Console Projects >> You Don't Know Jack Controls v1 (retired)

Button Box

I originally was going to build the button box from scratch, but I figured that going the pre-fab route might look a bit more professional, so I went to Radio Shack and picked up one of their "Control Console Cabinet" boxes. Some of you might recognize it as being the exact same console box that TwistyGrip used when they sold their spinners. It's a very good-sized box for a project such as this one.

Of course, it had to undergo a couple o' modifications. Once again I needed to lose that ugly "PC Beige" color, so once again I busted out the semi-flat spray paint and went to town. It looks much better black. The only downside is that since this thing is plastic, I'll have to be careful not to get it scratched. A better solution in the future might be to try to dye the plastic instead of just painting over it.

I put most of the buttons necessary for playing "You Don't Know Jack" on the Button Box: It has all of answer buttons (1, 2, 3, and 4) as well as the infamous "Screw" button (which maps to the "S" key). There are also three tiny Radio Shack pushbuttons on the bottom just below the plug-ins for the hand buzzers, which also map to the "1", "2", and "3" keys. This is so that if you do hit the "Screw" button, you can decide which player to screw simply by hitting the corresponding button underneath their hand buzzer's plug-in jack. You still need the keyboard for the Gibberish Questions and for typing in your player names, of course.

The top of the Button Box is a solid sheet of aluminum, so it wasn't that difficult at all to drill through. I measured out how I wanted the buttons to lay out, used a punch to make the initial dents, drilled a small hole, and then bored through with a 1 1/8" hole drill bit.

I used Happ Controls' Horizonal Microswitch Pushbuttons for all of the "answer" buttons on the Button Box. They're actually spares that I ordered when I got all of the buttons for the Arcade Paradise cabinet. It worked out that I had one of each color of button available, because I wanted this thing to be colorful.

Below all of the "answer" buttons are the plug-ins for the three player hand-buzzers. I used Radio Shack Two-Conductor 1/8" Mini Phone Jacks. I'll get into that more in the "Hand Buzzers" section.

Keeping with the "modular" theme of the Encoder Box, I wired all of the buttons and the hand-buzzer jacks to terminal blocks, and then to a 25-pin D-SUB female connector. I actually used a parallel-port connector that you would normally connect to a motherboard and mount in the back of your PC case. The Radio Shack Console Box has an aluminum plate on the back of it, so I used tin snips to cut the middle section of it out, and I screwed in the plate that would normally hold the parallel-port connector in one of the PC expansion slots. I only needed about half of the wires of the 25-pin adapter, so I only wired up the ones that I needed. I used the ones at the edge of the adapter for easier wiring. You can see what I did by clicking on these pictures here.

I made sure to keep the numbering scheme of the LP24 and of the two DB25s intact. By this, I mean that on the Encoder Box pin "A" on the LP24 is wired to pin "1" on the DB25, pin "B" on the LP24 is wired to pin "2" on the DB25, pin "C" on the LP24 is wired to pin "3" on the DB25, and so on. I also made sure that they matched between the Console Box and the Encoder Box (i.e. pin "1" on the Console Box is also pin "1" on the Encoder Box). This just made wiring this project - and any future projects - a lot easier.

I also knew that I'd need some kind of snazzy cover art for the Button Box. I pretty much went the simple route here. I labeled the answer buttons as "1", "2", "3", "4", and "Screw" using the same colors as the buttons themselves (as well as putting two little screws next to the "Screw" button). I also put pictures of the "Q", "B", and "P" buttons that are right from the game. After printing the sheet up, I took it to the local Kinko's and laminated it, just to keep it well-protected.

Wiring it up.
A different angle.
The finished product.

 

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