RPi Arcade Project Update: 12/2/13

A long weekend gave me time to work on the Raspberry Pi powered arcade system. For starters I used an old marquee that I had from my last arcade. It is not a perfect fit since it is smaller by about 2 inches all the way around. I’d really like to use the full marquee area with a custom marquee. This one one I downloaded from the web and added a bit to it. I have a very talented comic book artist friend so I might commission his to create me something custom.

Temporary arcade marguee in place Side shot of the marquee

My game pads arrived. I have read decent review of these retro style version on Amazon so I decided to pick them up. These are USB so they should be plug and plan. When I add these two additional USB slots will being filled and I am starting to wonder if I am going to be using all 7 USB ports on my powered USB hub in the very near future. My goal is to use the game pads for any Nintendo emulated games. I prefer the traditional arcade joysticks and arcade buttons for NeoGeo and MAME games but would like to have these as an additional option.

Classic game pads arrived.

Below you can see the cabinet in use. The control panel still doesn’t have a protective plexiglass cover on it yet. But, the panel is metal and not wood. I kind of like it without¬† the plexiglass at the moments. I sprayed about 4 coats of the white so I am hoping that is enough to protect it without the normal plexiglass on top of the metal control panel.¬† I would also like to add some vinyl graphics to it. I will reevaluate the plexiglass when I start to work on adding the vinyl. You can also see the game pads in the photos below.¬† The only thing I am missing is beverage holders on the sides of the control panel. I did notice this weekend that I have put place my adult beverage on the pool table that is with in an arms stretch behind the cabinet.

System in action Donkey Kong FTW

Here is a close up of the control panel in action. Now that I have NeoGeo games working I am thinking of adding 4 more buttons to each players already 6 button layout. I currently have the traditional 4 NeoGeo button mapped to each player more like a game pad with two buttons on top and two on the bottom. So that means buttons A and B are mapped to buttons 1 and 2. Then I have buttons C and D mapped to buttons 4 and 5. If I add the extra buttons I will have to drill into the metal again and maybe put another coat of white on it. More work so I am not rushing to make this update. I also need to make sure that I have the room for the extra buttons with the track ball in place.

Lots of room for more buttons.

Speaking of trackball I don’t have this working yet for any games. I also need to power a light below the trackball so that it lights up. The trackball works on operating system GUI so I’m not sure what I need to do to enable this yet fro games. My spinner is also USB so as soon as I figure out the trackball I should have the spinner working as well. There are a handful of classic game I really like to use a track ball for like Centipede, Missile Command, and World Class Bowling. For the spinner Tempest is must. I am pretty sure that the Raspberry Pi has no chance of planing any of the Golden Tee Golf games but those also use a trackball.

I hope my next post covers the trials and tribulations of getting the front end working to the different emulators. This is where I spent most of my time this last weekend. It has been a struggle to get that part of the project working.

RPi Arcade Project Update: 11/24/13

I was back on the control panel again today. I decided to paint the panel white. Before I was able to paint I had to drill two holes and test the trackball mounting. I might have to order special carriage bolts but I’m going with what I was able to find at Home Depot. They seem to work.

I planned to use the original plexiglass cover despite having some carvings in it. After painting the panel white using the original panel was not going to work. Scratches really stand out. I am going to have to get a plexiglass cover professionally cut. Not sure what that is going to cost me.

Here is the sexy new look to the control panel.

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RPi Arcade Build Update: 11/23/13

I tackled the control panel today. I have 8 hours easy into cutting, stripping, cleaning, and cutting the panel some more. I am wore out to be honest.

I was able to use the original metal panel. This is a nice plus since the panel has the bolts for the joysticks already. I had planned to only use wood but I managed to cut the trackball hole without too much trouble into the metal control panel. A 3” hole saw did the work and it was a clean cut. It was a little cold outside but with my son’s help and we made steady progress. After cutting the trackball hole I used my Dremel to clean up the tough edges.

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Next I planned to strip off the original sticker on the control panel. I bet it took me 2 hours to get the sticker off and the surface cleaned up. The sticker came off using a razor blade easily enough but the sticker left behind the sticky part. I scrapped, and scrapped, and scrapped some more. Then I sanded it and scrapped even more. Finally it was free of the tacky mess.

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I ran into my first issue when I realized I cut the trackball hole too far down on the control panel. This mistake prevented the control panel from fully closing. I ended up having to trim out the particle board to get the control panel to fully close. Again the Dremel to the rescue.

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Now it was time to cut some holes. I have added a total of 13 holes to the control panel. I bought what is called a step drill bit and it worked out great.

I added 8 button holes across the top. 1 and 2 player buttons will be centered with 3 buttons on each side. These were super hard to cut since I had to go through metal and wood.

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The last button I added was for a spinner. This hole is placed right above the trackball. Since Tempest was one of my favorite games as a child I had to have the spinner.

Tomorrow I plan to paint the control panel white and try to cut some new plexiglass to cover it. I also need to find the right sized carriage bolts to mount the trackball.

RPi Arcade Build Update: 11/20/13

I have some new equipment added to the arcade cabinet tonight. To get the sound working (louder) I installed a LP-2020A+ Lepai Tripath Class-T hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier. This meant I needed a USB sound card as well. I went with a 7.1 Channel USB External Sound Card Adapter. Finally a 7 port USB hub was added. Total price for this was about $40.

After getting the sound card configured and working with the Raspberry Pi it is loud. Really loud. I am using the cabinet speaker from the original Tekken 2 cabinet and it sounds incredible!

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The rest of my efforts tonight surrounded figuring out how I’m going to work the control panel. I think I have a sold plan now so keep your fingers crossed it all works out.

RPi Arcade Build Update: 11/18/13

Lots of work tonight on the cabinet. Clean, clean, clean. I removed the coin doors and scrubbed them. They are fully in tacked. I removed all the wires from the Tekken 2 games that I won’t be using.

Coin door before Coin door removed Cleaned up now Cool control All back together

I stripped the control panel down but couldn’t get the plastic cover off it since it has security screws in it. Really?

Control panel guts Stripped down Security screw, ugh

Here is a photo of my old control panel and the Tekken panel. I hope to get most the buttons, the spinner, and the trackball on the new one. Space might be an issue so we will see.

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The bezel on the cabinet can be switched from portrait to landscape. I have been running portrait for a few days but I just switched it back to landscape. The viewing angle was terrible in portrait.

Portrait mode Landscape is better Ms. Pac-Man anyone?

Last, a power supply came with the cabinet so I managed to hook up the light. Happy that it works! Now I’m wondering if I can power the RPi off the power supply?

Lights off the power supply Power supply details

I do have PiMAME up and running as well. Without the control panel working it it just not much fun. I’ll plan out the panel tomorrow. That’s all for now.