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Pump Haven :: My Home Pump Setup
4:12PM CST :: 10/25/09

 

My Home Pump Setup

article by adonis_minus_20

 

Introduction
This is a write-up about my home Pump setup, consisting of three parts. Part one is a review of pads that I bought from Technomancer on the Pump Haven forums. Part two is a write-up on Pump bars that I made out of pipe to use with the Technomancer pads. Finally, part three is a brief write-up on a base and border that I made for the pads. Hopefully this information will be useful to anyone who might be considering buying pads from Technomancer, or wants to learn about how to make a Pump bar at home, or just wants to see what is possible for having a good home setup without buying an arcade machine. I'm not saying I wouldn't want an arcade machine at home, but being low on cash, this was the best and only way for me to go.

Technomancer Pad Review
I bought two metal PIU pads from Technomancer on this forum a couple of months ago or so, and had been wanting to do a review of them. I finally have gotten around to taking some videos and have some pics and I'm ready to go.

Price:

The pads were $300 each plus $70 shipping for each. Technomancer took the time to explain exactly what I'd be getting and how the pads are constructed and answered all my questions, so I could make an informed decision before buying them. Payment for these was done via Paypal.

Construction:

It took about a month or so for construction, but I think he had a couple of pads that were already partly through construction, so your timing may vary. Technomancer doesn't make pads as a business, it's more of a side job thing, so he only makes them to order and doesn't have any stock around. I can't speak for his availability to make pads for anyone, your best bet would be to PM him on these forums and ask. He also makes DDR pads as well.

I created the graphics for the pads (they don't come with the pads) using some images I found on the net. I had to resize them and crop them and they didn't look so great, so I put some sharpening effects on them using Photoshop. I had them printed out at Kinkos and laminated and I think they turned out pretty nice (total cost was under $70).

Shipping:

Technomancer packaged the pads up for shipping in a very good and secure way, but FedEx still managed to damage them. I hate FedEx, they suck big time. It was a very f'd up situation, but Technomancer took the time to help me through what to do to deal with it. In spite of the damage, the pads still worked perfectly and he was able to help me repair some things and gave advice and instructions on how to handle any problems in the future that could occur due to the damage (two corners on each pad were damaged).

Design Comments:

The pads have seen a lot of play over the past couple of months and have held up perfectly. The design uses stainless steel for the top of the pads and acrylic panels over sheet metal for the buttons, which are screwed into the MDF base. The contact design for these uses a sheet metal plate that sits over four metal contact bars that when the acrylic panel is stepped on, it causes the sheet metal to depress and contact the four metal contact bars that trigger the button press. A DB9 cable and connector comes out of the front of the pad to connect to a USB Control Box For TX Metal Pad which goes into a USB port on the PC. These pads are only for PC usage, which is all I wanted. You could build a control box to use for PS2 or XBOX, but I think there are far better things to play on the PC for Pump. I use JoyToKey to map the button presses to keystrokes for the Pump PC based games that require keypresses. These pads work directly with Stepmania and appear in Windoze as a regular game controller - USB Deluxe Dance Mat. The other thing that's included with the price of the pads are rubber anti-fatigue mats to put the pads on during game play. They really help to use and the pads don't slide around at all. There is some movement of the pads that occurs with really crazy songs, but it is very minor and won't cause any issue. At the most maybe after a set of several intense songs, you may need to adjust them an inch or so. Oh and one more thing, these pads are heavy, probably like 50 lbs or so. Finally, the pad dimensions are arcade accurate (button and non button panel and size and spacing).

The other part of the design for the pads is that they have no border on the sides. The pads for doubles are not connected in any way as well. I want to at some point create a base for the pads to rest in with proper spacing for FS/NM and also with bars for each pad. For now, the pads just sit next to each other with a little space in between them, and I use a chair for a bar, lol. As I said before the pads don't move around much at all, so you can play FS/NM with them although the spacing between them isn't correct. I suck at FS/NM, so I'm just trying to learn and get started for now. I mainly play singles on crazy difficulty.

