Tuesday, September 27, 2005

MAME cabinet: joystick complaints

I opted for the J-Stik ball-top joystick from Ultimarc when I put the control panel together.

Overall, it's a nice joystick. The travel is good, the switch action is nice, and I like the 4-way to 8-way switching feature. Playing Pacman with a 4-way joystick is much easier than with an 8-way.

They also top-mounted quite nicely, and I left just enough of a cutout around the top plate that I can reach the screws and remove the joystick without disturbing my laminate... leaving the plate buried in the laminate. Of course, this wouldn't be possible unless the ball-top was also removable. And it is.

This is touted as a feature, and rightly so. However, in the (very) limited MAME playing I've done, with the PC and TV set up in the basement while I'm supposed to be working on the cabinet, I've noticed that the tops have a real tendency to unscrew just under normal gameplay. I'll tighten them up and play for maybe half an hour, and they'll loosen again.

It may not sound like much, but it can really affect the game play when you shove the joystick up and the knob spins in your hand... or even spins off, if you haven't been noticing the increasing looseness. And then it goes bouncing across the floor, sending you scrambling after it to catch it, and then you've got to madly try to thread it back on while Sinistar laughs evilly, or Binky, Inky, Pinkie and Clyde zero in on you. It adds a certain amount of excitement to the games, but it's not exactly what I was looking for.

What I may end up doing is putting a little bit of Loc-tite thread-locker on there. Enough to prevent accidential loosening, but weak enough that I can still break it and unscrew it if necessary.

The cabinet hasn't really progressed much since the last post. I've traced out all the cuts for the second sheet of MDF, and even cut out a few of them. It won't be long now until I can start putting it together.

Monday, September 12, 2005

MAME cabinet: a one-sided discussion

I was on sod duty Friday evening and Saturday morning, and we now have a grass lawn in the back. Putting down sod is great; you go from boring dirt backyard to grass in a matter of hours. It's far more satisfying than the topsoil, and takes far less time to do. I was very pleased with the results, though it is now stubbornly refusing to rain.

Michelle very kindly took the boys out to the grocery store, and then the toy store on Sunday afternoon, giving me about four hours to myself, with the idea that I'd work on the cabinet. I had a few things I wanted to do on the PC, so I got that out of the way, and then went downstairs. I'd put in about an hour of work, and then the power went off in the house. Argh! If it's not one thing, it's another. I finally had some free and clear time to make as much noise and sawdust as I wanted, and the hydro company shackles me.

The power came back on after a couple of hours, and I managed to finish all the cuts to the first sheet of MDF. I now have one complete side panel, which looks pretty impressive standing against the wall.

I maneuvered the second sheet of MDF onto the table, and I'm ready to mark all the cuts on it, and then get cutting. I think I'll just put the existing side panel on top of this sheet, stencil around it, and and then cut. Once both sheets are cut, I'll clamp them together and sand the edges to ensure they're the exact same size.

I also got around to trying the melamine edging on the control panel. It's a 50' roll of black edging that you iron on. I got that done, and it looks pretty spiffy.

Given the amount of effort T-molding is going to take, and the fact that I've got a non-standard MDF thickness (11/16" versus 3/4", which wasn't available), I think I'll just try this edging on the whole panel. Saves me having to router that channel for the T-molding.

It's great to see this thing start to take shape. It's going to be a blast starting to put the thing together.