04/27/05 04/28/05 04/29/05 04/30/05 05/01/05 05/02/05 05/03/05
05/04/05 05/05/05 05/06/05 05/07/05 05/08/05 05/09/05 05/10/05
05/11/05 05/12/05 05/13/05 05/14/05 05/15/05 05/16/05 05/17/05
05/18/05 05/19/05 05/20/05 05/21/05 05/22/05 05/23/05 05/24/05
05/25/05 05/26/05 05/27/05 05/28/05 05/29/05 05/30/05 05/31/05
06/01/05 06/02/05 06/03/05 06/04/05 06/05/05 06/06/05 06/07/05
06/08/05 06/09/05 06/10/05 06/11/05 06/12/05 06/13/05 06/14/05
06/15/05 06/16/05 06/17/05 06/18/05 06/19/05 06/20/05 06/21/05
06/22/05 06/23/05 06/24/05 06/25/05 06/26/05 06/27/05 06/28/05
06/29/05 06/30/05 07/01/05 07/02/05 07/03/05 07/04/05 07/05/05
07/06/05 07/07/05 07/08/05 07/09/05 07/10/05 07/11/05 07/12/05
07/13/05 07/14/05 07/15/05 07/16/05 07/17/05 07/18/05 07/19/05
07/20/05 07/21/05 07/22/05 07/23/05 07/24/05 07/25/05 07/26/05
07/27/05 07/28/05 07/29/05 07/30/05 07/31/05 08/01/05 08/02/05
08/03/05 08/04/05 08/06/05 08/07/05 08/08/05 08/09/05 08/10/05
08/11/05 08/12/05 08/13/05 08/14/05 08/15/05 08/16/05 08/17/05
08/18/05 08/19/05 08/20/05 08/21/05 08/22/05 08/23/05 08/24/05
08/25/05 08/26/05 08/27/05 08/28/05 ...
Some time ago, I began reading about MAME™, a wonderful program that allows you to play classic arcade games exactly as you remember them from your youth. I downloaded the program from www.mame.net and began to play some of my old favorites. I quickly realized that the experience was not quite the same sitting at my monitor / keyboard and using cursor keys as I remembered from my arcade glory days.
It wasn't long until I stumbled upon the Build Your Own Arcade Controls and realized that there is a group of talented (if not fanatical) folks out there who create REAL arcade cabinets from scratch. Having a background in woodworking and a full shop, I was hooked. I knew right away that I would be building a cabinet.
I spent the next several months reading every post, and examining countless example web sites. I gathered many ideas. The time has finally come for my own construction.
Many may find this page over-kill... but I want to document the construction thoroughly enough to serve as a resource / tutorial for others who may want to give this a shot. Also, I'm working on this in my "spare time"... so who knows how long it will take!
Questions are welcome: Contact Kevin
04/27/05 - Day 1 <previous day> <next day> <top>
I decided that my cabinet will have a full, internal frame of 2x4s. While this is likely over-kill (and will weigh a ton), I want this beast to last forever. I also am constrained by narrow doors in my house... especially the sliding door in the basement rec. room where the cabinet will live. Building a frame will allow the side panel to be removable, and allow me to get the machine outside someday when I move.
Since the entire weight of the cabinet will rest on this frame, It needs to be strong. The pieces fit together using half lap joints I left the end pieces "short" on the top. This will allow the vertical frame members to rest on this base. Here are the components after cutting and rebating... ready for assembly:
These were glued and screwed together (using 1 1/4" coated deck screws)... all the while ensuring that the assembly remains square:
These are the wheels that will be installed to make the cabinet mobile:
Two are full locking (roll and swivel lock down); the other 2 are fixed. These are 3" wheels.
As you can see above, I've already drilled the through holes and countersinks for the wheels in the base.
For good measure, I slapped a coat of water based polyurethane on the bottom of the base to dry overnight. All of the wood will be sealed to prevent moisture from infiltrating and rotting the cabinet.
Tomorrow, I will install the wheels and start work on the rest of the frame...
04/28/05 - Day 2 <previous day> <next day> <top>
As promised, I got the wheels on the base today, and worked on the side frames.
Here is the completed base (top and bottom):
While using the half-lap joints will make this frame VERY strong, it makes construction complicated, as both sides must turn out EXACTLY the same. Here's a shot of the cut parts for the main side frame parts. In this shot, the parts are ready to assemble, with all of the joinery completely cut. I have already dry fit the parts, and marked and pre drilled pilot and counter sink holes for all of the screws (five 1 1/4" deck screws per junction:
Here are the left and right side main assemblies after glue and screws:
In order to ENSURE that once the glue dries these sides line up exactly, I put some plastic wrap between them at the joints (to make sure they don't glue together), and clamped them together as a set:
Also completed today were the side frame monitor supports. My picture of the unassembled parts didn't turn out. Each monitor support frame is made up of 3 pieces, half-lapped together. The monitor will lay back 15 degrees from vertical. Notice in the picture above the two blocks of wood (one near center of the picture, and one top right). These are ensuring that the half laps for the monitor supports line up exactly. Here are the completed monitor support frames:
That's all for today. Hopefully in the next couple of days, I'll attach these to the base with the cross supports installed... then I'll have something free standing!
04/29/05 - Day 3 <previous day> <next day> <top>
As I expected, not much accomplished today. All I got done was installing the monitor supports into the side frames. Again, I drilled and countersunk five 1 1/4" screws at each joint. Here they are, left and right side assemblies with monitor supports:
Fortunately, everything still lines up perfectly!
Tomorrow's goal is to mount these to the base frame and get some cross supports in place.
04/29/05 - Day 4 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today shall be the day we get 'er standing up!
The day started by prepping the two side frames. Each one was clamped down and given a thorough sanding to smooth them up and remove any excess glue. I also used the flush trim bit for the router to make certain that the half-lap joints didn't protrude past the intersections at any critical points.
Once the prep work was done, it was time to start adding horizontal bracing and making this into a cabinet!
Along with the cabinet base, I will be using 4 horizontal braces and two monitor support braces on the cabinet. Since my side frames are made of 2x4s (1 1/2" thick), and I need my final width to be 26", the base and each of the 4 horizontal braces must be 23 1/2" long. The two monitor support braces are the full 26" width (because of the way they are attached... more later).
Since the monitor support braces are (arguably) the most important, I made them up first.
Here are a couple of shots of what the final parts look like:
Starting with two pieces of 2x4 26" long, I marked the ends 1 1/2" in and cut the half laps that will fit into the monitor sub-frames.
I then carefully measured the location of the metal mounting frame on the Wells Gardner 9200 and cut the appropriate grooves in these monitor supports. Finally, I used my router to cut a 1/8" depression in the front edge of each of these pieces. The monitor will slide into these nice and tightly.
Once the monitor is mounted in place, I will need a frame to fit OVER the monitor and support the bezel and glass. I need to build this now so that I can use it as a template for the ply-wood support pieces that will hold it in place. These ply-wood parts need to attach to the monitor supports before they are installed into the frame assembly.
Here are a couple of shots of the construction of the bezel support frame:
And the final Frame:
It's hard to see in the picture, but the horizontal pieces are actually 1/2" less deep than the vertical pieces. This will allow them to clear the monitor mounting bolts. The depth of this frame works out to be just a hair under 3 1/2 ". That depth will let the HAPP bezel fit tightly against the monitor glass.
Now I will use this frame to trim the ply-wood pieces that will ultimately hold it in place on the final cabinet.
Here's a shot to the top monitor support clamped tightly to this frame. The plywood is attached with glue and screws to the monitor support ONLY. I used my router to trim this ply-wood flush to the bezel frame:
The process is ALMOST the same for the bottom monitor support, but it must be left just over 1/4" PROUD of the bezel support frame. This 1/4" lip will give the bezel and monitor glass something to rest on. to do this, I tacked a 1/4" piece of ply-wood to the bezel frame prior to trimming:
You can see in the second picture the lip that will ultimately support the bezel and glass.
With these two critical parts completed, it was time to start assembling the frame.
If you're not a wood worker, you may not know that end-grain glue joints are NOT strong and will fail. Since this is the type of joint I would have for all four of my horizontal supports, they need to be reinforced. I will be using a tool called a biscuit joiner for this. The biscuit joiner (seen in the picture below) cuts a slot into the wood that a pre-made "biscuit" fits into. The biscuit is a compressed hard-wood piece, shaped like a football. Biscuits are VERY dry when purchased. When glued into a joint, they EXPAND, creating a very tight fit and a strong joint.
Here's a shot of the biscuit joiner and a scrap clamped in place to position the biscuit joiner against for the first joint. The slot has already been cut:
This was repeated on the other side, and matching slots were cut into the ends of the horizontal brace. Glue completes the recipe; here's the first horizontal support in place:
It is very important that the final outside dimension is verified to be 26 1/2" BEFORE any glue is applied.
Here's one of the biscuits with glue in place for the second horizontal brace:
After each brace was in place, I added two 2 1/2" screws to each end for final reinforcement. In the case of the first and second horizontal braces, I just replaced two of the shorter frame screws per side:
This shot shows the glue and biscuits in place for the addition of the last two horizontal braces. These lie flat, and will also be used to attach the control panel to the completed cabinet:
Here, all four of the horizontal braces are in place. The clamps will stay there to make sure surfaces stay aligned until the glue dries:
Last item for the day was to install the horizontal monitor supports. Nothing too exciting here.... just add glue, slide the half-laps together, clamp in place, and finish off with a few more 2 1/2" screws:
I'll leave it in the clamps overnight, and get the whole thing up onto the base tomorrow. At that point, work can begin on the sub-assembly that will hold the speaker panel and marquee...
05/01/05 - Day 5 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Base attachment day...
Taking off all those clamps took quite a while!
As I said earlier, end-grain glue joints don't work well; once again, that is the type of joint I'll end up with here. These 4 joints MUST be strong and must NOT fail. They will be stressed every time the cabinet is moved. As shown previously, I built the base in such a way that there are four recesses that "capture" the frame legs. This will help keep the cabinet from falling off of the base, but does almost nothing to keep the frame attached to the base... even with glue. Here's the frame on the base, and a close-up of one of the legs resting "in" the base:
Once it was all clamped solidly in place (with glue), I added two 2 1/2" screws through the sides of each frame leg into the base. This would probably have been sufficient.... but I wanted to make sure. I flipped the cabinet onto it's back, and pulled out the "reinforcement":
Each leg got a 5" x 1/4" lag bolt through the bottom of the base up into the leg. I am now confident that the cabinet frame won't fall off of or break loose from the base.
If I get some more time today, I'll start on the sub-assembly that will hold the speaker panel and marquee.
Later that night...
I didn't start the upper sub-assembly... but I did get all of the clamps off, and I cut and applied a panel to the lower back of the cabinet. This panel is permanently mounted with glue and screws, and the bottom is held up 1" from the floor to clear any carpeting. The screw holes will be filled with auto body filler, sanded flush, and a piece of black laminate will be applied to this panel:
With that, the main frame assembly is complete!
05/02/05 - Day 6 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Wow... what an evening. The upper sub assemblies that form the top of the cab turned out to be pretty complex. They provide the structure for the upper part of the cabinet, including mount points for the speaker baffle panel and the marquee panel.
Here are the final cut parts for the left and right upper sub-assemblies:
The four ply-wood parts will be laminated (2 pairs) to form the upper front of the cabinet. The 6 2x4 parts will mount to those ply-wood glue-ups and provide mount points to the existing cabinet frame.
After cutting all of the parts, my next step is to make and apply 2 custom made aluminum brackets to the front edge of the upper assemblies. These brackets will be used to mount the removable marquee panel. These shots are of laying out and routing a 1/8" deep recess to receive the aluminum brackets:
The brackets themselves started as a piece of 1 1/2" x 1/8" aluminum angle bracket. I ripped down one leg of the angle to 3/4", and cut both bracket blanks to 8 3/8" in length. Then I marked and drilled holes (with counter sinks) to receive 3 #6 screws per side:
These were installed into the routed recess on the ply-wood panels with epoxy and 3 #6 wood screws per side:
Then the pairs of ply-wood parts were glued together. The inner panel does not extend all the way to the front of the cabinet. This gave me a 3/4" edge at the front of the cabinet that was flush with the rest of the cabinet side... just what I need to mount my marquee later:
Last steps in building the upper assemblies was to add the three 2x4 pieces per side. Here's the completed right side assembly, and the same assembly clamped in exact position of the cabinet frame, ready for screws. I decided NOT to glue the upper sub-assemblies to the frame... just in case. They won't be supporting much weight:
And here are two shots of the assembly screwed in place, all clamps off. And, of course, each intersection got 5 2 1/2" screws:
This entire process was repeated for the other side, yielding today's result:
Haven't decided yet if I'll make the marquee panel, the speaker panel, or the top panel tomorrow.... We'll see how far I get!
