I turn 40 this year. With the big 4-0 approaching I’ve been thinking about what to ask for as a birthday gift. Actually I’m planning on asking for something a little bigger than usual this year so it’s a birthday/father’s day gift. This turned into quite a process for me because I want to make sure I ask for something I’ll really use. In the end I’m really happy with my decision (spoiler: I’m building a cocktail arcade cabinet). What could possibly contend with that gift? I’m glad you asked.
So earlier this year I got a Surface Book. It’s an incredible computer and I’ll write an article about it soon. The Surface Book is my only computer now, I got rid of both my Asus laptop and my Surface Pro. I have one external monitor right now, and I like it. But, with a docking station and a second monitor, I could have a killer setup on the go and sitting at my desk. Throw in a nice keyboard and I’d be a very happy guy. That’s a present that would get used pretty much every day. But then, something shiny showed up and I started thinking about something a little different.
So for about a year now I’ve had a 3D printer. An M3D Micro to be precise. It is the most awesome and most terrible thing I have ever purchased. I started wanting a 3D printer a little over a year ago and eventually I went ahead and got a very low end printer which was supposed to be ready out of the box. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t but I’ve managed to make some incredible things with it and I’ve also almost thrown it through a window a few times. I have a friend at work who spent 4x as much as I did and got a much nice printer (as you would expect). Over the last couple of months I’ve gotten wrapped up in 3D printing again and I was starting to think it may be time to get an upgrade. Especially since Printrbot makes some very nice inexpensive printers.
For a couple weeks I knew I was going to ask for a new printer. I would use it all of the time, I would use it to make things, even useful things. I would print and it would be marvelous. While I was dreaming about a new printer I was tweaking my current printer, playing around with different software, fine tuning settings and all of the sudden, I was getting much better prints. This made me start to second guess my desire for a new printer. Would the stuff I made be that useful? Would I get all that much use out of it? Would it end up sitting on a shelf? This was enough to sow the seeds of doubt that made me start looking for other options, something I could be passionate about. Something that could become a project.
When I was really young there was a Pizza Hut down the street from my dad’s house. They, in true 80’s style, had a cocktail arcade table. It was Ms. Pacman, as was expected in the 80’s. I thought it was really cool. I mean, you saw upright arcade games everywhere but this was different. My favorite arcade game at the time was Kung Fu Master (don’t judge), but I couldn’t help but love that cocktail table. Fast forward 10 years and I was playing video games at another pizza place after football games in high school, by that time it was Street Fighter II. That’s not to mention time at Boardwalk USA, Showbiz Pizza, and stand alone arcades in the mall (yeah, they had those). Then in my 20’s I spent a lot of time at Dave and Busters, and I mean a lot. So, what I’m trying to say is, arcade’s are in my blood.
So, a while back my aunt passed something on that used to be my grandfather’s. It had been in her house for something like 30 years and it wasn’t getting any use, it’s a 1960 William’s Darts pinball machine. The very first pinball machine I ever played on in the back room of my grandparents house when I was too short to play it without a step stool. It works, it’s gotten some tender loving care but could use a little more. It sits in a part of my basement that doesn’t have much use right now. When I got the pinball machine I decided I would make the area a bit of an arcade by adding a cocktail table at some point. But cocktail tables cost well over $1,000 so that was going to have to wait.
Suddenly it all came together for me. I could get a cocktail table much cheaper and have a project to last me a couple of months if I built it myself. So, for my birthday/father’s day I ordered a cocktail cabinet. Thus began my arcade adventure, I had no clue how much I would have to learn and how many decisions there were to make. Stay tuned for more articles as I build and learn.