My Arcade Cabinet Purchase and Modification Journey (Part 1)

General / 22 October 2022

One of my childhood dream around 1990s or so was having an arcade cabinet at home! It was nearly impossible since they were more like industrial products which are

  • (possibly) too expensive,
  • hard to maintain as an end-user,
  • and big!

But the games on them were impressive. I was just a child who has an 8-bit Computer which is a Commodore 64 with tape deck. Most of the C64 games had limited number of sprites and low res graphics. When I go to "Atari Saloons" (that is how the arcade galleries were called in Turkey), I was seeing the same titles I had on my C64 with a huge difference.

You can compare the following images to see what I mean, or how I dissappointed with the games a had :)

Shadow Dancer (1991 - C64 ver. release year)

Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja (1989 - C64 ver. release year)

Also there were incredible arcade specific titles! Street Fighter 2 and Art of Fighting were my favorites. And there were too many titles that added to my list in years.

A quick introduction about Arcade Cabinets

First of all a CRT monitor is attached to the system. There are LCD alternatives nowadays but CRT is a must for me. 

Because of this: https://twitter.com/cem_tezcan/status/1260602028016967680

Besides the monitor, there is speaker(s) on the system, controller sticks and buttons, and most important thing: the coin slot. These are coin based machines that designed for making money. So they work by inserting coins to the system until you lose.

So coin mechanism, speakers, monitor, controller sticks, and the buttons were all connected to a 36 pin female edge connector that named JAMMA (Japanese Amusement Machine Manufacturers Association).

And finally all those interface elements were connected to the game system. Game system is a PCB that has the operating environment and the game roms. These machines were booting in 1-3 seconds. nothing like today's PC/Console operating systems. There were no controller driver interfaces, so latency was zero for the controller inputs. 

Screen refresh rate and the FPS were fixed to 60. There were no overload on the system since the games were hardcoded in the roms and running fully in the memory.

These motherboards of the game systems has the same edge connector (male one) on the PCB. So you just unplug the JAMMA connector from the game system and plug it to another to make that arcade cabinet run different system or game. 

So, making a dream come true...

After all this introduction let's cut to the chase :) A month ago I bought an Arcade Cabinet to make this childhood dream of mine come true. I bought it from a local guy that has 50-100 cabinets from 90s in this storage area. That means the cabinet I bought was a production of 80s or 90s. It was a generic type that called Delta II. I don't know if there was a Delta I :)

I especially choose the model because this model was the most remembered model I played in my childhood. I even 3d modeled one a few years ago which is very similar. 

Project page: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/4Xoq0L

Here is a photo of the cabinet I bought.

It has a CRT screen in good condition which is the most important part. But as the game system it had a Pandora's Saga CX. In a generic way Pandora Box devices are emulator loaded linux devices that runs different arcade game systems but most importantly they uses JAMMA connectors. So they report in 15Khz analog video output even it's an emulation. So it's loaded with 2600 games and you can expand it by attaching USB stick or edit the SD card on the device. 

Pandora Box solution for the arcade machines is the cool and modern way to play arcade games nowadays, but since there is emulation involved, it means glitches on the smooth-scrolling, and input latency. The latter is not much recognizable, but non-existance of the smooth-scrolling is not good for the scrolling-obsessed people like me. It's not much recognizable on many games so I could live with that, but I didn't :D

Modifications and Fixes

My Arcade Machine was dirty as hell. This was how it looked:

I cleaned it up of course. Except the monitor circuit, because there are tens of thousands of voltages stored on the back of the CRT monitors, without discharging it's pretty lethal to touch any contacts by accident. Let's say I left the dust as a protection layer for the circuit :)

1. Coin system / Disabling Freeplay

My arcade machine was set to "freeplay mode" which means you don't need to insert coins. But freeplay mode on Pandora Boxes prevents demos of the games. What I mean is when you select a game from the menu, it loads the game as a coin is already inserted. So you see the started game, that way you can't watch the game's demo, story, or the loop that you're familiar by watching them in the Arcade Galleries when you're out of money :D

Free play mode should be terminated but that means I needed to find a way to insert coins. 

