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  • #169387
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    UPDATE (5/17/2020): If you want to skip to the end, you’ll find the finished project and final budget in this post: https://vpinball.com/forums/topic/500-full-size-cab-can-it-be-done-lets-find-out/page/4/#post-180915

     

    Ok, so I’m admittedly a noob to all this virtual pinball stuff. So feel free to pull up a chair, grab some popcorn, and watch this go down in flames. Or prepare to see me get incredibly lucky and build my very first virtual pinball cab for under $500 (USD).

    I’ve been reading a lot of build threads. Few folks talk about how much they spend on their build, including builds that identify themselves as “budget builds.”

    I’m thrifty frugal economical ok, I’m downright cheap. I see a lot of people throw a lot of money into their cabs and those are awesome, they look great. This is not one of those build threads. This thread is about seeing what can be done on a limited budget.

    And here’s that budget in case anyone wants to see it. I’m giving myself $500 and that has to include the computer, screens, cabinet, etc.

    I’ve seen some inexpensive tabletop or mini pin cabs built on the cheap, but I’m looking to build something that’s at least 3/4 scale. So here’s what this cab is going to have. This is how I’m defining the bare minimum of a “full size” virtual pinball cabinet:

    • 39″ playfield
    • Backglass monitor
    • Leaf switches for flippers
    • A few light up buttons
    • Accelerometer for nudging (pinscape)
    • Basic stereo sound
    • 1080p playfield resolution

    You’ll notice a few things are missing that are typically included on a pinball cab. Mainly what’s missing is:

    • LED lights
    • DMD
    • Plunger
    • DOF (clackers or surround sound, etc.)
    • 4k resolution playfield
    • coin door

    Most of that stuff, I feel like can be added over time. A real plunger and surround sound DOF will be at the top of my upgrade list. But I realize I’m not getting those in this budget.

    I’m starting off with a few things I already have, but not really any of the bits that tend to be expensive on pinball cabs. The things I’ve got lying around, I bet you have tucked away in the back of a closet somewhere too.

    Here’s what I’m starting with:

    • Four arcade buttons (flippers and magna save)
    • A 24″ computer monitor (backglass)

    I’ve also got a 22″ computer monitor that I might turn into a DMD screen. We’ll see.

    And I’ve already made a couple key purchases.

    • 39″ playfield TV
    • Computer

    More on those in a second.

    • This topic was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by topper-2k.
    #169389
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    The PC and monitor can be a significant driver of cost for a build. I mean, plywood is plywood. There aren’t many ways to cut costs on wood. Or buttons. And there’s not much else at play here. So key to meeting my budget was finding an affordable PC and monitor combo that will get the job done.

    Playfield Monitor

    I picked up an Insignia 39″ 1080p TV from Craigslist for $50. I’m planning on de-casing it to remove the bezel, mainly because the bezel is a little wider on the bottom than the top (because of the speakers). But I also want to keep the cabinet narrow to avoid throwing the proportions too out of whack.

    The Computer

    Ok, I had a lot of anxiety about this. I read a lot of “what are the minimum system requirements for virtual pinball?” sort of threads. The general recommendations were mostly something like “as much as you can afford, but aim for at least a mid-level gaming PC.”

    Ok, but a lot of those threads were several years old. If a mid-level gaming PC from five years ago worked, then I thought, maybe I don’t need to sweat this too much. Especially if I’m not going for 4k.

    I found a used Dell Inspiron 580 on Craigslist for $55. It came with:

    • 10GB of ram
    • 500GB hard drive
    • i3 dual core processor
    • integrated graphics
    • integrated 7.1 surround sound

    I made two upgrades.

    • i5 quad core 2.8ghz processor (the max for this motherboard)
    • GTX 750ti graphics card

    The GTX 750 is about the best I can do given that the Inspiron only has a 300 watt power supply. It’s got three outputs (HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort), perfect for a pinball cab.

    Total cost for the PC came in at $104. I’ve got it set up in the middle of the dining room floor. It runs Visual Pinball and Pinball X with a backglass at 1080p no problem.

    I haven’t tried a third monitor for the DMD, partly because I’m not sure I’m going to do a separate DMD at this stage and partly because I don’t have a DisplayPort to HDMI cable to hook up my spare monitor.

    So that’s it for now. We’re off to the races with $154 spent on a 39″ playfield monitor and a PC.

    I’ll keep my budget up to date for anyone who wants to follow along.

