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Found 5 results

  1. Hey there everyone! Those of you who have been following my posts in the Arcade and Pinball section of the AtariAge.com forums may have noticed that since last July I have been on a bit of a quest to find a custom arcade cabinet maker willing to build my "dream machine". What I was looking for was a bartop sized recreation of a Centipede arcade cabinet, with an LCD monitor, iCade 60-in-1 board installed, backlit marquee, authentic looking bezel art, and joystick + trackball controls. What followed was several months of shopping around online, contacting various websites that specialized in making scratch-built bartop arcade machines. I must have contacted nearly a dozen different sites, and all of them quoted me prices of anywhere from $800 to $1,200 before shipping costs. All but one that is. When I contacted http://doxcade.com and told them what I was looking for, the price I was quoted was an astonishingly affordable $440 + $35 shipping to Minnesota. Being a disabled person living on a fixed income all the other prices I was quoted were way out of my price range, but with a little careful budgeting this was one that I could definitely swing. While DoxCade didn't have any renown in the arcade machine community, and I couldn't find a single review of their products anywhere online, I decided to roll the dice on them anyway since if worst came worst the purchase would be covered under PayPal's buyer protection policy. Approximately one month later, and after no small amount of picky feedback and change requests regarding the color choices for the base, controls, and marquee on my part (I really was probably the pickiest and most detail obsessed buyer that this poor craftsman had ever had to deal with, to the point that he actually ended up selling the Centipede machine he built for me on eBay and made me a second entirely new one built to my exact specifications free of charge. What a saint!), this arrived on my doorstep: So how did this budget priced custom arcade machine turn out? Was it worth the money? To find out I'm going to be evaluating on five different factors: Appearance, Build Quality, Controls, Games, and Overall Value. That said, let's get started! Appearance As you can see from the pictures above, it's a lovely looking bartop that is strikingly similar in aesthetics to the original Centipede cabinet. There hasn't been a single person I've shown it to so far who didn't instantly recognize it as a Centipede arcade machine after one look at the side art, and a good number of those people definitely were not people that anyone would consider a "gamer". When your grandma could tell what arcade cabinet it's styled after just by glancing at it that's always a good indicator of authenticity. Bigger fans of arcade games will notice some inaccuracy in the control panel layout, particularly in the location of the trackball, but that was just the price of trying to squeeze a trackball into the control panel of a 23" tall bartop. You can't tell from the outside, but the trackball mounting plate underneath the control panel artwork takes up the entire panel to the right of the three fire buttons. Speaking of artwork, all the artwork used for the sides, marquee, bezel, and control panel looks fantastic. It's all very high resolution, extremely authentic looking, and printed on some seriously thick and heavy duty vinyl. The marquee is well lit by a strip of white LED lights behind it, and in low light the whole thing just lights up like a Christmas tree. The picture above that was taken in the dark really doesn't do justice, as it looks much brighter and more vibrant in real life. The back of the cabinet is also very aesthetically pleasing, with a neat little Pac-Man style cutout and dots for ventilation, and the black paint covering every part of the cabinet that doesn't have vinyl artwork on it was spread very evenly, with no detectable brush strokes, missed spots, or pooling. All in all I'm really pleased with this cabinet in the Appearance category. No complaints whatsoever. Build Quality Weighing in at 35 lbs. and constructed entirely from 1/2" MDF, this thing feels rock solid! There are four heavy duty rubber feet on the bottom of the cabinet that prevent it from moving even a millimeter no matter how aggressive you get with the joystick, and when your hands are resting on the control panel it really does feel like an honest to goodness arcade machine. I have no concerns whatsoever about how well this machine is going to hold up to the long years of daily use ahead of it, and I really like how the whole cabinet was designed to be user serviceable in the event that any of the electronic components ever need replacing. Accessing the joystick and button microswitches is as simple as unscrewing the two phillips head screws on the top of the control panel and lifting a panel up, and getting at the LCD monitor, JAMMA board, power supply, and other electronic components can be done by removing the two screws on each side of the cabinet then sliding the entire back panel of the cabinet out. The mono speaker and LED strip backlighting the marquee can be accessed by unscrewing the three screws on top of the cabinet, lifting off the marquee retaining bracket, then sliding out the acrylic