This is the harch door of the coin mechanism. I removed the lock from it so I was going to add a button to that hole. 

I had a spare circuit with buttons, so I cut the conductive parts for the buttons of that PCB to use on the back of the hole.

I scratched the soldermask of the PCB, and soldered cables to the contacts.

I placed the button that belongs to that spare PCB. There were several colors and my daughter picked this one <3

And finally I connected the cables to the switch that operates with the coin mechanism. This way coin system was remained functional as well.

This is the final look of the coin button.

And this is how it works.

2. Changing the Sticks

Existing sticks were in bad condition. Left stick (player 1) was fixed in a slightly rotated position, so sometimes when you thought you're pressing right, but it was recognizing it as up-right. Also wsometimes it was biting my hand once it's stuck between the gap when I move the stick to a direction.

I had the same spare parts from the old/cheap USB arcade stick that has a click-type stick. 

Existing sticks and the buttons were mounted to a thick MDF. The holes of the buttons adn the sticks were drilled through the metal sheet plate and this MDF. Since I can't change the holes on the metal sheet of the cabinet, I decided to make my own board for the new sticks. Because I needed a thinner board to mount the stick. otherwise it will be too short over the thick MDF board. I started by de-mounting everything.

This is the back side of the sheet metal of the cabinet after removing the MDF.

I found a laminated flooring plate on my balcony, I don't know where I got that from the thickness of it was perfect to mount the new sticks to.

So I fixed the thick one to this one by packaging tape and draw the holes with a pen to create a template.

I traced the same drawing over 3 pieces of A4 papers to scan them and re-draw that holes on my CAD software. This way I will be able to order a plate with that cut by a router in future. But I was planning to drill the holes on this one by myself.

I purchased a hole drilling set for my drill. So first I pointed the centers of the each hole by a screw, than drilled all the holes.

...and all the holes are drilled. I vacuumed and mopped the ground with soapy water before my wife sees this mess. So I didn't kicked out from the house.

Now I cut the outer boundary with a fretsaw. By determning that it's best to make this cuttings outside (balcony).

For the placement of the stick mechanisms through the new plate, I needed to enlarge the hole of the stick. Since I got a circular hole, it was easy for me to draw a larger rectangle that has the same center. And I cut it too. 

I mounted the sticks (I used counter nuts as well by a thankful warning of one of my friends).

And this is the new sticks installed to the new board!

These sticks were amazing improvement after the previous ones. Previous ones were called battops which I prefer for fighting games, but I had no choice about the sticks I had in my stock. So I ordered some buttons and new battop sticks. 

While they were being shipped from China, I bought a NEO-GEO motherboard and a miraculous cartridge for it: 161 in 1 series 2 pack from dealer I purchased the arcade machine from!!!!

3. Neo-Geo Game System - MVS

As I mentioned screen tearing about Pandora systems before on this blog post. Since I had a big arcade machine, I wanted to have an original game system for it too. So I acquired Neo-Geo game system to run SNK / Neo-Geo games. Best thing about that is it has a 161 in 1 cartridge which contains the great pack of the NG games. Also, luckily, I bought the specific game cartridge my all time favorite "Art of Fighting" too! Because it's not included in the 161 game pack.

Normally, on other systems and Neo-Geo as well, we were limited with a one board and one game. This is an expensive way to play games. Considering the benefit of 161 in 1 pack, and gaming in a traditional way (without emulation) I bought it.

You can check the difference with the Pandora and Neo-Geo system by this video (tags of the videos are reversed, sorry). Please watch it in 60 fps. You will see that bottom one has a frame skip in almost 2 times in a second.


The SNK / NEo-Geo motherboard was terrible too. I cleaned it first.

