Bartop Arcade Build Part 2

This is part 2 of the Arcade. The first post has the Arcade in a good working condition. This will cover some of the final touches.

So I did a bit more work on the Marquee. I did a bit of work on the graphic design. I am in no way a graphic artist. I had downloaded some logos to do the initial graphic. I found some better ones to use and made some other changes to it. I then printed it out on my inkjet printer onto 3 sheets just like the previous test one I did on a black only laser printer. It turned out pretty well, I couldn’t do a full color graphic though. I think I will leave it at this paper graphics for awhile anyways.

For the Marquee there really aren’t any hot spots. I was thinking doing a frosted piece of Plexiglass behind the marquee to handle any hotspots, but that turned out to not be needed (with the paper that is). It is a little brighter than I think I want it, but I didn’t find it too distracting while test playing it. It is quite hard to photograph anywhere near properly though as bright as it is. I have at this point decided to not make a dimmer system for it. I have a couple of workable circuits that I have used for that in the past, I just don’t want to take the time at this point, when the biggest issue is taking photographs of it.

For the LCD I wanted to make a bezel/cover that went over it. To do this I put some 1/8th inch strips up the sides of the cabinet to rest the Plexiglas against. It slides up behind the Marquee bottom board, between it and the top edge of the LCD itself. The strips up the sides are a lot like the ones that were in place on Mike’s build in the video. I wasn’t sure what they were for in his case, they may make it to have very little gap on the sides in his case? He did not cover the monitor with Plexiglas so I am not sure, he also had a small board along the bottom above the control panel, which I omitted due to the Plexiglas. I fitted the Plexiglas so that it just meets up with the back edge of the control panel. It is not held along the bottom and just goes up against the control panel board, so it can flex and make a gap there a bit. I may secure that in some way in the future, but currently it is minimal, and I do not want to make it difficult to remove the control panel if I need to.

Above is the Plexiglas I was cutting for the screen. To cut it, used a board and metal angle. I was cutting from the side on the right side where the knife is laying. Because the Plexiglas had a bad edge from when I purchased it, I needed to be sure to get one good long cut. This stuff is very hard, it is not the softer type. It likes to fracture/crack. I managed to get a very good first cut on the top edge. The next cut, which I was doing in that picture really cracked up the edge. The last cut, cutting it down to the right width, that cut went very well thankfully. I had 1 factory edge and 2 cut edges exposed that turned out pretty well. It was very slightly too wide, to get it down to the right width I used some 180 grit sandpaper and a sanding block to get it just right.

The next part after fitting the Plexiglas was to get it in the final position with the LCD in place and the Control Panel in place. I then used a marker to mark the corners of the LCD behind the Plexiglas. I removed the Plexiglas, and monitor. I placed the monitor on the bench facing up and then placed the Plexiglass back over it using the marks I did while it was in the Cabinet to get a good view and check the marks were correct and centered properly. Once I was sure I had the corners marked that I wanted was to take away the monitor and flip the Plexiglas to the back side. From the back side, I cut into the protective plastic with a fresh Xacto blade around where the monitor will be placed, and removed the outer portion. This left the “monitor area” covered and protected. I also kept the protective layer on the “front” side as well. Then I used some Gloss Black Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover paint, which is to work on Plastic as well. Painting that on the outer rim that I exposed by removing the film from it. This paint is on the back side of the plastic not the front, I have done this before for other projects. It leaves with a super gloss finish that won’t be touched. The back is not flawless, it is not 100% opaque (with more coats of paint it can be made fully opaque), but it is opaque enough for this use in my case with the single coat. Viewing it from the front the finish is flawless.

Above is the panel after painting it once I removed the protective layer from the inside. This reveals where the monitor will now be behind. The paint does take awhile to dry well. I wanted to make sure it was good and dry before installing it, I didn’t want paint lifting where it meets the strips on the side. The final installation it went well, it is held tightly in place by the monitor at the top edge. I have a fair bit of pressure on the board there from the Monitor to get a little more tilt than the base will give on its own. I was very happy with the result.

