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  Click here to go to the first FarSight post in this thread.   Thread: Modded iCade Core with side buttons

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    iCade Core modded with side buttons

    A few weeks ago I purchased an iCade Core from amazon.com when Farsight announced they would be implementing support for it. I couldn’t wait to break it open to see if it would be possible to install buttons on the side for a more proper way to play my favorite iPad app! I added 3 buttons on each side: Flipper, Nudge and ‘Special’. All of the original buttons still work. I also added a Power Switch to the back of the unit. It was an easy project.

    Several people have asked in the original thread and messaged me for more specific instructions. I’ve never attempted to document anything like this before so hopefully it will be easy enough to follow. Let me know if there are additional questions!



    Button Mapping
    6= Left Flipper
    8= Left Nudge
    0= Right Nudge
    E2= Right Flipper
    5= Left Special
    E1= Right Special
    *2= Plunger/Ball Launch
    *7= Start/Table Enter
    *9= Pause/Unpause/Table Exit

    * I didn’t emulate the 2, 7 and 9 buttons.

    The Special buttons (5/E1) are currently only supported in two tables:
    Black Knight Magna-Saves (5/E1)
    Harley-Davidson Pop-Up Post/Bumper (E1)

    Here is a quick gameplay video of my 9-year with the modded iCade Core. Before she starts playing she demonstrates table navigation with the iCade's buttons. During play she demonstrates nudging and Harley's Pop-Up Post/Bumper using the ‘special’ side button.



    I used 30mm Sanwa buttons (OBSF-30) for the Flippers and Nudge; 24mm Sanwa buttons (OBSF-24) were used for the Specials. It was necessary to use smaller 24mm’s because the mounting area on the side of the unit slopes towards the front and 30mm would be too large. It’s fine for my purposes because I will very rarely use the special buttons.

    I originally installed 30mm Silent Sanwa buttons (OBSFS-30) but they were actually too quiet for my taste so I switched to the normal Sanwa buttons.

    A Power Switch was also added to the back of the unit. This isn’t necessary for playing Pinball Arcade but it’s very helpful for other games where text input is required. Normally the iCade turns off on its own after a period of inactivity. When text input is needed the only way to do so is to open the Settings app and toggle off Bluetooth. With the power switch all you need to do is flip the switch to enter keyboard mode immediately without having to go into settings. Flip the switch back on again and you’re back in Bluetooth/iCade mode. I purchased the switch at my local Radio Shack (SPST Rocker Switch Model 275-693). I’ve seen many similar power switches available online also.

    Tools required
    Phillips screwdriver
    T8 Torx Security bit
    Pliers
    Wire Cutter
    Crimp-on connectors or Solder
    Spade drill bit
    Dremel tool with Sanding Accessory or File

    Opening the iCade
    Besides the 6 visible screws on the bottom there are 4 more underneath the 4 rubber feet. These can be easily removed with your fingers. After removal be sure to place the feet on a clean and dust-free surface so the adhesive is retained for re-installation when you are done. I used wax paper.

    2 of the 10 screws on my unit were Torx security screws. To remove them a Torx T8 security bit is required. Once removed they can be thrown away as they won’t be used again.



    Creating the Button/Power holes
    Remove the iCade circuit board so the bottom of the unit will be completely free of any existing wiring while cutting the new holes. There is a small screw holding the circuit board in place.

    First I measured the hole placement and marked the center of all 7 holes. I began by drilling a pilot hole with a small drill bit. The 30mm buttons require a circular opening of 29.5mm. I used a 1” Spade drill bit in the pilot hole. To widen the remainder of the circular opening I used a Dremel with a sanding accessory. If a Dremel is not available a File will also work. I read in another forum that someone wrapped sandpaper around a circular object to widen their iCade’s holes. For the 24mm buttons I used a ¾” Spade bit (these buttons require a circular opening of 23.5mm). I can’t remember the exact size of the bit used for the Power switch’s hole but it’s the same process.

    After inserting the side buttons re-install the iCade's circuit board.

