larger in actual tube mounting dimensions. The frame I designed was easy to adapt/adjust and could ultimately be used with some modifications for a smaller screen if required (58/60CM etc). The cabinet will not physically allow for anything larger than 68CM though. The PCB tray is just sitting loose at this stage, propped up by some dense foam blocks.

    IMG_20190203_201105.jpg

    The frame is bolted to the shelf as well, Ultimately I wouldn't trust it enough to move it with a tube inside of it but it isn't going anywhere any time soon :)

    IMG_20181014_175617.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    The stock speakers were still working but were causing issues with the CRT since they were not shielded. This would not have been a problem for the cabinet originally as the CRT was mounted way down the bottom. I quickly fixed this with a pair of shielded speakers from Jaycar that were the right size for the existing speaker ports. I simply wired them into the speaker header plug from the TV.

    IMG_20181024_142440.jpg IMG_20181024_142609.jpg

    At this stage I had played a bunch of non light gun games on the screen while working out the power issues. It felt like a waste of space inside and out to have the cabinet just for PS1/PS2 shooters. I decided to stick my wii in there (giggity) and also a Raspberry Pi with some arcade sticks and buttons in the control panel. I knocked together some ply shelving (again utilizing the existing internal rails already on the cabinet). I also screwed in some thin pine rails and used velcro strapping to hold devices in place. Taking care not to put any rails or strapping in the way of buttons/ports. At this stage I also picked up a 4 port component switch since device number was growing, it is just double side taped in place as it is very light.

    IMG_20181024_174546.jpg IMG_20181024_175526.jpg
    IMG_20181024_225404.jpg

    A power board is mounted to the side and conduit has been run to manage all the cabling. I also used a power utility box from bunnings to keep any external power bricks and excess cabling tucked away neatly.

    IMG_20181026_184206.jpg

    After I tried some 240p content from the Wii via component I was no longer satisfied with the composite out from the Pi so I ended up replacing it with a desktop. At the time the Retrotink pi hats weren't in active production and i figured I could go for more power and more accurate emulation. The machine runs mint linux with a standalone install of retropie but standard cores are replaced with more accurate cores. It has an i5 processor that's a couple of years old and an Ati 7850 series card to supports CRT switchres in retroarch. It's DSUB VGA output goes to a UMSA SCART Adapter then into the Shinybow SB-2840 scart to component converter then into the component switch. It has ample power to run BSNES-accurate/Beetle/Mednafen etc. The AV gear is fixed to a ply panel that fits snug over the top of the chassis. The tower sits at the back of the cabinet behind a plastic tub of guns and controllers accessible via the front door.

    IMG_20190223_110152.jpg IMG_20190223_110559.jpg
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    An original PS1 is in place of the RPi now, I'd like to get a PSIO for that eventually but switching discs between Point Blank 2 and Time Crisis isn't too much of a problem. Those are the two games people generally want to play on the PS1 anyway.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    This is the initial mock up panel made of a scrap piece of ply and the original acrylic that was on the control panel. This also shows the wood routing done to embed the joystick so that you get a flush end result with no bolts around the control area.

    IMG_20181121_165143.jpg

    Again, thanks to elvis for the following link: https://www.slagcoin.com/joystick.html
    Extremely useful for pretty much EVERY aspect to consider in design of a control panel.
    printed layouts from that guide taped directly to the acrylic ready to drill...

    IMG_20190310_141421.jpg IMG_20190310_144744.jpg

    More free hand wood routing done underneath to accommodate Sanwa OBSN screw in buttons. Realistically I could have used HAPP buttons and not had to route but I had decided to go with Sanwas for feel. At least this is something I can interchange if ever i want to as the work is done now. The joystick holes were just cut out with a hole saw then finished off with a small precision hand saw. This was a bit tedious and time consuming but resulted in a very snug fit for the sticks so the end result is very solid.

    IMG_20190328_194615.jpg

    I did initially have a 2 player USB encoder but linux didn't properly detect the "second" USB device so would only support 1 player. I had to replace it with a pair of zero delay encoders. These are really great and have some extra features if you want them (turbo etc). This is an older picture from where i stuffed up the drilling of one of the red buttons that later was fixed with a fresh piece of acrylic.

    IMG_20190317_172236.jpg

    On a whim I ordered a basic Tron printed decal to stick underneath the acrylic to cover up everything while I decided on what to do decal wise. I ended up liking it for its simplicity so will probably just leave it. Since the cabinet is a multi platform/system approach I didn't want anything too specific. I also put the P1/P2 start buttons and a coin button for each player in the front panel below the control panel.

