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Control Panel Basics Walkthrough

Posted: February 25th, 2010, 11:31 pm
by suits00
Staff Edit: Dear Reader. Unfortunately, the images originally provided by suits00 for his tutorial are no longer available. Hopefully his written info can still be of use to cab builders. Sorry for any inconvenience.

This is a little walk through of some basics of your control panel. Whether you plan to make one or have one ordered and would like to fix some problems with it. As with most thing, in order to fix it you have to understand how it works first.

Control Panel Walkthrough:
Micro switch:

The technical definition for a micro switch is the following - A micro switch, also known as snap-action switch, is a generic term used to refer to an electric switch that is actuated by very little physical force, through the use of a tipping-point mechanism. Basically it’s a little plastic rectangle box that has a button sticking out that, when pressed, allows a connection to occur simulating the respective input (punch, kick). When you install the microswitch on a pushbutton or an arcade stick, it works the same way with your console controller and the buttons you press there (like x,triangle,etc). The pic above shows the inside of the microswitch. As you can see, when that little button is pressed the common and open make a connection and that simulates an input (punch, kick, start, etc). For example, if you have an Ipac and you have a wire running from player 1 start, you would have another wire running from the player 1 ground/common as well. Once you push the little button, the little spring forces the common lever to connect with the open contact (hot wire) making a connection to for the respective input (kick, punch). You can see how to trouble shoot a button that's constantly kicking or moving to the right for example. Probably the spring is loose and the connection is always on. (later on the trouble shooting section)

Some microswitches come without a lever as follows, while others come with none. I prefer the non lever ones because they are less resistant.

The coin door microswitches- Come with a long skinny lever that sticks out from the side. However they work the same way.

Leaf Switches

Leaf switches are basically microswitches without the rectangle box. That means, there is no little button to push to drag the spring and make contact to simulate an input. Instead its just two long metal fingers extending from the connections on the end of the small plastic box. When you push on the leaf style pushbutton it forces the two metal fingers to touch causing a connection between your ground wire and the respective button wire/hot wire (start, kick, punch). These are much more sensitive than regular microswitches because there is no spring mechanism, thus less force and time. They are also quiter than the microswitches (no clicking noise). However, they do require more maintenance because the lack of a spring. No spring means that over time the metal fingers will bend because of extended pushing while you play your favorite games. You may also have to clean the contact points because they are not covered by a plastic box. These are definitely for the non aggressive user (shakes hole control panel while playing, lol) when it comes to having em in arcade sticks.


Is exactly what it sounds like. A button that you push, basically. Alone, an arcade pushbutton does nothing. When you connect the microswitch to the end of it, it enables you to activate the microswitch. In fact you can consider the pushbutton an extension of the little button on the microswitch (American style). They come in different colors, shapes/designs.

Japanese pushbuttons- The Japanese pushbuttons come with the microswitches already attached on. They usually have a wider center than the American ones and are convex instead of concave. Having the microswitches part of the pushbuttons makes for increased sensitivity. PERSONAL NOTE: I like these cause they are very short (vertical) and the mircoswitches are very small. I also like the fact that the center on these is wider in diameter making them better to play with and better looking than American parts, IMO.

American pushbuttons- The American pushbuttons come naked (without microswitches installed on them) making for easy removal. They are usually concave but there are some that resemble the Japanese convex ones. The concave ones seem to stick out more. These pushbuttons are also long (vertically). PERSONAL NOTE: If your control panel is good in height you can go with these, other wise I wouldn't. They are also too comfortable, if you know what I mean, like your finger wants to just lay in there and sleep, lol. Your fingers also have to exert more pressure cause the concave stick out more.

Leaf Switch style Pushbutton

A simple design. Imagine holding two your fingers out like a peace sign horizontally and then taking one finger from your other hand and placing it on your index finger on your peace sign, making your index finger touch your middle. The peace sign is like the leaf switch and the finger pushing your index finger is like this pushbutton.

Arcade sticks:
Arcade sticks come in different shapes and sizes as well.

Bat top- This is American style arcade stick, it's much taller than the Japanese round tops with a good spring to center. These sticks can have four microswitches for up, down, right, and left or a circuit board like the new fancy ones. These microswitches work the same way. When you hold you stick up to the right, your player jumps up and to the right, etc. They can come with a round shaft and round extension (for long lever microswitches) or a square extension (Happ style). PERSONAL NOTE: Square extention is alot better because it fits snuggly in the diagonal spaces (up and right ^>, up and back ^<, etc).

