Control Issues (post 3 of 4)

(a continuation from the previous blog post on Rebuilding An Arcade Game)

After everything that could be repainted got repainted, things were really starting to look good!

Wonderboy 2 control panel

The next step for me was to completely replace the existing Wonderboy 2 control panel (the part with the joystick and buttons) with an original Centipede one. 2 problems with this though:

  1. They don’t make Centipede control panels anymore. I’d have to try to find a used one to fix up.
  2. Centipede only has 3 buttons (1p, 2p, and fire) and a trackball (no joystick). If I’m going to put in all the classic games (Pacman, Galaga, Dig Dug, etc…) along with Centipede, I’d need to have a joystick and 2 more buttons. You’ll see in a minute.

My Centi panel. A beauty huh?!

After scouring the web for a while, I found the best Centipede control panel I could for the best price. $45 bought me the control panel you see to the left. Yikes.

So, obviously I needed to completely refinish, mod, and then rebuild this thing. I took all the buttons out. They barely pushed down! The trackball wouldn’t budge. No rolling. That’s okay though as I had a plan. 😉

I took the original overlay off much easier than I had expected. I used “Goo-Gone” and within 30 minutes, the entire panel was scraped off using a paint scraper. Now I needed to take off 30 years worth of rust.

For this I used a simple brush wheel attached to my cordless drill.

Again, it came off pretty easy. Cool!

Next up, I sanded off all the gooey glue that remained from the overlay. I used simple 120 and 240 grit sandpaper.

Anything can clean up real good with a bit of TLC.

Then I repainted the whole thing with flat black Rustoleum. It turned out great!

The next night I went out to the store and bought a drill bit for the 1 and 1/4″ holes that needed to be drilled (one for the joystick, and two for the additional buttons). I foolishly tried to do this with my cordless drill only to realize there was NO WAY I was getting through this incredibly thick steel with my drill (not to mention I later found out that I had accidentally bought a wood drill bit, not a steel one — oops). I needed a drill press.

Just before we finished drilling the 2 button holes on the right.

Thanks to my neighbor next door, I got back on the right track and had the holes drilled in no time. I was really astounded at how nicely this was turning out! With the right tools, the job can be done.

After applying the new overlay I had bought (I got a New Old Stock overlay on eBay for a great deal!), it looked great! Now to start adding the pieces back on.

I turned my attention first to the trackball. You have NO clue how disgusting it is at the bottom of a spinning ball that people have rubbed for 30 years. NASTY. Like I said, the ball didn’t even spin, so I knew I’d need to buy some new parts. Upon opening the unit, I saw that the bearings inside were completely rusted through. I found the right replacements (, along with a new trackball, and went to work.

The original unit with ball removed

Can you tell which bearings are new?

Again, which is new?

Shiny and new

I added a new joystick and three new buttons before cleaning up the original Atari LED lights that select 1 or 2 players.

Unfortunately, the lights in those LEDs were not labelled so I had no idea how much power to feed them. I tried +5v, and unfortunately, that turned out to be too much (now I know that LEDs run at +1.2v). I burned them up and I couldn’t get them to come back on. They still work great, but no light comes from them. I may replace them down the road, but I think it looks fine and these are REALLY hard to find online. When you do find them, they usually cost over $20 a piece!

I’m really pleased with the outcome of this part of the project. Next week, I’ll show you how I hung the new monitor, wired everything up, and actually got the thing turned on for the first time!! It’s ALIVE! 🙂



The internal wiring

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Szymborski
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 10:31:51

    I’m very impressed with what you’ve done steve! I love it! I’m glad you are having fun with it.


  2. Steven Andy
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 23:02:26

    Thanks Lisa!!! You gotta come play!


  3. khanley
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 00:27:17

    How hard was it to fix up the trackball? I recently purchased a Marble Madness and the trackballs are terrible (albeit better than your original one, since mine can actually move a little bit. :P) and I really want to buy the new bearing and rollers for it.


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