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Mackie

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Introduction

This thread is to detail my experience using some hardware and software made by a French arcade community named "Gamoover" which is available on their forum and that would allow Sega arcade cabinets owners to upgrade them in a non-disruptive manner so that they become somehow universal.

The project started about a year ago and has shown significant progresses that I wanted to create this thread as a step by step tutorial illustrated with my very own experience so that it could be shared to a larger community of users (as of today there is not a single piece of information available in English and even in French it is very scattered). The hardware and its associated software solutions can be already used in large distinct use cases which I will mention but not necessarily detail them all.

I will detail here, my experience including who to contact, where to get the different necessary hardware, what they are meant and designed for, what I paid for and what I received, what I had to do in the case of my racing arcade cabinet (Initial D 8 - Infinity Stage) that is to say the different steps including design flaws I've seen or issues I encountered and how I tackled them, and of course, finally, what was the result.

I'll try to detail my experience as much as possible, and I will come edit my original messages while progressing on the upgrade on my cabinet but also to include answers to some questions that may be asked in this thread so that it stays a simple reading experience for someone that would just start looking at that thread. Hence I will also reserve the next ten answers (I guess this should be large) to have enough room to detail my experience (including pictures) and I will delete the unused reserved messages at the end if they ended up being unnecessary.​

Feel free to ask any questions while I write the "tutorial" or even after so that I can add more needed details if necessary.
Thank you and hope this will help the community.

Disclaimer

This is not a sale thread and I have no benefits associated to this product, nor I am an official support channel for this project and their associated products. I am just personally interested with what is provided and want to share this to a larger audience.
However, feel free to ask any questions you may have, and I will try to answer them based on my understanding and I will ask the Gamoover community otherwise.
Expectations

The solution provided by the Gamoover community is really great, but there are no magic. The very nature of racing arcade cabinet will necessarily make things not 100% perfect. If you have a cabinet that only has two buttons available and the game requires more than that to perfectly enjoy the experience then you won't unless you make some modifications on your panel to add these buttons. The same some games have commands that can be triggered directly from the wheel (turbo, dash, drift, etc), if you don't have such buttons you may end up having to use buttons available somewhere else. Or another example is if you have a cabinet that only has two pedals while you want to play one of the rare games that requires having three.

So the experience won't be always 100% perfect and authentic, but this will give you the opportunity to play way more games than what a dedicated cabinet can generally offer. And if some control aspects are missing to fully enjoy you updated cabinet, nothing is actually preventing you to upgrade some aspects of your cabinet: Install a new compatible wheel with more inputs, wire additional buttons on a repro panel casing, add a new set of pedals, change your shifter to a universal shifter (Yes this exists, someone made a shifter that can change from a sequential shifter to a H Shifter at any time), etc... The sky the limit.

Also the Gamoover community is providing hardware and software tools, but the process to update your cabinet will require some manual and personal work. Nothing too fancy, you'll need to make some cables, solder things here and there, install some software. But I wanted to highlight that this is not a 10 minutes plug and play procedure. Hence I created this thread.
Use Case

Most racing cabinet owners will tell you about the same stories, racing game arcade cabinets are lovely but really roomy babies, so this is rare to own more than one or two twin dedicated setup because of the size factor. After few months or years, you know the game very well, so much that you slowly see you are giving less play and attention to that cabinet.

Quickly after comes the urge to play a new game. Here, of course you have several options. You can for example sell the cabinet you owned and get a new one, but you will always miss that cabinet you sold. You still wish you could play it time to time. Because there is nothing close to sit behind a wheel and play the game as originally intended.

Another option, when possible is to run other hardware on your racing cabinet sometime it can be as easy as changing the game mother board, sometime it requires to entirely rewire your cabinet because the new game requires a different IO, a different driver board, a different motor board (if any), and even sometime a new control panel. So unless you are in the exact same or very close configuration (for example run a Lindbergh setup in Initial D Ringedge setup) the changes that you will have to perform on your cabinet will end up being disruptive enough that you won't play your old setup anymore, then you wonder why you just did not sell your cabinet to take a new one.

Also racing game arcade cabinets like any other cabinets are aging, this is very common that some of the involved hardware fail. While there are ways to fix some thanks to arcade communities, you might end up having a cabinet not working for a while you wished you would just be able to play time to time while trying to fix the issues you have.

