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Sound Voltex Controller Buildlog Part 2: Fabrication

I know it’s been like 5 months since part 1 of this buildlog. Since then, I’ve finished this Sound Voltex controller (and even 2 more). Luckily, since I’ve made 2 more recently for friends, I still have a pretty recent memory of what I had to do to fabricate the controller.


Sound Voltex! Better late than never!

Sound Voltex! Better late than never!

Top Panel

First step is to fabricate the top panel of the controller, which includes a wood panel, paper art, and an acrylic panel on top.

Top panel parts

Top panel parts

To make these parts, I used a laser cutter to cut some 1/8″ inch cell-cast clear acyrlic and 1/4″ MDF. I made sure to choose cell cast acrylic because it engraves nicely. From earlier, I used Photoshop (which is probably suboptimal for this) to create vector designs for these parts for the laser cutter.

Laser cutter at work

Laser cutter at work

(It’s kinda interesting that I definitely probably spent a lot more time designing out these parts than actually fabricating them, that’s the magic of laser cutters I guess.)

One nice thing that a laser cutter also lets you do is to use it to cut into the paper art. That means not having to spend an hour carefully cutting lines with an xacto knife. One thing that this requires though is a registration mark or something similar to line up the laser and the art. Otherwise you run the risk of the laser cutting random lines into your art.

I highly suggest buying some extra pieces of acrylic to do test pieces if you’re doing a complicated engraving like in my case. Mostly to make sure it looks nice. I had the best results by keeping the protective paper masking on and turning up the power of the laser slightly when engraving. Also, be sure to reverse the engraving in this case so that the engraving side is down and the smooth side is the playing surface!

After the cutting, the parts still needed some finishing. Mostly, the screw holes needed to be widened using a drill press.

Drilling out screw holes in top panel

Drilling out screw holes in top panel

For the acrylic top panel, I also made sure to use a countersink bit so that the screw head sits flush with the surface. For any sort of playing surface, I highly suggest doing this countersinking.

One thing I should’ve done differently the first time is that in the above picture, I had already taken off the protective paper masking when I really should not have. Not having the paper mask when doing things like drilling holes makes it so that the acrylic panel might get scratched in the process (which happened to me, not a big deal but it’s extra work later to get the scratch out).

Another good thing to do with any playing surface is to make sure that the edges are beveled so that they’re not sharp.

Beveling acrylic top panel edges

Beveling acrylic top panel edges

This is done pretty easily with a few pieces of 200, 400, 600 grit sandpaper and carefully progressively wet-sanding the edges at an angle. Just be careful not to scratch the main surface while doing so. (Even if you do though, that’s just extra work later to buff the scratch out).

Finished acrylic top panel

Finished acrylic top panel

Main Body

The next step is to make the main body. I mainly used 3/4″ MDF to make mine. Not having CNC knowledge, I mostly made the body using normal woodworking approaches.

Not wanting to be boring though, I opted to make an angled box that matches how the arcade machine looks:

Sound voltex arcade machine example

Note the angled playing surface at the bottom

At its most basic, the body is made up of multiple 2.5″ wood planks that are attached together. A sheet of 3/4″ MDF was sliced into a bunch of 2.5″ wood planks using a table saw. All of the joints are simple butt or miter joints that are glued together with wood glue. Luckily, the angled joints are all 20′, making mitering fairly easily using a miter saw.

Main body + top panel

Main body + top panel

To support these joints and to have somewhere to place the screw inserts later, I also added some square dowels at each of the corners. These were also glued into each of these corners and drilled into. Then, some #10-24 screw inserts were coated with some epoxy and inserted into these holes.

The supports at the angled corners were incredible pains to deal with since the 1.5″ square dowel I had was too small to job using a miter saw. I ended up having to glue some scrap pieces together, measure out 20′, and cut off the excess using a band saw.

Gluing was also difficult due to the angled shape. I ended up just not clamping the angled joints which resulted in the boards not positioned quite right.

Gluing the joints together

Gluing the joints together

After all of the glue dried (and let that stuff dry for way longer than the bottle says!), I filled in all of the gaps using wood putty. Probably due to imperfectly glued angled joints, I ended up having to use a whole bunch of putty for those joints in particular.

When all of that stuff dries too, it’s time to sand it all until it’s smooth:



Besides sanding all of the surfaces flat, I also made sure to bevel the underside of the top panel since those are edges that are used when picking up the controller.