    ***The forum will only allow a maximum of 4 images in a post so see the 2nd post below this one for Part 2.***
    Last edited by sotie; 05-08-2013 at 08:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    PART 2 - continued

    Wiring
    I have no soldering skills so I used crimp-on connectors to attach the wires to the side button terminals. The new side buttons were wired to the original button terminals. I just tightly wrapped the bare wire ends to the original terminals underneath the existing clear vinyl insulation. I attached them this way so I can easily move them later if necessary. Be sure to leave enough play in the new wiring in case you need to move the wire a bit when closing up the case.



    The installation depth of the Sanwa OBSF-30 buttons is 33mm. I had to bend back the Right Nudge button’s connectors to avoid contact with the iCade’s circuit board. If you purchase a different type of button be aware of the required installation depth. I also had to bend back the Right Special button’s connectors so it would clear the original E1 and E2 buttons.



    The Power switch is wired in line with the reddish/brown wire attached to the battery compartment. I forgot to purchase crimp-on connectors so I just tightly twisted the bare wire ends together and used electrical tape to secure. Since the wires won’t be moving I’m not worried about them coming apart.






    Test
    Now that everything is wired all buttons and the power switch should be tested before closing up the unit. Don’t forget to also test the original buttons to be sure they’re still working as well.

    Closing the iCade
    The two rear screw posts connected to the bottom of the lid were now colliding with the new side Nudge buttons. I simply bent them back towards the rear with my hands so they will be out of the way of the Nudge buttons when the lid is closed. The iCade retains a tight seal without the use of these two screws.



    Carefully close up the lid. Some of the wiring will probably need to be adjusted to ensure that none of it is covering the screw posts or is in the way of the buttons. You can use the two screws that were from the two rear screw posts to replace the two torx screws that were removed. Last step is to tightly press the 4 rubber feet back on the bottom.

    HAVE FUN!!!
    Last edited by sotie; 04-20-2013 at 07:22 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shaneus's Avatar
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    Man, that's exactly what I was looking for! One question: Do you think you could get away with using the 24mm buttons for flippers? I think I'd prefer to have the flipper buttons mounted closer to the front, but not if they feel weird because they're a bit too small.

    Oh, and do those Sanwa buttons have a good "click" to them?

    A modification I did on my Core that you might be interested in doing as well, is replacing the switches on the factory buttons. I removed whatever switches it came with and replaced them with Cherry switches I had on some other buttons I wasn't using. They fit perfectly and feels a hell of a lot better.

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Yeah, the Sanwa buttons feel good. I'd replace the switches on the original buttons but I'm only going to use the iCade for PA. My daughter will play other games with it and I know she doesn't care.

    I think it will be fine with 24mm buttons as flippers.

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    Looks great. I'm a bit jealous.
    Out of curiosity, can you do a partial plunge with the stick or is it just kind of all or nothing?

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Yes, I forgot to mention that you can control the amount of pull on the plunger with the joystick.

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    Moderator Jeff Strong's Avatar
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    Nice work, man. Thanks for sharing all these details.

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    This looks like something I could possibly manage to achieve! Thanks very much.

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    Very nice work!
    Thanks for sharing!!

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    Anybody in Holland working on this?

    Or maybe the normal icade and building a whole pin cabinet? I would like to know what the costs are all together, icade, buttons etc etc.

    So, i can make my money plan. Oh.... Shaneus..... I am in the last round...... ;-)

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    I don't know about Holland but here are current costs for USA:

    iCade Core $31.59 at Amazon.com
    Sanwa OBSF-30 4@2.99 each: $11.96
    Sanwa OBSF-24 2@2.49 each: $4.98
    Radio Shack SPST Rocker Switch Model 275-693 $3.19
    Crimp-On Connectors ~$3.50
    Wire ~$2.00
    Torx T8 Security Bit ~$5.00 (If you don't already have one)

    You can probably find the buttons cheaper than I did if you want to poke around some.
    Last edited by sotie; 04-21-2013 at 08:23 AM.

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    I just ordered in the UK.

    ICade Core £22.99 @ Amazon
    2 power switches ebay £2.49
    Sanwa OBSF 30+24 £15.00 @ http://www.arcadeworlduk.com/
    Cheapie spade connectors £1.69 ebay

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    Amazed that whole thing went together so cheap.
    I would never be brave enough to buy something and immediately take a drill to it.

