It’s ALIVE!! (post 4 of 4)

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

It works!

With the cab repainted, everything completely cleaned, and the control panel rebuilt, there were only a few things left to do! First, the marquee lighting wasn’t working, so I replaced the fluorescent bulb. That didn’t work so next I swapped out the old FS-2 starter with a new one. That did it.

Then I ordered a very nice 19″ LCD monitor to replace my screen burned CRT. The LCD is incredibly light compared to the CRT, and didn’t take much to hang (I just cut 2 pieces of wood to stretch across the cabinet).

I plugged in the screen to the game’s PCB to make sure things worked. To my delight, it did! It was so incredible seeing Pacman come up on the screen. I knew that no matter what happened from here on out, at least the game would power up!

Beautiful original glass

I wanted the cabinet to really shine so I went online and found the best looking original Centipede marquis and glass screen bezel I could find. They looked better than I could have hoped for (though admitting, cost more than I had hoped too).

Now came the part that took me the longest: wiring. Though I bought a wiring harness online, I needed to strip many of the 40+ wires at both ends. Then, I needed to make sure that all the wires were attached tightly to the inside of the cabinet. If the wires were loose inside, they could cause all sorts of problems.

Wiring up the control panel was very rewarding. Unfortunately, the trackball didn’t work when I wired it up. I couldn’t understand. I rebuilt the entire thing! What was wrong?! I couldn’t find ANYTHING on the internet saying what could be wrong.

Don't use the green...

get the red.

I want to be the first one (at least that I’ve seen) to post why an original Atari trackball WILL NOT work with the iCade 60-in-1 PCB: it’s the green PCBs in the trackball. For some reason, they just flat won’t work with the iCade. SO, I had to buy a new Happ red PCB (I realize this is tech-talk, but for anyone else out there who might be rebuilding one of these, I want to relate how to get it done). Once this came in the mail and I wired it up, everything worked great. Get the new red PCBs for the Atari trackball if you’re rebuilding — you can buy it here.

In the process of all this wiring, I’ve learned how to use a soldering iron pretty well! That was cool for me, as I hadn’t had much experience with one before.

Power for monitor

The last piece of wiring that I wanted to do was get the power supply for the monitor to plug into the power supply so I’d only have to have 1 power cord coming out the back of the cabinet. A little scary for me considering that I was working with a full 120v. Yikes! After a quick stop at Home Depot, I had all the tools I needed to wire it up. After I double-checked the voltage rating with my new multimeter (another new tool I’ve acquired in the process of rebuilding this game), I plugged in the monitor and……success!

All finished. I closed the back up and switched it on. Everything works flawless & the cabinet looks great! I’m really proud of myself as I’m not one that is usually all that good with this sort of thing. I’ve also ALWAYS wanted to 1) learn how these old games actually worked, and 2) actually own an arcade game! On the downside, my initial $20 investment inflated rather quickly, but I’m glad I did it. What a great 2 weeks for me. I can’t wait to invite the guy who originally sold me the game to come over and play! He’s gonna kick himself. 😉

All in all, I spent around 45 hours on the game. Not bad. Below I’m including a bunch of images of the finished game in my garage. If you’re ever in the area, drop me a line and let’s play it out. I’m getting quite good at Burgertime, Centipede, and Donkey Kong (1, 2, & 3)! Thanks for reading! I’ve really enjoyed sharing the process with you.

With love,







Before... (old CRT)

After (new LCD)

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