The Gameroom

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Around 2004 we moved to our new home featuring a 2,000 sqft walkout basement. Perfect for pinball. After several years of construction I had an 800 sqft finished space for a dedicated gameroom with mini-kitchen.

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The mini-kitchen (a.k.a. the adult beverage and snack center).

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Belle is in charge of gameroom security, parts cleaning and ping–pong ball retrieval.

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Scruffy is in charge of exploring open coin doors.

The retro bar table and stools are from Bars and Booths (www.barsandbooths.com). I highly recommend this place for your retro furniture needs. For a touch of '80s arcade decor I added a "Space Voyage" black light rug under the table. At first I wasn't sure how to pop the rug with all the other ambient room light. Then I decided to add black lights directly to the underside of the table. I used four F15T8–BLB florescent black light tubes. The effect is just what I wanted. The fixtures are wired together and the main cord is routed down through the table pedestal. Although the fixtures require only two-conductor power cords, I used a three-conductor main cord and grounded all the metal table parts.

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Retro bar table and stools from Bars and Booths.

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The patterns are Red Glacier Boomerang and Red Cracked Ice.

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"Space Voyage" black light rug.

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Under table black light fixtures.

Lights and other Doo-dads...

I racked my brain trying to come up with a creative color scheme for the gameroom. But I ended up with plain white walls and ceilings. Maybe I'll do some painting someday. But for now I decorate with colored light. General lighting is provided by several chrome bathroom light bars fitted with colored compact spiral fluorescents. The bulbs have an interesting shape and provide some mellow color without much power and heat. The light bars are an efficient alternative to an expensive collection of neon. I found racks of these bathroom fixtures for $5 to $15 at Habitat for Humanity stores.

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Bathroom light bars for gameroom lighting.

Update: I've done some rearranging and things now look a little different from the pictures above. I finally settled on a lighting scheme after a few years of tinkering. There's a soffit running the length of the room and I found I could mount lights on the sides of the soffit without causing glare on any pinball playfield glass or backglass. Shorter people see a bit of glare at the top of the backglasses, but it's not too bad. Altogether I have three eight-bulb light bars on each side of the soffit for a total of 48 spiral fluorescents in red, yellow, green and blue. I don't know how to get decent pictures of the effect. In real life the color and shape of the bulbs are plainly visible and there's a neat alternating color effect down the center of the room. Yet the colors combine to light the games in a more even white. Overall the room might be a bit brighter than what most people would prefer for a gameroom, but I like it that way.

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Bathroom light bars for gameroom lighting.

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Bathroom light bars for gameroom lighting.

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Here's a flipper wall plate for a light switch. Click for construction information.

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An illuminated stained glass Penn State logo. Click for more information on this piece.

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A fake neon "OPEN" sign from Home Depot and a real "PINBALL" neon.

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"Yuengling" neon.

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Octopus floor lamp and gumball machine.

Here's a Hi-Tec Art Cube, a 64 color LED matrix. It runs about 30 minutes before repeating any pattern. I was on the fence about this (it's not cheap) until I read about quadrupling its apparent size with a pair of mirrors. Check the video below.

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Hi-Tec Art Cube.

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--EXTERNAL LINK-- Click image to go to YouTube video of the Hi-Tec Art Cube with mirrors.

I thought about constructing a pub shelf around the gameroom's central column. Instead I simply ordered some teak drink holders from a boating supplier.

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Teak drink holders.

Here are some old electronic items I got from my father-in-law (who worked for Bell back in the day). The meter on the right requires AC power and runs on vacuum tubes. The phone is plugged in and works. I don't know anything about antique telephones, but it appears to be cobbled together from different parts. The wood box with the ringer is clearly not original. It all makes for an interesting gameroom display.

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Antique meters and telephone.

The basement also has a man-friendly bathroom. I always wanted my own urinal.

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Electrical

The gameroom is powered from six outlet circuits. There are three unswitched circuits for games. There are three switched circuits for lamps and neons. I settled on the convention of double boxes distributed along the walls at four foot intervals. The left-side white outlets are unswitched. The right-side ivory outlets are switched and correspond to a bank of three ivory switches near the room's entrance.

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Switches and outlets.

There's also a system of 2'x4' florescent ceiling fixtures when bright light is needed.

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Big lights.

Since there are no windows in the basement, I added a battery-powered emergency light. It simply plugs into a wall outlet and turns on when the power goes out.

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Emergency lights.