Step 6: Video
The old days cabinets usually had a 20" monitor. I discarded both pc monitor and arcade monitor for this project.
The arcade monitor requires special hardware and knowledge to interface it with the computer. And a PC monitor would look too "perfect" for an old-fashioned arcade cabinet.
I chose a TV as the display hardware for my cabinet: Relatively cheap, and "plug and play" since with the RCA input there is no need of electronics addins to convert the input signals.
After two months of research I could find a suitable Fairmate 20" TV that fits very well in the cabinet. Since I didn't have the TV when the blueprints were created, I took all the measures based on my own TV. The more suitable TV should be triangle shaped (see the pictures) to fit inside the cabinet (if it is totally square it would go outside the cabinet backdoor)
In addition the TV should have other two features. 1-it should have a RCA video input (almost all the TV's have them) or S-Video. 2-it should be cheap. As I already mention, the whole project is quite expensive and I was unable to spend more money on a brand new TV. Anyway, all the new TV's I found where more cubic shaped so I discarded them all.
Once I've found the one that seemed to be the right TV for the cabinet I had to face another problem: the front control panel of the unit had a huge height. The effect of this big height is that the TV would stay too far from the upper edge of the control panel, and therefore the bezel in the bottom will be also huge and ugly. Since I can't "select" and "cut" the bottom panel of the TV (and I refused to open the TV to make any changes because of the known hazardous high voltages inside) I asked the supplier if he could rotate the CRT tube for me. The guy did the job and that solved the problem. The height excess is now at the top but that is not a problem because I will hide it behind the speakers cover.
I had to visit the TV supplier once again because the guy flipped the image vertically (mmmm... seems to be ok) but also flipped it horizontally (all the left to right action would be right to left!!). Just imagine double dragon guys walking from right to left :(
Most of the older TV's in my country has composite (RCA) inputs and not s-video.
At the time I built this cabinet most of the video cards available had s-video output, so the only way to get it work would be to plug an adapter to the video card.
It took me about five months to find the best solution... Finally I decided to buy a TV Elite XGA unit:
This is a wonderful piece of hardware because some of it's features:
1. It is external
2. It can be connected to any pc
3. It does not uses any driver (just plug it into VGA and voila! showing the same in the TV. Therefore it can be used with any operating system (since it does not uses any drivers). The first game I tested on the cabinet was "Wolfenstein 3d" running on an ancient 386 machine :)
4. It shows both in the pc monitor and TV
5. The changes you make on the pc are reflected in the TV (brightness,
position, height, width, etc)
In addition it supports a very long RCA wires (I tried it with a 10 meters wires installation and it works OK).
Some of the other video cards I've tried produced a very bad output with a long wire. Of course there is no need of such wire length but it is just another remarkable feature of the XGA TV Elite. It was a little bit expensive than a standard video card but it really worthed it.
I had to build a solid base to hold this heavy TV.