    IMG_20190409_175302.jpg IMG_20190409_175327.jpg

    I need to pick a place for a couple of function buttons. 1 button as the function/option button that you hold in retropie to get to the retroarch settings or quit the game etc. Another for turning the desktop on/off without having to reach inside.

    I threw together a convenient port panel for plugging in guns/gamepads to the devices inside. This is just made of cheap controller extension cables from ebay and a pair of USB cables. Made from a ply offcut and everything held in with a copious amount of epoxy - It's not pretty but it's functional.

    IMG_20190506_145016.jpg IMG_20190507_203433.jpg

    The ply is thin enough that it can be mounted onto the existing bolts that hold the coin door in place so this was easy to just bolt in without drilling into the cabinet at all. the gap to the right gives access to power on the PS2, change component switch inputs and point the TV remote at the receiver to adjust volume/inputs.

    The ports are:
    2 x PS1 controllers P1/2 and 1 x gun composite input (Gcon1 has T plug so only 1 port needed)
    2 x PS2 controllers, 2 x PS2 USB (Gcon2) and 2 x gun composite input (Gcon2 does not have T plug so 2 ports needed)
    4 x Gamecube into the Wii's gamecube ports.

    The PS1 uses Svideo with a multi cable so the image quality is better than composite but it still maintains composite sync for the guns.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    Cosmetics and a farewell to the Virtua Cop, I thought he looked stupid when he first arrived but got used to his static existence in the middle of my living room.
    IMG_20190202_133045.jpg

    I got a combination alternating sides with a general Nintendo/Sega representation. These came from Rockstar Print in the UK (ebay). I couldn't otherwise decide what I wanted and stumbled upon these designs and thought they would suit the cabinet since it has no specific game in mind. This was all done opportunistically between CRT change over so all I had to do was pull out the consoles and tip it on it's side to make things easier. It was all done solo and thanks to the bottom/lower corner being square it was easy enough to start there and get a good square line at the back. Also the metal strips cover the back edge so there was a small margin for error.

    IMG_20181212_191013.jpg IMG_20190202_112626.jpg
    IMG_20190202_121648.jpg IMG_20190202_131746.jpg
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    Trimming was a little bit tedious because the T mould was already in place. I imagine doing this with no existing T moulding would be way easier. I rolled the backing back off slowly and elevated the majority of the decal by putting a lounge cushion underneath so it didn't start to adhere before I was ready. Did the full width of the cabinet progressively from bottom to top. I used a cork sanding block inside a foot sock as a sort of "iron" to make sure there was no bubbles.

    While quite nosey did not actually offer any assistance:
    IMG_20190202_140951.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    The bezel on the glass was done (at a price!) by an automotive vinyl place. Entirely worth paying them for the struggle of getting a single piece perfect like that with the middle cut out.
    IMG_20181031_162948.jpg

    At the moment the Marquee is filled in with a blank board that has the offcut of the control panel decal on it. I'm not sure what I want to do for a Marquee yet but will eventually put a backlight in place. While there are a few little things I could do here and there this is the current and very functional result of all the hard work:

    IMG_20191020_141609.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  7. Pierre32

    Pierre32 New Member

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    What a project. Fantastic work.

    So the arcade controls connect solely to the PC, yeah? And you just use the controller ports for the consoles?
     
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    Yep, arcade sticks are just the PC.

    Component switch is:
    Input 1: PC
    Input 2: PS2
    Input 3: Wii

    SVideo input is the PS1

    The Wii is basically there to be a gamecube, though i do have a battery powered sensor bar that can rest on top of the control panel. tbh the wii is only in there because i wasn't otherwise using it. I don't even have the gamecube controller ports plugged in but it's all there as an option.

    Most of the action it gets is arcade games and Virtua Cop 2.

    The PC also has a couple of PS3 controllers paired to it for games that are better with a gamepad.
     
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  9. power

    power Member

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    watching this come together has been pretty outstanding, the end result especially the quality of the picture coming out of it is something that can't be accurately portrayed in pictures. It really is a nice tube.

    I believe the current hotness on this cab is Baku Baku?
     
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    WuZMoT

    WuZMoT Member

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    Baku Baku (Saturn) love has been heavy of late.

    The tube has some minor geometry issues. The geometry isn't so noticeable in games but when you have perfect square borders/frames in the front end it's really obvious. I actually modified an existing 240p/4:3 emulation station theme to remove some of the square frames surrounding screen items and simplify it a bit and hide the irregularity. I really wanted to have 480i for the front end and switch to 240p for games but when you jump back and forth between the two resolutions things start to break either way. Games end up running in 480i or the screen elements of the front end get messed up.

