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Copyright 2005 Mike Donley.

The website author cannot be held responsible for anything (global warming or global dimming included). If your stupid enough to go and stick a screwdriver into a socket, or touch a nasty part of the gaming monitor then it's your own fault. This webpage tracks what I did - if I continue to update it then I've obviously not killed myself, but your mileage may vary.

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DANGER - VIDEO GAMES DESTROY! - Monday 2 May 2005 16:39 Permalink

Not the most productive of weekends and perhaps a little over the top with the headline, however, the main reason for having a unproductive weekend is I started doing some games testing to see how everything held up.

You know how it is: You find a few games you like, such as Puzzle Bobble (must remember to blink) and Outrun (not the easiest game to play with a joystick) and the next thing you know it's dark outside. A lot like being in the real arcade perhaps?

Anyway. My PC hanging problem is still intermittently with me, but I still can't track it down the exact cause. I've added another lump of memory to the machine (a 128mb piece I had lying around) and together with the new 256MB piece things seem happy - I just don't get it. Perhaps it was lonely!

I now need to spend some time getting the various metal-work parts cleaned up and resprayed. The most pressing part is the hinge which attaches the player control panel to the PCB shelf. Once this is done I can say the main working parts are in order and it'll make servicing less cumbersome when it's permanently reattached to the cabinet.

Still to respray are the cash box door and marquee retainers. I'll try and do those at the same time as the control panel/pcb hinge.
PC assembly installed in cabinet - Wednesday 27 April 2005 20:30 Permalink

At the weekend I spent some time mounting the PC inside the cabinet. My plan was always to use the original Electrocoin PCB retainer. This meant I was limited with how big the PC component assembly shelf could be and how thick it was. The Electrocoin PCB retainer can only cope with a PCB of a few millimeters thick, however, with the hardboard I've used it was too thick to mount.

I toyed with a few ideas, but in the end decided to attach a small piece of mild steel which I reclaimed from the old control panel to allow the PC assembly to interface with the Electrocin PCB retainer without damaging it. Here is the result (OK, not the clearest photo, but essentially I bolted a piece of metal to the hardboard to create a mounting bracket - not rocket science, but it works).

Once this was done, I could mount the PC assembly. The only problem I encountered was the height of the PCI/AGP cards. These can catch on the monitor mounting when PCB shelf is pulled out for maintenance. Not a big problem, just something I need to remember.

Oh, before I forget, PCI/AGP card retainers! I was talking a while ago about how to hold the AGP/PCI card in their slots as they were wobbling around nastily. I came up with the idea to simply attach the two cards together with a piece of acrylic and a couple of bolts. It's not perfect, but it holds the cards nicely in place and significantly reduces 'wobble'.

Once everything was installed, it was time to power everything up. The was quite an exciting (and scary) moment as all the parts needed to use the machine properly are pretty much in place. Here is a pick of the grand moment.

One minor hairy moment occured during this. I haven't connected the Power Panel to the PC assembly yet, so the power on sequence requires a bit of jiggery pokery. I powered on the cabinet (monitor, amplifier, marquee lighting), then turned on the PC by shorting out a jumper on the PC motherboard. As I shorted it, everything went off. 'B*gger' was my first thought, I thought I'd blown something. Upon further investigation the my technical solution of 'use piece of duck tape over the cabinet PSU interlock switch' had popped off. No damage done, luckily!

I am, however, still having hanging problems with the PC. I borrowed some memory to prove/disprove if the fault was their, but the problem seemed to go away. That was last week. When I tested it again at the weekend, the problem has returned.... Further investigation is required methinks......
Software configuration - Sunday 17 April 2005 20:07 Permalink

I've finally decided what software I'm going to use on the PC. As mentioned in an earlier post, I'm going to use Windows XP without XPLite as I originally envisaged.

I originally planned to use ArcadeOS as the frontend, but after playing with a few different frontends, I think I'm now going to use MameWah. It seems designed to work well with cabinets that don't have a keyboard readily available.

A little while ago, I started looking around for some sort of ambient soundtrack to do go with the front end, and my god have I found it. Andy Hofle has created 'Arcade Ambience', a series of arcade ambient soundtracks as you would have heard in 1981, 1983 and 1986. Personally I love the 1983 soundtrack as this was the time when I (mis)spent most of my time in the amusement arcades.

I'll detail more of my software configuration as things come together...
PC Build - Sunday 17 April 2005 19:56 Permalink

It's been an interesting few days. I'm in the process of installing and configuring Windows XP on the PC that will live inside my Goliath cabinet, except it hasn't been plain sailing to say the least.

I've been experiencing lots of hanging problems and after much messing around, I think I've tracked it down to the Kingston memory I bought.

