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The UniversalPC Concept 01-Feb-2013
I've been working on this for a while in my head - I've done a few prototypes as proof-of-concept.

The benefits of this system are as follows:

1) Uses new hardware (not old stock or second hand stuff which is unreliable and has no warranty)
2) Generic you only have to worry about 1 type of main board in your spares/warehouse
3) Cheaper/Less time consuming that buying/finding old hardware
4) Full recovery system using my custom USB recovery device.
5) Rapid recovery time - I am hearing customers who have had there PCBs in for repair for like 6weeks - 6week downtime is a joke - if you had the replacements in stores, you could be up and running in the same day!

Tell me more!

This is how it would work, I'd suggest some certain types of main boards which you can find locally in your territory, you'd then send me a unit and let me know what games you want on the system - I would build USB recovery image and supply you with a master USB drive (from which you can create your own USB pen drives - depending if you want to offer your end user the ability to re-install on site) also you'd buy the hardware (you could buy all the hardware direct from me also, but I'd have to put my % on).

Because you are buying the hardware directly you have control of the budget and do not pay the massive overly priced costs when going to the arcade spares dept in the various establishments, you also kill the middle man repair centre.

But, doesn't this mean you are putting yourself out of business??

Well, no - The pricing would be a one-of fee initially to convert a game to the new PC platform, this would give you the USB recovery system to create replacement PC units of a set game - also you would need to buy authorised blank SSD drives from me - only my SSDs will work with this system, and these SSD will be set per-organisation (so you can not swap recovery images/or clone the images manually) - this also means other people can not rip-off my work (like I’ve seen in the past! Although I am aware nothing is 100% safe, especially when it is Windows based!).

The cost of the blank SSD would be cheap anyway, around £50-£60.

What do you do exactly?

I take the "original" game, remove all the old hardware drivers from the WindowsXP embedded system, and replace with the new mainboard configuration - all the other aspects stay the same - the original windows files, game files, game security (I do not condone/nor endorse removing security from games) and what not - you can't merely install Windows XP vanilla and hope these things will work - most games have there own tailour made XP embedded configuration with the correct drivers for what they need, be it a certain video codec, or a immersion USB driver - once the game is working 100% (sound, video, network, etc then I seal and shrink wrap it for the automated recovery USB system).

So how do I use it?

You build up a PC there, with your bought in main board/cpu/ram - fit the SSD drives you buy from me, and install the USB recovery dongle - on the power-up it will build up the game/windows from that – to work just like the original (the process generally takes from 3-20minutes depending on the size) - then the game will be ready for using - plug in the I/O, security dongle and you'll be away.

Why do you use USB recovery and not CD/DVD?

I use USB for a number of reasons

1) 4GB/8GB USB pen drives are cheap
2) All new main boards are USB2 and USB transfer rate is as good/if not better than CD/DVD
3) It's small and robust!! CD/DVDs are not!
4) Most PCs in for repair there CD/DVD drives are either dead or clogged with rubbish/dust and these are just more hardware taking juice from the PC (especially when they are only used for recovery!)
5) Most people don't have the restore CD/DVDs anyway!

Why do you use SSD (Solid State Drive) for storage?

1) Price, SATA HDDs are generally 250GB or higher – for arcade we do not need such a huge drive!
2) Reliability, SSD do not having moving parts, they generate hardly no heat and use hardly any power!
3) Most PC arcade games use a file write filter – meaning hardly any data gets written to the drive – making SSD the perfect candidate.

What kind of games would work via this setup??

RawThrills - Fast and Furious,Superbikes,Drift,etc
Global VR - NFS GT/Underground/Carbon, Nascar, Aliens, Frightmareland, PGA Golf, etc
Sega - Ford Racing, Sega Rally 3, Grid

Pretty much any PC Game from 2002-2009 that doesn't require dedicated hardware (or locked down via a bespoke linux kernel).

I am looking for feedback and also I am looking for potential investors - email me on andy@andygeezerservices.co.uk
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