Gameroom

"We have too much stuff!"

The hobbyist / collector’s quandary. Doesn’t really matter what your hobby or collection, whether RC Planes, Collectible Toys, Alabama Football Memorabilia or full-sized arcade and pinball machines, there is never enough space. It also doesn’t matter what part of the storage spectrum you are on. Your collection can be limited to a curio case in the corner of your living room. Like me you could feel fortunate to have a full room-sized converted storage area to work with or even have full warehouses at their disposal. Space always fills up and seems to be the limiting factor for most people I’ve met in this hobby and others.

Last year, I set my arcade & pinball hobby sights on the theme of out with the old, in with the new.
This year, I’m starting the year looking at the concept of Quality over Quantity. I’d like to spend more of the time playing rather than repairing games that I don’t end up keeping for more than 6 months.

After taking down Christmas decorations, I felt the need to work off some of the night’s alcohol. I spent a portion of New Years Day moving things around in our game room and taking a mental inventory of what will stay and what will go.

RIP, The Dome 2015-2019

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The Dome is out.

I built the Dome in 2015. Since that time the primary game I had in mind for it (a single player star wars arcade-style space battle game) was never released. A few games that were epic experiences in the Dome have been removed by their respective software publishers. Still, we found some titles that played well on the curved surface over the years.

It has made people go “Whoa!!”

It gave some folks motion-sickness

It gave some kids (and grown ups) hours of play in a sitting

I even flew a drone from inside it once.. Illegally, I suppose. (shhh…)

One thing was static. It took up a ton of space and it was only played 4 times in 2018. 2 of them by me.

I never was fully satisfied with the “finish” of the cabinet surround that I came up with. Maybe I’ll endeavor a v2 at some point.. VR being cheap and awesome probably challenges the likelihood but you never know..

The home-made cabinet enclosure (that I was never fully satisfied with) cut into pieces and committed to fire..

The home-made cabinet enclosure (that I was never fully satisfied with) cut into pieces and committed to fire..

The formed acryllic dome remains available for free pick up for anyone that might have the need for such a thing.

The formed acryllic dome remains available for free pick up for anyone that might have the need for such a thing.

RIP Dome Cabinet. You gave us 560 hours of playtime while occupying roughly six Donkey Kong’s of real estate. We commit your remains to R'hllor

On a brighter note - Results!

Now this is what I’m left with. The back corner housed four full-sized cabinets in the same space occupied by the Dome and a Pinball. Still have some cleaning to do and a few more games will be leaving (or trading out).

This is what I ended up with after the Dome came out.

This is what I ended up with after the Dome came out.

Drawing Lots

Looking at the first part of 2018, I already know a few games that won’t make the cut this year.

The Midway Horizontal (Home Use Cabinet)

I know that this game will be listed for sale very soon. I need to adjust the monitor a little and may bullet-proof the cabinet a little but all in all the cabinet is in good condition. I bought it with intention of harvesting the monitor for a cabaret project but I’ve decided to do something else. It’s all there and works.

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Roadblasters

Atari RoadBlasters

Atari RoadBlasters

I’ve only had for a few months but I had bought it considering an Indiana Jones Temple of Doom conversion. After playing IJ on MAME for a bit I don’t think that will be worth the many-dead-bothans necessary to pull off. I’ll play my fill of Roadblasters and it will be for sale within a month for less than what I paid for it.

Hyperspin, Super Mario Donkey Kong Frankenstein

Hyperspin Multi-Console living in a Nintendo Cabinet

Hyperspin Multi-Console living in a Nintendo Cabinet

When I first picked up this cabinet everything had already been removed and it was headed for a trash heap. The cabinet is in pretty good condition but has a few nicks and gashes in the laminate - especially around the speaker grill slits.

With this Windows 7 / Hyperspin setup, I’ve been running NES, SNES and Sega Genesis emulators. At the time that I put this together RetroPi and Emulation Station weren’t really a thing.

I really like Nintendo Cabinets and this looks to be of a DK Variety. I’m leaning towards putting this back to some sort of JAMMA-based Donkey Kong. More-than-likely running an ArcadeSD PCB and one of my non-Nintendo spare 19” CRT’s. I would also consider selling or trading it for other classic-era arcades.