05/03/05 - Day 7 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today was quite a bit of tedious, slow work. I'm happy with the results... but at this pace, I'd starve to death if I were building these for a living.
I started the evening working on three pieces of wood that will form the outer plywood skin for the top back corner of the cabinet. These were a bear, because there were a lot of 15 degree bevels to cut, and I spent WAY too much time on aligning and gluing these up. I didn't take photos of this process, because it just wasn't that interesting. I'll get a shot tomorrow of the assembled three pieces and say a bit more about them.
Once those parts were in clamps on the top of the cabinet, I moved on to the speaker panel.
The speaker panel will be removable, and will serve an alternate purpose of holding the glass and bezel in place at the top. I am using Creative Labs Inspire T2900 2.1 speakers in the cabinet. Both speakers and the sub module will be mounted to the speaker panel. (I cheated a bit and have already added 3 aluminum brackets to the sub that will be used to mount it to the speaker panel):
I first determined the dimensions of the speaker panel and cut the blank from ply wood. The front edge of the speaker panel is beveled at 15 degrees so it will line up with the marquee panel. I then measured and drew lay-out lines for all of the speaker parts, and marked the location of the through holes I will need.
The first picture below shows the set-up for cutting the larger holes for the satellite speakers. The router base is screwed to a larger piece of 1/4" ply-wood. The ply wood is screwed down at the center point of the hole. The location of the screw is critical, as the distance from the screw to the OPPOSITE SIDE of the router bit determines the hole radius. The second shot is after cutting the hole with the router. You can also see most of the mark-up lines on the panel:
After all 4 holes were cut for the satellite speakers, I positioned each speaker above its holes and built a "jig" around the speaker from short pieces of 2x4s. I used my router to carve out a recess the exact size of the speaker about 1/2 the thickness of the ply-wood. This will help hold the speakers in place:
With the jig still in place, I cleaned up the rounded corners left over from the router bit:
One last opening to cut... for the sub-woofer speaker. I drilled 4 holes near the desired corners, rough cut the opening with my jig saw, and set up jig around the finished hole to trim it up with the router:
Here's the speaker panel as I left it today:
Still to do on the speaker panel: apply grill material (a surprising material, at that) to bottom panel surface, install mounting bolts and aluminum brackets for panel, install grill cloth to panel, permanently install speakers.
So much to do!
05/04/05 - Day 8 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Yesterday, I mentioned that I spent quite a bit of time working on "three pieces of wood that will form the outer plywood skin for the top back corner of the cabinet". Here is the completed assembly, and it's position atop the cabinet:
As I said yesterday, this was tedious building, with lots of 15 degree bevels. It's all assembled with glue and biscuits. This assembly will be permanently attached to the cabinet frame with glue, biscuits and screws. I will round over the rear corner so that I can apply a single piece of black laminate to this piece, minimizing seams in the laminate. Notice that the front edge is rebated to 1/2 thickness of the plywood.
The top front of the cabinet also needs a permanently attached piece, to ensure that the proper width of the cabinet is maintained. Attaching this piece is more difficult, because I have to keep the front of the cabinet unobstructed so that there will be no shadows on the finished marquee. I can't just drop in a large piece of wood to screw into.
The first step is to make the piece. It is 26 1/2" by 4". No bevels this time. I did, however, have to rebate the edge to 1/2 thickness. This piece will be attached with glue and biscuits, and a set of hand made aluminum brackets, made from 1/8" aluminum angle:
Once the brackets are made, it is critical that the screws be centered in the holes so that they don't shift the position of the brackets when tightened. This is accomplished by pre-drilling with a Vix Bit:
This is a specialized bit with a spring loaded tip. The shape of the tip centers the hole in the aluminum bracket counter-sink. This is also an extremely useful tool for mounting piano hinges.
As you've probably guessed by now, the largest panel for the top will be removable. It's front and back edges are rebated to 1/2 thickness so that it overlaps the permanently attached front and rear assemblies. Here's an edge shot of the top panels all in place:
That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll work on a fixed ply-wood piece for the front edge UNDER the marquee, and some more aluminum brackets for the removable top panel, and the removable speaker panel.
05/05/05 - Day 9 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today was a relatively uneventful day. I only worked on the cabinet for about an hour. I installed the fixed ply-wood piece to the front edge under the marquee, using biscuits and two more machined brackets. I also trimmed the HAPPs bezel to final size and test fit the bezel and glass. It's a tight fit... as it should be! I'll show some pics tomorrow. Must sleep now.
05/06/05 - Day 10 <previous day> <next day> <top>
As promised, here is a shot of the ~1 hours work from yesterday:
The marquee area is framed out and ready, and the trimmed bezel and glass are clamped in place...
The first order of business today was to make the speaker panel brackets, and drill the speaker panel for the four 1/4" bolts that will hold it in place. Here is the speaker panel clamped in final position, and the 4 aluminum brackets I made that will mount to the cabinet and provide mount points for the speaker panel:
Here you can see those 4 brackets mounted inside the cabinet with epoxy and screws:
Finally, I carefully measured and marked the location of the 1/4" bolts that will secure the speaker panel to these brackets. I drilled up through the speaker panel and the aluminum brackets, and added 4 nuts to hold the panel in final position. The clamps were removed, and all was well... very secure! That speaker panel shouldn't rattle a bit. Eventually, the 4 bolts will be epoxied into the speaker panel, and the counter sink holes filled with auto body filler. Here are viewed from the front and back showing the speaker panel bolted in place, and a test-fit of the speakers. In the third picture, you can also see the counter-sunk carriage bolt heads:
In this profile shot, you can see how the bezel and monitor glass are "captured" by the speaker panel at the top. At the bottom, the glass and bezel rest on the ply-wood lip from way back on Day 4. The bottom of the glass will eventually be held in place by a trim panel at the back of the control panel:
All that remains for the speaker panel is to take it down, secure the speakers, epoxy in the bolts, seal the panel with poly, and apply the protective grill and the speaker cloth.
With the speaker panel in place and the test-fit of the speakers satisfactory, I moved on to the mounting of the marquee light.
I started with a dado in the top removable panel. It was positioned so that the light will be JUST in front of and above the subwoofer. That way, none of the speakers can cast shadows on the marquee:
With the dado cut, I installed a piece of ply-wood in the grove, perpendicular to the top panel. The ply-wood was glued into the grove, and a row of 1 1/4" screws run down into it from the top of the panel. I mounted the light fixture to this piece of ply-wood. The light I chose (a GE 24") was fairly expensive for my purpose, but it had some advantages over the less expensive models: a thin profile, no hum, rapid flicker-free turn-on, and the bulb is a full 22" long:
Here is the upper half of the cabinet with all of the panels in place, and the speakers and light test fitted. It's a tight squeeze... but it all fits!
The last order of business for today was to manufacture the panel that will frame and hold the marquee art in place. I cut a piece of ply-wood to size, cut a 23" by 8 1/2" opening to show the artwork, and rebated out the back side around the opening 1/2" deep and 1/2" back from the frame edges:
The marquee art will be placed between 2 sheets of glass (front one is 1/4", and rear one is 1/8"); this sandwich will be secured into the rebated panel. This panel will be drilled for four 1/4" bolts to hold it in place, just as the speaker panel was.
Since the glass is fairly heavy, I believe I will start tomorrow by putting a 1/8" x 3/4" x 26 1/2" piece of aluminum stock into the lower rail of this panel for reinforcement.
Tomorrow, I hope to:
Insert aluminum reinforcement into marquee panel
Make and mount the brackets for the top panel / light assembly
Drill the top panel for bolts
Position the marquee panel and drill it for bolts
Epoxy all of the brackets / bolts in place
Complete the speaker panel assembly and grill
... come back tomorrow night and see how far I get!
05/07/05 and 05/08/05 - Days 11 & 12 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Over the course of the week-end, I've accomplished MOST of the stuff I wanted. Progress is always slow when you get down to the details.
As I said yesterday, I was concerned that my Marquee panel might sag under the weight of the glass. To prevent this, I cut a kerf in the bottom rail of the panned 3/4" deep. I then epoxied a piece of 1/8" x 3/4" aluminum stock into the kerf. Just to be absolutely certain, I drilled and inserted a #8 x 3/4" screw through the panel front and aluminum stock. Shouldn't flex at all now:
The removable top panel that the marquee light is mounted to will be held in place by 2 aluminum brackets that I made. These are attached to the cabinet with #8 screws and epoxy. The panel bolts to these brackets with four 1/4" bolts here are the brackets for this panel in place:
All three of the removable panels (marquee, speaker and top) were drilled with through holes and counter sinks for 1/4" x 2" carriage bolts. Here are shots of the bolts in place for each panel. I epoxied the bolt heads in place, and then filled the countersink holes with epoxy as well:
Back on Day 8, I built the "hood" that will be permanently attached to the top back of the cabinet. I said that I would be laminating the top of this panel after it was secured, using one continuous piece of laminate (no seams). In order to do that, I had to round over the joints so that they are smooth radii instead of angles. I chose a 1 1/2" radius for the round-over. Here is a shot of the back corner, marked with a compass at 1 1/2" radius:
It took a while, but using my random orbit sander and some elbow grease, I sanded the rear edge to the radius I wanted. I did a pretty good job with this by first sanding the left and right edges to the marked lines, then using a metal straight edge to check for and remove high spots in between:
In order to get the radius as smooth as possible, to avoid voids under the applied laminate, I mixed up some fiberglass reinforced Bondo auto-body filler and applied a thin coat. I used a WIDE blade to try to even out any imperfections:
After allowing for drying time, I went back and re-sanded CAREFULLY just until I started to get back to wood in an area. As you can see below (where the Bondo remains), I did still have some low spots before this smoothing:
Next up on the list is to finish off the speaker panel grill... yea... I know... I've been promising that for DAYS. I do know EXACTLY what is left to be done; I think the result will be worth the wait.
Then I'll move on to FINALLY finishing off these three panels by painting the edges black, and applying a coat of poly to the inner surfaces.
05/10/05 - Day 13 <previous day> <next day> <top>
The speaker panel. More work than I thought!
I said a few days ago I had an interesting idea for grill material. Here's a shot of my speaker grill:
OK... so it's not a speaker grill. It's a trash can. But this common metal mesh office trash can will soon be protecting my speaker cones.
First order of business was to break out the metal sheers and remove the bottom of the can and the top rim.
Then, using a scrap of plywood, some clamps, and a utility knife, I cut out a 21" x 8" piece of metal mesh that will be my protective grill:
It takes several passes, but with steady pressure, the knife will cut a perfect line along the plywood edge.
Next, I used my router to make a VERY SHALLOW recess (just deeper than the grill material is thick) in the front of the speaker panel, just a bit larger than the grill material. The grill material was stapled in place with 1/4" staples, making sure it is tight and flat:
After giving each staple a whack with a hammer to make sure it wasn't proud of the surface, I mixed up some epoxy and painted it liberally around and all over the grill. It leveled itself out nicely, and encased the grill material.
I let the epoxy cure for about an hour, then came back and sanded it smooth and flush with the wood:
Finally, I applied some fiberglass reinforced Bondo, allowed it to cure, and sanded the whole panel smooth.
Once I paint this flat black and apply some black grill cloth, you'll never know it's there... but my speaker cones will be safe from harm.
05/12/05 - Day 14 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Yesterday and today, I applied a coat of black paint to all of the edges of the frame that may be partially visible. That is, any edge that has a removable panel at that location. The rest of the frame got a coat of satin polyurethane.
I also painted the edges of all of the removable panels, and the front of the speaker panel. The back sides of all of the removable panels got a coat of poly to seal them too.
The second shot above also shows the Bondo applied to fill the screw holes in the fixed, lower rear panel of the cabinet.
