Thursday, August 8, 2013

Flat pack arcade cabinet - Take 2

Shawn from Neutral Zone got (almost) two cabinets worth of wood CNC'ed and I set to work building one.

After fighting through the rain, I was able to get it assembled and all the board attached, minus the game pcb, bezel, and a monitor.

Every 15 minutes, the sprinkling came

The end result looks pretty dang good. The CNC company had cut grooves for the T-Molding on the entire sides, except for the front side where the T-Molding goes, so I didn't put any on it. Also, I am still not 100% satisfied with the control panel box area. It is relatively easy to assemble, but not easy to cover the sides with T-Molding. I believe the solution may end up to use dowels to hold the top on and then round the edges on the top side.

Looking better than my hand cut one
I gave this one back to Shawn and it should be cleaned up and in use right now.

You can download the CAD model I did in Sketchup here and the assembled sketchup file here. Also, the flat cutting CAD Model with dimensions is here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Designing a Flat Pack Cabinet - Needs a name

I started working on the design of a cabinet that is built to specifically support the current tech of arcade games, be easy to assemble, not take up too much floor space, and look good.

Taking inspiration from the Vigolix, I worked out a drawing for one that would be full-size and after a few iterations, I came up with this:

A little over 2 feet wide and 6 feet tall, it measures up to a standard arcade cabinet, but since it wouldn't need to hold a bulky CRT monitor, hold a coin box, or be sealed in the back, it looks pretty good.

I started working on my prototype and made a few adjustments to customize it for me and correct from a bad cut I made (which means I had to lose the marquee on this one). Not bad for a few hours work. I have orders out for the t-molding and controls. The balance of the system is great and the center of gravity on it is very low, so it is very unlikely to tip over.

More in Progress
In progress

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Star Wars Trilogy just about done!

XWing Passing by Yavin

I did what I believe to be the last major part of the repair job and mounted the LCD screen on the system. I then took the Fresnel lens off of the screen and remounted it to see how it looks.

Reassembled, we have the technology
Looks pretty dang good to me.

You can head over to my Imgur album view the full photostream of my reconstruction of the Star Wars Trilogy arcade.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Star Wars Trilogy Display Service Manual - 50P-GHS63

I don't think I have ever seen this online, so I scanned it in. If you have a 50P-GHS63 display, a 3 cathode tube rear projection TV, this is the service manual for adjusting things like the convergence and screen size. This is above and beyond the game's service manual which gives you instructions on setting up the game at your site. This would have been run through by the factory worker building the TV in the first place.

This display was used in several 1990's-2000's era SEGA arcade games, such as Star Wars Trilogy and Harley Davidson Racing.

Before you start anything, go to page 10 and use those steps to write down your monitors settings on page 11 and 12. I am putting this in bold because it is VERY IMPORTANT.

Should you fail to do the above step, I pity you. You may have fun readjusting 171 different settings which can cause other settings to need readjusting.

Also, DO NOT USE THE E2RESET until you have written those down. Read the previous paragraph for exactly why you do not want to do that.


Download the 50P-GHS63 Service Manual

1983 Star Wars out of the house

And just like that, it is gone again. But my loss is everyone's gain.

This beauty is now sitting front and center over at The Neutral Zone in South St. Louis County.

Back in a natural habitat
So, head on over there and give it a play or two.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

1983 Star Wars in the house

I was able to purchase a 1983 Star Wars this week. While it isn't the cockpit version and had some known issues, the progress right.
It is extremely heavy for its size and was a pain to move it from its previous home. As noted, there'd and blue beams were very weak and dim. I spent about 30 minutes adjusting the brightness settings and ended up with this.

Looks great, however there is a slight flicker on the green beam. I may end up putting in one of those replacement bvga vector boards. For now, it plays great and the green isn't noticeable in gameplay.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

SWT: Cleaned out the control panel and put in a 42 inch TV

After an unsuccessful CRT tubes transfer, I ended up getting an inexpensive 42 inch TV to put into my Star Wars Trilogy. I had wanted to keep it as close to original as possible. After weeks of diagnosing the original CRT tubes and then changing out the guts with another TV, only to find out that the Blue CRT wouldn't focus and that I would have to make major cabinet changes to get the angle of the tubes right, I decided to just go ahead and change out the screen entirely.

I spent a day removing the tubes again and trying to determine where to set the tube high-wise. Just when I got it all set, the screen started flaking out as if it couldn't hold sync anymore. I had seen this problem before as there was a couple loose wires between the  screen and the control panel that had been stretched due to improper harnessing. I spent 3 hours going through every cable and did some repairs on all the ones that were questionable and the problem persisted. In desperation, I started playing around with the CGA to VGA converter card and pressed the "Auto" button and it resynced. It turned out that I had pressed that button while the input wasn't plugged in and had lost my previous sync settings.

After calibrating the converter and the screen, things started to look really good. All I need to do is build a bezel to make it look good.

