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Worklog: Arcade Stick

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Finishing the frame-carcass


Ok, so the frame-carcasses have set nicely, and I used a scrap piece of wood as a sanding block, and wrapped some sandpaper around it, sanded all the circular saw gouges and other scratches out, and then used the sandpaper alone to round/radius off all the 90 and 45 degree corners. This resulted in a nice smoothed shape which looked more like a single piece than an assembly of parts.







The near-clear floor varnish that I was thinking about using must have been all used up, so I looked around the garage to see what else I had knocking about. I had a choice of a "clear" gloss exterior varnish and a "satin" interior varnish. I thought that they would both be fairly near-clear varnishes, but upon testing them out on some scrap wood I found that the "clear" gloss was actually more of a honey glaze, both in colour and consistency (very sticky), and the "satin" interior varnish actually turn out to be a very dark brown.







A closer look at the rusty old lid revealed why it was so dark: "D Mhg Stn" which I can only imagine means either "deep mahogany stain" or "dark mahogany stain".





While I wasn't really planning on staining the wood so dark, I definitely designed the sticks to have a brown outer body, and I think the types of red, mahogany colours give a more luxurious look (especially since following the Project: Ultimate Ultra Super Awesome Overclocked Computer Desk worklog!).


I made sure to put a nice thin first coat on, to avoid any drips or streaks. I put the assembly on a pedestal type platform in the form of my solder station box.





This allowed me to turn the piece around and really work the varnish around the corners.





That said, I was slightly concerned with the darker shade of varnish at the corners. I'm fairly certain this is due to the rounded corner sanding exposing the grain of the wood, edging towards the varnish sapping behaviour of the end of a plank of wood (not sure of the technical terms, but I think you can see what I'm talking about here).





The slight gouge from a slip of a holesaw has been sanded out as much as my patience could bear, and then the varnish looks to have smoothed over the fine lines.





Ok, so after a second coat, it doesn't look all that much different. Perhaps, a little more evenly coloured? You may ask why I bothered to stain the interior of the carcass. Well, the bottom panel is going to be a smoked translucent acrylic sheet, so you'll be able to see inside somewhat, even with the base closed. Also, there are slight gaps either side of the control panel, and I didn't want the bright, light redwood beaming through the cracks.





I'm not sure about leaving it as a satin finish, it is quite flat, so I might possibly finish off with the "honey glaze" varnish for a final gloss coat. I'll be sanding what I've got so far in an attempt to aim for a quality furniture finish rather than a tarted up wooden box (which is admittedly what it is, but I like making the effort to doing as good a job as I can manage!)


The slightly sad thing is, over the last few days I've only been working on the one carcass. You can see the other one in the background of the photos in this update, so I get to do all the hours of sanding and staining all over again just to get the other piece up to the same stage as this one.


I've got to say, it's very true that almost all the work of making an arcade stick is the wood work. The electronic side will be such a small and easy part of this project, and I look forward to being able to start on the electronics, as all this wood working is very patience-testing...

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Yep, you can see why fine furniture costs a lot when you start working with wood yourself.


Have you made any more progress on this?

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Finishing up the cases


Ok, so real life happened and also I got stuck with trying to tack tiny wires onto the 20 pin connector of the PS3 pad PCB, they kept falling off, or they'd move and short on a neighbouring wire, or one a slightly different PCB they ripped off the copper tracks that I tacked onto... it was a nightmare and I basically ruined two PCBs in the process... a third experimental one is possibly still usable...


I had a lot of problems getting the varnish even, and ended up forgetting about keeping the grain visible and just put more varnish on lol. I guess arcade cabinets aren't typically made of polished wood anyway, so this was acceptable. With the colour varnish done, I laid down some clear floor varnish that we used on our sanded floorboard of our main bedroom, so if it can stand footfall, it should help protect the stick bodies.


The thick plywood base panel was drilled and countersunk to be screwed to the frame.





Instead of the stock rounded-square extent limiter, I opted for the more fight-ready octagonal guide. These are attached to the bottom of the joystick, and the octagonal ones make for MUCH better circular movements.





