Project 2 Laguna Racer and Cocktail Conversion

My second arcade project resulted from a local auction.

I found out about a SuperAuctions arcade industry auction that was local. I decided to drop by and maybe pick up a junker if I got lucky. At most I expected to buy 2 machines. A cocktail type came up, $350.00, too much for me the next MS Pacman cocktail, same. It didnt look like I was going home with anything. I only wanted to spend $75-100. Then a cocktail gambling game came up. It seemed to have some startup problems (just needed to be reset on powerup I found out later at home) and no one jumped at it, so I bid up to $125 and got it(btw I sold the insides for $60 on ebay later).
I didnt care if it worked or not I knew it was much cheaper in terms of materials and my time to buy one than to build it for that price so now I have a project. I also wanted a new upright to convert to a driving game, a machine came up, $100, $120, $125, $130 and I got it, I was finished, at least that's what I thought, a few minutes later another machine, just like the one I bought for $130 came up, $75.00, good condition, I couldnt pass it up, I took it, then an old old Languna Racer came up, it was a big cabinet and seemed to have a problem, the vector graphics didnt display , no one bid at all, I put in $20, someone(likley the owner trying to push up the price) called $25, I said $30 and got it, how can I pass up a machine for $30? Now I was absolutely finished. I found some paper and stuck signs on all my machines offering to sell the monitor, board, and power supply, a guy said he would trade a cabinet he just bought to me for a monitor, well how can I pass up a FREE cabinet? It didnt cost me anything extra and I would throw away the monitor otherwise. Now I have 5 cabinets. I am converting one to a mame machine to re-sell to finance the rest of my conversions. Next step: sell the insides of the current machines and fix one up for mame.

Laguna Racer
One of the machines I bought was a $30 laguna racer, Midway 1977, it did not work but the side art was in very good condition as well as the rest of the cabinet. I wanted a driver/shooter game so this was perfect because of the vertical monitor. The original layout had a black and white 23" monitor reflected against a half silvered mirror with a painted background. It looked a little like this.

My Laguna, Pyros, Pyros(second one) L to R
The insides were strange looking but JAMMA wasnt a standard in 1977 .

The laguna racer in progress.
I picked up a V3 driving wheel at Office Max, it was only $39 and came with an accelerator, I think it will make for an easy conversion. I will also buy one of the Act Lab guns for the shooter games.
It turns out the V3 wheel was not such a good idea. It works for some games but the best ones, Spy Hunter, Road Blaster, the car is uncontrollable. It will swing wildly from one side to the other but a mouse works great to control them all. I guess I will hack an old mouse and use the wheel that came with the game. I found out that a Korean company, PanWest is coming out with a cheap optical mouse(no ball), I will wait until that comes to the US then the wheel conversion will be trivial. I changed the gearshift to a joystick to control the front end and I can use the joystick as a fire button without drilling any holes in the control panel. It was in too good of shape to drill holes through.

I planned on using an optical mouse for the controls but the one I wanted was still not available and the Microsoft Intellieye was on backorder so long...well... about 1 AM I decided to go ahead and hack a standard mouse. It was actually very easy, the first mouse was dead but the second worked and the whole thing only took me a half hour. I drilled a small hole through a rubber bumper stop for something or another, slid it over the shaft the mouse ball usually touches and mounted it close to the gear on the original steering wheel. The hack worked very well.
Some problems I encountered:
  • The action was very sensitive, I had to drop back my sensitivity in every game to 50% under analog options.
  • The wheel did not feel like a wheel on some games, when you turn right if you counter steer to correct and go straight you swing left. You have to steer right and leave it there so it is not much like a steering wheel. This seems like something that could be fixed in mame, set a center position and calculate from that, even if you swung the wheel past the far right then back you would still have a center just in a different place. Pole Position and Roadblaster work great and they are the ones I play most.

  • Mostly final project.

    I hated to drill any holes but some buttons were necessary. I put them under the control panel so they are not in the open. Esc, Tab, Enter, ALT, Player 1,2, coin in the coin area and the accelerator is LCTL.
    I replaced the speaker with a spare Bose I had from an old car system. The original caibnet had several small flashlight bulb size lights behind the marquee. I wanted to keep the original system but it was not very bright and you could see where the hot lights had damaged the paint when they were illuminated. I took them out and put in a flouresent light. It looks much better, the marquee is evenly illuminated and the damaged spots do not stand out as much as they did with a bright fillament behind them.
    I have a temporary 14" monitor in the unit for testing. I expect to upgrade to a 19" or 20" when the prices drop a little more. I also just bought a Laguna Racer manual on ebay for $1.25 just something for the odd factor since it is an old cabinet. The sticker inside says it was manufactured Aug 1977. I still need to add my guns for shooting games but the Act-Labs guns do not appear to work with Mame32 despite what the documentation claims.

    Update: I finally got the Act-Labs working. It works great in the game that came with it and in the calibration screen but for Mame32, well it is not what I was hoping for. When I shoot to the center it works fine but as I shoot to the right or left the aim goes way off and if I shoot below the lower 1/3 of the screen it registers as an off screen shot. I hope they get this problem fixed after mame32 .37b. I know it is a mame problem because if I leave the calibration screen open at 640x480 and then play the game forced to the same resolution I can see reminants of the bullet holes through the game and that shows where the bullets(shots) are actuallyy hitting which is correct, but mame is not putting the cursor in the correct place.

    Fresnell Lens TV Enlarger.

    08/07/00 Added a Fresnell Lense to my Laguna Racer
    I ordered an Eden Express lens that is supposed to enlarge your tv picture to my Laguna Racer. I had a 17" and I was not willing to fork out $300 for a 19" but I found this Fresnell Lense that claims to enlarge a 17" tv to a 25". It might make it that large if I had enough space between the lens and the monitor but it still made a noticable difference and appears as a much larger screen. The lens also gives an eerie 3d effect . Not a bad experiment for $33.00 and it does feel like an arcade game. It did not interfere with my Act-Labs gun either, still works the same.