    #169390
    randr
    Keymaster
    @randr
    ModeratorMember

    Can be done for sure if you got i decent pc for that price of $55 bucks but heck i have more then 500 bucks in my video card alone! But yes if you have stuff laying around and get used good parts you could do a great budget build. Keep us updated :good:

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    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #169393
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    Can be done for sure if you got i decent pc for that price of $55 bucks but heck i have more then 500 bucks in my video card alone! But yes if you have stuff laying around and get used good parts you could do a great budget build. Keep us updated :good:

    Thanks! I hope so. There are so many great build threads here and on other forums. People have been really generous with their time and knowledge.

    But honestly, it’s also a little intimidating.

    I can’t really contribute much know-how. Others have blazed that trail before me. But I’m hoping I can show people they don’t have to drop a few thousand dollars to get into this hobby.

    Or maybe I’ll go down in flames. Who knows?

    #169407
    Tom
    Participant
    @armyaviation
    MemberContributor

    I am very happy with my setup and I don’t have that much in it.  All the pc stuff I originally got for free and then updated when I found a good price on something.  I don’t have 4k TVs but that’s ok, the pf was free and the bg tv was $50.  I had a lot of pieces laying around from pinball table tear downs but I did buy legs, coin door, and all the dof stuff.  My suggestion is to get it going and then the fun part is adding stuff on.  Good luck

    #169455
    JR
    Participant
    @jfr1
    Member

    I think a lot of people would appreciate a guide to doing a budget build.  I pieced my 3 screen full size build together for under $700.  PC and PF monitor are where I kept costs WAY down.   Sounds like you know what you’re doing and this is being done more as a challenge than necessity.  Start a cab-build thread!

    Oh…unless that Insignia is 12 years old, I highly recommend NOT de-casing.

    #169456
    bord
    Moderator
    @bord
    MembervipContributorModerator

    Sounds like a good start. I’m concerned your video card might struggle on some games but a budget is a budget. My first build was a glorified controller w buttons and a lockdown bar. Didn’t cost much and kept me happy for years.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #169476
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    Oh…unless that Insignia is 12 years old, I highly recommend NOT de-casing.

    Why is that? I’ve had it apart to scope things out and come up with a mounting plan. I didn’t spot any obvious issues.

    #169479
    Badazzwi
    Participant
    @badazzwi
    Member

    I had a budget build in mind when i started out. That started out great when i picked up a widebody IJ cab for $50. I had my original setup going for roughly 600. Most of which was a brand new 4k tv for the future. Once i had it put together it lasted about a month before i started upgrading. I havent stopped yet. Im currently building a new pc for some of the more demanding tables so i can crank the graphics up and for the future tabled to come.

    Good luck with your build. It can be done. A big part of the addiction of vp is that when you build a cab you feel like you have this constant need to work on it. At least i know i do.

    Hi my name is Barry and I'm a virtual pinball addict.

    #169480
    BorgDog
    Participant
    @borgdog
    MemberContributorvip

    Most if not all of new TVs the case is an integral part of holding it all together.  If there is a metal frame underneath all the plastic crap then you should be good, if not it may be a problem.  My backglass 39″ I decased successfully, but my playfield TV had to keep the case.  I did however cut off the majority of the thick part where the wimpy speakers and such were without losing structure.

    Look forward to some pics as you go along, good luck with the build the 750ti should work good for 1080p.

    #169481
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    Most if not all of new TVs the case is an integral part of holding it all together. If there is a metal frame underneath all the plastic crap then you should be good, if not it may be a problem.

    Yep, there’s a metal frame under the plastic. The VESA mounts are only connected to the plastic back unfortunately. I would have had more mounting options if they were connected to the metal frame. But I think I’ve got a solution worked out. More on that later.

    Plywood

    My original parts list included a sheet of 4×8 3/4″ plywood and a 4×4 piece of 1/2″ ply. I thought I’d use the 1/2″ for bottom and back. But when I started laying out all the cuts, I don’t think I need the 1/2″ piece. Dimensions in the attached are approximate. Actual cuts will need to be adjusted. I just wanted to see what would fit.

    I forgot to include scrap wood in my list of stuff I already have on hand. I’ve got a piece of 1/4″ MDF that’s big enough for the front of the top box.