Above you can see the thin strips the Plexiglas will rest on. After installing them I painted them gloss black to blend in. You can also see the door latch and spacer block to keep it from moving much. The little block at the bottom of the door is to keep it from going in to far, there is another stop block on the top corner as well, but it is out of view in the picture. The round speaker grills are again easy to see here as well as the chrome volume knob on the right.

Above is the Plexiglas installed with the monitor behind it before I removed the front protective film. Yes those are the wires leading to the front panel, when I reinstalled the panel I wrapped them up so they weren’t such a tangled mess. The monitor is there sitting on the blocking it is screw into the cabinet with. I have some pressure on the marquee bottom support board to get a little more angle out of it, as well as the block is a bit angled itself. I would have used the VESA mount board in the cabinet except this monitor doesn’t support VESA mounting. So there are two screws in the back of the monitor base going into the block there. The block is built up so that the monitor was at the height I was going for, and it is secured to the bottom of the cabinet with 4 brackets with screws. I used brackets as I have it set so that I can get to the screws if I need to remove the monitor rather than gluing it in or putting in screws from the underside.

Above you can see the speakers installed before securing the wiring, the power supply board has been removed, or it would be attached there at the black and red wire, which now lead down to the 5Volt output on the Meanwell power supply below it. The other picture shows more of the internal wiring that goes to the Raspberry Pi, the two front mounted USB ports, the USB power cable which goes to the Meanwell 5Volt output as well. The safe shutdown/power up button wiring is there as well as the speaker input wiring. I ended up plugging the speakers into the Monitor’s Audio Output as I am using HDMI for Audio off of the Pi. If I had plugged into the Pi I would have needed an audio ground loop isolator, because I have the Pi and the Speakers powered by the same power source. I had to do that with my Pi1541, and I had tested on this and had the same issue. Using the Monitor Audio Out that it gets from the HDMI input, lets me eliminate the need for that.

Here is the back with the door latched of course. There is a fair gap at the hinge side, but with the wide hinge that does not show. I should have made it just a little shorter, it rubs easily, but I hope to not have to open it much. I also hope to not loose the keys.. You can see a bit of the run in the paint at the top, but it is on the back and shouldn’t be seen much. Overall I have to say the paint turned out pretty good. There at the top, there is that extra T Molding strip on the Marquee Top. I think it looks nice and provides just a little ventilation due to a narrow gap where the boards come together there, and that little bit of excess still gave me enough with 20′ to do it. The Plug/Fuse/Switch unit in the back there can be wired a few different ways. The one I have has a lighted switch, that switch could be wired either as an Always On light even when turned off, or it can be wired at only to light up when the power is on. I have chosen to wire it so that it will only be lighted if the power is on. Some of them do come with a black switch and those don’t have lights in them. You could just switch the Hot line so that the light would not come on then because if the Neutral isn’t there it won’t light up. With the plug unit, again be certain they are secured well and not loose, a loose wire can cause heat and melting and potentially fire. I nearly soldered used solder and heat shrink on the plug unit for that reason, but I didn’t as then I would have to desolder it to ever remove the plug or power strip.

I had to edit the above picture, as the Marquee keeps washing out almost completely. That is the Marquee that is in it, I just took two pictures and over laid it over the lighter cabinet picture. The Marquee looks a little better in the picture than it looks to look at it. I did not remove the protective plastic from either side of the Marquee Plexiglas yet though. It turns out to be very hard to photograph this cabinet.

