The cabinet is the frame of the build and depending on the type of cabinet you are choosing; it will affect the size of the monitors needed. When it comes to cabinets, there are a few options. If you are good with woodworking, the option of building your own is not only a bit cheaper, but very rewarding. I personally prefer building my cabinets from scratch, but for the purpose of this guide we will be using an authentic Williams 1975 cabinet.
Where can I find the cabinet?
We recently obtained 2 cabinets for future projects. One of them is going to be this used for this build. Looking in your local buy and sell ads, Kijiji, Craigslist is probably your cheapest option. The Cabinet I got was a broken cabinet for 650$ I did not care whether or not it was working since I will be emptying it and replacing all the components. When getting your cabinet just pay attention to a few items you will be able to salvage and re use in the virtual pinball cabinet.
- Solenoids : The solenoids are going to provide the force feedback in the cabinet. Most of the time they are still functional and can be re-used. For this cabinet, my solenoids were missing parts and I decided to buy 10 contactors.
- Knocker : The knocker is also a solenoid ( bigger and it makes a big “ KNOCK!” noise when you get a free game. It was in the pinball cabinet, but it was not functional so I bought another one.
- Legs: You definitely want to buy a cabinet with legs. Ordering a leg and railing/Lock bar kit for your table will cost you around 400$
- Rails and lock bar. This is the aluminum rails on the side of the glass.
- Glass: Not all used cabinet will come with a glass. If it does bonus, if not you will spend between 50-100$ for a new one.
- Coin assembly: the coin assembly will be used to add credit in our game, we will modify it to add a credit when the coin is dropped. If you don’t have one, expect to pay 200$ for a new one.
- On/off switch. I typically re-use the original on/off switch under the cabinet to power up my cabinet. No big deal if it is missing you can buy a new switch for 5$
You will be able to re-sell some of the components that will not be used.
The Playfield can be sold for approx. 500$
The Back glass can be sold for about 200$ depending on the condition.
Building your own cabinet?
We did not build our own cabinet for this project, but we had several requests from people asking for the dimension of the cabinet. Typically there are standard sizes for cabinet, but when building your own, you can be flexible and adjust the dimensions to suit your needs.
We found a good ressource : ( original file ) on Pinterest, but the dimensions are in millimeter and in french. We translated it for the needs of our users in Inches, but the dimensions will not be an even number as millimeters don’t translate to an even number in inches.
Unless you make your own cabinet or buy a brand new one, you will need to do some restoration.
You will need to take everything apart, removing the legs, removing all components, stickers etc…. Sand the cabinet using a 80 grit sand paper. Pay attention to all parts and note how damaged they are. I typically use an orbit sander to do the rough sanding. After you are done, use a 120 grit sandpaper to sand the cabinet.
Sand all parts of your cabinet ( Inside, The back box, back, even under )
Just like regular epoxy, you Have a Part A and B which Is the Hardener agent. Once mixed together, it will be easy to shape it around the holes. The consistency is like Play Doh. You can now patch holes and fill large gaps. Once the epoxy hardens, you will be able to sand it and prime your cabinet.
Building back doors
Having easy access to all components is key and will save you a lot of time. This is why we will build a back door for the cabinet. The back door as it was badly damaged and beyond repairs. We added a small door with hinges which will make accessing our computer very easy.