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Keyboard Interface


     To interface my computer with the buttons I used the I-PAC by Ultimarc.  This handy dandy piece of equipment saves lots of time and headache.  The I-PAC acts as a keyboard interface for your computer.  For example you take the wire from the controller button for the 1-player coin, and simply connect it to the board on the appropriate input and the computer interprets that as a keyboard stroke.  So when you push the 1-player button it is the same as pushing the number 5 on a keyboard.  The I-PAC connects to the computer through the USB port.  It comes with 28 inputs and already programmed for the standard mame games.  I actually e-mailed the owner of Ultimarc with a question and he responded the very next day, now that's good customer service.  I also purchased the mounting feet for the board, only $3.  The only drawback is that Ultimarc is in London England, so I paid $12, just for shipping.  $58 total is worth it compared to hacking a joystick or a keyboard.






All the controls for my arcade came from Happ Controls




All of the buttons are the ultimate style, which is like most of the older arcade  games.



I chose the universal style for two reasons:

1.) You can switch it from 4-way to 8-way control.  This is good for pac-man and other 4-way games and then for the other games it can be switch to 8-way.  It is a little difficult using a 8-way joystick for a 4-way game.

2.) customer review section from the mac daddy website,



The trackball is blue transparent with a light underneath.  I also bought two blue lighted buttons to go along with the trackball.  This plugs into the USB or PS2 port and act the exact same as a mouse with two buttons, and looks cool in the dark!

This was the best part of the whole project.  I decided to try to make the control panel as authentic as I could.  I wanted the clear plastic with a custom picture underneath.


   * PANEL *

    I used the original control panel as a template for the size and the original hardware to mount it to the cabinet.  I used 3/4" plywood for the panel.  I cut it with a jigsaw and made the holes for the buttons with a hole driller bit.  The only thing that was challenging was the cut for the trackball which took a couple tries.  After this it was on to the rest of the panel.


   * PLASTIC *

I used plastic (Lexan) for the top. WARNING; You have to use the lexan brand, or something very similar. I first used some plastic (Optics) from ACE hardware. It cracks way to easy and is much harder to cut. If you actually get it cut properly, when you go to screw it on the panel, it may crack all the way through the panel. So I used very thin lexan and cut it with a dremel. I bought the plastic from General Rubber & Plastic in Louisville, for about $20. $20 isn't bad since that is what I paid for the crappy plastic from the hardware store, I could have saved time if I would have paid a stranger to kick me in the balls instead of using the cheap plastic. The bit I used for the dremel was the carving/engraving bit 117. There are easier ways to cut this, like a laminate cutter, router, or a band saw. I didn't have any of these tools and their not cheap, but a dremel is about $50 and can be used for other things.



I got the original picture for the underlay from the 24 hour cabinet webpage. Of course I had to customize it just a bit. I wanted the buttons to have labels so the first thing I did was to use Photoshop to put gridlines on the picture, and then I figured out where the buttons labels should be. I got the underlay printed at a blueprint shop (Don Meredith Blueprints).  I had to also get the picture printed in color and it had to be laminated. If it is not laminated, eventually the picture will adhere to the plastic and damage the picture. It cost $50 to get it printed just the way I wanted and I wasn't about to have to pay that again for a stupid mistake.

The Dremel


Original picture with gridlines


Trackball and button labels


Who's the man?


The finished control panel with plastic, underlay, and controls!


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