Once the speaker panel was sealed with poly, I installed 8 eye-bolts on the back of the panel. These will be used to secure the 2 satellite speakers:
To ensure that the speakers don't rattle against the panel, and to make sure there are no light leaks around the speakers, I installed adhesive weather-stripping in each panel recess:
The speakers are held in place with 4 short bungee cords hooked into the eye-bolts. These apply enough force to hold the speakers down against the weather stripping; the recesses in the speaker panel make sure that the satellite speakers can't slide around.
Before mounting the sub with the fabricated aluminum brackets, I applied some more weather-stripping:
Here is the front of the speaker panel with all of the speakers attached:
All that is left to do on this is apply the grill cloth. I'll do that later to make sure it doesn't get damaged during the rest of construction.
Next order of business is the door for the rear of the cabinet.
05/13/05 - Day 15 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today, I worked on the rear door of the cabinet. This door will lock closed, and allow access to the monitor and attach points for all of the removable panels.
First, I cut the three pieces that will make up the door assembly:
The ply-wood panel will be the cabinet door. The two strips were milled from a maple board. I used my planer to set the exact thickness of these strips to match the ply-wood. One of the strips of solid wood will be attached to the edge of the ply-wood to give a solid mounting material for the door hinge. The other solid wood strip will mount to the cabinet frame.
Using the trusty biscuit joiner, I applied the solid wood edge to the door panel:
The assembly goes into clamps until dry.
After the glue dried, I removed the clamps and sanded the seams flush.
The door will hang on a length of piano hinge. I cut the hinge to length using my Dremel tool.
I clamped the door panel down to a work surface. To keep the hinge slightly proud of the door surface (and thereby allow full operating range of the hinge), I placed some #8 washers flat on the work surface under the panel. The hinge was placed on the work surface in proper position:
Starting with the center hole in the hinge, I used my Vix bit and pre-drilled. I worked outwards from the center, alternating left and right, pre-drilling each hole and inserting a screw until all of the screws were in place. When pre-drilling each screw, I made sure that the door panel and the hinge were pressed down tight to the work surface. Working from the center out makes sure that the hinge does not become bound or bowed.
Once the hinge was on the door correctly, I had to remove it, and repeat the process on the strip of wood that will mount to the cabinet frame. I then re-attached the hinge to the door panel:
Here are a couple of photos of the rear door assembly in place on the cabinet:
To complete the door, I have to trim the non-hinged side of the door to about 1/8" short of the frame edge, drill for and mount the 2 door locks, mortise and mount the 2 strike plates for the door locks, and attach a couple of wood strips to the inside of the door to support it when closed.
The door edges will be painted; the back surface covered in laminate on the finished cabinet.
05/14/05 - Day 16 <previous day> <next day> <top>
The lock sets I am using for the cabinet are pretty standard arcade machine fare. I won a bag of 20 of them, all keyed the same from e-bay, for ~$15 shipped. Each set came with a pair of keys, the tumbler mechanism, a nut to secure the tumbler into the panel, the catch, and a screw / star washer to install the catch. I will be using two of these to keep the back door of my cabinet closed:
Installation is straight forward. I marked and drilled two 3/4" holes in the back door, popped in the cylinders and installed the nuts and catch to the lock. See my oops in the second pic... I drilled another 3/4" hole in the wrong spot (looked good from INSIDE). Nothing a bit of Bondo won't fix!
The part that WASN'T so straight forward about the install was the absence of strike plates. I wasn't happy with how tight the door closed, so I fabricated 2 aluminum strike plates for the locks. A couple of hours of tedious Dremel work later... NOW the door closes securely!
Tip of the day... Aluminum gets pretty warm when you take a Dremel tool to it to cut a slot. (Don't ask how I know this!)
The finishing touch on the door was to install a cleat to the bottom of the door. This is just a piece of ply-wood that I rounded over the edges on and glued / screwed in place. It supports the door when closed. This will keep gravity from making the door sag on the hinges over time.
I'll take the door off one more time to Fill in my oops with Bondo, poly the inside of the door, paint the edges black, and apply laminate.
Coming up next is the construction of the "admin panel" this piece will fill in the area behind the controller, up to the bezel and glass. It will secure the lower edge of the glass in place. I will also put pause and exit buttons on this panel, and a cabinet volume knob.
Here's a test fit of the control paned, bezel and glass. I needed to get the exact measurements to start on the admin panel.
As I left the shop today, I put a couple of 9" tall strips of plywood in clamps to laminate them into a 1.5" thickness. This will be the blank for the admin panel, after drying overnight. Sixteen clamps.... that ought to hold it.
05/17/05 - Day 17 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Haven't gotten to do a lot the past few days. Life is busy.
Work lately has centered around the admin panel / back-rest for the control panel / glass support bracket.
I thought I had a plan for this work back on day 16, and started laminating plywood. Unfortunately, after half an afternoon making sawdust, I scrapped my work and started planning again. I wasn't happy with the direction things were going with this part. I needed a way to secure the bottom of the glass, but I DON'T want visible screws there. Fortunately, I had an epiphany as I was leaving the shop for the day...
This is the diagram of what I think WILL work to my satisfaction:
As shown WAY back on Day 4, the glass and bezel rest on a piece of plywood attached to a frame. The entire assembly fits OVER the monitor.
What I came up with was to rebate the edge of a piece of ply-wood and attach a piece of aluminum angle to the top of it. This can be attached from UNDERNEATH to the plywood that supports the glass.... no visible screws.
My admin panel (don't groan yet.... it's not what you think) can then continue flush with the aluminum bracket down to the back-rest panel for the control panel.
Hopefully some of that made some sense.
In any case, here are the first two plywood components. The top one is the rebated piece to which the aluminum angle will attach. The bottom piece is the admin panel. It will be attached flush with the aluminum bracket, to the to piece with biscuits and glue.
Here you can see the end of the day results... all of the parts with glue and biscuits clamped in position to dry overnight.
This entire assembly will be removable to free the glass.
I need to add a bit of reinforcement once the glue is dry, and a method of attachment to the frame rails.
Then I'll cut a through hole to allow wires to pass into the control panel, and drill the holes for the admin panel before sealing with poly and laminating the front surfaces.
The admin panel will be simple... two buttons that when presses together ESCape from the current game, a pair of pause buttons, and a cabinet volume knob.
More advanced emulator configuration will require the keyboard be pulled out from hiding.
05/18/05 - Day 18 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today, I finished making the diagram from yesterday real.
After removing the admin assembly from clamps, I started the day by making two reinforcement brackets. These fit exactly behind the admin panel and the CP backrest:
Next, I drilled the holes for the 4 buttons and volume knob that will be on the admin panel. I got a bit of tear out on back... but who will ever see? :)
I mounted the brackets to the panel with glue, biscuits and screws and added a "bottom" to complete the assembly:
Here it is in place on the cabinet. The front surface will be covered in black laminate... and there will be no visible screws!
For comparison, here's the final piece in profile on the cabinet, next to the diagram from yesterday.
It's pretty close! I'll take it.
Today, I received the two 120mm fans that will be installed in the top of the cabinet. I'll probably put those in tomorrow.
I still have to come up with the final solution for a keyboard drawer... that doesn't look like a keyboard drawer.
The last part to make before I can start laminating is the front panel that holds the coin door.
THEN, finally, I can tip this puppy over and lay out the sides.
I'm gettin' excited!
05/19/05 - Day 19 <previous day> <next day> <top>
A slow, uneventful day. I cut out two 4" holes in the removable top panel for the fans I received yesterday, drilled the appropriate holes around the fan openings for the mounting hardware, and painted the edge of the fan opening black.
I also made and installed 4 aluminum brackets that hold the glass retainer / admin panel / CP backrest from yesterday in position.
That's pretty much it for today's construction.
I spent some time measuring for and thinking about the keyboard drawer. No solid plan yet.
Lastly, I clamped some plywood scraps to the sides of the frame and sketched some ideas for the shape of the cabinet sides. I'll have a lot of leeway here in the shape, as the side panels aren't structural at all.
05/23/05 - Day 20 <previous day> <next day> <top>
I took a few days off this week-end to entertain some company.
Of course, I had to get the cabinet playable before they arrived!
Here are some shots of the admin panel / glass retainer in place with the control panel. I still have to put in the admin buttons and volume knob.
Today, getting back to business, I worked on the keyboard drawer. Here are the bottom, sides and front, all cut out and ready for assembly. Everything is 3/4" ply-wood.
The back and sides are attached to the bottom with biscuits and glue.
After the glue dried, I was ready to attach the front. This time, glue and screws:
The final drawer, ready for test mounting:
The drawer glides I am using are full extension 18" Dynaslides. They are rated for a 100 lb load.... more than sufficient.
To mount the draw glides, first hold the body of the glide in position on the cabinet body, pre-drill with the Vix bit, and insert screws. These slides come ALL the way out!
With the drawer upside down, align, pre-drill and screw the other half of the glides to the drawer sides:
All that's left to do is slide the drawer into position:
Next time, I will do some finish work on the drawer, and then make and install the panel that will hold the coin door.
05/25/05 - Day 21 <previous day> <next day> <top>
I didn't have much time today, so I put my time where I'd get the most visual bang for the buck.
I cut out the plywood panel that will become the lower front panel of my cabinet... the home of the coin door!
Here, I have laid out the correct size and location of the hole for the coin door to mount. I am drilling entry points at the corners to cut out the hole. The ply-wood strips you see are tacked in place with a brad nailer. Once I use them to trim the opening, I'll knock them off with a rubber mallet.
After cutting the rough opening with my jig saw, a quick pass around with the router and pattern bit completed the opening.... a perfect fit!
For now, the panel is just clamped up there, but WOW! The coin door makes a huge difference. It's really starting to look like an arcade machine!
When I find some more time, I'll go back and finish up the drawer. I also have appropriately colored eject buttons for the coin door to put in, as well as connecting the coin door lights, and the mechs to the encoder. For now, it's purely aesthetic.
05/31/05 - Day 22 <previous day> <next day> <top>
OK... not much gets done when you're on the road for Memorial Day... but I'm BACK!
While I was gone, I decided that I wasn't completely happy with my coin door panel.
Sure, it looked OK, and fit fine, but it wasn't quite right. The coin door was "back" too far underneath the control panel, and the panel was just... plain. I came up with a plan for an extension panel for the coin door. The extension panel will bring the door forward about 3" (much more accessible / visible).
Upon my return, I got busy on this idea; here are the components I need to build the extension panel:
The panel itself is just under 16" wide. It stands 3" proud of the original coin door panel surface. There are two sloped pieces that angle back at 45 degrees between the main panel and the extension panel. This will mirror the 45 degree angles on my control panel. Lastly, there are two "filler" pieces for the top and bottom.
Once the parts were cut, it was time for some assembly. First, I enlarged the hole in the original coin door panel 2" on the top and both sides, and 1 1/2" on the bottom. This will allow room to access the mounting hardware for the coin door when it's fitted in the extension panel. I carefully centered the fillers on the top and bottom edge of the panel, and attached them with glue and screws:
The extension panel was installed, and then the sloped side pieces. These were installed with glue and biscuits to ensure a good edge bond.
Since I want to use ONE piece of laminate on this new panel (no seams), I will need to ease the inside and upper corners to a radius the laminate can bend around. The upper corners are easy... just get out the sander and round them over like I did the rear hood on day 12. For the inside corners, I needed to ADD some material.
Back to my good friend, Mr. Bondo! I applied some clear packing tape to mask off the areas I didn't want the Bondo to stick. I also purchased a couple of lengths of 2" PVC pipe, and applied a strip of tape to them as well.
With everything taped off, I applied a good bead of Bondo down each seam. I then pressed the two lengths of pipe tightly into the corners with some clamps. This will force the Bondo into a smooth 1" radius:
Once the Bondo dried, I removed the clamps, revealing a nice transition (at least it will be after some hand sanding).
To end the evening, I filled in all of the screw holes with Bondo as well. Once this dries overnight, I'll sand everything smooth and round the top bevels with my sander.
Here's a shot of the coin door panel assembly from the back. I added four 3" x 3" x 1" blocks to the back, glued and screwed in place. These will properly position the assembly on the cabinet, and provide a way to attach some hardware to secure the panel.
I'm thinking I'll attach this so that it can be removed by reaching through the open coin door. This will keep everyone without the coin door key out.
06/01/05 - Day 23 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today began with a good (and dusty) sanding of the coin door panel assembly. this included sanding off all the excess Bondo from the screw holes, as well as smoothing the transition from wood to Bondo in the inner radius. I also rounded over the corners along the edge of the raised panel. I cracked a couple of pieces of laminate scraps "test bending" around this s-curve.... BUT I think (hope) it will now laminate successfully and smoothly.
