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How to build custom Stepmania cabinet

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Post #1 · Posted at 2018-10-05 11:33:55pm 2.2 months ago

Offline WieldyQuincy
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I am ordering 2 Stepmaniax pads next time they are available, if I'm fast enough. I want to build a cabinet almost identical to DDR cabinets, maybe a little more modern and streamline. I have a few questions that could use all of your combined expertise.

1. Is there some sort of simple way to hook up arcade buttons as keystrokes to avoid any programming?

2. What would be the simplest, yet most effective, way to control lights? I would prefer something a little better than just sound reactive based on a mic. Maybe something that can control based on low, mid, hi frequencies in the music? I really don't know.

3. How should I tackle sound? Is there a way to use car speakers and amps but plugged in a outlet? I'm thinking something similar to that would let me build speaker boxes to my own dimensions.

I've never soldered before, and don't know much as far as electrical or circuitry. This is why I am trying to avoid anything over complicated. I'll do and learn what I have to if theres no other way.

Extra credit: Just as an opinion question. If you were building a generic Stepmania cabinet how would you decorate it marquee wise? What kind of graphics would you use?

Thank you in advanced for your help. If you need any clarification or anything just ask and I'll try my best.

Post #2 · Posted at 2018-10-05 11:52:43pm 2.2 months ago

Offline AppleArcade120
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"Practice makes Challenge AAAs."
I'd use a mix of colors for the marquee
HUGE thanks to Lord Toon for this incredible banner!
https://i.imgur.com/CSs46dC.png

Post #3 · Posted at 2018-10-07 12:45:26pm 2.1 months ago

Offline leadbman
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"Working On: 5thMix BGA bgchanges"
Woah boy am I the guy to talk to about custom DDR cabinet building haha. I've made my own so I can answer some questions when I can.

1: Yes, there is an easy way. I've used an I-PAC from Ultimarc (https://www.ultimarc.com/ipac.html) to handle all the button to keyboard stuff. These plug straight in with no drivers needed and convert switch presses to keyboard buttons. If you can get yourself a wire crimper - you can crimp connectors onto the wires rather than soldering them if you can't solder. If you can't get an I-PAC you can use pretty much any decent keyboard encoder.

2: Again, from Ultimarc, I bought myself a PAC-DRIVE (https://www.ultimarc.com/pacdrive.html), this will allow Stepmania (presuming you have a version that supports the PAC-DRIVE) to run the lights as if it was an arcade cabinet. No drivers or soldering needed - just read the instructions very carefully and you'll be fine. You could technically do the old Parallel Port lights but I don't know if they still work in SM5 (I think that was more of an SM3.9 thing). The PAC-DRIVE works on Windows and Linux, while the I-PAC works on Windows, MAC and Linux.

Just make sure that the fork of SM5 you've got has the "LightsDriver_PacDrive.cpp" file in it. When you've got that all going just go to the "preferences.ini" file in your save directory and edit LightsDriver= to be LightsDriver=PacDrive

3: I've just used an off the shelf speaker/subwoofer 2.1 combo. I know it's not as custom, however since it's not "built in" to the cabinet, if I ever want to upgrade the speakers I can without having to rebuild parts of the cabinet.

Extra: Depends on your taste really. I've got a screen in my marquee to show an animated marquee. However that's a bit of a pain to setup and get Stepmania to play nicely with, so that may not be your best option. Plus you have to reinforce the marquee more due to the weight. If you do a custom marquee, make sure you laminate it so it'll last longer.

Notes and Thoughts:
Here's a link to photos of what I've done (I've made more of it now but it's in storage for now so I can't currently get newer pics) https://imgur.com/a/vADt8

Honestly, it's a huge undertaking. If you're in the states or somewhere that has easy to get/decently priced DDR cabinets, I would STRONGLY suggest buying one and building your cabinet around that (by either gutting the cab or working around the original internals) - especially if you've not got the tools handy to make the cuts etc.

The reason I recommend this is because it's quite a task to build, reinforce, measure correctly and plan the cabinet itself and the other thing is the cost can blow out if you're not careful. If I could have purchased a cabinet I would have and then modified that to my needs. It's just cabinets over here are in the $4000+ range and that's a bit much I think.

