The Cabinet


the beginning

The beginning

I designed the cabinet from scratch. I wanted something that was as slimline as possible so it wouldn’t look out of place in our living room and was sure that an lcd monitor was suitable for my needs when it came to the visuals.

The two sides for my machine

Cabinet sides

The basic design can be seen in the image to the left, there are a few things I would do differently if I were to do this again, such as making the marquee area a little thinner, but overall I was extremely pleased with how it turned out.

I decided to make the cabinet sides from 18mm MDF and the back and front panels from 12mm MDF. This would give good strength and drop the weight a little with the use of thinner materials on the front and back. I used 2.5cm x 1.5cm wood batons which were “glued and screwed” to the MDF to give extra strength and give something which could be used to attach the other body parts to. The main structure was held together with 2 x 18mm MDF shelves and a single piece of 3.5cm x 3.5cm wood. This was used to attach the marquee strip light onto which I will detail later.

Originally I was going to use my new router to cut the MDF but decided in the end to go with just a saw. In order to achieve both sides the same I just screwed them together and cut carefully.  In all honesty MDF is so easy to cut this was probably the best way to go about this and the end result was excellent. The edges were then sanded smooth. When cutting the MDF I used a vacuum cleaner to get rid of as much dust as possible so I could actually see the lines I had drawn to saw along!

Now that the sides were made the next step was attaching on the back panel and shelves. This would allow it to free stand and it was now actually looking like an arcade machine at last!

I made a monitor bezel from the 12mm MDF and rounded the corners using my router. This meant that I could totally hide all but the monitors surface and cut the control panel top from 18mm MDF that was left over. All the pieces were now ready for construction and I was eager to see what this beast was going to look like. The image below shows the cabinet, partly assembled but unpainted. I now had a good indication that I was heading in the right direction and things were coming together a) nicely and b) far better than I expected.

There was a lot riding on this build. The scepticism from both family members and colleagues was quite entertaining and spurred me to get this project finished (and it would be a good get it right up you moment when it was done ;-)) If there’s one way to get me to do something it’s by suggesting that I would in some way be unable to do it.

front view

Front view

So the panels were all cut, the main structure was assembled and the wood filler smoothed down ready for painting. The next stage was to cut holes on the rear of the cabinet near the base and above the marquee to accommodate ventilation covers to ensure that this thing was kept cool. The one at the top would not only mean that the marquee striplight was cool but also that hot air from the back of the LCD panel could escape up the back of the unit.

Time for painting, which was where the first major mistake happened. My dad kindly offered me a tin of XXXXXXX primer used on the forth bridge, big mistake. Sure it’s excellent paint if your painting a wonder of modern engineering but the oil content meant that it was soaked up into the MDF leaving a very oily finish that took over a week to dry to a stage where I would even think of painting on top of it. This is where the second mistake came in and I bought a high gloss outdoors paint to paint the cabinet. Gloss looks good but its a pain to get a mirror finish. If there is a next time its going to be satin all the way.

So that was it the cabinet was assembled and painted, the next stage was constructing the control panel. This thing was beginning to take shape!

On to the next section: The Control Panel

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