Thursday, March 31, 2011

I got bored and built an NES clone bartop

I recently got bored and decided to attempt to merge some console and arcade technology in a twisted experiment. A friend of mine (Jay) had a spare Taito Arcade Classics bartop gathering dust: Other friends of mine (Dan and Gabe) talked me into buying a Yobo FC3 NES/SNES/Genesis clone (pictured below) at PAX East last year. You might be saying to yourself--stop now! Why hack two pieces of gaming technology that are cool in their own right? Well, the bartop had no game circuit board. As it turns out, those boards make for really nice multi Taito arcade cabinets, and someone had already removed the board. The Yobo FC3 is a cool little system, but the controllers it came with were absolute junk! One of mine was nonfunctional out of the box. The other died shortly thereafter. It plays cartridges fine--but without controllers, no joy. That being the case, I set out to graft these pieces of tech together. The FC3 would serve as the gaming powerplant and the Taito bartop would be the control platform. First off, I removed the existing 13 inch monitor from the bartop and replaced it with a 13 inch TV. The tube bolted right up to the existing mounts without an issue. While I was inside the cab, I yanked the existing speaker (right) and replaced it with a much beefier 'arcade' speaker (left). The bass on the new speaker really kicks: Wiring up the controls required a bit of circuit tinkering. Simple pad hacks were not in the cards, since the pads themselves were DOA. Ultimately I went with the circuit from this site, adapting it slightly for my use. It was really cool learning how NES controllers work from a circuit perspective. Since the Taito bartop already had two 8 way joysticks with two buttons each, a menu select and a two start buttons, it was an almost perfect match for the button layout on two NES controllers! I ended up mounting the FC3 to the top of the bartop cab using four carriage bolts. This allowed me to cut a slot in the top of the cab to use for swapping out NES cartridges: Here is a shot of the machine in action with Mario Brothers (the arcade classic) up and running: Right now this rig is working really well. For a while I was toying with the idea of cutting more slots in the top of the cabinet (to add SNES and Genesis capability), but that would also require creating swappable control panels. That might be a fun project for the future, but for now I'm enjoying the current setup. The art on this cab is not bad, but I think it might benefit from a Nintendo themed facelift at some point...

3 comments:

Dan said...

Don't upgrade to Genesis or SNES -- keep it NES! There's something beautiful and simple about having the joystick and two buttons thing be naturally there. This was destiny.

Skyrunner said...

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Skyrunner said...

hello, i am an espiring graphic novelist who is working on a story heavily based around arcades and arcade games. i searched the title i have chosen for my story and your blog turned up. i have the utmost respect for what you are doing and feel like you would understand the meaning of my story, and appreciate it. i am trying to get ahold of you through this comment because the title of my book is Arcade Nation, the title comes from a forum that the characters go on to read about arcade news. i want to use elements fro mthe real world nad because you have a blog named arcade nation, i was wonder if you would allow me to use your actual blog in the story. your you could even be a character in the story. it is a great coincidence that i would find your blog. it would be nice to hear from you soon :)