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Carny_Priest

My test build with a lot of 20th century tech

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Hi, I've been lurking in the scene on and off since VP was in its first dogfood test releases and before there was a VPinMAME. I'm a proud owner of one of shakenbake's P2k-style cabinets which arrived a few days ago. While it was being built I put together a test machine with some old hardware I had kept around. I wanted to get familiar with configuring tables, backglasses, and so on for cabinets. Most of the peripherals come from the 90s. Before I break it down, I thought I would share it for everyone's general amusement.

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PC - a workstation class laptop, Dell Precision M65, my main work machine previous to my previous work machine, circa 2006.

Intel Core Duo, 1.83 GHz CPU, 1Gb RAM

NVidea Quadro FX 350M, 450Mhz, 256Mb RAM

75Gb Hitachi SATA drive

I reformatted the drive and installed Tiny 7 rev01 x86 and found compatible video drivers on Microsoft's update catalog site

I could not get .NET Framework 3.5 to install on Tiny 7, but I could get 4.0 to install. So, I can use B2S backglasses.

The laptop is connected to a compatible dock.

Playfield is the laptop's 15.4" WUXGA LCD. I raised it with a cardboard shipping box and leveled it with some jewel cases.

Most of the rest of the peripherals are from the 90's:

BG/DMD - 19" OEM Sony Trinitron CRT from an old Micron desktop which I kept around for the dedicated MAME set up that I never got around to doing. I know, it is not proportional to my laptop screen-based playfield.

Input - The dock has a PS/2 keyboard port allowing me to use my old Hanaho HotRod SE, one of the first commercial arcade controllers built with MAME in mind. It has side flipper buttons so I had used it for years for desktop VP and Pro Pinball. Required digging up my old PS/2 keyboard to daisy chain with the HotRod and make it work again. I also had to do a minor repair on a male to male PS/2 cable to make the connection. Would have been a pain to order another cable. Can't just go to Radio Shack and pick one up these days. The HotRod has a static keyboard encoder. Which buttons emulate which key presses are fixed. The defaults must be changed in VP/Preferences/Keys to support the HotRod which is easy enough to do. The secret is that VPMKeys.vbs must also be modified in order for the HotRod to work correctly with VPinMAME, but this has been the case for many, many years.

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Microsoft Sidewinder Freestyle Pro for nudging. It's serendipity that I have one. I bought one to play with the first Playstation emulator. I didn't get into the games, and I don't think I have touched it in over ten years. Not at all pretty, but duct taping it to the HotRod is good enough to test.

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Audio - Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500, one of the first desktop PC 5.1 Dolby Digital surround systems. 60W output in total. This was very high end back in the 20th century. I set aside three of the satellite speakers and configured for 2.1. I mounted the satellites on a pair of matching Mason jars. My only out of pocket expense for this project was a $10 can of TV tuner cleaner at Radio Shack. I had to take apart the amplifier decoder unit, and clean out some 15 years of dust and corrosion inside the drums that control the volume in order to get the system functioning again. It sounded great in this setup.

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Is it playable? Definitely. I only got around to loading the cab version of TAF, but it played very well. I used 720 resolution which is fine for such a small playfield. I decreased Alpha Ramp Accuracy a couple of steps. I also adjusted B2S settings to skip some frames. I did not get around to working with HyperPin beyond just launching it once.

Now that I have a cabinet, I am going to disassemble it. But this setup will live again soon as I plan on putting together a dedicated dual monitor MAME setup. I have my old monitor from work from before we switched to widescreens. It is a 19" Dell 5:4 aspect ratio digital LCD. The stand for it is adjustable up and down, but it wasn't build to rotate the screen. The monitor disconnects from the stand with a push of a button. I found it was easy enough to modify the stand itself by unscrewing the mount from the stand, rotating it 90 deg, and then screwing it back to the stand. The stand wasn't quite engineered to be modified this way, a couple of screws are loose and can't be tightened further, but it is secure enough. Now I have a second screen in portrait orientation to add to my setup for vertically oriented games like Pac-Man, Tempest, etc. Now I just need a trackball and spinner, but I don't have a cheap solution for adding these controls. What can I say? I'm cheap when it comes to video games. I want to spend my build budget on pinball!

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I'll post some pics and share my thoughts in a few days. I don't have artwork. Now seeing it in the flesh it screams for artwork, but I'm going to address the electronics first and put off the artwork for later.

I'm into user configurable solutions. That's why the p2k-based design was appealing to me. I have an idea for swappable side art involving dry mounting the artwork onto thin foam board and attaching to the cabinet with Velcro strips or museum wax or something. Want to change the theme? Then just swap out the art. Maybe I'll do a concept test, but I don't know that it ever look very good. I couldn't cover the flipper buttons, so such a solution would never be flush all the way to the front of the cab.

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