Wednesday 19 December 2012

Day 28 - The Writing's on the Wall

Today me and Bri used the vinyl cutter to cut out the lettering that the handsome Pierre had designed. Click to zoom. I decided to tarnish this excellent modern retro simplistic styling he's done and garnished the kickplate with some vinyl prints (it's a Space Invader, Blinky and Miner Willy if you didn't know.)

I know the words are upside down to each other, but it took a bit of thinking and looking before I believe Pierre that it was the right way to do it.

It's not all plain sailing though (forgetting whether I mentioned this or not in a previous entry). When spraying some black got onto the yellow when the paper blew off, so we masked the bit that was wrong (the top front corner of the sides - on both) and sprayed the yellow. Sadly, when peeling off the fine line tape it pulled the orange from the corner (we're sure it had dried fully) leaving a big mess and an orange peel effect.

I've touch it up best as can and from a slight distance you can't really see it. Hopefully if/when it's varnished you won't notice.

Friday 30 November 2012

Day 27 - Side Done

The sides were painted today and look really nice. They need touching up where the masking tape failed. First the black stripe was added (from the other day) and left to dry. Then the orange was added. They each took about 3 to 4 coats.

My mate Pierre did some art samples. The one on the right was another friend who modified the invader.
 After a bit more trialing the following were the contenders:

This isn't the finished article, but Pierre worked his magic and superimposed the image onto the photo. 

Monday 26 November 2012

Day 26 - More Paint

Tonight, the yellow from the previous spraying had dried so we masked off a border of 18mm (3/4 inch) from the outside edge with the nice blue fine line tape followed by masking tape and paper, then sprayed it black. Very nice it looks too (forgot to take photos).

When it's dry we'll sand/white spirit where the black came through (the air was too strong for the crap masking tape and went through in a few places), repeat the process so the yellow shows and spray the middle.

Given the red is more orange now, I've been playing with colours and layout and found three possible fonts. I'm taking ideas (click to enlarge).....

Friday 23 November 2012

Day 25 - Don't Call Me Yellow

Tonight me and my mate Brian sprayed the middle section yellow. When I say me and my mate, I mean Brian sprayed and I watched and gave advice ;)

It didn't exactly start great when I never thought my black finger prints on the cabinet (from painting the other side) may show through when the thinned out light yellow was sprayed on. But it worked out ok in the end as there was some white primer lying around.

Click to zoom the pictures as usual. Bri did an absolutely spot-on job, but it might take until Monday to dry ready for me to spaz it up with the fine-line so we Brian can spray the outside black strip.

The outside black and yellow stripes, btw, will be about three quarters of an inch (20mm or so) in thickness each and below is something like what the design is/was. The font will be different, there'll be no white stripe (too much like hard work) and the bottom will look more like the picture on the right (thanks to Dennis at, which gives a more retro looking fade using black stripes and avoids the need for having a crap gradual fade effect like in the big picture on the left.

If you're near the north-east of England and need the best motorcycle training money can buy, Brian is your man: , and he trains even better than he sprays.

Reminiscing slightly. This is what the cabinet looks like now (and the picture above).

Years ago when I had hair and I first started wanting to do a cabinet, this was my design (to the right), which I later decided was both too hard to cut and looked too much like Elvis.

After redesigning I came up with this, which then got a few more curves and became what I have now.

Day 24 - One Out

I bought the wrong colour for the cabinet. It was cheap enough so I could just get it again, but I'll just leave it. It'll be fine.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Day 23 - Curvulicious

Not really a days work, or even an hours work, as I can't do much until I get some art.

So, I sanded down the cabinet sides to smooth away all the black paint fingerprints. I ordered some fine line tape (32m of 3mm width from 3M) for about £4. This is the stuff they use for lining out shapes on cars for spraying, like flames and such. It's thin, doesn't leave a residue and is very bendy (wish my wife was like that).

So I sized up the stripes and 1.5 inches seems a good width for the two stripes (0.75 inches each). Seems the best way of getting the curves to match was to stick my finger on the edge and run my finger round at a fixed distance.

After that I had a go at the fine-lining. The first curve (bigger curve at the bottom) looks a bit wobbly but the second tighter curve looks a lot nicer. I've a feeling I'll have to do a full side at a time.

The plan of action is to first spray the yellow (it's the inner stripe, i.e. not the edge), then when dry fine-line round it and mask with paper the inside of the cabinet and spray the outside black. Then remove the tape while wet and when the paint is dry tape again on the outside of the yellow to spray the inside the vermillion (orange/red).

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Day 22 - My Stools are Black

Not really any new progress. Just waiting on artwork, as without it I cannot get the controls due to not knowing the colours, and without the controls I can't get the control panel cut or the acrylic sheets ordered, etc.

