Pinball Cabinet Rebuild

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
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I have been toying with pinball cabinet building for TPA SPA and FX3 now. I use steam for the frontend. So far I have a full cabinet and a bartop cabinet. The full size cabinet works ok. It was setup for an Arcooda cabinet setup using Steam on startup. For controls I use a wireless keyboard with a tiny trackball on it for a mouse to navigate the steam menu or after adding up down left right buttons I could forgo the keyboard. I had no idea what buttons needed to go where when I laid out this cabinet. I did searches for virtual pinball and got some ideas from other cabinets. I did make a controller emulate an Xbox controller. I am using the VirtuaPin controller for that. A bunch of cabinet builders use it for their Visual Pinball builds. It gives you a plunger and accelerometer for nudging. I put a good PC in it and have been pretty happy with it.

Then I also wanted a bartop setup so I made one with minimal specs. A true potato machine DuoCore with a 1030 nvidia. This won't push a cabinet setup but runs TPA and SPA in DX11 mode. Also runs FX3 pretty good. I used a KeyWiz keyboard emulator for this one and set nudges to second flipper button, so goodbye to magnasave I guess. I added a trackball to this one so I would have a mouse. It works and looks pretty sweet. SPA is near impossible to play on a cabinet without it or a keyboard. FX3 runs good also. good news is that most keyboard keystrokes are the same between TPA and FX3. I have since added lighting to the trackball.


I told you that to tell you this.

It is time to rebuild a new cabinet using what I learned from these two! I will post pictures of the new rebuild as I get stuff done and in the process I will document the pictures to maybe help others that are thinking of making the leap into cabinet building. I am satisfied with having a fairly basic cabinet. I don't want to install a Kinect or have feedback or more lighting features or use a true DMD display. My build will have a working plunger for skill shots and an accelerometer for nudging. I may add a third monitor for a DMD screen. (there's a space on the back glass screaming for one). That is all the frills I need.

Here are a few pictures of the two I have now.

The full size cabinet inside and out. 49" playfield and 32" backglass monitors.




And the bartop setup. Vertical 32" monitor.
 
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AcadDude

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Jul 8, 2018
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I start with a 3/4" sanded sheet of plywood. I start with cutting wedge shaped sides. Overall length is 56" long. Wedges are 16" tall at the front and 23 3/4" at the back. I cut a 4x8 sheet in half and trimmed it down a little when I cut the diagonal. My first cabinet had a similar slope and I liked it. I cut them at the same time to ensure they are the same size and shape. I then use 2x4 cut in half to make 2x2 frame for the back. I use 2 1/2" long screws at each butt-joint so the frame is sturdy. I use more 3/4" plywood on the front. I am going to make the lockdown bar out of oak so I keep the front down 3/4" to cut in the oak plank hold down. It will be 7 1/2" wide to accommodate a 3" trackball. My overall width is 26 3/4" to fit my 49" monitor. The oak plank seems like it would be too wide and make the playfield further away from the player. Well that is true, but I tried various scenarios with the playfield window stretch up on my current cabinet and it was not a problem for me. If you need to look straight down at the flippers then this not for you. After attaching the sides to the back frame with 1 5/8" screws I cut a base out of 1/2" plywood. I am not worried about weight. You will need a little weight to make the nudge feel right without pushing the cabinet around too bad. After attaching the base to the sides front and back with 1 5/8" screws I cut a 3/4" piece to use as a riser area near the front. I placed it 13" back from the front and made it 8 1/2" wide. It came out of the 4x8 sheet along with the front piece. That 4x8 sheet is about used up. Enough left for braces if the sides are bowed or warped. Mine are. The riser area is where I will mount the controller with the accelerometer and the power connectors for the lights in the switches. It will let me use screws and not have them stick out the bottom of the cabinet. This is a good start. More to come!


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AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
Next I started laying out the hold-down bar/plank. I want to have the directional pad as a set of 4 buttons on the left. I also want a trackball with mouse buttons for left click and right click next to it. I want a fire or launch button on the top also. I am positioning it close to the right so that maybe it can be pressed with a thumb while still being on the flipper buttons. This would be good for shifting gears or troll bombs or while in Stewie video mode maybe. The remaining space will be for the wireless keyboard.


