Colecade is a small portable arcade machine. The project started in may 2009. The goal of Colecade is to be closer to real arcade machines than the original Coleco tabletop machines.
I found a pretty beat-up Pac-Man coleco game on eBay. I was looking for one that wasn't in mint condition for two reasons. First, mint-condition games sell for insane prices (I've seen one with the box and all sell for almost 200$US). Second, I wasn't about to butcher an antique just for the sake of what is pratically a "case mod" (although a very special one).
- Jakks Pac-Man Retro Arcade with 12 built-in games.
- 63 mm TFT LCD display
- Real arcade-brand buttons (Modified Sanwa SDM-20)
- Home-made "arcade joystick" (which will be based on a real arcade joystick design but with smaller parts)
- Lighted marquee
- 57 mm, 0.5 watt speaker, located behind the marquee and facing down, just like a real arcade machine
Jakks Pac-Man Retro Arcade
The heart of the system. A JAKKS Pacific Pac-Man Retro Arcade with 12 games built-in:
- Pac & Pal
- Pac-Man Plus
- Super Pac-Man
- Pole Position
- Dig Dug
- New Rally-X
This project started with a Jakks Ms. Pac-Man joystick. However I was able to find a Jakks 12-in-1 Retro Arcade Pac-Man joystick and so I will use that instead. Which is more fitting in my opinion since the Coleco cabinet was Pac-Man, not Ms. Pac-Man.
The joystick itself can be twisted to control the car in Pole Position. It is actually a simple potentiometer at the bottom of the joystick with a spring to make it auto-center. I'll connect it to a small steering wheel that will be located at the bottom of the control panel, hopefully with an automatic return to center mechanism too. The one in the joystick is too big to fit in the Coleco cabinet.
2009-06-25 - I received my 12-in-1 joysticks today. Time to open the box, open the packages, test the joysticks and then open up the joysticks themselves! Hours of fun ahead.
Here is one of the joystick, in its magnificent almost-impossible-to-open clamshell plastic packaging.
The unit itself is much nicer than the Ms. Pac-Man model. The menu button is made to look like a miniature coin slot with a return button and is even backlighted by a small red LED. There's no diffuser for the LED however, so it doesn't look quite right.
There is fake T-molding which is part of the plastic shell itself and the top is slightly inclined like a real arcade control panel. The buttons seem to be the same size as real arcade buttons and the joystick shaft even looks metallic. But the joystick is 4-way, which means it's not the right type of joystick for Bosconian.
I tested the first unit and tried all games to make sure everything was working properly before opening it, so that if I had a problem later on I would at least know the unit was working properly when I started.
There's only four screws to remove at the bottom and the whole thing can be taken apart easily. Don't worry about the four top screws for the joystick and the four screws for the "coin door" panel, those are actually fake screw heads molded into the plastic shell.
Be careful, the coin door panel has to slide up vertically along with the top of the joystick, and there is two wires for the batteries connected to the main board.
As you can see, there's not much to it. The buttons and joystick are obviously not arcade-grade, even if they're made with what looks like miniature arcade microswitches. The button bodies are molded in the control panel instead of being a separate part like real arcade buttons.
The main board is very small, only 56 × 52 × 11 mm, and could be fitted into something much smaller than a Coleco tabletop.
The secondary board, which holds the menu button, the power LED and power switch, is only 53 × 18 × 11 mm, but I'm going to replace it with other parts for the Coleco cabinet and keep this board intact and put it back into the joystick.
The TFT LCD display comes from a Hip Gear Playstation 2 controller with a built-in display. It was on sale for around 25$ if I remember correctly. How could I pass on such an offer?
According to the specifications, the LCD resolution is 480x234 dots. That's a nice way of saying it's only 160x234 pixels (160x3 for RGB dots).
Hopefully it will be playable even with such a low resolution but I wouldn't be surprised if I needed to change it for a better one later.
The marquee of the Coleco cabinet was a sticker, so I had to cut a hole for my backlighted marquee.
It doesn't really show up in this picture (crappy webcam), I'll try and take a better one later on, with light inside the case.
The marquee will be backlighted by five white LEDs, wired to replace the "on" indicator red LED of the secondary board. By powering up the cabinet the marquee will light up, just like a real arcade machine.
Given the small size of the cabinet I couldn't use 30 mm or even 24 mm arcade buttons. The 20 mm, however, seems like a good compromise to me.
Unfortunately the Sanwa SDM-20 requires too much pressure so I had to modify it. I tried to replace the internal spring but it still didn't feel quite right. So I cut a hole in the bottom and glued a Sanwa SW-68 switch.
To be completed.