I have been setting up Mala, Virtual Pinball and a few other bits of software to run the cabinet though. The problem now is my computer broke so I'll be needing to find something new to put in the cabinet....

What has arrived though are two bar stools. I was looking at second hand, but as normal with eBay they all wanted far too much money.

Being the cautious buyer, at first what I thought was a bit of scam, turned out perfectly fine - I saw some bar stools that looked nice, were a good price and had £30 discount if I bought two. The 'catch' being I had to bid for a voucher costing 1p that was then posted to me to redeem.

It turns out it's because eBay don't allow electronic vouchers, and the company selling the chairs is just trying to drum up business.

So, I got the voucher, ordered the stools (free delivery) and they arrived the next day for about £25 each. Total turnaround of two days.

Took a while to decide which ones to get, but I chose these as it went really low (so I could ensure they wouldn't be too high for the control panel) and they had a straight high back for monster sessions on Metal Slug.

This is the website, to get the voucher off just go to eBay and search for it. Really helpful people.

The base of the stools could do with being a bit heavier, but then that would mean the stools would be costing three times the price easily and you don't really get that kind of weight unless you buy shop fit quality.

This isn't a problem though as the base is quite wide to stop wobbling and I doubt any weight would really help as the centre of balance is quite high.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Day 21 - Painting Ends

The final painting has been done to the black parts. It looks a lot nicer than what the photo shows. Only problem is it hasn't quite dried and leaves paint marks on the fingers, so it might do this when fully dry so I'm thinking about trialling a matt lacquer spray.

The grill is just to let any hot air from the marquee light and as it's at the rear, looks and paint finish weren't that important.

I also did more playing with the control panel and I think I like what is below, meaning I will put in a trackball afterall. I tried putting the P1/P2 buttons to the far left/right in line with buttons/joysticks but they end up being at different offsets from the edge.

To give a bit more room I've narrowed the gap from the joystick to the first button to 85mm (from 95mm). Not quite standard sizes, but I'm not bothered (63mm was too close).

P1 or P2 will double as the SHIFT key so pressing that and player buttons will give pause, quit, etc. So there's no need to add extra buttons. The mouse left/right button will be the pinball left/right buttons I plan on sticking to the side of the control panel on the edge of the side panels.

Below is a more detailed picture of the panel.

Here's a video I made earlier:

Friday 2 November 2012

Day 20 - Painting Begins

Firstly, I fixed the dimples on the arcade cabinet caused by the screws protruding slightly on the facing side of the cabinet sets (in future either get them 3mm smaller than the depth of the wood or make sure not to over countersink them - 3mm smaller really means I'd have to screw from the outside in and fill every hole). I shaved them with my block plane, sanded then filled.

The speaker and subwoofer holes are finished.

The speaker holes were created by using the router (after this picture was taken the errors on the left hole was corrected with filler - this was my first attempt, I got better on the second :) ).  The majority of this panel will be hidden (i.e. the speaker holes will be centre). The black panel behind the speaker cover, btw, is the first coat of paint on another panel.

The subwoofer was done by making a hole (using the jigsaw) large enough for the speaker to fit through from the inside and the cover is removed and placed on the outside of the panel. This is why I bought this sub-woofer - to allow it to be exposed easily and to have a removable grill.

The two pictures to the right show the subwoofer.

Where I'm up to is this: all panels now have three layers of primer/undercoat and three layers of black paint. The bare MDF was sanded with 600 then 1200 grit, each primercoat was sanded with 240, 600 and finally (to be done) 1200 grit paper. The black paint was left to dry for a day between coats and sanded with 400,600 and 1200 paper.

All coats were put on with one load of paint and not over painted, so the coats could be added gradually to form the finished coat.

Hopefully by the end of the weekend the paint will be fully dried and the final 1200 grit sanding done. I've no idea yet whether this will mean another coat is required (i.e. if sanding with 1200 will spoil or enhance the finish). Each layer was done using a brand new gloss 4 inch roller each time.

It'll then be assembled ready for the side panels. I was going to keep them separate to allow for transport and spraying, but I think I'll use vinyl.

The black paint was by the same firm as I got the MDF primer and is a kind of matt based gloss. Well, it's a solvent based paint with a matt finish. I bought it because of the matt finish and it wasn't water based/emulsion so it would have some strength and depth to the colour.

The primer I used (see previous blog) and this paint is absoloutely lovely.

Almost forgot to mention: the glass has arrived, it's 1mm too wide so I may have to adjust the wood somehow to avoid having big gaps everywhere.

I don't know the percentage of light it allows through but it is grey tinted and adds a layer of quality to the picture below - I tried Galaxians on my tablet (using the MAME emulator for Android) and without the glass it is bright and shiny (somehow like an over exposed picture), but behind the glass it seems to have more contrast, more vivid colours and the game just looks better with that hint of brightness removed.

