The following will document the conversion/creation of this cabinet.



  Okay, this is a first for me, a completely custom from scratch job.  Above is a very rough mockup of what I think the finished beast will look like.  This one has to be able to withstand the rigors of the Great Canadian North, so I'll be filling it with DEET before it leaves the shop.  I'm real excited about this one, since I'm not just rehashing an old cab, but doing it from the CAD design up.  It's made for a pretty tall guy, so it's got a bit more angle to the monitor than I would find comfortable, but for him it sould be perfect!  Let's get started!  
  Parts going into this one: I'm trying out the brand spankin new Minipac interface from ultimarc.  Also I'll be trying out the Ultimarc trackball and T-sticks for the first time.  I'm anxious to get the T-sticks,  even though they are more expensive than the Happ sticks I normally use.  Also on this panel will be a genuine Wico 4 way (since microswitch joysticks never do justice to the old classics) and of course an Oscar VORTEX spinner.  To top it off, visual pinball buttons.

For the computer, it will be similar to the killer system in the Zelda mame, complete with 20" monitor and Harmon Kardon or Yamaha Sub-sat system. 


Here the control panel starts to take shape.  You can see the marked locations of the controls.  I moved the joystick positions up a bit to make it more comfortable for the player, other than that it's going to match up with the model. I really need to get a collar for the router so I can do these holes quicker, but for now the hole saw does the trick.  I'll be putting a order in for the buttons next week, then to start in on the paint-grade plywood frame or the top panel. 


Okay, the panel is drilled, I'm just fabricating a mounting plate for the trackball.  Now that my mind is back on track I can start making some progress! I've routed out the joysticks (underside) and the trackball, and mounted the spinner.  I need to order a few buttons tomorrow. 

  I've had a few e-mails asking about cabinet finishes.  Well this one is going to be a good example.  All the wood is new, so I have to make sure a good durable finish goes on there.  For the best finish, you just can't beat a good spray gun.  For those of you with access to one, you'll know what I'm talking about.  Otherwise a nice low pile roller will suffice.  Lay down a good primer coat on your piece (don't ever skip the primer!!).  Sand the work and prime again.  This is what will allow your final coat to look good and not just absorb into the wood.  I set the compressor to 40-50psi and load up the gun.  For easy cleanup I use water based latex, but you could get the same durability in less coats by using oil based or acrylic paint.  Oh and ALWAYS use a good filtration mask when spraying. Here is the first coat of black on the control panel.  I've already sprayed two coats of primer.  I didn't sand too much here since it will all be covered by the underlay graphic, but remember that the control panel will take most of the abuse of things like spills, so make sure it's well sealed. 



  Controls in place, but not attached.  All that remains to do here is mount the trackball plate, install new t-molding and do up some underlay graphics.  Looking good!

  The side and back panels are cut, and I've attached the pieces now with biscuits and industrial strength glue.  As always I will complete the construction with metal brackets to make the table bulletproof. 

I'm really pleased with the finish on the wood.  It was worth the extra money to get pre sanded sides.  I'll give the whole cabinet a coat of primer, and then a nice black textured finish to give it that "from the factory" look.  Now to finish the control panel support and the top.


  I did a bit more work, getting the pieces together.  I'm going to do a template of the top so that I can take it in to a local plastics company and have them do up a nice thick topglass. 


Here I started in on the primer.  You can see the gold t-molding that arrived today.  Tomorrow I'll try and finish up the primer coat and cut the groove in the edges and maybe even get on one coat of black.


Now we're getting down to it.  The cabinet has a coat of black textured finish to it, the edge slots are cut and here is a preview of how the t-molding will look.  Now I was quite apprehensive about ordering the gold, thinking it was going to be tacky, but I was definitely wrong!  This stuff looks great, and is really heavy duty compared to the regular t-molding.  It even has a protective finish on it that I will peel off when I deliver it.  Now to get to work on the graphic underlay and the plexiglass top. 