    I’m considering leaving the back of the cab and top box open. It’ll be braced, but since it’s against the wall, I’m not sure it needs to be enclosed. I’ll have enough wood to enclose either the top box or the cabinet (probably not both unless I have a suitable scrap). But leaving it open also means I can get to stuff without having to build doors, buy hinges, etc. We’ll see how it goes when I’m building it.

    That means I can fit everything in one 4×8 sheet of plywood. I plan to use what the big box stores call “blondewood” or “white wood” plywood. Not sure what it’s made of, but it’s pretty dense, stable and straight.

    Attached is my rough cut sheet and a pretty standard (if boring) backglass template. I’ve drawn the DMD on there even though I’m not committed to it at this stage. I just want to be sure I’ll be able to add it down the road.

    Attachments:
    #169512
    JR
    Participant
    @jfr1
    Member

    Have a feeling I’m going to be seeing a lot of things I would have benefited from a couple years ago!  Have fun!

    #170024
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    No build progress but I have a small budget update to share.

    I went ahead and padded the “misc” line so the overall budget adds up to $500. That puts $98 in the miscellaneous category.

    I also made a couple purchases that came in slightly under budget. I saved a couple bucks on buttons by not purchasing a special coin button. Instead I’ll use a round button with a paper insert (I mean, this is a budget build after all).

    I also found a great deal on a KL25Z board for Pinscape. I’ve seen them for $15-18 which with shipping added up to $25, but there’s a seller on Ebay offering them at $15.53 with free shipping right now. So that saved me another $10.

    That puts my overall padding (including the misc category) at about $116. I hope I won’t need to spend that much on hardware, cables, etc. and hope that instead I can use some of that to include one of the upgrades, like real pinball legs, an LED Wiz, or a real plunger.

    Lastly, I called a local building supply company and was able to get a 4×8 piece of 3/4″ birch plywood for the same price as the local big box store’s “blondewood” ply.

    Here’s the budget again if you’re following along.

    My state (Virginia) is on a mandatory stay-at-home order due to Coronavirus through June 10. I needed some other building supplies for other house projects, so I opted to pay an extra $40 to have the whole order including my wood for the pin cab delivered. I’m not counting that $40 in my budget. Partly that’s because I ordered a bunch of non-pin stuff and I’m not sure how to distribute the cost, but also because I hope that whoever is following this in the future won’t have to deal with that restriction and can just pop down to the local hardware store to pickup supplies. It’s technically a bit of a budget cheat, but I think it’s justified.

    #170028
    arconovum
    Participant
    @nicholaschristopher
    MemberContributor

    heck i have more then 500 bucks in my video card alone!

    Same.. Video cards are already expensive.. will only get worst now.. in fact all electronics are going to become next to un-affordable.

    #170549
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    Got my wood yesterday, 3/4″ birch ply plus a couple 1x4s that I’m hoping will be my playfield monitor mounting system.

    And these arrived today. You might consider leaf switches a bit of a luxury on a budget build, but I think these are well worth the $9. I did not order a second set for the magna save buttons. Those will just be standard arcade micro switches.

     

    Attachments:
    #170553
    Thalamus
    Moderator
    @thalamus
    ContributorMemberModerator

    You chose well. Leaf is one of the essentials, like tilt bob.

    #170554
    LynnInDenver
    Participant
    @lynnindenver
    Member

    My cabinet has two leaf switches, one for each flipper. Yeah, we felt the magnasaves would be doable with regular buttons as well, and so far no issues.

    Creator of the first PinupPlayer PostDMD mods for VPX - PostDMD for Masters of the Universe VPX and Jaws VPX.
    Head Proprietor of Pisces Pinball, a VPX table developer.
    Lead Technician of MC Chase Amusements, a private arcade in our home basement.

    #170578
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    You chose well. Leaf is one of the essentials, like tilt bob.

    Hmmm… I don’t have a tilt bob on my list. I do have a pinscape with accelerometer so I can nudge.

    The tilt bob is what ends the game if you nudge too much right?

    #170659
    Thalamus
    Moderator
    @thalamus
    ContributorMemberModerator

    It can be done via software, but, I highly recommend to use a analog solution for it. If/when you disable the digital tilt, you have much better head room adjusting the sensitivity.

    #170674
    topper-2k
    Participant
    @topper-2k

    It can be done via software, but, I highly recommend to use a analog solution for it. If/when you disable the digital tilt, you have much better head room adjusting the sensitivity.

    Thanks. I added it to the possible upgrades list. We’ll see how I do on the rest of the budget first.

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