Painting Top Panel and Body

After the wood top panel and body are done, it’s time to finish them off by painting. Before actually painting though, since it’s MDF (which is porous and soaks up paint), the surfaces need to be prepped and sealed beforehand. A cheap and easy way to do the sealing is to use wood glue.

Sealing the MDF before painting

Sealing the MDF before painting

For all of the exposed edge pieces, I just rub undiluted wood glue into them. For the other surfaces, I make a mixture of about 60-40 wood glue/water and brush that over the surface with a foam brush.

After that all dries, sand it all down with some 300grit sandpaper until it’s nice and smooth. I used a power sander here to make that part faster. All of the surfaces should be nice, smooth, and hard after this.

Sanding down the sealing

Sanding down the sealing

After the pieces are prepped, then it’s time to paint. I did all of my painting using spray paints which are kind of expensive but convenient and easy. The goal for this paint job was to get a nice and glossy finish. Glossy finishes involve a lot of prepwork since it’s really all about getting the smoothest surface possible.

First step is to prime the pieces using a high build primer. These primers are meant for painting cars and are nice because they also help to fill in gaps.

Priming the pieces

Priming the pieces

I did this in 2 phases: coating and then sanding with 600grit sandpaper when dry. Then repeat. The particular primer I used didn’t take very long to dry so I was able to finish priming and do the first color coat on the same day.

First color coat

First color coat

After priming, next are color coats. This part takes a few days due to drying.

For each “coat”, I put down about 8-10 light coats of color spray paint and then 5 light coats of clear coat. Then, let the paint dry overnight. After that coat dries, wet-sand the paint with 600grit then 1000grit sandpaper.

Wet-sanding color coat.

Wet-sanding. Yay.

For this controller, I put down 2 of these “coats” which took about 2 days. After the color coat dries and it’s sanded, then it’s time to finish the painting by doing a final clear coat of 5-10 light coats. After letting that dry overnight, then it’s time to do a final sanding with some 1000 grit, 1500 grit, and 2000 grit sandpaper.

After all of that, it’s time to actually finish the piece by using a rubbing compound and then a swirl remover.

Right side: no rubbing compound, left side: rubbing compound

Left side: no rubbing compound, right side: rubbing compound

And after all of that work, here’s what it looks like:

Shiny black piece

Shiny black piece

In my case, I think it could’ve been better if I hadn’t chose to use lacquer spray paint for some reason. Using enameled spray paint gave me a much smoother finish than the orange peel-ish finish I got from the lacquer paint. It also might have been that I didn’t seal the MDF as well as I could have.

 Bottom Metal Plate

To give the controller some heft and stability, I decided that the bottom plate should be made of sheet metal. I used some 16-gauge steel sheet metal for this.

Since I knew that my wood body had already deviated from my initial measurements due to gluing issues, I decided that it would be much easier to just use the finished wood body as a stencil for cutting the sheet metal.

Fitting the metal plate

Fitting the metal plate

I just used a scribe to mark the lines where the metal should be cut and used a pneumatic sheer to actually cut the metal into shape. Since it was all straight lines, cutting the plate into shape was actually incredibly easy.

Filing the metal plate

File down the edges!

For the metal plate especially, it’s very important to file down the edges and corners since otherwise it could cut your fingers when handling.

Since bare metal plates are boring, I also decided that it would be cool to powder coat the plate to protect the metal from corrosion and color it.

That involves first prepping the plate by sand-blasting it and then cleaning it thoroughly. After that, baking the parts in the powder coating oven for a bit to finishing prepping it.

Pre-coating baking

Pre-coating baking

After the plate dries, then the plate is hooked up to the booth using copper wires and a charge is placed through the whole booth. Then, using a powder coating gun, powder is applied to the plate and sticks to the plate due to the charge. It’s a really clean and easy process which results in a really nice, even coat.

Powder coating the plate

Powder coating the plate

After that, the plate just needs to be baked in the powder coating oven for 20min or so so that the powder cures.

Bake at 450F

Bake at 450F

The final finish is really smooth and due to the powder I chose, really shiny and sparkly! It’s so shiny I can take selfies with it!

Powder coating selfie

Powder coating selfie

The last part is to add some feet to the plate. I used these feet that are meant for PC case mods.

Case feet

Case feet

They ended up not being fit for the #10-24 screws I needed to use though so I drilled the hole so that it fit.

Left: widened hole, right: original

Left: widened hole, right: original

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20 Responses

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  1. DangoReaper says

    What did you use for the circuit board? I read that most people use lanman kits but no amount of searching gives me any leads.

  2. The Bonkler says

    You can use a lanman or an arcin for the board. Getting the lanman kit is a pain though, I had to ask a friend to buy one for me.

