you will need:
- A computer. 1 Gig of Ram is OK, but 2 is ideal. you'll need a pretty decent graphics card with dual monitor capabilities and a pretty decent processor - a fast dual core is better than a not as fast quad core, as the software only uses 2 cores anyway. Most people say Windows XP is best.
- the software: Visual Pinball is the emulation software, and the front end that dresses it up and makes it playable on the cabinet is hyperpin.
- A monitor for your playfield - I wanted to keep costs down, so I went with a smaller option - a 24" Asus monitor. If you want to replicate the size of a real pinball machine, a 37" LCD TV is your best bet.
- A monitor for the backglass - I went with a 19".
- timber - I used 19mm MDF.
- A keyboard encoder. the i-pac is your best bet, available here in Australia, and here in the USA.
- arcade buttons and wire. I used 6 buttons, each coming with it's own microswitch. wiring kits save a lot of hassle crimping connectors on wires. they're available at the above links.
these are the key components, but there are plenty of smaller things I use along the way.
Step 1: Setting Up the Monitors.
Step 2: Setting Up the Software.
next download some tables. make sure they are full screen cabinet tables. add the tables to the tables folder in the Visual Pinball. open Visual Pinball, got to video option and make sure you have full screen checked, your screen resolution selected and 1024 selected in texture dimensions (see image below). restart the program, go to file/open and open a table. In the left tool bar, select play. it will come up with a box telling you you need a rom to play the game. look in the 'ROM set name' box and it will tell you the name of the rom you need. download it and add it to...visual pinball/vpinmame/roms. unfortunately, this is the only way I know of to find the right rom set. alot of tables only have one ROM, so its worth checking it out first. you could also download all the roms for the particular table. once the rom is in the right spot, try to play the game again. you'll get a legal agreement pop up. click yes and the game is ready to play. sometimes you need to open the game twice, because the first time emulates a system restore for the table and needs to reboot. just press escape, quit to editor and then play the game again.
next, install Hyperpin. you can download it here (you'll need to create a free account). once hyperpin is installed navigate to the hyperpin folder and there is a really good help file there on setting everything up. READ IT! FOLLOW IT! setting up hyperpin can be a bit tricky, so it's important to follow the help file.
probably the trickiest part is editing the xml database that dictates what games show up. here is an example of a database:
<game name="16-9 Agents 777">
<description>Agents 777 (Game Plan 1984)</description>
<game name="16-9 Airborne">
<description>Airborne (Capcom 1996)</description>
this database would show two tables in hyperpin - Agents 777 and Airborne. here is a database entry proforma:
<game name="INSERT NAME OF .VPT FILE HERE">
<description>NAME OF MEDIA HERE</description>
<type>EM(electromagnetic, usually games before 1978) OR SS(solid state, usually games after 1978)</type>
once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty easy.
once everything is set up, and you have opened each game at least once in visual pinball (this is very important. if you don't open each table once in VP, then they won't work in hyperpin), your software configuration is complete. note this is a very time consuming process, and if you need to troubleshoot, the hyperpin forum is the best place to go.
Step 3: Building the Cabinet.
screw everything together, fill in all the gaps and holes with spakling compound, then sand it back nice and smooth.
I haven't yet attached legs to my cabinet, because I'm trying to design collapsable legs that will still be able to take the weight of the cabinet. i want to be able to pack it up and put it in the boot of a car in 15 minutes, so I can take it to parties, etc. if you don't need your cabinet to be portable, then build sturdy legs for it - I'd use even lengths of 4x4 bolted and braced on each inside corner.
you can decorate your cabinet any way you choose - getting professionally printed graphics is probably the most aesthetically pleasing method, but it can be expensive. i designed mine based on a NES controller coffee table I built. If you want to paint it a solid colour, you can acheive a smooth finish by first spraying it with primer, and then a coat of satin black or whatever spray you want. sand it back, apply another coat, and sand and paint another 2 or 3 times. this will create a nice, smooth, even finish. once you have everything painted, you can move onto the next step - electronics.
Step 4: Putting It All Together.
next we, finish it all up.
Step 5: Finishing Everything Up.
as I mentioned before, Im still working on the legs, and i've ordered some mercury switches so I can hopefully add nudge capabilities to the cabinet. If you are thinking about building a cabinet for yourself, definately check out the visual pinball forums and the hyperpin forums.
feel free to ask any questions you may have, and I hope you enjoyed the instructable. here is a link to the video of the machine in action - I apologies for the average quality. you'll notice the first game takes about 30 seconds to load up - that's because Hyperpin is accesing visual pinball. each subsequent game only takes 5-7 seconds to load.