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Then I have to get the trackball fitted up. I measured and transferred the outline of the trackball on the bottom of the 7 1/2" oak plank. Then I used a jigsaw to cope out the outline. I had to shave a little here and there to get good clearance and get the cover plate holes lined up. I keep the plate pegs a little loose but not too loose to allow it to be removed and at the same time not need to bolt it on. It can just set freely without the nuts holding it on. I then drilled the holes for the buttons. The rectangular ones need alignment holes each side of the hole.


Here is a picture of the trackball fully disassembled. And a picture from underside of lockdown plank.
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Here is the OptiWiz board to plug the trackball inputs into and the mouse buttons. I got this from Groovy Game Gear. Works great. Plug and Play with USB. Becomes a mouse.

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I drilled a couple holes in the trackball case to ziptie the OptiWiz to the bottom of the trackball and keep the wire harness altogether. I learned from my bartop to not have the trackball separate from the control board. Much cleaner now as a complete unit.

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I scribed a line 3/4"x7 1/2" on the sides and cut the notches to receive the lockdown plank. I also snuck in a cutout of the coindoor. It was real easy to measure the cutout from the first cabinet. I need to drill holes for the bolts for the door. I am not ready to disassemble the first cabinet so when I get to that point I will get the holes drilled. I predrilled holes for screws and countersunk the holes. Later when I finish the cabinet I will fill and sand the countersunk holes. Then stain and polyurethane. I have routed the top on three sides and sanded the corners to keep palms comfortable when playing.


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AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
So the old cabinet is being decommissioned to get the parts I need to finish this one.


The flipper buttons I am using have a step to them so they require countersinking. I drilled a 3/16" pilot hole so my spade bits could stay more aligned when I drill the holes. I first drill about a 1/4" deep holes for the countersink at 1 1/8" diameter. Then from the inside I drill the center hole out at 9/16" diameter. 5/8" diameter works but is real snug. I then used a small chisel to smooth the countersunk hole and get the flipper buttons fitting right.

My main flipper is 3 1/2" from the front and 1 5/8" down from the top. Worked well on the first cabinet. Feels right on this one too.

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Then I measured and drilled 15/16" holes for the remaining buttons. Some of these buttons have a couple alignment holes about 1 1/2" apart. These holes just need to be drilled 1/4" deep or so. No need to drill all the way through the 3/4" plywood. I set the coin door in its place and marked then drilled its four mounting holes. It bolted right in.

Then I drilled a series of holes for the plunger. I make all the holes and the plunger cutout on a scrap piece of plywood. I would rather figure out how to fit this stuff up on a scrap than the real deal.
My first cabinet had the Launch Ball button below the plunger. I tend to use it more than the plunger so I moved it up in line with the plunger. I have a blue Engage button that I will use as a launch button also next to the trackball. Looks like I have the front all fitted up. I am not to worried about the finish on the top of the sides of the plywood. There is also a small gap at the top of the lockdown plank. I will cover these with an aluminum angle when I get the glass installed, but that is way down the line. I still need to fit up the playfield monitor and make the backglass case. Then add all the electronics.

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shutyertrap

Moderator
Staff member
Mar 14, 2012
7,334
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I like the track ball instead of joystick option. Keeps things nice and flat. It's so tricky figuring out all the 'extra' buttons, as each digi pin game seems to use different buttons for different functions. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
I like the track ball instead of joystick option. Keeps things nice and flat. It's so tricky figuring out all the 'extra' buttons, as each digi pin game seems to use different buttons for different functions. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

I tried a joystick on my bartop cabinet and it did ok in the game but then I needed a mouse to navigate Windows so we now have Trackball! Just another C-Note! Trackball with the controller and translucent ball is $117 at GroovyGameGear.com. Closer to $130 with shipping. My CPU for that bartop was under $100. geez so much for bottom basement budget potato setup. It was still about $500 to build the bartop cabinet. Well worth it in my opinion. Keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
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I removed the door for the back off of the old pinball cabinet and it fit the new cabinet. What are the odds? No trimming needed just had to fit it up in the 2x2 frame. The door has a 200mm fan to pull air out of the cabinet. I use two 120mm case fans in the front. They are next on the list for the cabinet build. I have a 500 watt PC power supply that powers the lights and these fans. It is way overkill in wattage but it was laying around so why not use it.

