10.13.03 - Completed!
After several weeks of wiring, t-molding installation, and various other small tasks, the table is 100% completed! Hooray! I want to say first of all that it is FANTASTIC. All the blood, pain, sweat, tears, and dollars that went into this table were totally worth it. I am glad I did it.

I'll be updating the GALLERY section of this website shortly with photos of the final project!

9.19.03 - Monitor Installation:
I finally got it done last night. The monitor is installed - and it's perfect. Last night, the table finally moved past the 'it's looking like a cocktail table' stage as it finally became a real honest-to-goodness ARCADE COCKTAIL TABLE. All the hard work, all the money invested, it all paid off when I flipped the power switch on and started up Pac-Man for the first time. I am VERY happy.

The actual process of mounting the monitor itself was a little tricky. I ended up making two rails out of wood that were attached the hinged panel in the back. These rails were at the exact height to center the monitor in the table top. Unfortunately my 'refurbished' U3100 had some strange modifications to it, namely, some of the bottom mounting bracket had been literally cut away, making for an uneven bottom surface. I used some wood shims to make up this gap in the back end of the monitor. Once the monitor was secured to the back hinged panel, I needed to secure it to the table top. This was done with a few small pieces of wood that fit right up against the table top, and were secured to the top thru a pair of long screws installed from the top of the the table top. In all, the monitor is mounted quite securely and everything seems to be holding up fine. I do not anticipate any problems with it at all.

So what's left? I still need to wire up the keyboard encoder and all the buttons/joysticks. Then I need to focus some time on cleaning up all the wiring on the inside of the cabinet to make everything neat and tidy. It's a big of a rat's nest in there right now. Then after that, it's just cosmetic things, glass clips and t-molding still need to be installed.

This cocktail table is rocking though! Enjoy the pics below of the monitor in action!

After the rails were mounted to the back panel, we did a final test fit of the monitor before securing it into place.

I start screwing the monitor down onto the rails. This was particularly nerve-racking as I was very cautious to keep my hands away from any of the DEADLY parts of the monitor.

Here you can see the small wood blocks that secure the monitor to the table top.

Aaaah! It lives and breathes! Pac-Man in all it's glory!

A close-up view of Pac-Man running in the cabinet.

A little Street Fighter II action.

A round of Bubble Bobble.

I really like this pic, a beauty shot of the cocktail table running Pac-Man and my GameMan sitting proudly behind it.
9.14.03 - Assembly:
As planned, we got a TON done today. What started early this morning as a big pile of wood pieces, arcade parts, and computer components is now an honest to goodness cocktail arcade table. I can't believe how good it looks... I am soooo happy. There's still a ton to do, but for now, I'm just happy to bask in it's glory as it sits proudly in the middle of my living room.

Still to do: Install rear hinge and panel and attach table top, install monitor, install t-molding, install remaining interior brackets, install glass clips, install keyboard encoder, and wire up buttons, joysticks, and the coin slots.

I can't stress enough how happy I am with the progress that we made today, and how awesome I think the table looks. By the end of the day, I was able to fire up the PC and run pac-man (thru the living room TV of course), but at least it was enough to get an idea of what the finished product would be like.

The base and all four sides, ready to be put together for the last time.

The two sides, and the lower back piece attached to the base.

Before attaching the front (coin door side) panel, I decided to mount the motherboard since it would be easier. Notice the small plastic standoffs that keep the mobo off the wood.

Cami prepping the cabinet for the front panel.

A view of the inside of the cabinet, with the front panel now installed.

You can see how the cd-rom is easily access thru the coin door.

The completed third controller.

There it is, all together and looking absolutely perfect!

9.14.03 - It's Starting to Come Together:
Holy crap! Things are moving along quickly! My goal was to get all the staining and sealing done by the end of the weekend. But here it is, on Sunday morning, and I've already begun assembly of the table! Woo Hoo! I finished the last of the sealing early in the evening yesterday, and we couldn't help starting a bit of the assembly right then. In all, we were able to put the entire third controller together, and get the coin door installed! Wow! You can see the FANTASTIC looking results below. Today will be an all out assembly day as I try to get as much put together as possible.

