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Old April 13th, 2001, 05:42 PM   #1
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Post The perfect forum to describe my new project....

Someone needs to talk some sense into me, because this project is just way too cool for me too pass up. Tell me I'm insane, or that it won't work, or something that will keep me from doing this over the summer....

As some of you may already know, I am a fiend for MAME, after having virtually grown up in arcades during the early 80's. I always dreamed of buying a few arcade cabinets for my home, I could just never decide what games I wanted. Now, I reason that I don't have to decide, I'll just build one cabinet for 3,000 games....

This project is posted Here, though I suspect the cost is not quite correct, since I can scrounge a lot of what was used, or have access to some of the things he paid for. My estimate ran closer to $1000 total.
More examples of other MAME cabinet projects can be found Here, courtesy of the [email protected] site.

As you can see, I'm hardly the first to have this notion.

Can't be too hard to pull off, just takes some money...the PC doesn't need to be powerful, my old 400 ran most of the games, so I figure a 600 will do fine, and parts for that are cheap. The real expense is in the monitor ( a TV tube will work, so I am told), and the control panel...The above cabinet has two player slots and one 4-way stick for older 4-way only games (DK, Pac-Man, etc). So far the panel I've designed will run about $600 in parts, including the keyboard encoder, trackball, and spinner assembly, as well as all joysticks and buttons. It will look similar to this design:

But with a few modifications. It will probably be the first thing built, since I can use it on my current machine until the dedicated machine and cabinet are complete. The parts are split up among different vendors, turning a $600 order into manageable chunks I can do each payday

The cabinet? No problem, something I could build in a few days at the shop (my job does have its perks), and cart home.

So...there you have it. An insane dream, but unless someone can come up with some good reasons not to do it, I'll have it done slowly but surely...


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Old April 13th, 2001, 05:53 PM   #2
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Hell, I'd do it in a second if I had the means and the know-how.

Plus that control panel is wicked.

Talk about a killer conversation piece.


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Old April 13th, 2001, 05:53 PM   #3
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Wow, that's soooo totally pants. Good luck.

Hey, if your little gamble actually works, you might be able to market these things (that is, if you can get the rights from their respective companies). I know I'd like one of these...

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Old April 13th, 2001, 05:58 PM   #4
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Check out the links I posted, and dig through the [email protected] site links, and you'll see that some people actually do market them...but they're proud of their labor (rightfully so , I guess), and they're expensive. The cheapest one I found was about $2000 (for an upright, www.hanaho.com) and the drawback for me was the control panel...2 sticks and some buttons just isn't enough, especially for Star Wars, Karate Champ, Smash TV, Robotron, etc..

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Old April 14th, 2001, 09:39 AM   #5
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I think I'm going to try this project next summer.

I can't/won't be able to this summer, but I'm definately going to try this when I have the time and money to dedicate to it. I'm going to have as tripped out a control panel as any with (easily) switchable panels for games like Toobin' and those Tecmo games that have the neato button on the joy stick.

I'm going to check out sites to see what other have done.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 07:01 AM   #6
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I am going to do this right away. Seriously.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 08:12 AM   #7
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Dammit, I can't stop thinking about making this.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 11:58 AM   #8
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Go for it guys, just read up on a lot first, especially the control panel aspect....that's where most of the headaches and high costs are. So far I've spec'd all the control parts I need, and it runs to about $550 not including shipping costs, or wiring (free for me). My PC spec so far is a Duron or Celeron 600 (likely a Duron), a mobo w/integrated LAN and sound, 128 MB RAM, and an ATI Rage Fury 32 vid card (mainly for the TV out, not decided between monitor or tv tube). The deal for the CPU and mobo will determine if I buy a case or just mount the hardware inside, since it's sometimes cheaper to buy a case with a power supply rather than a ps all by itself...might get lucky and get a package deal, barebones case w/drives and power supply cheap.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 02:01 PM   #9
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and what's with the pinball flippers? Is there some kind of pinball games on PC or some emu of it? They just seem like a waste to me.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 02:19 PM   #10
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Xero, few questions for you...

- is there a way to make it so that a joystick can be switched from 4-way to 8-way?

I'd like to have 4 controllers, but have that, a trackball, and some additional 4-ways would be cluttered

- how about driving games? Are you considering a shifter and/or pedal and/or wheel?