After that to switch the system from Pandora to Neo-Geo, I needed to access the back side of the cabinet which means moving it first, and change the JAMMA cable. I needed to find a way to make the change without moving the cabinet. Also there was a need of changing the Neo-Geo cartridge when it's needed as well. I solved this later :)

4. Changing the buttons with the LED ones

The existing buttons were terrible. Some of them was concave and some of them convex. Also they were very hard on tension. My daughter was not enjoying pressing them, I could clearly see it.

Finally buttons I ordered are arrived from China, and they were looking cool. This was the set I bought:

Acutally this set is for making an arcade controller for a PC or modern consoles with USB support. Which means modding for me to adapt it to my arcade cabinet. I only interested with the buttons BTW, sticks arenot important at this stage because the ones I installed already were very similar to these. But the colored spheres on those were worh changing with the white ones.

Buttons had this kind of connectors and cables for them.

I cut the connector cables top test the polarities. Because both LED lights on the buttons and the switch were using the same ground. I had no chance to connect the ground and button pole reversed. While testing the cables, I couldn't be able to  both lit the LEDs and make the button work. If LEDs are ON, button was not working. If I switch the cables, then button was working but LED is not this time. 

After getting crazy a while I I realized that the USB converter PCB of the buttons has all +5V side connected :) Normally grounds should be connected!

So only way was to cut the LEDs and re-solder them in reversed way. I re-soldered 2 LEDs per each.

These buttons has a cherry MX type switches inside btw. Which makes them very light and enjoyable.

All the cables that comes from JAMMA socket has a quick terminal sockets. So, I used some copper sheet and soldered it to the cables to make a good connection with that sockets.

I take a +5V from the power suppy of the cabinet and connected all new connectos with the sockets according to the realted button assignment.

And we're on fire!

5. Switching Game Systems from the Front Door

Since I didn't want to move the cabinet each time I want to switch the game system (Pandora or Neo-Geo) I mounted the Pandora to the other side of the plate. And by the help of a new plate, I mounted Neo-Geo to the next to Pandora. This is the plan I made.

So I added the board first.

Screwed it to the edge of the woods behind, and screwed the Neo-Geo to the board.

This is how the systems side by side so I can detach the jamma and connect to other one each time I needed.

After a few trials, I can easily change the cardridge of Neo-Geo, even I reach to the dip switches. Believe me it's better than moving the cabinet and open the back door of it each time!

6. Battop Sticks

Not a long story, I applied the new sticks to the existing board. These sticks are much more better on fighting games than the ones with the ball tops, although the the sticks with red and blue balls were looking way cooler.

7. Headphone Jack, Sound volume, and Switch for button lights

I decided to add a 3.5mm headphone jack to use the machine without disturbing others. For that I had an old broken PC speaker system that has that female jack. Best part of this jack is it has a switch on it that cuts off the 2nd channel when a jack is inserted.

(image source: https://www.cuidevices.com/blog/understanding-audio-jack-switches-and-schematics)

I opened up the top part of the cabinet to access the speaker for adding this jack/switch and surprised to see there is an old/dead lamp there! 

I changed that bulb with an RGB LED lamp with a remote control. 

And connected / soldered the cables for the audio jack.

This area should be havind a cover to protect the cables and also to fix the connector. I made a quick design in Solidworks and 3d printed it. Then mounted it of course.

I drilled a big another hole on the back of the cabinet and fixed a 1k potantiometer to control sound volume for the spears and headphones. This was needed because a normal volume level of the speaker is too much for the headphones. It should be lowered.

and finally I added a switch to cut off the voltage that goes to button LEDs to turn them of when lighting disturbs.

8. Resurrecting the Coin System

I adjusted some screws on the mechanism to work with 1 TRY coins. Also the bottom hatch has locked and there was no key. I broke into it and changed the lock with a new one.