Sealing the two back pieces.

Sealing the front piece.

Me attaching the third controller

The small angle brackets that help the sides of the third controller in were kind of a pain to get to, not a whole lot of room to work with.

The fully assembled Third Controller!
9.9.03 - Staining has Begun:
I took a whole bunch of pictures of the U3100 but for the life of me, I can't figure out where I saved them, so I'll just have to post those later. However, the monitor is not the big news of the week... I've begun staining! Hooray! I'll preface this section by stating that I have zero experience staining and sealing wood so this has certainly been a learning process. As always though, Scott at ArcadeDepot has been extremely helpful in giving me tips and advice for staining process. I started by sanding down the surfaces of each piece with some finishing sand paper. Then using the advice from Scott, I used a regular kitchen sponge to apply the stain to each piece. Right now, I'm doing the control panel sides, and the small plates that fit above the control panels (although I will probably be replacing those with plexiglass later on, they were good for some extra practice). My goal is to have all of the staining and sealing done by the end of this coming weekend. Today, I'll be finishing up the other side of the pieces you see, and starting work on the larger pieces of the cabinet.

For the stain itself, I chose an oil-based Minwax stain, I got a color called Dark Walnut, as I wanted a dark rich color for the table. So far, the color looks fantastic. I can't wait to see how it looks when it is all stained.

I should also mention that I cut out the holes for the speakers, vents, and power connector last week. You can see the results of this work in the pictures below. I got the vent/speaker covers attached onto the side panels so I wouldn't have to worry about locating them after the staining is done. I also painted the table top, and the small pieces that form the undersides of the controllers black. It's all coming together... and assuming that I meet my goal this weekend, I'll be ready to start doing the final assembly early next week. Yay!

The cabinet with it's now black painted top.

You can see the two speaker/vent covers on the Player 2 side of the cabinet.

Looking in from the top, you can see the holes for the speaker and vent on the Player 1 side, the vent hole and wire passthru on the buttom, and up in the upper-right corner, the small hole for the power connector.

Looking from the outside on the Player 1 side, you can see the speaker/vent cover, and the holes on the inside for the speaker and vent on the Player 2 side.

Me staining the control panel sides with my sponge!

Gloves are a MUST for the stain - it's messy.

Another view of the almost stained pieces.

The next morning, the pieces are dry and the color looks great!

8.25.03 - Monitor has Arrived:

The U3100 monitor arrived a week and a half ago. (I was out of town most of last week, that's why I didn't update) So far, I am most happy with the purchase. The only thing that was really wrong was that they forgot to throw in the power cord as they said they would. Unfortunately, it's not a standard power cord that you can just buy off the shelf or anything like that - so I had to make a trip to my favortie local junk electronics store to find the right connector before I could proceed any further. Fortunately they had the exact connector I needed, so I was able to quickly assemble a working power cable.

In case anyone is curious, the small connector that you will need is an AMP 3-Pin Universal MATE-N-LOK connector. The AMP part number is 1-480700-0. If you have a hard time finding the part, you can always pick up up at Mouser. The data sheet for this part is here. You'll also need to pick up a few connector pins, and a proper power cable (I just hacked the end off a standard computer power cable). I will be posting more detailed pictures of the monitor and the power cable later on this week.

Once I had the cable assembled, I was up and running in no time. I was able to immediately get the monitor running up to 800x600 off the computer. The screen quality near perfect at 640x480, and pretty darned good at the 800x600. I mean, it's not as great as a computer monitor, but it is WAY better then my big 27" Sony Wega television that I had connected to my cocktail computer via an s-video connection. I am VERY happy with the image quality on the U3100. Check out Street Fighter II and Pac-Man below. Stay tuned for more pictures later on this week.

