For my control panel, I decided to gut my x-arcade controller. I removed all of the components inside the x-arcade, and used them as the main controls inside my newly constructed control panel for the cabinet. Since that I have replaced all of the X-Arcade components in the control panel. I never really found a problem with the X-Arcade keyboard encoder, I just really wished it had the "Shift" function that was available on the Mini-PAC. It is for that reason that I replaced it with the Mini-PAC.
Update! Since construction, I have added a Happ Top Fire Joystick and dual Act Labs USB TV Light Guns.
Update! I finally got my Mag-Stick Plus Joystick from Ultimarc. The holes on the mounting plate did not match up with the standard Happ/X-Arcade mounting holes so I had a friend make me a custom mounting plate. The great thing about this joystick is that it will let you switch between a 4-way and an 8-way joystick from the top of the control panel. You just pull up and twist to switch between modes. The standard mounting plate is on the side, the custom plate is attached to the joystick.
Update! I have now upgraded all of the X-Aracade Buttons to Happ Buttons. I really did not have a problem with the X-Arcade Buttons except for a pingy sound when you would press them. The Happ Buttons have a more authentic feel. I did not, however, notice a performance difference between the two.
Update! - 09/03/2006 - I have now converted the control panel over from using the X-Arcade interface to using Ultimarc's Mini-PAC.
Update! - 10/14/2006 - Added a panel mount USB cable for easy access to USB Devices. The panel and cables were purchased from DataPro. The cables were $15.95 a piece and the face plate was $9.95.
Update! - 06/17/2007 - I have updated the artwork on the control panel. I have removed the infamous "black marble" and replace the overlay with the flame CPO from Game On Grafix. Before applying the overlay, I sanded, primed, and painted the control panel top. Hopefully this time, the overlay will not bubble up. The first time I did it, I made the mistake of applying it to bare MDF.