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I have a lock keyed the same for the back door and the coin door. Make the back door big. Some day you may need to reach in the cabinet and these two openings are big enough to maybe do repairs or maintenance. I used a "piano" style hinge, they are easy to line up. I am sure two or three individual hinges would work just as good. The lock on the back door is not too tight (tight jambs the lock) and not too loose to rattle when pushing a subwoofer or lightly bumping the cabinet. Once I got the door where I wanted it I screwed on a couple wood scraps to be a stop for the door. Pressing these in or out makes the door snug or loose.

To make the door originally I cut a 7 1/2" diameter hole in the door kinda near the top. I then drilled 4 holes and countersunk the screws. I then used expansion type nuts to fasten the fan. I had a bunch of them and no washers that worked in the shop. I cut some expanded metal grating to cover the hole and put it between the fan and plywood door. This will keep pets and children from poking at the fan.

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Coming up soon I will fit the tv into the cabinet for a playfield.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
Today we get to install the front fans. I have a couple 120mm fans that I built an enclosure for and mounted them in the front to pull in air from under the cabinet. The enclosure is made of scrap 3/4" plywood. and the face plates are 1/8" ply.


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I scribed a line inside the enclosures and drilled holes at each corner and used a scroll saw to cut the intake holes in the bottom of the cabinet. I then attached the enclosures to the cabinet through the 1/2" plywood bottom. I then attached the fans to an 1/8" plywood plate fitted to the enclosure opening size.

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part 1 (out of picture room)
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
part2
I snuck in an angle in each corner at the front of the cabinet to add a little more strength in the corner when I add the legs. I left a little room between the fan enclosure and the cabinet side to allow wiring to pass through.


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The fans light the floor too!

The coin door lock is snug but not too tight. Same key as the back access door. I countersink the screw holes to help keep them flush and free from snagging stuff.

Then I added to the riser plate with a 2x2 and another 3/4" piece of plywood. This will ensure that any screws I use to hold down the electronics won't stick out the bottom.

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Almost time to paint. I have to get the playfield monitor fitted. I haven't forgotten just slightly sidetracked.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
I got the playfield monitor fitted up. Originally I measured the 49 inch TV and added a 2x2 rail on each side to support the TV. I set up blocking the help follow the contour of the back of the TV. My goal was to leave between an inch or two between the tv screen and the glass top. I need some room for the blocking to support the glass. Here are a few pictures of the rails and the TV on them. I used screws through the side to attach the 2x2 rail at 7" O.C.

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AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
Next up is to make a platform to set the backglass cabinet onto. I took the scrap wedge pieces I had from cutting the sides. They will have the exact slope I need. Then I found a spot where it was 2 1/4" tall and then measured back 9". My backglass cabinet has a frontplate that drops down 2 1/8" inch. I am putting an 1/8" aluminum angle under that so I added enough to make it all fit. After attaching the two scrap wedge pieces using 3" screws in the front and 2" screws in the back I then attached a scrap piece along the back 2x2 frame. It was 1 1/8" tall to fill the gap. This will give me three sides all on the same level. This is a good stable base for the backglass cabinet.


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Then I took the backglass assembly from my first cabinet and set it right on the new one. It Fit!!!

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To build the backglass cabinet I first made a box out of 3/4" plywood. Added a shelf where the upper 32" monitor goes. Carefully measure the monitor to get as much screen to show and not have too wide of a face frame. I then attached a piece of oak to the front to stiffen that up. I then added two pieces to the bottom to rest on the outside of the wedge supports I just made. It was 27" at the cabinet so I made the top width 1/4" wider to let it fit well enough and not bind. I will use carriage bolts to fasten the backglass cabinet to the base cabinet. I will cover the bolt assembly in a later post. This will allow me to move the machine in two pieces. I cut an oval slot in the cabinet to let the monitor power cord and hdmi cord to pass through. I drilled a couple holes for the speaker wires also, one at each speaker.