marquee. The whole cabinet seems to have been designed with easy long term maintenance in mind, which is a very good thing in my book. The only fault I could really find with the build quality is that there could have been a little more attention to detail in certain areas when the cabinet was assembled. When it first arrived in the mail the LCD monitor was about 1/4" off center and the marquee was aligned crookedly, but fortunately both of those were very quick and easy fixes using nothing more than a phillips head screwdriver. All it took was loosening a few screws, straightening out the marquee and monitor by hand, then tightening the screws back down. The only alignment issue I found that couldn't be fixed was that the front black baseboard of the cabinet seems to have not been cut to quite right height, since there a slightly uneven 1/8" gap between the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the control panel. It's not a major aesthetic issue to me, and it doesn't affect the function of the cabinet at all, but it is something that I do think could have been avoided with a little more attention to detail. Another detail that's off by about 1/8" is the centering of the vinyl artwork on the control panel. It's not very noticeable unless you look at the positioning of the 1 Player and 2 Player Start button graphics or the locations of the two screws securing the control panel to the cabinet base, but a keen eye will notice that the vinyl was applied about 1/8" left of center. Close examination also reveals a slightly uneven cut on the edges of the side art vinyls that is a little jagged in a couple spots, and a very small chunk broken out of one of the corners of the marquee retaining bracket on top of the cabinet. In spite of the small handful of cosmetic flaws, I do think the overall Build Quality of the cabinet is very solid and well thought out. I have no doubt that it will last a lifetime of use. Controls Second only to the games themselves, one of the most important aspects (for me at least) of playing an arcade game is the quality of the joystick, buttons, and—in this case—the trackball that I'm playing them with. Trying to play a game like Ms. Pac-Man, which was designed for a 4-way joystick, with a ultra sensitive 8-way Japanese joystick designed for fighting games can be the worst kind of exercise in frustration; and the light weight button microswitches popular among fighting game enthusiasts these days just don't have the same feel as the stiffer, more heavy duty microswitches that anyone who has played the original 1980's arcade games that this cabinet runs might remember. With that in mind, I am pleased to report that DoxCade selected some really fantastic and period-appropriate hardware for the controls of this cabinet! The joystick is a Holland Computer brand bat top joystick that features a pleasantly stiff tensioning spring, which makes it feel more like one of the classic 1908's Wico brand leaf spring joysticks than any modern microswitch equipped joystick. It is an 8-way microswitch joystick, but the heavy spring inside combined with the square shape of the actuator makes it very difficult to accidentally activate the diagonals when playing a 4-way game like Ms. Pac-Man or Frogger. I think this joystick was a perfect choice for the cabinet, giving it 8-way functionality with a distinctly 4-way feel in the games that demand it. The three fire buttons also feature some very robust springs and microswitches in them, which may put a little wear and tear on your finger muscles in games like Xevious and 1942 that require constant rapid button pressing, but they do give the system the kind of heavy duty 1980's arcade machine feel that I personally find very enjoyable. Lastly, the trackball works magnificently! It is a 1.75" trackball, so those accustomed to the 2.25" trackballs that most arcade machines will notice it's little smaller than usual, but it does fit the cabinet nicely, is beautifully flush mounted on the control panel, and is very precise and comfortable to use. Once I got used to playing Centipede and Millipede with this trackball I consistently started nearly doubling my previous high scores, and after a few weeks with it don't think I could ever go back to playing those games with a joystick again. I'd also like to add that the trackball works extremely well in place of a spinner for Arkanoid and Super Breakout, providing the kind of analog control sensitivity that those games really need to be played well. I did have an issue with the ring securing the trackball on top of the control panel rubbing against the ball and preventing it from spinning freely when I first received the cabinet, but the ring was easily removed with a little clockwise twist and all I had to do from there was take a small round hobby file and shave off a millimeter or so of material around the inside lip of the ring to prevent it from rubbing against the ball. After that the ball spun smooth as silk, and has been completely problem free ever since. All things considered I have been very pleased with the controls! The joystick and buttons chosen feel just perfect to me, the trackball has been an absolute joy to use after doing that little alteration to the retaining ring, and they're all spaced out very nicely on the control on the