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Lower, Ever Lower!


 Classic Gaming in a 1980's Box!

     This Space Invaders was a dream machine to do. I saw the case on Craig’s List….located about half an hour north of Columbus! But for the price I paid, it was just too good to pass up. The eldest daughter and I piled into the family van, and after taking out the rear seat, we were off on a road trip!

     Can you believe it…it used to be a MAME box, or at least may have been well on its way to becoming one when I got it. It came with a built in HAPPS control panel interface, it’s own sound amp…and a honking big converted actual arcade monitor, with a pre-wired computer video harness. Broke my heart to have to remove all that good stuff, but I needed a full two player control panel to replace the original, admittedly accurate four-button SI panel. And of course, the monitor that was in there was set up to reverse-bounce on a mirror upside down to deliver that cool original Space Invaders flicker, and I wanted a regular standard 20” computer monitor under the hood.

     The case was in real good shape, with the original SI graphics, and when I opened the back I found that it was serial number 23,761 of the American Midway licensing run of the Taito original. This would make it very near a 1981 vintage; an antique in the history of the video arcade! I replaced the original wimpy 12V bulbs in the marquee with an 18” glow tube, and had to touch up the slightly flaking original glass case front with some transparent paints to bring it back to its former glory.

 Pinpoint Targeting

         I used a variation of my standard two-player control panel, with Moonbase Laser Red for one player and Descending Alien Green for the other. I had on hand a real Happs arcade trackball controller I bought on Ebay last year, so man, it has the nicest feel for Missile Command and other classics. The control panel also features a black 4-way stick for those games that really need one. I had a couple of remaining old style keyboards, so I was able to wire the controls to that, and didn’t have to try and force the limited Happs controller to run everything. Also included, of course, you will find the flipper and plunger buttons that let you play the many, many classic pinball tables that you will remember from your teenage years.

     The original machine was a one-speaker mono affair, so I put the sub-woofer behind the original sound vent, and exterior mounted two compact speakers on the top of the case, angled down a bit to the player. I wanted full-featured audio and video, so behind the coin box door this one has a full DVD drive, and it will play movies if you pop one in. Behind the door is also the important USB connector, so you can use a thumb drive to load music and other stuff, but you need a flashdrive in the 2 gig range or smaller, as the classic Win98 operating system chokes on anything bigger.

     My only regret is that I put the Big Red Boot Button too close to the audio controls in the hatch, and sometimes if you go to adjust the volume, you may accidentally shut down the system. A lesson for next time.

     The Space Invaders machine was play-tested in my living room for some time, and then found a home with likeminded person who recalls the good old arcade days. This one sold for a reasonable $699, but I still want to barter my next box for three rooms of carpet, or asphalting my short driveway, or a wood deck. This baby sold out fast, but the next machine will be a GORF I have in my garage. Check it out next spring!

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The Wizard.................. 
The page last gimmicked by Andy Bartmess, AKA The Wizard, on 09/13/11
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