Arcade Projects >> Arcade Paradise 3

Control Panel: Planning and Layout

I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: The control panel is probably the single most important part of your cabinet. It's your personal "interface" to the games that you're playing, so you'll want to make sure that it's comfortable, that it makes sense logically, and that it's intuitive to use. Of course, if you can pull all of this off while making it look attractive too, that'd be nice. :)

There are a few basic schools of thought that most people adhere to when it comes to designing control panels:

Of course, bear in mind that I'm not knocking any of these approaches or claiming that any of them are universally better than any of the others. The whole point that I'm trying to make is that all of these approaches have some kind of trade-off, and it's up to you to decide what's important to you.

For me, doing an all-in-one panel made the most sense. I definitely wanted to be able to have a bunch of different controls, but I didn't want to have to deal with swapping or rotating out panels - I wanted immediate access to everything at all times. The big trick then is to figure out a way to have all of the controls that I wanted on one panel without it looking like a cluttered mess. I first listed all of the controls that I'd want to have on the panel:

I also had the following layout requirements for the panel:

And of course, - taking all of the controls and all of the requirements for the controls into consideration - I wanted the control panel to have an intuitive flow to it. In other words, I wanted everything to make sense, not only in looks, but in placement and feel. And I wanted everything to make sense not only just for me, but for anyone else who might walk up to the cabinet and play on it. Also, despite the very large variety of controls on the control panel, I wanted it to look as clean and neat as possible. I didn't want it to look like a "frankenpanel".

So once all that was decided on, it was then just a matter of playing around with the layout in Visio until I was happy with the results. I feel that I was able to satisfy every requirement that I had while still keeping it from looking too cluttered (in my opinion anyway), so I'm very happy with it.

cp layout
Finalized control panel layout. Click for a bigger pic.


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