9. Concave Buttons

The first set of buttons that came with the cabinet were really shitty. I like concave buttons but these were random on top molding. and had a poor plastic / mechanic quailty. Buttons were hard to press. 

The ones I attached to my cabinet with LED lights was flat buttons.

It's hard to find good concave buttons, HAPP brand is the best, I suppose, but I found a cheaper and similar one on Amazon and ordered them.

These concave buttons are important for the games that need "rapid fire". You join your thumb and index finger like holding a guitar pick and center them on the button, then you figgle it left to right through the concave center to make a rapid firing like playing a fast guitar solo :) I know it's a weird definition, I will show it to you in a video.

In this video I'm showing it with a concave button that has LED buttons. I know I told you that these were flat buttons. I will get to it next :)

I attached the new keys that were regular arcade machine buttons. So they look fantastic and whole retro!

Look at that!

9. Switching Buttons Back to LED Buttons (I know!)

These new buttons were amazing. The feel, the look was as it is in 90s. So using an original Neo-Geo board, an original game cartridge, and playing with these buttons were exact 90s experience that I had before.

But the thing is, these buttons were too hard to press. My daughter couldn't be able play easily with them. So I had doubts on keeping these buttons but I needed the concave tip of them. One morning I woke up with an idea. I will be going to heat the tips of the LED buttons and bend them to have a finger cavity. At least I was going to try on 1 or 2 spare buttons to see how it looks and feels.

I detached the tip of the button, and use a lighter to heat it up. Each time after keeping the lighter for 5 seconds I pressed to the top of the surface by the old sphere-head sticks.

After bending that part, I cut the leg that reaches to the Cherry MX button (a clone actually) to keep the distance that is reduced by the cavity.

And check the difference:

I applied these buttons back to achieve the preference of both my daughter and myself. Here is the result:

By my side, I completed the Expert Mode of Street Fighter Ex Plus Alpha with all characters. That means buttons and the sticks are working great for me!

And this is the proof that my daughter plays easily with the new soft buttons :) In this video she does a trick I told her about a hacked version of Street Fighter 2, with Zangief :)

Well, that's it for now, folks. I have something more in my mind but I will keep the system like this, and enjoy it for a while. Thanks for reading, cheers!

Botoy (1986) - A Lazy Robot Repair Story

Making Of / 28 August 2022

Hello everyone! I made an attempt to repair an old robot toy from my childhood. Actually this robot was owned by my little brother.

You may remember this robot from one of my artworks named "a Scene from 90s". When I was creating that scene about 3 years ago, I couldn't be able to get my hands to this toy, so I created the 3d model by finding photos of the toy from internet, instead of modeling it by correct measurements. I made enough similarity at least.

Anyway, toy is manifactured by Taiway (Shing Kee) Toys Co. Ltd. from China in 1986. It's called "Botoy".

First I checked up the product for the faulty parts. The most recognizable problem was the corroded battery compartment. That was the main reason that the robot is not operating.

I find some brass copper sheet to replace that connections. Also I removed the cables from the corroded parts and dumped all of them.

I tested the toy and it operated after that move.

Next I went for completing the missing parts of the robot.

Antenna part was easy. I modeled it with Solidworks by measuring the one at hand.

I 3d-printed the part with my Ender 3-v2 printer with black filament. We're good.

Nest step was the gun. The particular case with that gun is, it touches to the copper parts in the arm of the robot and got current to operate.

It was missing for a long time. So I checked the internet to get some photos of the gun to model and print it.

I had pretty much reference to 3d model the gun. For the inside part of it, I referred to my previous experience on creating cases for the electronics :)

For the red translucent part, I printed it with a white translucent part because I don't have red tinted translucent filament. Instead of it, I used red LED inside.

I used copper sheet once again for the connection areas to lit the gun. I thought form factor was challenging for a 3d printed case of that gun but I even had space left inside :)

Black screws would be better. Don't have any :(

Take cover!