Now, with all the major pieces gathered, the fun part begins. Next step, take apart my cocktail comptuer and begin sorting out where the parts will go inside the cabinet, then once that's settled, I'll start cutting out the speaker/vent holes.

The U3100 running Street Fighter II.

The U3100 with screen flipped running Pac-Man.

8.11.03 - Monitor has been Purchased:

Yes, finally. I purchased a monitor from Wells Gardner - And I couldn't be happier with the deal that I got. I called WG middle of last week, ready to order the 19" U3100, fully ready to pay the $350 for the screen. Wells Gardner has earned a somewhat less then stellar reputation as far as customer service goes, as I've already experienced first hand, however, if you are able to talk to the right people, you can make miracles happen. Anyway, I didn't want to order the monitor online, because as I had learned in my prior phone calls to WG, you had to specially order your monitor to adjusted for a cocktail table orientation. With that in mind, I called up WG, and spoke a sales rep and told her the situation. She had no idea what I was talking about. After being shifted around, I finally ended up talking to the same service tech that I had spoke to a few months ago. He knew exactly what had to be done, but had a hard time figuring out exactly how to process the order to have a new monitor adjusted before shipment. That's when he rememberd that he had several refurbished U3100's in stock, and he could easily modify those, and ship that out to me directly thru the service department. When it was all said and done, he was able to ship it out the door for $160. On top of that, he threw in a power cord (listed at almost $13.00 each on the website) for free. I couldn't be happier right now. The monitor is supposed to arrive sometime this week. I'll be sure to post pictures of it here as soon as I get it. I am very excited.

7.16.03 - Construction Halted for the Moment:
I haven't updated here much because, well... frankly I haven't done a whole lot over the past few weeks. The cabinet kit did arrive from arcadedepot, and I was extremely pleased with it. I went ahead and right away started a dry assembly of the pieces and I was very impressed with the quality of workmanship on it. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do much more to it then that lately.
The problem is, the next thing I need to do is cut the holes for the speaker/vent covers. I don't want to stain the wood or anything like that until those holes are cut. The trick is, in order to cut the holes, I gotta figure out where the computer components will go inside the cabinet - and I can't nail down the location for the computer components yet because I don't know yet how I am going to mount the monitor - and of course, I can't figure out how I'm going to mount the monitor until I have it in my hands, which I don't. So why don't I just shell out the cash to buy the monitor? Well, I really want to get the WG U3100 arcade vga monitor - but it's $350, and I just can't plop down the cash for it at the moment. So basically, until I can buy the monitor, the rest of the project is on hold. So in the meantime, take a look at the pic below. Doesn't it look GREAT?

The dry assembled cabinet.

6.12.03 - Construction Progess at ArcadeDepot:
Holy crap! Major props to Scott over at arcadedepot. They have been working like madmen over there for the last few days and have even sent me pics of the table in progress. I am amazed at how quickly they've put this cabinet together. After my own experience with the GameMan, I know that it would have taken me several weeks to get to where they are right now.

Additionally, Cami, Ben, Bryan, and I have been busy playing on the test panel that we built. I have everything up to MAME .68 on that machine (I think just today it reached .70), which totals just over 3,900 roms. There's so many games, that even after playing it for the last two weeks straight that we are still discovering cool games that we've never heard of before. This has turned into a very fun project. I can't wait to transfer my buttons and joysticks in the cocktail cabinet. Aaaah, a cocktail table, and an uber-arcade system in one. Swank and Geek chic all at once. Wooot!

The 3rd panel assembly

The 3rd panel flipped out to show the latch and hinge

View of the entire cabinet. WOW.

View of the inside of the cbainet.