    The plus side of setting up video snaps in emulation station is that you can easily have it cycle them as a screensaver with the game title displayed in text on top as an attract mode. If you just press P1 or P2 start while it's playing a video it will launch that game. I see recently retroarch updated to include screenshots even in RGUI mode so i might consider switching to standalone retroarch to simplify things. Though the way that retropie/emulation station handles a bunch of stuff is hard to ditch it, and the work i've put in so far.

    I'll try get some decent shots/videos of the front end and some games to give people an idea.
     
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  11. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Great project! (My only minor gripe is that you covered up that sweet, sweet original artwork).

    Don't want the wife to see recorded evidence, eh? :)

    Check out the following three games:

    * Ghost Squad
    * House of the Dead 2&3 Return
    * Gunblade N.Y & L.A Machine Guns

    Those three all used Sega's custom WiiMote drivers (not the Nintendo-provided API). End result are much more accurate and lag-free gaming.

    "House of the Dead Overkill", for example, uses the Nintendo API only. It's laggy as hell, and no fun to play.

    The Wii "sensor bar" is merely a couple of IR LEDs. There's nothing special about it, and it doesn't sense anything. All the smarts are done in the WiiMotes.

    I had a page up on my old site which I'll try to replicate to my new site soon. But basically a couple of things on both WiiMotes and the PS3 GunCon3's:

    * The "special sensors" aren't special, just IR-LED clusters
    * The brighter / more LEDs you use per cluster, and in slightly different angles, the more accurate your guns
    * The further apart the LED clusters (i.e.: closer to the edge of your screen), the more accurate your guns.

    With that in mind, if you can get a 3-5V power source from somewhere with appropriate resistance, 2-3 IR LEDs hidden in the top corners of your cabinet can be powered on all the time (or flicked over with a switch), and will offer an excellent way to get high accuracy WiiMotes or GunCon3s in your cabinet.

    I'll try to get that page up on my website later today, with a link to the experiments I did on Wii ages back.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
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  12. power

    power Member

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    WuZMoT was the one that told me about that stuff, i now have a single powered sensor bar to service both my Wii and WiiU. Before i was unplugging and replugging the thing like a schmo.

    apparently even candles work lol.
     
  13. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    They do, but not well. Plus they flicker, which sends your WiiMote a bit spaz.

    Found my old page, quickly threw the images up on my new site:
    https://stickfreaks.com/misc/wii-sensor-bar-mod
     
  14. power

    power Member

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    maybe i should make an enormous sensor bar, i tried to play Dead Space Extraction the other day and the tracking was just awful - best game i've played on it to date has to be Ghost Squad. Doesn't surprise me HoTD is also using the same tracking improvements.

    the cab has some real guns though and they are the business. i even took my Saturn over and hooked up my two guns to it.
     
  15. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    "2&3 Return" does. "Overkill" is terrible. The Wii is way too underpowered for it, the camera swings about like crazy (made worse by the low framerate), and the WiiMote tracking is laggy and awful.

    Worth noting that "2&3 Return" was done in house, as was Ghost Squad. "Overkill" was farmed out to a third party who clearly never played a light gun game in an arcade ever. The PS3 and PC versions of that also sucked, for different reasons.
     
  16. power

    power Member

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    speaking of light guns that aren't i was surprised how good the move is with Time Crisis on PS3.

    I just realised DSE is on PS3, must find a copy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  17. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    A friend gave me a PS3 GunCon3, and I'd managed to snaffle one off eBay as well. Got two of them, and the Time Crisis games to go with. Heaps of fun, and pinpoint accurate with the GunCons.

    "Deadstorm Pirates" is the onlyother GunCon3 compatible title. I need to track it down and check it out.
     
  18. power

    power Member

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    i had no idea this was a thing. wow. The moves are actually pretty good if you've never tried them though.
     
  19. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I haven't, no. I was told they were pretty inaccurate and suffered drift, but perhaps updates solved that over time.

    One thing that irritates me is lightgun games that are driven by a pointer, rather than accurate shooting. How do PSMove games deal with that? Is something like HotD4 accurate enough to use without an on screen cursor icon?
     
  20. power

    power Member

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    move uses the camera so it tracks you in the space - drift is real though. but after using wiimote shooting it's night and day.

    although they both have nothing on a real light gun.
     

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