Arcade Machine - post build

Nearly 2 month's on and I'm loving it! Its great to be able to boot this thing up and de-stress after a days work on a game of pacman or street fighter. These old games have that pick up and play about them that modern games just don't have.

I've also realised just 'how damn hard' these old games were! I'm struggling to get the sort of scores I used to get when I was in my youth or is it old age! I don't know, I'm going with the former at the moment. On a plus side the kids quite enjoy it, especially my son who lives Street Fighter and Crackdown which we can play together. Its not quite like 'the Redknaps' on the Wii commercials but except for the battering each other at fighting games and shouting 'shoot him' and 'throw a bomb at him' in crackdown, it's close.

As for work, well I still haven't done the bezel or the side and control panel art but I have added the coin door. I've added the hinges and a lock which I obtained (ahem) and inserted a button where the real coin slots will eventually go.

Coin door stage 1

My old desk drawers

I'm still trying to work out a few things for the coin mechanism, namely, how to cut the slot in the perspex and how to get the coin to activate a credit when inserted. 

I was hoping to have the coin slide down a runner and hit a microswitch at the bottom but after some tests the 10p coin isnt heavy enough to activate the switch. Still work in progress. 

I have added some new additions to the game collection. Street Fighter III 3rd strike and Metal Slug both enjoyed by myself and the boy. 

The front end has been upgraded also. As my game library increases, it's going to take longer and longer to scroll throught the menu so I've tweaked the menu select so that it accelerates as you move through the list. I've also got it to update itself by checking the usb port 1st for any rom and ini file changes and upload them which saves a lot of messing around. 

Making the coin mechanism

I had decided to make my own coin door and mechanism long ago and so far I have the door and the lock all hinged and attached.

The coin mechanism has frankly been a mini nightmare. I was hoping to use the spare microswitch but the coin just isn't heavy enough to activate it and so began the whole sorry saga of building my own coin mech. 

I started off building a slider out of two pieces of perspex sandwiched together with room for a coin to slide between. Near the end 2 metal connectors of wire would be angled into the 'tunnel', one each side for the coin to make the connection on the way past. Sounded too easy. It was, it seems that the connection is made too quickly for the circuit to register and the coin just passes through without anything happening. I modified the slider to be at an angle and less of a vertical drop to try and slow the coin down but still wasnt enought.


Coin mech v1

My next effort was to line the bottom of the slider with a copper wire and a large copper wire connector hinged above, this should make the connection for longer. I couldn't see how this could not work!


Coin mech v2

 But, it didn't. It was too cumbersome. The wires fouled the lever, it stuck open or stuck down preventing the coin from passing through. At best the coin made registered to infrequently to be reliable so this idea also bit the dust.

I was stuck at this point, so I took to the internet.

Wasnt much at 1st but then I found this 'make you own slot machine'. Looked like electronics was the way to go but I really didn't fancy that so I signed up to the forum at and posted this.

Got some usefull info about something called a coin microswitch. A microswitch with a long bent wire and a softer click. Looked like just the job and found one on e-bay for 99p. Next I redesigned my mech and came up with this.


Coin mech plan v3

 Transfered to some perspex and assembled was time to try it out.


Coin mech v3 

It works!! Amazingly it worked 1st time, you have no idea how happy I was with this. Now I can get on with the coin slot and attaching it all up to the coin door. 

Polishing off the coin door

With my new coin mech finished I had a rethink on my door design and googled a few images of the real thing. Rather than a plain square hole with a slot in most real coin slots sit in a protruding case which do look a lot better so I had a redesign.

Managed to cut and shape a square of mdf and fit it into the existing hole I had already cut and repainted.


More undercoat.

Then I trimmed my perspex coin slot and printed a small decal to decorate.


It's a retro cab just like the one's I played in wales in my youth, hence the 10p slot.

Then fashioned a nice little angle bracket out of plastic and glued and screwed the mechanism to the door back.


Little did I know that the clear perspex I chose to make a CD holder 15 years ago when I worked in a school CDT department would eventually turn into this.

And that was that really.

