About Me

My name is Daniel Crowley. I grew up and studied in Melbourne, and currently live in Canberra where I work as an IT consultant. I’m a creative thinker and passionate about building things using a combination of electronics, woodworking and technology. I enjoy pulling things apart, fixing things, and making stuff. When something breaks, I see it as an opportunity to learn about how it works. I’m a technology adopter, but traditional in some ways – I still wear a mechanical watch.

Keep reading below to find out about some of my most recent DIY projects. If you’re interested in my professional experience click here.


Headphone Tube Amplifier Build

My first amplifier build – a simple tube amplifier for high end headphones. I had always wanted to build a vacuum tube amp, and this was an easy point to point build, that actually produces some amazing sound for studio headphones, and was a great intro to amp building. I wanted to build a ‘naked’ style piece that looked as good as it sounds, so used a piece of oak with the tubes & heatsink as the centrepiece, with the components exposed on the underside. I use it for a for a range of different music, movies and games – sounds awesome no matter what you play through it, produces punchy mids and good bass. This is based off the ‘Starving Student’ design by Peter Millett but modified for the more readily available 17EW8 tubes as discussed here.



Portable Headphone Amplifier Build

My second headphone amplifier build – this time a simple portable headphone amplifier based on the popular Bass Boost CMOY design. This was a kit build, and I cased it in a modified Nintendo Mints tin. This little amp works great with portable headphones, but even has enough power for my larger DT990s.


MAME Arcade Machine Build

This was one of my biggest, most challenging, and also most rewarding DIY projects. Doing a few hours work every weekend this took me approximately 12 months to complete. I originally got the idea to buy a used cabinet and gut it, but then got inspired to build the entire cabinet and control panel bespoke after viewing some other projects on the Arcade Controls Forums. My vision was to build a cabinet running MAME – but with the look and feel of a legitimate cabinet. A summary of the build specs is listed after the photos. Given the time and effort involved in this build, describing the entire build end-to-end is far beyond the scope of this post! A build summary is provided after the photos.

Final Build
Build Photos (more to come when I find them!)
Build Notes

Control Panel
– 18mm MDF base
– 16mm MDF Top, polyester film printed overlay and 3mm perspex on top
– Black T-molding edging
– 2x sanwa JLF Joysticks, top mounted, with square restrictor gates
– 6 sanwa OBSN-30 push buttons for each player, in astro city layout
– 8x seimitsu 24mm screw in buttons (1 & 2P start, 4x admin and 2x pinball flipper/coin credit buttons)
– X-arcade encoder

Cabinet
– 18 mm mdf everything
– Black T-molding
– Painted (roller) with oil based satin finish
– 2x 120 mm exhaust fans
– Lockable, discreet keyboard/admin drawer below the control panel

Marquee
– Printed on polyester film
– 2x 300mm 12v cold cathode tubes for illumination
– marquee sanwiched with 2x 3mm sheets tempered glass
– Retained with PVC window edging, covered in black electrical tape instead of painting

Display & Bezel
– 21″ sony trinitron CRT vga (one day, to be upgraded to a legit 26″ 15KHz monitor)
– Decased and using my own MDF mount
– Running in single scan mode with native resolutions where available
– Foam posterboard covered in contact paper was stuck over the monitor
– And finally a 6mm tinted, hardened glass outer screen

Sound
– Sound blaster vibra 128 sound card (later changed to a SB Live 5.1)
– Logitech x240’s
– Wired up to some pioneer kevlar dome 2 way 4″ car speakers
– Wired in an external potentiometer with an anodized aluminium volume knob just below the marquee

Coin Door
– Bally Williams double entry door, flush mounted
– 2x imonex quarter mechs, modified to accept AUD $1
– LED globes for reject buttons
– Theres a switch wired in to enable or disable the pinball flipper buttons which act as credit buttons – allowing free play mode, or paid mode

Hardware
– P4 1.8 (later changed to a P4 3.2)
– 4GB ram
– 320 GB HDD

Software
– AdvanceMenu FE (DOS)
– AdvanceMame+ (DOS)
– Boot time is about 20 secs straight into AdvMenu


Racing Sim Rig Build

This was a quick project I built over one of my Christmas breaks. I had a logitech G27 racing wheel which sat in a cupboard for over a year unused – simply because I had nothing suitable to mount it to. The original set up I used for it was a banana lounge for the seat, a coffee table for the wheel, and an old microwave weighed down with books for the gear stick. Not ideal. So decided to build a proper rig to do the wheel some justice. After doing a bit of research, I decided to go with a PVC build inspired by SIMUL8R and Eddy’s PVC rig. PVC pipe is cheap, strong, lightweight and easy to work with which made it perfect for this build. The end product turned out great, and the user experience is exponentially better then the microwave set up I was using previously. The frame is surprisingly rigid and survived some seriously aggressive racing sessions without issue. The adjustable seat and gear stick allowed the setup to be customised comfortably for pretty much anyone of any size.  Photos and build notes are below:

Final Rig Pics
Build Pics
Build Notes
  • 50mm PVC all round. Elbows are undercoated with black paint and top coated in plasti-dip, straight lengths wrapped in faux carbon fibre wrap
  • 18mm MFD for the wheel and gearstick shelves, covered in faux carbon fibre wrap, slot cut and finished edges with 19mm T-Molding (left over from my MAME cab!)
  • The carpet floor is 16mm MDF, with a $2 door mat from bunnings glued to the top. The edges are slot cut and finished with T-Molding (slot had to be off-set to accommodate extra height from mat)
  • The floor and wheel shelves are secured to the frame with carriage bolts
  • The two centre tubes, and gearstick cross-member are secured with carriage bolts and wing nuts to allow the whole unit to be dismantled into 2 parts for easier transportation
  • The G27 pedals are decased, and top mounted to an aluminium U-channel frame
  • The gear mount is attached to the cross member with 2 jubilee clips, that are bolted to the MDF shelf within 2 lengths of U-channel that it recessed around the cross member. This allows the whole gearstick to be positioned anywhere on the cross member. When the clips are fastened tightly, the whole gearstick shelf is rock solid and doesn’t slide or rotate on the cross member. This design took a while, but worked out great.
  • The SAAS racing seat rails are bolted into two pieces of anodised aluminium square pipe, which is bolted perpendicular directly onto the PVC base. The seat is adjustable for lean and reach
  • There’s 2 small castors on the front of the frame, allowing it to be tilted forward and rolled around easily by one person