While smoking some meat in the drum smoker, I had some time to kill, so I decided to build a smaller desktop virtual pinball cabinet. Hopefully one that would be portable, but still big enough to provide a similar experience to a full size cabinet. The base cabinet was cut and monitors fitted during this time, the rest was done over the following few weekends.
Similar to the other one I built, this too would be mainly build from recycled/cheap parts:
- The laptop inside has a smashed screen and no battery, which would have other wise been thrown out, but fine for this build.
- The backglass is an old LCD (unknown origin).
- The playfield monitor was a cheap purchase from a swapmeet (<$10).
- The arcade buttons are the last left over arcade buttons from several projects – I have bought some new LED buttons to replace them.
- The cabinet is made from laundry broom cupboard doors (as was the larger one). 16mm Laminated HDF – so for it’s size it will be heavy, but still lite enough to move.
Purchased items. To reduce costs most items have long postage times.
- Zero delay controller – $7. eBay.
- Extra LED buttons $6. eBay.
- Laptop charger – $15. eBay.
- Car putty $17. Local supplier – There will be a lot left over.
Vinyl wrap $11. eBay.
- Plexi-glass ~$44. Local supplier.
As this started out as a quick job, the design is basic and was roughed out on a piece of wood. The backglass monitor was a 17inch, which best matched the 20inch playfield monitor. The facia of the monitors are taken off and and the LCD panels are measured, then the backglass box and playfield cabinet are cut to fit around them. I added another 10cm to the hight of the playfield to make sure there is enough airflow and room for the cables.
Holes for the buttons and plexi-glass is cut and it’s dry fit to see if it’s functional. At this stage the buttons, screens, laptop and cables fit inside.
Audio wasn’t a consideration when the cabinet was drawn, so I made no allowances under the backglass for speakers. The playfield monitor has an inbuilt audio amp with small speakers. They are cut off and replaced with better speakers mounted on holes cut in the bottom towards the front. To help protect them, some of the original metal mesh is used between the speaker cones and exterior.
Fan holes are cut into the bottom and rear to help with cooling. The playfield monitor and laptop create more heat than can be passively dispersed. To help the air flow, a fan sucks air from the bottom, past the laptop and monitor, and another pushes it out the rear.
Black cardboard is used to frame the monitors and hide the gaps between the insides of the cabinet and the view-able area of the screens. I would usually spray it black, but cardboard is easier to change when the monitors are swapped out if they die.
All nail and screw holes, and gaps are filled with car putty, then sanded flat. I have used wood putty before, but it’s softer than laminate, so when it’s sanded you get small dips in its surface.
I was going to vinyl wrap the cabinet , but a vinyl wrap I ordered was pretty rubbish.
The legs were re-used Ikea shelf ends – perfect height for couch pinball.