Inside the Stinger
There's one more of those "cab-friendly" design decisions visible on the top of the panel, namely the chrome hex-head screws that hold the top panel in place. These screws can be easily removed using the included hex key, and once they're out the entire top panel just lifts off. With this mounting system there's no need to completely remove the control panel from a cab just to get inside the panel.
Inside I found an impressive attention to detail: the wire routing and bundling was exceptionally well done. Everything inside just screamed quality (maybe it was just the black melamine coating talking to me). Whatever the reason, it certainly looked like one of the most professional panel interiors I've ever seen.
The bundling on this cabinet was one of the tightest I've witnessed: it seemed like there were cable ties every three inches or less. Nothing is ever working loose on this panel, of that I am absolutely certain.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Stinger is powered by the Ultimarc MiniPAC encoder. This is becoming a favorite encoder among both retrogaming companies and hobbyists, since it combines a full keyboard encoder and both trackball and spinner encoders into a tiny package. The MiniPAC is preset for the standard MAME button layout, but can be easily reprogrammed using the included utility software.
One additional use of the MiniPAC in the Stinger is to provide power to the trackball light. A small incandescent bulb is mounted directly under the translucent blue ball, and is powered by the MiniPAC (which itself draws power from the USB port).
The trackball glows with a diffuse, even light. It isn't as intense or bright as using an ultra bright LED, but in dim conditions the trackball really looks nice.
Wrapping It All Up
The Stinger ships with a few extras, such as a "goodie bag" that includes the hex key to open the top panel, a spare trackball bulb, and even a spare microswitch. This is an unusually nice touch, even if you'll probably never need the spare switch.
Also included is a CD with the MiniPAC programming software and a 10-page manual in PDF format. The manual is concise and clear, and despite its spartan length provides the information you need to know.
It's obvious that Game Cabinets Inc. puts a lot of care and attention into their products: from the excellent packing job for shipment to the meticulously bundled interior, the Stinger is a class act.
While I have do some reservations about a few of the layout choices and some of the stylings, the Stinger is indisputably an extremely well built control panel. At $449, the Stinger is comparably priced to competitor's products, and is more than capable of delivering that "arcade perfect" feeling that a retrogaming enthusiast craves.