With all of the sanding done, I moved on to applying poly to the back / inside of the assembly, and black paint to all of the edges.
The last thing I did today was install the colored reject buttons into my coin door. I didn't have a manual for the coin door, but there should be an easier way to do this than what I went through. I had to completely remove all of the coin mechs from the back of the door to get those original reject buttons out. While I had them out, I replaced the standard 25cent tabs in the reject buttons with the Player 1 - Player 4 versions. Here's a shot with everything back together. This was a lot of tedious work... but I LOVE the look of the appropriately colored rejects labeled for each player.
Tomorrow, I think I'm going to try to laminate this assembly. Wish me luck!
06/04/05 and 06/05/05 - Day 24 & 25 <previous day> <next day> <top>
The week-end update...
And what a week-end it was. I learned a few lessons this week-end, the most important of which is that I am NOT a professional laminate installer. I never realized what I was getting myself into with this coin door panel upgrade.
Here's the next step from where I left off. The assembly and a piece of laminate have been coated with contact cement and allowed to dry.
My first lamination attempt on this assembly was an utter failure!
The laminate cracked on my as I attempted to roll it down into the lower radius. An hour and quite a few cuts on my hands later:
Lesson: Laminate is VERY sharp on the edges. Wear gloves when breaking / scraping it off!
Even after removing the laminate with a scraper, there was a LOT of (now dry) contact cement chunks all over the assembly. I though I was going to have to trash it. If I had, it would have been back to the flat panel for me; I wasn't going back without a fight. A trip to Home Depot found me with this, Klean-Strip Adhesive Remover. This stuff flat out WORKS! I was able to get back to bare wood with a bit of elbow grease and a scraper.
It seems that I needed more than a 1" radius to bend the laminate into. With a bit of scrounging around, I found a spare stove eye burner bowl. It's 7" in diameter (a 3.5" radius). That ought to do it. I whipped up some more Bondo and used the stove eye ring to set my new radius:
This turned out to be a faster and easier method than the pipes I used before for the 1" radius. Live and learn. After a couple of coats of Bondo and a good sanding, I was ready to give it a go again. Out came the contact cement. Take two:
Once the Contact Cement was dry, I laid out slats from an old vinyl blind. These will keep the laminate from touching anywhere before I'm ready.
I lined up the laminate correctly, using some piece of blue tape that I had marked the center of each edge. removing the slats, and working from the center of the top panel towards the lower radius, I pushed down the laminate. I used a J-roller to get the best bond I could. I clamped a board to the top to keep even pressure on the top panel laminate, and used some clamps to keep it secure at the bottom:
After waiting overnight to let the contact cement cure, I came back to check my work. AAAARRRGH!
The bond had failed in roughly the same way in all 4 spots, However, the bond looked good on the new 3.5" radius, and along the edges and the top panel. It appears that my top radius was too small as well; the laminate actually PULLED UP the top veneer of the ply-wood to return to a more natural curve. I guess the stripper soaked through and weakened the glue on the veneer.
I can't leave it like this, as it will likely continue to pull up, and would be very easy to damage. After some thought, I decided that this could be saved!
I left all of the clamps in place and stood the entire assembly on end, resting on the long piece of ply-wood I had clamped in place to secure the top laminate:
This shall save my work:
I mixed up some two part epoxy and injected it into the voids using some syringes. It took quite a bit - about 8 syringes full to fill two of the spots (apparently, the voids ran pretty far under). However, once the epoxy set, I flipped the assembly panel end for end and injected some more epoxy into the other two voids. Either they weren't as deep, or the epoxy from the first two had run most of the way through, but it only took 4 more syringes between these two voids. I over-filled slightly to allow for any additional settling of the epoxy before it fully cures. Here's the void from above filled.
I'll let all of this cure overnight in the clamps. If I'm lucky, this will completely repair my imperfections, and I will have successfully laminated the assembly.
If all goes well, tomorrow I'll break out the laminate trimmer and finish this panel up. I'll probably also have to sand and re-paint the top and bottom. A small price to pay.
If I'd know what I was getting into last week-end, I probably wouldn't have set out to improve the coin door panel. It was a lot of frustration... but as I said earlier, I did learn a lot from the process... and It should still look great from any angle that will be visible on the final product.
06/07/05 - Day 26 <previous day> <next day> <top>
The clamps came off, and nothing immediately broke or pulled loose! Looks like I may get this made after all.
Here's the assembly face down, ready for the laminate trimmer. I used top bearing bit and trimmed the left and right edges of the panel, as well as the first inch or so of the top and bottom edges.
After flipping the assembly over, I trimmed the coin door opening and the top and bottom edges using a bottom bearing trimmer. These edges were difficult due to the lack of a flat surface for the laminate trimmer base. I worked slowly, and got really close with the laminate trimmer (within 1/8"). I finished up removing the laminate flush to the edge with some 220 grit paper on my random orbit sander.
After I trimmed the coin door opening, I notices a slight separation along one edge. I mixed and injected some epoxy and clamped it up to dry. before clamping, I applied some clear packing tape to the clamp jaws. I wanted to make sure the clamps didn't become a permanent fixture.
Part of my redesign vision for the coin door panel assembly included some aluminum edging for the left and right sides. I started by measuring, cutting and clamping some 1/8" x 3/4" x 3/4" aluminum angle along each edge.
After marking and drilling 5 holes in each piece using my #6 countersink bit in the drill press, I used my random orbit sander with some 320 grit paper to apply a nice "brushed aluminum" finish to these parts. This is the same process I used for the aluminum trim at the bottom of the monitor glass. I attached the edging using 5 #6 x 1" screws.
Once the epoxy was cured, I was able to remove the clamps, and the protective plastic coating from the laminate. Here's the finished product:
I'm VERY pleased with the result, despite the difficulties in getting here. Even though this took me a week, I learned a lot, and I think it's a BIG improvement and will be a focal point for the finished cabinet.
Now to mount the coin door itself...
Here's a shot of the back of the coin door. You can see the 4 coin mechs, as well as the wiring for the bulbs (top) and coin detector switches (bottom). At the very bottom of the photo, you can see the top surface of the "security box" for the coin door. This is a metal box with slots just below the coin mech chutes. It holds a plastic bowl that catches all the coinage securely behind the "under" panel of the over-under coin door design:
The coin door fits through the opening cut in the panel assembly, and is secured using 8 metal clips that are held in place with hex bolts. These hang out over the plywood and capture the edge of the opening in the panel. There is a metal lip the protrudes about 1/2" into the opening to hold the coin door in position:
Here is the finished assembly, and a shot of it mounted on the cabinet:
Also, two shots with the doors of the coin door open. The second shot shows the plastic bowl that collects the coins:
That's it for tonight, and for the coin door panel and mounting!
06/08/05 - Day 27 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Back to the keyboard drawer today.
I started out by cutting two blanks in the shape of the contour of the coin door panel assembly. I cut the first blank with the jigsaw and sanded to final shape. Using the first one as a template, I used my router and pattern cutting bit to make a duplicate. The actual part will have about a 1/8" gap between it and the coin door panel when the keyboard drawer is closed. The second copy will be needed as a router bearing guide when I begin shaping the edges:
Stacking the two blanks together, and clamping them down, I used a 15 degree chamfer bit to bevel the front edge and the curved back edge of this panel. I used three screws through the front to temporarily hold the piece in position for a test fit.
To get an even gap all the way across the front of the coin door panel, I will use some Bondo. I first installed some 1/8" metal shims between the trim piece and the keyboard drawer front, then re-installed the three screws:
This could get messy without proper masking. I attached a plastic garbage bag to the front of the coin door panel to keep it clean:
I mixed up some Bondo, and applied it liberally to the edge of the trim panel, now attached to the keyboard drawer on the cabinet:
All that was left to do was close the drawer and clamp it shut until the Bondo cured:
After the Bondo cured, I removed the trim piece and trimmed / sanded off the excess from the top and bottom of the panel:
A final skim coat of Bondo smoothed out any imperfections on the formed edge:
I reattached the trim piece to the keyboard drawer (without the 1/8" shims) to check the final fit. Here's the trim piece in place from the side, and looking up from floor lever to the bottom of the keyboard drawer:
I ended up with a nice, even 1/8" gap between the trim panel and the coin door... just as I wanted. This will be almost unperceivable on the final cabinet... unless you're lying on the floor passed put under the keyboard drawer!
I plan to secure the keyboard drawer without any visible locking hardware. Hopefully, most guests won't even know there IS a keyboard drawer.
Tomorrow, I'll do the final attachment of this trim piece to the keyboard drawer (with some reinforcement wedges and glue this time). And hopefully get the keyboard drawer painted / laminated.
06/10/05 - Day 28 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Yesterday, I had to break from construction to clean up the shop / work area. It was just too messy to work in!
Today, since the shop was clear of sawdust, I decided to change gears a bit and laminate a couple of panels.
First was the admin panel. Contact cement on panel and laminate, allow to dry:
I had to make sure to get the laminate tight against the aluminum trim; you only get one shot with contact cement! The clamps are to keep the contact cement from coming lose as I press the laminate down on the slight curve below the admin button strip.
After trimming the laminate, I flipped the panel to drill entry holes for the router, so I can trim out the openings with my flush trim bit. Drilling down through the laminate into a backer board helps prevent breaking / cracking.
Here's the admin panel re-installed with the buttons (no volume knob yet). The two green buttons will each act independently as PAUSE buttons. The two red buttons will have to be pressed at the same time to ESCape from the game.
I still have to do the volume knob and wire up the admin buttons.
On to the removable light panel...
As I referenced back on day 19, I cur two 4" holes in this panel for installation of a pair of fans. Here's the panel and the laminate with contact cement:
Some vinyl blind slats to control the alignment and application of the laminate:
After a good roll-down with the J-roller, this panel's ready to trim:
First the fan openings:
Then the edges:
Finally, drill the holes to mount the fans and protective grills. Again, drilling with the laminate face down on a backer board prevents chipping / cracking:
The fans I am using are 120mm, 12 volt fans by Aerocool. I chose them because they are high flow (37 cfm each), but VERY quiet (19 db). To mount them, I installed long screws through the protective grills, the panel and the fans. They are secured with lock washers and a nut.
With the fans installed, time to re-install the light. To make sure there aren't any unwanted vibrations / rattles, I installed some adhesive foam weather stripping to the back of the light before screwing it in place.
That's all for today.
06/14/05 - Day 29 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Took a long week-end off from construction to catch up on a few household things.
Today was a hodgepodge of small items.
I realized over the week-end that the trim piece I made so carefully with the "molded" Bondo edge was fragile along the edges... So I decided to re-make the part out of all wood... the RIGHT way.
My first idea was to use the Bondo edged part as a template. That failed; proving my theory about how fragile the thin Bondo edge was. It broke under the pressure of the template bearing. Back to the drawing board, I traced the profile I wanted off of the cabinet again. Using a straight edge and template bit for the straight parts, I cut the rough form. I then freehanded the traced curves with a straight bit in my laminate trimmer. It turned out GREAT! This is how I should have done it to start with.
Here I am making a duplicate of the new part . The duplicate will be needed later to trim the laminate.
With the part completed and the 15 degree bevels re-applied, it was time to apply the laminate to this part:
Trimming the laminate on this part turned out to be a BEAR! There is no good surface for the laminate trimmer bearing to follow in two edges, due to the 15 degree bevel. I started out by trimming the two ends (the easy part).
With those done, I was able to use my duplicate template and a straight edge to carefully align and trim the laminate with the 15 degree bevel bit.
The finished part is now satisfactory. I just need to paint the back side and three exposed edges.
I also decided that I will continue the aluminum trim from the coin door panel up this sloped trim piece, and up the left and right sides of the keyboard drawer.
While the contact cement and laminate were out, I went ahead and laminated the back of the back door:
In preparation for (hopefully) finishing the keyboard drawer tomorrow, I applied Bondo to all of the seams / imperfections / screw holes on the keyboard drawer. I'll let this cure overnight.
Tomorrow, I'll sand all of this down, attach the trim piece to the bottom of the keyboard drawer, and hopefully finish up the lamination / painting on the keyboard drawer.