I then opened the control panel and removed about 10 years of soda and ice cream goo along with about $3 in coins and a 2003 ticket stub. Loot! I reconnected a few wires that had come loose and replaced the panel bulbs to try to get the panel to light up, but the bulbs still wouldn't come on. Very odd. Looks like I have some more wire debugging to do.

Of course,  I had to play through the game again to make sure it all worked. Scored in the Colonel rank, again.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away! I want to work on my Star Wars Trilogy. Fine, I'll work on a 1983 Star Wars instead.

St. Louis weather took a change to the normal for a mid-Spring day and went from a comfortable night that allowed me to work outside to cold and raining with a chance of flurries. So, I spent the time in my indoors workshop.

This is my actual "grail" project. I have wanted a 1983 Star Wars since I was 10. I have been chasing getting one of these, but keep getting blocked by the price tag of one. Every once in a while, someone finds a good working one in some warehouse or person's garage at a steal of a deal. I doubt that I will ever have that chance.

So, I decided to create my own. I had to ditch the notion of getting the real components as the Vector monitor for it doesn't get cheaper than $500. My plan is to just use MAME and have a case cut as close to the original as possible. I have a spare 19" monitor (which is the size of the original), but since I will be creating a new bezel from scratch, I plan on sticking in a 21" CRT. It won't give the same blinding white light when the Death Star explodes, but will be way brighter than an LCD flat-panel.

I bought a broken control panel on auction as that was something critical to the game. After a few repairs and replacements of micro-switches and  potentiometers, I created a custom Star Wars Yoke to USB converter and released the source code and schematics.


Last night, I set up a Raspberry Pi with the PiMAME and a copy of the Star Wars rom. After some tweaking and overclocking, the game is playable. However, the PCM audio isn't. All I get is a glitchy distortion. That is something to work on.

My budget for the entire build should be less than $1000. So far, for the yoke controller, Raspberry Pi, the Teensy 2.0 (for the USB converter), cables, connectors, and monitor. I have spent less than $300 of that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Restoring a Star Wars Trilogy

Large... Glowing... Square.... who needs the sun.
After spending the last few weeks trying to get the original projection monitor to stay online for more than 18 minutes. I toyed with the idea of just swapping the guts out of another projection display. I tried enough to get this one to work: resoldered the flyback and other large components, replaced fuses and capacitors on all the neck boards and the power supply, and multi-metered almost half of all the circuits on the board. I really wish I had an osciliscope at home. (Time to start watching ebay/craigslist for one of those.)
It looks better than the original screen.
This decision to go ahead with the projection swap finalized when the SWT at Neutral Zone STL had its monitor kick the bucket. All the tubes on their display seem to glow and be working, so I'm thinking that it was just the video signal board failing before it is sent to the xray emitters. I figure I can use my parts to get that one back to original and then swap my pieces until I can figure out which of mine is bad and then sell the rest to people who need parts.
I rolled my DLP projection TV outside and did an over-engineering project to convert the video. I have one of those GBS-8220 that takes the RGB 15Hz signal to VGA. Well, it turned out my monitor only accepts RGBHL, Svideo, or composite. So, I dug out my VGA to svideo adapter and put it in. Later, I ordered a Weija CV-04 which does the same thing.

Playing this game at this size is euphoric.
Tonight, I am going to move the guts over. By my measurements and quick Sketchup cad-eration, I believe I can get the throw distance correct.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Seperating two control panel vinyl sheets

Super Friends till the End
While restoring a 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back to its original form from a Captain America and the Avengares for Neutral Zone, I happened upon the control panel vinyl for a Captain America that the vinyl for the TMNT was stuck to.

Fortunately, these were stuck together with what appears to be a spray epoxy. This is relatively easy to separate with some patience, a thin metal ruler (or metal paint scrapper, thinner the better), and some isopropyl alcohol.
Like Daddy used to Drink
Free with Every Lawsuit
Using the short end of the ruler, gently pry apart the layers of vinyl being careful to not bend either sheet as either may be brittle and prone to cracking. Pour in (or spread with a Q-tip) a little alcohol to help soften and de-sticky the glue holding the layers together.

Then, proceed to separate the sheets by moving the ruler in slow pushes. We are talking paraplegic snail slow, giving the glue time to de-bond from one of the surfaces without cracking either.  Think of it as mowing the lawn. Use small strips. Also, don't press hard down to keep from scratching the other vinyl. If you do get cracks, try to work the ruler around them and to the sides and come at them from the direction of the crack.

Note the Grand Canyon sized crack on the left.
For passengers on the right side, please note how happy the people on the left are.

When you get the sheets separated, you can apply liberal amounts of alcohol to the sheets and using a washcloth, scrub off the remaining glue. Some Goo-be-gone will work on this step as well to help get the glue to ball up and removed. Remember, these things were assumed to be permanently covered in sticky soda and sweaty teen hands, so most cleaning style chemicals shouldn't remove the artwork. However, be sure to try the chemical you use on a small section, just in-case your local Walmart switched the isopropyl with battery acid.

Why would someone cover you over?

Best of luck in your endeavors.


Adult Super Hero People?