control panel and comfortable to use for any length of time. Games And now we come to the most important thing of all: The games! All the aesthetics, build quality, and control choices in the world don't matter one bit of the games in the cabinet aren't good, and I can happily say that all but a handful of the games on the iCade 60-in-1 JAMMA board inside this machine look, sound, and play flawlessly. To make things even better, the 17" vertical LCD monitor in the cabinet displays them beautifully and gives every game the kind of sharp, clean appearance that these classics deserve to truly do them justice. All the big vertical screen arcade classics are here, including Centipede, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, Frogger, Space Invaders, Galaga, and many many more. If you'd like to see everything included on it, you can find the full list of games included on the board in the spoiler tag below: While I haven't played every single game on the board, I have played the vast majority and almost all of them—including all of my personal favorites—are perfectly accurate to the arcade originals. The only games I have found thus far that had any issues with them were Millipede, Gyruss, Gun Smoke, Super Cobra, Scramble, 1943, and 1943 Kai. In all of those games the graphics and gameplay are perfect, but the sound is overly loud and distorted to varying degrees depending on the game. Some of the games like Millipede and 1943 are only slightly too loud and distorted just a little in the sound department, making them still very playable without irritation, while others like Gun Smoke and Scramble have their sound so loud and distorted that you'll be hard pressed to play them for more than 30 seconds without getting an earache. This hasn't really been an issue for me, since all the games I really like to play are perfect, but it could be an issue for someone who is a huge fan of one of the few games on the board affected by audio problems. I'd also like to mention that I really enjoy the clean, bright, and easy to navigate menu system for selecting games. It's extremely intuitive to use, requires no setup at all, is very aesthetically pleasing, and I like how the board cycles through demos of all the games when not in use. If you do want to tweak and tune the dip switch settings for any of the games on the board all you have to do is power off the cabinet then power it back on while holding down the black button on the back of the cabinet closest to the power switch to start the board up in test mode, then cycle through the games and dip switch settings to configure them however you like. By default the board comes with all the dip switches turned off, but even as someone who has never configured anything like this before it was very easy for me to look up the dip switch settings for every included game online and set them to their original factory defaults. The last point worth mentioning about the board is that it even when the machine is turned off it does save your high scores in every game I've played on it. The only catch is that if you entered your initials for the score those will not be saved. This isn't a big deal to me since the only people who are going to be using this machine are myself and my wife, and we both keep physical pen and paper copies of our high score lists, but it could be an issue for someone who plans on having several different people using their machine and turning the power off regularly. Factoring all of these points together, I can safely say that I'm very happy with the iCade 60-in-1 board. It plays all the games that I personally enjoy absolutely perfectly, has an aesthetically pleasing and easy to use interface, and it's a tremendously affordable solution for someone who doesn't want to invest in a MAME computer setup or deal with the all the hassles inherent to configuring MAME and it's various front end options just to play some classic 80's arcade games with a clean and attractive user interface. Which brings me to… Overall Value When I sit back and consider everything about my custom commissioned Centipede cabinet from http://doxcade.com, I can't help but feel like I got an incredibly good deal for my money. For half the price or less of what every other custom arcade machine builder out there was quoting me I got a machine that is a beautiful bartop sized recreation of an original Centipede cabinet, built like a tank, and just an absolute joy to play all the arcade games that I like the most on. There were a few niggling details with it when it first arrived that needed some minor tweaking to sort out, but the very user serviceable nature of the cabinet's design made those fixes simple and easy to perform. Once those were taken care of I was very happy with it and would absolutely recommend DoxCade.com for anyone looking to add a bartop sized arcade cabinet to their home gaming center without having to spend a small fortune in the process. You may notice a few minor cosmetic imperfections here and there, but keeping in mind the price and the fact that these are handmade cabinets being built one at a time from scratch and not factory production units I think a couple tiny cosmetic flaws are perfectly acceptable, and the machine as a whole is sure to provide you with many long years of retro gaming enjoyment.