Now there's a money shot!  I finished up the plexiglass top today! In this picture the glass overhangs the control panel cutout, but I ended up doing it flush all the way around.   I'm off now to router the slot for the t-molding around the top and maybe start planning the monitor shelf so that I can figure out where the hole needs to be cut.  I'll also fabricate some custom glass clips using bulk steel and a bit of hammering on the vise. 


I welded up a custom bracket for hanging the monitor.  I'll do up a reverse bracket for the bottom and it should be very well secured.  Also this allows for the enclosure to be open, so that I can get maximum airflow across it with a fan I plan to install on one side of the cab.


Well the support worked well, but I -assumed- I had it bolted to the frame, but it turns out the front half was only bolted through some plastic, so when the full weight of the monitor hung from it, the electronics and metal pulled away rather violently.  :sigh: Don't think I'll be fixing this 20" monitor with a bit of glue.  I did however, create some new swear words when this happened, so it wasn't a total waste.  Well off to the monitor store!


Okay, one new monitor and we're back in business.  I tested out the control panel yesterday and it worked without troubles.  I also got the vent holes on the cabinet drilled.  I used the paper template and a punch to set the pattern, then drilled out the holes.  One side will have a mounted fan.  Two smaller templates will be used in the front for the mounting of the speakers.  It's going to be tight in the enclosure and it'll be a challenge to get those speakers in there without causing magnetic distortion on the monitor, or excessive vibration on the motherboard.


Due to the angle of the monitor, I needed to fabricate a custom bezel for the monitor.  Here is the primed piece set in place.  I'll secure it and put on a flat black coat.  The underlay graphic will come flush with the bezel edges for the finished look.


  Above is the artwork for the cab.  Since it's going to be a jukebox and arcade emulator, I did up two pictures.  One I found on the net, which had been put together in illustrator from mostly pictures from my site (the irony!).  The other was a picture from my buddy Joff who had done up a killer jukebox project with his class.  I'll print them both up at kinko's with a good laminate coating and get them mounted.  While all of this is going on I welded  up four custom brackets.  Two go on the top and attach to clamps inside the cab to keep the top securely in place.  The other two are secured to the underside of the control panel, and are flat steel welded to round threaded stock.  The threaded steel pokes through recessed holes in the bottom of the panel, and are secured with nuts to keep the panel on.  Can you tell I love my welder?  

I'm pretty concerned about heat in this beast, so I had the computer guy bring a selection of heatsinks for the motherboard.  We settled on a massive sink with a copper/aluminum mix. I've always had better luck with copper sinks over any other kind, but he swears by the aluminum, so we found this good compromise.  In the next pic you can see the custom plexiglass mount I made for the board to keep lots of air movement on it (can't have it cooped up in a computer case in there!)


Now to cram all this stuff inside the box.  Simple, right?  right?????


I've started the 48 hour burn in period, I want to make sure this puppy will run for 2 days without locking up.  The computer guys tell me they already did a "burn in" test run, but I like to test firsthand for myself.  I'd rather run into problems here than when it's hundreds of miles away!  I also returned the Yamaha speakers and got a Creative Labs set instead.  A few fellow cab builders said the sound was phenomenal on these speakers, and more importantly, they come with a volume control on a wire!  I can mount that under the control panel and he doesn't need to crack it open to turn down the volume.  It's still going to be tight in there with the sub.  I can honestly say, the Creative system rocks!  The monitor here has a forward tilt to it.  You might think it's not enough until you see the height on the new owner, I think he's a retired basketball player or something. :)



Here is a snap of the panel graphic and the sideart in place.  Notice also the pinball flipper and 'tilt' buttons.  Lookin good!

  Menu screen ready to go!


A nice shot of the completed control panel.

  Turn the lights down and let's see what this puppy can do.  Off to play a few games and maybe a bit of pinball before I get it ready for delivery!


A dark room shot with the sound activated light tube and the coin windows.  Bling.

  Here is a nice pic of lake Huron where this cabinet has taken up residence.  I wasn't joking about it being at a cottage!


  There she be.  There's got to be something said for a game of Galaga nestled into the peaceful setting of Canadian  cottage country.  This place is the ultimate dedication to arrested development.  Game on!






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