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Well, I'm finally going to have some time to build my cabinet... took awhile, darn career getting in the way of my games!

Anyway, I have several issues I'd like to hear opinions and advice on, but I just realized I left all my notes and schematics at work.  I'll add more questions and corrections later, since my memory may not be 100% accurate.  Basic design info:  about 7 feet tall, 36" wide, and 36" deep (without control panel, which I plan on making removable).  4-player U360 with (10) rgb buttons per player, (2) aimtrak, (1) rgb trackball with (3) system rgb buttons.  40" LCD, 5.1 sound, secondary and tertiary LCD's, LCD marquee.  Emulating arcade and console games.

1.  I would like to have glass or plexiglass over the screen.  I like the "depth" feeling from standard arcade cabinets with the monitor behind a protective layer.  I think I would prefer glass over plexi for this application.  My questions are:  

     (a) is there a material type that better minimizes glare?  

     (b) how much of a gap between the screen and the glass?  

     (c) what angle off the vertical should the glass and screen be mounted, keeping in mind possible reflections from screen onto glass?  

     (d) "smoked" glass looks cool, but does it dull colors or otherwise impair viewing?  I will be playing some games in 1080p.

 

2.  I would like to have glass or plexiglass over my control panel's artwork:

     (a) I do not want any visible screws/clamps/etc.  The buttons will hold it in place, but will I need to secure it better (especially near edges)?

     (b) also, the edge must look good.  T-molding to cover both plexi and wood, or any other options?

     (c) for this application glass has great advantages, but since it will receive more wear and tear, maybe plexi is better?

     (d) what angle off the horizontal should the top of the panel be (I think my design was close to 5 degrees)?

 

3.  I want hinges to lift the top of my control panel:

     (a) need to be able to access Ipac/interface and controls for maintenance

     (a) must be heavy-duty enough to lift the panel with all electronics attached and hold open

     (b) when closed, all seams/lines should be as invisible as possible

 

3.  T-molding for side panels' edges?

     (a) I kinda like keeping the wood slightly rounded, smoothly sanded, and painted a relevant color for the artwork, but am worried about the edge of the vinyl artwork looking crappy if there is nothing to butt up against.  Anyone tried both and can compare?

     (b) I had planned on using 1/2" plywood.  I'm aware of positives/negatives of it vs. MDF.  If I use T-molding, however, it seems that options and varieties of T-molding in 1/2" is quite limited.  I thus figured 3/4" plywood would be better for the sides (I was already using some for other parts that needed a little more strength than the 1/2"), but still want to keep the weight down.  I guess I don't have a specific question about this, just wondering what other people have done and think?

 

4.  Casters for movability?

     (a) Originally, I planned on putting casters in the rear two corners, and solid feet in the front two.  Now I'm thinking I will rarely have to re-position the cabinet, so not only will this be unnecessary, but the casters may allow a little more "wiggle" than solid feet, which in the heat of competitive play may be annoying.  Has anyone tried this with good/bad results?

     (b) What kind of feet should I use?  I figure I should leave at least a 1/4" gap between cabinet and ground to allow both airflow and the possibility that carpet or soft flooring may affect how close the cabinet really is to the floor.  If there are four feet, the cabinet may teeter if they are not adjustable.  

 

5.  USB and other inputs?

     (a) I will put a powered USB hub right below the screen for Aimtrak guns, gamepads, and other needs.  Is there any need for 3.0 USB?  Is there a simple way to secure the Aimtrak/gamepad cables so they are not accidentally unplugged/damaged during gameplay?

     (b) Bliss-Box?  I read a bit about it, but need more info.  I had purchased an NES-to-USB adapter and was disappointed with the lag... impossible to play Tyson's Punch Out... but Bliss-Box looks promising.

     (c) I also plan on having an I/O for ethernet, TV coaxial, headphones/mic, and power.  Are there any others I should consider?

 

Thanks everyone.  Just reading through others' posts has been immensely valuable, and I truly appreciate it.  I'll post some pictures when I actually start cutting and things look like they are taking shape.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions until then.

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If your spraying it I'd avoid plywood. Just my opinion but I've made two cabs. First was mdf easy to sand and paint. Second was plywood and it's a labour of love to get the spraying right. Plywood is weak on the edges and easily flakes off..

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When I eventually get round to a cabinet build I will try to have easy access to my control panel like in this video.