For the last missing part, I checked the photos I gathered by google to model the keyboard part in front of the screen. this was the easiest part.

And as a one final replacement, I remodeled a rail part that connects head and the right arm to move accordingly. Because the existing part was breaking too much.

And the robot is completed as it was, back in 80s.

I'm sure there are some mechanical problems in the engine box, but I couldn't dare to open it yet, maybe next time. Meanwhile I will be looking for a solution for the ripped of transparent sticker on the screen. I hope you like this lazy replacement process, and have a good weekend :)

P.S. I can't believe I modeled this robot "that similar" by looking to the photos I gathered from the internet 3 years ago.


Adding a keyboard module to my Pixel Toaster

Making Of / 26 April 2022


Hello! Previously I made an handheld design using Raspberry PI and 3d Printing / Painting. This time I added a detachable keyboard module to my console so it would be easier to access whole c64 keyboard and experience.

You can check the making of process by this two links:
https://www.artstation.com/blogs/blockmind/lMOo/making-of-handheld-commodore-64-project
https://www.artstation.com/blogs/blockmind/lMee/handheld-commodore-64-project-finalization

This time with the help of C64Istanbul from PCBway, I got a keyboard replacement PCB where you can also order by this link:
https://www.pcbway.com/project/shareproject/COMMODORE_64_USB_KEYBOARD_FOR_BMC64_Poor_man_s_Keyrah_89d5c4fc.html

This keyboard has the exact mapping with a real C64 keyboard so the emulators recognize it %100 compatible. It uses an Arduino Pro Micro to make it reconized by a USB interface on the Raspberry PI or PC devices.

image courtasy C64iSTANBUL

So by having this keyboard PCB, I decided to make an expansion module for my handheld console. Normally I have a stand for the device to put it on surface vertically.

This two holes on my previous design made it possible to attach the keyboard module by here. So I completed the design according to that principle.

And 3d printed those with my good old Ender 3 v2.

After the printing I go for the weights. Since my design has a shifted weight center because of the angular screen case, I needed add extra weight in front of the keybaord unit. So I found some steel screws to use for that.

Since I'm using conductive materials as weight, to prevent any short circuit under the PCB, I isolated the back part with 3 layers of masking tape.

I also hacked the Promicro's usb input to use it as an extension cable. So I soldered 4 cables to relevent areas where you can see on this article.
https://www.instructables.com/Fixing-an-Arduino-Pro-Micro-the-USB-Port-Came-Off-/

This is the actual look of the bottom part of the case.

And the weights and keyboard works!


Before painting the parts, I masked the electronic components and the attachment hooks.

I used acyrillic paint with a special mixture to get the famous "Commodore Beige". Here is the recipe: %60 Mocca %40 Desert Brown :)

%100 color match with the old painting.

Let's do an assembly.

At that point, the thing that bothered my was the white color of the faceplate. they can be ordered in few colors but any of them cannot match with the beige color. So I decided to change the color of it. Overpainting it with a thinner was not an option. because the surface was too glossy to hold the paint. 

I found a strange workaround about this. I decided to print the same design with beige background with my color printer. But I printed the design on a sticker paper.

Next I needed to use my laminator device to cover the paper with PVC. Because standad paper would worn out in time while using the keyboard.

Laminators work with heat treatment to make the PVC sheet welded with the paper. Perfect way of protection. To make it one sided to my printed sticker, I added an extra layer of standard paper to the backside of the sticker.

This way I had my sticker PVC laminated on the printed side where I can also easily peel off the cover for the sticky side.

My next problem with this printed keyboard layout was the holes. These holes are drilled by machines, so making holes by hand was not an easy task. I also printed the outline of the holes and to make the holed I modified a pen as a punch pen :)

I used various drill bits to enlarge and sharpen the tip of the pen.

So I used this punch pen to punch the holes.

And finally I applied the sticker on top of the faceplate. Very acceptable match!

