Friday, June 24, 2005

MAME cabinet: routering and laminate application

My parents have been visiting us from Edmonton for the past week, and my dad brought his router along so that we could do some routering work on the control panel.

In order to get maximum height out of my Ultimarc joysticks, I wanted to top-mount them under the laminate. So we routered down just enough to fit the top plate, and then we drilled out the screw holes in the top plate so that the screws would countersink a bit. We were able to get the plates mounted nicely in the top of the control.

Then came laminate adhesion time. I had picked up some contact cement made by LePage's to glue the laminate to the plywood. It's pretty nice stuff, cleans up with soap and water, spreads easily, has no toxic components.

We applied a fairly thin coat to both the plywood and the laminate, waited about an hour, and then just jammed them together, using a rolling pin to push the laminate down into place. The bonding was immediate, and very strong, and we had the really neat-looking control panel pictured below.

Control panel with laminate
Control panel with laminate (click to enlarge)

We left it to firm up until the next day, just in case. The last thing I wanted was for the laminate to start pulling away when we started routering.

We began the next day by routering around the edge of the laminate, giving a nice clean edge--in fact, that's shown in the picture above.

We also drilled down and then routered around all the button, trackball and joystick holes, cleaned up all the edges and then, deep breath, I was ready to go, starting the wiring.

I got the buttons and everything else installed, chose a suitable mounting point for the Optipac and Ipac boards, screwed them into the underside of the panel and then started on the wiring. I opted to use the quick-connect crimps, instead of soldering just in case I wanted to rewire things some day.

After working on it over a couple of evenings, I had all the crimping and connections finished, and the finished control panel was ready to go.

(mostly) finished control panel
mostly finished control panel (click to enlarge)

So I plugged the whole thing into the PC and tried it out. It all worked perfectly, and my dad and I even managed to get in a two-player soccer game on MAME.

So I now have a fully working control panel. It's not completely finished. I've got to add the trim around the front edge, and I'm going to touch up the paint on the front to remove a couple of blemishes. The MAME fund was depleted with the purchase of all the controls, so everything's on hold for a few weeks until we build it up a bit more. There have been quite a few 27" TVs on sale for $200 lately, and I've almost picked one up. Our current main TV is on the fritz, so we're going to need another one soon to tide us over until we can afford our dream TV... and once we get the dream TV, whatever main TV we have (27" or under) will go into the MAME cabinet.

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