my quest to build a replica donkey kong arcade machine

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Marquee bracket

Last night I got the marquee and the two marquee brackets in the mail from Mike’s Arcade. I thought it would be a fun and quick installation. I quickly cut two pieces of MDF for the marquee light holder and screwed them in with L brackets. Then I realized that I had no idea how to install the marquee.

I came up with four possible ways to install the marquee/bezel retainer. I searched the Interwebs for close-ups of the whole thing and determined that it was either #1 or #2 but then I had to make dinner for wifey so I gave up.

I post this as a cautionary tale: you can never predict the stupid little things that will drive you insane when you decide to build one of these things.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Assembly of cabinet

I decided to assemble everything with biscuits and glue. This guy assembled his with brackets. I'm sure mine is stronger but glue is so permanent that I think I will use his method next time to make adjustments if necessary.

First I glued the bottom to the front. Then I cut biscuit holes in the sides so that I could lay one side of the cabinet on the workbench, assemble the front, backs, top, and bottom, put the other side on, and clamp it all together. I somehow lost the photos of the whole thing on its side all clamped up but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

For the base, I used a 2x4 that I trimmed down to 3" so 1.5 inches is hidden and 1.5 inches is visible. J.Avery used a 1x4 made of maple which was too expensive for me. I figured that because nobody would ever see the bottom, a 2x4 would be better.

I did not assemble the pieces that hold the marquee and the bezel yet because I want to get those pieces first to make sure they fit. If everything looks ok, I will post the measurements for all of the pieces of the cabinet.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Speaker grille

Last night I printed out the picture of the speaker grille from The scale on the grille drawing said 3 inches = 1 foot so I set the page setup size to 400% and printed it out. I taped the picture of the grille to my MDF and got started.

I put a 1/4 inch drill bit into my drill press and drilled a hole where each channel had to go. I then put a 1/4 inch bit in my router and put it into the drilled hole. I clamped a carpenter’s square to the piece to make sure that the channel I cut with the router was going to be exactly perpendicular to the edge of the piece. Using the square as a guide for the router, I cut out each channel.

I peeled off the tape and did some light sanding on the edges of each channel to finish it off. Not bad for a weekday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cabinet sides

I have decided to create a Donkey Kong arcade machine from scratch. My name is Pepper. Pray for me.

My first step was to pull the plans from I've read that these plans were not exact but I figured they're a good starting point.

I bought two sheets of 3/4" MDF from Home Depot. 30 bucks. This stuff is very heavy so bring a friend or a few bucks to tip someone at Home Depot. I pulled something in my neck getting it on top of my Jeep. Learn from my mistakes. I'm sure that will be a recurring theme.

I originally tried to draw the plans on the MDF (like Barry) but I quickly got frustrated. I could never draw.

I noticed that the plans say "1.5" = 1 foot" so these drawings are 1/8 scale. So I opened the plans in Microsoft Paint, went to File->Page Setup, and set the scaling to "Adjust to 800%." I made sure that both "centering" boxes were unchecked and then I set all of the margins to 1/2 inch.

Then I hit "print." I did this at work before anyone else came in. It was something like 90 pages.

I then took a carpenter's square and cut the margins off the pages and taped them together. I used a big ruler to make sure they were straight. I had a full-scale plan. I cut it out with a scissor and traced it on to a piece of MDF.

It was at this point that the wife realized that something was up.

Then I made a religious pilgrimage. For I have one of the greatest assets on the planet: I am good friends with (and live very close to) the creator / restorer extraordinaire J.Avery. I brought him some lemon bars. We played Donkey Kong. He wished me well.

I cut the panels using a router. Almost everyone else cuts with a jigsaw and then sands but I am more skilled with a router than a jigsaw.

I cut it freehand but J.Avery suggested using the router to create a template in 1/4 inch MDF or plywood and then using a flush cut bit in the router to just follow the template, which is a safer idea. That’s what I’ll do for my next machine.

I then clamped the first one I cut out to a clean piece of MDF and used a flush cut bit in my router to cut the second one. I sanded out any imperfections using a palm sander.

This picture raises an important point: MDF creates a TON of dust. Wear a mask and goggles.