It looks way better than the white one because of the color match.

I didn't stop there. My next step was to add some SMD LED lights to the clearance I designed for the screw heads. It lookedlike a perfect placeto add the lights for some decorative key lighting.

I soldered a simple board for the resistors of the LEDs. I added a 90 degree pins to put a connector, because board is on the bottom part, and the LEDs are on the top part. So I needed to detach LEDs from the bottom part of the case for maintenance purposes.

And the lights on!

These are not so powerful lights bu they added a nice touch I suppose.

For the USB connector, I made up a case like this. I know it's not looking so good but at least it secured the soldier and cables on the tip.

Because of the bad masking decision I made, the bottom keyboard module was looking like this:

I kept that black are masked because it is the attachment hooks. Painting them will cause losing tolerances on the shrink fit. But it looks terrible this way and even it's not exposed after attaching to the screen, I wouldn't let it be like that. So I re-painted that area. But as you can see, there was an height level variation between the first paint and the secondary paint surfaces.

I sand papered it and painted one last time and it's done!

And finally completed this project. Here is the final shots about it. 

It was a real fun making this device get closer to my reverse-visionary HX-64 design (https://www.artstation.com/artwork/dOqA8K) and it was great to make up some homebrew workarounds during the process. I hope you like it too!


And some FPV shots :)

Cheers!

Handheld Commodore 64 Project - Finalization

Making Of / 24 June 2021

Hello once again,

Previously I made a case design for a handheld Commodore 64 that I made by a Raspberry Pi. You can see the making of process by this blog post.

https://www.artstation.com/blockmind/blog/lMOo/making-of-handheld-commodore-64-project

I know that project has been a disaster on 3d printing, so the resulted case was not looking good enough. 

This posts shows what I did to save the look of the device :)

As a started I re-printed the top part.

Next I used putty over the case parts.

And sanded after it dried.

I painted the parts with a primer.

...and made some tiny scratching on cavities.




Now it's time for painting with reference color!


Not close enough, but still it can be used for the first coat of painting. 


Second trial had been better on match.



And this is the resulted piece!

Acceptable color match!


And leaving some more shots here:


I hope you like it this post process. Cheers!

Making of Handheld Commodore 64 Project

Making Of / 20 June 2021

Hello, I'm here with another homebrew Commodore 64 Handheld project! It is a Raspberry Pi-emulated electronic assembly. It has it's own screen, it has two 18650 batteries inside that makes it work for 3 hours and 55 minutes in full load with gamepad activity.

You can see more info about this device in this video:


I used BMC 64 emulator on this device. You can find it by this link: www.accentual.com/bmc64


Here is the simple diagram of the components

First I combined these parts on my table and measured them. I modeled rough blocks of these in Solidworks and made a placement first.

Next by considering the port clearences and placement, I modeled a 3d printable case.

After modeling is done, I 3d printed the bottom part first and fixed the components on it.

For the controller part, I made a different approach on this one. I directly used a controller circuit which I detached from a very cheap gamepad controller (around $4). Because all GPIO pins on the Raspberrry Pi is used on IPS screen. So I needed to connect the controller with a USB interface. Instead of doing it with an Arduino, I directly used a gamepad circuit which was faster way :)







And fixed the screen to top part as well.


And we have the whole system cased!




And system works! (I know I work messy - P.S. no apricot seeds are used on this project)


The top part was 3d printed very bad because of some filament issues and placement. I tried to recover the bad surface by a 3d print surface finisher tool that makes ironing.


I know, it's not perfect but at least it can be sanded and painted later...



Tape loading!

The last ninja!

♥️

Dimensional reference photo (metric)

Some nature photos! In my childhood, some travels we do was sperating me with my Commodore 64. I wish it was possible for me to build this device in 1989 :)








And some renders! You can find the rendering project page by this link: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/GalrWW





I hope you like it! And thanks for your attention as always!

