This project is one that has been in development for a few years now, and it probably won’t be finished for a few more. It is one that has grown in scope considerably, and is really the result of several smaller projects. Currently, the end goal is to have a fully working arcade machine of my very own - running a game I wrote on hardware I built.

The project began at the end of grade school when I decided to try making my own fighting game. I got far enough, and ended with a simple game with three characters. I revisited the game at the end of high school when I decided to make it about my highschool robotics team, The Fighting RoboVikings. I got a few of the team members to design characters, and I started adding them to the game. (It quickly became an arms race to make the most unfair character, but that didn’t bother me.)

It is here that I decided that it would be really cool to turn the game into an arcade machine, so I got to work planning out the machine.

I started by making the control panel. I ordered some arcade supplies, as well as a TI Stellaris Launchpad (Links to the successor, the Tiva-C launchpad, as the Stellaris is now defunct.) I modified the example USB keyboard code, and I used Microsoft Word (of all programs…) to make the button layout.

Why'd I use Microsoft Word for this? Why only five buttons? These are my only regrets.

Why'd I use Microsoft Word for this? Why only five buttons? These are my only regrets.

With the buttons and joysticks laid out, I got to work cutting and drilling a piece of, um, well, I don’t know exactly what kind of plastic it is, but the office had lots of sheets lying around that they said I could use, and, well, anything free is automatically the best value. Once I was done, I installed the arcade components.

I bought all the spade connectors my local Radio Shack had for this...

I bought all the spade connectors my local Radio Shack had for this...

Wiring came next. I know I disappointed at least three people with this rat's nest, but I was excited.

Wiring came next. I know I disappointed at least three people with this rat's nest, but I was excited.

I was eager to test it. The first game played? X-Men, because who can say no to the Master of Magnet?

I was eager to test it. The first game played? X-Men, because who can say no to the Master of Magnet?

Once everything worked, I took an old Compaq CRT monitor and my control panel and took some measurements. Using those, I drew up some parts in CREO Parametric.

I just wish the CRT was a bit bigger...

I just wish the CRT was a bit bigger...

Err, maybe not.

Err, maybe not.

I don't know why I had to measure this either.

I don't know why I had to measure this either.

I printed out drawings for each part and bought some 2x4s from Home Depot. My neighbor had a yard sale and sold me a chop saw for $10 (what perfect timing!), and I cut out all the pieces, and a few friends and I spent a warm summer night screwing them together. I took an old, broken, Windows XP Dell laptop, locked it down, uninstalled almost everything, and set it up to auto login and auto start my game. Oh, and when I say I uninstalled almost everything, I meant the hardware, too. It has no screen half and no DVD reader, as those aren’t things arcade machines need.

I think it fell down the stairs once, so the screen was already mostly broken off.

I think it fell down the stairs once, so the screen was already mostly broken off.

Last week, I added supports for the CRT and set everything up. I ordered some speakers from Amazon, and it has been running in my room ever since. My friends and I played a few rounds and remembered our high school days, and then laughed at some absurd glitches that I now have to leave in.

The machine as of last week.

The machine as of last week.

The source for the unfinished game is available in my Dropbox.

The source for the Stellaris Launchpad which handles the arcade buttons and joysticks is available in my OneDrive.

The CREO Parametric files for the machine frame are also available in my OneDrive.

Tags: Arcade Stellaris
Part of a series on Arcade Machine.

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