I'll post a video/set of pictures over the weekend.

Special thanks go to my mate Ahsan who's feeling left out because he hasn't been mentioned as a contributor or inspiration source yet.

Friday 26 October 2012

Day 19 - Colours and Problems

I finished priming everything, so that's two coats on every panel. Well, when I say finished I mean I'm not finished. For the visible parts (side panel, kick-board) I'm planning on a third coat, which should be done tonight. After which, I think the 1 litre paint will be completely used up.

After wet and dry sanding the second coat of the second side panel I hit a big problem (but just on the second side panel). The MDF was not smooth at all and had scratch lines and wood chips sticking out in small lumps all over the cabinet. But worse was you could see slight bumps in the MDF (no protrusion) where the screws had pushed out the MDF from the inside.

The odd thing is the screws are 35mm, the MDF is 18mm and the batons are 18mm. The screws are flush meaning they should be 1mm below the surface. My first though was I'd screwed it in too far but on the first cabinet there are no faults and the screws are the same. My second though was there was something up with the MDF (e.g. thinner and a failed QA). But I'm sure it wasn't like that.

On checking this morning it looks ok again (I think, I need to check again), so my thought now is the water in the wet and dry or the water in the primer/undercoat lifted the surface until it dried hence the stray MDF clumps and water penetration where the screws are.

Anyway, back to colours.

Originally back in the beginning the poll showed red was the preferred colour for the cabinet sides. Then after looking at colours I decided upon vermillion (a kind of orange with a red tint, i.e. not orange).

Reading a bike magazine I saw a review of the new Sukuki Gladius whose colour was described as 'retro' and a replica of the Barry Sheene bike of the 1970's. And I think it was just perfect.

When I say perfect, it's more like an 'international orange' than vermillion. Below is the original bike it was based on, which was slightly redder.

Anyway, you can see that as well as being nicely retro the colour scheme is very nice. My cabinet is already black (with chrome) so, depending on whether my artist friends has time to complete the art work and his direction I think vermillion, white, yellow and black is a very nice set of colours.

This could show best on the control panel, e.g. yellow or vermillion joystick tops, vermillion buttons with yellow surround and white player 1/2 coins.

Thin stripes around the outside edge of the sides would be very retro indeed :)

The conclusion to all of this was a mock-up of the cabinet using the colour scheme above and the space invader monster. Placement was done with the expert advice of snooker wizard Jamie from work and my cheese pasty loving mate Calla. The font is irrelevant. Click to zoom.

Finally, another one from Calla adding some depth to the scene with the monster stepping out of the cabinet. I think I like this one, but the font needs to change...

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Day 18 - It'll Be All White on the Night

The spec for the speakers was I wanted to be able to control the volume without going inside the cabinet or wiring up special things, the satellites small enough to fit in the speaker area and to have a sub-woofer with a bit of bass to be a little bit better than standard 2.0 PC speakers and to be able to easily make the speaker protrude from the kick-plate if necessary.

The speakers arrived (Logitech S220), very cheap ones but they really sound rather nice.  The satellites are about 18cm by 8cm. On the speaker grill I'll cut two holes 10cm by 4cm which cover the speaker grill that you can see then with the router recess from the inside leaving about 2mm. I can then mount the speakers so they are almost flush with the cabinet (showing only the speaker grill) without taking them apart.

The little dial you see is the volume (and headphone/mic), which I'll mount under the control panel on the sloping side so it's not that visible, but usable. All the cables seem long enough, though I may have to cut and extend the cable from the sub-woofer to the satellites. For the sub-woofer I haven't decided what to do but you can see the speaker is to the right (the hole on the front is the air in). I'll see how it sounds and in the worst case I'll cut a hole in the front kick-plate for the side speaker to fit through.

I primed the wood with the first two coats (leaving it overnight). While the MDF was smooth, it had an uneven texture so I sanded it down. First with 600grit then with 1200 grid - these are very fine but I figured the smoother I make the bare wood the better. Then they had a wipe clean to remove grease and dust and were ready for priming.

I used the MDF primer/undercoat I mentioned earlier ( and from reading online the process was: using a foam gloss roller (even though it's water based) I loaded it with paint (but just enough to be covered) then the primer/undercoat was rolled on continuously until the paint ran out (i.e. not continuously reloading), finishing in light vertical strokes ensuring no visible overlaps.

Most of the panels took one go and the side panel and one of the back ones took a few re-loads after running dry. The other thing was to not go over the paint, i.e. literally put one coat on.

After a night drying (it's quick drying so probably only takes a few hours) the finish was quite rough and so I used wet and dry 240 grit (which is still quite smooth) and the result was quite smooth ready for the second coat.