Although I think I will use "easy mount hinges" instead of cupboard door hinges. They have a stronger spring so the control panel wont lift up when people get excited whilst playing! Maybe put some magnets on either side just to hold it down better!

 

Hinges:

http://www.screwfix.com/p/easy-mount-hinges-90-105mm-2-pack/38662?kpid=38662&cm_mmc=Google-_-Product Listing Ads-_-Sales Tracking-_-sales tracking url&gclid=CjwKEAjwrIa9BRD5_dvqqazMrFESJACdv27GdDikCjmN5vLHMQQlt2uJabORQT-iMoTcLnK6vlkz7xoCpjXw_wcB

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I'll respond to a few of your questions.

1. 7 feet tall? Most actual arcade cabs run between 5'10" to about 6'4" or so. Mine is noticeably tall at 6'3". 7 would most likely be awkward looking.

2. Unless you want it to seem cheap I say use glass not plexi.

3. To look like a real arcade machine recess your screen back from the glass at least 2 inches. Mine sits about 3 inches back. I also recommend making an outer bezel to hide where the glass rests in the cab opening. I built mine from aluminu, 1"2 inch wide strips from Home Depot, primered and painted flat black and bonded at the corners. Helps give it a factory look.

4. Absolutely use tinted glass. I tried both and clear glass looks flat out bad in comparison. It makes it obvious it isn't a real arcade machine. It doesn't need to be superdark, I'd say light-medium aviator sunglasses dark.  On a bright, vivid screen It doesn't impair color or viewing. I didn't even look into anti-glare.

5. T-molding on the CP will depend on your design, but generally yes. I use plexi (lexan?) on the top of my CP, but wish I hadn't. If I can rebuild it this summer I will instead have Brad print up new artwork for it and just use the tough vinyl. Brad knows what to use (and when you go to print your artwork go through him. The quality is ridiculously good.). That way I'll have less fingerprinting issues and no need to worry about t-molding matching up perfectly to the plexi edging etc...

6. T-molding for the sides of the cab itself absolutely. That's how real machines were generally done. Rounded wood edges are what the cheaper cab kits look like or furniture. Neither look like an actual commercial machine. 

7. Two rearwheels on mine but they are useless on carpet and if I had known wouldn't have bothered and just gone with feet on each corner.

8. Yes for USB 3.0 because the moment you don't add it you will need it. I keep a USB hub inside the CP that can be reached by lifting it up. All other I/O stuff I plug into the PC inside directly.

 

A couple other things you didn't ask:

-The first PC I had in it was de-cased and mounted to wood in the cab. Sounded like a good idea, but was a nightmare to work on or alter. My second PC I instead built it into a low-profile un-tippable Master Cooler case and fixed it so the case didn't slide around inside, but it isn't actually mounted down. Now if I need to do anything I can simply reach in back and lift it out. 10000x's better than mounting it.

-Spend the money to do it right the first time. Skipping a couple things can make it go from looking like an awesome arcade machine to looking like a homemade sorta-good project. 

-What are your 10 buttons per player? Really think through your buttons and admin buttons. I made to few and now find myself needing to correct that when I rebuild a CP.

-Add an actual coindoor. I skipped this and immediately regretted it no matter how good everything else turned out the lack of a coindoor advertises it as not being a factory cab (or a cab kit). Now I have to tear it apart, recut, patch, repaint etc... to fix it. I'll do that at the same time I re-do the CP. If I had simply done it when I should have it would have saved my god knows how many hours of work. 

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Thanks for the responses.  I can get wordy, so I'll try to limit responses to a few topics to follow up on:

 

Personal Choices

I appreciate the fact that others not only voice their opinions, but also give a rationale for them.  I know MDF has many benefits, but the benefits of plywood outweigh them for my situation.  Thanks for the input though.  I will, however, switch to 3/4" for the sides to accommodate T-molding and to look a little better.

Height:  my designs call for side panels 79" tall, which will extend about 1" above the top panel.  This will allow me to hide square-iron for the (4) L/R speakers, which I would like to hang above head-level.  I could shorten it a little.  (Above I stated cab width to be 36", but it is actually 38")  

I'm about 6' tall, and designed the cab so I could comfortably play while standing.  Control Panel is at about 40" sloping up at 4.8 degrees, and the top of the screen is at 70".  I have a little room to play with, but doubt I can shorten the cabinet to standard height.  I had planned on mounting the screen at a 90 degree vertical.  Many commercial arcade machines had users looking down at an angled screen.  If I did this, I would be able to shorten the height of the cab a bit more, but I'm not sure I really want to.  Any suggestions?

