During summer break from university, I had access to more equipment and plenty of time to see all the flaws in the cabinet from phase 1.
First thing on the list was to see how much Pac-Man was left under all that black spray paint.
Painting the Cabinet
The obvious next step was to get the cabinet back to Pac-Man. The original artwork was sitting just beneath the black spray paint, but unfortunately it could not be salvaged in the stripping process. Using a heat gun to remove most of the vinyl and then about a gallon of chemical stripper to get everything else down off the cabinet, I was able to get the surface ready to sand.
Then I broke out a belt sander I took off the rest of the remaining paint. Switched to a orbital palm sander to smooth out the surface, then hand sanded to 600 grit paper. Next using some commercial wood filler, I filled the majority of the drilled holes in the cabinet that were no longer being used, then sanded these back down to the surface.
Now the cabinet was ready for painting. However there were a couple of major problems. First and foremost is I couldnt get a paint chip large enough to color match to the original color. Second, the only matching color I could find was for a laquer (oil) paint.
After some research I learned that indeed the original paint was laquer, so I ordered a gallon of custom matched paint for the cabinet. Using a commercial paint sprayer I applied the paint, 5 coats total to the cabinet to ensure an even and beautiful paintjob throughout.
The back panel
I spent quite a bit of time trying to repair the back panel, which had big chunks taken out of it and rot due to water damage. Unfortunately it couldn't be saved, so I had to cut a new rear panel.
The new panel features a large acrylic inset window see the interior PC and mods.
Just after finishing the paint job, the 19″ trinitron pc monitor I had been previously using was dropped and shorted out. After doing some measuring on the cabinet I determined that I could fit a 21″ crt in the cabinet. However that would require refabrication of the steel mounting cage. I took the cage to a metal works shop in Greensboro, NC to have it expanded to the measurements I needed. They did an excellent job on the modifications and the cage still looks 100% original.
The monitor I used, a Compaq P1210 (Trinitron tube) has a built in USB hub that was remounted for easy access, and the OSD controls were mounted for easy access. Both units can be accessed through the front coin door.
Custom PC Setup
With most of the exterior work done, I turned my attention to the internals of the cabinet. The original PC was severely under powered on newer games and it’s enclosure was unsuitable for the project. I decided to mount everything in a similar fashion to the original hardware. This meant everything being mounted to the right wall of the cabinet.
The specifications for the final PC were:
- Athlon XP 1800+ with a quiet 1U CoolJag heatsink
- Asus A7N8X Deluxe Motherboard
- 512mb of PC3500 Kreton Blitz DDR
- Radeon 9800 Pro 128mb 8x AGP video
- Realtek 802.11b PCI Wireless
- 52X Lite-On CDRW
- 4x Opto-Rite DVD-+RW -Both Wired for coin door access
- 120gb Western Digital SE 8mb cache 7200rpm hard drive
- Enermax 350w PSU
- Logitech MX Duo Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
- 2.1 Speakers plus subwoofer, volume control wired for coin door access
- The power button was relocated to the original power button location, at the top left of the cabinet.
Everything was mounted using wood screws and PVC tubing to prevent any grounding or movement.
You can see I also ran LED lighting throughout the interior, mostly as a practical aid during the hundreds of hours I spent tweaking things inside the cabinet!
Now the cabinet was functionally complete, but it was still missing the finishing touches, the original Artwork and T-Molding. It also needed a polished software interface.
After some searching I found a company selling LICENSED, ORIGINAL vinyl side art and marquees. I ordered matched T-Molding as well.
It took several nervous hours to apply the vinyl side art, but it makes the cabinet absolutely stunning.
Advice on applying the vinyl: have several sets of hands to help. Measure and test fit over and over until you have everything perfectly positioned. Lay the cabinet on its side. Use blue painters tape to hold everything in place from one end. Peel back the adhesive backing from the other end (I recommend starting at the bottom of the cabinet). Press the entire edge into place. Then with help on either side, remove the painters tape and slowly peel the adhesive backing as you smooth the vinyl into place.
With the cabinet all pretty on the outside, the last piece to finish was the software. I spent the next several months configuring Windows XP to act as an auto-launching, keyboard independent OS for use with the arcade.
The cabinet can not only play every emulated game out there, but it can also handle any PC game you can throw at it.
In the end, I replaced the Windows shell completely and opted for an extremely simple scrolling UI. After nearly a year of friends and visitors playing on it, the simple interface proved to be by far the most usable for people.