  2. Hello, I'm new to the forum. I recently completed this project. Built it from scratch. I've converted gutted arcade cabinets in the past, but I never did anything like this before. I think it turned out well. Please take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks!
  3. Hello, I'm new to the forum. I recently completed this project. Built it from scratch. I've converted gutted arcade cabinets in the past, but I never did anything like this before. I think it turned out well. Please take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks!
  4. Hey there everyone! I've been contemplating getting a bartop size vertical arcade cabinet for a long time now, and I've finally decided that it's something I want to start saving up for. It might take me a few months to get the cash together, but in the meantime I'm hoping to get some recommendations for reputable custom arcade cabinet makers that could build me just what I'm looking for. I live in a fairly small apartment and don't have the tools, skills, or space to build something myself; so I'm looking to pay someone to build my machine for me. The specific details of what I'd like to have built are as follows: - Bartop size arcade cabinet - Modern vertical LED/LCD monitor behind a clear bezel - Joystick (red bat top) on the left side of the control panel, three buttons (LED lit) in the middle, trackball on the right side, and Atari cone style 1 & 2 player buttons on the far right. - Reproduction Centipede graphics for the backlit marquee, screen bezel, control panel, and side art - Cabinet fully painted to match the color scheme of an original full size Centipede arcade cabinet - Coin slot on the right side of the machine (with free play option available) - 60-in-1 JAMMA board installed Interestingly enough I already found almost exactly what I'm looking for on eBay, but the seller had placed the trackball in the middle of the control panel for left handed use; and they didn't seem to be interested in building another cabinet with the trackball positioned for right handed use. Everything else was exactly what I wanted though, so in lieu of that person not being interested in building another one I was wondering if anyone here could recommend me a reputable company or individual who could build me just what I'm looking for?
  5. Ola Retrogamers, Last winter I presented the STARFORCE PI Electronic Tabeltop Mini-Arcade on this forum to gauge interest and collect feedback which I could use in preparing a Kickstarter campaign to produce this all-in-one system with a solid arcade experience (www.starforcepi.com). We unfortunately fell short at 49K of the 190K funding goal, but it was a pretty good response, with some decent coverage by techblogs. Because of this I decided to continue working on this project together with Hartmut Wendt (hwhardsoft.de). In parallel to working on a small-volume limited release run, I decided to explore the possibility of building a Neo Geo MVS into the smallest and lightest form factor possible. This was to compare actual Neo Geo games on original hardware with the more budget friendly emulated experience of the SFP. After roughly 4 months of working, tinkering, cutting, thinking and cursing I finished a fully functional mini Neo Geo MVS system: The STARFORCE NEO All-in-One System. The entire build cost around €600, using original and premium components, with a further €150 euro for the extra controller and multicart (161-in-1 MVS to AES shell conversion + box). Check out the attached pictures for an impression of the system, and visit the STARFORCE PI blog for a little more information on the system. SPECS: · Authentic SNK Neo Geo MV-1B hardware · Neo Geo MVS Cartridge Compatible · 2x Neo Geo Controller Inputs (Player 1 & 2) · Integrated SEIMITSU Joystick & 6 buttons (Player 1) · Integrated 8” 480p LCD Screen (4:3) + HDMI Output · SmallCab SuperGun to SCART-to-HDMI · SGL3000 Scanline Generator · Logitech Z120 Internal 1.2Watt Stereo Speakers · 3.5mm Headphone Stereo Jack · BeQuiet! Silent PSU SFW Power 2 400W · Vintage 1982 Minitel 1 Converted Case · Dimensions: 23 x 25 x 26 cm I'll post some pictures and a video of it working with the multicart soon, and I will prepare a build report for the blog so you can have a look at the internals, and how I made certain features. I'd appreciate any feedback, questions and insights you can offer. Enjoy! Marcel SFP Development Team
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