Gauntlet: Assessment and Control Panel Work

June 14th, 2010 Posted in Gauntlet

It’s coming close to the point where I need to make a list of the items I need to finish to complete Phase 1 of this project (Phase 2 will involve prettying up the rest of the machine, including replacing the side graphics/marquee and installing new t-molding).  I’ve got several small tasks, while not unimportant, they can be easy to overlook. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve got left (in no particular order):

* Mount PC into cabinet (either in a case (easy) or free (more difficult)).
* Replace old locks with Hex locks.
* Modify control panel layout and create new mockup for brief testing.
* Assuming the new control panel works out, transfer this to permanent control panel on 3/4″ plywood, including cutting panel, drilling holes and spraying with black paint (in case there are spots not covered by the control panel overlay or t-molding).
* Install mounting hardware from old control panel to new control panel.
* Replace wire-nutted splicing of video wiring with insulated quick connects.
* Patch front panel (damage from old screws) and scrape off front panel fragments that are stuck to mounting strips.
* Install front panel to cabinet.
* Replace stereo RCA jacks on audio amp with stereo 3.5mm headphone jack and mount the jack.
* Install new mounting hardware for the joysticks onto the new control panel.
* Install/adhere the new control Panel Overlay to permanent control panel.
* Move controls from mock-up control panel to permanent control panel.
* Create replacement back access panel, including mount for PC power button and port for power cable to route out of cabinet.
* Mount fan on vent grate on back of cabinet to allow sufficient ventilation in cabinet (particularly for the PC).
* Install T-Molding on new control panel.
* Mount J-PAC and I-PAC2 to underside of control panel (if room permits) or next to audio amp (less desirable, as removing the control panel will be more difficult).
* Install beverage holders on sides or front of machine (This is certainly not a requirement, but I’d like it, just for the fact that it would make a spill less likely, and I need to put my beer somewhere… right?!).

So I began working on Friday, and started with something easy that had began bugging me; I swapped out all of the locks for the Hex locks.  I had actually removed the locks a week or two ago, so any time I needed to move the front panel, I’d get coin doors flipping open and whacking me in  the arms, face or shins, depending on where I was when it was being moved. I then moved onto making a new mock-up control panel, using an isosceles triangle button pattern for the red and green stations (rather than the more spread out formation I was previously using).  I cut out the control panel, again using the control panel overlay as a guide.  However, this time I bought a new Milwaukee hole saw to drill my holes (the whole saw kit I bought from Harbor Freight is fine for a hole here or a hole there, but not up to the challenge of 32 holes on the mockup and then another 32 on the real deal.  I had already put 64 holes with the Harbor Freight bit, and it was a pain in the ass).

While the new hole saw is a vast improvement, the hole cutting still went slow, as the bit invariably gets clogged with wood particles. I had the foresight this time to find a wire brush to quickly clean the teeth of the bit, which sped up the drill time a bit (no pun intended).

I test fitted one of the changed stations, and things felt alright, so I moved on to the final control panel.

I traced the outline mockup control panel onto the plywood, as well as all the button holes to make quick work of the transfer.  The ¾” plywood was a little more difficult to drill through, as the bit would get bogged down about halfway through.  What I ended up doing is drilling until at least the guide bit got through, and then flip the board, and drill in the other direction (I actually grouped them together, so I wasn’t flipping the board back and forth.  I did all of the front cuts and then all of the back cuts).  This cut down on splintering on the surface, and the bit seemed to go through the first ¼” a little faster this way.  I did have a little piece of the plywood break off between buttons, but I patched that up with wood putty and let it dry overnight.  I sanded it down the next day, and the panel was ready to paint (after hitting it with a tack cloth).

Painting was nice, as it allowed me to get rid of 4 miscellaneous cans of black spray paint I had laying around that were previously used on various projects, but not empty.  I put on several coats, and by the end had a nice smooth surface that I was confident would allow the control panel overlay to adhere properly.

Next I started working on transferring the control panel mounting hardware from the original control panel to the new one.  The existing hardware bolted through the entire control panel, so a bolt was visible on the top side of the panel.  Also, there was a small wooden spacer used, to lift the hardware off of the underside of the control panel by about an eighth of an inch.

Since I wasn’t going to pull the wood spacer off of the old board, I found a suitable replacement: old paint stir sticks (which were coincidentally from the now defunct Knox Lumber). They were almost the same dimensions, and required only minimal cutting on the top two inserts, cutting that was easily performed with a utility knife. Using a staple gun, I fastened them into place.

I didn’t want the bolts exposed on the top of the control panel, so I opted to use wood screws that were nice and beefy, and that would come within fractions of an inch of the surface of the control panel, ensuring the best hold possible.  I installed the screws, with the hardware, and it fit like a glove!

My last task for the weekend was to replace the wire nuts that I had recently installed on my video wiring splicing, with insulated quick connectors.  I decided to do this because if I left it hardwired, I wouldn’t be able to completely remove the control panel without clipping wires.  While I don’t plan on having to remove the control panel, for well, anything, I am going to want it removed for when I move the beast into my house.  The cabinet will fit through the doors with the control panel installed, but I don’t want to risk damaging the work I’ve made on the control panel, nor my door frames or walls.  Snipping the wires and installing the insulated quick connects was a breeze.  I guess I’ll find out whether my crimping was good whenever I get the machine back up and running.

So that’s five tasks down, twelve to go.  Looks like I’m still going to be plenty busy!

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