If you look at the pictures (click to zoom) the side panel on the left has one coat, the other has two (it's because I had to fill a few holes so no painting until the filler had dried).  The second coat went on much quicker and used a load less paint. The edges (where the MDF had been cut) is also covered and there is no expansion or other problems you might get from cut wood.

The second coat looks very nice. When that's dry I'll move up to 600 grit and repeat. I've used about half the primer (it is a 1 litre tin, which should be enough for any cabinet) so the third coat I'll probably limit to the areas visible (side panel, kick-panel, speaker panel, bottom of the control panel) and that will get a 1200 grit sanding ready for painting.

I've found some oil (well solvent) based black which is matt and that will do the centre sections and I'll try my hand at rolling (in the same way as the primer). If it's not that good, I'll sand it down and spray it.

Friday 19 October 2012

Day 17 - A Letter From America

I had to stay in this morning and lucky I did as the t-molding and router bit arrived

I've started some videos. They're less exciting than watching paint dry I'm afraid.

Visit the channel for more videos

Here is video 5, cutting the slots for T-Molding

Thursday 18 October 2012

Day 16 - To Trackball or Not. That is the Question

There's only a handful of games using trackballs:

Of which the main known ones will be Marble Madness, Centipede, Missile Command, various golf games. But marble madness is lovely :)

In the pictures (click to zoom) the left edge to the Player 1 joystick centre is about 8cm (3 inches) and the right edge of the Player 2 button is about 5cm (2 inches). Is this enough? (still waiting for somebody to comment....). Overall the width/height of the control panel is 66cm by 33cm (26inches by 13 inches).

In the picture only the circle of the trackball is visible, the rest is the housing underneath but obviously must not overlap controls.

I prefer trackball at the bottom (if I have one) but it means the controls are higher up and more chance of the wrist having to lie over the ball.

I think I may need to buy the controls, place them and then buy the trackball taking a hit on postage.

Monday 15 October 2012

Day 15 - Almost Ready for Priming

I finished the woodwork for the whole cabinet today. All that needs doing is a couple of holes for the speakers (the slanted piece below the marquee), a couple for the kick-plate for air to the pc and if I decide to put a sub-woofer in it, and a few random other holes for venting (e.g. behind the marquee light, rear vent for the pc).

The picture shows the chrome edging I'm using (instead of T-molding and marquee retainer clips) to surround the control panel (both edges) and marquee.

If you look at the piece of wood just below the control panel with the two horizontal chrome strips, I'm not 100% on whether I should get rid of the bottom one or not.

the problem is (from the picture anyway) it just looks too small. There's a picture below of the almost finished cabinet showing it without.

I also bought the primer for the MDF (it's from 'Tor' paints who supposedly make excellent speciality paints for covering damp (Zinnser brand, etc) and other surfaces. Tbh, the bloke in the factory shop said their standard acrylic primer would do the same job. But I figured it's the same price (£12 for 1 litre) and it's a primer and undercoat.

My T-Molding and router bit were shipped and picked up on Friday 11th and as of 12th had a status of  'Electronic Shipping Info Received' since then (15th). Hopefully it's just the US Postal Service is crap and it isn't lost.

In hind-sight I would change a couple of things with the cabinet:
1. Extrude the marquee by a couple of inches to allow more room for the speakers. the wood looks big enough but the way I've fitted it means it's a tight squeeze - the bottom wood for the marquee goes all the way to the edge rather than stopping where the speaker enclosure starts. This is to avoid the problem of light spillage from the light down through the  speakers.

2. I would shorten the height of the kick-plate (the bit where you stand where the coin-slot/drawer is) and increase the height of the control panel to give more space for a bit of art.

3. Move the drawer up (see below)

4. Possibly make the marquee taller by a centimetre or two.

At the back of the cabinet I fitted the door with a tiny chrome handle. It doesn't quite fit properly (probably just bad placement of the top hinge) so I'll be needing the expert help of Harry to sort that out - though nobody will ever see it.

For the control panel it didn't really fit to have a hinge so instead I opted to fit the wood below the control panel with dowels. So to access the control panel is a case of removing the drawer and pulling out the two wood panels giving loads of room to fit in. And if more space is required or the CP needs to be removed, it's fitted with angle brackets and will just pull straight out.

In doing so I realised I'd have two cuts showing (as from previous days I fitted a drawer in the middle of the kick-pate. So I removed the drawer front and replaced it with a larger one to go all the way to the top. If I were doing it from scratch I'd have simply made the drawer to fit directly below. The pictures below show the progress. Note the retaining bar I think I'll keep it as it's stopping the middle section from splaying out given there is nothing permanently screwed there.

I also added the wood for the speakers. It looks large but the space for speakers is tiny because the wood for the marquee goes all the way across to the back to stop any light from escaping so I'll only be able to fit maybe 3-4 inches in there. Below you can see the new drawer and the speaker.