Just so you know. Anything that has black paint on it is from the original cabinet. Coming up next, it looks like I need to attach legs, wire up buttons, run power to buttons with lights, drill and set bolts for backglass cabinet. Then there is painting to do and setting the tempered glass. Still a bunch to do, but getting a good amount done so far.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
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0
Jumping back in, I start with the first picture to show the painted aluminum angle that will fit right under the front trim of the upper cab. Then I have pics of the bolts to hold the backglass cab on.
I attach the backglass cab to the lower cab using 3/8" carriage bolts. I countersink the holes top and bottom. I countersink the bottom to get the bolt to the right height and to not have the bolt head running into the back access door. Then I run a washer and nut in the top recess.
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Next I attach 3/4"x3/4" strips to support the playfield glass. I think having glass an 1 or 2 above the monitor is a great look. I am using 1/4" tempered glass. It is slightly less than 1/4" after tempering. I got some aluminum channel from the hardware store that is made for 1/4" plywood channel. I use a scrap piece of it to set the glass support offset as I attach them with screws from the outside of the cabinet near the top of the cabinet to be covered with painted aluminum angle. Remember earlier I described what would cover the 3/4" plywood edge? Well look at the last picture and you will see the angle that covers any gap between lockdown plank and plywood sides. I filed down the corner to round it some and painted. I have black panhead screws to attach the angle. That will be the last thing to go on but can be fitted up now. I will add a scrap along the front to close off the gap incase light from the mouse reflects in over the monitor. May use plywood or thick black posterboard.

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When I ordered the glass I was asked if I wanted the label on it or not. I figured why not, "If I don't like it I can put the label up top." Turns out I kind of like it. Never in the way and to me gives it a more factoryish feel. Maybe I am getting to deep in the weeds for this post. So back to glass. I painted strips of aluminum channel used to band the edges of 1/4" plywood. I used a little caulk to stick the channel on. Use it sparingly, any more than a smidge and you start to see it in the channel. Maybe looking back on it I should have not used white caulk? But it was already open from another project and I didn't want to open a clear tube for a dab.

Next installment I will get the legs drilled and bolted on. I will use 3/8" carriage bolts for the legs. Makes for a pretty solid attachment.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
Here is a picture of the back that is under the back cabinet. I made this cabinet a few inches longer than the first cabinet I made to allow wiring to pass by the monitor and glass. My first glass order did not account for cables. Whooopsy. Live and learn so this time made sure there was clearance.

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Jeff Strong

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 19, 2012
8,140
2
Coming along nicely! Cool you able to recycle some stuff, and glad to hear it all fit. I’m digging those fans too. Can’t wait to see the next pics.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
Soon it will be time to get the finish applied so I removed all the buttons. Then I removed the back access door and coin door. The right side panel had a slight bow in it so I added a 2x2 brace to help push it out straight. Now we fill the divots and sand them flat. After sanding them down I got the legs fitted up.


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I located the holes on each corner to miss any screws. I ended up 5" and 7 1/4" from the bottom. (holes on legs are 2 1/4" apart). It is tough to drill a hole on a corner so I filed a flat spot down at each bolt location to make it possible to drill without a jig. Instead of making a jig or guide I used the just go for it approach. I know my way around a drill so I started with a small bit to start a pilot hole. I made sure I held the drill bit level to the ground and as close to a 45 degree angle as I could also. Then I drilled the pilot hole out with gradually larger bits until I have a 3/8" diameter hole. I am using 3/8" lag bolts to attach the legs. The back legs have enough lumber after they are bolted up that I don't think I need a back plate. For those I just rachet them down and as the electric hand ratchet I use tightens the nut it drives the washer into the 2x2 to create a small recess. The front legs bolt into a 3/4" plywood corner with an 1/8" aluminum angle. For that I made a scrap piece of oak with 3/8" holes for a back plate. I am using stainless steel lag bolts and of course they are almost twice the cost of regular galv. finish but I like the look. The lag bolt square part under the head can be lightly persuaded to fit the legs I have. I think they are Williams reproductions? The aluminum angle was not a problem when I drilled the front bolt holes. Aluminum tools a lot like wood so no worries mate.

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AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
Lag bolts look nice in my opinion. Stainless is not as shiny as galvanized.