(10) buttons per player?!?  Yes, I know most games do not require this.  Each player will have a start and coin button, as well as (8) play buttons.  This is, of course, to play console games... specifically N64 which only requires one analog stick and up to (14) other inputs.  Some other consoles also use more than the standard arcade (4) button setup for 3rd and 4th players.  No, I don't plan on making a "franken-CP" or a home version of the Steel Battalion controller. 

Yes, I only planned on installing (3) system buttons.  I had thought I would make one a shift button.  This way, I could assign lesser used functions to some lesser used player buttons with the shift, but still have dedicated pause and back buttons.  What other admin functions do you regularly use, that you think is critical I add?

Coindoor:  I originally included one in my earlier designs.  My cabinet shares some features with, but will be quite distinct from, traditional arcade cabs.  I don't think the appearance will suffer without a coindoor, but it does add a certain feel to the machine regardless.  I will think about this a little more.  Interrupting the artwork on the front of the base will not be horrible, and I always thought that even a non-functioning coindoor with illuminated buttons looks good.  I'm guessing I can modify the return buttons to be rgb, then LED-blinky them with the rest of my buttons.

[Just a side note concerning coin mechs or features missing from this design:  I do plan on making two other arcade machines in the near future to accommodate different games.  One will be a cocktail table using a barrel as the base.  I will install (2) servosticks on one side, and a trackball and a spinner on the other.  No coin mech planned for this setup, but it will have the "clicky" feel for 2D fighters, be great for shmups, and also be my go-to machine for centipede/arkanoid type games.  The other machine will be a decked-out HyperPin table using three monitors and a crap-load of solenoids, as well as a gear motor, knocker, shaker, nudge/tilt sensor, blower, rgb array, and more.  The pinball table will have the most traditional appearance, and I am going to include a coin mech.  My man-palace (man-cave doesn't even begin to describe it) does not have a true-replica feel for an arcade, so I do not think I would ever regret foregoing a coindoor on my main cabinet]... Daddy... Yes son... What does regret mean?... sorry, couldn't resist the BHS reference.

 

Glass over Screen

So I will use tinted glass in front of my screen.  What thickness is adequate?  Any vibration dampening?  I will have a subwoofer in my cab, so it'll be shaking!

I will ask local glass companies about minimizing glare.  I'm worried about this on the glass, mostly from either the screen or the rgb buttons.

 

Control Panel

I had seen a youtube video where some guy put plexi on top of his control panel artwork, and it looked really good.  Only a small hole for each button and joystick, and the dust shields for the joysticks were under the artwork.  Obviously, he did not use the adhesive backing to his vinyl, or the dust shields would stick to it.  Though it is a bit of work, I was impressed with the results and wanted to mimic this aspect of his design.  I'll try to find the video and post it so others can comment.  

Also, I was dreading the thought of trying to smoothly install graphics with the adhesive backing.  The U360 shafts are not as easily removable as other models are, so I thought I would have to install the joysticks without tops, then place the vinyl over the shafts -- what a pain!  Sandwiching artwork between plexi and wood would eliminate the hassle of trying to deal with the adhesive.

Alternatively:  Although I haven't tried to disassemble a U360 yet, it looks like (4) philips screws hold the base plate and the rest of the stick together.  I think if I remove these, I could stick the vinyl to the control panel and x-acto holes for the joysticks.  These screws, however, go into plastic, and I would rather avoid weakening it by working the screws again and again.  Shouldn't be a big deal if I only do it once (and there are ways to repair damage), but overall I like the plexi idea better.  Also, if using the adhesive, the dust shields would have to be on top of the artwork.

What drawbacks are there to covering the panel?  Sure, fingerprints and smudges will really show and require regular cleaning, and plexi can be scratched or cracked, but are there other negatives I'm missing?  I do think glass would look and feel better, but am concerned it may crack more easily.  Also, I have no way to cut holes into glass, and would have to pay someone to do this.

 

T-Molding

I wanted to use it for the side panel edges, but now think I'll also use it on the control panel.  Not as many people use it for the horizontals framing their marquee, but I was also considering this.  Anyone tried it and have pictures?