As a summary, as an end user, you wished that racing game arcade cabinets would be as close as possible to a candy arcade cabinet. Something "simple", standard, and versatile which give you the opportunity to play as many games as you wish you could play without the hassle of having to source additional hardware every time to adapt your panel, because this is not what you want to do, you just want to play.

This "tutorial" is exactly this: How can I update an existing Sega racing arcade cabinet so it becomes "universal":​
  • Keep my existing hardware (wheel, pedals, shifter, IO, Driver Board)​
  • Play "any" arcade system on it or use a standard PC​
Note: As far as I know, one of the main involved hardware used in this cabinet update is as of today only dedicated to Sega cabinets as a target.
However, and here I quote one of the lead designer of this project, Aganyte:
"I am not done with this project yet."
"I want to continue developing the project so we can have Lindbergh/RingEdge/Naomi/Triforce -> Sega FFB -> Pwm2m2/Pwm2happ/midi"
"But also later on Model 2/3 -> Sega FFB -> Pwm2m2/Pwm2happ/midi/Servo Motor board"

I cannot comment that they will ever work on other targeted platform. For example being able to run Sega hardware on Namco or Taito cabinets for example. But if this is something that is important for your need, you can always ask if this is something they will ever consider (either as part of this project or another one).

Some other cabinets sold in USA have HAPP drive boards and are de-facto compatible with it, and this is great news because we can usually find these cabinets for very decent prices.
Who never wanted to run Initial D on a Cruis'n USA, Cruis'n World, California Speed, San Francisco Rush?
Time to hunt for a good deal on your local craiglist.

Example

What could you expect you may ask?

So this section will be pretty short. Here is a video made by @squallrs that has a YouTube channel that talks about various topics related to arcade, console mod, or gaming in general.
In this video he showcases and explains what one of the beta tester in this project achieved on his side using the setup that will be discussed on this thread. The video is in French, and I am not sure that he has enabled the option to automatically translate what is said. But anyway this thread will compile in more detailed information how to achieve more or less the same goal and at least this gives you a rough idea even if you don't speak French.
Note that Dvseb, the person that is showing the progresses he made using the hardware available from Gamoover owns most arcade systems ever made, so the content shown is basically a simple way to switch the games while being on the same cabinet, here demonstrated using a personal computer interacting directly with the original arcade hardware.​


I'm sharing another video made by Aganyte that shows Mario Kart running on a Lindbergh wired cabinet using only original hardware. Aganyte has other videos on his YouTube channel related to the progresses of this project.


Hardware

When I first hear about this project, I decided to look a little bit closer to the racing section of Gamoover which I never took the time much before. There was so much information there about racing cabinets that it was overwhelming and while taking the time to digest some of the information there I asked a friend "Ok what do I need to order" because I know that sometime in hobby led projects, the earlier you get the hardware the better (even if you are not using it). I ended up buying stuffs that were eventually optional and also in the meantime the project evolved quite fast so that new hardware was now needed (nothing that would be a blocker to start though and that can be found on normal electronic markets). There are other cards made by the same people that I did not need on my side, but that may be required by some of you. I will discuss with the lead designer to make sure that everything listed here is accurate and that I am not missing any pieces of information, I will update accordingly.

The involved material could be:​
  • Sega FFB Controller (Mandatory)​
  • ULN2003 (Mandatory if you ask me, this is to control your cabinet lights, some may consider it optional)​
  • JVS Hack PCB (Optional but really useful)​
You also might require something from this non-exhaustive list depending of the specifics of your cabinet
  • PWM2M2 Card (Only if you have a Sega Model 1 or Model 2 cabinet)​
  • PWM2HAPP (Only if you have a HAPP driver board)​
  • 24V/5A Power Supply (Only if you have a HAPP driver board)​
  • RS422/RS485 ->RS232 Converter (Only if your Driver Boards is using RS422 or RS485 and not the default RS232 that the FFB Controller boards output).​
The people on Gamoover seems to have a solution for everything. There are other cards they are making which gives the feeling (take that with a grain of salt) that they could revive any racing cab, even totally dead ones, and put it back in order with replacement parts including driver boards, IO hacks, conversion to PC unit, just to name a few.
I would usually recommend when ordering your cards to exactly state what is your setup and the Gamoover community will be able to guide you if you would need anything in addition to what is listed here.​

If you are not 100% sure what you exactly have in your racing cabinet, or you don't know their official names, you can refer to this great resource made by someone called BigPanik that summarizes the hardware you will encounter in most "recent" racing cabinet.