Since the joystick moves very freely, I went for regular screws to fix it to the base panel. If they wear loose over time (I highly doubt it), I could replace them with bolt/nut/washers and bolt-through attach the joysticks.





The intermediate MDF panels lay on top of the plywood base panel.







Then, fast forward a bit and what I've done here is printed out some artwork onto A4 glossy photo paper, painstakingly cut out all the holes for the buttons and stick and LED holders to pass through the photo paper with a scalpel. Laid the printed art down and put the clear acrylic sheet on top, and then fit all the buttons, LED holders, joystick ball top and dust cover.







The clear top is held down with some dome-cap mirror screws. These are basically counter-sunk wood screws with a slotted head (so you can turn tighten/un-tighten the screw) and then a tapped hole in the centre. The dome caps have a threaded machine screw which goes inside the tapped wood screw. Pretty cool, I've wondered how they were possible in the past, and they seem to have that nice smooth anti-tamper look that also won't scratch hands/wrists/etc.





Each of the buttons is labelled so that you can see what it is.







Round at the back you've got the mini-USB connectors for charging.





On the bottom, I used panel/cup washers which are flush with the screws. These hold down the bottom smoked black polycarbonate sheet which is translucent. It's just about impossible to take a picture of what you can actually see as the camera "sees" the reflection more than the human eye does, but you can get an idea from where I've held something up in the air to block the bright ceiling, lol. Being able to see the inside definitely stems from my PC modding.





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The dreaded wiring


I'd tried to wire everything to the PCB, including all the controls, LEDs, and USB, but gave up after multiple failures and settled on just wiring the off-board LED wires (which had been about the only success of the now-ruined PCBs). The onboard LEDs are surface mount and come off with a very difficult balance of firm yet gentle easing with a soldering iron. Some just kinda disintegrated, but all I cared about was exposing the copper pads beneath.

The LEDs have a common negative and individual positives (anode/cathode, always forget which is which), so you can actually see in this picture where I've ripped the copper pad off LED1's negative spot, but it doesn't matter as I just used LED4's negative instead as the common.





The wires on that LED were temporarily hooked up to a terminal strip so I could confirm them as working and then I put some hot glue on top to stop them ripping off as they're barely holding on to anything, and even a small movement of the wires can pull the tracks off the board.


Anyway, I got a handy-dandy AXISdapter PCB and ribbon connector made by Toodles, a master modder, and solder-assembled it. The ribbon connector fits into the 20-pin connector of the PS3 PCB and basically you end up with a bunch of screw terminals to wire up the stick and buttons! I used some random rubber washers to mount it raised off the plywood panel, so that it cleared the mini-B connector of the internal USB connection.





Fast forward through much tedious wire-stripping and soldering and I ended up with this (Ken stick).





The Ryu stick seemed a bit neater and the AXISdapter didn't need to be mounted at an angle since mounting it on washers on one side was more than sufficiently secure.





I almost wonder if it was even worth the effort to take a photo of the bottom since the camera just picks up the reflection so much, but you can probably imagine, based on what you can see here, the fully-wired stick viewed from the bottom.





So here we have it, Ken vs Ryu. *





* this is actually a photo from earlier, before I wired up the LEDs, but just imagine there are flat-top red LEDs in there, lol



It's taken a long, long time to complete these, both in terms of time since the start of the project, and in actual man hours required to design, develop, build and wire up the sticks. Now that I know what's involved in making them, yes, I could make more, but I don't want to for a very long time lol.


So far I've only tested them on PC with emulators, but they are excellent and even better than the arcade machines I learnt to play fighting games on as a kid. This weekend is a FOUR-DAY weekend, so I think I timed the completion just right haha. Will be taking them round a mate's house for some battles on PS3. It will be epic, and best of all, no threat of sore thumbs!

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Nice work HardNRG but if its Ken VS. Ryu shouldn't they be facing each other. :teehee:

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Nice work HardNRG but if its Ken VS. Ryu shouldn't they be facing each other. :teehee:

har dee har har, lol


they could face each other if I made a "left-handed" stick I guess... but do they even exist?

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LOL maybe you should call them ken and ryu pwning noobs like yourself when I blasted you back to the stone age in ut2k4

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