I need to add a light to finish the job. The orange clear perspex I used will be perfect. I have already tested with a light source and looks pretty good, at least when I say tested, I really used an old led torch bulb but even though it was 4.5v I thought it would be ok, alas it burned out of my motherboard 5v supply quite quickly.

So, find a light source is my next task.

Finishing touches

I had been enjoying the cab for a bout 4 months but It was never fully finished, there was still the marquee, bezel and control panel graphics to do but to be perfectly honest, I simply couldn't be bothered and it became quite a daunting task. Also sourcing the materails to do this was a task in itself.

Eventually, I decided to get on with the task of finishing this thing off properly. 

The coin mech

One day, I was in the office thinking about my coin door light and suddenly something occured to me. In my drawer of old bits there sits an old web cam. It was one of those illuminated ones, it probably still works but was incompatible with my  Windows 7 OS so was consigned to the PC graveyard. Now, its USB and although the camera isnt useable when I plugged it in; bingo! it lights up. Perfect. I screwed it to the inside of the cab door and plugs it in. It's amazing, its also got an adjustable base so i can aim it perfectly at the coin slot and even adjust its brightness, it couldn't be more perfect.


Possibly the worst use of a web cam ever.



Possibly the best use of a web cam ever.


For the bezel I had thought about a peice of hardboard with a square cut into it and painted, however I waas concious of what would happen if I ever changed the monitor! It would be unlikely the bezel would still fit and would have to be replaced. Maybe not a problem, hardboard isn't expensive but still.

I was thinking about black card and actually found a shop in town that sold some nice thick A3 black card that was just the right size. This would also do for the maquee and control panel.

While this sounds straight forward, it became apparent that getting the position of the hole for the screen in the right place wsa going to be a bit of a challenge so after a lot of trial and error, I managed to stick strips of paper around the monitor forming a template I could translate onto card. Sure enough, this worked quite straight forward and quite soon had a nice monitor bezel. Then I just added a rudimentary info panel to the side and was done.

Control Panel

The control panel was always going to be difficult and was probably the reason I took so long getting round to it. While it is just a matter of sticking a piece of card with graphics overlaid onto it and holes cut out for the buttons, there was a major difficult associated to this. To remove the perspex cover I had to unscrew and disconnect every microswitch and remove each button from the panel. Not easy, lying on your back with your head stuck through the front coin door panel and some of the buttons were quite inaccesible.

It also took an age to come up with a design but eventually I had mapped it all out in photoshop and printed them off, cut them out and stuck to a piece of card with the holes cut out.

Once added and the perspex cover put back on and all the buttons replaced I think it looks quite good. Simple but Im pleased with that.




Finally, the marquee. In the end quite simple. Or when I say simple, once I had come up with a design which took an age it was!

I wanted it to be retro but not a copy of something original. It couldnt' be from 'space invaders' or 'defender', it had to be generic. I had come up with the name ages ago and after many hours, came up with my final Space Invaders inspired design.

Printed off and masked with black card where I only want the light to shine through and sandwiched between two sheets of 2mm perspex, I guess it looks ok.


Insert coin.

The End


Insert coin.



The cab is pretty well complete but since then Iv'e added some new additions to the game list.

Added some more 2 player co-op games but more significantly, managed to get the daphne Laser disk emulator working and have installed them on the cab with Space Ace and Dragons Lair.

Not perfect but they work ok and a nice addition and are pretty faithfull to the original in that I get knowhere and killed almost straight away, just like I remember it! 

The current game list looks like this.

  • Space Invaders
  • Galaxians
  • Space Firebird
  • Asteroids
  • Asteroids Deluxe
  • Donkey Kong
  • Pacman
  • Ms Pacman
  • Track n Field
  • Defender
  • Joust
  • Sinistar
  • Ghosts n Goblins
  • Ghouls n Ghosts
  • Gun.smoke
  • Kung Fu Master
  • Sunset Riders
  • Metal Slug
  • Metal Slug X
  • Crackdown
  • Xybots
  • Bonanza Bros
  • Street Fighter 2
  • Super Street Fighter 2
  • Street Fighter 3 3rd Strike
  • Virtua Fighter
  • Dragons Lair
  • Space Ace

And that really is that. So pop over to the Hambos Arcade Room to see some scores.