Late last year I decided I wanted to make an arcade cabinet.
Phase 1: Evaluation
I decided that the first step of the process was to determine if this was just a passing whim or I would actually want a cabinet occupying living space. Cardboard seemed as good a place to start as any to test my actual interest before investing anything other than time.
It took several hours to gather, clean up, patch, and cut up enough cardboard to make the rough cabinet shape I wanted.
I ordered controls, and quickly got a few old games of mine (mostly projects from college) running on it when they arrived.
Phase 2: Wood Construction
The cardboard was not meant to be permanent, and it basically collapsed after a few weeks under the weight of the monitor.
I picked up three 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" plywood from a hardware store, cut to 2'x8'. It took some time to settle on a shape for the cabinet, but once I did, measuring and cutting the side panels went fairly quickly. Lots of sanding ensured that the sides generally matched.
Content with the sides, I started cutting pieces of wood for the top and bottom of the cabinet. Everything except the back is fastened with lots of screws through 1"x2" strips into the plywood from the inside. Piece by piece, I closed in the box.
In retrospect, the construction would have gone much faster if I had planned measurements for everything up front, so that I could assembly-line each step: measuring, cutting, sanding, drilling, and screwing. I figure I could make a second one off of the measurements of this in a day or two that way.
I painted everything, added wheels, mounted the controls, and added some outlets for power and a network cable. The C14 power connector was impossible to find in stores. I was able to scavenge one from a burnt-out PC power supply.
I was quite pleased with how it looked solid black, but the red plastic T-molding really made it seem more legitimate to me.
The Finished Product
With some help, I managed to get it upstairs.
I still have plenty to do, but it is finally playable.
- I would like to add a proper coin door.
- I want to fit it with a bigger monitor. I mean to make a frame to cover everything except the monitors display and then cover the whole thing with an acrylic sheet.
- And once I make a proper game or two for it, I intend to pick a name for the thing and add a marquee and some graphics.
The current game list so far is just the set of games I have made that were easy enough to bring over to it as well as arcade games suggested by friends.
I have for some reason been acquiring touch screen devices like they were ukuleles.
I have been wanting to do a very brief comparison. They are listed below in the order they're depicted above. I do not actually own the iPad.
|Apple iPad 2||Google Nexus 7||BlackBerry PlayBook||Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX||HTC Droid Incredible|
|Currently installed OS||Apple iOS 5.1.1||Google Android 4.1.1||BlackBerry Tablet OS 188.8.131.528||Verizon Android 4.0.4||Cyanogenmod Android 2.3.7|
|Acceptable battery life||x||x||x||x||x|
|Home screen rotates||x||x||x|
|Physical buttons||Power, Volume, Home, Rotate/Mute Switch||Power, Volume||Power, Volume, Play/Pause||Power, Volume||Power, Volume, Home|
|Official means of developing for it are free||x||x||x||x|
|Best thing||Lauren likes DragonVale.||Running ScummVM.||Easily closing apps.||4G LTE.||GPS data logging.|
|Worst thing||Having to scroll to the top of my inbox.||Too big to fit in my pocket.||Finicky power button.||An OS release behind.||Home button lights don't turn off, even when watching videos.|
That's about it.
I got a Mac Mini. These were my first impressions with one helpful comment from one of the people to whom I was complaining:
18:49 < cory> Mac Mini. All of my keys are different. :( 18:50 < cory> Didn't let me set up my bluetooth keyboard until after the install, either. 18:55 < cory> Oh god. I'm no longer a registered Apple Developer? 18:58 < cory> No optical audio out AND no optical media drive. 18:59 < cory> Apple doesn't like optical things apparently. 19:19 < cory> My keyboard apparently needed a firmware update, and the machine needed to reboot for that. 19:21 < silencer> this is what you get for buying cheap junk, oh wait 19:38 < cory> Oh, I guess XCode 3.* is the free one. That's the one I want. 19:59 < cory> Well, Netflix works. That's something. 19:59 < cory> Though I get random white pixels reminiscent of my first ATI video card.
Some explanation: I've been thinking about getting a Mac Mini for many years. I had originally intended to get one as a home theater PC, but I opted for something a third of the price some years ago and have been using it happily ever since. I've looked at prices and specs for a while, hoping for a reason to get one since, as a build machine and just for variety, and I recently just splurged.
I remember noting that they don't have optical audio ports and being disappointed in the past. I think I just forgot about that until I tried plugging it in, this time.
That the model I ordered didn't have an optical drive was a bit unfortunate, as I'm using it as my HTPC, now, and it would be nice to be able to throw even a DVD in there if not a Blu-Ray disk. It's weird that it comes with install DVDs. I failed to be able to read them on Linux. They weren't mountable as iso9660, hfs, or hfsplus volumes, and then I stopped caring. There's apparently some software to be able to read them over the network from a Windows or Mac machine, but I don't have one of those with an optical drive. Why didn't it come with an SD card loaded with software?
I now own two Apple products - a bluetooth Apple wireless keyboard and the Mac Mini. That they didn't work together without a hassle was really disappointing. The firmware update required me to reboot the machine, after which I had to log in before pairing the keyboard with it again. Logging in requires a keyboard.
Charging for development tools always seemed like a crime to me.
I think I resolved the issue with random white pixels sparkling across my screen by swapping out an HDMI cable. I'm running cables through my receiver and to my TV so that I can use my receiver to switch inputs, and the run was apparently too long for the Mac Mini's GPU to deliver a strong signal. Even though other devices on the same cables didn't exhibit the problem.
My Wii, which had been used primarily for Netflix for a while, now, will likely see much less use.
The upshot of all of this is that there's a .dmg of Notebook Ninja that runs on OS X attached to its project page, now.