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Anyone that knows me knows that since an early age I have loved arcade machines. I remember spending many a wet summer's afternoon during a family holiday in a smokey arcade rinsing every bit of pocket money on the new, must play titles. Ever since those glorious days I have longed for my own arcade cabinet allowing me reanact some of my all time favourite gaming experiences in my own home without the need for a pile of 10p's!!!!!

 

Upto a few years ago the only way to experience these great games at home (excluding the handful that are now available through Xbox Live) was to either buy an old cabinet with the desired mother board or build your own - both either expensive and/or time consuming. However with the price of a suitable PC less than £50 and plans for various cabinets as well as the all important MAME soaftware easily available online I thought now was a good a time as any to dip my toe into the murky world of  home build arcade cabinets!

 

I have decided to post up thoughts, photos, videos and pictures as the project proceeds. Once it is completed I will compile a list of the items used, rough prices and links to websites and shops that have all been integral in making my dream a reality.

 

Welcome to Project: MAME....

5th July 2012 KingofMetal79

Project 1: MAME Cabinet

mame-logo

- First things first, the 'engine' AKA a PC

 

Before we can move onto things such as the cabinet and which artwork would look better on the side, Castlevania or Ghost & Goblins, I needed a PC to run the MAME software (the emulator that plays all the great old school arcade ROMs). As I am using it only to run MAME and few other similar emulators (more on this later) I do not need anything too flashy. However the 'front end', interface software states that your PC should at least have a 1 Ghz processor, 128 Mb of RAM and Windows XP. I managed to pick up a 2.8Ghz Pentium 4 Dell machine with 1Gb RAM off ebay with Windows XP Pro for around £40 and it runs everything smoothly. Therefore a £2000 Alienware, juice swallowing monster is not required! Hooray!

 

Picture3 Picture4

Once the software had been transferred to the new PC and the ROMs up and running within the various emulators I then installed 'Maximus Arcade' (a Windows based programme that allows for seamless interaction with multiple arcade and console emulators while keeping the Windows environment hidden. Ideal for computer driven arcade cabinets) - think of a video jukebox whereby the songs are in fact video games. Here is a video of the aforementioned PC running Maximus Arcade via auto start with a nice MAME intro video

- The Monitor arrives!

 

I finally managed to get hold of a 19 inch monitor (this seems to be the most common size monitor used by a lot of people when they are building a home cabinet) - a Dell 1901FP 19" LCD Flat Screen.

Picture1

- The joysticks have finally been delivered from the Far East...

 

After much deliberation I decided to go with the Combat King dual joysticks. While I could only find 1 review (!) of the joysticks online (and that was for the single stick version) at over half the price of the ubiquitous X-Arcade 2 Player console I decided to take a punt.

Joysticks in their packaging

Joysticks unboxed

Setting up the joysticks was a sinch and I only had to plug them into a USB port - no further drivers were required (unlike the PS3 controllers, which I had been using in the meantime). Once I had configured them to work with the various emulators I was away and playing some classic arcade games the way they were meant to be played within minutes. The buttons and joysticks are sturdy and responsive and there is only a very small 'dead zone'. They seemed to work perfect on everything from R-Type to Street Fighter Alpha. I cannot wait to get these installed in the cabinet. While I am very impressed with them for the price (£59) I still may upgrade to Sanwa sticks in the future...stay tuned.

- Car Boot Sale Bonus!

During a recent visit to a local Car Boot Sale to find rare video game gems I came across two awesome and suitably retro bar stools for the measly sum of £10. They will do nicely...

- Construction begins...

Well here it is, the first photo of the body that will house all this computing /arcade goodness!

 

While still at a very early stage you can see that it is coming along a treat and will be excellent when completed. Some slight adjustments were required to the original plans as originally I was going to use an X-Arcade dual joystick. However (as discussed above) I went for the Combat King double stick and don't regret it. However the dimensions are different and therfore some tweaks were required. However they fit fine and I think look better too!

PRICE LIST: (All prices inc. P&P)

 

- PC = £44.00

- Monitor = £35.00

- Joysticks = £65.00

- Wood = £62.00

- 2.1 Speaker Amp/Woofer = £9.99

- 2 x 5W Speakers = £9.00

- Speaker Cabling = £6.90

- Marquee = £30.00

- Perspex (Marquee) = £7.00

- Perspex (Screen) = £19.00

- Marquee Retainer x 2 = £4.00

- External Hard Drive = £50.00

- N64 USB Adapter = £8.00

- Paint = £10.00

- Wheels = £5.00

- Light and Fittings = £8.99

 

Total = £373.88

Since the last update I have also managed to obtain a small 2.1 channel amp/subwoofer combo and two 5" 5W speakers (not dissimilar to the ones you would find in a car) to deliver all the music and sound effects of the golden era of the arcade.

- Colour Scheme...

As construction on the cab continues and moves into the final stages, it is time for thoughts to move towards the artwork/colour scheme/marquee. After much thought i have decided to go for a TFTV theme! Originally I was going to opt for a classic game theme (ie Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2 etc) but as reproductions of the art are quite expensive or hard to acquire I have plumped for a more unique, original look. Below is a rough mock up of what the final product should look like:

This model diagram was created using Google Sketchup 8. I simply downloaded a generic arcade cabinet design and amended the colour scheme and added my marquee design and control panel art.

This is a photo of the cab after the first coat of paint has been applied. I think the yellow maybe a tad bright! Therefore i think i might tone it down a bit and get a slightly duller colour. Up next the screen and bezel.......

A few days later and its time for a quick 'dress rehersal'' and time to install the control panel, monitor and screen... I also purchased a strip light for back lighting the marquee and it has been decided to repaint the sides black for a more traditional, classic look.

In the Home Straight - Now the sides have been repainted, the light installed, speakers fixed in and besel painted all that is left to do is get the marquee printed up. Once the guys at Gremlin Solutions have printed my marquee, she will be good to go!

While the cab may have a temporary 'dummy' marquee this is the first shot of the cab fully set up and running. Eventhough I experienced a few problems with the joysticks everything seem to work fine and we had sound from the speakers....result! Once the marquee has been printed it can be installed and we will be ready to go. Not long now....

After months of work the cabinet has finally found its home in my front room. And here it is....while it still has a dummy/retainer marquee (for the time being), I still think it looks awesome!

Epilogue:

After a few months I decided to revisit the design and and the control panel.

2013-05-27 21.54.05

Some final tweaks that saw me upgrade both sitcks to Sanwa, add a coin slot, replace the white sealant along the speaker panel with black sealant and also a instruction card....

Cab Final