Friday, March 3, 2017

TekPower TP3016M Switching DC Power Supply Mod & Review

I have been using various DC power supplies for projects on my workbench for some time now, but recently decided I need the flexibility of a true variable supply, vs a wall adapter that has 4-5 voltage choices.  In my search, I found that most workbench power supplies were very large and bulky, which wasn't ideal.  Then I came across this geam, the TekPower TP3016M Switching DC Power Supply.  It is a fairly new product, and can be found on Amazon.

This unit fits my needs perfectly having an output range of 0.3V-12V @ 0-3.75A, and it can even jump up to 30V@ 1.6A.  The other perk was the size, which is about the same as a multi-meter.  The unit is portable, and small enough for me to mount on the wall above the workbench.

I have already used it for a few projects, and it performed flawlessly.  Backlit display is a nice touch, as are the dedicated USB ports for output at 5.1V @ 2.5A.  The only downside to this unit, is that is has no dedicated power button.  To turn it off, you have to remove the power cord.  Not ideal, especially for my plan to wall mount it.  So I set off to MOD the device, to remove this "negative" from the feature list. So I opened the unit up and took a peek inside to see what I could do.

Turns out the is ample room in the upper right of the device for a dedicated power switch.  I found a fairly small rocker switch (pictured below) that could take up to 6A, and began preparations to add it to the power supply. First thing I did was remove the solder from the post on the right of the 2 pin power input/plug.  Once the solder was removed (from only the right post), I bent the post up and away from the circuit board.

With the prep work done, I drilled a starter hole where I decided the switch would go, and then used a small file to shape the opening to fit the switch.

Lowered the switch into place, and then connected it to the power input pin I had previously bent upwards.  The other jumper was then soldered back to the board to complete the connection. It is a pretty tight area to work in, and I also chose to use some heat-shrink tube just in case the contacts got too close.

I plugged the cable back in, and gave it a quick test... WORKS!  Then proceeded to put the unit back together, which was as simple as snapping it back together and screwing in 3 screws.  The unit was then attached to my tool wall, where it is easily accessible to power future projects.

Overall a pretty simple MOD, but made this unit a lot easier to work with.  Here is a video I put together which is more of an overview of the power supply's operation.  Thanks for visiting.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Raspberry Pi (RetroPie) Old Skool Case LED Mod

As is apparent with my TableTop Arcade build, I really like turning Raspberry Pi micro computers into Retro Gaming systems.  I also have some smaller systems that just plug directly into a TV.  Recently found a case that is a perfect fit for these types of systems.

Old Skool NES case for Raspberry Pi 3

Its a really nice looking case, and fits with the Retro Gaming theme perfectly.  Very simple install, and everything lines up as it should. The only gripe I had,  was there is a small hole next to the fake power buttons, that would typically be a power indicator.  The case has the hole, but no LED. So... time to MOD!

I have a bunch of small Red LEDs, so set to work figuring out how to connect it to the Pi, so it will light up when the system is powered on.  Here is the pin layout of a Pi 3. I decided to tie into the 5v & GND locations to power the LED. 

I first tested on a breadboard to verify which resistor I would need.  The  LED I am using requires input of 1.5-2v so I went with a 100 Ω + 5% resistor to step it down from 5v.  If you want the LED to be less bright, just use a larger resistor. I then used a hot glue gun to secure the LED to the case. 

With that done, powered it up, and it looks Great! Really pleased with how well it turned out.

Here is a quick video showing the boot up process, and the initial "Boot Video" I have setup on my system.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

PC Upgrade - Mounted System Stats Display

I have been running my current Custom PC setup for about 6 months, and for the most part, have been very pleased with everything.  The only issue I have faced, is the small display I mounted to show system stats has very poor viewing angles, making it hard to see from where I sit/stand.

I also have received more questions about that particular part of my system than any other post both on this blog and my YouTube channel. So I decided to upgrade that particular component, and archive the entire process.  In addition to the info on this post, I will also make an overview video and posts it at the bottom.

The previous display was a 9in LCD panel. The new one, is a Toguard 10.1 Inch IPS display.  Here is the Amazon Link.  It is almost twice the cost of the 9in one, but the panel quality is a LOT better, so worth it in my opinion.

Here is a picture from the back.  The 9in was a bit easier to mount as it had a camera/tripod mounting hole, that I secured it to the GPU bracket with.  This new display has no such mount, but does have 4 mounting holes on the back of the display.

From the bottom you can see the various connectors.  All I am concerned with are the 12V DC power port, and the HDMI input.

The front plastic made to look like brushed aluminum. I probably would have left it as is, if it weren't for the TOGUARD logo. So I covered just the front bezel with my Carbon Fiber Vinyl wrap.