Any Arcade Purchases on the Horizon?

Moving The Dome out of the room does free up some space but I’m not in a big hurry to fill it up. I’d still like to find a MsPac Cabaret and I’m always a sucker for a nice condition Nintendo-anything. (DK, Popeye, etc)

Any Pinballs on the Chopping Block?

I’m still very happy with Medieval Madness, Attack from Mars and of course, Indiana Jones. I’ve toyed with the idea of trading or selling STTNG or TOTAN but not definitely. I don’t play either of them as much as I’d like but when I do - I still enjoy both pins. I’ve historically not wanted to own any more than 6 pins at a given time. Still, I have a wandering eye so anything is possible, I suppose.

My short list of “interesting” pinballs is:

Lord of the Rings
Simpsons Pinball Party
Tron
Star Trek (LE Stern)
Metallica
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Monster Bash (Original)
Cactus Canyon

I’m not feeling compelled to action towards any of these, at the moment but we’ll see how the year goes, more to come!

Fall 2018 Game List

Sometimes, in this hobby you get to a point where you think: "Okay, now I'm done."  But, you seldom really are :)

That said, I think my gameroom titles are more-than-likely locked in for the remainder of 2018, with one potential exception.

Youtube rejected my first recording of this b/c of background music so I reshot it pretty quickly without voiceover and turned down the gameroom music.

The Arcades

Tron

My Tron has some of the usual lower particle board damage but isn't bad. The Artwork and Marquee are pretty good but not perfect. Let's call it authentic battle-damage. :) Picked it up from a Pawn shop in Saraland thinks to a heads up from fellow collector-friend, Mike.

My Tron has some of the usual lower particle board damage but isn't bad. The Artwork and Marquee are pretty good but not perfect. Let's call it authentic battle-damage. :) Picked it up from a Pawn shop in Saraland thinks to a heads up from fellow collector-friend, Mike.

Tapper

Owning a 3400 in 1 Games Family Multi-Cade I noticed my wife always played Tapper on it. Took awhile to find this one and a little work to get it to this point. Reproduction CPO, powder coated cup holders. Monitor issues galore... I eventually found an overpriced 19" Vision Pro CRT that works well in it with original mounting and wiring. It has the high score save kit & switching power supply on a factory harness.

Owning a 3400 in 1 Games Family Multi-Cade I noticed my wife always played Tapper on it. Took awhile to find this one and a little work to get it to this point. Reproduction CPO, powder coated cup holders. Monitor issues galore... I eventually found an overpriced 19" Vision Pro CRT that works well in it with original mounting and wiring. It has the high score save kit & switching power supply on a factory harness.

Nintendo Hyperspin

A couple years ago I came by this empty cabinet while it was on its way to the dump. No monitor, power supply or anything. I put Super Mario Artwork on it and a PC running Hyperspin. Recently I realized by the serial number on the cabinet that this was, at some point a Donkey Kong. I’m planning on do a conversion back to DK on this cabinet soon.

A couple years ago I came by this empty cabinet while it was on its way to the dump. No monitor, power supply or anything. I put Super Mario Artwork on it and a PC running Hyperspin. Recently I realized by the serial number on the cabinet that this was, at some point a Donkey Kong. I’m planning on do a conversion back to DK on this cabinet soon.

Star Wars

Many Bothan's died to bring this arcade to my game room. Procured from Michael @ Automated Services / pinballs.com. I parted with a Star Wars Trilogy stand up to make room for it, first part of 2018. I fixed the marquee light and worked out some cabinet swell. It has some typical wood-hardener-repairs on the cabinet bottom. It has a Wells 6100, Empire Strikes Back kit as well. I replaced a damaged AVG chip with a modern remade AVG chip, recapped the power supply and fixed some sound-issues to get it to this point.

Many Bothan's died to bring this arcade to my game room. Procured from Michael @ Automated Services / pinballs.com. I parted with a Star Wars Trilogy stand up to make room for it, first part of 2018. I fixed the marquee light and worked out some cabinet swell. It has some typical wood-hardener-repairs on the cabinet bottom. It has a Wells 6100, Empire Strikes Back kit as well. I replaced a damaged AVG chip with a modern remade AVG chip, recapped the power supply and fixed some sound-issues to get it to this point.

