Matticustard's Musings (back again) - Arcade Control Box w/ Full LED Control

Hello again! I’ve got another fun project to share that will be taking its spot next to the recently completed pinball machine.

A legitimate game room is something I’ve been dreaming of for a very long time and I’m super excited to finally see it coming together. If it were not for communities like this, I would never have developed and honed the skills required to complete such amazing projects and I just want to thank everyone here, especially those of you who have encouraged me along the way.

I remembered to take a few pictures this time — more than usual, at least — so I’ll do some progress shots before the reveal.

Setting up toolpaths

On the Lowrider

I cut out recesses behind all of the buttons and joysticks as I knew I was going to be adding a 1/8" protective layer over the artwork. This plywood is a bit hairy…

Milling the “glass” (polycarbonate)

Some prep work (body filler and sanding sealer)

Completed box assembly + Fit test + Wiring up a hot mess

It gets worse as it goes. Each button has 4 wire connections, switch +/-, and LED +/-. The last wires are daisy-chained ground for the switches, and daisy-chained power for the LEDs.

Gross…

Designing the artwork

I designed the control surfaces myself, but must give credit to artist Michal Kváč for the background image found in Synthwave Dream 4Pack.



And finally, finished and trimmed…

But perhaps the coolest thing of all…IT TALKS!

I had no idea this feature existed when I picked up the PacLED64. I knew that it could manage individual LEDs to only light up game-specific controls. But I did not know that it would announce those controls to you at the start of the game!

Links

These lists are not conclusive. I also used a 12V power supply, buck coverter, USB hub, and various other devices to make everything work. Also, I just want to be clear that I don’t get anything from posting these links here. I simply know that I spent a lot of time researching this project and hope these might help someone else looking to build an arcade control panel.

Parts:

Software:

Final thoughts

This has been an amazing project and there is still so much to do. I have used console emulators before but never realized the added complexities of MAME — full sets, split sets, merged sets, CHDs, samples, and so on. There was a bigger learning curve than I expected, but I’m excited with the results. And LEDBlinky is way smarter than I expected, already able to parse out the control schemes for most games; however, there are still some games for which you will need to learn to manually configure controls. All in all, a totally worthwhile project.

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Awesome!

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I’m making a simple flight simulator panel with my brother, and we are bending our brains to figure stuff out. This is really another level!!

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That sounds like a lot of fun!

I will say, speaking purely from the standpoint of an arcade emulator, the IPAC-4 was my saving grace. It’s essentially a keyboard interface, so every button and joystick input (up, down, left, right) is tagged to it’s own specific key on the keyboard. This completely takes Windows device assignment out of the equation and makes setup SO much easier.

For a flight sim, I imagine you have to deal with analog inputs which could certainly be more of a challenge.

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Super neat! The switches and lcds are hooked up to an arduino mega

(had some melting when milling, the finished panel will be better)

On the software side, Mobiflight is used to communicate with fs2020.

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That’s going to be really sharp! I love what you’ve done so far. Great attention to detail.

Is there some kind of harness for those buttons? It looks like 8 or 9 pins each from the image. I don’t envy you if you have to solder all of those individually. :astonished:

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No harness, gnd in daisychain. Not all pins are used though! They have good training, another panel (FMC) had 550 solder points :exploding_head:

Nice wiring, btw!

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My attempt at an FMC…P4250079
OK…so the colour is not quite right! also…not sharp!..but it is functional…

P4250080

It runs the free SimVimcockpit (now called HCSCI) on a Mega2560 for X-plane

also made a 530 GPS, a comms panel, a jetliner autopilot and the ubiquitous Cessna switch panel.

As an alternative to a hardware joystick controller there is an Arduino library by MHeironimus that allows you to assign functions to up to 32 buttons and 6 axis’. Here is a link to my 13 button, 5 axis helicopter joystick sketch using this library.

Perhaps we need a new thread on simpits. :slight_smile:

Lovely arcade!

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There was a real fmc button panel on ebay a while back that a dude converted to usb. I really wanted one, but the $250 price tag killed the WAF on it.

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This one was 150 eur. Postage, Arduinos and power supply and such comes extra.

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That is really cool! I mean…BONKERS execution. Well done!

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Dude! That’s nice!

Just let me know if you want the source. I’ve got no bragging rights! It’s my brothers, and he is the FS-enthusiast. I’m just the dude with the 3d-printer and the CNC :stuck_out_tongue:

And @Matticustard, I’m sorry for hijacking your thread! You deserve all the limelight for the arcade box, it’s really awesome.

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Just thought I’d share a quick update.

I added a 21:9 monitor I managed to get cheap from eBay as marquee for a bit of extra. I may trim that pole down a bit so it’s not poking out the top, but otherwise I think it’s all coming together.

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This is really inspiring work!

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That’s gorgeous, and the marquee idea, BRILLIANT. I love that.

Commenting on your post about the iPAC4, I was in a discussion the other day with someone that had bought those cheap encoders from amazon. They came over and played one of my multi-cades and asked why my controls were so much smoother and had better reaction time, and it’s totally the iPAC4 vs the cheap encoders. Definitely NEVER skimp there. I was happy to see you had the iPAC!

You’re gonna make me build a pedestal… Thanks… HAHA!

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Thanks again! Agreed, still loving my IPAC here as well.

I’ll definitely keep an eye out as I’m looking forward to seeing some more arcade and virtual pinball builds!

I meant to ask you in that last reply… You use Vcarve to generate gcode for your lowrider? I didn’t know that was a thing. I have aspire, and while I LOVE estlcam, I am more familiar with Aspire.

Yes, that’s correct. Other than a recent project with aluminum which required trochoidal milling, I use VCarve almost exclusively. I posted a series of VCarve post-processors a while back if you would like to use one as a starting point — I am still using them today.

ABSOLUTELY do! Thank you!!!

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