Arkanoid Build
The Plan
Tolie owns an Arkanoid cabinet.
The Arkanoid cabinet needs some work done it.
Tolie doesn't have time to work on the Arkanoid cabinet.

Jimmy likes Arkanoid.
Jimmy wants to play Arkanoid.
Jimmy has time to work on the Arkanoid cabinet.

A deal is made. Jimmy borrows the Arkanoid, gets to play it, and gets to work on it.

The following things need to be done:
  • Multiple Board Support: Integrate all three Arkanoid versions (Arkanoid, Arkanoid II: Revenge of Doh, Arkanoid: Tournament) into a single cabinet with easy switch capabilities.
  • Fix a weird buzzing noise coming from the marquee
  • Get a high quality, original spinner working
  • Perform general cabinet cleanup
Multiple Board Support
Taito released four different Arkanoid versions from 1986 to 1997: Arkanoid, Tournament Arkanoid, Arkanoid II - Revenge of Doh, and Arkanoid Returns. Arkanoid Returns was realeased in the 90s when aracade designers felt the need to revamp original games from the 80s with worse graphics, so we're just going to ignore it. Tolie has the PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) for the three good versions of Arkanoid and wanted to integrate them into the same cabinet but still make it easy to switch between them.

The first problem was the pinout and connector types. The cabinet, Arkanoid, and Tournament Arkanoid were pinned out using the Taito Classic Standard, while Arkanoid II - Revenge of Doh was pinned out using the JAMMA Standard. JAMMA has become the typical industry standard, so I wanted to convert the Taito Classic connectors and cables to JAMMA. There are off-the-shelf converters you can buy (ex: https://www.mikesarcade.com/cgi-bin/store.pl?sku=ARK2JAMMA), but they were out of my price range, especially when a home-built solution was fairly easy. Plus, I am an electrical engineer after all, so there was my pride to think about.

In the end, it was as simple as picking up some JAMMA fingerboards and 44-pin connectors. I downloaded for the manuals the Arkanoid cabinets and refered to the pinout sections to solder my adapters together. It took a bit of time but wasn't too tricky. This made it so that we could play any of the games in the same cabinet, but didn't yet address our goal of easily switching between the three games.

There are ready-made multiplexing boards that allow you to switch between multiple games (ex: http://www.multigame.com/jamma.html), but I'm cheap, and we're not switching between games very often, so we figured these ready-made boards were overkill for this project. Instead, I made a nifty little box to hold the three Arkanoid PCBs. Then I mounted the box inside the cabinet, close to the front, so we can reach into the coin door and move the connector whenever we want to change games. It may not be the most elegant solution, but it works great. Task number one: complete.

Cable Box BoxInstalled
Weird Buzzing Noise
The marquee was loud and annoying. I play board games in the room where I stowed the cabinet, and it was distracting. Plus, my wife didn't appreciate the constant noise.

A marquee light includes three main components: the fluorescent light bulb, a ballast, and a starter. A fluorescent bulb is connected directly to a power source. These bulbs are greedy and will suck up as much current as they can get. A ballast limits how much power they are able to draw and stops them from blowing up. The starter provides the inital current needed to light the bulb.

A lot of arcade owners are replacing their marquee lights with LED strips. I wanted to try to fix our current marquee lighting before replacing it. A quick Google search told me that the buzzing was likely caused by the ballast. Luckily I found a stack of ballasts for $1 in the clearance section of my local hardware store. Bingo. I replaced it and was done, no more buzzing. Task number two: complete.

Flourescent Marquee
The Spinner
Tolie has a weird infatuation with spinners... The cabinet had an after-market spinner, and Tolie just HAD to have an original. Now, Tolie also had an original Arkanoid spinner with one missing gear. We initially attempted to replicate the missing gear using a 3D printer. After a number of test runs, we made one that fit decently. Unfortunately, the 3D printer we have access to doesn't have great resolution and prints ABS material, which is brittle and won't stand the test of time.

This is when I (Jimmy) was ready to give up the spinner replacement project as a fun diversion, but Tolie wouldn't have it. He found a 3D printer who would print the gear in nylon (more durable) for a low cost. The first try had potential but was slightly too large. We'll see if Tolie ever gets around to ordering another one.

In the meantime, Tolie decided to just buy an original spinner without a missing gear. And, voilà, working spinner. Task number three: complete.

SpinnerGears
General Cabinet Cleanup
A little bit of TLC will make for a much better cabinet in your gameroom.

For Tolie's cabinet, this meant cleaning up the outside and routing the interior wires in an organized fashion. I also removed this horrible bar that had been installed over the coin cabinet and installed a fresh lock in its place. Lastly, I created a bezel out of black foamcore to hide the monitor edges. At some point, we would also like to get the original Taito decal for the cabinet sideart (right now, the cabinet is just painted black over Centipede sideart - blasphemous). Cabinet: complete (for now).

CabinetBack CabinetFront