 

Other

I have a 2.0 USB hub I had planned on installing, but maybe now I'll order a 3.0.  I will have it, bliss-box, and maybe a mic or headphone I/O beneath the screen and center channel speaker.  

I will only have access to my pc through the back of the cab and do not want to deal with it often, so will route most of the inputs to the front of my cab.  I'll be routing ethernet, power, and coaxial to a panel on the back of the cab.  Are there any other I/O's I should be thinking about?

I was planning on keeping my pc in its case, which has good airflow through it.  I've already planned air intakes and airflow to the exhausts for components that will generate heat.  I was thinking of straps to secure it, but not too worried about figuring this out.  My subwoofer, on the other hand, I had planned on mounting to the inside of the cab.  This will create vibrations, and I may need to play with it a bit to find the best position, or use dampeners.  Sound engineers out there with suggestions?

No plans for Aimtrak holsters.  I want a clean look, so had thought I'd keep these separately stored (along with wireless keyboard/mouse and gamepads) and only hook them up when using them.  Any comments on this plan?

 

Thanks again, looks like I wrote enough for people to deal with for now!

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Well son. A funny thing about regret is, that it's better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven't done.  And by the way, if you see your mother this weekend be sure and tell her...

SATAN SATAN SATAN

 

You made my night with that!

 

8 buttons per player makes perfect sense. So does a start button for each. However there's really no reason to have a coin button for each especially if you end up doing a coindoor.

For buttons I'd recommend:

-1p, 2p (3p, 4p for 4 player)

-Select/Enter (for PC games or games that can't have the 1p button bound as "enter/select")

-coin (can be a normal button or a coin-door button(s)

-Back (Can double as Exit while shifted or kept separate from exit if you want ransoms to be able to walk up and play)

-Exit/ESC (You might want a dedicated ESC button if you run PC games since so many damn games use it.)

-Dedicated volume up/down (and use Tur-Volume adjuster to control the volume and auto volume/muting on your cab.)

-2 pinball buttons each side (probably not for you since it's crazyass wide and you're building a dedicated pin anyway)

-Power button (hidden away. Mine is on top of the cab out of site.)

Importantly these also need to be well labeled in your CP artwork so that anyone can walk up and understand how to control the HS menus. Otherwise you play babysitter constantly.

 

My glass is normal thickness? not sure what the actual measurement is. I don't use any additional dampening on mine as it only touches along the bottom and top. But I imagine foam door weatherstripping would work perfectly and you can pick it up at Home Depot cheap. I actually used some of that to jury rig some LEDs on my Hobbit pinball machine. Or any thin foam strip would probably work just along the edges the glass will rest on.

 

For the horizontals channels on my marquee I grabbed L shaped aluminum bars from Home Depot, cut them to exact width with a file, primered and flat blacked. The bottom one is simply held in place with Gorilla double sided tape (kept me from having to drill/screw etc... from underneath). The top one I grabbed two small black hinges, gorilla taped one side to the top of the bar and screwed the other hinge side into the top of the cab. The tape has never come loose and made it so I didn't have to bolt/weld/glue/screw etc... the metal hinge to the aliminum bar. Having it be metal looks factory similar to my MVS machine.

 

No idea on I/O's... like I said I don't plug anything else in. No ethernet as my cab it WiFi connected. My sub is held in place with L brackets to the bottom of the cab. My speakers are car speakers under the marquee.

 

For Aimtracks... I'm not a fan of the cluttered look of holsters. The idea I've had if I add them to mine is to wire them to come out through the Coin door. So when I don't need them they are inside there, when i want them I just open the coindoor and take them out on long cable. Haven't actually tried it though.

 

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Ok, tonight I'll revise my design once again.  Some versions have sound controls below the screen (better but eats up space), others below the C-P (although probably won't need to regularly adjust, still a pain to access during gameplay).

 I would like to use the area below the screen for sound controls and a secondary screen, but center channel above screen would be at a poor angle, so I'll need to modify that part.

 I'm using an old stereo receiver for 5.1, and will wire the subwoofer controls next to it, but hadn't considered separate sound control on the C-P.  I think a mute button may be nice, but not sure how necessary another volume knob would be.

The receiver has a nice power button I will use to power up the rig.  I plan on using a separate power button to turn on the PC, hidden underneath the C-P.

I want to minimize the complexity of the C-P.  Players need flexibility, but I figured a lessor number of admin buttons would present a clean appearance while maintaining gaming functionality.  Do you really use many that cannot be mapped to unused player buttons (especially #3 or 4)?

