The year is 1991 and arcade cabinets have swept the nation and to compete with the successes of games the likes of Street Fighter 2, Dragon's Lair and many more, SEGA comes up with something that had never been done before... something that would shock and awe the gaming community... SEGA created a holographic arcade cabinet. So now it came down to my dad and I to try and recreate the hologram for home use while trying to stay true as close as we possibly could to the original design.
For this instructable I'm going to assume that you have some small experience with woodworking. And there is a video at the end that is a more condensed version and shows the actual holograms in action.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- 1 3/8" thick MDF board
- 1 sheet 3/8" Bendy plywood/Short barrel plywood
- 1 3/4" thick wood panel
- 14" diameter acrylic dome https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CVQQNSJ/ref=cm_sw_r_s...
- 14 3/8" x 12 1/4" single strength glass piece
- Matte black spray paint
- Gloss black spray paint
- Something to display what you want to make into a hologram (we used a laptop/tablet that we measured and used those dimension to make the cabinet, but it can be anything from a phone to a tablet to a desktop)
- 1 1/4" screws
- Wood glue
- White brush on paint
- Black brush on paint
- Red brush on paint
- Cardboard (for templates and shielding)
- Large clamps
- Tablesaw/Jigsaw/Circular saw... just a lot of saws and the likes that can cut the 3/8" and 3/4" panels (We used a CNC machine to make our lives easier with some pieces but this can be recreated with hand tools)
- Oscilating Saw
Step 2: Drawing It Up
Conveniently we were able to find a resource page for the schematics of the original arcade cabinet, so we were able to base a lot of our drawings and measurements off of them, linked here: http://www.dragons-lair-project.com/tech/pages/tt.asp . These measurements can generally be up scaled or down scaled slightly, but they are dependent on the size of the mirror and the display you plan to use, hence why ours fits the mirror and the laptop close inside the cabinet. The only other parts that aren't specifically drawn here are the rectangular pieces for the deck and the front, but those measurements can easily be inferred from the dimensions in the pictures
Step 3: Making the Cuts
So, fortunately for us, we have a CNC machine to make the cuts on the 3/4" panels so that it would be as close to the drawings as possible, but like i said before in the materials section: you can recreate the cuts using hand tools. With whats left of the 3/4" create the front and deck panels along with some extra bracing which will be used later for smaller pieces. Next cut the acrylic dome in half with an oscillating saw; we marked the middle by measuring out the halfway point of the circumference and then taking a string and connecting the two points, but you can also use the brace piece for the mirror to draw the center line.
Step 4: Painting
Figure out which sides that you want facing in, then paint those sides and any other inside piece that could be exposed to sunlight matte black, use around two coats for each piece, of course sand the panels before painting. Next clean the acrylic half dome if you haven't already and prep it to be painted (the easiest way to make sure no paint reaches the inside is to set it up against two boards as shown in the pictures). Spray as evenly as possible without it running and coat it twice on the back side. This is pretty integral to do properly as it will create a mirror effect through the clear plastic on the other side.
Step 5: Assembly
This step is pretty self explanatory with the pictures, but I'll add to it what I can. For the front panel, deck panel, inside deck panel, and side panels: pre-drill the wholes slightly and then put in screws, making sure each piece is square with one another. The pieces that need bracing are the front theater face and the mirror mount, which we cut down some scrap pieces from extra 3/4". Next, form the 3/8" to the back of the cabinet and nail it down with a nailgun going from the bottom to the top. next assemble the mirror mount with the bracing and drill holes into the flange and screw the mirror down into the mount. The mirror is tilted at 82 degrees to get the desired effect, you will have to cut and check the piece to make sure it fits periodically.
Step 6: Extra Bits
These aren't integral to make it function by any means, but for the added aesthetic paint the outside white and add the marquee to the top of the face. Just gives it that old school feel. I painted the outside of the cabinet with some brush on white paint i found lying around, and then I drew up the logo for time traveler using some of the original pictures and then cut it on the CNC machine, and then painted it to match the original colors.
Step 7: Setup
Create the light shield for the deck of the inside that sits on the top of the glass, it's just a scaled down piece of material that has the same shape as the opening of the deck, but slightly smaller in order to block some of the light that is reflected. For time's sake we used a piece of cardboard painted black, it made adjusting a lot easier than a piece of wood. This is another thing that needs a little guess and check, but if you don't attach the front theater face with nails or screws then it makes this easier. Angle the device that you are using to display the video until you get the desired picture or until it is in plane with the mirror. create a mount for that device, the mount that we use angles it already to 82 degrees which is what the original angle was (I can't really be more specific here as devices range in size and I can't account for what you may have). With the bottom with no panel you can easily slide it in that way, or unscrew the front panel and slide the devices in there (A future design of this will probably include a removable front panel). Turn on the device and load up the image you want to display, for convenience sake we are using a Bluetooth controller to control the emulator since we are using a laptop. And voila holograms ahoy, you get the best effect the closer your point of view is in plane with the deck, and depending upon the size of the mirror in conjunction with the laptop will give you a larger or smaller image. As far as what games give you the best hologram, anything with a black background and bright defined characters or sprites, so anything like the original time traveler game, or even the original donkey kong would get a good effect.
Step 8: Afterthoughts
When we were looking up mirrors and ways to create a concave mirror we stumbled across some rustoleum mirror paint thinking that it would be perfect, thinking that the original cabinet had a conventional mirror in it. After spraying one half of the dome and testing it out, it worked, but it wasn't quite like the original, it was able to create a nice mirror effect but after more research into the original, we figured out that SEGA had commissioned a specialty company to make the domes and had listed in the original manual to paint the backside of it gloss black, and then it clicked. Also if you ever need to get spray paint off of acrylic use vegetable oil and cover the painted area and then let it set and come back to it with a rag and then scrub it off with a rag or something of the likes.
A lot of times I mention that some of the dimensions are liable to change and can be easily modified to do so, this is because this is actually a downsized version of the original, I know shocking, but this proves that: as long as its to scale, the concept works. So the only integral parts to keep close in size is the display and the mirror because honestly that's the main engine for this to work. And you can size up and size down the cabinet drawings as you need them to be.
Generally you want to place this in low light places and definitely not directly under a light to get the best effect, but you can still see the image pretty decently in high light settings with the proper light shielding in place. Initially we were going to use a laptop to get the effect, until we found that displays that use OLED make the black images appear invisible in conjunction with the black mirror and the black interior of the cabinet itself. We ended up just using the laptop as a sort of stand for the tablet, although we did have plans in mind to make a mount for it.
Overall it works great at projecting images and making them appear as if they are above the glass, there just needs to be a few kinks worked out with the inside mounts and the controlling of the device that is in there and it will work great, and it was a blast to create.