Because I had decided to go with the Midway style cocktail, I was limited in how I would do the control panels. Lacking the tools necessary to reliably make my own, I was faced with two options, I could buy a Ms. Pac/Galaga sized Panel from Mantis Amusements, (If I ever plan on building another one of these, I'm going to use their Ms. Pac Kit) or a Pac-Man/Galazian sized one from Two-Bit Score. Because I was going to have two fire buttons, I opted for the larger one from Two-Bit, this was advantageous because I wouldn't have to modify the plans for the smaller control panel. I would like to say at this point that Two-Bit is pretty overpriced in their parts, but especially in the graphics/artwork area, they are the only game in town, because they negotiated some sort of deal with Namco. Essentially I was overcharged by $30 for the control panel set, and furthermore they wouldn't sell me blanks, something I had to remedy with bondo.
Since the panels were powder coated, all it took was a wire brush attached to a drill to remove the paint, it isn't necessary to take it all off just enough so you can apply the bondo. Once the bondo hardened, I used sandpaper to smooth it, then Painted it with satin finish black spray enamel, and you can hardly tell the difference. (Though the camera flash does show it.)
Now that I had my blank control panel, I needed to come up with my control scheme, the layout. This can make or break the machine, as a poor layout make the games harder. To design my layout, I used Adobe Illustrator, not exactly a drafting tool, but it allowed me to both design my layout and design the CPO at the same time. After many hours of work and 3 revisions, I had a final version, which I took to Kinko's and had printed on glossy paper. Just a note on print houses like Kinko's their machines are very picky when it comes to fonts and imbedded images, I don't know why, and neither did the person helping me, but ask if they will let you see it on their screen before you print, it will save you time and money.
I printed a special line art version of the CPO at home to use as a drilling template. With the button holes cut, the overlay was simply cut out and them stuck in place with double sided tape I then temporarily installed some of the buttons to make sure everything lined up correctly. Satisfied with the look, I then sprayed the entire control panel (with buttons removed) with 5 coats of satin spray polycrylic, both to adhere the overlay permenatley to the metal and to add much needed durability to the graphics. The satin finish also tones down the gloss of the paper, which I like. After it dries (1 hour between each coat, then let it sit overnight), all I had to do was install and wire up the buttons, and I'm done with the control panels.