Sunday, March 25, 2012

Old Cabinet = New Project

Yesterday I was given an X-Men vs. Street Fighter cabinet (purchased by an acquaintance from a local arcade finally closing its doors after 30+ years). Despite the struggle transporting it to my house, it now resides nestled between my Dragon's Lair and Marvel Super Heroes cabinets.

And while I am certainly grateful for the donation, this cabinet is definitely in need of some TLC. After connecting a couple wire harnesses and hunting down a computer power supply cord, I observed the following:

The good - the marquee looks good and lit up immediately, the fans work (albeit a bit loud), the game booted flawlessly, the coin slots illuminate and accept quarters, and the player 1 button works (along with the top row of punch buttons).

The bad - a lot of buttons seem to not function (due to some rough control panel removals by the previous owner), the monitor colors look bad, and there's some concerning cabinet structural issues.

I removed the rear access panel to get a better look at the guts and noticed this:

Yep, this cabinet was originally Michael Jackson's Moonwalker manufactured by Sega in 1990.

In order to truly assess the workings, I need to run the "test" function. Unfortunately I can't even do that until I replace 3 of the 4 switches on the player 1 joystick. It seems that one is stuck (causing characters to jump constantly) and the other two appear to be completely shot. As much as I cringe at the thought, I may have to cannibalize my Marvel Super Heroes control panel - at least to determine the operational status. I'm not looking forward to running down the broken/disconnected wires. I'm also considering replacing the entire control panel board. Since the cabinet had numerous conversions, the control panel now looks like Swiss cheese.

The good news is that once I get the joystick functioning properly, its simple to access the test function directly from the JAMMA board.

This is my first JAMMA cabinet and I'm relatively excited. Its fairly simple to swap out the board and change the game. In fact, the JAMMA cover isn't X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

Additionally, the control panel is standard for Capcom. That means I could build a new one entirely with little effort.

As for the monitor, there's definitely an issue.

Once I can access the test function, I'll fiddle with the RGB settings. Right now I don't even want to think about the prospect of replacing the monitor. It also needs a good cleaning, but I don't think I'm qualified to be messing with high voltage equipment.

And ... that's all for now. Once I get the control panel up and running, I'll know a lot more. Updates to follow. With me luck!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Its that time of year again

I don't get it myself, but for some odd reason I get all motivated to work on my arcade cabinets as the first chill of fall fills the air. I plan on spending the next couple months totally completing both cabinets. The tasks require minimal effort on my part, so progress will be measured against my procrastination aversion.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Survey Says Gamers are "smart, sociable people"

From a classic episode of the arcade game show "Starcade" (1982-84). View episode #59 and jump to 13:42 to hear the entire results of the survey. Wanna bet Jack Thompson never cited this survey in court?

read more | digg story

Monday, March 5, 2007

Major progress with the "Drag-on" Lair project!

Wow, it has taken forever to find/buy the few remaining items I needed to wrap up this project. Thanks to the Laser Disc Game Classifieds over at the Dragon's Lair Project, I was able to buy a pair of authentic speaker grills. Shortly thereafter, I finally convinced Ethan over on the Daphne forums to assemble a custom scoreboard cable. I've had the grills for about a week now, and just received the cable today.

Click image thumbnails for bigger pics.

While patiently awaiting the remaining parts, I decided to wire up the coin door lights. It was quick and simple, receiving power from the PC.

The grills were in really good shape for originals (although I wouldn't expect the grills to experience a lot of wear).

The custom scoreboard cable plugs into the parallel port of the PC and is powered by a connecton to the PC's power supply. The scoreboard end is a 16-pin keyed connector, so I didin't have to worry about frying the board when I fired it up.

At first I though I had either purchased a fried scoreboard or somehow done damage to it. While the board did display some characters, most of the LEDs didn't light up. I played a short game to see if the display would change, but to no avail. In a moment of (not-so-quiet) reflection, I remembered I needed to change the Dragon's Lair scoreboard setting to External LPT1. Once I made that correction, the scoreboard came to life in all its lit up LED glory. Yay!

The cabinet is now about 99% complete. All I need to do now is replace the cracked bezel plexi and raise the monitor to the proper height. After that, I'll need to attach the cabinet back board. I can confidently predict that my Dragon's Lair arcade cabinet project will be absolutely complete by the weekend. Yay again!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Out with the old ...