The memory is sold as PC133 memory, ie it can run at 133Mhz. However, the memory seems to have other ideas. If I run the FSB at 133Mhz, the PC just locks up randomly. Dropping it to 100Mhz seems to work around the problems.

I need to do further tests to determine if indeed the memory is faulty, if so, I think I'll be contacting dabs.com for replacement memory.....
Cabinet Earthing complete - Sunday 17 April 2005 13:23 Permalink

Finished the cabinet earthing today. I was a relatively easy task quick task really. Basically I've connected all the 'metal' components back to the earth connector on the PSU. In my case this was two metal studs in the base, two earth connectors on the exterior, cash box door, coin door, JAMMA connector and Control Panel.

When our kid rewired the cabinet PSU for me, he created a new earthing point inside the PSU. From this an earth cable comes out of the PSU to the JAMMA connector, which I've then used to connect all the earth connections from elsewhere in the cabinet.

For this I used some earth cable (strangely enough) and some spade crimps.
PC Shelf - Saturday 9 April 2005 18:11 Permalink

After some weeks of little progress (I've either been at work or just busy doing personal stuff), I've finally assembled the PC shelf.

The shelf itself is a piece of hardboard (reclaimed obviously), measuring 340mm x 410mm x 6mm. Onto it I've mounted the PC motherboard using PCB mounts purchased from Ultimarc.

The ATX PSU I purchased from dabs.com is retained in place using two aluminium brackets covered in heat shrink tubing that our kid knocked up for me.

The hard disk is mounted using a retro-fitted 3.5" to 5.25" disk mounting kit that has been attached to the bottom of the disk rather than the side. All these are then fixed using 4mm (M6) x 16mm machine screws and bolted to the hardboard.

A few ty-wraps later and hey-presto, a finished PC Shelf. Here are a couple of pix. Pic 1, and Pic 2.

Apart of the hugely expensive machine screws, nuts and washers purchased from B&Q (?2.60 for 16 machine screws, nuts and washers!), I had everything else, so a relatively low cost assembly.

I may have to make some sort of retainer to prevent the ArcadeVGA and NIC to popping out of the motherboard, but I'll cross that bridge a little later - I'm sure I'll come up with some ingenious idea.
RSS Feed now supports permalinks - Tuesday 29 March 2005 22:39 Permalink

Says it all really.
NB update to support Permalinks - Saturday 26 March 2005 18:09 Permalink

I've finally got most of the code changes in place to support permalinks for the blog. The RSS Feed doesn't support permalinks yet (I know, this is where you want permalinks, but you'll have to wait a little while longer). Something is bust in the code and I haven't quite got time to fix it at the moment.

Big thanks to Jules for helping me out with this and Mickey for writing it in the first place!
Quick Update - PC shelf - Saturday 26 March 2005 17:45 Permalink

I've just made a start on the layout of the wooden shelf that will house the PC components. I've figured to fit nicely inside the cabinet and mounting it using the existing Electrocoin PCB mounts, I can't go any bigger than 350mm X 500mm.

This doesn't actually give me much space at all. Originally, I planned to have the PC mobo, PSU, Floppy drive, CD/DVD drive and/or Hard Disk all installed(originally planned to run the OS from DVD, but I've given up on that idea). The problem - I don't have enough room for all this kit.

I've done a very basic plan and I can only fit the ATX mobo (it's full size rather than MATX!), ATX PSU and Hard disk. No room for any sort of optical drive or floppy (which is lucky really because I didn't buy any!)

I've managed to use the PCB mounts I bought from Ultimac for the mobo and found some old 3.5" to 5.25" hard drive mounting kits which should allow me to surface mount the hard disk to a piece of wood. The PSU is a bit more of a problem: ATX power supplies don't surface mount very well. I need to figure out a good way to do this, perhaps using some threaded rods and a retaining bar. I need to have a rummage around in the garage to see if I've got anything that will do, otherwise, it's time to buy some more.

Talking of buying stuff. Our kid and my Dad have just introduced me to a new supplier that's a lot like Screwfix. They are called Toolstation. The firm has been started by the same guy that created Screwfix before he sold out to B&Q. They are cheaper than screwfix and will even do free delivery on low cost orders (for a little while anyway).. Try them out, they seem pretty good.
Zero progress - Saturday 19 March 2005 19:21 Permalink

I've been away all week on a HP SAN Training course so I've made no progress at all.

The PC parts have turned up a little while ago and I've tested them, but I need to figured out how I'm going to arrange them to mount inside the cabinet. I'll try and get round to doing something this week, but I'm in the middle of upgrading my PC, installing a dedicated web server and the grass needs cutting so don't hold your breath.....

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