So I was bouncing around youtube one night and I hit upon several videos of home made arcade machines with light up RGB LED pushbuttons. Ho-Lee-Cow! My mind was blown. I want to go to there. And by going there I mean going to groovygamegear.com.
There are several manufacturers of RGB LED push buttons but I went with the Electric Ice 2 from Groovygamegear.com (GGG) because of all the outstanding things I’ve read about them both as a product and GGG as a company and I haven’t been disappointed by either. I’m sure there are many alternatives made by other manufacturers but my machine will be mostly GGG products based on other reviews and recommendations.
Of the two varieties of LED lit buttons I chose RGB LED’s over the standard color LEDs such as the GGG Nova Gem LEDs for several reasons:
1. Nova Gem LEDs while very bright in well lit areas I found them to be a little distracting for me when I’d like them a little less intense. I would think they probably cast a reflection against the screen while playing a game. Well I’m sure you could turn them off during games but then you lose the point of having them light up in the first place.
2. They are never available. It almost looks like GGG stopped making them or they sell out incredibly fast since I’ve never seen any available on their website. I’m sure there’s still a market for them since many people have used them and they still have them listed on their web site but I haven’t contacted Randy (from GGG) and asked him why they are never in stock because plainly, I am not going with them for this machine. YOU could ask him, though. He sounds like a very nice guy, tell him I said “hi”.
3. OK maybe I should have started with this one but here it is at number three:
Nova Gem LED = 1 Color
Electric Ice 2 RGB LED = Thousands! Freaking thousands of colors to play with! Yeah, the unlit button is a dull white color but that’s just the cone waiting for the ice cream!
Maybe in some future arcade machine (not that I am planning at all on making at the moment) I will use single color Nova Gem LEDs but for now I want a party machine! Like this one! But without the crappy music.
By the way, even though I decided to use RGBs I still really love Robert Downey’s work on his Arcade Odyssey. This is a beautiful machine.
So I order my first batch of 7 Electric Ice 2 buttons along with a 32 port LEDWIZ (a circuit board needed to make your RGB LEDs shine and dance) from GGG.
Some of the research I’d done online led me to believe wiring up some LEDs wasn’t that difficult. I believed what I read, but I never had any electrical experience wiring things and now I began feeling in a bit over my head. In my past I have been known to “wing it” at times and I’ll admit, some of my plans for this machine are still in the “wing it” stage but I REALLY don’t want to fry anything expensive. So yeah, I’m a little bit intimidated. Time to do some more learn-a-ma-fa-cation.
So I poked around online again, re-read the installation instructions sent with the LEDWIZ, rechecked my work, carefully wired up the one switch the good people at GGG sent me pre-wired and lo and behold… it works! When I first saw this button flicker to life I nearly fell out of my chair. Then I installed the software and changed the lights and created a few simple patterns. I know, to you its not a big thing but inside, I was all like: