Timstuff's ultimate PDP Mortal Kombat TE fightstick mod (project diary)


#1

Update Stick a fork in it, IT’S DONE!

[media=youtube]K9h1cUmSS3Y[/media]

ORIGINAL POST

So I picked up a copy of Mortal Kombat TE the other day and I was quite happy with PDP’s Tournament Edition fightstick once I had installed the parts I wanted in it (iL Eurostick and Happ competition buttons). However, I wanted to take things quite a few steps further than most people dared-- namely, a new button layout, Japanese parts, new artwork, multi-console support, an RJ45 jack, and of course a new plexiglass overlay. I must say, this mod is not for the faint of heart, and I am already beyond the point of no return. Even so, I am still excited to be doing something new and unique with PDP’s fightstick.

Here is my PDP TE just moments before the vicious attack.

http://img860.imageshack.us/img860/8669/p1010011u.jpg

And this is the control panel after I removed it from the piano hinges, tore out the T-molding, and ripped the Plexiglass off of it.

http://img716.imageshack.us/img716/5826/p1010024w.jpg

This thing was definitely NOT designed with custom artwork in mind. They covered the whole control panel with this nasty carpet tape stuff which made getting the plexiglass off a pain in the ass, and artwork itself is actually printed onto the back of the plexiglass. For all the friendliness that gorgeous golden latch and piano hinges to do modders, this is a part where PDP slammed their foot down and said “we do NOT want people tinkering with this.” The poor plexiglass didn’t exactly survive the removal process, either…

http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/5688/p1010023x.jpg

It had it’s revenge though-- my hands were wounded in 3 different spots during this whole ordeal!

http://img862.imageshack.us/img862/3664/p1010030ek.jpg

Now that that’s out of the way, the next step will be to remove all that wretched carpet tape from the control panel. I will keep you guys posted as I make more progress on this mod. Don’t worry, sweet plexiglass-- you shall not have died in vain!


PDP and MAS Template PSDs
PDP MK9 Tournament Edition & MK Klassic Happ sticks!
#2

You my friend… huge balls!!! hahah Mad props for going where no one has gone before. I was worried that this would be the case. In hind sight if you did things a little different do you think the plexi had a chance of surviving?


#3

I’ve either got major balls, or major stupidity, but hopefully we find out once the results of this project are finished. :smiley:

It’s possible-- I think that with a better tool (I was using a pair of flat head screwdrivers) and something to help soften the adhesive like WD-40 as the plexi layer separates from the MDF, it’s possible that it would come off without shattering. If I had also gone slower, that probably would have helped, but after I had already broken off a sizeable chunk of it it really didn’t matter so I just started trying to remove it as quickly and easily as possible. Removing the artwork from the back of the plexi would probably be tricky, but not impossible as long as you are prepared to re-polish it.

I am actually working on a product that will circumvent this issue altogether for PDP TE users, which is part of why I was willing to use mine as a guinea pig. Hopefully I will have more details on this in the coming days. :wink:


#4

What have you got planned for the button layout? I’ve never actually held one of these, but the buttons look really far apart to me.


#5

That’s typical MK layout.


#6

They are a bit far apart, which is one of my criticisms of the standard layout even though I prefer it for playing MK. It can be improved greatly by installing concave buttons, however I think Madcatz had the right idea with their layout. This is the layout that I had in mind:

http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/8248/getoverheremockup1.jpg

This is a new layout that I developed myself that I am calling “Street Combat.” Basically, the goal was to find an average between the Madcatz Combat Panel layout and the Vewlix layout. With the use of button hole plugs in place, you can have just one layout or the other. I actually made a prototype of it a few weeks ago using a cardboard box. With the final stick I’ll be able to fit in a 9th button hole since I am going to be using a Sanwa JLF, which has a much narrower footprint.

http://imageshack.us/m/171/1494/p1010004v.jpg


#7

I managed to get all that nasty carpet tape stuff off. It took a lot of WD-40, napkins, isopropyl, and sore thumbs, but I was finally able to remove all of it. I’m actually pretty lucky that PDP actually bothered to laminate the topside of this panel, because if they had put this tape stuff directly onto the MDF it probably would have torn off some of the MDF when I tried to remove it-- not to menton that cleaning chemicals would have been out of the question, since the MDF would have soaked them up.

http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/9283/p1010032g.jpg

The next step involves power tools, so that will be fun.


