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Phi Kap Arcade


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Well I finished my arcade a couple weeks ago and I'll post up everything I have about it so that It may help some others (or possibly get some input, a good project is never completely finished)

I've been wanting to build an arcade for the past... forever. Something along the lines of 2 years ago I fired up the old computer laying in my basement and brought up to speed with a good cleaning, a few cheep computer components, and a a fresh install of windows 2000. I managed to get Mame32 up and running along with the required dependencies for a few games. A trick I found out was a registry hack for windows 2000. I found that you can remap the action to start explorer.exe when windows starts. So now when windows runs the command to start the window manager it instead starts mame32. After a few weeks of three dimensional spacial manipulation in BlockOut for a week I put the project in hibernation. During the next few years I would fire up AutoCAD every now and again to draw some lines, and tweak some distances. So not much happened for a few years until a few months ago the planets aligned and I had the opportunity to complete the project. Being the internet/technology chair of my fraternity I was able to present a motion at meeting for added (more than the current budget of $0) funding for "technological" expenses. This added funding was able to purchase the Joysticks/Buttons from xgaming.com, the skeet of polycarbonate to protect the screen from rowdy patrons, and some other small expenses. The week prior to this was our work weekend (a week where we do major house renovations, repairs, and additions) so there was an excess of plywood and 2x4 lumber available to me. Also around this time I was able to get a friend to laser cut me the the control deck out of a piece of stainless steel. This is good because everything about this arcade was designed to be beefy.

Ok, enough with the back story (well, all of this project is back story now). I began cutting the 2x4 for the frame. This process only took me a few hours because I had created a part list (I would call it a BOM but all of the drafting people would make fun of me for calling that sorry excuse for a parts list a build of materials)

th_1-1.png th_2.png th_3-1.png

So there's the plots from auto with all of my scribbling and adjustments on it. The more number inclined of you may notice that some of the fractional measurements arn't the same as there decimal counterparts. This is because I underestimated the width of the base of the joysticks and needed to increase the total width of the arcade so that the player 1 control stick would have room to fit in the front box. After I assembled and painted the thing with 8 cans of black spray I began work on the the controls. Because i'm cheep and moderately insane (also not bad with a soldering iron) I opted to not use a commercially available arcade encoder and just use one out of a keyboard. I had an old Dell keyboard (the tan colored one that 99% of high schools used before upgrading the the new sleek black ones) that I tore apart. After spending the better part of an afternoon mapping out the matrix (using a paper clip and a bit of wire), I was able to find the few important keys and some other safe keys that I could remap later. This was all fine and dandy until I found out that some one over at the dell keyboard design team messed up the matrix and grouped the first wire in the primary axsis with the other axsis. After pulling out a little hair I figured it out and wrote my self some fairly vague notes that I could puzzle over later when my mind was fried from all of the toxic fumes from my iron.


Next was wiring the thing up. Top gear top tip, Find a comfortable chair and place the iron in a convenient location or else your arm, wrist and back will want to kill you for the next week. As you can see in the pic above I just needed to wire each button up between the two sides of the matrix. One thing that is VERY IMPORTANT for those of you who are wiring this way is to either design your matrix to be ghost free (difficult/impossible) or to use diodes. After every microswitch I placed a diode to prevent power from back feeding thru the system causing ghosting.Here is a GREAT guide on the hows and whys on ghosting and diodes.


Yes that is christmas light wire.

So after... 125-140 connections wired and 8 or so re-wires (see text above about me leaving vague notes) I had a working control deck. :D

I crammed everything into the box and fired her up. Lo and behold I wired the joysticks backwards. I remembered to flip them because I was wiring it upside down but I forgot the when you push up the lower switch fires because the sticks pivot. So after a little help from randyrants I was back in business. I reconfigured Mame to the new buttons and BAM


GAH it's hideious!

Well the camera did make it look worse than it did then but that isn't the finished product. Since then I have skim coated the box to remove the chip board tecture and have placeda metal grid over the slots in the front. I'll post a better pic of the thing once I find my camera/finish up some detailing.

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