- where are you getting your parts? Will you be ordering them new?

- do you know of a DETAILED faq to making this work? Ideally, I think it would be best to rig a keyboard type device so that it sends specific commands when I press a button. I don't really care for the idea of breaking apart a Gravis Game Pad. How do you intend to make this happen.

I'm 100% behind this and it will be done. I'm designing it this week and building next, so the sooner you can reply, the better off I'll be.

Also, I'd be happy to post pictures, measurements, and plans here. Like Xero, I may do it in stages, and the most important is getting the hardware working right.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 02:27 PM   #11
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Frank,

I posted about Pinball "Emulation" in the PC Forum. I don't know iff a true Table could be emulated, but there are some "Real" Pinball games on PC (They are simulated down to their diagnostics and LCD Setup screens) and would work on this cabinet spec.

I see no reason some of the controller panel could not be Modular. An Axis is an Axis no matter how you slice it. Why not have maybe the Battlezone type controler be able to swap out for a wheel? I imagine there will be some sort of way to configure what controllers are active and which are not..

Just brainstorming...



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Old April 16th, 2001, 06:22 PM   #12
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I'll get back to the discussion in detail when I've got more time, fg, but for now, read through this site on building arcade controls. I'll probably be back before you're done. They've got most of the know-how and links to suppliers for parts. The method of using joystick innards on the above example is a bit clunky compared to using an encoder. And yes, there are selectable 4/8 way joysticks at Happ...more on all that later.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 06:26 PM   #13
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thats a good idea, what games are you gonna put on it?

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Old April 16th, 2001, 10:18 PM   #14
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If the above file actually shows up, it describes a bit of what I was thinking. The left joysticks for each player are rotary, a must for Ikari etc...The sticks on the right have a fire button, for whatever, as well as working in tandem with the spinner for games like Tron. I'll add more buttons at top left, probably a playerstart/coin in for 4 players (and configure for Gauntlet etc....).

The yoke will be moved to the front of the panel, and the center section will tilt up for games that use a yoke, removing access to the trackball and 4-way stick, and when it's tilted 'home', the yoke will be out of the way of the ball and stick. Eventually, I may build a cocktail table solely for the 4-way games, and re-do the panel to simplify it

The controls are emulator specific, usually assigned for each game and then saved. All the panel is doing is tricking the computer into thinking that the joysticks and buttons are a keyboard, and that the yoke, spinner, and trackball are a mouse. My design will actually end up with PS/2 and serial cables that plug into the PC

The following info refers to stuff you learned from the Build Your Own Arcade Controls site....

So far I've mapped out 56 or more possible inputs...the above example actually maps the right stick to four of the white buttons for each side to minimize ghosting. I may or may not follow suit depending on how many inputs I can have with Hagstrom's best keyboard encoder. The shifter may or may not make it in, since a joystick might be able to be mapped for use as a shifter.

I plan to use Hag's top of the line keyboard encoder (www.hagstromelectronics.com), without the trackball interface, and add a Hag trackball/spinner interface separate. I'm led to believe that the interface option does only track or spin, and I need both, hence the separate units). I've toyed with the idea of pedals, but I don't know whether I should get analog or digital or both or how many. It will probably end up being one analog.

Read up on the parts of the site dealing with hacking a keyboard, using an encoder, or hacking game pads. I vote the encoder route, even though it's more expensive. I want to wire up the panel, plug it into the PC, and never worry about ghosting, locking keys, or not being able to interface analog controls.

Some people have built panels that can be swapped on the cabinet, so you only have what you need. I figure that's a pain, so I'll just gob everything together. The twin joysticks should work for Battlezone type games (hence the fire button on the second stick), and the yoke for all others.

As for games, right now I've got about 150 arcade games that run on MAME, not counting multiple revisions of the same game. A few that come to mind:
All the Pac-Man games, all the DK games, most of the old Konami and Capcom shooters (19xx, Gyruss, R-Type1-3, CAW, etc) Spy Hunter
Star Wars/ESB/Jedi
Ikari, Mercs, Devastators, Cabal, .50 Caliber
Alien Syndrome, Lifeforce, Space Harrier, Outrun, etc.
Tron, Tempest, Galaga, Dig Dug, Xevious, Vindicators, Battlezone, Assault, Sector Z, Klax, Tetris, Paperboy, Time Pilot.
The twin sticks are for Karate Champ, Robotron, Smash TV, etc.
And about a billion others I still need to download.

