ROBOTRON CABARET SCRATCH BUILD – PART 7.

Hi guys and welcome back. As promised (*read ‘hoped), I have managed to keep the momentum going with this build, I think through a mix of being reinvigorated along with some, much needed, days off work. It’s not quite there, but it’s close. In fact it is so close I can smell those Grunts, running scared…. 

So, not the biggest update in terms of content, but the hurdles faced here in, were the biggest, for myself, and so have brought the biggest sense of achievement, and I wanted to share it with you guys, at the earliest opportunity. For those that have been with me from the start, I think you will like this entry, but no scrolling ahead, you know the drill, put aside 5 minutes, get a brew, a biscuit, a comfy chair, and read on. 

Ok, no need to recap, as the last entry was very recent, but if you do want to reacquaint yourself then click here. The next job to tackle was to wire everything together and then flick the switch! 

I’ve mentioned it before, electronics are my weak point and being honest, electricity, especially the amounts that can become stored up in a CRT chassis, scares me, more than a little. But I am getting better and more importantly, learning all the time.   

First up was to tackle the jamma wiring loom and work out the groupings of each various component: the PSU feed; the speaker/marquee lighting; the control panel; and the monitor.  

I had bought a pre-wired jamma edge connector with loom, from Arcade World, which I have used before and found the quality to be ok. The main power wires are beefed up and the rest are of an ‘ok’ thickness. Another alternative, and one I may go for in a future restoration, would be to simply buy an edge connector/fingerboard and solder on your own wires. The pro’s for doing this would not only allow for the use of a better quality wire, but wire that could be measured to exactly fit your needs, however there are other ways to achieve this too, as we will find out below. 

At first look, the loom can look akin to a bird’s nest of wires. I actually hung the edge connector from the wall allowing the lengths of wire to hang freely below, where I then seperated the wires into the specified groups and used electrical tape to temporarily bunch them together. Because of the nature of the pre-formatted loom, pretty much all possible requirements are included, where-as I, on the other hand, only needed the connections for my dedicated Robotron game. So, quite a few of the wires are surplus to requirements. For these I simply removed the wire/crimp from the jamma edge, in it’s entirety. A quick look on YouTube showed me how to remove/replace the connectors which, like most, are just held in place with some little sticky out parts on the metalwork and sliding a very small screwdriver, down in the correct place, will push them free. 

In the last post, I had already wired up the speaker and marquee light, which was very simple, using the wires and connectors already on the loom for the speaker and adding a simple connector for the light. 

For the PSU connections, I trimmed the wires already attached to the loom to the required length and crimped on the O ring connectors and wired them onto the PSU terminals. To keep everything nice and tidy, all the wires have been cable tied together in their groups and secured to the cabinet using adhesive fixings. 

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I really found it very satisfying sorting all the wires into neat bundles..

This really just left the control panel and monitor.  Let’s start with the control panel, which holds 1player and 2player start buttons and 2 Wico joysticks, each with 4 leaf switches, giving a total of 10 inputs, plus one more required for a common ground connection. 

Now the wires on the loom were easily long enough to reach from the PCB to the control panel and I could have simply wired them directly to this, however most cabinets use a connector between the panel and the PCB, allowing for easier removal of the panel if required, which is what I wanted to do also. Measuring out roughly where that connection would be, I cut through the existing wires. The cut ends, which had the correct crimps already attached were then fixed onto the control panel switches and again tidied up with cable ties. The other ends of these wires were stripped, crimped and placed into a 12way molex connector.  

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Neat and tidy. (No such thing as too many cable ties..)

The ends of the other set of wires, had the other part of the molex connector fitted, making sure (of course) that each wire was fitted correctly to match it’s corresponding other half. More cable ties and adhesive fixings and this part was complete. 

Prior to wiring up the monitor, I had wanted to set up the 19in1 PCB to boot directly into Robotron and ensure the other setting (dips, volume, etc) were correct. To do this is very simple, the pcb has 4 dip switches on it, one of these boots into the test menu, another allows you to hook up a VGA monitor.  

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So, by quickly attaching an LCD monitor, I was able to both, test the power/PCB/control wiring, and get the board running how I wanted. The various test/setting screens on this PCB require the use of fire buttons 1, 2 and 3, to input and navigate through the options. None of which my cab has. So, I quickly rigged up a very rudimentary ‘3 button box’ from an old butter carton and some buttons I had lying around. This allowed me to disable the other 18 games and adjust the volume, etc as required, but also let me check through the all the controls ensuring they all worked as they should. Once done, I removed the wires from the edge connector, as before. 

20190424_194458
I can’t believe that’s not and arcade box…..

This only left the monitor, which when bought, had the PSU connector and RGB inputs already wired, running to simple lengths of cable. Again, very much a case of repeating the earlier processes of measuring, adding a molex connector where needed, and attaching to the jamma loom or PSU as required.  The chassis that I have (Hantarex) runs directly from mains input, so there is no need for an isolation transformer, which is good, but I got a little confused as the chassis has an input for both vertical and horizontal sync, where-as the PCB only outputs a combined/video sync? But a quick question to a more technically minded person than I, told me just to wire up the vertical sync (white wire). 

20190426_184555
The once bird’s nest of wires, now looks much more user friendly.

With all this now wired up, it was time to ‘flick the switch’.  

It’s hard to recreate here the feelings that I had at this point, but a certain level of trepidation had swelled up inside; Would it work? Would it go bang? Had I wired it correctly? I didn’t go as far as donning marigolds and wellingtons and standing on a rubber mat, but I did hold my breath as my fingers rocked the mains from off to on. 

I was stood behind the cabinet at this point, unable to see the screen, and on walking to the front, I found myself peering around the side, not entirely hopeful, to be greeted with this….. 

20190426_144614
It only bladdy works! I did it. I brought it to life. It’s alive!!!! 

At this point, there was only one thing that I could do. Press 1Player start and play a game.  

I was not disappointed.  

Some minor tweaks on the monitor chassis to perfect the picture and we were done. No smoke, no bangs, just Robot Ron, in all its maddening glory. The Wicos feel beautiful, both to hold and to control. Yes, I am a happy bunny. 

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Behind the lens, I am smiling. Trust me.

But we are not there quite yet. One update away. A quick look over the cab to create a final snag list, reveals the last of the jobs; 

Fabricate and fit some brackets to hold the control panel extra secure. (It’s Robotron remember..) 

Paint the stencilled side art to the cabinet. (Another job, deliberately left until last..) 

Fit t-molding to the cabinet. (The final flurry, which always really sets off all the other work.) 

Please come back and make sure you finish this rather long journey, with me. 

As always, if you like what you find here, please subscribe, read through my earlier posts, hit like, and share on the social media buttons below. I genuinely would love to hear what you think of these posts, good or bad, and will reply to every comment left.

Thank you for taking the time to read through, see you all next time.

 

9 thoughts on “ROBOTRON CABARET SCRATCH BUILD – PART 7.

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