Ball top- These are the Japanese style sticks and are usually much shorter than the bat tops, except for American versions. Usually they also have microswitches but can come with a circuit board as well (less wiring). These usually have a round shaft and a round extension.

Gutz of control panel:

Wires-When you build or purchase a control panel it will consist of all the over parts plus wires. The wires are what carry the small electrical current to simulate an input. They can be either soldered to the microswitches or crimped into quick disconnects and snapped on the microswitches. Usually the wire used is a small-gauge stranded wire because it doesn’t break easily and is flexible (can be found at radio shack).

Soldered wires- Some control panel comes with wires solder on to microswitches. Basically you take Rosin Core Solder and heat it with soldering iron while the wire is secured in place in the little whole in the microswitch connections. The proper way is to heat the striped wire with the soldering iron while holding the Rosin Core solder on the wire until it melts on to the wire. Then pull away the iron and let it cool and you got a solid connection. PERSONAL NOTE: Personally I find this method time consuming, annoying, unhealthy, and makes replacing wires or pushbuttons a hassle (de/un-soldering).

Quick Disconnects- Some controls panels now come with quick disconnects. Basically a wire is crimped into quick disconnects that then fit snuggly onto the microswitch connections. You strip a wire about ¼ of an inch or more (or 1inch and bend if it’s a small gauge wire) and place the striped part of the wire in the quick disconnect tail and then use a crimping tool to crimp the wire tight in place. PERSONAL NOTE: This method, IMHO, is much cleaner, less time consuming, safer, and makes replacing or switching wires and quick disconnects very easy. Just unsnap the quick disconnect and snap it back in place.

Trouble Shooting:


Diagonals not responding, but up, down, left, right are working fine.

Potential Solution:

-The lever on your microswitch may not be extended out enough. The levers on the microswitches need to hug the arcade stick like in the following pic. So, remove the arcade stick and tug on those lever pulling them toward the center a little bit so they extend further.

-Microswitches maybe faulty, open up favorite game and do a manual test, just press the levers for up and right or up and left, etc.


-Button not responding


-A wire maybe not connected right or is loose. Check the wiring out by testing the connection (do a manual connection between the ground wire and the other wire (start, low punch, etc)).
-Make sure wire is screwed on IPAC board tightly or soldered on pad correctly.
-Make sure wire is crimped tight and is not loose.
-You could have button wire on wrong connection on microswitch. You need to have ground on the ground/common connection bottom of microswitch (where the little button is, that's the top).
-The spring inside could be loose. Open the pushbutton to make sure. (notice the gap, gap must be there or else the button will be on all the time, it will be like it being pressed all the time).


-Button is stuck, like up is always on (player always jumps on screen).

-Check to make sure no exposed wire is on IPAC board or pad.
-Check to make sure no wire is hanging or touching another wire on microswitch connection
-Check to make sure that spring inside microswitch is not loose.
-Test with another microswitch to make sure the microswitch is or is not the problem.
-Check the IPAC board to make sure it isn’t faulty, just open up notepad or the IPAC utility to see if buttons are constantly pressed.

NOTE: As always am no expert, if anyone has anything to add, please feel free to do so. Thanks in advanced. If anything comes to mind I will post, like how to mount joysticks and trackballs without those ugly bolts showing on top.

UPDATED: Now Includes leaf-switches. Thanks to Heiro for reminding me about these.

How to Mount Arcade Sticks without Bolts Showing

Posted: February 26th, 2010, 1:15 am
by suits00
CP Tutorial Cont..:How to Mount Arcade Sticks without Bolts Showing

Things Need:
-Router (any cheaper router will do)
-Rounded T-nuts (smallest size, trying to match holes on arcade stick frame basically)
-Matching screws (same size as t-nut holes)
-Matching drill bit
-Straight bit for router

Step 1: (If you have a premade control panel with bolts sticking out, skip to step 3)

-Take your wood if you are building a cp and make your measurments for you joystick type. If you are using a bat top look up what your model is online, if you got a happ one just go to happs website and find your model, then click on the button that says mounting and exlpoded views. Be sure to mark the holes and trace the center hole. The bolt holes are usually four around the edge.