Usability:

These pads are great! Very responsive and fun to play on. I don't get any misses that aren't my fault, if I step on a button, it works. The way the pads are designed, the buttons feel and respond like the arcade pads. When you step on a button, it depresses some and you can feel it, very similar to the arcade. The pads don't have brackets on the corners of the buttons like the arcade, so that is a difference. I play at the arcade quite a bit, and the most I've seen is that it takes a couple of songs at the arcade to adjust to the brackets being there. End result is at the arcade I have to lift my feet a little higher off the pads when playing, no big deal at all. I find that anything I can pass at home on the pads, I can pass at the arcade, and there's nothing I can pass at the arcade that I can't pass at home. Also, the button panels are recessed slightly from the non button panels, so you can feel where you are on the pad without having to look down. Triples are easy to do, and feel the same as like on good arcade pads. Only other thing these pads need are a base for them to rest in and proper spacing for FS/NM and bars and then they would be perfect.

Adjustments to the sensitivity of the buttons is done by loosening/tightening the screws that hold the acrylic panel to the top of the sheet metal and base. Also, craft foam can be used to shim up underneath the sheet metal and the contacts as needed. I haven't bothered with this yet, as the response was perfect out of the box. The only thing I get on some of the buttons, is that the screws have to be a little on the loose side for them to be responsive, seems to be mainly the center step. Technomancer told me that the craft foam can be used to shim up underneath the button and then I could tighten down the screws more. Also, on some of the buttons, the graphics tend to move around some after having played for awhile. Double sided tape could be used to hold them in place better, but that could damage the laminated graphics, so I haven't bothered with that. If I want to adjust the graphics, I just take off the acrylic panel and adjust the graphic sitting on top of the sheet metal.

Looks:

They look great and the graphics look good too (pats self on back)!

Durability:

I have played many, many hours of intense games and these pads hold up perfectly. There has been no change in performance or responsiveness, and I don't take it easy on the pads. I play just as hard as I do at the arcade and I don't get any feeling like the home pads are not sturdy or that I'm worried that they'll break from just using them normally. I can stomp and do and have no issue, they're very well made.

Pics and Videos:

Here are a couple of links to pics and videos of the pads. Please keep in mind that I'm not the greatest player or anything, I would consider myself intermediate, so be nice. I didn't put up any videos of FS/NM as I'm just not good enough to do so yet. I tried to pick some songs that are difficult for me and to show that the pads can hold up to intense play. There are harder songs that I can't do, but I'm sure the pads can handle it no problem.

The songs that I uploaded videos for are (all crazy difficulty unless noted):

Winter
Procedimientos Para Llegar A Un Comun Acuerdo
Another Truth (to demonstrate a ton of triples)
Hasse Mich (Hard)
Treme Vook Of The War Remix
U Inside My Dim Memory
I'll Give You All My Love
Summer - Speedy Mix
Witch Doctor
Very Old Couples

Pad And Setup Pics Slideshow

You Tube Videos

Conclusion:

These pads are awesome and I highly recommend them and Technomancer. He was great through the whole buying process and always took the time for any questions that I had. If you want pads that are arcade accurate and have a very similar feel to the arcade for play at home, then these are for you.

Homemade Pump Bar
I made a pump bar following instructions from this thread:

Pipe Bar Instructions (credit to eaglefan101 on stepmania forums)

When I first put the thing together with 1' pipe lengths for pipes B and C (referenced in the instructions), the bar was way too high for me at like 41.25" high from the base to the top of the bar. I had to then take the thing apart and then use 6" long pipes for B and C, this made the bar be 35.25" high, much better. Also, I changed the length of pipe A to be 18" long rather than 28" (makes the bar not as wide across). I also used 1.25" thick pipe rather than 1.5", as the thinner pipe just felt better to me. The final dimensions of the bar are 35.25" x 22" x 12.75".

I'm making a base for my pump pads and out of the leftover plywood for that, I had four pieces 12" x 34.5" cut out for the bar bases. I thought that 12" wide would be long enough for the flanges (called floors in the instructions) to fit and be able to put in bolts for all of them. As it turns out 12" was not big enough, f me. Since I already had the wood and it was extra, I decided to use it anyway as a base and see how it was. The base is actually two pieces of 23/32" thick sanded plywood that I glued together that measure 12" x 34.5". In the pictures I have the second base plywood piece sitting behind the one with the flanges bolted in. I was just testing the thing out and it definitely needs a bigger base to be more sturdy, I'm thinking maybe 15" wide would be good enough.

