(a revolutionary input device that's only 30 years too late)
The arcade cabinet:In order to demonstrate the Lighthammer project, I wrote a game. Originally I intended to show it, at the Commodore meeting, using just with a normal monitor on a normal table. However, this doesn't stick out on meeting when you are surrounded by computers and monitors that look similair, with the only exception is my littyle hammer. Fortunately I couldn't make it that particular meeting so the demonstration had to be postponed for 2 months. Well considering that I want to make an impact with my project. It came to my mind to make a cabinet and I had two months to do it. That are approx. seven full weekends, it should be possible. So a few days after that bright moment of inspiration I hopped onto my bike a went to the local second hand store. For €10,- I bought a 4:3 50cm CRT television. Then I hopped on my bike again and went to the hardware store to buy some MDF and wood. When I came home I immediately went to work. I stripped the TV from all the unwanted parts. I cleaned the parts that were important. Then I started to shape the wood and made the first rough shapes of the cabinet. Although I was aware of the fact that I did not discuss this with the wife and I haven't thought about the place were I was going to store in untill the day of the meeting I joyfully carried on working when suddenly...
the wife came along. "What are you doing" she asked. Well I had to
confess I was making an arcade cabinet to demonstrate the lighthammer
project. I immediately said that it didn't cost much. "Where are you
going to put it" she said, well I said that I made it only for the
meeting and then afterwards was going to disassemble it. And then, to
my surprise she said "If you make it look nice you may put it in
the livingroom, then you don't have to disassemble it, that would be a
waste of all your work". It could be where the cat has her food dishes,
that would be a nice place... BUT these dishes must stay there, think
I was surprised with this reply but knowing that the cabinet could stay for many years to come, things changed a little.
So I decided to add some extra features (yes the project was getting out of hand from that moment). However the features may not interfere with the deadline. I wanted joysticks, ohh and a keyboard, but that must be hidden during the demonstration, it must be user friendly, so the kids can use it when they like and don't need to ask me to set it up. But also it must be sturdy enough so can take some small abuse. And in the mean while it must be according the "silly" WAF-rules. Did I mention safety... so lots of little holes for the heat to escape, high voltage of CRT must be unreachable under any condition and oh ofcourse all the components need to be servicable and not forget, what if I want to add a paddle or lightgun or special kind of joystick in case I don't like the build-in ones. My mind was put into high gear the days after the news that the cabinet could stay forever. How can I pull this off without exceeding the 2 month time limit and most importantly, keeping expenses to a minimum.
measured for many many hours and ofcourse I forgot some important
things (like the volume buttons and the reset button). The volume
buttons eventually went on top of the cabinet though I could have used
a remote control but the TV came without remote control. That was no
problem because I wanted buttons because you can't loose them, the
remote would eventually have bad batteries, fall on the ground and most
importantly requires a hole in the cabinet for the IR-sensor of the TV
to look at the remote. The buttons are on top of the
of sight if you are small but in reach. The reset button was combined
with the restore key on the keyboard.... blablabla...
Because the cabinet will be placed in the living room and it had to pass the WAF (wife acceptancy factor) criteria. I had to do some some research on what to put on it. Stickers perhaps, nehhh... to expensive and I probably mess them up anyway when I apply them to the cabinet. Airbrush has always got my attention... but I'm no artist and I have no airbrush equipment. So I put this to rest for a few weeks. And indeed after a few weeks it came to mind that there are spray paint artists that make amazing stuff with very simple tools and tricks. Planets, moons, stars and mists. Well it was clear to me from then. The theme of the cabinet is going to be a space like theme. It made som much sense to me, space was an important thing when you were a kid in the 80's, LEGO had the great space series, and there were lot's of space based series on television (buck rogers, battle star gallactica, astronautjes) , and let's not forget that lots of games were about space adventures. So a space theme would be great (if properly done). So I googled and found some videos, I viewed many, try to memorize their tricks and went to try them out on a piece of canvas I bought with the spray paint at the local discounter. Spray paint doesn't need to be expensive. It took me many tries before I got the hang of it and after a while I was confident enough to spray paint the cabinet with me new skills. Well, it looked nice on one side, then the other side, which looked even better. Then I attempted to do the front but this didn't work out the way I wanted it, so I took the solver spray paint and sprayed a mist like layer over the Commodore logo, now the little errors round the edges of the logo were less noticable. And as a small side effect I noticed that it fitted the plastic of the CRT.
Well in the end it all turned out nice: the wife was happy, the cat was happy (which is happy as long as she get's her meals) and I'm happy. And to my surprise the kids like the cabinet and the old games too...
|For those who wonder how all games/files are loaded into the C64, I use (what a surprise) my own storage project "the Cassiopei". This little device is small but powerfull and very easily placed into the cabinet (it fits directly into the cassetteport). Using the cassetteport doesn't mean that this device is slow. It is anything but slow, as it loads more then 50 times faster then standard tape. It is even faster then some 1541 serial diskdrive speedloaders. Also it can easily be removed to load new game/files onto it and in combination with the menu program the user does not need to type LOAD blablabla, he/she simply presses: shift+ runstop followed by pressing menu button on the device. And from there it all goes automatically and within a few moments the menu is visible or the game is loaded and you can play. If you want to know more about this device then visit my Cassiopei project page The cabinet also has room for a diskdrive, this because I want to be able to use old disks. Not that I need to, but simply because there was enough room to place one and it might be usefull in case somebody gives me an old disk at a Commodore meeting. Also otherwise the diskdrive would be in storage (a box at the attic) simply because I do not use them enough to justify permanent placement on my desk. The images below also demonstrate that the door of the cabinet can be removed. This is quite easy because the bottomside of the door is a piece of PVC pipe that lies on 3 hooks, so the hinge is completely open and relies on gravity to prevent it from floating up. I wanted the door to be removable for maintenance and practical use with the diskdrive. It also allows for direct access to all the ports of the C64 (the disdrive connection is soldered directly to the motherboard of the C64 to keep the IEC connector free, this looks a little nicer because you (almost) see no cables when you open the cabinet. The diskdrive is an ordinary brown 1541 diskdrive. The drives was a write off, it was not pretty to look at and minor technical problems, which were easily solved by carefull cleaning. Because these drives tend to get quite hot I changed the way the disk drive gets its power. I simply used the cabinets powersupply of 5V and 12V (which is a PC power supplu, which can supply many diskdrives and C64's at the same time. And because the disk drive no longer requires to use it's own power regulators the drives overall efficiency is now a lot better. In order to the disk drive fit the color sheme of the cabinet I painted it black. And while doing so I noticed some small amount of paint on the logo of the drive, using acetone I removed it, but then I removed all the paint of the logo to, it came of instantly. So I decided to remove all the paint from the metal logo strip, and what remained was a shiny/silverly metal strip... this was great. It looked some much better with the black then the original colored stripes on a brownish background, wow. Now it looks like a completely different drive. Next to the disk drive is room for another disk drive, but there is really no need for that, so a small box with empty disk is placed there. Because you never know when you need a disk. Although, I don't intend to use the disk drive many times, but I can when I have to. So In the end, I now have a fully functional C64 in my living room, looking like an arcade cabinet.|