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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Pinballs, Arcades, and MicroControllers, Oh My!

March 3rd, 2015 No comments

Did I not post anything in 2014???  Apparently not.  Well, it was a busy year.  Not only did I attend my first IJA convention 20 years but the basement now houses 2.5 pinball machines (Fire Power and Spirit of 76) and a Pac Man.  I’m still on the lookout for more at a reasonable price.  I spent a fair amount of time building a video pinball machine but didn’t quite get it finished before the weather turned cold.  It WILL be done in 2015.   I’ve also been working with Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi’s.  I also got my YouTube channel off the ground.  It will really take off in 2015 with HD video, edited video, a theme song (yep), bigger projects, and much more (really!).  Check it out at:



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Just In Time For Christmas

December 5th, 2013 No comments

My Thanksgiving break was a productive time.  The arcade cabinet had languished for weeks.  Having a large block of time helped me get rolling again.


1.  Wired the control panel

This was a lengthy process of cutting, terminating and crimping wires to every button and joystick for both the positive lead and ground.

2.  Mounted the monitor

In addition to the securing the monitor to the cabinet this included using a Dremel to carve out some space on the back of the bezel to give some room to the power and other buttons on the front of the monitor.  I also drilled a small hole in the bezel to give “paperclip access” to a the power button on the monitor.

3.  Wired the speakers to the amplifier.

This was the easiest job.  It was just a matter of twisting the lead wires from the speakers to some speaker wire going to the amplifier.

Still to go:

1.  Screw in a small 2×2 to the back of the front door to help support the weight of the front door.

2.  Re-attach the back panel to the back of the cabinet.

3.  Mount the smart switch power strip.

4.  Mount the PC inside the cabinet.

5.  Secure the amplifier inside the cabinet.

6.  Configure the USB wireless adapter on the PC.

7.  Transfer the games to the PC.

8.  Configure the HyperSpin menu.

9.  Send the marquee artwork in for printing.

10.  Mount the marquee.

Although there are a number of tasks to go, they are relatively short and simple.  There should be gaming by Christmas!

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The End Is In Sight (almost)

August 19th, 2013 No comments

It was a productive weekend on the arcade cabinet to say the least.  The marquee light and speakers have been installed, the joysticks and spinner have been mounted, the buttons and their microswitches have been installed, and the iPac has been mounted on standoffs.  The wiring should be pretty straightforward.  The only problem is that I seem to have misplaced a bag of microswitches, which could be a problem for the freeplay coin switch but I’m sure that they can’t be far away.  Here is what it looks like so far:


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Progress is Progres

April 5th, 2013 No comments

It’s been a long cold winter and as the promise of warmer weather arrives so does the promise of an end to the arcade cabinet.  Since the last post here’s what has happened:

1.  The painting has been completed.

2.  The cabinet has been moved inside

3.  The keyboard drawer has been re-installed.

4.  The t-molding has been installed (both on the cabinet edges and the keyboard drawer).

5.  The control panel board has been attached.

6.  The speakers have been mounted to the overhead panel.

There’s still a lot of work to go but it’s starting to look like something.  The task now is to get it to ACT like something.

More to come…

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Dobo Mini Giveaway

April 5th, 2013 No comments
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Progress is Progressing

September 17th, 2012 No comments

Cabinet construction is well underway.  Things got started on Labor Day (September 3) when I got the sides cutout, sanded to be identical, and the base cut and built.  Since then I’ve added casters to the base and ledger boards to attach the back and front pannels.  Over the weekend the sides were attached to the base and the back pannel attached to the ledger boards on the sides.  It’s starting to look like something!


