Control Panel Construction

The control panel is constructed of 3/4″ MDF. I chose this material again, because it easy easy to work with and is very durable.  I designed the control panel with the same basic shape as the original TMNT Arcade game but of course it had to be wider and deeper to account for all the extra buttons I was adding to it.

After cutting out all the pieces I would need, I glued and screwed together the base for the actual buttons to rest on.  The button and joystick holes were drilled out with a hole saw.

Here is the original button template I created.  I chose to use 7 buttons because I knew that almost all games can be played with that many.  The button that is dropped to the left of the other six was put there so you could use your thumb as the turbo button in games like NBA Jam and for the run button in Mortal Kombat.

I knew that to use the original control panel art from the original TMNT that I would have to remake the art work.  I would have to fill in all the button and joystick holes, the button labels, the Turtle’s pictures and the instructions.  This was a very slow and tedious process for me but the results were definitely worth it.

Here you can see the completed artwork.  All the holes have been filled in, Turtles pictures have been moved to the top and the instructions removed.  If you look close, you can see how bad I am at this.  I don’t have photoshop so all this was done with Microsoft Picture It.  Again, this was a long process for me but I was very happy with the way it turned out.

Here is the original control panel artwork from TMNT with my completed remake with button template.  If you notice there are two buttons above the trackball that didn’t end up making it into the final product.

I had the artwork printed by the guys over at GameOnGrafix.com.  It turned out absolutely fantastic and I would recommend them for any artwork printing you need done.  The colors were great, the sheet was perfectly sized and the quality was better than expected.

Here you can see where I trimmed the excess material using a razor blade.  Then the artwork was pressed into place using a squeegee wrapped in a microfiber cloth so it didn’t scratch.  It was an absolutely perfect fit and I was very happy that it turned out as well as it did.

Next, I used a small razor blade to cut out all the button holes and the hole for the trackball.  It takes a while and you have to be careful but when I was finished I could really see the panel starting to come together.

Here is the backside of the panel after installed the carbon fiber vinyl on it. Again, I used a small razor to cut out all the button holes and trackball hole.  The carbon fiber wrap was easy to use and looks fantastic!

Here you can see on the bottom of the control panel where I used a router to make a channel for the joystick housing.  Then i installed inset screws for it to screw in to.  This way, I wouldn’t have to have any screws showing on top of the panel for the joysticks.  This gives a much cleaner look in my opinion.

This picture shows the joystick housing fully installed.  All I had to do was screw in the four screws.  The set screws give it a nice, flush and clean look.  It is also very solid and should last a long time.

Here you can see that I have finished installing all of the buttons, joysticks, trackball, hinge plates and the two GP-Wiz40 USB Input Interfaces.  Now the real fun begins, the wiring!

The first thing I wanted to do was run my grounding chain to all my buttons and joysticks.  I used 20 gauge black stranded wire.  I also installed a few cable clips to help keep all the wiring neat and tidy.

Each button had to have its own wire run from it directly to the GP-Wiz40.  I chose to use the same color wire as the buttons to help keep things seperated and to also make it look good.  Each piece of wire was individual cut to length and a terminal attached.

I decided to also wrap the trackball plate with the carbon fiber vinyl.  I had an extra piece left and I thought it would give it a nice look while also tying the control panel to the cabinet.

Here you can see the finished trackball plate, green translucent trackball and the extra buttons for media player controls, volume and mouse buttons.

I decided to add keystone plates to the back of the control panel.  I did this so it would be easier to unplug everything if I ever needed to.  It also gives it a much cleaner look.  The jacks include an HDMI port, audio ports, 6 USB ports and a VGA port.  The plates were painted green to match the cabinet.  You can also see an electrical port I installed for a power strip on the inside of the control panel.

Here you can see the inside of the control panel at the keystone jacks.  I have an HDMI cord and VGA for my scan-line generator, button wires for the top panel, USB cables and audio cables.

I knew that I wanted to add USB ports to my control panel for easy access.  That way I could use them for USB controllers or other devices that I might want to connect.  I found these USB pathways that also had a built in 3.5mm input so I could use headphones if I ever wanted to.

Here you can see two of the 4 USB pathways..  They were pretty easy to install.  Just drill a hole, put them in through front and a plastic screw on cap went on the back.

This picture shows the 3.5mm audio splitter and the 7 port USB hub. All 4 of my USB pathways are plugged into these and then ran to a single USB port on the computer.

I used my vinyl cutter to cut out some labels for the media buttons.  Once they were cut they were easily pressed into place directly onto the already installed buttons.

The last thing I decided to add was a TMNT badge to the front of the panel.  I found an old metal belt buckle on eBay for $8 and ground off all the excess from the back.  Then i straightened it out and attached it to the panel.

Here are a couple pics of the finished control panel.  I was very pleased with the way it turned out.  All buttons and joysticks have been working properly since day one.