-My way: I just take my arcade stick frame, place it on its flat side where I want my arcade stick to be and trace around it and also mark the center of the bolt holes on the frame. I just drill 2 holes and I find it sturdy.

Step 2:

-Drill the four bolt holes with your drill bit. Also cut the center big hole, where the stick is gonna stick out with a 1 1/4" hole saw or a spade bit. Then sand the drills smooth.

Step 3:
-Rout the four edge bolt holes just enough so that the t-nuts sit flush with the wood.

Step 4:
-Push in your t-nuts in the holes you drill and router so they sit flush like the four outter holes.
-Then take your arcade stick frame and line up the holes on it to the t-nut tails. Then screw in the screw to the t-nuts so that the arcade frame is sandwiched between the t-nuts>wood>and screw. If you screw is too tall, make it shorter by screw some bolts on it.

End Result= No Bolts Sticking out.

Next time I will go through how to mount the trackball without bolts.

Re: Control Panel Basics Walkthrough

Posted: February 26th, 2010, 1:32 am
by Nostalgia

Awesome work as usual dude.

Re: Control Panel Basics Walkthrough

Posted: February 26th, 2010, 6:08 am
by Hierophant
Suits, you're the man. This will surely help many cab builders. Stickied without hesitation. :V:

If I may make a suggestion, I think your readers might also be interested to know about the workings and benefits of leaf switches.

Re: Control Panel Basics Walkthrough

Posted: February 26th, 2010, 11:38 am
by Thulsa
Well done Suits. I will be referring to this on a regular basis as I work out the kinks in my cabinet.

Re: Control Panel Basics Walkthrough

Posted: February 26th, 2010, 1:03 pm
by suits00
Nostalgia wrote::whatttt:

Awesome work as usual dude.
Hierophant wrote::
Suits, you're the man. This will surely help many cab builders. Stickied without hesitation.

If I may make a suggestion, I think your readers might also be interested to know about the workings and benefits of leaf switches.
Thank you for reminding me of those, I knew I forgot something, lol.
Thulsa wrote::Well done Suits. I will be referring to this on a regular basis as I work out the kinks in my cabinet.
You bet.

I also found some pretty cool coin door and pinball ideas on the web, will post later on today if possible.

Re: Control Panel Walkthrough Nice Way to have Pinball Parts

Posted: February 27th, 2010, 7:21 pm
by suits00
OK I saw this on the net (Millercade was the name of the arcade) and I think it's a cool way to simulate a real pinball part with a pushbutton. I don't know much about actual pinball machines, but I don't think they work like this, do they? Anyways take a look. It's done using this part from happs:
-1 of Pinball universal ball shooter assembly
--- HAPP #95-0086-00, $13.99
and a pushbutton mounted inside the control panel.
You can find his description of how he set it up here.

Re: Control Panel Basics Walkthrough Free Coins

Posted: February 27th, 2010, 7:39 pm
by suits00
This relates to coin doors, but more so too control panels since most people have there free coin pushbuttons on the control panel. Well, there is another way and this is how it was done in Millercade.

This is how it works:
-Take a 2x4 or any piece of spare would that perfected square or rectangular in shape with not odd ends and mount two microswitches on it, making sure they lined up with the happ coin reject buttons (as in the pic).
-Glue the piece of wood right behind the coin door, again making sure the microswitches line up with the coin reject buttons.
-Run wires from the IPAC or whatever encoder you have to the microswitch. If you are using an IPAC2 you need one wire for ground/common connection. Then two wires for player 1 coin and one for player 2 coin.
-Congrats, now when you push the coin reject buttons you get a credit. NO MORE PAYING.

-No more paying your own machine coins
-No need to spend more money on happs expensive coin mechs if it didn't come with the coin door

-No sound of coin going through the mech
-It's gonna be hard trying to light up the reject buttons now

Re: Control Panel Basics Walkthrough

Posted: December 2nd, 2012, 12:20 am
by Roadrunner
Just as an aside here,

I've built my own cabinet in the past... I recently upgraded it with some new graphics that I did myself. This time around I didn't want to go through with the sawing etc... I wound up using a place that made commercial signs. Never expected it to work out but I've got to say that it's not a bad option if you can't cut this stuff yourself. And as an added bonus they can do the printing as well.