I gave it a quick test before making the mounting bracket just to verify everything would work the way I needed it to.  Here we are showing connections from the PC to the Display.  Note the 12V DC  plug is coming directly from a 4pin Molex connection that I wired specifically to power this display.

The initial tests passed with flying colors.  Not yet mounted, but running CAM perfectly.  On to the mounting bracket construction.

To make the bracket, I grabbed some sheet metal that I had left over from another project.  I measured both the exterior dimensions and the location of the mounting screw holes.

Once I had everything marked, cut out the piece, drilled the holes, and used my bench vise to make a nice 90 degree bend to accommodate mounting the display under the GPU bracket.

To secure the display to the mounting bracket, I am using M4-7 socket cap screws, and a few washers.  The length was a bit too long, as the mounting holes were not very deep, so I used some nuts to shorten the length of the screws.

After everything was drilled, cut, and bent, added a few passes of black spray paint to match the color theme of the PC build.  Also shown here is the 6mm screw I used to secure the mounting plate to the GPU bracket.

Here is the hole I drilled in the GPU bracket.

And here is where the 6mm screw will go.

With the mounting plate secured the the GPU bracket, we can now attache the display.

Here is a shot from the back to show how the screws are securing the display to the case.

And a final shot from the front to show the new upgraded display installed and running CAM.

I will show in the video more detail on how to get the NZXT CAM Monitoring software up and running, but just for reference, here is what my displays look like, with this new on set up as the 4th monitor of my system. Desktop Screen Capture of all 4 monitor.

Here is the video.  If you have any questions be sure to hit me up in the comments. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

TableTop Arcade - Final Build Pics

Project Index

Final Build Pics

Thanks for sticking it out for the duration of the build log.  Here are the final build pics from various angles. 




Thought it would also be appropriate to add some "in-action" pics as well.  On the left my 4yr old daughter playing "Bonk's Adventure", on the right my 7yr old son and some neighbor friends enjoying some multiplayer battles on "Golden Axe". 

I am going to put together a video walk-through of the cabinet, and hope to have it posted soon. Thanks for taking a look, and if you have any questions, hit me up in the comments below.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

TableTop Arcade - Wiring and Wrapping Up

Project Index

Button and Joystick Wiring

Almost done! Adding the buttons on top of the acrylic went pretty well, but I lost the use of 2 buttons. My measurements didn't account for the fact the bottom of the joystick is pretty deep, and it conflicted with one of the buttons.  Not a huge deal, as it was only to change "Save States", but still a bummer when things don't go as planned.  As can be seen below, using a plug in the hole since a button won't work. 

In an earlier post, I showed the USB Encoders that came with my Button kit.  All the gaming buttons worked great with the existing encoders, and most people would be perfectly fine with that kit.  My issue is they didn't allow for the use of "Admin" buttons which is what I was planning on using the 5 buttons on the front of the arcade cabinet for. So instead of losing the functionality of all those buttons, I decide to upgrade the USB Encoders to an Ultimarc I-PAC 2.  Also ordered a few wiring kits to go with it.  I could have done it myself, but saved myself a ton of time by just spending an extra $5 on the kits instead. 

Setup is pretty stright forward.  Each of the button switches has a ground terminal and a signal terminal. I ran a daisy-chained black wire as my ground between the buttons and back to the 1st pin on the IPAD "GND".  Then I ran the color wires from the signal terminals of the switches back to their corresponding pins on the IPAC. Player 1 controls are on the left, Player 2 controls on the right.  Bottom 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B are some of the "Admin" controls I mentioned earlier.  Scroll down a bit for a more detailed explanation and diagram of how I wired stuff together. 

This is a picture of the cabinet on its back, bottom facing out.  Although I have an access panel cut in the back to allow for quick changes, the amount of wiring I just did justified more space to work in. Cleaned everything up the best I could using Velcro ties and adhesive Velcro strips to mount the Raspberry PI and Power Strip. 

With all the wiring completed and the cabinet 95% put together, had to do a bit of work on the control configuration for the new USB Encoder.  The default settings worked fine for some gaming systems, but others were having a hard time as some of the action buttons were being seen as keyboard keys such as "Shift", "Ctrl", "Alt", etc.  Using the IPAC programming utility, I changed some of the pins to read as different keys that were more universally friendly, and made sure my admin buttons were set to function as I originally intended.  

Below is a screen shot of the Excel document I put together to help me sort out what needed to be changed, and verify that everything was matching up to where it should. 

With that completed, there will still be a few configuration items I will have to address due to the new USB Encoder for the actual gaming systems, but those are simple enough and I will take care of that at a later time. 

