Discussions on obtaining a DDR doubles cabinet date back to when Saxxon and I first met three years ago, but after finally scoring a good deal from an arcade in Ohio earlier this year, our plan was put into motion back in February. Since then, we've troubleshot all kinds of issues, including having an arcade CRT display exhibit partial vertical collapse, sensors being bad in the DDR pads, lights being busted, speakers no longer working, the optical drive being bad, ..and all sorts of other things. After much patience and effort, things are starting to become functional!
Saxxon and I are fortunate enough to be friends with many Bemani gamers, including a few who have their own home systems. Having gone through the procurement and refurbishing process themselves, we were given a lot of fantastic advice, and were able to source many replacement parts from various sources. So far, we've replaced quite a few screws, spacers, washers, the plexiglass panels on the pads, sensors inside of the pads, swapped LEDs in in place of fluorescent bulbs, and will be removing the CRT to mount a 32" 720p Sony display in its place. While the cabinet did come with a 573 motherboard (two, in fact), getting to a point where we could diagnose why the board currently installed wouldn't boot took until this last weekend, when we borrowed a JAMMA (remember, this is arcade equipment) to SCART passthrough adapter, which we then hooked to our second Sony PVM. This allowed us to FINALLY see the error messages being displayed in the boot sequence! Fortunately, the error that was shown was benign and Saxxon was able to boot into DDR Extreme to verify the status of other hardware (this is when he discovered that not all the speakers worked). With renewed energy to continue the project, he cleaned up the P1 pad and replaced sensors and lights throughout Sunday and Monday, and was able to try a round last night once the pads were reconnected. To my relief, his reaction was that they were the best pads he'd ever played on! Quite happy with that.
It should be noted that 573-based DDR games expect an arcade CRT with zero lag; you might be asking why we decided to go with an LED TV instead of repairing the CRT. Because it's difficult to find places that still repair equipment of this age, moving to newer hardware was necessary. Through some clever trickery, we will be able to modify the DDR game files on the 573 games to account for the difference in lag, which will still allow us to rack up Perfects!
In addition to the 573 hardware, we were able to source hardware that was particularly close to the Bemani PC hardware that was used for the later DDR arcade games, and with the help of a good friend, we'll be playing not only the official Bemani PC titles, but also OpenITG and StepMania 5 on the same equipment! In the end, our doubles cabinet will not only be completely refurbished, but it will also be able to play most of the older DDR mixes, plus Bemani PC content, plus OpenITG and SM5 with the same cabinet hardware. This is outstanding! Both Saxxon and I are looking very forward to this and will be posting further news once things move along more.
While this has been quite an expensive project in terms of both money and time spent, ultimately, it's the largest project Saxxon has taken on, and it's been a fun thing to source parts and knowledge for. In a sense, I've been doing project management for this, just as I do for ZHP things; any excuse to hone skills is appreciated!
Hopefully the next post will have photos and videos of the setup in action, but until then..