The Arcade Cab Project (part 1)

I came up in the idea in 2014. And it’s 2020. I’m still sort of working on it. Or thinking about working on it. That’s the same, right?

The form this cab would take and the plans around it have shifted and adapted over the past years. I assumed it would be much simpler than it obviously could be several times and came up new ideas improvements over time.

As touched upon in the Windows auto-installing post, I really wanted to have a customized OS of some kind: a way I could automatically install the OS stripped down and optimized for performance with all the required drivers that also then installed the software necessary. This also dove-tails into the Windows Workstation 2019 idea I had but still have yet to pursue with any seriousness.

So this idea for an “arcade cab” can actually be broken down into several parts:

  1. Chassis/case or “cab” portion
    1. This will need it’s own PSU with “power bus” to power things like the monitor, PC, PCB used for the controller/control panel, speakers and anything else necessary as well as wiring to connect everything to everything else
    2. I have thought of and brainstormed several form factors/forms
      1. Briefcase/suitcase
        1. I ended up with two different relatively large cases for old VHS cameras with more than enough room
          1. Mark I: My working goal was to use the lesser appealing of the two as a brainstorm or “mark 1”
          2. Mark II: Then use the second one as the much more complete and compelling “mark 2” that I would be willing to show in public
            1. One possible goal for the Mark II was to make the control panel easily removable
      2. more traditional “bartop”
        1. There are a number blueprints online for building this sort thing
        2. This is preferable over a stand-up cabinet for space and other reasons
      3. A combo bartop/standup (this will make more sense with pictures)
        1. I happen to grab a cart device made for moving around a PC with a screen from work (it was being thrown out)
        2. My idea was to create a bartop with some vertical grooves on either side so it could be placed on the mobile cart to be used like a stand-up cab
        3. Bonus: The cart can be raised and lowered with a peddle (*final countdown plays*)
        4. This combo would be the third/last and presumably most polished of the bunch
  2. Control Panel itself (in this context the control panel is the combination of buttons and joystick)
    1. Will this be something installed and screwed in? Perhaps a hinge or locking mechanism?
    2. Choosing what is included will be important: digital 8-way with 4-way only option? Maybe a spinner? Add a track ball? How many player buttons between 4 and 8?
    3. Will the stick itself be select-able between analog and digital?
    4. Will the player buttons be quality spring loaded or something much less satisfying?
  3. Which OS should be used?
    1. Windows 7:
      1. advantages are that it can be connected to the internet without worry of a 5 gigabyte “experience update” raining down ready-or not regardless of available storage space. With the help of technology like PowerShell can be optimized and customized the nth degree. Has software advantage for front ends and utilities.
      2. Disadvantages: will not install on newer UEFI devices and will no longer receive security updates after January 2020
    2. Windows 10
      1. Advantages include installing on almost anything from low end atoms with barely any RAM and as little as 32 gigs for the OS disk going back to 2012 or so and will be getting regular security updates into the future. With the help of technology like PS can be optimized and customized the nth degree. Has software advantage for front ends and utilities.
      2. Disadvantages: the previously mentioned “feature updates” of 5+ gigs raining down whether wanted or not and regardless of storage space. Special care will have to be taken and dramatic measures taken to try and avoid this.
    3. Linux (unspecified variant)
      1. Advantages: no worries about running out of updates or builds imposing themselves. Can be locked down rather tightly. Has many already optimized variants like SteamOS, and openElec/librElec. Not as many software options as Windows but still extras for x86 originally developed for the PI.
      2. Disadvantages: General learning curve, lack of software, lack of ease of use. Finding help and documentation can sometimes be entirely too time consuming.
    4. Ambiguously defined “other” OS of my own making
      1. I have yet to prove or disprove this idea as option
      2. this includes my “workstation 2019” ideas as well as even lesser friendly options like WinPE.
      3. Only advantage would be limited Windows compatibility, everything else would be working against it.
  4. What software and utilities should be included (front ends, databases, ways of retrieving metadata, etc)
    1. Frontends
      1. Far and away the best UI that comes with a working metadata retrieval system (that I know of) would have to go to LaunchBox with BigBox mode (only for Windows, wine solutions not withstanding)
      2. There also options to use steam’s full screen mode as a front end for ROMs, though I haven’t tried it
      3. This is x86 version of EmulationStation (normally used with PIs, haven’t tried yet)
      4. Kodi for windows or linux (haven’t tried this either
      5. PlayNite seems to support all the platforms on PC games as well as emulation. Although I haven’t tried it yet.
      6. Many other options, none of which I have tried
    2. I’ve purchased a lifetime subscription of a meta data database that can be tied into launchbox among other front ends (I forgot the name of it)
    3. I’ve had something of an idea around tracking ROMs with git but the idea is not yet flushed out
  5. The variety and kind of games to be included
    1. This originally started as a pure MAME thing but has since shift a few different directions
      1. I think retroarch is better option than MAME directly
      2. I want to get a great many cart-based console games with some select PS1 games
    2. I thin the thing that delayed this the most is my desire to use PC games from steam (and other services now)

This post kind of exploded out into a great many directions but it’s nice to get it all laid out where I can see it.

Subsequent posts will include pictures and more illustrations of whatever it I am trying to come up with.

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