Finishing Touches

With all of the internal parts of the build taken care of, moving on to a few remaining items to close out the project.  The access panel was cut and painted already, but took the time to add a piano hinge and latch to the back.  

Since the innards are done, I also went ahead and attached the bottom to the arcade cabinet.  Didn't use glue or brad nails here, just small wood screws.  Screws were used so that I can easily access the wiring area if I ever had to made any large changes again, or repair anything that would be too difficult to get to via the access hatch. 

With that, the build is done!  Next post, FINAL BUILD PICs, and a video walk through of the completed cabinet. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

TableTop Arcade - Assembly, Electrical, and Painting

Project Index


    Now that all of our wood pieces have been cut out and prepped, its time to start putting this thing together!  This part was a bit more tricky than I had anticipated, and took a lot of trial and error to get everything to line up perfectly.  The idea is to use small wood "batons" to act as supports and stops for the various panels.

    The picture below shows how they are used to block the various panels into place.  The key is to stat with one side first, get everything lined up how you want it, and mark your joints.  Then mark those same joints on the other side before you start gluing or nailing anything down.  I used painters tape to hold everything together while testing out the fit of my markings just to be sure.

    After you have marked both sides, and are pleased with the fit, its time to secure everything to the panels. I used a combination of wood glue and brad nails. You can probably get away with just using wood glue, but with an air compressor, putting in a few brad nails for extra support is an easy task.

    Once all of the batons were secure and in place, its time to begin putting everything together. Starting with the monitor panel, I worked my way around the cabinet, gluing and clamping down the various pieces as can be seen below. If your measurements are good, everything will fit together neatly.  Keep things clamped together for at least a few hours before you move the cabinet.  I recommend letting it sit with the clamps on overnight.

    Electrical Wiring

    With the cabinet assembled and the glue drying, it went ahead and added the modular power inlet.  This using a standard computer / monitor power cable, which I then wired directly to a surge protected power strip.  

    Pretty simple to install, just cut a hole to fit, and after a bit of file work, made sure that it went in nice and snug. Don't screw it in yet, as we need to paint before securing this to the cabinet. 

    Once I was sure it could be mounted in the hole correctly, I started the wiring process.  I removed the wall plug end from the power strip and wired it to the inlet switch as shown below.  I chose to use female spade adapters instead of directly soldering the connections.  Note that there is more than one way to wire this switch, but the way shown here will allow the switch to light up when turned on. 

    Painting & T-Molding

    With the cabinet fully assembled and the glue dry, its time to paint!  I have seen people use cans of spray paint for this part, but this MDF really sucks up the paint, and you will go through a lot of cans of spray paint to cover properly.  My wife had recently painted all of our interior doors black using a sprayer, so I used the left over paint and her sprayer to take care of my paint job.  Would have done it outside, but the temperature has started to drop, so did it in the insulated garage, with some plastic protection applied.

    I gave the paint a solid 24 hours to dry before I moved the cabinet from the garage, back down to my project room.  With everything coated in a nice black finish, next step is to add the T-Molding.  I am using 3/4in T-molding to match the width of the side panels. Using a rubber mallet, I slowly worked my way around both sides.  When getting to a corner, I nipped a bit of the insert to make it easier to get flush corner bends as shown below. 

    Here we have a picture of everything painted black, and the T-Molding installed.  If you have seen any of my other projects, you will know that I am a bit fan of Black/Blue themes.  It looks great with the T-Molding installed against the black paint.  The T-Molding also served as protection for the edges of the MDF, and adds a bit of grip to the bottom keeping the cabinet from sliding around.

    With most of the exterior work completed, next step is to install the display. This was tricky due to the built in speakers this monitor has.  I'm not  planning on using the built-in speakers but they increase the length of the monitor enough that I couldn't mount it without conflicting with the controller board buttons. 

    The solution was to flip/rotate the display 180 degrees as shown below.  I used the existing VESA holes on the back of the LCD to mount a piece of pine to the back. Then used additional wood pieces to create a bracket, using glue and brad nails to keep everything secure. 

    And here it is, with the screen installed. As mentioned before, I had to rotate the display 180 degrees to make it work in this cabinet. Doing this on the Raspberry Pi is really easy, and here are the steps:
    • Plug in a USB keyboard and power on the Pi
    • Once EmulationStation has booted, hit F4 to launch the command console 
    • Type the following in the command line to edit the Configuration file:
      • sudo nano /boot/config.txt
    • Now add the following to the bottom of the configuration file and save:
      • display_rotate=2

    Go ahead and reboot, and the display will show right-side up (on your upside down screen)! If you ever need to revert back, setting display_rotate to 0 or deleting the line will set everything back to normal.

    Next up is the artwork and installing all of the buttons.