For some games I'll use guns, pads/original console joysticks, and even keyboard/mouse, but I agree that to preserve a clean look, these will be stowed away unless in use.

As far as instructions go, I do not want much in the artwork. I have not experimented with it yet, but there is a 3rd party, secondary screen app to display additional info on a second screen.  I'm sure more of these will be developed, and want to use them to display instructions.  

Buttons are rgb, so instructions  can easily and effectively be done graphically for player controls. I had considered "dirtying up" the C-P with admin button instructions, though.

Thanks again for any advice or suggestions you may have, and yes... sweat loaf with leg kicks may just be the greatest rock n roll performance of all time.

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Oh My Gawd!!!... The Flaming... um... er... better be the last time I revise these dag-nabbed designs!

I'm proposing something different.  I want to save space and reduce the size of my upcoming cab, so I think I will mount the stereo receiver and a secondary screen into the Control Panel, rather than the face of the cab.  I saw a cab some time ago where somebody had a movie playing on a secondary screen while games were on the main screen.  I thought it totally sucked!  I do, however, want to be able to display instructions, high scores, etc. on a secondary screen.  No drinks are ever going to be allowed on the machine (I have a bar in my room for this) so I'm thinking this would be safe for the C-P.

I want to have players standing about 30" from the screen, since there may be 4 players viewing a 40".  I had planned on putting the secondary screen below my main display, which fits aesthetically and logically... but in the ongoing quest to reduce the machine's footprint, I've yet again changed it's layout.

30" from screen means C-P edge is about 26" from the tinted glass.  I've reduced the depth of the entire machine, with C-P, to 36", so will make a fixed C-P, (instead of removable one with a 36" deep body which made an overall 42" deep machine).  The body (side panel) is now 27" deep.  Due to display size, the interior cab width is still 38", so with sides it'll be about 39.5" wide.  

The C-P will be a whopping 66" inches at it's widest, to accommodate (4) adults.  I also planned on a little extra space around the trackball so surrounding joysticks and buttons won't get in the way.  After making my test C-P with (2) joysticks and the trackball, I realized that I probably included a little more space than is really necessary around the trackball, so the overall C-P width may decrease slightly as I continue to modify things (will this ever end?!?).

My C-P was so large, (how large was it) that there was going to be significant real estate for artwork on it.  No problem, I can find more art, but it seemed kind of like wasted space.  By adding the receiver and a second screen, I can kill whatever with whatever... birds in hand or bush or mouth or grave or shut the "f" up.

I already have (43) rgb buttons I had planned on using, but now have become enamored with the idea of adding a 4-player coindoor to the cab, which reduces my needs by (4).  I will have to slightly change the base design and reduce the sexy, sexy curves... but an illuminated coindoor with functional buttons would be ultra-cool.  I saw a 4-player version recently on sale for about $140 new, is that what you have found?  I could use the remaining buttons for additional admin buttons, but I'm really not sure I'd want more than (4) or (5) with one being a shift key.  Also, I had planned on programming the coin buttons as a select key for console games, and using the coindoor buttons in lieu of a button next to a start button is no substitute.

I have reduced the overall height of my design to 78" to the top of the top panel.  I still want to have the sides extend at least an inch or two above this, to help hide some of the square iron I will be using to frame the surround speakers.  I will have a Super Mario Bros. artwork theme, so I thought I'd paint any square iron that is visible sky-mario-blue.  Along with the vinyl artwork I'll order, I will include dimensions for the (4) speakers and pictures so I can have Lakitu, and maybe flying koopa, sun, cloud, etc. for the others.

Center channel speaker has been repositioned above the monitor and AimTrak sensor, so with the new height and design it should be aligned with the surrounds nicely.  I may have to have the PC rotated at an angle to fit into the smaller base size, but no big deal.  I had toyed with the idea of wiring the blu-ray player/recorder to the front of the machine... but why?  Realistically I will almost never use it.

I'm not sure how physically stable this thing will be.  I have over 100 lb. lead I can use as ballast, but I really wanted to use that for my cocktail cabinet.  I guess I'll just have to see how tipsy the thing is.  I will not use casters as originally planned.  If I have to move it I'll use a dolly.  Just looking at it on paper, it seems like the center of gravity will be within the base, and even with vigorous button pounding, I think it will remain solid.

Rock on Brothers

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