Q*Bert

This is the Arcadeshop remake Q*Bert Cabinet running the Mylstar FPGA boardset. Modern switching power supply and this machine and recently mounted a NIB 19" CRT w/ a custom-built chassis. The knocker works too! Fun game.

This is the Arcadeshop remake Q*Bert Cabinet running the Mylstar FPGA boardset. Modern switching power supply and this machine and recently mounted a NIB 19" CRT w/ a custom-built chassis. The knocker works too! Fun game.

Robotron

Original Robotron cabinet with a late series Wells 19" CRT. I believe it was an ArcadeShop machine back when they had CRT's available. A number of board issues, so it is currently running the FPGA multi-Williams board and direct booting to Robotron. The multi-Williams control panel is pictured here but it also has a Robotron Control panel that appears to have been adapted from a Bubbles. Original Wico sticks on the Robotron Panel, Groovy Game Gear leaf switch sticks on this control panel. The original boards are stashed away safely for "one-day-maybe" troubleshooting and repair.

Original Robotron cabinet with a late series Wells 19" CRT. I believe it was an ArcadeShop machine back when they had CRT's available. A number of board issues, so it is currently running the FPGA multi-Williams board and direct booting to Robotron. The multi-Williams control panel is pictured here but it also has a Robotron Control panel that appears to have been adapted from a Bubbles. Original Wico sticks on the Robotron Panel, Groovy Game Gear leaf switch sticks on this control panel. The original boards are stashed away safely for "one-day-maybe" troubleshooting and repair.

The Mutt

After a few failed attempts at acquiring some cabarets, this happened. It started as a joke, re: "Hey here's this thing, it's a piece of junk anyway and you won't owe it anything, just have fun with it." Typically found for $100 or less, the Konami 12 in 1 is my RPi3 MAME cabinet for discovery and play of vertically oriented arcades. The 15" VGA monitor and small cabinet footprint paired with the RaspberryJAMMA / ArPiCade setup are going to make it a pretty versatile little game that isn't taking up a ton of space. The Attract-Mode, Raspberry Pi-based Multi-MAME boot image is ridiculously customizable if you are comfortable with linux command-line and bash scripts. Converting it to JAMMA and using VGA to CGA adaptor, the front hatch access will make it a convenient test bench for JAMMA games. Currently working on building a different control panel with less-crappy stick and switches. I'd kinda like to find the Midway 12 in 1, equivalent horizontal cabinet now...

After a few failed attempts at acquiring some cabarets, this happened. It started as a joke, re: "Hey here's this thing, it's a piece of junk anyway and you won't owe it anything, just have fun with it." Typically found for $100 or less, the Konami 12 in 1 is my RPi3 MAME cabinet for discovery and play of vertically oriented arcades. The 15" VGA monitor and small cabinet footprint paired with the RaspberryJAMMA / ArPiCade setup are going to make it a pretty versatile little game that isn't taking up a ton of space. The Attract-Mode, Raspberry Pi-based Multi-MAME boot image is ridiculously customizable if you are comfortable with linux command-line and bash scripts. Converting it to JAMMA and using VGA to CGA adaptor, the front hatch access will make it a convenient test bench for JAMMA games. Currently working on building a different control panel with less-crappy stick and switches. I'd kinda like to find the Midway 12 in 1, equivalent horizontal cabinet now...

The Cocktail

The first arcade I ever bought.. Picked it up from a central-Florida area arcade repurposing business. I overpaid and it arrived smell like Geritol and discount Wal-mart paint. Featuring a 60 in 1 , wrong controls and a sketchy slot machine monitor barely hanging onto a rebuilt top. Sketchy power supply, dead bugs and rusted-through leg levelers rounded out this $1050 Craigslist find. I didn't know any better. Custom cut glass, new control panels, new controls, new wiring harness, new power supply and running ArcadeSD, this arcade gets more play than any other in the room.