The whole thing is a bit ghetto at the moment, I didn't paint the bar or anything or the base and I have to get more wood cut out and redo the base anyway. I still have another bar to put together, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I used 1/4" x 2" carriage bolts coming up from the bottom of the plywood base and through the holes in the flanges to attach the bar to the base, then covered each with a lock washer and nut.

Putting the thing together was a slice of pure hell. If you haven't worked with pipe before, and I hadn't, it sucked big time. You definitely need a plumbers wrench, which I did use, to have any chance of tightening the pipes and connectors. I went to Home Depot to get the pipe, and they cut it to my specified sizes. The cutter they do this on uses oil to lubricate the pipe for cutting and threading. I had no idea about this and left Home Depot unhappily surprised with a bunch of heavy black, oily, smelly pipe, lol. I had to get a degreaser and clean all of them up, what a pain.

I had some trouble putting the pipe together and it was hard to get everything symmetrical and even. In the end, the bar was slightly higher on one side than the other and I had a tough time getting the four flanges to sit flush with the legs screwed into them. I did finally get the thing fully together, lined it up on the plywood base, marked my holes for drilling for the flanges (also when I found out the base wasn't wide enough yay, so only 3 holes in each of the back two flanges have bolts).

So I drilled the holes, hammered in the bolts to be flush with the bottom of the base, put the bar flanges over the bolts, put on the lock washers and nuts and tightened everything up.

Here's a link to the pics:

My Homemade Pump Bar

I played for 3 hours today testing it out, and at first the base was sliding around some even though it is really heavy, so I put some non slip grip roll stuff underneath (like is used on shelves or under carpet or whatever) and that fixed that issue. The base was a little wobbly because it wasn't big enough for all the flanges, so I put the other extra plywood base behind it and that did the trick, much better and very sturdy. Downside is I have to get more wood cut and glue it and drill it again and blah, blah, blah, to have a real base of the proper size.

The bar worked really well for game play, but there's just something about it that doesn't feel right. I'm not sure if it's the height of it or what, or maybe it's just because my hands (and entire body) hurt and are sore from wrestling with the pipe in putting it together yesterday.

I dread having to put the second bar together with the several hours of fun that I had with the first one. I will post back with any updates or anything else I've learned from doing this.

The following are comments regarding further changes to the bar that became the second and final version:

I again took this stupid bar apart and changed out pipes B and C with 8" pipe for each. This makes the bar come in at 37" high. I'm happy with this height and I'm not going to change it again. I had more plywood cut, now at 18" x 35.5" to have enough room for bolts to go in each flange and also to provide for the proper spacing between the bar and the pads. This makes the bar very sturdy now and feels right to me. The height of the bar was off before and the bar was too close to the pads, so it felt strange, now it feels like the arcade to me, very happy :) Also, I added some grey pipe foam insulation material to the bar for a cleaner look and also for holding onto the bar.

Here's the link to new pics of the bar:

Homemade Bar V2

Another thing I learned from doing this is to use "Pro Dope", no it's not weed, it's a joint compound lol for pipe threads to make the pipe easier to put elbows and tees on and all that, very helpful.

I can't believe that I still have another bar and bar base to build, I'm so exhausted from working on this project that I started since this past weekend.

Pad Base
I just finished the new base for my Technomancer pads and I'm very happy with how it turned out. I'm really not good at this do it yourself thing and I actually didn't screw this up, very happy :)

I made the bases for the pads so that they would have a border all around and have the proper spacing for FS/NM. I did take some tips from Technomancer in using bolts and tee nuts for the left and right borders of each pad. This makes it easy for me to be able to remove the borders and take the pad out if need be for maintenance, etc. The front and back borders are glued in with Liquid Nails glue and then with wood screws.

The base is made of 23/32" sanded plywood that is 35.5" x 34.5". The front and back borders measure 35 1/2" x 1/2" x 1 1/8" and the left and right borders measure 33 1/2" x 1" x 1 1/8". All the borders I had custom made/cut by a woodworking shop, as Home Depot would not make these sorts of cuts. I think the wood for the borders that the woodworking shop used is poplar, which looks nice.