#8

I hate to be a stick in the mud, I suppose it is indeed too late to turn back at this point and perhaps it’s not even any of my business what you do with your stuff. However since part of the reason for a diary is to provide insight I can’t help but wonder, erm…

What is the point in buying a prefabricated wooden stick is if you’re going to entirely refurbish and work on it with power tools anyway?

I mean I could possibly understand trying to do an art modification if you didn’t have the tools necessary to make your own box or if it was near effortless to do so. However by the time you have to put in the effort of cutting new holes in the wood board for an entirely new layout, I’m almost sure it’d be cheaper to buy a cut of raw wood to make your own box. Heck, even if you really wanted to use the PDP base, you could buy a new top board to use as a panel so you don’t risk destroying the limited edition artwork and risk hurting yourself in the process.

I’m almost certain the reason PDP made it so hard to change the top panel is because they figured that how the finished stock result served a special niche of people was where most of its value was. Unlike the modified 8 button Vewlix layout, the M.K. layout is really only good for one game (well, one franchise but still) and that’s some darned awesome artwork for fans of that one game already.

Certainly not to everybody’s liking I suppose but I don’t even really understand why the top plexi has to be removed for art modding a flat top anyway. Seems like the screw in buttons could go through two layers and hold everything together.


#9

Like I said, I am in the planning stages of a product that should come in very handy for other people who want to modify their PDP sticks. What I am doing necessitated me to chop up my TE’s panel, however this was a small sacrifice for what I have planned.


#10

Getting the plexi off would probably have been much easier if you used fishing line to “cut” between the plexi and the box. It wont scratch anything, and if you follow it with a piece of was paper or something you can keep it from re-sticking. I use fishing line to remove car emblems when modding them.


#11

you sir have guts cant wait for the finished project


#12

That probably would have been a good idea. If anyone else ever attempts to remove the plexi from their TE, I highly recommend finding a less barbaric method than mine, lol.


#13

Because Tech Talk.


#14

I’ve made more progress today. I cut out a prototype control panel of cheap particle board and have it temporarily attached to me TE. I need to take some more precise measurements of the screw holes on the official control panel because not all of mine are lined up correctly, and the latch for the lock is currently misaligned so it won’t lock. I am also probably going to switch to a drill press when I go to make the real thing to ensure that none of the holes are crooked. I’ll be using higher quality lumber, too-- particle board is dirt cheap, but it’s crappy and not very durable, which is why I am only using it for testing. I will be using AC Fir plywood on the final product, which is lighter than MDF but just as strong. Anyway, here are some pictures of the prototype. I sloppily drilled some Vewlix-style button holes into it just so you guys could get some idea of the possibilities.

http://img813.imageshack.us/img813/3792/p1010035g.jpg

http://img850.imageshack.us/img850/9809/p1010036r.jpg

http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/9573/p1010037vs.jpg

Once my construction process has been perfected I’ll probably be selling a variety of custom panels, just to give you guys a heads up. :wink:


#15

Not much of an update today, but I do have some news on the project. Last night I put together a template for the screw holes in illustrator, and spent several hours tweaking and checking it against the official PDP panel. I was going to cut out and drill another panel today, however the weather is not being cooperative so either I will have to wait until the sun comes out, or work out of the basement and clean up afterwards.

Also, while my plan was originally to drill a hole for a Switchcraft RJ45 jack on the case’s main body, I have found a much cleaner solution. I recalled buying some screw-in USB extension cables that I bought for my Mame arcade machine a while back, and wondered if something like that could fit horizontally into a control panel. I looked around and found a RJ45 screw-in extension cable online, which I can probably mount on the side of the panel, allowing the RJ45 to clip into place on the panel the same way the USB cable on the official PDP panel does.

http://img714.imageshack.us/img714/817/p115p2.gif

http://www.frontx.com/store/order_p.html

The one catch is that the casing on the jack makes it a bit thicker than the panel I am using (I’m using 5/8" lumber as opposed to the stock 3/4" that PDP uses), but I can overcome this by trimming off a bit of the casing with a box cutter, allowing it to mount flush with the rest of the panel. This should also work with screw-mount USB A to B cables, too. As long as the casing material is soft enough for a sharp knife to cut it, this should be a very easy solution that requires no drilling into the main case at all. My USB extension cables are the same brand and use fairly soft material, so I don’t expect this will be an issue.