The first arcade I ever bought.. Picked it up from a central-Florida area arcade repurposing business. I overpaid and it arrived smell like Geritol and discount Wal-mart paint. Featuring a 60 in 1 , wrong controls and a sketchy slot machine monitor barely hanging onto a rebuilt top. Sketchy power supply, dead bugs and rusted-through leg levelers rounded out this $1050 Craigslist find. I didn't know any better. Custom cut glass, new control panels, new controls, new wiring harness, new power supply and running ArcadeSD, this arcade gets more play than any other in the room.

Multi Mortal Kombat

No side art on the cabinet so I'm not sure what it was originally but the inside stickers and serial numbers all match a MK4. Added IL sticks and fresh buttons. Still needs some T-molding and a little cabinet love. I added Mortal Kombat 1, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate to Mortal Kombat 4 via a JAMMA switcher and a vertical rack. It also has a Pandora's box on a spare JAMMA Channel for exploration of horizontal arcades. This winter, I'm planning to add two auxillary LCD panels to the marquee and a deep-learning enabled camera to provide glanceable real time moves-and-fatalities to each player based on their current game and character choice.

No side art on the cabinet so I'm not sure what it was originally but the inside stickers and serial numbers all match a MK4. Added IL sticks and fresh buttons. Still needs some T-molding and a little cabinet love. I added Mortal Kombat 1, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate to Mortal Kombat 4 via a JAMMA switcher and a vertical rack. It also has a Pandora's box on a spare JAMMA Channel for exploration of horizontal arcades. This winter, I'm planning to add two auxillary LCD panels to the marquee and a deep-learning enabled camera to provide glanceable real time moves-and-fatalities to each player based on their current game and character choice.

Mario Kart Arcade GP 2

Hands down my most expensive and time consuming arcade-effort has been in the acquisition, repair and maintenance of these two Mario Kart Arcade GP machines. Both machines are running HAPP LCDs in order to get compatibility with the new version running in the game, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. 4 Triforce Main PC's, 4 cameras and two force feedback controllers later, they run and stand out as my kids' favorite. The problem areas are the wheel control loom being pinched by a cam in the steering column (item button not lit), camera failures in POE power transmission and force feedback controller failures (usually relays) related to walk-aways during a game and the carts vibrating themselves down the track at default speed.

Hands down my most expensive and time consuming arcade-effort has been in the acquisition, repair and maintenance of these two Mario Kart Arcade GP machines. Both machines are running HAPP LCDs in order to get compatibility with the new version running in the game, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. 4 Triforce Main PC's, 4 cameras and two force feedback controllers later, they run and stand out as my kids' favorite. The problem areas are the wheel control loom being pinched by a cam in the steering column (item button not lit), camera failures in POE power transmission and force feedback controller failures (usually relays) related to walk-aways during a game and the carts vibrating themselves down the track at default speed.

The Dome

The Dome is my custom-built Star Wars Battle Pod wanna-be. Its strengths are racing games, flight sims, space games. Its weaknesses are First/Third Person shooters and sheer size. Currently running w/ a PS3, xBox 360 and Wii U which all exhibited a good selection of titles for this format. I've also used it as a mixed experience sit-down VR booth with a PS4. Future enhancements to this would be to acquire a professional quality planetarium optic for direct projection or upgraded first-surface lab-grade mirror for improved reflected projection. However, this is currently the only Arcade game that I consider "for sale" and even then only because of its size. If I sell the dome, it opens up some rearrange opportunities in the game room.

The Dome is my custom-built Star Wars Battle Pod wanna-be. Its strengths are racing games, flight sims, space games. Its weaknesses are First/Third Person shooters and sheer size. Currently running w/ a PS3, xBox 360 and Wii U which all exhibited a good selection of titles for this format. I've also used it as a mixed experience sit-down VR booth with a PS4. Future enhancements to this would be to acquire a professional quality planetarium optic for direct projection or upgraded first-surface lab-grade mirror for improved reflected projection. However, this is currently the only Arcade game that I consider "for sale" and even then only because of its size. If I sell the dome, it opens up some rearrange opportunities in the game room.