Above is the Pi 3B+ as it is sitting in the cabinet currently. I would have taken it out of the case and mounted it to the cabinet, but then I have to rig up a fan to it then. I may do that later. You can see in the picture the wires coming down to the GPIO Pins. The round momentary button on the back of the case there is wired to GPIO3 (Physical Pin 5) and Ground (Physical Pin 6) of the Pi 3B+. GPIO3 is a pin that will by default wake the Pi from a the shutdown/halt condition. Simply editing the /boot/config.txt file and adding the line “dtoverlay=gpio-shutdown” will activate GPIO3 to be a “shutdown” button. You can change the Pin that it will use for the Shutdown by defining the pin in the dtoverlay value. That will then make the other pin be the shutdown pin, but it won’t move the “wake/start” function from GPIO3. The Pi will start the Shutdown process as soon as it has been pressed. Once the Pi has shutdown, you can start it back up by pressing the button again (as long as you are using GPIO3 (Physical Pin5). There are other ways to set this up, they can include a delay where it will make sure the button is held down for a period of time, which could be handy to have. I went with the easiest option though as I have the button on the back where it is not very likely to get bumped while the cabinet is in use. I found the instructions on how to set that up on this thread: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=217442#p1337231

I did do just a little testing firing up one of my old 2600 games. Asteroids, I managed to roll over the score easily. I was playing on the easiest level though. I went back and started with the next level and that did not go so well.

I want player 1 to be the left side, and player 2 to be the right side. I found after reinstalling the control panel that they were backwards. To correct his, I unplugged the joysticks from the USB ports on the Pi and swapped their positions.

The Pi is accessible from the back door if I need access to it. I can also easily remove the control panel. I have two brackets on the back of the Control Panel with screws into to keep it in from coming off. I briefly thought of making the SD Slot accessible on the Pi from the outside like I did with the Pi1541. It is a bit much with 3/4″ material though, and I don’t want the card to be to easy to remove and loose. If I want to add anything to it, I can by using the Wifi connection, or open the back door to pull the card.

The Marquee top has some brackets and screws that I used to secure it towards the cabinet. I want to have it remain removable to easily access the Marquee graphics etc if needed. If I do another cabinet I will likely change the Marquee area. I am thinking of making it set back just slightly then use painted angle metal pieces to hold the Marquee in place. This will mean there would be no T Molding across the Marquee Top and Bottom. It will make it so much easier to install and support the Marquee though. That seems to be how the real Arcade machines did it as well, at least quite a few I have seen. I think I will still use the light box design behind it. That worked great, and the Aluminum will distribute any heat from the LEDs very well. They are using nearly half an amp at 12volts, so there is some heat there, but not a ton over all that rather large area.

So one may ask, about what this project cost to build. In my case I believe that I have a little over $250 wrapped up in materials. I am not counting the Pi 3B+, SD card, Monitor or Power Strip. If those were purchased as well, I would have been looking at around $410. I did not include cost of Wood Glue, Brads, the bit of Aluminum sheet, as those are supplies I had around, as well as the corner blocks which are basically scrap wood. I did purchase a few tools, a 30mm Forster bit, a Router Slot Cutting bit, and the Edge Guide Clamp, those items add up to around another $100. I now have those tools for future projects though.

I have enough MDF, LED strip light, hinge, Plexiglas and a few other bits for a second cabinet. I would need to buy some T Molding, Controls, the Pi, Monitor etc though. I would like to find a better way to cut the Plexiglas, the scoring it with a knife doesn’t work very well on this hard stuff, at least for long cuts. I managed to get it cut, but it could very easily have turned out bad. It really isn’t “Plexiglas” brand that I picked up, I think I have had some softer stuff in the past that was easier to cut, but that wouldn’t hold up for this usage. I don’t remember Lucite cracking like this material has for me, I have used that in the past, it is pretty good stuff, although even more expensive. It has been quite a long time since I worked with it, so I don’t know if it was all that much more fun to work with.

In the end the cabinet is still difficult to photograph, at least with the camera I have. I guess Gloss Black is not much fun for that. Although it is not flawless, I am quite happy with the final result. Above the Plexiglas over the LCD is quite obvious though and gives a good view of how well that turned out for me. The little mix of colors of the buttons is that I purchase a Blue and Yellow set, and already had a white set. I felt mixing the colors gave a better effect.

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