Category Archive: 8) Software Configuration

Oct 06 2012

Lighting Effects

With its wood-tone laminate sides, the cabinet looks somewhat furniture-like when off. One of my stated goals for this project has been to have as close to a realistic arcade experience as possible when playing it.  What better to evoke the gaudiness and neon from an ’80’s arcade than LED lighting?

The lighting is actually pretty elaborate. I’ll break it down by type of lighting.

1) Button lighting.

The Control Panel player buttons have clear plungers with black surrounds. You can’t buy these, I made them from the parts of black and clear buttons.  To get a ‘frosted’ effect inside the buttons I put some scotch tape on top of the plunger springs and trimmed it prior to assembly.   I then drilled holes under the buttons and wired up RGB-Drive LED modules from Groovy Game Gear (GGG).   The RGB-Drive LEDs are wired up to two GGG LED-Wiz USB Lighting Controllers.  The LEDBlinky plugin for the MALA Front End controls the patterns.  It’s a very robust combination.

The Atari volcano buttons are also wired to the LEDWiz but they are using a single built in LED and need a resistor wired in series to step down the voltage appropriately.

Here is a preview.  Sorry for the clothes dryer racket in the background.

 

2) Cabinet Lighting

I ordered 16 feet of 5050 RGB LED Strip from eBay. You can cut this to the desired length then solder leads to the pieces.  There is a strip of LEDs across the top/back, and on the back sides of the cabinet.  These are driven by their own dedicated GGG LED-Wiz USB Lighting Controller.  At this time there is no way around buying a separate lighting controller if you want cabinet lighting.  Again, the LEDBLinky plugin for the MALA front end controls it all.

 

 

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Oct 02 2012

The Front End menu design….

Here is the MALA Frond End I designed.

 

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDxend_fRpo]

Oct 02 2012

A Note on Sound

When complete, this machine will provide as close to the entire arcade experience as possible.  Part of that is Neon lights which will be discussed later. The other part is the electronic arcade ambient noise. The two speakers in the back will reflect arcade sounds subtly off the wall behind the cabinet for realism.  I accomplish this with TheShanMan’s Arcade Ambience App.  It uses a separate sound card to play the effects. I am using sounds from the Arcade Ambiance Project. I am specifically using the 1981 and 1983 files from the download section.

The Front speakers will play a random playlist of late 70’s and early 80’s pop while in the game menus, which will fade out when a game is started up.  When you quit the game, it fades up to the place you last left in the song.  This functionality is built into the MALA Front End I am using.  I highly suggest MALA.  It is extremely flexible and supports plugins that I will discuss later.

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Sep 02 2010

Long overdue update.

Slooow progress.
-I installed the Novamatrix LINX LED marquee light.
-The FE and MAME are configured and running.
-The cold cathode lighting is installed underneath.
Artwork and LED design/installation up next.
So a few personal notes.  Keep in mind my last cabinet had a huge W-G D9200 Arcade Monitor.  I was concerned about moving to a smaller screen.
1) Having now  played MAME on my first LCD cab I can say that it is much nicer than I thought it could be.  I played about 25 games without any overlay effects and I wasn’t thrilled as it looked too modern.  I then added the RGB_KB.PNG overlay and suddenly it felt very authentic. Additionally the significantly smaller LCD feels MORE authentic than the humongous arcade monitor I had used in my last cabinet.  Classic arcade games had small monitors.
2) This is also the first cabinet I have made or played since the MAME artwork engine was redone, and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised about how the sides of vertical games can be filled with cropped artwork.  The entire MAME experience has come a long way in the years since my last cabinet was built.
3) I highly recommend the GGGovamatrix LINX LED Marquee light.  I bought 2 extra segments and it was perfect.

Slooow progress this month.

-I installed the Novamatrix LINX LED marquee light.

-The FE and MAME are configured and running.

-The cold cathode lighting is installed underneath.

Artwork and LED design/installation up next.

So a few personal notes.  Keep in mind my last cabinet had a huge W-G D9200 Arcade Monitor.  I was concerned about moving to a smaller screen.

1) Having now  played MAME on my first LCD cab I can say that it is much nicer than I thought it could be.  I played about 25 games without any overlay effects and I wasn’t thrilled as it looked too modern.  I then added the RGB_KB.PNG overlay and suddenly it felt very authentic. Additionally the significantly smaller LCD feels MORE authentic than the humongous arcade monitor I had used in my last cabinet.  Classic arcade games had small monitors.

2) This is also the first cabinet I have made or played since the MAME artwork engine was redone, and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised about how the sides of vertical games can be filled with cropped artwork.  The entire MAME experience has come a long way in the years since my last cabinet was built.

3) I highly recommend the GGG Novamatrix LINX LED Marquee light.  I bought 2 extra segments and it was perfect.

Oct 10 2008

Bling, Baby!

This game machine is going to have a prominent spot in my family room for the forseeable future.  Because of this, one of my goals is that it be ‘furniture-like’ day-to-day and that it not be enormous and tacky.  The downside of this is that arcade machines of the 80’s were enormous and tacky, so I will be losing some of the realism and nostalgia.

So, how to regain some of that lost tacky retro-arcade nostalgia when the machine is being used?  I have a few ideas….

  • I will be installing red cold cathode lighting under the cabinet for a neon effect.  It will be similar to the picture at right. (Thanks to LeapinLew for the pic.)
  • The control panel will have a layer of sidelit lexan on top.
  • Most, maybe all, of the buttons will be backlit and feature computer controlled blinking patterns in attract mode.  During Gameplay, only the used buttons will be lit.  This will all be done in conjunction with the LED-Wiz controller and LEDBlinky application.
  • When you power up the cabinet, Arcade sounds from the 80’s will play from dedicated speakers on the back of the cabinet.  These sounds will be completely isolated from the game and front-end menu sounds emitted from the front stereo speakers.  This feat will be accomplished using 1) Andy Hofle’s “Arcade Ambiance’ tracks, and TheShanMan’s Ambiance App.
  • Of course, added realism will be achieved using lots of my own shiny arcade tokens.  Buy some today!
  • I have a few other ideas (original or stolen) that aren’t fully-baked yet so I will save those for later.