Thursday, December 29, 2005

An Encounter With An Original

Marc is right, we will be working on the cabinet this weekend, so I should have a nice update as of Monday or Tuesday. I was in Big Bear the last couple of days with my wife on a snowboarding trip, and lo and behold, they had an arcade there. It was sort of a run-down arcade with lots of beat up classic games like Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, etc. So as I'm looking around I'm thinking, "I wonder if they have a Mario Bros. cabinet here..." I thought that would be great because I don't actually remember seing one in person since I was a child. I really wanted to see any old Nintendo cabinet, so I could compare mine to the original, see how close I was coming. And then I saw it...a row of 4 Nintendo cabinets: Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., and Donkey Kong 3. I was so excited! I played Mario Bros. because I'm really not sure if I ever played the game in the arcade. My fond memories of playing Mario Bros. come from the Atari 7800 version which my brother and I spend endless hours playing. So I proceeded to get the high score on the Mario Bros. machine. I analyzed the details of the machine and I must say that mine looks so much like the original. This particular example was pretty beat up as you'll see by the pictures. The t-molding was thrashed, the side art and control panel were chipping, the buttons and joysticks needed to be replaced, and the colors on the screen were bleeding pretty badly. But it was a fun experience seeing it in person while I'm working on my own homemade version back at home. This makes me all the more excited to get it done! Here's some pictures I took with my phone, some of them look screwy, but if you click on them you can see the full image.

There she is...

The speaker grill...

Mario next to DK...

The bezel was the nicest part of this machine, wish I could have it...

Close up of the control panel...

This was the best part of the side art...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

When will we prime?!?!?!?

Ok, so we weren't quite ready to prime this weekend, but now we are! With only a couple of hours to work on the cabinet, we had some details to work out. First, I took out the speaker grill piece because the fit was too tight when it opened. With a coat of paint, it'll be even more tight, so I took the piece out and sanded it down so there would be a gap. We left it off because we are going to prime and paint it separate (since it has hinges). Next, Marc rounded the front edges of the control panel to give it a more comfortable feel when resting your hands on it. He did a great job of that. We had neglected the back of the cabinet since it wasn't as important, but now had to figure out what we were going to do about it.

We cut a piece from scraps to fit in the bottom of the back, just gluing it in and securing with clamps while drying. We'll later cut a hole in it for the power cord.

Then we glued in small 1" wide pieces of MDF we cut from scrap for the back door to rest against while in place. The back door will lock at the top and have a lip at the bottom. This way it will be secure on all sides.

Clamps everywhere!

A close up of the door rests.

There's a 5/8" gap between the rest and the back, so the door will be flush with the back of the cabinet.

Well, we're hoping to finish this by the new year, that may be a bit ambitious, but we will certainly keep making progress.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Almost Prime Time

Alright, well Marc and I were able to get a few more things done this weekend and I think we're finally ready to prime the cabinet next weekend. I remembered to bring the 20" TV with me this time, so the first thing we did was place the studs for the TV shelf. We figured out where we wanted the TV to sit and screwed in the screws for the front of the first stud as shown below. Then Marc held the TV in place while I figured out the angle we wanted it to sit at. With that determined, we secured the first stud with two more screws through the side panels.

First stud in place...

Look at those realistic graphics! No, that's just Rick's truck. The bezel you see is just a piece of foam we cut to the dimensions of the Mario Bros. bezel we will be using. This helped us determine where to position the TV. I suggest doing this (with whatever is handy, cardboard, paper, etc.) if you are using a bezel with artwork or you may be unhappy with the viewing area.

Looks good to me.

Here we have the second TV shelf stud in place as well as the stud that holds the TV in the back. Actually, those TV shelf studs are the TV shelf as we decided there was no point in putting another piece of MDF on top of the studs. The studs hold the weight of the TV just fine, so we left it at that.

Here we used wood glue to glue this piece in the back. The removable back will lock into this piece. It was just a scrap we had left over, but I'm glad we used such a small piece of MDF because the TV can be taken out of the back without hitting the top. This will be nice because we don't have to worry about making the bezel easily removable.

Here Marc is sanding some spots to make the wood filler flush with the cabinet. You see that the TV fits nicely and behind the speaker grill you see a keyboard tray we installed.

The hidden keyboard tray will allow for easy PC access, but doesn't take away from the arcade feel (since it's hidden).

Another look...

Here we attached a little shim to the slanted TV shelf stud so that we could screw into it. There's a small piece of MDF that the bezel rests on and the control panel attaches to. Since that piece is so small, it will split if screwed into from the sides (we already experienced that). So we need to attach it by screwing it into the TV shelf.

Here you see that the Elmer's wood filler (which claims 'no shrinking!') actually did shrink when drying in some of the deeper holes. We circled the holes that weren't flush with the cabinet and will have to apply another layer. Many of the holes needed a second layer.

Here's a view from behind as we finish up for the night. That piece of MDF on the bottom is not secured yet. We haven't figured out how to notch it so that the removable piece will stay put. We will definitely be priming next weekend though, so stay tuned as we hope to get this finished by the end of the year.

Monday, December 05, 2005

One Step Closer

We only got a few things done this last weekend, but even a little progress is progress. So, here it is:

First, we sanded down the screw holes to smooth them out, preparing them for the wood filler.

But, first we needed to do the routing for the t-molding. I got the slot cutter and assembly from MLCS Woodworking. It was $16 and shipping was free. I was told this was the best place to find it. After adjusting the router and testing the cut on some sample pieces, we were satisfied and laid the cabinet on its side and made the cut.

I had never used a router before, but it was pretty easy to use.

I should have taken my jacket off before I covered myself in sawdust though.

The router basically runs itself, I just needed to keep it level.

Looked good...

We fit our 5/8" sample from and it was perfect.

We tested it in a couple different locations, still looks good.

I made one little mistake where I didn't keep the router level. You can see in the picture that right around that corner the slot is thicker. However, this is a minor mistake and the t-molding will hold there just fine.

Our next step was to attach these little cupboard latches to the speaker grill piece which opens to allow for a keyboard drawer.

The latches hold really well, so the piece will never open unintentionally. We'll use the same latches to hold the control panel in place since it will also swing up for access to the wiring.

Last, we filled our screw holes with wood filler. We'll have to apply again because the holes aren't flush with the wood. Plus we will make a couple more holes when we attach the monitor shelf. Hopefully we can begin priming next week, but there's still the monitor shelf and the keyboard drawer to do, so we'll see. I have everything I need to complete this except the artwork and the blue paint, so hopefully this project will be wrapped up within the month!