I have always wanted to build an upright arcade emulator for my home. Ever since I came across this old broken down poker arcade I saw the potential it had to be something great.
Step 1: Removing the Anode Cap
This is what I came across for the beginning bones of the project. Now! taking apart an old arcade is fairly easy. Discharging the old tube tv is one step that can be dangerous so if your planning on doing this make sure you follow my directions for your safety.
1. Ground your screwdriver. Ensure the cabinet is unplugged from the wall.
2. Place screwdriver under the Anode Cap
3. With one hand in your back pocket, push the flat blade tip of the grounded screwdriver or tip of the high voltage probe under the anode cap until it reaches the clip in the center .Wait 5 minutes.
4. Perform Step 1 thru 3 twice more. This will ensure that all of the electricity is discharged.Still with 1 hand in your back pocket, pinch the back of the anode cap. Push the cap to either the left or the right of the original position (to push one of the clips "in"), and then pull the cap towards you. The cap should come free.Finally, to be absolutely sure the cap is not holding any electrical charge, push the cap against the monitor frame a few times.
5. Now it is safe to remove the old tube and electrical components from the cabinet.
Step 2: Building the Gamepad and Button Layout
Now my plan for this build wasn't very thought out but that is how I work. Through trial and error I believe is the best and most creative way to handle this.
The first thing I wanted to do was build the game pad.
You need to decide at this point how many buttons for both players or even if you want it to be a single player setup. I chose two player setup 2 joysticks, with 6 buttons each.
I wanted to easily have access to the wiring of the controls so I attached two cabinet hinges to the top of the gamepad. Built a basic box around it and and used a quarter round bit on my hand router and cleaned up the edges.
I found a gamepad template online for my final design.
I like to reuse things so by using a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade I cut the old metal gamepad in half. I wanted to use that piece mainly because it already had a coin slot and the extra holes for buttons will be later used as pause and esc...etc.
Took some vinyl that I got off an old office chair and hid the gap between the hinges and the old metal gamepad. I attached that with some small screws and gorilla glue.
Step 3: Pinball Fun
On top of an arcade I wanted to install a virtual pinball as well. But whats pinball without the ball launcher.
So for this step I mounted one of the leftover buttons from the poker game facing away using a small piece of wood.
Next using a small self tapping screw I attached a chain. To avoid pulling the button right out of its wooden holder I connected a smaller spring onto the chain.
Now for the launcher I used a lag bolt, this seemed to be the best idea because I was able to attack the larger spring with a wingnut so that you can adjust the tension. Drilled a hole for the bolt and put a washer on both sides. Its hard to see but I also have a spring on the outside along with a washer I made out of felt as a damper when you let go of launcher.
As for the ball on the end I sculpted using JB weld Steel stik putty and I made sure it incased the head of the entire lag bolt.
Also placed buttons on either side of the gamepad for pinball action.
Step 4: Installing Monitor
The old 13inch tube tv was scrapped and I'm going to use a dell 17 inch monitor from my old computer.
Now you need to establish the angle you want the monitor to lay. I cut a piece of plywood to fit in the space and moved it around until I found a comfortable angle.
Next I found the center and cut a hole using a jigsaw to fit the 17 inch monitor. Another reason I used this size monitor is beacause I wanted to mount speakers on either side.
Routed the opening and attached the monitor with some plastic mesh I cut out of some gutter screen and screws.
Also built a box to house the marquee at the top using the florescent light that was already there.
Step 5: Control Board and Testing
Now this step might seem a little insane but the payoff is pretty awesome. I basically converted a usb qwerty keyboard into a control center.
As you can see the chip at the top is the chip connected to the usb cord.
Solider a wire onto each metal connection, but be careful not to solider two if them together, once this is done attach each wire to a terminal.
Testing the combinations will require a computer. Plug in the usb cord to a computer and launch wordpad. I used a single wire to do the testing. Now touch the first screw on the terminal with one end of the wire and with the other end touch the following screw on the terminal. This will type a character on the wordpad. I started a list and wrote down every single combination. My setup will be different then yours so its kind of a step you will have to do.
Now by doing this you not only saved money using an old keyboard but now you will be able set your arcade up with an unlimited amount of buttons.
Step 6: Installing the Computer and Sub Woofer
Pretty much for this step I just built a platform for the dell computer and the subwoofer to mount inside the cabinet. I also mounted a surge protector on the wall of the cabinet for the computer, monitor, speaker, and florescent light.
I also have a second keyboard hooked up with a mouse so that I can do any of the programming for the emulator.
I'm using MAME to run my roms with a frontend called MALA
For pinball I use virtual pinball it has alot of the classic tables that I love and the action on it is pretty good.
Step 7: Marquee, Sanding and Painting
For the Marquee I used and original design that I digitally created had it printed on white paper sandwiched it in between two pieces of plexiglass.
I sanded all of the wood including the plastic veneer and primed all of it with primer.
Spray painted my trim orange. For aesthetic value I painted some graffiti bunny's on the sides and I also painted a faux coin return on the bottom front along with some ghostbuster caution stripes.
I really enjoyed working on this project. Hope this will give you inspiration for your next endeavor.