  3. unbekn0wn says

    Im new to building arcade controllers, but what kind of board do i need to connect LEDs and Buttons and the 2 spinners. Also what kind of spinners do you have

  4. Tor says

    What program do you use when playing? Do you have the real sdvx program?

  5. Ichi says

    I don’t know if you are reading comments anymore… I hope you are.
    Could you tell me how did you made the 2 spinners? Did you just bought lanman kits or did you bought rotary encoders separately? I think lanman has disappeared from the internet,thus not selling anymore kits.
    Thanks !

  6. The Bonkler says

    Sorry for not responding, been kinda busy with other stuff.

    @Ichi (and @unbekn0wn)
    The lanman kit comes with quadalature encoders and knobs and that’s what I used. You can also use an arcin and just buy your own quadalature encoders and knobs too.

    There’s a SDVX simulator called kshootmania out there.

  7. Pheebz says

    Hey, i coudn’t find the lanman OR the arcin boards online, you woudn’t happen to have a link to either of them?

  8. Ichi says

    Thanks for your answer The Bonkler.

    @Pheebz: I ended up buying an Arduino. The actual Lanman board is a Teensy board,both works. Hope that helps : I’ll be writing a complete guide (english and french) about the making of an SDVX panel.

  9. Ichi says

    Oh,Arduino Leonardo by the way. I don’t know for the Teensy model but you need one who emulates both keyboard AND mouse.

  10. unbekn0wn says

    Thanks for the info people, but what kind of quadalature encoders do i need because there are encoders that feel a click or don’t and the resolution of the encoders how many clicks per revolution

  11. Ichi says

    If I recall right,some people on japanese forums (or 4chan,I can’t remember) claim to use 24 pulses per revolution rotary encoders. SDVX use non-clicking ones,but I think you can use clicking ones without any troubles. I bought some cheap chinese encoders off ebay,they doesn’t seem to work though.

  12. Pheebz says


    Cool, i actually looked into the Arduino a while back, just coudn’t get a good picture about whether or not its a good fit.

    Also just out of curiosity, do you happen to know what kinda rotators does the arcade version
    originally use? I decided to get the sanwa buttons for original arcade feel, so i’d like to follow trough on the knobs too.

    The guide sounds cool, any pointers where to find it when its done?

  13. Ichi says

    It is. You have enough room to wire everything on the Leonardo and it natively simulates both keyboard and mouse. My code still needs a little tweaking though,but it should be working this evening. I will put the code and the tutorial online here :
    It is a french forum,but I will be translating the full guide soon. I will try to put it on English forums too.

    My chinese ebayed rotary encoder actually work. I don’t know which are used in the official panel,lanman shipped (if I’m right) ALPS encoders while a japanese guide suggests higher quality encoders (see here: I don’t know for the knobs neither,I am sorry.

  14. The Bonkler says

    Yeah, the encoders I use are also 24pp. It’s pretty easy to find non-clicking ones like on arcade on (they’re referred to as “no detent”)

    The knobs on arcade are apparently 30mm wide and tall if that helps.

    @Ichi that’s really cool! Yeah, I also second the Arduino Leonardo or the Micro since they’re really easy to program. I actually used a Micro in a DIY jubeat controller recently.

  15. Ichi says

    Finally got everything working ! Been playing for 2 days without any problems. Here is my guide for the electronics (PDF format) :!aFA1kRDJ!eo0RgIWiTPhyINhiyTYLvghZ88IhQ0gQDh71aiQgxsc

    Feel free to mail me about questions,remarks,and criticism ! 🙂

  16. unbekn0wn says

    I would love to create a controller, so i’ll wait for @Ichi till you got some guides up in english.
    Currently im considering some things to buy or not for the controller.

  17. unbekn0wn says

    And ofcourse this guide because this has a nice explanation for building the case 😉
    Epic work guys keep it up!!

  18. Ichi says

    The guide is up on mega. I still didn’t put it anywhere else.

    Please note that it might change as I’ve noticed a slight lag on FX-R -> I will try to keep people updated on that. It will be most likely a slight modification on the code and/or wiring to change on the Arduino.

  19. TK says

    the guide of sdvx on mega is not avalible now,
    could you upload the file ?
    thank you!

  20. Ichi says

    I am sorry, but my guide is way outdated and was explained really bad anyway.

    I highly suggest following the SDVX Leonardo guide here :

    It’s the exact same thing, but schematics are more clear, the overall guide is easier to follow, everything’s explained better and the Arduino code is better.

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