Basic instructions for building an arcade control panel.
Well, it's been a long time, but I finally got around to completing this project
I switched things up a bit with the release of the Rasberry Pi 3 B+ with build in WIFI. Found a driver to use the GPIO and MCP23017 GPIO expanders as gamepads.
Made the lower box as planned. Wired everything up to a permanent prototype hat and an MCP23017 expander prototype board mounted to the hat. Mounted the Pi internally to the bottom plate with standoffs. Cut a 5x1.25" notch in the back lower center of the lower box and use a chisel to create a 1/4" slot for the plastic panel to slip into. Mounted the panel mount extension cables to the plastic panel and assembled everything.
I'll add pictures later, forgot to take them while I was assembling it and don't feel like taking it back apart right now.
Just noticed my arcade projects have made it into this weeks Hacklet.
I don't think I had mentioned the graphics overlay earlier. I work in IT for an international printing company, so that was a freebie. It was printed on an HP DesignJet latex printer that we use for vehicle wraps and store signage. The base material is 3M self adhesive vinyl, and it has a 3mm faux-polycarb laminate applied to protect the graphics from wear. The laminate has a matte finish and texture, and gives you just the right amount of grip on the surface without being abrasive.
Due to an extraordinarily busy schedule this summer, I have not gotten around to building the base box for the panel and actually wiring it up yet. Oh, that and my chop saw and circular saw were both stolen out of my car and I haven't had the money to replace them....
I started on this project last fall. As this site is new, I'll be jumping in mid project on this and thought everyone might like to know how I got to this point.
I designed my layout based on the typical Japanese arcade controls layout. I went with a six button per player configuration based on advice on the Build Your Own Arcade Controls (BYOAC) forum. Few if any arcade games make use of more than six buttons.
After designing the layout, I CNC cut the plywood for the deck using the 2'x3' CNC mill I built a couple of years ago. This can be done by hand for those without a CNC mill. As I get further into setting up this project, I will post the layout file for the deck.
I ordered the joysticks, buttons, and other miscellaneous control parts from Groovy Game Gear. The rest of the hardware and such that is needed can be acquired from most any hardware store.
I wanted the option of including a trackball of spinners on a possible future rework of the panel. All of the commercially available arcade control to USB adapters I could find generally started at $40+ for a quality one (not cheap Chinese stuff), and could only handle to joystick/button inputs, or a trackball or spinners. None of them could handle both on the same board. Therefore, I decided to roll my own control interface. After researching the various inexpensive MCU development boards on the market, I settled on the TI Tiva C Launchpad. First reason was that the Launchpad has two built in hardware QEI (Quadrature Encoder Input) modules, and secondly it costs all of $10. Arcade trackballs and spinners use quadrature encoders to track the direction, speed, and acceleration of their motion, and not having to write QEI in software was a HUGE bonus. I have posted the controller as a separate project on here for anyone who is interested.
So, that's where I'm at. I finished up all that about the time the weather turned cold and banned me from my detached, unheated garage where all my tools are at. As soon as (if???) the weather turns around, I will be finishing up the base and wiring so I can introduce my kids to the games I grew up playing, all on the 60" big screen!
These instructions will assume you are going to build the same panel I did. First step is to order all of the arcade control parts and whichever arcade control to USB solution you would like to use. In my case, I designed my own. It is open source, based on the TI Tiva C Launchpad, and is also posted as a project here.
Step 2 - Design your graphics for the top. I will add mine to this project at some point, feel free to use it if you like it.
Step 3 - Hit up your local hardware store and pick up all of the lumber and hardware you will need. Or if you are like me, dig through your salvage and scrap for most of it, then pick up what you don't already have.