Custom Arcade Control Panel

customArcadeControlPanel

Anybody can fire up an emulator and play arcade games of yesteryear, but if you want to capture more of the nostalgia, you should build a custom arcade control panel. [Quinn] started her build by narrowing down which games she was most interested in playing, and decided on a straightforward 2-player setup. The biggest challenge was finding joysticks that would allow for switchable 4-way or 8-way control: some games such as Ms. Pac Man were made for 4-way joystick input, and the added positions on a 8-way can lead to confused inputs and frustrated players.

[Quinn] found the solution with a pair of Ultimarc Servo Stik joysticks, which use a servo motor to swap between 4 and 8-way mode. The output from both the joysticks and the buttons feed into an iPac encoder, which converts the signal to emulate a USB keyboard. The panel was first mocked up on butcher paper, with dimensions borrowed from various games: the panel itself resembles Mortal Kombat 2, while the buttons are spaced to match X-Men vs Street Fighter 2. [Quinn] chose some spare melamine—plywood with a plastic coating—to construct the panel, drilled some holes and used a router to carve out space for the joysticks. A USB hub was added to power the servos and to make room for future additions, which [Quinn] will have no difficulty implementing considering that her electrical layout is enviably clean. To cap it all off, she fit two “coin slot” buttons: a quarter placed into a slot serves as a start button when pressed.

Be sure to see the videos after the break that demonstrate the coin buttons and the servos, then check out a different retro joystick hack for a tripod controller, or look to the future with the Steam Controller.

Comments

  1. Tom says:

    Best toggle switch video of 2013 so far!

  2. Spork says:

    So, putting arcade controllers in a box and wiring them up to an off-the-shelf product used for its intended purpose is a hack now?

    Great work – not at all a hack.

    • vpoko says:

      If you’re carving something out with a router and putting electronics into it, that’s a hack.

    • James says:

      So, putting whiny text into a box and hitting the send button for it’s intended purpose is a worthwhile comment now?

      Unoriginal work – not insightful or constructive.

      Why don’t you post some of your work Mr. Elitist? This kind of thing is great for inspiring other to get started.

      • ChalkBored says:

        So, putting whiny text into a box and hitting the send button for it’s intended purpose is a worthwhile comment now?

        Unoriginal work – not insightful or constructive.

        Why don’t you post some of your work Mr. Elitist? This kind of thing is great for inspiring other to get started.

  3. Alec Smecher says:

    Be sure to check out Quinn’s other hacks — particularly the computer (dubbed Veronica) that she’s designed and built out of little more than toenail clippings and sawdust. There’s some really inspiring stuff there that might cause you to stop whinging over whether or not this is a hack. For example: http://quinndunki.com/blondihacks/?p=1154

  4. supershwa says:

    Melamine! Good for arcade consoles and (in China) as a milk additive!

  5. Jerry Tremble says:

    All the comments on whether something is a “hack” or not are getting old. The site is called “Hack a Day.” The “Hack” is singular, meaning one article about a “hack” per day would meet the implication of the title, thereby fulfilling any imaginary obligation the publishers have to satisfy these dolts. But really, it’s their site and, really, they could publish an article on breastfeeding if they wanted to.

  6. Jerry Tremble says:

    Oh, by the way, nice little control panel. I’m on the 4th incarnation of my MAME cabinet and was thinking about making something similar for my girlfriend’s son (I have lots of extra joysticks, buttons, etc. from incarnations 1, 2, and 3; I keep buying better hardware) This gives me a little inspiration! Thanks!) Also, Alec Smecher, I looked at her site; impressive work! Thank you!

  7. sonick909 says:

    Looks great! I built something almost identical (without the finish, just left the mdf as-is), but after a month or so I went back and replaced all the microswitches with leaf switches, and the ipac2 USB with an ipac2 PS/2. The polling rate on the usb port just cannot compete with the polling rate on the PS2 port. You miss tons of button clicks, especially if you’re going leaf to usb. As for leaf switches, just try to play track and field or galaga with microswitches one time, and you’ll be switching to leaf switches pronto. Other than those personal preferences, that’s a great build.

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