06/18/05 - Day 30 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Due to having not felt well for a couple of days, and attending a concert on Thursday night, I missed a few days of construction. Got back into it today and (mostly) finished the keyboard drawer. It's sort of depressing following other's construction on BYOAC... when other people knock together a CABINET in less time than I've spent on this drawer. I digress...
First order of business was some router work on the drawer front. The edges were trimmed to allow for the aluminum trim, and a t-molding slot was cut along the top edge of the drawer front.
To mount the trim piece under the drawer, I used screws through the drawer front, along with some glue. For extra support, I cut 4 wedges at a 15 degree angle and fit them in underneath with some glue. The blue painters tape is to protect the laminate that I applied a few days ago.
A bit of Bondo in the screw holes and along the joints for the outer wedges finish up the prep work for the last of the laminate.
I applied a thin strip of laminate to the back of the drawer front just under the trim piece. It was trimmed to fit using a top bearing trim bit.
The front of the drawer was then laminated and trimmed with a bottom bearing bit in my laminate trimmer.
After a bit of paint touch-up, the drawer is pretty much complete.
I applied T-molding to the top edge of the drawer, and then the aluminum trim to the drawer front and edges of the trim piece. The completed drawer blends in well.
A couple of shots from underneath (excuse the finger prints / dust)...
And a profile...
I still have to cut a slot in the back of the drawer for wires to pass through and install the locking mechanism. To "lock" the drawer, I will install a 1/4" bolt with a knob. It will come up through the top of the coin door assembly and secure into the bottom of the drawer. This way, there will be no visible lock hardware, and the keyboard can be kept secure... unless you have the coin door key.
Very soon, I will have to take the monitor, computer and control panel out for the last time. Then I can apply laminate to the panels that are permanently attached to the frame. I will also then be able to lay out and make the sides.
Definitely in the home stretch... but the devil's in the details, as they say.
06/25/05 - Day 31 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Since the positioning of the hardware to "lock" the keyboard drawer will require tight tolerance, I decided that I needed to make and install the hardware to secure the coin door panel in final position first.
I started with some 1" x 1/4" flat aluminum stock. I marked off the 4 required parts. In the first picture below, you can see the marking on the aluminum for the individual parts. Each is 2" long. Separating each one is a 1/8" gap. This is what the saw blade will remove when I cut them apart. Each part has a 7/32" hole drilled in the center.
I threaded each hole using one of the knobs that will secure the coin door panel on to the cabinet.
Since aluminum is a soft metal, it can be threaded using just a steel bolt... no expensive tap and die sets necessary. Just apply downward pressure while screwing in the bolt. Back out the bolt frequently to clear the cut shavings.
Once all 4 holes were threaded, I cut the parts apart with my chop saw.
To install these parts, I marked the center of each one of the four "guide blocks" on the back of the coin door panel. These blocks guide the panel into position and support the weight of the panel. The installed hardware will prevent the panel from being pulled back out.
The aluminum hardware is clamped in place...
Then pilot holes are drilled with the Vix bit and screws installed.
To mark the exact location of the through hole for the bolt, screw the bolt in deep enough to mark the wood. Then remove the bolt and the hardware. The dimple made is a perfect guide for the 1/4" drill bit.
Here's the through hole...
And an edge view showing the handle / bolt in place. It protrudes through about 1/2".
After repeating this process for the other three guide blocks, the panel was ready to mount:
I put the coin door panel back on the cabinet, and clamped it tightly in place. Then I marked the bolt locations on the cabinet frame by cranking down the knobs, just like before. I removed the coin door panel and drilled 1/4" holes on the 4 marks, about 3/4" deep. I debated whether or not to install aluminum bushings in the frame holes. Since I didn't have any right now, I'll decide and come back to it later if I want to. It's probably not necessary.
Here you can see that these 4 knobs will be accessible through the coin door on the final cabinet:
Now that the coin door panel can be secured in final position, I can work on the lock mechanism for the keyboard drawer.
It will be very similar to these knobs / hardware. Two threaded plates: one installed in the top surface of the coin door panel; the other in the bottom surface of the drawer itself. These two will have to be recessed into the wood, so that the draw can retain clearances to open.
The knob to "lock" the keyboard drawer will also be accessible through the coin door.
06/28/05 - Day 32 <previous day> <next day> <top>
(retroactive update on 07/03/05)
It was a REALLY busy week at work. I barely found time to work on the cabinet at all... let alone keep the web site up to date. I did squeeze in a couple of hours here and there.
In order to go forward, one must sometimes go back. Here I have removed the marquee, glass, bezel, and control panel in preparation for making and installing the locking hardware for the keyboard drawer.
Here's a shot sown "through" the control panel mounts into the drawer:
With the drawer removed, you can see the top of the coin door panel assembly - this is where part of the draw locking hardware goes.
I started by finding and carefully marking the center. This had to be pretty precise in order to make sure I could turn the knob to lock / unlock the drawer. It's in a pretty tight space between the inner and outer panels of the coin door assembly.
After marking, I drilled a 5/16" hole through the top of the coin door assembly:
Time to actually make the locking hardware... Starting with some 1" x 1/4" aluminum stock, I marked for some 2" brackets:
As I did previously, I drilled out some 7/32" holes in the center of each part:
Using the locking knob / bolt, I threaded each hole. I also went ahead and marked / drilled the holes and countersinks for the mounting screws:
After cutting the parts apart, I screwed them down to a scrap for a quick buffing with the random sander and some 320 grit paper:
With the brackets made, time to start mounting them. using the hole I drilled earlier as a positioning guide, I placed one of the brackets on top of the coin door panel assembly and tacked 4 "jig blocks" around it with a brad nailer.
Using my router and a flush trim bit, I removed a 1/4" deep recess. I cleaned up the corners with a chisel and hammer. Here is the bracket flush mounted in the top of the coin door panel. The knob / bolt are also installed. This shows the "locked" position, with the bolt protruding above the top of the coin door panel:
I placed the coin door panel and the drawer back onto the cabinet frame, and marked the bottom of the drawer by cranking the bolt up into it:
I drilled a 1/4" hole on my mark, positioned, and temporarily installed the bracket on the drawer bottom:
I installed some more jig blocks. These had to be 1 1/2" thick to clear the trim piece on the underside of the drawer with the router:
Here is the bracket flush mounted on the drawer bottom:
I'll come back and fill in the jig holes and some minor imperfections around the brackets with Bondo later.
This method worked extremely well for securing the drawer. There is no visible hardware on the drawer front. The release knob is behind the locking coin door. The drawer is held in place even more securely than I though it would be. It doesn't "wiggle" at all if you pull on it when "locked".
I'm quite pleased with the way this turned out.
06/30/05 - Day 33 <previous day> <next day> <top>
(retroactive update on 07/03/05)
While I had the cabinet mostly together for the past few days, I realized that the top of my marquee panel needed to be just a bit taller. I glued on a wood strip. There is a gap due to the round-over that was on the top edge of the panel. Here I am filling the gap between the pieces with Bondo.
Once dry, the Bondo is sanded flush:
...and the marquee panel can be cut to its new size. Here I am preparing to do the round-over on the new top edge:
Although a bit of a kludge, this was much easier than re-making the entire marquee panel. Once it's covered, no one (except us) will now I added on to it.
While I had some Bondo out and mixed, I went back and filled in the jig holes and some small imperfections on the top of the coin door panel and the bottom of the keyboard drawer.
Once that's dry, I'll sand it down and touch up the paint.
07/01/05 to 07/03/05 - Days 34 to 36 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Here is the frame stripped of all removable parts. Hopefully, this will be the LAST time it's in this condition. It's now time to apply some laminate to the permanently attached skin panels on the cabinet.
I tipped the frame down on its front to allow easier access to laminate the fixed panel on the back of the cabinet:
You've seen this done a few times before... rough cut the laminate; apply contact cement to both surfaces:
Put some vinyl blind slats down...
...and roll on the laminate:
Here are two pieces of laminate with contact cement applied. These go on the attached panels above and below the marquee:
Here is the part above the marquee with its contact cement:
No slats for these... just work carefully from one end to the other with the j-roller.
Here are both the top and bottom piece with laminate before trimming:
Here's the Back panel with the laminate trimmed (the protective plastic is still on it):
This leaves only the "hood" assembly on the top back of the cabinet to laminate. Here is the hood. You can see a block of wood that I clamped in place at the front of the hood. This is to guide the edge of the applied laminate in place:
Learning from my previous experience laminating the coin door panel, I decided to use epoxy to attach this laminate. This will give me some "open time" to position and securely clamp the laminate down:
Here is the laminate applied to the hood. I used several wood cauls, and a bunch of clamps to get it in the best position I could.
I'll let this dry overnight. I expect that I will have to inject some epoxy onto any voids that I find tomorrow... but hopefully there won't be many (any).
07/07/05 - Day 37 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Well, I guess the difficulties and set-backs when working on a project like this make the successes that much better...
When last we left our hero, the laminate was clamped down, using epoxy, to the difficult hood on the top of the cabinet. It ain't over 'til it's over though... A few hours after posting I went back to check on things... and the laminate had CRACKED along the top edge of the curve! AARRGGHH!
With the long open time of the epoxy (several hours), I was able to remove the clamps and laminate.
I tried twice more that night to get a successful bend - and failed twice more. Nearly a Whole sheet of laminate destroyed and wasted, I called it quits to let the epoxy cure.
I took the 4th of July off to cool my frustrations.
On Tuesday, I re-assessed the situation, and decided that I'm no quitter. I re-worked the curve with some Bondo and a scrap of laminate. After a good sanding, out came the epoxy again for one more try.
This time, I got out the heat gun and heated the laminate.
I don't know if it was the re-work of the curve radius, the heat gun, or both, but I got a piece of laminate on and clamped down without breaking it.... but If you recall, I did that once before 3 days ago. I anxiously waited for the epoxy to cure, expecting the laminate to give way at any second.
Today, I took off the clamps; no cracks! Also, no significant voids to fill with epoxy!
Here she is with the clamps just off, and the protective plastic still on.
After a quick trim with the trim router and a flush bit:
Worth the effort? To me it is. A seamless laminated hood!
I moved on to work on mounting the back door of the cabinet.
In order to have no visible screws on the cabinet exterior, I will need to attach the strip of maple that attaches to the cabinet frame and supports the door with glue and screws and then laminate over the screws.
I cut an oversized piece of laminate and clamped it at regular intervals to the strip of maple.
Removing just a couple of clamps at a time, I used the trim router to trim a piece of laminate that exactly fits on the strip of wood.
With that done, I attached the wood strip down the left hand side of the back of the cabinet. It's a tight fit between the fixed back panel at the bottom of the cabinet and the hood. I used glue and 5 2 1/2" deck screws to attach the strip of wood to the cabinet.
Yesterday, I ordered a pair of Cam Lock Anchor Plates from Bob Roberts:
These will mount inside the back door, surrounding the two cam locks and prevent them from rotating in their holes. At $1 each, I decided to order rather than make these.
Next steps are to fill in the screw holes, apply the piece of laminate I cut for this strip of wood, and mount the back door to the cabinet.
07/08/05 - Day 38 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Once the glue was dry on the door frame strip, I filled in the screw holes with some Bondo and sanded them flush. Next up... laminate the strip; this will completely hide the screws.
A bit of contact cement on the laminate strip and on the frame:
I used some loose loops of painters tape as "slats" to keep the laminate apart from the frame until I was ready. The clamp at the top was used to make sure I started off with good alignment of the laminate strip.
After working slowly and carefully top to bottom, the laminate was on and ready for final trimming:
There was very little to trim, since the laminate strip was already cut to proper size. Mostly just cleaning up some excess contact cement.
Here's the strip all trimmed with the protective plastic removed.
I got out my black paint for some touch up work. I went around the whole cabinet and touched up all the edges where the router bit bearing had slightly worn. Here's a full back shot after the paint touch-ups; all that's left on the back is re-mounting the door.
While I had the black paint and brush out, I went ahead and painted the front and sided of the monitor bezel frame... just in case you can see a bit of this with the plastic bezel in place.
Next up is to re-mount the back door and locks. Then I'll move on to installing the power cord and network jack on the back of the cabinet. I also need to drill the holes to secure the control panel while I have it in the shop.
Hopefully this week-end, I can at least mark and cut out the side panels.
07/15/05 - Day 39 <previous day> <next day> <top>
How time flies.... I can't believe it's been almost a week since I worked on the cab and updated!
I re-installed the back door of the cabinet today. The laminate on the back door covered over the holes for the lock cylinders, so I have to drill them out again.
