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Day 1: 08:00

 

We had already bought the wood, three sheets of MDF measuring 8 foot by 4 foot each. WIth the exception of a few small bits we found lying around the garage, everything was purchased for the construction project. You can find the 'Shopping List' from the links above.

The plans for the cabinet were loosely based upon LuSID's work, but with modifications to the dimensions and control panel. As we weren't using the same wood thickness as was mentioned in the plan it really just served as a guide to ensure that the machine looked correct once assembled. Everything else we kind of made up as we went along.

 

Due to bad weather during the first part of construction we had no power, so we began by hand sawing the shape
Careful measurements, and some rough pencil sketches on the wood served as the guides

Rather than LuSID's huge control panel, we wanted something a bit more subtle. We also decided to angle the base of the control panel back in to make the base of the cabinet narrower. This looked better and didn't take up quite as much room as the original plans showed.

Of course you need two sides - so simply lay the first side on a new piece of MDF and draw carefully round it. At this point without the power tools we couldn't quite cut the screen edge correctly as it was tricky to get the handsaw in, and needed a curve to the top marquee unit.

Note in the pictures above, you're looking at the cabinet upside down - the bit sticking out at the base will actually be at the top of the cabinet

Day 1: 09:16

Just to recap - this is where we are: One roughly cut side of the cabinet - and a lot of uncut wood.

The next thing to do was to finish the first side - mark the outline on a fresh sheet of MDF, and then cut the second side out.

This is much easier with a power saw (the power came back).

Day 1: 09:49

Once the left and right sides were cut, it was time to cut the piece for the bottom. We took rough dimensions from LuSID's plans, modified to whatever the size was of the edges that we'd already cut.

To go along with the bottom, we needed a top. This would then make the cabinet free-standing so we could measure and cut some of the other panel pieces.

To hold everything together we used battens added to the inside of the frame onto which we screwed the other pieces.

We screwed them from the outside, countersinking the screw-heads to allow them to be filled and, ultimately, painted over.

You can see the two screws in place here

You can see the batten screwed onto the outside. Yes, the screws were too long, but we had already bought 400 of them.

Day 1: 10:57

 

You can now see most of the battens in place on one of the sides. Two useful tools are resting on the surface - a block that allowed you to scribe the edge of the frame exactly 9mm (the width of the MDF) from the edge - and a small piece of MDF to check the position before the battens were screwed in.

In the end (and much later in construction) for additional stability, we took all the battens off - glued them - and reassembled them. If you're sure about what you are doing, you may as well glue them as you go.

Here is the edge piece with all its battens in place.

A close-up of the back edge

And one of the control panel housing.

Day 1: 11:39

Once we'd put the battens on both sides, it was possible to assemble some portions so the cabinet would stand.

The cabinet is laying on its back here.

Still laying on its back, looking at the top and down to the control panel housing.

Another angle - just so you can get the feel for the construction.

Day 1: 11:50

The first picture of it standing up under its own power!

The same view from the back. Not too bad for just over two hours work

Day 1: 11:55

It was now time for the control panel. We cut a piece of wood to fit the gap and took careful measurements.

It's probably a good time to introduce my controls. I chose to connect the controls to the PC using an I-PAC from Ultimarc. Whilst I was about it, I got two J-Stiks - a collection of buttons and a crimping tool.

A couple of the 20 buttons I ordered (which match the inputs available on the I-PAC).

We programmed the measurements of all the controls, and of the control panel board into a CAD package which made it easy to sort out alignment design. Having decided to go with just the two sticks and six-player buttons on the main control panel all we had to do was click 'print'

Day 1: 12:56

With the paper in hand, we glued it to the top of the control panel, making sure to centre it along both axis.

With the centres of the holes marked out on the CAD package, we centre-punched each button to enable our big hole-cutting-drill to get started.

We drilled each of the twelve button holes from both sides to make sure that the edges were as smooth as could be.

A quick rub over with glass paper and the panel was ready for wiring.

When the cabinet is finally decorated there will probably be some perspex over the control panel to give it some extra toughness.

Day 1: 13:29

First the controls were screwed into the panel - taking care to match the button colours for player one and player two of course!

These were the other things that were going to be needed - wire, a crimping tool and the I-PAC interface board.

A quick turn-over to make sure that everything looked okay.

And then installation of the micro-switches in each of the buttons.

The wiring was fairly simple - a common line running around all the controls, then each control individually wired to the I-PAC. As there were eight more buttons that were going into the cabinet I just left then trailing for now whilst I decided where they went (and left plenty of cable!)

More detail of the wired-up controls.

The gray wire at the bottom of the picture goes to the PC which was on the floor - I thought it was probably a good time to give the controls a test. Worked first time ...

 

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