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 Pretty in Pink (and Blue)

       This cabinet began as a Firetrap…literally! Firetrap was an old second-string game, not too different from Crazy Climber. A “vertical scrolled”, Firetrap had two four-way sticks and a fire button, you climbed up and up, dodging the dropping objects. I was doing this machine as a gift for a friend down the street, and wanted something more recognizable. I had done a Pac Man before, so this one had to be a Ms. Pac Man!

   The machine was a compromise from the beginning…I wanted to do a nice job and end up with a believable cabinet, but there are limits to what you can do. The original Ms. Pac Man machine had a LOT of stencil work, and since this was a conversion, I couldn’t just touch up old art. I balanced it out by making the control panel and bezel from art on the Internet and streamlining the cabinet graphics while keeping a 100% accurate color scheme. 

   This was a pretty much “off the rack” conversion, relying on what went before. The control panel was the simpler version of my standard two player layout, which worked out very well since the natural shape of the case granted plenty of joystick clearance. I still had a box of those great green I-Ball trackballs I love so well. (Easy to remove and clean behind!) I went with a streamlined three button layout for each player, and since the original machine was a “donor patient”, I had a spare small four-way stick to wire in as an extra, allowing for easier game-play on some of those classics that work better that way. I went with the standard left-and-right pinball flippers, not including Nudge buttons on this one. I really wanted to use the original arcade glass in the machine, but it was smoky tinted and hid the monitor too much, so I just cut some matching 1/8 Plexiglas for that.

   The computer brain for this box was one of twelve Pentium III 800 Mhz machines I got from a friend for $12! (Granted, by the time I got them all running, it was more like seven machines…) The best part was that I now have seven computers all programmed the same as arcademachines, with the same set of options for control layout. The bad part is they all have their own interesting quirkes. This one thought the daughter soundcard was two separate cards and buzzed and distorted like anything. Once I tracked that down and turned off one in the PC Control Panel, all was right with the world and it plays like a champ! Also, these computers are all slimline horizontal machines, so are a lot easier to mount and hook up in a arcade game case.

    The controls-to-PC interface turned out to be one of several old-style computer keyboards I scavaged up. It is getting harder and harder to find these antiques as a cheap alternative to the more modern (and more expensive!) interface modules. Give me a old keyboard to wire to any day! The one I used actually read as bad initially, because some of the keys wouldn’t register, but as soon as I soldered to the back of they keyboard, it proved to work fine!

   Behind the scrubbed-clean coin door, I mounted the CD rom, a USB outlet, and the on/off switch. Since this computer required a true boot switch, there’s a green boot button for that as well. I replaced the smashed out “25 Cent” glass squares with green buttons for the Coinup, although for the next machine I may try the illuminated square commercial Coinup buttons Happ-Suzo is making. The hidden USB port lets you easily move .mp3 files from thumb drive to the machine.

   At the last minute, I discovered that when I removed the Menu button from the console to keep kids out, I never engineered it back in! I managed to solder a simple switch to the control panel before closing it up for good, and put it in theback of the machine where “little fingers” were less likely to find it!

    The old game came with an installed marquee glowtube, but it was so old it used ballast and I just pulled the thing and replaced it with a 22” modern unit. This was just slightly more costly than using the old hardware, but less trouble for the new owner if it ever needs replacement. Marquee graphics were slightly altered from the original found on the Internet. I had a low-power sub woofer speaker system I got for a good price, so I put that in the base of the machine, and wired the two speaker outlets to some large desktop speakers I had on hand, covering those vents with car stereo grills. The volume control is right between the two top speakers, so is in easy reach of most gamers.

 The case took a while to build, as it was all done in my spare time, but turned out pretty well.

This machine is sitting in my garage and ready to be tested, It sells for $699 or I will also trade for a used 42" or larger late model flatscreen TV, a 28" high 14' by 12' deck on my house, or a blacktop job on my 50' x 8' driveway. Perfect for the gameroom or mancave!

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The Wizard.................. 
The page last gimmicked by Andy Bartmess, AKA The Wizard, on 08/02/10
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