The Pinballs

Indiana Jones

The longest lasting Pinball in my collection, Indy is still my favorite pinball. An upgraded player's quality game, it has custom golden-vein, relic-inspired powder-coated metals. It is running a customized Pinsound orchestration to bring John Williams iconic sound to the gameplay experience but still nods to the original mix quite well. The playfield is pretty good and the plastics look great. It has OCD LED on the controlled lamps and I recently went back to incandescents in the GI, trying to add the warm-fire-glow back to the game. The side art has alot of fade and a few gashes. Instead of cabinet decal, I'd like to find a mural artist to brighten the colors back but keep the original elements in-tact.

The longest lasting Pinball in my collection, Indy is still my favorite pinball. An upgraded player's quality game, it has custom golden-vein, relic-inspired powder-coated metals. It is running a customized Pinsound orchestration to bring John Williams iconic sound to the gameplay experience but still nods to the original mix quite well. The playfield is pretty good and the plastics look great. It has OCD LED on the controlled lamps and I recently went back to incandescents in the GI, trying to add the warm-fire-glow back to the game. The side art has alot of fade and a few gashes. Instead of cabinet decal, I'd like to find a mural artist to brighten the colors back but keep the original elements in-tact.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

Low production numbers and not being part of the current projected CG Remake roadmap seems to make this a hard pin to find. Having a designer who was nearly run out of pinball and being the free table offered in Pinball Arcade probably didn't hurt, either. Scarcity and such. Acquired from Big Bob in Atlanta, by far this game came to me in the nicest condition of any game I've ever bought. The Mike Chestnut-gold plating on the rails has a few wear marks but not enough to make me want to undo the legend's work. I added OCD LED and GI LED. It isn't as purple and blue as it appears in the photo. Color Changing LEDs in the BAZAAR inserts are one of my favorite additions to this game.

Low production numbers and not being part of the current projected CG Remake roadmap seems to make this a hard pin to find. Having a designer who was nearly run out of pinball and being the free table offered in Pinball Arcade probably didn't hurt, either. Scarcity and such. Acquired from Big Bob in Atlanta, by far this game came to me in the nicest condition of any game I've ever bought. The Mike Chestnut-gold plating on the rails has a few wear marks but not enough to make me want to undo the legend's work. I added OCD LED and GI LED. It isn't as purple and blue as it appears in the photo. Color Changing LEDs in the BAZAAR inserts are one of my favorite additions to this game.

Attack from Mars

One of the byproducts of the CG Remakes is that games that were once astronomically priced can now be in the cloud-city price range, instead. This is a player's quality game with alot of additions and repairs. It came missing the strobe electronics and with various issues in the saucer area. New ramps, upgraded strobe board, reworked the power driver board, fixed a few careless grounds and it was back in business. Added chrome-plated metals from  Pinball Plating , OCD LED board on the controlled lamps and  Convolux  protectors for extra pop. A few wear spots with sloppy mylar work left to address on the playfield but nothing major.

One of the byproducts of the CG Remakes is that games that were once astronomically priced can now be in the cloud-city price range, instead. This is a player's quality game with alot of additions and repairs. It came missing the strobe electronics and with various issues in the saucer area. New ramps, upgraded strobe board, reworked the power driver board, fixed a few careless grounds and it was back in business. Added chrome-plated metals from Pinball Plating, OCD LED board on the controlled lamps and Convolux protectors for extra pop. A few wear spots with sloppy mylar work left to address on the playfield but nothing major.

Star Trek: The Next Outlane

Second time around with this title.. Bought one and a sold it to get Stern's Star Trek. Eventually I came back to STTNG through a convoluted trade of my Ghostbusters. The cabinet is really nice with nearly no fade and the playfield cleaned up very well, shows minimum wear. It came with a RD MPU board and I'm still looking for an original WPC-95 MPU to swap back in because of some (very) subtle differences.

Second time around with this title.. Bought one and a sold it to get Stern's Star Trek. Eventually I came back to STTNG through a convoluted trade of my Ghostbusters. The cabinet is really nice with nearly no fade and the playfield cleaned up very well, shows minimum wear. It came with a RD MPU board and I'm still looking for an original WPC-95 MPU to swap back in because of some (very) subtle differences.