I used Liquid Nails glue to glue the front and back borders to the base and then marked my drill holes (8 for each front/back border) for the #6 x 1 3/4" flat head wood screws. After the glue dried for the borders, then I drilled my pilot holes (use a drill bit that is smaller than the wood screws and don't drill deeper than the length of the screws), and screwed in all the wood screws.

The left and right borders I put in place and clamped to the plywood base so they wouldn't move, and then marked off my drill holes (7 for each left/right border) for the 10-32 x 5/16" coarse thread tee nuts and 10-32 x 2" round head slotted machine screws. I drilled these holes using a 3/16" drill bit and drilled all the way through the borders and out the bottom of the plywood base. After drilling all the holes for the left/right borders then remove the left/right borders and flip over the base and drill into the bottom of the base into these same holes using a 1/4" drill bit, but only drill as far in as the length of the shaft for the tee nuts. Insert the tee nuts into the holes for each left/right border and hammer them into place until they are flush.

The last thing that's needed for the base is the cutout in the front border for the controller cable. The placement of where the controller cable comes out is not standardized on each pad and does vary, so just measure where the cable comes out on each pad. Since the front border is 2" longer than the pad, make sure you're marking the right measurement on your front border before you make any cutout. I made my cutouts be 1 1/2" across with the cable centered inbetween and 3/8" deep on the border. I didn't do anything fancy here, just used a small utility hand saw and then sanded the edges down a little so the cable couldn't be damaged. The wood is only 1/2" thick so be careful with it.

Take the base and place it where you want it to be for gameplay (I suggest on top of the anti-fatigue mats that come with the pads) and carefully slide your pad into the base, being careful with the controller cord and placing it into the cutout in the front border. Put the left/right borders back on and then insert the 10-32 2" round head slotted machine screws into the holes in the borders and tighten them up. The base is now done!

One note after having played quite a bit on the pads being in a base. If you have extra room on any of the sides between the pad and borders, you'll want to stuff something in there to take up the space and keep the pad from moving around in the base. I used more of the anti-slip stuff on a roll, like is used in shelves, under rugs, etc.

Here are the pics:

Homemade Pad Base

I didn't even get a chance to play on them yet, but I will tomorrow. I'm so exhausted from all these projects, I'll be so glad when I'm finally done. All of this is making it that I can have a very close to arcade experience at home and has been worth every effort and penny.

Also, an update on the pads and bar, as I had a chance to play tonight. The pads sitting in the base must weigh like 90 lbs or so each and are definitely very stable and don't move around. Somehow by putting the pads in a base, they became even more sensitive and responsive than before and they were great before. The bar worked really well and was very sturdy with only a little movement after playing really intense songs, and I think this was due to the bar base not being on anti-fatigue mats like the pads. The bar must easily weigh like 50 lbs or more and I could easily rest my whole weight on it without issue. The bolts, nuts, and lock washers held the base of the bar down securely and didn't come loose at all during an entire session of almost 3 hours of heavy duty play (at least as much as I can do).

It was really great to play on this setup now and all I need to do is finish the other bar and I'll be done. I hope to get it done this weekend and I'll have more pics of the whole thing, double bars and all :)

Completed Project

I finally finished the 2nd bar yesterday. I like how this one turned out better than the first one I put together. I played a good long session yesterday and I'm very happy with the results. I suck at FS/NM but with this setup, I think I can really work on it and have a chance to improve. The bars have a little bit of movement at times during intense songs, but not enough to cause any issue. I got better scores on this setup than what I was using before (no bars, chair as a bar and no base for the pads). When I get a chance, I'll put up some gameplay videos on my youtube channel, also some FS ones (but very easy ones like 8's or 9's or so).

For now, here is a link to pics of the completed project:

Completed Home Pump Setup

So, to summarize it is possible to have a good home setup that closely replicates the arcade experience at a much cheaper price. It was beyond my ability to make the pads in the first place so I bought them, but I was able to build good bars and a base and border for them. I'm very happy with this setup and how it all turned out and happy to share it with the Pump Haven site.