6.9.03 - Change in Plans:
There's been a slight change in plans. Despite the hard work that has gone into the solidworks model that we have been developing - which was based off the plans from gamecabinetsinc.com, I've decided to ditch that entire design. From the very begining there were several parts of the original design that I was not happy with, namely the design and shape of the controller boxes. They just didn't look quite right. We had modified the design to include some custom sheet metal panels and were getting ready to proceed with that. When I first started researching cocktail table designs, I came across arcadedepot.com. I had originally contacted them for some quotes on fabricating sheet metal panels for my extra long third controller, but at the time they were unable to do so. When I visited their site, I was impressed by their cocktail table kits - they looked good, and were actually pretty cheap. But alas, they were for only a two controller design, and it wasn't feasable to modify it for my current design.

Well, now a month or so later, things have changed, they now offer an option for a third controller, and I have to say, it's probably the best third controller design I've seen so far. It has a fantastic flip out panel that latches from the inside. You can see right away how easy it would be to switch a joystick from a 4-way to an 8-way, or to even make multiple swappable panels. There's a lot of possibilities. Check it out here and here. Anyway, I've decided to go with ArcadeDepot's kit. I've sent them my custom design for the panels, and will be placing my order by the end of the day. If their workmanship is as even half as good as their customer service has been so far, I think this table is going to kick some major pixelated ass. I am excited.

5.29.03 - Making a Test Panel:
The day started with the delivery of several packages of parts that I ordered last week. Among the items I received, a huge box of horizontal pushbuttons ordered from gamecabinetsinc.com, and box full of J-Stik joysticks from ultimarc.com. So there I was, sitting in my living room with a working computer running MAME and over 3900 roms and video piped to the tv, a keyboard encoder, and a bunch of buttons and joysticks. The temptation was just too great. I HAD to make a test panel to try out all my new parts!

After a quick trip to Home Depot, and to my work to borrow some power tools, Ben and I got started. It was nearly 2:00am by the time we finsihed, but we did it. The crude test panel was made with a fence plank and a few cinder blocks. Ya it's kinda ugly, but it is a temporary panel and it actually has a bit of character. And best of all, it's REALLY fun to play. I can't stress enough how nice the J-Stiks are. I am so glad I got those over the Happ Supers.

As for the actual cocktail table, work on the solidworks model is continuing. We've had some delays in getting the sheet metal drawings completed, but we are planning to begin work on the sheet metal by mid next week.

The buttons and joysticks fresh out of the box.

Since it was very late at night, we had to do our drilling inside our condo. Yes, inside.

Ben drilling inside and sawdust flying everywhere.

A test fit of a joysticks and some buttons in the freshly cut holes.

The wiring is completed.

The first game we tried was of course, Pac-Man! The controller played perfectly - but I still suck at Pac-Man.

Ben gives the Simpsons a try. The GameMan can be seen in the background.
5.6.03 - Ordering Parts:
Welcome to Jeff's Cocktail Arcade construction journal! I am building a cocktail MAME table with my coworker Efrain. We are each building separate systems, but pooling our resources together in order to build the best machines possible. We are currently modifying the plans we purchased from gamecabinetsinc.com in Solidworks. The plans were a good base to start with, but we found several problems and are making many structual improvements to the cabinet. While the plans are being ironed out, I have started ordering parts. First on the list was the computer. I bought all the parts last Thursday and after getting some bad parts initially I got everything straightened out and the new PC was up and running by Monday 5/5/03. Earlier last week, I placed orders for several of the more expensive parts for the cabinet. I received those today via UPS. They are seen below. Efrain is still working deligently on the Solidworks model of the cabinet. Here's a peek of what it looks like right now. Hopefully by tomorrow, we will have the drawings completed for the sheet metal controller panels and will be ready to send out quotes to the sheet metal houses.

The cocktail tabletop glass.

The Happ mini coin door - in the corner... the May '03 Electronic Gaming Monthly featuring the Gameman!

The Twobits reproduction underlay, and Happ monitor bezel. It looks FANTASTIC.

The fully assembled computer! Cami is playing Pachinko **cough** Reaction on my old PC.

c2003 - Jeff Hermann