Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Setting up for the big finish

So I figured a quick "Previously on..." was in order, thanks to the big gap in posts.

The aim was to build a M.A.M.E. Bartop arcade cabinet for less than £50. The cabinet, the computer, the screen; the works.

I already had wood glue, the paint for the final finish, an array of tools, various screws and fixings, and a cool led power button donated by my mate Dave.

When it came to major components I then - through Freegle, fortune, and foraging - had managed to get the 14" CRT screen, a pile of MDF scraps, and an old PC at no further cost whatsoever.
With my £50 budget still not touched I still had to acquire a set of controls, some sort of audio system, undercoat for the paint, and anything else unexpected that might come up.

My theoretical costs broke down like this:
  • £15 for a Joystick and Button pack from Ultracabs.
  • £10 for a USB encoder for the Joystick and Button from eBay
  • £8 for amplified speakers
  • £10 for hard finishing filler
  • £7 F-factor

But in actuality the budget has ended up looking like this:
  • £11.99 Joystick/Buttons
  • £6.99 Amp
  • £1.19 single button
  • £10.18 for a USB encoder for the Joystick and Button from eBay
  • £4.17 amp from eBay
  • £5.50 total shipping

The hard finishing filler wasn't needed following the acquisition of the MDF and there are two amps because I blew the first one up. The rest of the sound system I put together from an old speaker I had kicking around and a pair of PC speakers that came as a bonus with one of the 4 CRT screens I sourced through Freegle.

And so we come to now, as the project wheezes back to life after a 3 year gap I still have just under a tenner to play with.

The first thing I need to add to that is primer. I'm not sure if I  mentioned it in previous posts or not but since a couple of the component parts already had a coat of this applied I must have bought it before 'the gap'. The open tin is also evidence of this.

I know I picked it up locally and checking online it's available in B&Q for £5.10 - so that's the number going into the budget.
That's £45.17 spent so far.

With the sunny spring evenings being one of the main drivers to restarting the project I began small.
I worked on the marquee section, the control deck, and the front panel.
I pulled the three sections of the marquee apart as I wasn't happy with the existing join. I re-glued an and left them clamped in my workbench overnight then sanded the join down the next day.

All the parts were first covered in glue-size to seal the MDF then I gave them a good coat of primer. When the primer was fully dry I sanded it back smooth with some 240g sandpaper.

It was nearly 10pm when I finished

Having researched what was required I was fully aware that an ultra-smooth mirror finish to my paint work was beyond both my budget and my skills - but I was very keen to have a quality finish.
I'd be using the remnants of a tin 'Slate' coloured paint that I had leftover from previous projects on some DVD racks and a posture chair. 
Experience has taught me that consistency is the key to making anything look well designed so I decided to roller the paint on - this would ensure the same finish all over and eliminate any opportunity for ugly brush marks.

After a couple of quotes I'm very pleased with the results, roller fluff was a bit of a problem but not a big one and the colour - once fully dry - is a pretty stylish dark grey.

The marquee, front panel, and control deck drying amongst the chaos of my shed

Next up, a little sub-section assembly.