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|So I've been into MAME since before the turn of the century, and with the recent proliferation of arcade sticks, I'd been pondering getting one, but after years of not really being certain which I wanted, I realized "Hey, Morning! You're a drafting student. You've got some light manufacturing experience. Why not make your own?"
I found a nice base, a wooden art supplies case that had nice thick sides (and I ~thought~ a nice thick top and bottom, which becomes important later), and protoyped the whole thing in solidworks. (which got me some nice extra credit for my class)
standard eight buttons, and just because I played emulators with a keyboard for many years, some extra buttons on the left to wire as a secondary "D-pad"
And made a blueprint of the top, since that's the only part I cut where dimensions were at all important. And arrogantly tweeted at the time that I knew what dimensions I need and which I don't.
My parts all arrived over the course of a weekend. It seems there are two main camps; those who prefer Japanese joysticks and buttons (usually Sanwa or Seimitsu), and those who prefer American/European controls (made by IL or Happ). Just from what everyone wrote, I decided on going for a weird mix; The Joystick and "D-pad" are JP-type, and the buttons would be Eurotype.
I feel I made the right choice on the buttons; the microswitches they come with click ~beautifully~.
During marking out the holes to drill, I realized I'd missed a dimension I kind of really needed to mark out the buttons. Thankfully it was easy enough to edit the CAD drawing and just scribble it down on the printout.
I also found that the top and bottom of the wooden case that I thought were 5/16" thick were actually about 1/8" thick. And I'd gotten the offset mounting plate for the joystick. whiiiiich was a bit of a problem, except the case also came with a partition piece that was juuuuust about the perfect thickness.
And everything all marked out and ready to go:
And a montage of building the thing:
I needed a little bit more spacing than just the partition bits, but thankfully the holesaw I used for the buttons left me with some really nice "washers".
I left off here for a week while I pondered if I actually wanted the secondary d-pad. But then I took the plunge. I ended up getting a different brand of buttons so I could match the purple color scheme I'm using. Sadly Japanese arcade buttons don't click
Moved them a bit to the right so I don't rest my hand on the left button while using the joystick...
And at last, the finished product! Using a wooden body may not have been the best choice because it makes everything resonate like nobody's busieness. But I'm happy with how it looks now, and it's a lot of fun to play games with.