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grashopper View Post
    Amazed that whole thing went together so cheap.
    I would never be brave enough to buy something and immediately take a drill to it.
    I loved the nervous feeling when I first put my drill through the plastic... "Damn, did I just throw money down the toilet!?". Then when it's complete and closed up it looks like it came that way from the factory.

    I just finished playing an hour session and I found myself more comfortable standing up playing like a real table.

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    Are there buttons that are more similar to pinball flipper buttons. Shouldn't they be more concave?

    I got my Core in the mail today. I'm still unsure whether to go for it or not or find someone here in the UK that might do the mods for me.

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Thornton View Post
    Are there buttons that are more similar to pinball flipper buttons. Shouldn't they be more concave?
    I'm sure you can find them online but be aware that there is limited installation depth available for 4 of the buttons. If you haven't opened yours yet check out the pictures I posted in the guide above. For the Left Nudge/Flipper you have to be aware of the battery compartment. For the Right Nudge it's a tight fit because of the circuit board. With the Right 'Special' the original E1/E2 buttons are also very close.

    Someone on this forum had the idea to use a wooden "doughnut" attached to the outside of the iCade to accommodate the increased depth of a real pinball pushbutton. I would never do that because I wanted the buttons flush with the side of the case and I also wanted an appearance that looks like it came from the manufacturer.

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    I think I'll stick to those buttons then.

    I've ordered the buttons and the Torx bit. I'm not sure how much/many and what kind of crimp/spade connectors and wire I need. Could someone link to suitable items on eBay UK? Maybe a power button too?

    I think I'm just going to use a drill and a hand file. Not sure investing in a Dremel just for this project would be financially justifiable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Thornton View Post
    I'm not sure how much/many and what kind of crimp/spade connectors and wire I need. Could someone link to suitable items on eBay UK? Maybe a power button too?
    Anyone?

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Wouldn't it be faster to pick up connectors at your local hardware store?

    Just did a quick search for you at Amazon.co.uk for a power switch:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...ocker%20Switch

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    Quote Originally Posted by sotie View Post
    Wouldn't it be faster to pick up connectors at your local hardware store?

    Just did a quick search for you at Amazon.co.uk for a power switch:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...ocker%20Switch
    Probably. I meant I needed a more specific description of what to search or ask for. The wire for instance. I have no idea what kind of wire. I also searched for spade connectors and I get all sorts. I really don't know anything about electronics at all.

    Thanks for that link.

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Any 18-22 gauge wire will be fine. Take a look at the crimp-on connectors I used on the buttons in the photos above.

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    I am getting ready to order the side buttons but thought I might as well replace the top buttons too. Do you know what size they are? Also, was trying to decide on the silent vs the original buttons. The iCade buttons are way too noisy, how do the Swanwa original compare? Were the silent just too soft?
    Last edited by iamoneagain; 04-25-2013 at 09:25 AM.

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    Senior Member Fungi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamoneagain View Post
    I am getting ready to order the side buttons but thought I might as well replace the top buttons too. Do you know what size they are? Also, was trying to decide on the silent vs the original buttons. The iCade buttons are way too noisy, how do the Swanwa original compare? Were the silent just too soft?
    I got these.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/390530267146

    They're silent, and they fit the holes without modifying. The contact connectors are smaller than the originals, but they still work. However, I haven't added side buttons yet, so I'm not sure of the length issue in terms of clearance. They're just fine for replacing the top buttons tho'.

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamoneagain View Post
    Also, was trying to decide on the silent vs the original buttons. The iCade buttons are way too noisy, how do the Swanwa original compare? Were the silent just too soft?
    I originally ordered the Sanwa Silent (OBSFS-30) and they were just too silent/soft for me. Then I ordered the regular Sanwa (OBSF-30) and I prefer them over the silent.

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    Senior Member sotie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fungi View Post
    I got these.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/390530267146

    They're silent, and they fit the holes without modifying. The contact connectors are smaller than the originals, but they still work. However, I haven't added side buttons yet, so I'm not sure of the length issue in terms of clearance. They're just fine for replacing the top buttons tho'.
    I took a look at the pics in the ebay ad you linked to. Judging from the picture I'm 99% positive they're too long for side buttons. Take a look at my pictures at the top of this post to see how much clearance is available.

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