Portable BMC 64 Emulator - Mk II (Painting)

Making Of / 30 March 2021

Last weekend I painted this case by trying to match the colors of breadbin cases. 

Actually, it was very hard to match the color by mixing acyrillic paints that I have. 

Anyway, first I applied a surface primer (gray) and then used sandpapering to clean up surfaces. After that I used putty to fill layered surfaces that caused by 3d printing. And applied sandpapering again. 

Careful while using this kind of putty products (in my case Tamiya Putty). There are huge warnings about how hazardous they are.

I'm trying to match a color here but it's far from good. So I decided to use it as a one more primer layer to sandpaper once again. 

Sandpapering again has made the gray at the bottom look more visible like some Substance Painter edge damage filter is applied :)


Color in the container is my second mix where you can see that previous one (the right part) looking more off.

I'm using airbrush for the job BTW.

And looks better.


Finally I assembled the pieces and paint the icons on the front panel with black permanent pen.

A close up with flashlight.  

One comparison with Commodore 1702 monitor.

Now it looks more like the one I rendered for the the blister pack project on my portfolio :)

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/lxbNeo 

  

And oıne final comparison with before and after the painting process.



Portable BMC 64 Emulator - Mk II

Making Of / 18 February 2021

I'm here with another case and electronics design related to BMC64 Emulator (https://accentual.com/bmc64/). It's a Commodore 64 emulator for Raspberry Pi devices.

My purpose was to assemble a portable All-in-one device to be usable by just connecting to a TV or Monitor by a video cable.


Previously I made a similar design which is detailed by this link:
https://www.artstation.com/blockmind/blog/NgDK/portable-commodore-64-design-with-bmc-64-emulator

This time I combined this design with my Firepad64 design (Thanks to my brother Cihangir for this advice). BTW, Firepad 64 is a fire rate adjustable controller for 8 Bit computers. For more detail:
https://www.artstation.com/blockmind/blog/RYL0/firepad-64-v3-home-production-logs

First you can check this introduction video I recorded about this device:

Now let's see how I made it:

First I gathered the components and soldered them. 

Power Bank Charge Unit

18650 Battery

Raspberry Pi 3A+

2 x DSUB9 Connectors

6 x 8mm Switches

SD Card Expander

Firepad 64 mechanism (Custom made)

USB Expander (Custom made)

GPIO hat (Custom made)

3mm LED light

---

I made a GPIO hat for the Raspberry to distribute all joystick and custom function pins to buttons.

Once I gathered all the components together, I designed the case by part by part which I'm lucky that all fit together at the end.



First I designed the bottom part and 3d printed it. Made the assembly fixed onto it by screws.




Next my measuring the result with the bottom part, I designed the top part of the case and 3d printed it.

Connected the firepad unit to it by screws & nuts.


All system is ready to be encapsulated.

I made this translucent keycaps by 3d printing. I applied translucent filament into the direction icons and used sandpaper to smooth and blend them together.

Here is the lit version with labels I printed with my color printer.



Finally I printed little key caps fot the left panel, and device is ready to use.



It's connected to HDMI screen.

And here it's connected to A CRT screen (Commodore 1084).

Looks like batmobile right :)

And more photos... Thanks for your time!









Replacing Commodore 64 Key Mechanism by 3d Printing

Making Of / 20 December 2020

Yesterday I was detaching keycaps of my Commodore 64 to clean the mess under, because some of the keys were not pressing well. But while detaching the keycaps I broke 19 of them. Since the time passed, these key mechanism plastics got crunchy.

Normally this means you need to send your computer to service, and make them replace the key mechanism. Since there is no service of this brand, that mean I need to solve this myself.

First I tried to super glue the thing but it was not a good idea, since doens't work. After that, I decided to 3d print the parts that I broke down.

But first, I needed to remove the broken part inside the caps. For that, I used "wine cork technique" with a tiny screw! First I screwed it 3-4 steps into the broken part and I pulled it back.

