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Pad Modding - Tutorial & Thoughts

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It's my opinion that pad modding should fit these 2 basic criteria:

- Arrow panels raised as much as possible without false triggering. Which basically means the arrow panels should be touching the underside of the corner brackets.
- Arrow panels should be as sensitive as possible without false triggering (or getting stuck down). False triggering would be if you stomp hard anywhere on the pad, arrows get pressed from vibrations.

Having the pads modded to follow the above minimize pad crap. Seriously, there are no downsides to having pads be less recessed and more sensitive (yet not oversensitive.) One warning before I start is that if your play style isn't already sort of good, doing this may hurt your scores for a while until you can get used to it. Hitting 2 arrows at once is probably the most common thing, especially on faster stuff, but that's a form issue, not a pad issue (This video comes to mind as an example.)

Where to begin... sorry if this is out of order. Please excuse the horrible quality images, I'll be getting clearer ones up eventually. Also as a side note, the inside of our machine is REALLY DIRTY (sorry 'bout that) but it does not effect how the pads preform, so I don't clean it out too often - maybe once every 3 months.

Background Stuff??:

Below is Figure 1. It's important to see where the bracket rests on top of the sensor. The two red lines indicate the width of the bracket as it will sit on top of the sensor. The bracket directs the load from the arrow panel to where the sensor is most sensitive (in between the red lines.) When modding pads, you want to keep the force applied somewhere between those 2 red lines.

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FIGURE 1:  Sensor.

To get the first point across, I'll use Figure 2. Take off an arrow panel, and head to your test input menu for this one... or not. Posted Image Try pressing with one finger on either side of the L-bracket, but close to the edges of the bracket (where the arrows are pointing in Fig 2.) Now that you have an idea of the sensitivity at the edge of the L-bracket, press in the middle of the bracket. It's very likely that you have to apply a significantly larger amount of force to cause the sensor to trigger. Without going into huge detail, this is because having a point load hit the sensor is much more effective than having a load spread out across the entire thing - less force is required to trigger the sensor when either edge of the L-bracket is pressed rather than the center. Keep this in mind.

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Using the idea from the above paragraph, Figure 3 shows a top down view of our up arrow (a lot to talk about with this picture *sigh*.)

If you actually went into the test input menu from above, you may also have noticed that some sensors are more sensitive in some areas than others. It's important to keep track of where each sensor is most sensitive so you can make the best use out of what you've got.

Figure 3 shows from the (+)'s where I have the modding material built up the most, and as a result where the (+)'s are is where that arrow is going to be most sensitive. Sensor 1 should be one of the better sensors you have, as it needs to have a good sensitivity in two areas. Sensors 2&3 need only be good on one side, and Sensor 4 doesn't matter because it will be unplugged. Long story short, from this you should be able to tell that I don't apply modding material across the entire bracket but rather focus on the edges.

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FIGURE 3:  Top down view of our up arrow.


Now that we have some bg information out of the way, What you need & What to do:

- Craft foam that has is sticky on one side. The foam should be around 2mm thick, about the thickness of a SD card for reference (fist object I had on my desk that was close.) Something like this.
- Masking tape, or duct tape. Masking tape is preferred because it's thinner. Someone also suggested painters tape so you can easily remove it if need be, which is an excellent idea.
- I'm assuming you have a pair of scissors and an allen wrench to get your arrow panels off

So Basically* to start off, you should figure out what you have to work with sensor-wise. You should figure out which sensors are your 4 best, and 4 worst at least. It would be beneficial if you figured out for the rest which end of the sensor is more sensitive. Looking back to Figure 3, Sensors 2 & 3 only have a (+) on one side, which is what I'm talking about. The sensors in those spots need to be good at least under where the (+) is. Another helpful thing is to have the inside sensor for your up arrow be the most sensitive one you've got. During play, your center of gravity is likely not in an ideal spot, and the up arrow gets missed the most because of it. Having the inside sensor of the up arrow be your most sensitive (even slightly oversensitive) will ensure that you'll hit it even with the slightest tap.