Scared Stiff

Another title that I've previously owned and came back around to. Limited production numbers and the hard life of living in a bar, increasingly make this title hard to find for a decent price. An abundance of new pinball, rumors of a future Elvira themed game and a somewhat shallow gameplay dynamic helped to bring this game into my price range. A pretty nice player's quality game, it was at a pinball clubhouse & weed dispensary in the Rhode Island area. The power driver board has some interesting hacks and the left portion of the cabinet has a substantial fade in the Red accents. I'm a little young to have been a consumer of Elvira's TV shenanigans but I really appreciate that this is an all-around fun game and in my opinion the all-around winner for best Halloween theme. Just the right amount of dime-store knock-off Boris Karloff and playfully suggestive callouts mashed with classic 90's feeling generic halloween music make for an excellent sound design. The shots have excellent flow and a nice balance of control versus random bounce. My favorite edition to the pin is the MindOrbits color changing shooter knob and the custom bony-beast lighting.

Another title that I've previously owned and came back around to. Limited production numbers and the hard life of living in a bar, increasingly make this title hard to find for a decent price. An abundance of new pinball, rumors of a future Elvira themed game and a somewhat shallow gameplay dynamic helped to bring this game into my price range. A pretty nice player's quality game, it was at a pinball clubhouse & weed dispensary in the Rhode Island area. The power driver board has some interesting hacks and the left portion of the cabinet has a substantial fade in the Red accents. I'm a little young to have been a consumer of Elvira's TV shenanigans but I really appreciate that this is an all-around fun game and in my opinion the all-around winner for best Halloween theme. Just the right amount of dime-store knock-off Boris Karloff and playfully suggestive callouts mashed with classic 90's feeling generic halloween music make for an excellent sound design. The shots have excellent flow and a nice balance of control versus random bounce. My favorite edition to the pin is the MindOrbits color changing shooter knob and the custom bony-beast lighting.

Medieval Madness

For a couple of years I've let myself get talked out of buying this pin. The excuses ranged from the high average cost to the shot-map similarity with AFM and MB. This summer CG ran another batch of remakes for this title and they started showing up in distributor inventory. Typically, whenever distributor inventory stacks up on a re-make you can temporarily find an original for less-than MSRP of the Remake. Medieval Madness is my newest pin and last new-to-me pinball for 2018. Really enjoying it so far!

For a couple of years I've let myself get talked out of buying this pin. The excuses ranged from the high average cost to the shot-map similarity with AFM and MB. This summer CG ran another batch of remakes for this title and they started showing up in distributor inventory. Typically, whenever distributor inventory stacks up on a re-make you can temporarily find an original for less-than MSRP of the Remake. Medieval Madness is my newest pin and last new-to-me pinball for 2018. Really enjoying it so far!

Gameroom Changes, Concluded (Early 2018)

Former Layout

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Using ideas and help from friends, Justin and Nathan (who have a lifetime anytime-no-questions asked pass for all there help moving this stuff around), it was a very good layout.  As you entered the room, Tapper was in front, in the middle, with the arcades flowing off the left side and pins to the right.  

Back left housed my Dome environmental system and back right included a small love seat and and large-ish TV for consoles and movies. 

Pros:

  • It presented very well and was logically balanced.

  • Pins-in-a-row makes me smile

  • Added the loveseat / couch area for movies and consoles

  • Good visibility to the TV from most of the room

  • Open layout = good airflow


Cons:

  • Pins in a row, make for crowded multiplayer games

  • Arcades often ignored

  • Have to pull pins out to work on them

  • Mortal Kombat in the Middle of the room, is big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Concept and Bad Math

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The new concept was to intersperse the pinball machines alongside arcades.  

By this, hoping to achieve these benefits:

  • Pinball machines are easier to work on.

  • Multiplayer games are less crowded

  • Arcades get more play

  • Better "themed zone" potential around isolated pinballs

I measured the room and equated lines to linear feet.  Still, somehow I managed to misjudge the size of the Mario Kart cabs and where I thought I could squeeze an extra pin (left side of the page above) - near the mini-split AC unit - wasn't happening. 

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As you enter the room, I put STTNG and Tron together, followed by Mario Kart(s) and AFM.  Cocktail in the center.  Made for interesting theming opportunities for posters and "stuff" around STTNG and lets me see more of the STTNG side art, which is cool.