Next, I modeled the existing part with Solidwoks by taking measures with calipers.

Before printing this kind objects that needs to be used on mechanical purposes, I make the slicing angular (about 30°). This way printing layers will be angular, so part will be more durable for the forces on the arms.

Since it is roughly 10mm to 18mm part, I wasn't sure that it will come out correctly. Because there is a rubber conductor part that needs to be attached to that part to make it work.  

I'm very happy with the result.

Time to attach the rubber conductor.

Let's apply the replacements!


Alignment is perfect as well!



Works great! Thanks for reading.

Also this part can be downloaded by this link: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4691398

Firepad 64 - V3 - Home Production Logs

Making Of / 08 December 2020

Hello, 

Recently I made an advancement on my Firepad64 design, which is the Version 3 (possibly the last update) for this device. It's a joystick replacement for Commodore 64 that has a keyboard layout for easy playing. You can check this post to see the first creation steps of this device:

https://www.artstation.com/blockmind/blog/zPLm/making-of-firepad64-joystick-replacement-for-commodore-64

I want to share the steps of the creation of this device because (except the PCBs) it's all homemade manufacturing which is a great achievement of our world has come to. I didn't even get out from home to create this "mechanic and electronic" product. So I find this important to share the details of creating an end-user product at home. It's cyberpunk! :)

Anyway, Version 3 of Firepad64 has 3 major advancements after the previous version.

  1. Professional Outemu brand mehchanical keys with regular linear (red) and clicky type (blue) versions.
  2. Backlit Lighting
  3. Screw Assembly instead of shrink-fit




This video shows some details of the product but it's in Turkish.


The most problematic part of this update was to adapt the Mechanical buttons to my existing PCBs. Because the pin positions are totally different. Since I have some 50 pieces of the previous PCBs, I decided made an adapter for the buttons to comply with my existing boards.




Without those adapters I was adapting the keys with prototyping boards. It was good for some 1-2 adaptations but it was not durable and it was so much time consuming to make the buttons adapt to my existing PCBs.


Wtih the help of the adapters it was easy for me to make usable mechanical switches in a fast way.


Next I 3d printed a template to make the perfect alignment for the keys before soldering them.

You can see the lighting under the keys. Best part of these mechanical keys, they are designed for to let the light under them. So I used a serial light cable which are used on new year lighting applications on homes to make the keys lit.

I assembled the PCBs.






This is how they shine like a Christmas tree :)

My next step was to finalize the 3d design and make the 3d printing. I made the whole design with Solidworks but I love how Rhinoceros show the CAD models. Look at this fast AO computation in viewport!

So I started 3d printing and assembled each set after they're complete.




Nice part about these keys is you can use regular keycaps.



So here is the army of Firepads :)




  


  

And finally the connector & cable design.










Time for boxing.


Enjoying Mr. Steven Wilson's great music while working on the stickers and product sheets.

...and voila!

I hope you like the steps of this home production phase for some friends from the community of retro gaming. Thanks & see you!

Easyflash3 Cartridge Case Design

Making Of / 01 November 2020
Hello! I made a 3d printable case design for my easyflash3. 


Easyflash3 is re-programmable Commodore 64 cartridge that supports all CRT files and fastload cartridge binaries like Action Replay, Final Cartridge Etc. You can find more details about it by this link: https://skoe.de/easyflash/

I used Solidworks to measure and model the existing electronic part first. I use calipers to measure all distances and clearences while creating the model. And next I modeled the case by referencening the electronic part.

This way I had a chance to get rid of that center screw which I don't like on cartridges. It's economic and easy way for an assembly but my version is more rock solid at the end with no loose fixation between case and the PCB.


You can download the models from thingiverse. I also added some label designs as PDF file. 


You can see the timelapse video by here:

Here are some photos of the assemblying 3d printed parts. Hope you like it, see you on next project :)