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Buying a Zero machine
4:48PM CST :: 7/05/06
Buying a Zero machine
My wife Yadi and I finally purchased and installed a Zero GX on Monday, June 12! Here's a short video I put together:
A few of our observations about purchasing, installing and owning our own machine, for those of you interested:
Buying from Korea vs. buying from the US
We'd gone through this conversation in numerous threads and direct discussions with folks. The two distributors that came up most often were ChannelBeat and Coin-Op Express. After much research and a visit over to DDR Freak's forums we discovered that it appears as though they may actually be the same company. We'd heard enough horror stories already from people who had dealt with these two companies to avoid them. We decided to buy from the US.
Finding a good distributor and a good price
A lot of the arcade distributors here in the US don't have Web sites and the ones that do frequently make no mention of having any dance machines. We purchased ours from Arcade Distributors of Texas, out of San Antonio. They were a pleasure to do business with, and more importantly, they allowed us to use two credit cards for our purchase! They did say to us, "Why would anyone want a dance machine for their home?" We could only smile to ourselves at their nievete.
The transportation process
Shipping from San Antonio to Austin would've taken a day and cost me $350. As you can imagine we were too impatient to wait even a single day. We needed the machine now . I got the rest of the day off from work and rented a 17' moving truck from U-Haul. We thought for sure this truck would be big enough for the two pallets of equipment. Altogether it was about $150 for the truck and $20 for gas.
When we got to Arcade Distributors we discovered the storage area of the truck was just barely tall enough to accomodate the Zero GX. The machine came without the banner attached on the top. We just lifted the lift gate slightly past where it normally rests when open and the machine slid right in. They loaded the second pallet of equipment and we were on our way.
A quick note on using your own truck. Make sure you provide your own cargo straps. We neglected to rent some from U-Haul and we almost had to drive back to the San Antonio U-Haul from Arcade Distributors to pick some up. Luckily the great folks at Arcade Distributors gave us a spare.
Unloading the equipment
This was the most challenging aspect of all. Because all the truck rental places we called would not rent us a truck with a hydraulic lift gate, we needed to rely on those standard metal ramps you see delivery drivers using. Our worry was the ramp was not wide enough to roll down both heavy metal pads and the cabinet itself. It turned out we were lucky. The metal pads' and the cabinets' wheels were closer together than the width of the ramp's guide rails. We were able to carefully roll both unpackaged pads to the ground and then roll them into our apartment (we're on the first floor).
We contracted the help of my sister-in-law's husband and my sister-in-law for the cabinet itself. This was a tedious process. We discovered that the little screw-in "feet" on the cabinet to hold it in place once positioned would hit the guide rails on the ramp and not allow the wheels to touch the ramp. The guide rails were 1.5" from the surface of the ramp and the screw-in feet were 1.25" from the bottom of the cabinet. To solve this problem we propped up the edge of the cabinet with three 1x3 boards, then unscrewed and completely removed the feet on both sides. The cabinet was very heavy, especially at the top where the screen is. We slowly nudged it down the ramp until we got to the bottom. It helped that the ramp had horizontal grooves every inch or so that would catch the wheels and help us hold the machine steady on its trip. After that it was just a matter of rolling it into our apartment.
Assembling the beast
This was definitely the most fun of the entire ordeal. It took surprisingly long to screw, bold and connect everything together, from the marquee at the top to the pad wires to the brackets that hold the pad together to the bars. My fingers are still sore from all the screwdriver use. My recommendation would be get to get an electric drill. It'll save your hands.
The machine came with a lot of sticky protective tape stuck to almost every stainless steel metal surface, as well as a plastic sheet protecting the screen surface. Plastic sheets protected the floor panels as well.
The instruction booklet was very sparse on useful information. We didn't use it much except to figure out how some of the wires were connected. Mostly my wife and I figured everything out ourselves. Fortunately there isn't a large array of parts since most of the machine is assembled already. The only tools we needed that weren't provided was a Phillips screwdriver.
The machine came 110V-ready, which was a relief. I wasn't sure if I was going to have to make an emergency trip to Home Depot for a transformer. If you buy from Korea you'll most likely get one with a 220V power supply, so that's something you might watch out for.
We finally got to firing her up at about 11:15 PM. After a lengthy one-time RAM check the game started and sound burst forth from the speakers. I must say it was one of the best experiences of my life! The lights flashed, the metal gleamed and the music rocked! The screen quality was exceptional. The larger 33" flat screen (older cabinets were 27" and had rounded CRTs) was sharp and dazzling. The floor panels were solid and very bright.
We loaded up the operator menu and tested all the sensors. I discovered that each button actually consists of four sensors, one on each side of the button. This explains why when I play at Dave and Buster's it seems like only certain types of steps cause misses. It must be that only one sensor needs cleaning/replacing. We've got our machine set to Free Play (of course). We had fun fooling with the different settings, such as Event Mode and Difficulty.
Our first song played was I Love You Baby, Normal, 2x. The responsiveness of the floor panels was incredible compared to Dave and Buster's.
I haven't played since then but I can't wait to get home from work and play a few rounds. I wish some of you lived closer so I could invite you over!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences as much as we enjoyed writing about them.
Nathan & Yadi