The first main step to finishing was to prime and paint this thing. I covered my deck with a tarp and used it as my workshop. Luckily it didn’t rain. I used standard wood primer – 2 coats. I painted the top coats with semi-gloss black latex paint suing a 3″ roller to get a nice lightly textured finish with no visible brush strokes. In the lower cabinet area, where the PC will be, I used a forest green color since my intention is to light this area with green neon.
After painting, I had to run a screwdriver down the groove for the T-molding to scrape the paint residue out. Then I tapped the T-molding into the groove with a rubber hammer. It worked great and really added a professional touch.
My original idea was to theme this cabinet around The Matrix and call it The Mametrix. I couldn’t sleep the night I came up with the idea since I was mentally planning all the possibilities with the Matrix theme, like the “green symbol rain” running down the side and across the marquee. After a few days of planning I decided to Google “Mametrix” and found that somebody else had the idea too. In fact, his cabinet and website are awesome! Here’s a link to the Mametrix. There’s also a cabinet out there called Mametrix Reloaded. Back to the drawing board…. I at least want to come up with a different name.
I got a new issue of XBN magazine (Xbox Nation – the mag that turned me on to the Lucky Wander Boy book) and they had a tiny write-up about a company called Blik that makes vinyl stick-on graphics for walls. The reason they wrote about Blik is because they make a set of decals based on a Space Invaders screen. My cabinet decorating prayers had been answered. I found them for sale at Blik’s site, Thinkgeek.com, and a site called Pokkadots.com where they happened to be on sale. With the simple and obvious theme of old-school gaming in mind, I went to work on the rest of the graphics.
I am a fan of the CG cartoon Reboot. They always seem to put a lot of cool inside jokes into their stories about games, computer graphics, and other humor that only geeks would get. It’s also cool, to me, that the show’s hero is named Bob. Even though I didn’t want to theme the cabinet around the show, I like the name enough to call my cabinet Arcade Reboot.
Here’s the logo I came up with using the PacMan font for ARCADE and the Doom font for REBOOT.
I did my graphics in Corel Draw so they would be vector based so I could send them to a vinyl shop for cutting decals. I found a great place online called Letters Unlimited. I got a great quote from them (fast too) so I sent my file (saved as Adobe Illustrator format) so they could make my decals.
I decided not to put a coin door in my cabinet. I left an open window to include a piece of Plexiglas so you could see inside, like a lot of custom PC cases have these days. I was going to buy a frosted vinyl “U” logo (from the game Unreal) at a store called Shadow Majik. Then I got a call. Letters Unlimited had excellent customer service. They called to confirm the specs of my order and I asked them if they could do frosted vinyl. They could! So I made my own custom graphic for the coin door window and sent it to them. (I still got a cool case badge from Shadow Majik that says, “If all else fails REBOOT“.)
I got my art back from Letters Unlimited and they actually included 3 of my logos rather than just the 2 that I ordered, and an applicator tool that also came in handy for the invader graphics. The coin door image was sweet. There was a small flaw in the vinyl – the “N” in the word COIN wouldn’t stick. I called them and got a new in the mail right away. They really were nice people to work with.
Here’s how the decals go on: You peel the backing first. Then stick it to the surface. Then peel away the front cover. It’s a slow process since you’ll want to take your time and avoid air bubbles. The plastic tool (blue thing in picture) helped a lot to keep it smooth. The decals went on better than I thought they would. They look great as I hoped they would.
I installed a fluorescent tube light in the cabinet to light the marquee. The one I bought from Happ just had bare leads so I cut an extension cord, and added an inline switch, and used it for a power cable. I would probably recommend you just but a Home Depot light so it will have a cord and switch already.
Here is the speaker panel. I had an Altec Lansing 2.1 set that worked great. I put the subwoofer in the base of the cabinet and mounted the two speakers over the holes in the panel. I set the volume knob to the middle position so I could just use Windows or Mame to change the volume later. An old rubber mouse pad was cut up to make cushions for the speakers so they wouldn’t rattle against the wood. I also added two momentary contact buttons to the panel to use for ON and RESET of the computer. I used a long piece of telephone wire to connect the buttons to the PC once the panel was mounted on the cabinet.
Then I added the monitor bezel, which I created in Corel Draw. It also shows the X-arcade layout so I could map it to other games. I had it printed at Light, Inc. (by my friend Jeff Knab – thanks Jeff!) and mounted on a thin piece of Sintra board. Then, I taped the edges to the glass front (which I had cut at Laurel Glass and Mirror) with black electrical tape, and slid the glass in place.
I also added some neon fans, and other lights that I got from Tiger Direct to make the computer area more interesting. I picked up the Simpsons’ Noiseland Arcade on eBay and stuck that in the base too. You’ll notice a hub in the picture. I have internet access on the machine just in case I needed to download anything to it or transfer from my main PC. The ethernet then continues on to my Xbox.
To finish the cabinet, all that was left was the marquee. I created it in Corel Draw with lots of help from websites that had arcade artwork available for download (see the Artwork page for links). I also had it printed and sealed in laminate at Light, Inc. then mounted it in the cabinet.
To finalize the software, I did buy Dragon’s Lair 3D and Duke Nukem Manhattan Project. I never cared for the Laserdisc version of Dragons Lair so this version is better for me since you have full freedom of movement. The Duke game was cheap and seemed to have a nice arcade style to it. I also added emulators for SEGA Genesis and Atari 2600. To use with the X-arcade, I found the best emulators to be Gens for Genesis emulation and X26 or PCAEWIN for Atari 2600 emulation. For now, the ARCADE REBOOT is done and ready to play!!!
End of original article. Updates to come….