The RetroStation project – Part 2, fitting the controls

Here’s part two of the RetroStation project – fitting the arcade controls.

(if you missed Part 1 (making the case), it’s over here)

I spent a bit of time with a pen and some paper trying to work out the best location for the buttons to go in the lid of the PS2.

The lid of the PlayStation case has a great looking PS2 logo across it and I was reluctant to drill through the logo.

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However, due to the depth of the arcade buttons and the funny shape of the lower half of the PS2 if I wanted to keep the logo it would mean a controller layout like this (as you can’t fit the third button on the right hand side).

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So it would work, it just wouldn’t be ideal.

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Mainly because you’d have nowhere to rest the palm of your right hand when playing games.

So I had an idea… Build the correct/ideal controller layout and cover the entire top of the PS2 case in a suitably-themed vinyl graphic.

Yes this meant losing the PS2 logo completely, but it was more important to have a comfortable set of controls. So after a few different tryouts, I settled on this layout. You’ll notice a large plain area in the lower right hand corner where you can rest your palm too.

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Before I drilled any holes I waited until the controls had arrived.  I had measured the button width and depth to make sure it’d all fit, but you never know…  Best to play safe.

I bought buttons and joystick from Arcade World UK who just have more stuff for project build than you can shake a (joy) stick at. I chose a few different colours for the buttons as I wasn’t sure how each colour would look in the flesh and the kit I bought came with loads of spares too (as I only needed six buttons).

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The reason I only needed six buttons is due to the amazing i-PAC2 interface which allows me to map two functions to each button using a shift-key. I’m able to use all of the generic MAME and RetroPie functions using a combination of normal buttons and shift-keyed buttons.

I laid the buttons out on the paper to make sure it all still made sense.

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I’m glad I didn’t drill any holes prior to the controls arriving because I’d not taken in to account the “Player 1 Start” button which for some reason was much deeper in length than the other buttons and my original intention of placing it in the top left meant it would have clashed with the HDMI and power sockets I’d fitted.

So I had to move the 1P start button to the top right of the joystick instead.

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Once I was happy that everything was going to fit, I covered the entire top of the case in masking tape.

This was so I could precisely measure out where I was going to drill, plus I could easily draw on the masking tape. There was also the added benefit of the tape helping prevent the drill bit from slipping.

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Exact measurements made, one last sanity-check with the buttons.

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And that’s it, final markings made, time to get the drill out!

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I’m sure you don’t need a photo for each hole I drilled so here we are, all the holes drilled!

Each button needs a 28mm hole and the joystick also (handily) requires a 28mm hole. If you’re making something similar, drill slowly and carefully, you don’t want the plastic to overheat and melt the hole instead,

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With the holes drilled I then used a little drill-attached drum sander to clean up the holes. You’ll also see my poor PS2 logo, gone!

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The joystick uses a mounting plate behind it, which requires four bolts to be held in place. Again with the use of some more masking tape I positioned the plate and marked through the holes with a pencil.

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The holes are elongated so you can align the plate if needed. Personally, I’m more of a fan of just drilling straight holes!

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I planned to use mini coach bolts to hole the joystick in place, screws would spoil the finish.

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A  quick test to make sure everything fits exactly how it should.

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Which it does!

It was then time to remove all the controls again and get ready to apply the vinyl graphics.

The guys at RockStar Arcade specialise in printing retro arcade graphics and it was here that I got my Street Fighter graphic from. I ordered a couple of different ones, they’ve just got soon many to choose from, it wasn’t an easy choice!  I also ordered the graphic over-sized on purpose so I could position it how I thought it may work best when applied.

No photos of the oversized one, but fitting the graphic was quite easy. I wiped down the entire top surface with alcohol wipes to ensure it was completely clean, then I applied the graphic in one go, pressing out the air all along the way.

Here’s the end result.

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It was a shame to have to cut holes out in it! I think it looks great!

I used a scalpel-type craft knife to cut out the holes. Slowly and carefully, you do NOT want to slip.
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And here’s how it looks with the buttons fitted!

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Ta-daaaaa!

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That’s it for Part 2, in Part 3 I’ll cover the wiring of the controls.

Check out: The RetroStation project – Part 3, wiring the controls and programming the I-PAC2

Any questions, just ask in the comments box below!