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On the right side, Indy, the Mario hyperspin, Multi-Kombat and TOTAN on the wall.

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On the center / right, Q*Bert, Donkey Balls, Tapper and an enlarged seating area for TV / Console / Gaming in the back.  More comfy couch from the clearance back-room of Ashley Furniture FTW.

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The back left houses AFM, Atari Star Wars (yes, I fixed the marquee light :) ), the Dome tucked behind it and DESW  alongside the dome.

Early IMpressions

My early impressions are: I like it.  But we will see when the newness wears off.  I will say, the practicality of being able to more easily work on the pins (without pulling them out of the row) seems to be encouraging me to give them the maintenance attention they need more readily / without feeling like a total chore. 

The downside is, you sort of loose that wow-factor of the line ups of games and pins.   One of the first visitors to the room noted, "you need more pinball."   It was tongue-in-cheek but having the games spread out does make it seem like "less pinball."  Since I'm continually just-as-interested in arcadeyness as pinball, I think the room fits my bipolar (and scattered) approach to the hobby... Kinda meta.. 

At any rate, I shared out the room as it was a mess and in transition and thought you might enjoy to see the progress in a little over a month since that video.  Thanks for checking in on my craziness!

Game Room Voice Control w/ Amazon Echo

One of the (minor) annoyances in Arcade and Pinball collecting is that over the last 40 years the amusement industry hasn't really build up a great deal of standards around common things, simple things: like the power switch.  

On Tron, the power switch is on the Top / Right.   On Donkey Kong, the power switch is on back- bottom right.   On many pinball machines the power switch is located on the bottom right, near the front of the game though annoyingly Revenge from Mars put the toggle switch half-way down the middle of the cabinet where I have to crawl underneath to power it on.    More recently, Stern Pinball puts the power switch under the lip of the head of the machine.

(GAH!)  - First world problems, I know.  

For Christmas, Dina bought me an Amazon Echo, a couple of Amazon Dots and some wifi enabled switches.  Having attended an Amazon Developer's conference just last month and knowing this is the direction I'd like to go, I've been planning for this for quite awhile. 

This video shows a pretty stock setup, just triggering devices by grouping and playing music and I'm pretty darned happy with the result.  I am playing with some custom Alexa skills to do a bit more, though...  

More on that later :)

A couple of things of note.. The 2nd generation Amazon Dot is fully functional. You can have a Dot only and still get most the features you want.   I used a combination of iHome plugs (like them for their size) and Belkin WeMo wall-switches connected to switched outlets.   You could potentially save a little money by going with a hub-based solution like Z-Wave, Zigbee but I found the savings versus convenience was sort of minimal, at least for my uses.

The WeMo software seems to be more mature.  iHome is integrated with HomeKit and installs pretty quickly but I did have a few snags getting it married up to the Alexa app.   It is almost as if you end up with two iHome accounts, one with a userID, associated by the app - and one with an email as the username as part of the OAuth handshake when you enable the skill.   The secret sauce, in my case - was to set up Device sharing in the iHome application, to basically share the {MyUserNameAccount} on the app devices with the {MyEmailAccount} on their portal.  Once I did this, Alexa was able to discover all of the iHome devices without a hitch.

The WeMo plugs work really well but they are big, generally blocking part of the outlet or at least preventing to WeMo plugs from going into one outlet.  The iHome plugs, however - have the added benefit of being the size of a standard plug, so you could have two iHome plugs in out outlet, if you wanted to.   WeMo has the better wall-switch offering, however.    

Being split across the two ecosystems is annoying if you plan to use their apps to control things but Alexa is the glue for the end result - since you can group devices regardless of manufacturer.

Echo also supports integration with Nest and IFTT, though my IFTT recipes for triggering the lights on Nest motion sense - seem to be spotty, at best.

All in all, being able to enter the room and saying things like "Alexa, turn on the Pinball Machines only" or "Alexa, turn on Mario Kart" or "Alexa, turn on the classic arcades" - is very-very nice.   Now, if I can just keep Miles from saying "Alexa, turn off the pinball machines" - while I'm in the middle of a game... :)