Hi guys and welcome back. My it has been a while, a long, long, while since my last update, almost 5 months to be exact. So what has been going on? Well, a lot, I guess, just not so much of the fun stuff. Life gets busy, work and family, simply eat up spare time and before you have time to dunk another biscuit into your brew, another month has passed…
I decided to put this blog post together, both as a means of working out, what projects I have ongoing and putting some context and priority onto these, but also as public resolution for 2019. A to do list for all to see. Who knows, maybe the peer pressure will inspire me into getting these languishing projects, not just started, but actually finished.
It will be more than just a list of outstanding tasks though, with some photos of part completed works, along with updates of what work is still required; information about projects that are, embarrassingly, still to pass the start line, which I have not yet shared on my blog; as well as some exciting new pick-ups and what I intend to do with these.
And so, let’s get this kicked off and see what work I have lined up ahead of me…. [gulp..]
GAMES ROOM – The last update was with the hard work completed, leaving just the nice part of titivating the bare walls, and housing my console collection. There are still some bare patches to cover and I want to get a couple more things (lamps and ornaments), but the majority of this is now done and fully functioning as a games room.
The one thing to make it onto the ‘to do list’ however is to increase the shelf capacity of the Ikea Kallax unit, to enable it to house more consoles. The unit I purchased is the exact right size for the games room, but only has shelving for 8 consoles. I want to add extra shelves to increase this to 16 and be able to house my collection. Of course, I don’t just want to bodge in a bit of plywood, it has to look exactly right. Unfortunately, Ikea do not sell extra shelves for the unit in the colour that I bought, but, hey, so what. I have toyed with glass (Ikea do sell these), bent acrylic, etc, but have yet to decide. However something needs chosen and fitted to finish off the unit, so I guess that will be job number one.
For now, though, here are some photos of how the room looks today.
Obligatory framed artwork shot.
ROBOTRON CABARET SCRATCH BUILD – The big one. The one I get the most pokes about. “Is it finished?”, “did you get a monitor?”, “are you playing it, yet?”, are the usual questions, with Tony Temple repeatedly (and rightly) demanding to know if I have stencilled the side art on yet.
Well Tony, no, I haven’t. But I bloody will. This is the priority project. The one that out ranks all others. Nothing else gets touched until this is up and running. Nothing…. [well, maybe..]
The good news is that I have everything I need to finish the project. I have a lovely 14” burn free Hantarex crt monitor and chassis. Switching PSU. PCB – for now, I am just using a 19in1 Jamma board, which will be set to boot straight into Robotron. The main reason for using this, is simply because I already have one spare, but in all honesty, it is actually a very accurate emulation of the game and of course, much more reliable than an original boardset. An original PCB would be both costly and potentially temperamental, but I also think that an original PCB should be used in an original cab. I am happy to go repro in my repro cab. Maybe later on, I could change it for a JROK board, which offers a more faithful representation of the hardware, as opposed to simple emulation. I also have a speaker, marquee light and enough wire and connectors to make the necessary looms.
However, before we get carried away, I still have some internal woodwork to finish inside the cabinet; inner back panel, monitor bezel, monitor mounts, chassis/pcb/psu shelf. I also need to fabricate and fit various metalwork; marquee retainers, glass bezel retainers, control panel retainers.
And of course, I have to bite the bullet and try and work out how best to apply the stencilling artwork to the sides of the cabinet.
So, far from finished, but determined to get there.
ATARI ASTEROIDS COCKTAIL – FIX/RESTORATION – As you may recall, this was a very lucky find, in a scrap dealers in Glasgow. Bought as seen in the recesses of his warehouse, thick with dust and no idea when last switched on or when last worked/played.
This is in need of a full strip down, an initial clean to determine what we have/have not, then some electrical pre-flight checks and seeing exactly what we have working or not, before we begin to put it all back together, restoring what can be kept, and replacing anything missing/broken beyond repair.
I have made an initial start on this, and know that I have at least, a monitor fault, so, for now, I am trying to get this fixed, before doing anything else with this. It was always going to be doubtful that this would ‘just work’, for why else would it be sitting in a dusty warehouse, the question, of course, is just how much is broken. PCB?…….
SEGA DINO KING CONVERSION PROJECT – I managed to snag one of these cabinets about 18 months ago, now. It is in average condition, with some slight damage to the bodywork, and the paintwork very faded in parts, but the monitor is clean and sharp with no burn in. The management chip has run out of credits and I have no cards, so I am content with taking an original cab and turning it into something else, something playable, something cool!
But turn it into what? Since I have had this cabinet, I must have changed my mind, countless times over, as to what I could turn this into. Dedicated WonderBoy – great game but PCB’s are so hard to find and it tears up in MAME a fair bit. Mini New Astro City – would look cool, next to it’s full size bigger brother, but then I would always choose the NAC, over the Dino. Dedicated Bombjack – another favourite game for me, but I would really like a cabaret cabinet dedicated to this with an original PCB installed. And the list just went on and on.
Also there have been some truly remarkable Dino King conversions lately, by the likes of Flinnster and Smarty, who have really pushed the bar considerably, as to what can be achieved with these tiny cabinets.
Anyway, having the time to mull this over has given me the chance to really deliberate on what to turn this into. It had to be a game that resonated with myself, from childhood. It had to be one that would be suited to the size of the cab. Bubble Bobble was another consideration but the logistics of getting a 2 player set up on that small a control panel, would not be comfortable. But, I ‘think’ I have it. A game I played lots, as a child, both in the arcades but especially on home computers. It’s a vertical game, so some trickery will be required to allow the monitor to be rotated and rehoused, but the cab artwork is striking and I think would look amazing.
What will it become? Time will tell…….
ATARI CENTIPEDE RESTORATION – If you recall from my games room blog, the physical size of the finished room, meant that any cabinets were going to have to fight for their floorspace, which has made me really consider what cabinets I want to have in there. Culling any spur of the moment purchases, instead forcing me to first work out what my grail games are, then seeking out those cabinets.
Well, one of those is Atari’s seminal game, Centipede. Released as a cocktail, cabaret and upright, but it was only the upright that had the distinctive, striking artwork that I think, epitomises the arcade era of the early 80’s.
I knew of a cabinet, with a fellow collector, who might be looking to move it on, and after many, many months, of messaging and keeping in touch, I finally had it in my games room.
It comes with it’s faults, but is playable, and it is a restoration that I am cannot wait to fully sink my teeth into. But as we know, nothing else happens until Robotron is finished…
And, I’m just enjoying playing it. What a great cabinet. What a great game.
And so, there we have it. A list of things to do. But as collectors of anything will confess to, if the right cabinet comes up, this list might get bigger before it gets smaller….
Wish me luck.