#16

Quick update: after hours of tweaking and checking my screw hole map in Adobe Illustrator, I’ve cut out a panel of AC fir and drilled in screw holes using my precision technique. For the ultimate test, I attached it to my PDP case and screwed everything into place. I didn’t get to do any routing today so I couldn’t attach the lock piece, but the results so far have been very pleasing! The AC fir is worlds better than the particle board as far as quality goes, and it is lighter than MDF which makes opening the case a breeze. Although when it’s finished I’m going to laminate the underside, if I’m going to be selling these panels I will probably offer the option to leave it bare so that it can be stained and varnished, because that would look killer. The screw holes with my latest map all lined up well enough for me to screw everything into place without trouble, so I do not forsee any problems popping up there.

The one change I’ll probably make is to get some 1/2" gold screws from the hardware store, since this material is 1/8" thinner and one of the 5/8" screws on the piano hinges is poking out ever so slightly, which would be a problem when I put the artwork and plexiglass on unless I use a shorter screw or clip the ends off of some of the stock ones.

http://img580.imageshack.us/img580/5753/p1010040p.jpg

http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/3256/p1010041c.jpg

http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/49/p1010042c.jpg

http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/6388/p1010043ip.jpg

Tomorrow, I’m going to remove all the screws again and start routing, and hopefully I’ll be able to order some of the parts I want.


#17

It’s been a while since my last update, but I have made a LOT of progress! After putting a few more hours into cutting the panel and the plexiglass, I got my artwork printed up and cut out and started putting everything together! I still need to get buttons, a bat-top and a Cthulhu MC for it along with a few other parts, but aside from that and the wiring, the serious legwork on this mod is pretty much done.

http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/7457/p1010071k.jpg

I actually managed to install an Xbox Live headset jack through the T-molding and wood! I also installed an RJ-45 port on the back of the panel, where the USB cable would be on the stock panel. Like the Xbox Live headset jack, I cut a hole in the T-molding to access it to keep everything on the outside nice and clean looking.

http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/8723/p1010072m.jpg

I am hoping that my next major update will feature this thing up and running! Also, I hope to be able to announce the availability of my custom panel service soon. :slight_smile:


#18

Awesome. Can’t wait to see the finished product!


#19

I still need a few more parts before I can finish this thing, but externall it’s pretty much done, even though it does not actually do anything yet. I thought I’d share some new pics with you all.

http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/5098/p1010088a.jpg

http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/2543/p1010090d.jpg

Here’s another quick look at the RJ-45 jack on the back of the panel, whch also demonstrates how shiny it all is:

http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/6526/p1010091z.jpg

And another closeup of the Xbox Live headset jack:

http://img143.imageshack.us/img143/3647/p1010093lz.jpg

Here’s a look at the inside. The routing around the buttons is a little bit rough since I didn’t have a rabbet bit, when I’m doing these for other people I’m going to pick one up so those areas will look a lot cleaner. As you can see I’ve already run the necessary wires for the XBL headset jack through the inside of the panel. There are also screwholes for the plastic shell, however I haven’t bothered putting it back on yet since I’ll just have to unscrew it once I start wiring this thing up.

http://img832.imageshack.us/img832/3952/p1010096rh.jpg

Some business announcements (finally!):

I’m going to be taking orders on custom panels very soon. I am thinking my introductory price will be about $35-40 for the first six or so units (which includes plexiglass), although it may go up depending on how quickly those will sell. I’m going to be cutting out some more panels in the upcoming days that will have some different layouts so that buyers can get some idea of what kind of options will be available (they will go up for sale, too). I also plan to make carriage bolts be an option if people want to use snap-in buttons. These things will be made-to-order and I’m going to have a good variety of layouts available to choose from. I may handle transactions through either eBay or Etsy if people are more comfortable doing it that way than just email and PayPal.


#20

Such an epic mod. Keeps the good parts of the PDP stick and super-improves the bad.