Next, you want to remove any modding you've got on there already, that is unless you love it too much, in which case why are you reading this? Take everything off of the L-brackets down to the black foam. You can remove the black foam too if you'd like. Personally I'd say get rid of it because it's another variable you'll have to deal with, one kind of foam is hard enough to get right as is.

After you get all the foam removed, I'd suggest at this point giving the inside a good cleaning, mostly just with a vacuum. Get all the loose dirt and old foam out as best as you can. Next, you can stick your sensors back in with the most sensitive on the inside, and least sensitive on the outside. Don't plug in the outside sensor, but plug the other 3 in. Stick the arrow panel on with a few of the brackets, but don't screw them in. Just get an idea of the distance from the top side of the arrow panel to the underside of the brackets, because that space is what you're going to fill in with modding material.

[Modding pads this way takes a long time to get right, since the foam compresses slowly over time up to a certain point, then it stops. After you mod the pads for the first time, you'll have to play for a while, then mod them again, then play, mod, play, mod, etc. until the foam stops compressing.]

For our pads, I first cut a piece of the foam to cover the entire bracket, I did this for each bracket. I then took some masking tape and put a couple strips on top of the foam, where the (+)'s are in Figure 3. I try to have some of the tape hang out over the end of the bracket so I know that the very edge of the bracket will get pressed instead of somewhere else. I stuck the arrow panel back on, and it was nearly perfect, so I played for a little while, and the foam compressed a bit, so I put a couple more strips of tape. Over time (like... weeks) the tape builds up to a good amount and you can take some off and substitute it with a small piece of foam (see Figure 4). Just keep any modding material you add under where the (+)'s are and you'll eventually get the desired result. Make sure the arrow panel stays somewhat level throughout the process too. Since you're not adding tape/foam to the outside L-bracket, every once in a while you'll need to put some modding material there too.

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FIGURE 4: If you look closely, you'll see the buildup of modding material at the edges of the bracket.

To test for oversensitivity, stomp as hard as you can anywhere that's not the arrow panels. If you notice sensors firing, you're oversensitive and need to remove some modding.

I've had our pads modded this way since July '11, and as of now, I barely have to go into them anymore. The machine is in a crowded arcade setting, so it gets played probably for about 10 hours a day, everyday, and the modding holds up. I'm super picky with pad sensitivity, and yet they still remain excellent through all the abuse. Maybe about once a week I'll notice an under-sensitive spot on one of the arrows that I'll need to fix, which is me just adding 1-2 layers of tape nearest to the problem area... and that's it. As I've stated before, 2-4 lbs of force is about all it takes to make any arrow trigger, and it's not oversensitive. The arrow panels are firm, but not to the point that they cant 'slide' around a little bit like normal panels.


Random Tips:
- If you have a sensor that barely works, try putting it in upside down. It's amazing how huge of a difference that can make (we even did this at Mad Matt's house during Bearpocalypse for one of the arrows.)
- The corner brackets have 2 screws in each of them, which in all honesty is incredibly redundant. You can remove one of the screws from each of your corner brackets and have no issues. There's also some strategy to this, on the inside brackets for each arrow remove the screw closest to the center panel.
- When putting sensors back in, make sure the wires aren't going to be pinched. Figure 3 has a little circle near the Sensor 4, that's where I'm talking about. If the wires are overlapping there, the arrow panel will eventually cut through them, which is real bad.
- Another way to make under-sensitive sensors better is to stick a few pieces of tape underneath your L-bracket. If you look closely at the left side of Figure 2, there is a piece of tape bent to go under the bracket a little bit. I don't do this too often because over time the tape migrates sometimes into a place you don't want it to be. But in a worst case scenario, it works wonders.


* Shoenice reference

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