After getting the control panel almost right I could see that maybe I should recut it and get a better result from the holes being more aligned. So once again I sliced up a sheet of MDF and drew in the hole locations and began cutting away. Partway through it I suddenly thought “maybe I should see how it fits first” so I fit in into the Arcade1up cabinet.
The dimensions were much better this time with very little space around the edges so I didn’t have to worry about adding bumpers to the panel. Then I started checking the holes I had already cut… And dumb mistake 1 showed up. The USB port I had cut into the panel was at the bottom of the panel but it overlapped the outer body of the cabinet so was WAY wrong. Would I fix it? I wasn’t sure at first but I spent the next couple of days patching it up to see if I could get away with it. Repairing that plus some mangled screw holes and I had it back in order again. A coat of paint covered up my mistakes so it looked like I could go ahead with wiring it up again.
After my previous attempt with the wiring I had a good idea of what to expect and quickly had it all set up again. Once it was ready I plugged it all into my RetroPie and went to configure it. A couple of buttons needed the terminals switched but apart from that it seemed okay until I got to the joysticks. No matter how much I tried configuring drivers, updating the code and messing with configuration files they just wouldn’t work. I spent maybe two weeks trying to understand why only two directions worked (up and up/right)… even when plugged into a Windows 10 I was getting the same problems. Did I have a couple of bad controller boards? The odds of getting two seemed extreme but I checked over the boards again and then a thought stuck me and I discovered dumb mistake 2: both joysticks had the connector upside down. Once flipped over everything was OK so an important rule is just because it plugs in that way doesn’t mean it is supposed to.
With the boards now working it’s a great feeling to be able to configure the RetroPie and have it working nicely. The USB extender port is hooked up now too so I’ll be able to have a keyboard plugged in when needed. EmulationStation’s software is simple and really good in handling new controllers with a simple menu to prompt you to go up, down, left, right, A button, B button, etc so it’s easy to have that done and leave it. Originally I had planned on covering the face of the control panel with a vinyl sticker to mimic the original design but for the time being I’ll settle for a bit of manual creativity. With speakers still to go a lot of space on the panel is covered in buttons and the cost of the sticker is quite excessive when you think that I’ll inevitably be punching holes through most of it.
With me deciding to stick with what is working now it means I can go ahead and try to finish this off by chasing up the remaining parts to incorporate it into the cabinet. I might even get those buttons lighting up too FINALLY but I don’t want to push my luck with this! 🙂