I've been really frustrated lately because it seems nothing wants to work properly. Damn you, Murphy! My two biggest problems (so far, anyways) have been the monitor and I-PAC control board. The monitor is just plain shot and I don't think there's much use in trying to get it repaired. As for the I-PAC ... who knows?

The remedy for the monitor situation was to take a ride over to our local Best Buy and pick up a new 20.1" LCD monitor. It looks great!

Compare the top picture (new monitor) to the previous monitor image:

Click image thumbnails for bigger pics.

Yep, its like night and day.

Here's a few more pics of the new monitor:

The game plays back real clean. The darkness and ghosting in the above images is from the camera and doesn't represent what the monitor is actually displaying (quality-wise). It was a wise choice to upgrade the monitor, especially considering 20" monitors are the norm in Dragon's Lair cabinets. Now what to do with the extra 0.1"? Hmm...

The I-PAC board is a whole different issue altogether. It worked fine, then all of a sudden it didn't. I really don't know where the problem lies. The original I-PAC was connected via a PS/2 cable to the PC. I ordered a new one, connecting via USB, and it works like a charm. I might check out the PS/2 I-PAC on the Marvel cabinet to see if it works. If it does, who knows ... maybe there will be a third cabinet on the horizon.

Long story short, the Dragon's Lair arcade cabinet works! I still need to replace the monitor plexi, since the first one cracked from bringing it inside after sitting outside in extremely cold weather (around -12°F) for a few hours. That's easy enough. I'm much more concerned with wiring the scoreboard. Yes, that still has me quite nervous. At least I get to play Dragon's Lair in all its arcade glory for the time being.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Come together, right now (damnit!)

Becca sure loves me. How do I know? She fixes everything I break and has the patience of a saint. Me? ... not so much. Its thanks to her that I can type up this update.

Click image thumbnails for bigger pics.

I wired up the control panel, taking up more than an hour of wire-stripping fun, and ... nothing happened. I went over my wiring, consulted the online diagram, and ... nothing again. Having finally reaching my peak of fustration, Becca came to my rescue and corrected my half-assed wiring job.

Becca also recently finished hotrodding the workhorse of the operation, a Windows PC with a new motherboard and mammoth RAM.

Since the control panel and PC were all wired up and rearing to go, it only made sense to go ahead and wire up the coin door. This was by far the easiest of the wiring jobs.

Yep, the monitor looks pretty shot. As bad as it is, the picture is an optical illusion. The Dragon's Lair text doesn't look green to the naked eye. Must be a combination of the camera flash and the monitor plexi. The colors are washed out and everything has a yellowish tint. I admit I was a bit rough with the monitor once it was removed from its housing. I'll replace it with a flat LCD in the near future.

Things are coming together somewhat nicely. Dragon's Lair is playable and accepts quarters for credits. I still need to mount the scoreboard plexi, wire up the scoreboard, and replace the monitor. I'm really nervous about frying the scoreboard, so that part should be fun. Replacing the monitor will be quick and simple, but somewhat unexpected and not accounted for in my budget. Mounting the scoreboard plexi is the most simple of the three, so I think that's what y'all will be seeing by my next update. Oh, and I still desperately need some speaker grills ...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Settling the score(board)

There simply aren't enough hours in a day, especially on my day off. I woke up pretty early and picked up some plexi for the monitor bezel. When I returned home I immediately cut the few remaining pieces of wood needed for interior bracing.

Click image thumbnails for bigger pics.

No, the plexi isn't blue - its clear. That's just the protective covering. Surprisingly the plexi fit in perfectly. Once I had it temporarily in place, I got to work on the scoreboard support.

I cut the holes for the speakers and scoreboard, then mounted them with some wood screws. The speakers are smaller then they should be, so I'm considering replacing them at some point.

Naturally I don't have the carriage bolts necessary to permanently attach the scoreboard plexi, so I just kind of wedged it in place for the time being. I really need some speaker grills now ...

This is pretty much how the completed cabinet will look. Aside from an electronic nightmare, all I need to do is black out the areas of the plexi around the monitor.

The newly hotrodded PC should be ready for the big move into the cabinet by this weekend. Who knows ... I could have a fully-functioning Dragons Lair cabinet by this Sunday.