If there's one thing I can suggest - make sure you make it to fit through your doors and make sure it's not too heavy when it's fully constructed so you can wheel it around when not in use. I made sure to do this and this makes it easy to shift around the house - a lot easier than trying to shift a full-size arcade cabinet around.

Bear in mind you'll need to be prepared to take many hours/months (or in my case years haha) to fully build a cabinet if you're not experienced/just making things up as you go. Though it is highly rewarding in the end if you're patient.

Hope that helps somewhat.

Good luck and feel free to ask questions, I may or may not be able to help, it depends on if I know the answer haha.
https://zenius-i-vanisher.com/ddrsig/18213.png?t=1510895050
Really need to add my scores to the tracker soon.
Always learning, always trying to push the boundaries of SM.

Post #4 · Posted at 2018-10-08 03:52:39pm 2.1 months ago

Offline WieldyQuincy
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Wow, thanks for all the info!

Question on the pac drive. Does it require any software? Or do you just plug it into the computer and it works?

Does this make any marquee lights flash with the music or do you have to make a "light chart" for each song?

Post #5 · Posted at 2018-10-09 02:37:11am 2.1 months ago

Offline leadbman
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"Working On: 5thMix BGA bgchanges"
No worries, hope it helps you.

No, it doesn't require any software - just a version of Stepmania that supports it. It should work as long as you tell the "preferences.ini" that you're running one as I detailed above.

In song it'll flash the lights exactly like the arcade without you doing a light chart (though you can customise a light pattern in the simfile if you want - I've noticed ITG files sometimes have them). It works by flashing to the "standard/medium" step chart - like the arcade and if the song doesn't have steps for that difficulty it'll flash to whatever difficulty pattern you're playing. Which is identical to the setup that the older arcade games used.

In menu the lights flash to the bpm of the song preview on the music selection screen and in other screens they flash at a bpm of 120 during normal menus etc.

It really does make the whole home experience quite awesome. It's nice to be able to have all the games I own in one machine rather than constantly changing discs to play other songs and have the added bonus effect of the lights.
https://zenius-i-vanisher.com/ddrsig/18213.png?t=1510895050
Really need to add my scores to the tracker soon.
Always learning, always trying to push the boundaries of SM.

Post #6 · Posted at 2018-10-11 04:24:51am 2 months ago

Offline WieldyQuincy
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You have no idea how long I’ve been looking for an answer on the pac drive. I never knew it used step charts. That’s ingenious really. So last question... for now.

I know that I could just buy some old used computer to run this but I would prefer not to. Do you think a Ryzen 3 apu would be able to handle StepMania 5.1 with the simply love theme running at 1080p? I’m assuming it’s a yes, but I just want to make sure before I pull the trigger on it.

Post #7 · Posted at 2018-10-11 04:54:44am 2 months ago

Offline Draxter
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Last updated: 2018-10-11 04:57am
Quote: leadbman

2: Again, from Ultimarc, I bought myself a PAC-DRIVE (https://www.ultimarc.com/pacdrive.html), this will allow Stepmania (presuming you have a version that supports the PAC-DRIVE) to run the lights as if it was an arcade cabinet. No drivers or soldering needed - just read the instructions very carefully and you'll be fine. You could technically do the old Parallel Port lights but I don't know if they still work in SM5 (I think that was more of an SM3.9 thing). The PAC-DRIVE works on Windows and Linux, while the I-PAC works on Windows, MAC and Linux.

Yes, indeed, SM5 lights output via parallel port is still a thing and you can make it work just calling them from Save/Preferences.ini
LightsDriver=Win32Parallel (You can use other custom builds for LightsDriver if you want it)

Sometimes this will cause problems / crashing for SM5 when it's under Windows x64 bits, so, take this in consideration too.
For my own custom setup using an old Pump it Up DX cabinet where I'm using Windows 7 x32 bits and SM5 with a custom lights calling method without any errors just using my Parallel port and a custom board to, basically, activate my 12v lamps for every 5v signal from the outputs from the Parallel port, so, I can't help with that Pac-Drives configurations, but it seems to work pretty much the same way I just did with my own custom board.

Wink

Edit: I'm using an old Dell Optiplex 780SSF with a GT1030 and it runs everything (double/versus players) with every BGA at constant 60FPS and 1080p
http://i.imgur.com/UnLm8TYm.png
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