To keep from splitting the laminate, I'll drill from the inside out, into a backer board clamped on the door:
Once the holes were re-drilled, I mortised two of the cam lock anchors from Bob Roberts into the inside of the door and re-installed the lock hardware:
There was a tiny bit of "flex" or bowing in the back door, so I cut a piece of 3/4" aluminum angle and installed it at the top of the door on the inside. This will keep it nice and flat and stiff.
With the back door finished off, It's time to get the power and network connections on the cabinet.
I ordered a stainless steel "wall plate" that has a 1/2" round hole and a rectangular "keystone" hole. I will install a rubber grommet in the round hole and use it as an entry for the cabinet power cord. The keystone hole will get a pass-through network connector. Here are the parts:
I tacked the grommet and the network jack in place with some hot-melt glue, making sure to seal all around both parts. The "keystone" hole was SLIGHTLY larger than the network jack in the vertical direction. I filled the ~1/16" gap with some electrical tape across the bottom of the jack. I also covered over (to seal them) the screw holes in the plate.
With the prep work done, I mixed up a couple of ounces of epoxy; after making sure the plate was supported and level, filled it to the brim with epoxy. This will hold the network jack and grommet permanently in place.
I left this to cure overnight. We'll resume tomorrow.
07/16/05 - Day 40 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Here's the completed power / network plate after drilling out the screw holes:
I made a jig to drill the holes in the back of the cabinet. I carefully measured the final location on the back of the cabinet, and drilled out the jig with a 5/8" and a 1" hole in the exact spots needed, as well as the pilot holes for mounting the plate:
With the jig clamped in place, I drilled all of the holes in the back of the cabinet...
And then installed the finished plate:
Here's a shot of the complete back... nice and clean:
Next up... POWER!
I got a heavy duty 15' extension cord and cut off one end. Here's the cord along with a junction box and outlets for inside the cabinet:
After stripping back about 4" of sheathing on the cord and about 3/4" of insulation from each wire, I passed it through the plate / grommet into the cabinet.
Here are some close up shots of the wire entry. The 1/2" ID Grommet is a nice tight fit around the cord... but I can still pull the cord through to adjust the length on the outside of the cabinet.
I picked a spot inside the cabinet and mounted the junction box with a couple of 3/4" screws:
The power cord passes in to the junction box. Here you can see that I pigtailed two ground wires on to the power cord's ground wire. I need to connect ground to BOTH the outlet ground AND to the junction box itself to be safe. A wire nut and some electrical tape ensure a secure connection.
Just before closing up the box. All of the wires have been screwed down to the outlet; you can see the ground pigtail wrapped around one of the screws that secures the outlet plate to the junction box.
Here's the inside of the cabinet with the outlets installed and wires properly secured:
While the cabinet was in the shop, I drilled the holes in the frame that will be used to bolt on the control panel:
The underside of these pieces will need a 2" wide by 1/4" deep recess to allow the fender washer and bolt head to stay out of the way of the keyboard drawer. I drilled a 2" hole in my jig board to guide my Forstner bit.
I screwed this jig in place for each of the 4 holes and drilled my recesses with the Forstner bit. You can see two of them here near the bottom of the photo. This shot is looking up and forward from the bottom rear corner of the cabinet. The buttons are the back of the admin panel.
That's the last (I think) of the "messy" work in the shop on the cabinet frame. All of the fixed panels, including the back door are in place and laminated; all of the paint touch-ups are done. Time to get this thing out of my shop so I'll have room to walk again!
Now I have to go back and do some touch-up work on the coin door panel, and keyboard drawer.
The Bondo is all cured now (has it REALLY been two weeks since I put this on?!?). Time to sand it smooth.
Same for the keyboard drawer:
I also need to add a pass through for wires into the keyboard drawer. This little jig board got a lot of use today! Here it is clamped in place for the first of two 1" holes in the back of the drawer:
Here are the two holes in the back of the drawer:
I connected them with a couple of rough cuts with the jig saw. I'll clean them up with a straight edge and the router / flush trim bit.
Here it is... A nice neat pass-through into the keyboard drawer with plenty of room for keyboard, mouse, and whatever else I need cable wise.
I'll need to clean up the shop now and prep to touch up the paint on the top of coin door panel and the keyboard drawer. Then I'll bolt everything on and be ready to mark up the sides! Yeah... I know... I know... I've been saying that for 3 weeks.
I've also got to make up the wiring harness for the admin buttons, and make and install the volume control.
07/19/05 - Day 41 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Nothing too earth shattering... or even photo worthy today... BUT I did bolt all the removable panels, glass, etc onto the frame and screw a large piece of plywood to the left side. YES... I laid out the left side panel. For now, just pencil marks on a sheet of wood. However, I can finally see the real profile of my cabinet! The pencil marks don't show up well enough for a meaningful picture.
Tomorrow (if I don't have to work too late) I want to get the left side cut out. Once I do, I'll try it out against the right side too. If it's an acceptable match (it should be), I'll use the left side as a template for the right side. If it's off more than a sixteenth her or there, I'll trace a new right side panel and cut it separately. Even if they are slightly different, they will LOOK more the same if the over-hang is even all around on both sides.
07/21/05 - Day 42 <previous day> <next day> <top>
At long last, it is time to get working on the SIDES of the cabinet!!!
Per my last entry, I had clamped a piece of ply wood to the left side of my cabinet frame and traced the outline of the attached panels.
I also used a piece of 3/8" thick wood and a piece of 3/4" wood and marked the overhangs I wanted all around the cabinet.
I used 3/8" overhang everywhere except the glass / bezel area, the speaker panel, and the sloped area under the keyboard drawer. Those areas have a 3/4" overhang.
With everything marked, I moved the plywood into the shop to start cutting.
My first cut was the top of the cabinet. A nice straight cut across the top. I screwed down a strip of plywood on my line. I first rough cut the line with a jig saw leaving about 1/2" of slop. Then trimmed to the line with the router and flush trim bit.
Next up, repeat the process for the slope of the top back of the cabinet.
Clamp down straight edge:
Rough cut with jig saw:
Trim with router:
I followed this process for all of the cuts that don't meet a curved area.
The area with the straight edge clamped down in this shot is especially critical. It needs to exactly line up with the frame that supports the control panel:
I decided to use a 4 " radius curve in the corners where the glass / bezel meet the speaker panel, and where the slope under the keyboard drawer meets the coin door panel.
It's difficult to cut smooth transitions from straight lines into and out of curves... but I have a trick.
I started by using a 4" hole saw to cut a hole in a scrap of plywood:
This jig is carefully aligned into the corner that I want to round. Note that the straight edges leading into and out of the curve have only been roughed in with the jig saw at this point. Two of the screws securing the jig are long enough to go through the bottom of the cabinet side and into a scrap of plywood below. This will prevent tear out around the cut.
Then, using the same hole saw, I cut out a circle in the cabinet side and removed the jig.
With the curve established, I can lay out a ply-wood straight edge so that it is EXACTLY tangent to the cut curve at the point I want:
After trimming bout straight edges, being careful to control the router and not eat into the established curve, I have nice smooth transitions:
The same process is followed for the curve at the bottom of the keyboard drawer:
And here is the side with all of the major cuts made clamped to the cabinet frame:
I still have to ease the small-radius corners. Here are two more shots, with the control panel in place:
Hopefully, this will work as a template for the right side. I'll find out tomorrow.
07/23/05 - Day 43 <previous day> <next day> <top>
After moving the left side over to the right side of the frame and checking the fit, I determined that the match was PERFECT; I could use the left side as a template for the right side.
I spent a while rounding over the small radius corners on the left side. The top back corner was especially hard, because I wanted an even reveal around the curve.
Once I was totally happy with the left side shape, I screwed id down onto the plywood blank for the right side panel:
At that point, juts a matter of rough cutting the shape with a jig saw, leaving about 1/2" of slop; then cutting to final shape with the router and flush trim bit:
After going all the way around the cabinet like this, I had a perfectly matching right side panel:
Once I removed the screws and separated the sides, I had to do a test fit. Here are some shots from different angles with both sides clamped on, and the control panel, keyboard drawer and coin door panel in place:
Next up is to install the t-nuts that will hold the sides on to the cab, cut the t-molding slot around each side, and then I can start laminating the sides!
07/30/05 - Day 44 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Time to finish up the cabinet sides. I will be mounting the sides to the cabinet frame using 1/4" bolts.
Since I don't want these visible from the outside of the cabinet, I toyed with two methods:
1. Embed t-nuts into the cabinet sides and bolt through the frame into the t-nuts
2. Embed bolts into the cabinet sides and attach with fender washers and nuts inside
After thinking through both options, I chose option two. Option one would have required a lot of precision in positioning the t-nuts and getting the exact depth in the side panels. Once covered over, t-nuts couldn't be easily changed if damaged. The bolt lengths would have to be exact to avoid damaging the cabinet sides.
So... to accomplish installing fixed bolts, I first had to drill 1/4" holes at each bolt location. These holes need to be as square as possible to the panel surface. Since the panel is to large to use the drill press, I made a jig block. It's just a piece of 2x4 drilled with a 1/4" hole on the drill press:
Putting the drill bit through this, and holding the jig flat on the panel helps make sure the holes are drilled straight and square.
Once the through holes were complete, I needed to drill out the recesses on the outer surface of the panel surface to conceal the bolt heads. I made another router jog by drilling a 1" hole through a 2x4 scrap using the drill press. I set the router bit depth so that it is just over 1/4" into the panel with the jig in place.
I then screwed the jig down at each through hole and routed out the recess for the bolt head. using the router ensured that the bottom of the hole is parallel to the panel surface, and will keep the bolts straight.
The finished through holes / recesses look like this:
Once all of the holes and recesses were cut, I installed my 1/16" slot cutting bit into my router to cut the t-molding grove around the panel edge.
It is very important that the t-molding groove be centered in the edge of the panel. To do this, I made some test cuts in plywood scraps until I had the bit depth as close to centered as I could. I then routed all around the side panel edge. To make CERTAIN that my grove was perfectly centered, I flipped the panel over and re-routed the grove without changing the bit depth.
Using that two-pass method guarantees a perfectly centered groove in the panel edge. If you are going to do this, I recommend using a 1/16" bit, NOT a 3/32" as recommended for t-molding. You will never be perfectly centered with your first pass; the second pass from the opposite surface will always make the groove a bit wider.
If you start with a 1/16" bit, you will end up close to 3/32" after both passes. If you start with a 3/32" bit, the groove will be a bit too wide and the t-molding may be loose.
Here are some shots of the t-molding groove. Notice in the wide shot how much dust routing the groove makes!
In the second (close-up) shot, you can see how well-centered the groove is after making a pass from each surface.
With one side completed, I clamped it down on top of the second side and used the first side as a template for drilling the through holes in the second side.
After the through holes were drilled, I repeated the processes of cutting the bolt recesses and t-molding slot on the second side panel.
The next step will be to laminate the inside panel surfaces. Then I will install the through bolts and fill in the recesses with epoxy. After the epoxy sets, I will sand it smooth and laminate the outside panel surfaces.
08/06/05 and 08/07/05 - Days 45 and 46 <previous day> <next day> <top>
After my typical several days of slacking off, I got the insides of both side panels laminated this week-end.
Actually, I haven't COMPLETELY been slacking off. Over the last few days, I've been prepping to laminate the sides.
I stood each side up against the frame in proper final position, and used the holes in the side panels as a guide to drill matching holes through the cabinet frame. I then enlarged those holes (in the frame only) to 3/8" to give me a bit of "play" around the 1/4" bolts when mounting the completed panels.
Then I went over the inside and outside of both side panels, filling any imperfections, screw holes, jig holes, etc. with Bondo and then sanding smooth.
Pretty boring stuff, actually... but here's a typical scene:
Which brings us to the week-end update... LAMINATING!
In order to simplify the alignment of the laminate, and to prevent myself from rolling too far over an edge and cracking the laminate when applying it, I marked the laminate for each side panel. on the "glue side", I just layed the panel down and traced around with a Sharpie. On the "good side" (with the protective plastic still on), I traced the outline with painter's tape.
With the marking complete, I set up a sheet and a piece of plastic drop cloth in the Rec. room floor to protect the carpet. My shop's just not big enough to lay out the panel and laminate side by side and apply the glue.
You can see here the outline of the panel side drawn in Sharpie; I made sure to go about 1" outside the lines with the glue.