My first cabinet had a latex paint finish. It looks ok but the paint wore funny where your palms rest when playing pinball. This time I will try polyurethane instead. I will stain the cabinet black and apply a bunch a polyurethane coats. Probably 2 or 3 thin coats overall. Then a few more on the lockdown plank. I will have to paint the inside a little where it might show from the outside with black paint. The backglass cabinet from the original build is already painted but I had a few holes to fill on it from first build and a little touchup paint. It will take me a few days to get the finish applied. Meantime I will get my PC and controllers setup. I am going to add a few buttons to the backglass cabinet to control volume and add a PC power button. I had the PC power button on the lower cabinet in first build. I want it up on the side of the backglass this time.

I use software to set keystrokes for volume up and volume down. One controller I am using this time will emulate keystrokes so any button can be a keyboard key. It is called a KeyWiz controller from GroovyGameGear.com. Time to apply the finishes.

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Got a couple stain coats done. Polyurethane coming up.

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AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
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While the stain dries I have been working on the PC setup. I will use the VirtuaPin controller for nudging and for a plunger. I will use an OptiWiz controller to control the trackball. I will use a KeyWiz controller for all the other buttons.


VirtuaPin controller is a usb controller that I have setup as an X-Box controller through steam. It has it's own software to set the sensitivity of the nudge and plunger. It also has the ability to control flipper buttons and most anything a pinball game needs. It was the only controller I used in my first cabinet. Here is a picture of the first Frankenstein'd controller I cobbled together to get the buttons set in steam. It was truly a learning experience. The actual board is right above the plunger. I was using model train switches while I waited for a button order. The controller comes with the plunger that has a sensor on it to detect it's position. Take a look at their site for more info. VirtuaPin.com

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I am going to use an OptiWiz controller to run the trackball. It is a plug and play USB device. Easy to setup. Here is a picture of the board. I got this at GroovyGameGear.com It will run spinners or trackballs. Also runs three buttons.

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The last controller I have is a PS/2 port controller. It connects directly to the motherboard if you have one. Supposedly the fastest input device. Faster than USB. I am using one in my Bartop cabinet and it works great. possible 40 keys. Way more than any arcade setup will need. It has its own software to program the keypresses. I have attached the two screen captures of the main screen and the edit screen. I have the Keywiz40 ST. Something I found with the software is that if you install in the "C:\Program Files (x86)" it doesn't work. I installed to "C:\Keywiz" and it works like it should. Not sure why it doesn't like the directory syntax. Must be something in the code written for XP and/or Windows 7? I am using Windows 10. You also have to get it to run at startup. Easy enough to do on Windows in Task Manager. Find the program under the startup tab and set to enabled. Otherwise it won't run when you boot up. You can set the keypresses to the default that comes with the KeyWiz but I decided to use the buttons in FX3 and TPA. Shifts for flippers, C and V, Enter, Space Bar, all the standard stuff. Look at GroovyGameGear.com for the KeyWiz and Optiwiz. They have a fake coin door sticker and coin return buttons.

I found a small open source program called 3RVX for volume control. It lets me set keystrokes to some functions. I set F10 and F11 to volume up and volume down. Then I will have a button for each of those on the cabinet. In the 3RVX setup there is a checkbox for windows startup.


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I will use a terminal block to wire the buttons to the VirtuaPin controller and just use the screw terminals supplied for the KeyWiz. The basic wiring is to daisy-chain the ground wires to each button and each button runs a separate wire to the controller.
 

AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
I am using a PC power supply to power the fans and also all the lights in the buttons. I made two terminal bar for the 5v lighting. One for Positive and one for Negative. I made them out of strapping, small screws and nuts. I ran speaker wire to the coin return buttons. It needs to be flexible so I opted for braided wire. I wire tied the bulb holders into the back of the button. All my other wiring is door bell wire.

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AcadDude

Member
Jul 8, 2018
80
0
I found a DMD monitor. It is a 15.6" monitor. 15" wide and 9 1/4" tall. It will hang 1/4" below the facia on the backglass cabinet. I had to hog out a slot using a Dremel with multiple bits and a lot of smoke. Cutting 3/4" plywood gets messy. After the slot was cut I just had to make a piece to clip under the monitor to keep it from sliding out. This is a low res monitor 1366x768 but should do well for DMD. Looks like I get to sand and paint a little on the backglass cabinet. I had to drill out three existing screws and add a couple.

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