Whitburn Academy's Arcade Machine
Two years ago, Whitburn Academy's Computing Science and Design Manufacturing and Graphics (DMG) departments embarked on an exciting joint project - to build an Arcade Machine!
To begin with, we had no idea of how to build one or even where to start, however after many hours and days of research, we made up our initial design and a list of all the parts we would need. The first priority was to find a spare PC and monitor to run the games and build the cabinet around. Fortunately the IT Technicians had a spare PC that they set up for us to use.
Some of the pupils who had taken the Computer Games Development course with Mr Currie and Mrs Woods had already created some games as part of the course. Mr Hawthorn (IT/AV Technician) and some pupils that he had in on Work Experience, worked out how to wire up the controllers and buttons and connected them to the PC. They built a test housing for the controls out of Lego to allow them to be tested. They then worked on finding out how to make the games work with the controllers.
Once we could play the games using the controllers, we made a menu system using the Visual Basic programming language to allow the game player to choose which game they wanted to play. However we quickly found that the only way that we could get the games to launch was to use a mouse to click on a button on screen. After further research and alot of trial and error, we discovered a way to create a menu system that could be operated from the arcade machine controls using Gamemaker (the program we used to make the games). Once all this was done, the next task was to put the PC into the casing for the arcade machine.
At the same time as the computing side of the arcade machine was taking place, another group of pupils were helping Mrs Brown in DMG to research and design the cabinet. They made prototypes from paper so they could get a feel for the dimensions and ergonomics of the cabinet.
Once the measurements were finalised (and with the help of Mrs Brown and Mr Wood(DMG Technician)), the pupils cut the wood, MDF plastic and vinyl that was going to be used to put it all together.
During the activity days prior to the 2016 Summer Holiday, the cabinet was carefully assembled, the PC and monitor were installed and the casing was painted by a group of pupils, with help from Mrs Brown, Mr Currie, Mr Hawthorn and Mr Wood. Once painted the machine was finished with stickers designed by the pupils and a laser cut sign showing the teamwork between Computing Science and DMG.
The final thing to do was for the pupils (and staff) to vigorously test the finished arcade machine (and beat the high scores set by members of the Senior Leadership Team!)
The arcade machine has made 2 outings to date, at both the P7 and S1 open evenings and has proved very popular with visitors to the school!
When we first started, it was hard to imagine how the project would evolve and we are very pleased with the final results! It goes to prove that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the project over the past 2 years.
Mrs Brown, Mr Currie, Mr Hawthorn, Mr Wood and Mrs Woods