Research

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The first two weeks of owning the Pole Position II machine was mostly spent playing it ­čÖé It’s been a lot of fun and the kids (especially my son) are enjoying it.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there are a lot of little things that need attention on the machine. Nothing critical – the game plays fine – but can be given a huge visual boost with some attention. What I needed to do first was some research on pole position machines and find a starting point.

I spent a few nights hitting Google with a lot of search queries to find out all I could about the machine. The one I have is the Namco version and not as common as the Atari version – making artwork sourcing much more difficult (if not impossible). I was able to track down photos taken of similar machines at Aussie Arcade (where I hang out a lot) and a second link with some excellent photos taken from several angles (here).

With the images downloaded, I had them printed out and put them into my research notebook. On my previous projects I’ve made a point of keeping notes and research together in a printed format that I can access while in the garage working. It’s handy to have the information within arms reach, and also reference to spot smaller details that don’t always jump out the first time you see the photos.

Research
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The decision on Buy or Build has been made – Build.

There are a number of factors for this.

1) Getting the exact cab I want (Donkey Kong or Wonderboy) could be expensive and hard to come by. I might get lucky, but most likely would need to import (from the US).
2) It’s possible to achieve some excellent results with DIY. I have come across a lot of internet pages by people who have put together their own cabs and the results are fantastic.
3) I’m finding it very appealing to get under the hood and create one – it should prove very interesting and satisfying.
4) The DIY approach also looks to be a cheaper option overall.

The biggest negatives I could put against the DIY approach would be:
1) Time required to build. It seems that I could put the cab together in the space of a week, but when you combine a full time job, kids, wife and house duties, time is in short supply.
2) Tools required –┬áLucky┬áI have a father in law who is much more skilled than I in building, and he has most of the tools I don’t for this project. ┬áBut without that, building would be more expensive.

Something I had not originally considered was also a horizontal or vertical screen. I’ve gone with vertical, due to most of the games I want to play require a vertical screen (Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pac man and so on). It’s something to be aware of before building (or buying) for that matter. If you plan to swap JAMMA boards in your cab, make sure the cab you get can support the games you want.

Another option I considered was to buy/build a MAME cab. My research left me thinking it might not feel authentic enough. Since I’m going to support JAMMA boards, it will be easy enough to support additional boards in the future, so I’m not┬ácompletely┬álocked out of upgrading the game set.

Refurbish was yet another option, but I felt more comfortable with the DIY from scratch approach. The refurbish option might be something I consider down the track as a future project. I would prefer to have more knowledge on the construction of a cab first.

So my decision will be to build an upright cab, with a JAMMA board inside. It will be a 60 in 1 multi board using a vertical screen. There will just be the single controls.

After some initial hunting around the internet, the first decision I need to make is: Buy or Build. The two most important factors for me will be how authentic the cab feels, and also the price (I will be working with a budget). I came across a VERY useful site tonight – www.aussiearcade.com.au which appears to have a wealth of knowledge. Before making any decisions, I’m going to do some more reading here and see what I can find.

There are a number of places across Australia, and some in Melbourne who supply arcarde cabs. They are more expensive than I remember, although that could be because they are becoming rarer over time.

Another early decision I need to make is Upright or Tabletop. I’m not too fussed either way, although an upright would be preferred. I remember them being easier to play at over long periods of time, plus they take up less space. So if space is a factor for you, an upright would be the best choice.