20191030170142-BigPanik-E7E552EE-1CF1-4DCB-9EE6-4259324646A0.png

1. Sega FFB Controller

ffb.jpg


This is the main piece of hardware that will be used in order to update our racing cabinet to something a little bit more generic, or that at least we have more controls on.

This was originally developed to provide a simple generic solution for Force Feedback Management. The development is still under progress but there are already a lot of capabilities that are available as of today and probably many more to come.
The initial project evolved drastically compared to what it was designed for a year ago, for example there was few things I noticed when I looked at how to use mine that looked it could have been made differently. But the main reason is because what the board is used today is already going far beyond what was originally planned. Some of these few minor flaws will be fixed in a V2 board (as I was told), but nothing that would prevent anyone to use the existing V1 anyway. I'll make sure to highlight these points so that anyone interested with the project can take their very own decision if they want to do it now or to wait for a V2 release.​

In simple words, this pcb acts as a "middle-man" between your arcade driver board/motor board and the unit your game is running on.

The specification is as follow:
  • Compatible with Arduinos Mega et Due (for now shipped using the Mega)
  • 2 configurable serial port in Midi or in RS232
  • 1 PC Serial Port (using USB port)
  • 1 PWM + Dir input
  • 1 wheel pot input
  • 1 PWM output
  • 1 8 bits parallel input OR 8 analogic inputs
  • 1 I2C output
  • 1 Led (to monitor the activity)
  • 3 buttons inputs
The following configurations are already available:
  • Midi to RS232 (For example running a Naomi system on a FFB Lindbergh cabinet)
  • MKGP or WMMT to RS232 (Mario Kart 1, Mario Kart 2, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 1 were successfully tested)
  • RS232 Card simulation (Being able to simulate that there is a FFB while the cab does not have any, so the game would still launch)
  • Spring mode for RS232 or Midi output (add some force/tension on the wheel for games that don't have any FFB)
  • PC to PWM2M2/PWM2HAPP (Use a standard personal computer in your M2 or HAPP based cabinet with FFB management, the controls are then seen as windows standard hardware)
  • PC to Midi/RS232 (Use a standard personal computer in your Sega Cabinet), this is what will be detailed in this thread.
There are may other use cases they want to address, but as far as I know, the active one right now is at least:
  • Lindbergh to Midi/PWM2M2/PWM2HAPP
As mentioned before, the project evolved a lot since its inception about a year ago. For example, originally the board was not designed to handle buttons (the board was only having 3 inputs for them) but as the project grew and other parties joined its development there was a need to add more buttons. The original PCB was not designed for that and for now it would require to either change one connector on the Arduino itself, or to solder wires directly on the Arduino because there is just not enough room to plug the additional wires it would require to map more than three buttons (which many cabs have, for example my Initial D cabinet has 6 buttons).
I was told that in V2 this problem will be solved and end users will have a simple way to plug their buttons.

Arduidui.png


Also when I received the card, I had other projects to do and finish, so I did not look at them right away while the project was still getting more interest and addressing new use cases. Then when I looked at my board, my first question was "But why it does not have a JVS input port". Indeed, since then the project was handling more than the force feedback interactions and my first "need" as a user was a simple way to leverage my existing wired buttons and the originally designed board was not meant for that. However they took an approach that I found very interesting recycling another board they created for another project related to gun cabinets.
I was told that the V2 might integrate directly to slots to plug directly the 24pin and 60pin connectors that normally populate the IO board on your cabinet. So this would not be as straight forward as just plug in your JVS wire to the board, but after some time thinking about it I retrospectively think that their approach is simpler and offer a more generic solution (as they don't have to manage the different type of JVS IO that exists, and we know there are many). More details will be given on the section about the "JVS Hack".

If you want to order this board, the easiest is to proceed as follow:​
  1. If not done already, register to the Gamoover arcade community forum.​
  2. Once registered, if not done already, don't hesitate to present yourself here. It's totally fine to speak in English there, even if most of the content is in French.​
  3. Go this thread and manifest your interest to buy this board.​
Then Aganyte will contact you in Private Message (which is often mistakenly spelled MP when French people are writing in English because this is the acronym of "Message Privé" which means private message).

