Over the past couple weekends, I’ve been working on refurbishing the console and controls on my Neo Geo arcade machine.
The machine had obviously seen some hard use in arcades over the years, and the existing Happ sticks/buttons and Cherry microswitches were corroded, sloppy and just not very attractive. One neat thing about this cabinet though is that it has an all-metal console - much like a Japanese style “candy cab”. This makes it fairly easy to mount Japanese joysticks and buttons which are primarily designed for metal or plastic consoles rather than the more common wood consoles on machines here in the west.
I hopped over to Lizard Lick Amusements’ website and ordered two Sanwa JLF-TP-8T joysticks with GT-Y octagonal restrictor plates and Seimitsu LB-39 “bubble tops”, a full set of gorgeous Seimitsu PS-14-KN pushbuttons, and a bunch of .110 solderless quick connects to wire everything together (Happ controls use .187” terminals so these needed to be replaced as well).
Next, I headed to Arcade Overlays and ordered a slightly customized Neo Geo console overlay. You’ll note in the “before” shot of the console, the original Neo Geo field was positioned well above the controls. I had Arcade Overlays print the replacement about 4” down from the top so the controls actually fit on the red/white striped field.
Once the controls arrived it was modification time. The Seimitsu buttons are 30mm rather than the approximately 28mm on the old Happs. This meant that the mounting holes in the console had to be ground out to allow the new controls to fit. A Dremel tool with a grinding attachment (and my brother) was used for this purpose.
I also needed to fabricate new mounting plates for the Sanwa joysticks. The existing console has integrated mounting bolts for Happ style sticks which don’t match up with the Sanwa mounting plates. I did a little research online and found a fellow who mentioned he’d fabricated new plates using junction box covers sourced from a local hardware store.
Following his lead, I headed down to the local Home Depot and poked around their selection of junction box covers. I found some that were even better than the ones the blogger had used - these already had the center hole for the stick pre-punched, and were of the correct dimensions so nothing needed to be trimmed away with a metal saw. The only modifications necessary were the eight mounting holes for the stick and plate.
My brother took the plates home and returned the next weekend with both plates drilled and nearly ready to go - I had to widen the console mounting holes a bit so the plates could travel down the bolts completely.
Next, the wiring harnesses on the Sanwa sticks were integrated with the existing JAMMA harness, and the .110” terminals installed on the buttons. Finished!
There’s still quite a bit left to do on this machine, but getting the console done was a huge step forward. I think maybe my next project will be to get a new arcade monitor and plexiglass. In the meantime though, Matrimelee with the new controls is pretty sweet!