In the shop, I applied glue to the side panel:
Once the contact cement sat for about 15 minutes, I put down vinyl blind slats on the panel to aid in positioning the laminate:
With the wife's help, We took the sheet of laminate into the shop and applied it to the panel. The tape is HIGHLY recommended. It mad the j-rolling VERY easy; no cracks from over shooting the edges.
And after a quick trim with the laminate trimmer (obviously not in real time sequence with the photos)...
With the laminate applied, I had to trim the inside corner where the Control Panel will sit with a utility knife. The laminate trimmer leaves a smooth 1/2" radius vs. the sharp corner.
In order to protect the laminate edges a bit more and keep the protective plastic down until I'm ready to remove it, I put down some painters tape, overhanging the edges all around by about 1/2".
To put the through holes for the bolts in the laminate, I flipped the panel over and drilled through from the back. It's important to have a scrap backer board in place to keep the drill bit from lifting or cracking the laminate on the way through.
Here they are... the insides of both side panels, laminate applied and bolt holes re-drilled.
Next up, I'll install the bolts that will hold these on to the frame and fill in the bolt recess holes with epoxy in preparation for laminating the outsides of these panels.
08/08/05 - Day 47 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today, I installed the bolts that will hold the removable side panels on to the cabinet frame. There will be 10 1/4" bolts holding each side panel in place.
Since I don't want any visible attachment points on the outside of the cabinet, I will permanently install fixed bolts into the cabinet sides. The bolt heads will be in recesses on the outside of the cabinet; those will be filled with epoxy and covered in laminate for a nice clean look.
I started by cutting 20 blocks of wood and drilling out a 5/16" hole in the center of each one. Using one wood block with a nut and fender washer for each bolt, I tightened down the bolts securely. This will hold then tight to the recess bottom and square to the cabinet sides:
One at a time, the sides went into the shop. I placed them "outside up" on some 4x4s to keep the bolts from touching the table surface. Using a level and some shims, I made sure the side was level in all directions.
With the cabinet side level, I mixed up some quick set Epoxy and filled in the recess around each bolt head with epoxy. The strength of the epoxy and the hex shaped head should keep these secure and prevent them from turning.
Once the epoxy cured for about an hour, I was able to remove the nut, washer and wood block from each bolt.
Here's the result...
...10 permanently installed bolts that will align perfectly with the holes in my cabinet frame.
Tomorrow, I will sand the epoxy smooth, touch up with some Bondo (if necessary), and hopefully apply the laminate to the outsides of the side panels.
08/09/05 - Day 48 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today started out, as promised, sanding down the epoxy covering the bolt heads.
After they were sanded, a bit of Bondo was in order to ensure a smooth surface for the laminate.
Once the laminate goes on these, there will be no outward sign of fasteners!
With the sides ready to laminate, I moved on to tracing the outlines of the sides in position on the laminate, just as I did for the inside pieces.
First, the piece of laminate that will cover the outside of the right side panel was marked with painters tape (note that this is actually the LEFT side panel being used as the template):
Then the laminate was flipped and the glue side was marked with a Sharpie (this time, use the RIGHT side panel as a template):
Repeated the tape outline for the left side outside laminate (still using the RIGHT side panel for the template):
And the left side Sharpie outline on the glue side of the laminate (back to the LEFT side panel as template):
The toughest part of all this was keeping the sides straight in my mind and making sure not to mark inconsistent shapes on opposite sides of one piece of laminate.
At this point, I'm all set up to apply the last two sheets of laminate to the "money side" of the side panels. Hopefully, that will happen tomorrow.
08/10/05 - Day 49 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Finished the LAST of the lamination today!!!
Pretty standard process by now...
Apply contact cement to laminate, overlapping the outline of the side:
Apply contact cement to the panels and lay down slats from vinyl blind:
Remove slats from the center out to each end, rolling down with a J-roller:
Trim the laminate with the flush trim bit:
But THIS time...
Remove the protective plastic from the laminate!
Black laminate doesn't photograph too well, but it looks GREAT!
With the sides done, I need to finish up the wiring on the admin panel and the volume knob.
Then I'll put it all together. I'm definitely getting anxious now.
08/12/05 - Day 50 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today I assembled and tested the volume knob for my cabinet. I though of doing this as a "clean" way to install an easily accessible volume knob on my cabinet admin panel. As I started to research the idea, I found out that Oscar (of Oscar Controls) had already posted an article about the exact same project here: http://www.oscarcontrols.com/volume/ He used a different type of cable for his, but it's the exact same principle / process.
The parts for this are pretty straight forward. I bought an "audio taper" dual potentiometer (labeled as a "Volume Control") from Radio Shack (part # 271-1732 ) along with a 6' long 1/8" mini plug extension cable. Also pictured is a 4 pack of knobs and a nylon panel bearing for a 1/4" shaft.
The first step was to cut the cable and strip the exterior insulation back. I left the majority of the cable length on the side that will plug into the sound card, as I already have another cable long enough to get up to the amp / speakers. I then divided the "ground" wires in half on each side and twisted them together, and stripped about 3/16 of insulation off of each wire end:
I then cut some heat shrink tubing that will cover and protect each solder joint, as well as two larger blue pieces to help pretty things up:
There are 6 terminals on the pot that must be soldered to. The center tap on each row is the output. The outer taps are the input and common ground. Here I have soldered the two right channel wires to input and output taps. Don't forget to put your heat shrink on BEFORE each solder joint.
Two of the four ground wire sets are twisted together and soldered to the ground tap. Then the heat shrink is slid up over the solder joints, and shrunk. I just used the soldering iron to make the heat shrink tubing shrink:
Make sure to verify that you have the "right" taps identified as input and ground. The knob will WORK if you switch them... but it will turn UP by turning the knob counter clock-wise and DOWN by turning the knob clockwise. Not very intuitive.
The same process is repeated for the left channel on the other three taps. Here's what it looks like with all the wires soldered on and all the shrink wrap in place.
For that last bit of protection of the wiring, I added some black shrink wrap and put a zip tie around the two wires.
When I first tested this, I tried using a cheap portable CD player and headphones. I figured that they were more expendable if I made a mistake / shorted something than my sound card and or speakers.
Unfortunately, when I plugged this volume knob in between the CD player output and the headphones, I had very little resolution in the knob. There was only sound over about 10% of the knob's range; it was very hard to adjust.
I tested the connections and the potentiometer with my multi meter, and could find no problems.... So I took a chance and hooked it up between the sound card and speakers. It worked like a champ! Apparently, the sound card supplies WAY more output than the portable CD player.
I have a shaft extension on order; I will need that to install this on to the admin panel. That's next, along with wiring up the admin buttons.
08/14/05 - Day 51 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Back on Day 32, I finished the lamination and button installation for my admin panel. There are two PAUSE buttons (green) and two EXIT buttons (red). My cabinet volume knob will go in the center.
Now it's tome for the wiring so these buttons can do their thing. I want each of the PAUSE buttons to work independently. No matter which PAUSE button is pressed, the encoder should register one press of the "P" key. The EXIT buttons on the other hand should be wired so that BOTH must be presses at the same time for the encoder to register one press of the "ESC" key.
Here's a wiring schematic of how I accomplished this:
The ground wire coming from the encoder is daisy chained to the COMmon terminal of BOTH green buttons and ONE of the red buttons.
The output (N/O) terminal of the first red button is then connected to the COMmon terminal of the SECOND red button.
The N/O terminal of this second red button goes back to the keyboard encoder terminal that is mapped to ESCape.
Each green button's N/O terminal is daisy chained and leads back to the keyboard encoder terminal that is mapped to "P".
Here is the wiring harness so far. I have all of the quick disconnects for all four buttons wired together as shown above.
To finish this harness, I'm going to connect the 3 wires to an RJ-45 terminal so I can easily disconnect and remove the admin panel when necessary.
08/15/05 - Day 52 <previous day> <next day> <top>
More wiring projects today.
I started off by finishing and installing the wiring harness for the admin panel.
After installing an RJ-45 jack on the end of a piece of CAT-5 cable, I stripped the outer insulation and about 3/16" insulation from each wire. Since I only need 3 wires (PAUSE, ESCape and Ground), I twisted the solid / stripe of each color together.
The CAT-5 wires were soldered to the 3 wires from the harness I made yesterday and the joints covered in heat shrink tubing. Note that the blue wires were not used.
After an outer layer of heat shrink and a couple more wire ties, the harness was complete:
Here it is installed in the removable admin panel assembly:
In order to get the button signals to the encoder, I had to repeat the process of going from RJ-45 to red, green and black wires on another, longer cable.
Solder the wires:
And add another outer layer of heat shrink tubing:
The red, green and black wires above go to the appropriate terminals on my keyboard encoder break-out board.
With the admin panel wiring complete, it's time to move on to the next wiring project.
I am going to build a small circuit the will consist of a lighted rocker switch, which controls a 4PDT relay. Turning this single switch on or off will either activate or de-activate the four free coin buttons under my control panel.
Here is a diagram of the circuit:
The relay I'm using came from Radio Shack:
While it may look a little intimidating, the relay is actually pretty simple. The bottom row of 4 pins is normally connected to the top row of pins. However, when 12V DC is applied to the two pins at the very bottom of the relay, an electromagnetic contact inside the relay flips like 4 tiny switches; the bottom row of 4 pins is THEN connected to the MIDDLE row of 4 pins:
My first step will be soldering 4 input and 4 output wires to the relay pins. The input wires, which will attach to the wires coming from my free coin buttons, will attach to the bottom row of 4 pins. The output wires will attach to the middle row of 4 pins, and connect to the wires leading to my keyboard encoder break-out board.
The wires are color coded to the player they represent:
Here are the input and output wires soldered to the relay terminals. For good measure, I installed color coded heat shrink tubing to each wire / terminal joint.
The lighted switch I am using has 3 terminals: power, load, and ground. The relay also requires +12v to operate.
I took a long length of joined power and ground wire and separated some at the end. On the +12v wire, I installed a quick disconnect terminal. The ground wire needed to be split into two wires - one for the relay ground and one for the switch ground. That joint was soldered and covered with heat shrink:
I took one last short piece of red wire and installed a quick disconnect to it. You can see it below attached to the "load" terminal of the switch. The other two quick disconnects attach to the power and ground terminals of the switch; the remaining red and black wire stubs will go to the relay +12v and ground terminals.
That's as far as I got today. Hopefully tomorrow I can finish building this circuit.
08/16/05 - Day 53 <previous day> <next day> <top>
A bit more work on the Free Coin Control circuit today.
Starting with an ABS project box from Radio Shack:
I drilled a 1/2" hole for the lighted rocker switch:
And cut out a hole in the side for the male DB-25 input connector. I did this by drilling 1/4" holes at the corners, and then cutting out the hole with my Dremel tool.
Next, I wanted to make the wiring harness that will plug into the "black box" and pass all the input and output signals. Starting with a female DB-25 connector and a D-sub hood:
I soldered 3 sets of color coded wires, a power wire, and a ground wire. The two sets of wires on the top rows are the inputs from the free credit buttons and from the coin mech switches. The set of wires on the bottom row will be the outputs. The power and ground wires are on the right side.
After soldering all the wires, I pushed down and shrunk the color coded heat shrink over each connection, then gathered all the input wires and applied a tube of heat shrink around the bundle:
Finally, I installed the DB-25 connector / wire bundle into the D-sub hood:
Next step is the "guts" of the black box for the Free Credit Controller.
08/19/05 to 08/21/05 - Days 54 to 56 <previous day> <next day> <top>
It's been an interesting few days; I got hit with a side project that ended up impacting the arcade cabinet (in a good way).
But before I get into that...
The next step in getting the coin control circuit working is attaching the wire ends at the other end of the harness I built to the correct wires to provide the inputs and get the outputs to the keyboard encoder.
I soldered the output wires from the control box harness to the keyboard encoder wires that map to the P1 to P4 credit buttons:
Then I soldered one set of the input wires to the free credit button leads returning from the control panel:
The second set of input wires and the power input wires got male quick disconnects. This set of inputs will connect to the coin mech switch outputs.
To ensure that I got the wiring correct, I plugged the control box input DB-25 connector on to the harness and used my multi-meter to check continuity from each wire to the appropriate pin before soldering.