More to come…


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Project MAME Begins…

August 14th, 2012 No comments

In July I was bitten by the bug to install MAME (Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator).  I started with my Android tablet loading Mame4Droid and some ROMS.  Lo and behold, it worked!  I had read that it was possible to get a Wii remote controller to interact with tablets via bluetooth.  Well, what do you know? — There’s an app for that!  The Wii controller worked great with Mame4Droid.  Going to the next level I bought a Wii Fight Stick, which plugs into the nunchuck jack on the controller, and got it to work too.  Still, it was on a small screen.  I wanted to true arcade experience.  Enter “Project MAME”…


Since then I’ve been researching the style of cabinet that I want to build, the dimensions, deciding what I want the control pannel to look like, deciding what type of monitor that I want, how the cabinet should be decorated, etc.  The design is coming together.  I’ve ordered a buttons, joysticks, and a keyboard encoder for a prototype control pannel.  The next step is to build the prototype and test it on a regular PC.  (Much) more to come…



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From One Thing To Another

June 20th, 2012 No comments

Oh, for more hours in the day… I’ve just wrapped up a Microsoft Visual Web Developer class. While I can say that I’ve learned a thing or two, in some respects it was like drinking out of a fire hose. Once one topic was done it was on to something else. Such is the nature of standardized instruction. Now the long-awaited opportunity to attempt some practical application of these newfound skills is here. First off, some redesign of this site, probably featuring jQuery here and there. The window is also here to roll out the redesigned STATUS site ( Then it’s on to a truly ASP.NET site.

The new podcast hasn’t happened yet. The reason behind that is twofold: 1. I haven’t been home much. 2. I’m still fighting audio issues. I’m thinking now that it’s an IRQ issue with the USB port. The port works and audio goes back and forth but there are pops. Maybe a dedicated card would help, maybe not. This may have to wait until the fall. They say that for everything there’s a season. We’ll see. Maybe the season for this is fall/winter? In any event, it’s not dead, just resting.

Change may be inevitable but nobody said that it would be easy.

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USB Audio – The Second Wave

April 5th, 2012 No comments

Much has been going on.  Lately, I’ve been working on ASP.NET but the majority of my free time has been spent on the “Pod Studio”.  In December I assembled a new PC for audio and media production.  This time I decided to go with the small form factor of a Shuttle.  Although the outside may be small, it’s got plenty of horsepower on the inside.  Just last week I added a new video card and a second monitor.

Since it’s going to be used for audio production I have installed Sonar X1 Producer by Cakewalk as my digital audio workstation (DAW) software.  The mixer might be software but it’s still easier to work with physical faders and transport controls.  The Mackie Control Universal Pro would have been the ideal MIDI control surface but budget considerations led me to the Behringer BCF2000.  It may not be perfect but it’s tried and true and should get the job done.

Behringer BCF2000

Behringer BCF2000



The control surface controls the mix but I also needed an audio interface.  For that, I chose the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R.  All microphones, guitar, bass, and keyboard audio feed into it.  It will also serve as a MIDI instrument source.  It feeds the PC via USB.  Digital audio from the PC comes back through the USB for monitors.  It took me awhile working out issues with crackling and distortion on playback but a new driver for the Fast Track took care of it and now I’m ready to start recording.

M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R

M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R

For monitoring I’ve set up an old JVC JA-S31 amplifier that’s been gathering dust for at least 5 years.  It drives a pair of new Sony bookshelf speakers.  There’s also plenty of cleanup and rearranging of the room so this project will be ongoing for some time.  More pictures to follow as things progress.
The target date for the new podcast is Memorial Day.
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USB Audio – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

August 11th, 2011 No comments

Last night I cleared off a desk to hook up my Belkin TuneStudio mixer to my laptop PC for podcasting.  I plugged in the power, microphone, and headphones but I couldn’t find an audio output on the mixer.  Crud!  Well, the mixer is primarily designed to record directly on to an iPod so it’s possible that it didn’t have traditional RCA or XLR jacks for analog audio output.  Not being one to give up that easily, I turned to Google and YouTube.  Sure enough I found a video on YouTube that was a product demo from a trade show.  The guy on the video mentioned a USB audio jack for input/output.


Could it be that simple?  I fired up Audacity on the PC, plugged in a USB cable, and Windows recognized the new device.  When I pressed the “record” button and started speaking into the mic I was pleasantly surprised to see a waveform appear on the timeline.  What I wasn’t expecting was what happened when I stopped it and pressed “play”–the playback came not through the PC speakers but back through the USB and out the headphones that were plugged into the mixer.  Way cool!  I then experimented trying to induce feedback or an echo by recording and playing at the same time.  Everything worked as it should.  There was no need to turn down an input from the PC when recording a new track.  Intelligence in audio recording–who would have thought…?



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