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The Control Panel -  Design    Construction    Components    Wiring

I'll start by listing my goals:
  • Controls for some of my favorite games; Trackball (Missile Command, Centipede), Spinner (Tron, Tempest), two Joysticks for each player (Robotron, Smash TV), 49-way Joystick (Sinstar, Food Fight), Trigger Joystick (Tron, Zaxxon), and a customizable 2-way/4-way/8-way restricted Joystick.
  • Button layout for single player classics. Should allow for left-hand or right-hand play and put the player on or close to center.
  • Button layout for fighting games.
  • Four player games.
  • Good wrist support.
Using MS Visio, I started designing full scale layouts. I was intrigued by the two-tier design of the Supercade and focused on a similar layout. To help determine if my design tasted as good as it looked, my wife baked a replica for my birthday (ignore the number candles)!
Picture Picture
When I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted, I took the advise of the ArcadeControls forum members and built a prototype. This was immensely helpful! Not only did it help identify some layout issues with the controls, it also gave me the ability to play test the two-tier design. I was concerned that the reach to the upper deck might be a strain on the arms. As it turned out, the two-tier control panel works very well. My kids and I played Marble Madness, Centipede, and Omega Race for extended periods with no problems.
Picture Picture
During the panel design, one question I struggled with was which controls should be left-handed and which control should be right-hand. I did research using Controls.dat, the Control Panel Overlay Museum, Google Image searches, and of course the ArcadeControls forum. Here's what I learned; joysticks are usually on the left, spinners are usually on the left, and trackballs are centered or on the right. Of cource, a left-handed player might think otherwise, but these seem to be the most common placements.
So here is my finalized control panel for Project Arcade Addiction. Mouse over each control for descriptions.
Control Panel
Control Panel Dimensions
  • Entire panel is 40 inches wide by 20 inches deep.
  • Upper Deck is 29 inches wide by 12 inches deep.
  • Lower Deck is 40 inches wide by 15 inches deep.
  • The height from the Lower Deck to the Upper Deck is 2.75 inches.
  • The reach to the Upper Deck controls is 12 inches.
If you use MS Visio and wish to view the actual layouts, download them here:

Full Control Panel
Upper Deck
Lower Deck

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