After soldering all of the wires needed to the DB-25 input connector pins, and then connecting the wires as show in the schematic above, I folded everything into the project box as neatly as I could. It's a tight fit... but it's all in there! I decided NOT to use the diodes shown in the circuit above. They weren't really needed; every bit of space savings counted getting everything in to this project box!
Now, as for my little side project...
The computer that I use as a media PC and file server for the house died last week. It was quite old... about 3 generations of computer back for me... a Pentium 2 933 MHz. This computer houses the 2TB RAID array for the house, and is also used to play media through the home theater system.
While the 933 was getting the job done, it was definitely taxed.
I decided that, rather than buying a cheap replacement sever MB and processor, that I would migrate the AMD set-up that was in my Arcade cabinet to become the server. The easiest way to do that was to take the motherboard, processor, memory and hard drive and transplant them into the server case.
That left me a great media center / server PC... but no arcade PC.
Never fear... help arrived from New Egg!
To replace the Arcade PC, I bought a NEW motherboard, processor, memory and hard drive. This allowed me to do a clean XP install and not have any headaches from changing the motherboard / processor from underneath the OS.
So... the new Arcad PC is a 3.4 GHz Intel processor on an 800MHz front side bus. 1 GB of DDR400 ram, and a 10,000 RPM 74 GB SATA drive. This should be able to play most of the classics. (JOKE!)
Needless to say, it took about a day and a half to do the motherboard shuffle and set-up / configure the new PC. Both PCs are now up and running. This new Arcade PC is ready to take anything I can throw at it:
After finishing the PC projects, I tidied up my cabinet wiring harnesses a bit. Here's the backbone of the cabinet:
The wires from top to bottom are:
Grey Cable With Red QD Terminals - Power and ground for Trackball lighting
Black Cable - PC connection for spinner (USB and PS/2 available)
4 DB-25 Parallel Cables - Connections to the control panel
White cable with Black (RJ-45) End - Connection for admin PAUSE / ESCape buttons
Silver DB-25 connector - Input plug for free coin control circuit
Red Wire With Red QD Terminals - Power and ground for free coin control circuit
Grey Cable With Red QD Terminals - Inputs to free coin control circuit from coin mechs
And a close up of the spinner and trackball encoder boards, and the break-out boards for the Hagstrom Keyboard Encoder:
Next on the punch list is installing the volume knob to the admin panel and mounting the project box for the free coin control circuit.
08/22/05 - Day 57 <previous day> <next day> <top>
A full evening's work; I got a LOT done!
I started the evening by mounting the control box for the free credit buttons.
Using the bottom of the project box as a template, I marked the location of the screw holes on the top of the coin "security box".
After drilling the marked holes, I mounted the box using 4 #6 sheet metal screws from the underside:
This gave me a securely mounted control box without visible hardware:
Here's a shot from the front through the open coin door. You can see where / how the harness I made plugs in.
And a couple of close-ups... "OFF" and "ON":
With the coin control box project completed, I moved on to mounting the volume knob...
First step was to bend a bracket out of 1/8" c 3/4" aluminum stock. I did this by wrapping it around a piece of 4x4 with a few Bessey clamps and a hammer for some initial "persuasion":
With the bracket bent, I drilled the mounting hole for the volume knob, two holes with countersinks to mount the bracket, and cut a small notch that accepts a tab to keep the volume knob from rotating:
The knob attached to the bracket with one included nut. Here are a couple of shots of the assembly mounted to the rear of the admin panel:
A close-up of the pot and the shaft extension collar I used:
And a profile shot of the extended shaft (1/4" round aluminum stock) passing through the admin panel. You can see just underneath the knob the flange of the nylon pass-through bushing I used.
Here's the finished product. The knob has no "wobble" to it. If anything, it's a bit stiff to turn. I thing it will loosen up with a bit of use.
Now I'm down to the fun stuff!
Time to start some final assembly!
I started by vacuuming out the cabinet and frame. First step in assembly was installing the monitor.
It fits nice and tightly in it's hole; 6 1 1/4" screws with washers do the trick keeping it there.
I mounted the Smart Strip from Bits Limited to the back wall of the cabinet and tidied up the wires with some cable mounts and strips of double sided Velcro:
Next assembly step was the bezel frame. It sits on top of the monitor mount flanges. The front is painted black "just in case".
With the Bezel frame in place, it was time for the bezel and glass. I set the bezel in place and the admin panel in position before lifting the glass into position.
TIP: Don't forget to clean the monitor, bezel and inside of the glass before mounting!
With the glass in place, I slid the admin panel back and mounted it using the installed aluminum brackets and 1/4" bolts:
On to the speaker panel...
Here it is before installing the grill cloth (you've seen this before):
And AFTER the grill cloth:
The grill cloth is just stretched over and held in place with staples on the back of the panel. When stretching the cloth, start in the center of one edge, and work outwards, keeping the cloth tight while stapling. Repeat on the opposite edge. Then do the remaining two edges.
Here's what the speaker panel looks like mounted in place with the grill cloth:
And finally (for tonight), a shot of the monitor, bezel, glass, admin panel and speaker panel all installed:
I'll continue the assembly tomorrow. Not much further now!
08/23/05 - Day 58 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Only a couple of hours work on the cabinet today.
I cut out a board to mount the interface boards in the cabinet and attached all of the interface boards to it with some stand-offs, rubber washers and screws:
Pictured from left to right are the Hagstrom KE-72 keyboard encoder, 2 Break-Out boards for the KE-72, an Optipac, and the interface for the Tornado spinner.
Everything EXCEPT for the Tornado spinner interface had pre-drilled holes for mounting.
Since the Tornado interface did not, I attached it with some double-sided tape to the board. That was not very effective / secure. To complete mounting it securely, I installed two cable tie downs and used a piece of double sided Velcro between them, across the interface board:
Once all of the interface boards were mounted, I secured the wiring harness to the board at several points using cable tie hold downs and cable ties.
Here's what the whole thing looks like mounted to the cabinet frame:
At this point, I'm ready to start bolting on all of the removable panels and the sides.
08/24/05 - Day 59 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today I bolted the side panels on to the cabinet frame. I forgot to take pictures before I also bolted down the control panel. I guess I got excited!
The sides are held on with fender washers and wing nuts on the bolts that were permanently attached to the side panels. here you can see 5 of the 10 bolts that hold on the left side panel:
With the side panels on and the control panel mounted, I moved on to tidying up the remaining wiring inside the cabinet. This is about as tidy as I could get it:
The USB hub is now mounted to the back of the cabinet, giving me one wire for USB devices to the PC.
Here's a close-up of the wiring bundle that runs to the back of the PC. From left to right: USB, VGA, RJ-45, keyboard, audio mini, and power.
To handle 12V power supply for the track ball light, coin control relay, and coin door lights I made a "hydra" power cord. Basically I spliced an extension wire onto the 12V and ground connectors for a hard drive power splitter. On the other end, I soldered 6 power and 6 ground wires, twisted them into pairs, and added female QD connectors. I only really needed 3 sets... but why not set up for future needs while I could easily?
Here are the power connectors from the track ball light, coin control relay, and coin door lights:
The connect nicely to the "hydra".
Here's the PC all connected up and in its final home. I decided to leave the side panel off for better air circulation / cooling. It's protected fine by being inside the arcade cabinet.
08/25/05 - Day 60 <previous day> <next day> <top>
Today started out relatively normal.
Being my typical anal self, I decided to paint the wooden edges of the side panels black before installing the t-molding... "just in case". This turned out well.
Satisfied, I moved on to installing the t-molding on the lower half of the cabinet under the control panel. This too turned out great. So, I moved on to the top part of the right hand side.
Once again, it turned out great...
...BUT... That last cut was a doozy. Trimming the molding at the bottom of the back of the cabinet, I slipped with the utility knife and stabbed myself in the side of the left knee. It was pretty deep and bleeding; I didn't want to risk waiting around with a knee injury (worry of tendons and what not).
4 hours and one trip to the emergency room later:
T'was but a flesh wound... but I got 4 stitches inside the wound and 6 stitches on the outside.
Maybe in a day or two I'll get around to the left side.
08/27/05 - Day 61 <previous day> <next day> <top>
The knee felt well enough today to do a few minor things on the cabinet.
Here's a couple of un-bandaged shots after I cleaned it up today:
Doesn't look nearly as bad as it seemed to when it happened. It's about as deep at one end as it is wide.
I completed the t-molding installation on the left side of the cabinet. A couple of notable t-molding install tips:
1. Paint the edges an appropriate color before installing the t-molding.
My "just in case" paid off, because there ARE a couple of spots where I think laminate edge color
would be showing had I not painted first.
2. For inside corners, you need to cut little slits in the t-molding rib that goes into the slot.
I cut mine about 1/4" apart.
3. For outside corners, you need to cut out little "v"s in the t-molding rib.
Since I had some laminate scraps lying around, I decided to cut a piece for the inside of the keyboard drawer.
I measured and cut the laminate:
Applied contact cement to the drawer and laminate:
And rolled it down with the j-roller.
I think the laminate will look and wear better than paint.
I also covered the marquee panel with (very controversial) foil today.
Here's the panel and a small strip of foil with some contact cement.
The small strip was cut into sections and used to cover the inside corners.
I then covered a larger piece of foil and the panel with contact cement. The foil is intentionally crumpled a bit for texture. There is NO WAY to ever get it applied without a wrinkle or two, so may as well go with the look.
And after applying the foil, I carefully j-rolled it down and trimmed all the edges with the utility knife:
Here's a test fit shot on the cabinet.
I realized that I am out of glass points, so I can't install the marquee and glass yet.
Once that's done, finishing up should be a short order!
Hopefully tomorrow, I'll be finished construction.
Then I can move on to configuring all the software and a front-end.
08/28/05 - Day 62 <previous day> <next day> <top>
With glass points and some double sided adhesive in hand, time to get the marquee panel completed!
With the marquee panel face down, I applied some double sided adhesive tape to the area that will be in contact with the glass. This should help prevent any rattling from the subwoofer:
I then put the 1/4" front glass in place, taped the marquee art to it with 4 small pieces of electrical tape, and put the 1/8" rear glass in place:
The glass points rest on the glass surface and are pushed into the edge of the wood while applying steady downward pressure. I installed 16 points to secure the marquee art and glass.
Here's the finished marquee panel with the glass and artwork installed:
The marquee panel is mounted to the cabinet with 4 bolts and star lock washers:
Here it is in place on the cabinet:
With the marquee panel in place I re-installed the subwoofer on the speaker panel:
Once all the wiring was done for the speakers, I tidied up all the wires:
Here's a shot through the back door:
Before installing the top panel with the light and fans, I secured the wiring with ties and wrapped it in some padding (to make sure there was no rattling).
Bolting on the top panel was the last step.
The cabinet construction is FINISHED!!!
Some shots of the new cabinet in it's final home...
A few frontal over-all shots:
The control panel and coin door, and a control panel close-up:
I still have quite a bit of work to do on the software configuration front, as well as design and set-up of a good front-end.
BUT.... I think I'll spend a few days enjoying it as is first!
09/15/05 - Day 63 <previous day> <next day> <top>
About a week ago, I received the pair of "Scorpion 3" GUNCON light guns that I ordered for my cabinet.
I was impressed with the was these looked / felt... even if they were a bit smaller and lighter than I expected.
I've spent a lot of time over the last week ingesting the various GUNCON information on the web and some of the arcade forums.
Today, I received in the mail a package with the electronic components I needed to build the "interface boards" required to get these guns working with the PC.
Here's a shot of the first circuit I assembled:
This is a simple circuit that converts the 12V power from my PC power supply to 9V that is needed by the "Scorpion 3" guns.
It takes a 12V and Ground input and provides a regulated 9V output. That, along with the 5V supply from the PC will power the guns properly. I spliced the output 9V and 5V lines, along with a pigtail from ground to a pair of PS2 extension cables. This way, I didn't have to hack up the guns themselves.
All of the power comes from a hard drive Molex plug I spliced on to.
With the power circuit built, I was able to test the guns using the composite output on my graphics card and a 13" TV. They seem to work!
Now... to get them working on my Wells Gardner 27" monitor, I need another circuit:
The circuit above will (supposedly) accept the H Sync and V Sync lines from a VGA output and create the Composite Sync signal needed for the guns.
I have not yet had a chance to verify that the circuit actually works wit the guns and the monitor. To do that, I still have to hack into a VGA cable for the input signals.
That's best saved for the upcoming week-end.
Wish me luck!
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