Aganyte is building the boards himself small batches by small batches. It's very often that you don't need only one card but actually a set of cards, and he usually wait to combine them in a single shipping. So there will be some time to wait to get them, but you'll receive everything as ordered and well packed. As usual with these kind of projects, the sooner you request your board the sooner you'll get it. I had to pay right away upfront, and I suppose this is still the case, but this is something to discuss directly with him.

2. ULN2003

https://www.amazon.com/ULN2003-Stepper-Driver-Module-28BYJ-48/dp/B07X2WGK2P/

This part is under construction and some other sections will be completed during 2021 CW11. Teasing teasing :P.

Links and Credits
 
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Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" writte up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" write up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" write up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" write up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" write up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" write up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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This message is reserved for potential content in the future, I will delete it once the "tutorial" write up is finished and that I did not have to use it.
 

Mackie

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Mackie

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Mackie

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Mackie

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[March 2nd][Content]
  • Created the thread
  • Added general Introduction, Description of the general goal/use case, a link with additional explanations on the video that showcases what is possible with an almost finished setup.
  • Started the listing of the different involved elements
  • Started the links/credentials section
More updates soon.
 
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Hackcell

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Universal by means of using a PC, am I correct?
 

Mackie

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Universal by means of using a PC, am I correct?

Yes but not only.

The original project was actually not targeting using a PC, this came after as the project grew in interest.
I just recently added some of the capabilities in the "tutorial" that already describe what is available today:
  • Midi to RS232 (For example running a Naomi system on a FFB Lindbergh cabinet)
  • MKGP or WMMT to RS232 (Mario Kart 1, Mario Kart 2, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 1 were successfully tested)
  • RS232 Card simulation (Being able to simulate that there is a FFB while the cab does not have any, so the game would still launch)
  • Spring mode for RS232 or Midi output (add some force/tension on the wheel for games that don't have any FFB)
  • PC to PWM2M2/PWM2HAPP (Use a standard personal computer in your M2 or HAPP based cabinet with FFB management, the controls are then seen as windows standard hardware)
  • PC to Midi/RS232 (Use a standard personal computer in your Sega Cabinet), this is what will be detailed in this thread.
But also what they are actively working on:
  • Lindbergh to Midi/PWM2M2/PWM2HAPP
But also what are potential plans:
"I want to continue developing the project so we can have Lindbergh/RingEdge/Naomi/Triforce -> Sega FFB -> Pwm2m2/Pwm2happ/midi"
"But also later on Model 2/3 -> Sega FFB -> Pwm2m2/Pwm2happ/midi/Servo Motor board"
Even though I will focus mostly on the PC part on the first draft of this tutorial, once done, I will also give some feedback on interacting with other hardware I have (Ringedge, Lindbergh, Naomi).
 

Mackie

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Its a great project! Im working on mine as well, received all the parts already. Here's my 2 custom PC I build to go inside the seat bases. :)
It's going to be warm warm on your bum bum lol

153550333_10158113110137684_1491092263397438538_n.jpg

153563925_10158113109867684_1250878448374500178_n.jpg

That's a nice setup you'll have here.
For now, I will just do some kind of sanity check using one of my ttx3, just to check that overall everything is working.
I'll receive few units soon, including a sega alls, I'll probably repurpose that unit as the main pc for the racing cab (and of course will try to have sdwc working as well).
 

Mrhide

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Absolutely mandatory setup ;)
I ordered 2 boards.

and I'll have to choose which board to use: namco (Wangan) not usable I believe but from top left to bottom left: Virtua Racing, Daytona and Initial D
IMG_6283.jpg


then I am aiming to use these (Virtua Racing) but I also have an initial D, missing the motor though
IMG_6284.jpg

IMG_6285.jpg
 

Mackie

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I ordered 2 boards.

and I'll have to choose which board to use: namco (Wangan) not usable I believe but from top left to bottom left: Virtua Racing, Daytona and Initial D
IMG_6283.jpg


then I am aiming to use these (Virtua Racing) but I also have an initial D, missing the motor though
IMG_6284.jpg

IMG_6285.jpg

Nice, sounds like lots of different options on your side.

For information, I'll update the tutorial writing sometime next week.
 
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