I'm also running RAINE (like MAME, only different) and System16 (older Sega games based on the sys16 chipset, like Afterburner and AB2).

I'd kill to get a working copy of Mach3, or an emulator that will run that game. It 0wn3d in the old days.

I've also debated running the older console emulators on the cabinet, from Atari/Coleco up to the NES/SMS.

Cabinet design will follow something like the above example. It would be cheaper and easier to build it out of particle board and paint it like an old cabinet, but I like the tastefullness of the woodgrain design. That one is out of oak, I'll probably use birch since it's cheaper, and stain it dark to an almost cherry color. The lit marquee is a must, and feet that can level the cabinet. I'm not putting in a coin door, though I plan to have doors in front and back for access to the innards. They'll be flush/piano hinge style, possibly with pressure-spring magnets like you see on entertainment center doors. I'll have 2 plates in the back, on for a single power connection and one with an ethernet jack to make updating easier. The keyboard drawer is pretty sharp, and I'll build that in too.

I've read that some people have gone through the trouble of using old arcade monitors, since they'll accept an RGB signal. Some have used a TV hooked to a video card that has composite or S-Video out, and most just use a monitor. I can find a 27" tv cheaper than a 21" monitor, and the ATI card is cheap, so I'll probably do that. It'll have to be obtained local, or else the shipping will kill me.

The marquee and control panel will be covered in Lexan. Most people use Plexiglas since it's cheaper, but it's hard to work with, especially if you don't have the proper tools or experience. Drilling or cutting it can cause it to crack. I've dealt with it enough to say the hell with it, and go for the more durable and user-friendly Lexan. You can also hit it with a hammer and it won't break

That about covers it. If it weren't for Uncle Sam and his &%^$#@@#$ taxes, I'd already be started on it, but I'll have to wait a few weeks before I start ordering parts. First will be the control parts, and I'll asseble a panel in a box. that way I can use it and test it with my current PC. Next will be finding a monitor, then building the cabinet to house everything. When that's done, I'll get the PC parts (cpu, mobo, memory, etc), since the price on those is sure to drop over time...by then, a 600 MHz Duron will be less than lunch money

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Old April 16th, 2001, 10:30 PM   #15
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Got a digital Camera?

When you start building this thing I really would like to see the progress, in pictures. =)

If I had money to spend I'd love to invest in something similar. Hopefully all goes well for ya.

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Old April 16th, 2001, 10:31 PM   #16
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no, but a friend of mine does. he already understands that he has to document the process or else he won't get to play.

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Old April 17th, 2001, 02:50 PM   #17
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I'll provide full documentation - blueprints, production photos, etc. I'm still flip-flopping between 2 designs right now though.

#1 Arcade Cabinet
#2 Transformer coffee table

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Old June 1st, 2001, 12:34 PM   #18
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Xero, I'm still interested in doing this. It's been a few years since I've tried to tool around with MAME. There seem to be a lot of versions out there of it. Can you recommend a couple of sites where I can get MAME (and possibly some ROMs)?

Have you made any progress on yours?

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Old June 1st, 2001, 09:49 PM   #19
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That seems cool as hell.

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Old June 3rd, 2001, 10:36 PM   #20
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fuck dude, you got me hooked. I'd love to see your progress with this project, and If all goes well, I'll give it a try myself. (You can be my guinea pig, mwhahahaha!)

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Old June 21st, 2001, 09:26 AM   #21
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DOOOOOOOOOD i want ONE

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Old June 24th, 2001, 08:47 AM   #22
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That is sooooooooo freaking cool!!!

An alternative would be to pick up an older arcade machine at an auction or on line. Most arcade owners get rid of their machines once in a while.

The advantage here is the fact that it will be a genuine arcade machine and it's cheaper.

The disadvantage is that you only get one game and it could be worse for where and tear.

Check out the Nov. 1998 issue of EGM for more. (#112). It tells you all about what to look for in a used arcade machine, including differant types. Some allow you to swich games.

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Old October 1st, 2006, 06:25 PM   #23
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Old October 1st, 2006, 06:46 PM   #24
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He completed his years ago.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 06:59 PM   #25
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Quote:
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He completed his years ago.

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