Jump to content
IGNORED

How to get started building a MAME cabinet


atarilovesyou
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi guys. I've recently read through a book a few years old (and already quite out of date) about how to build your own MAME cabinet.

 

What I'm asking for is some advice on how to go about doing this. I have an old PC that will be running the MAME program. The games are going to be pre 92, and no fighting games like SF2.

 

My goal is to build a multi-cabinet similar to what you saw in the late 80's arcades, with a control panel setup very similar to Double Dragon: two players, three buttons each (in a triangle pattern, if memory serves, rather than a straight across three).

 

I'd like an independent four way stick in the middle (or some way to go from 8 to 4 way, I've seen some sticks with magnets that allow this without removing the sticks), with a spinner for Arkanoid style games as well. I'm thinking I'd like a trackball too but things are getting kinda crowded at that point.

 

Since I also like the rotary firing sticks you find on games like Ikari Warriors, I'd like to incorporate that too (somehow).

 

I'm pretty sure I want a CRT, not some digital screen.

 

I want all leaf-switches for joysticks and buttons, with the red-ball top sticks (rather than bat-style).

 

I'd like a simple but inviting front-end for game selection, that allows for random games to have their attract modes on for reasonable amounts of time (or a single game, if possible).

 

I'd love for me never to have to access the keyboard (as in, I don't want a shelf specifically for it), or a good way to have it hidden.

 

I also would like to get the whole system setup so that you have to actually drop quarters into it to get the games to start...just for fun.

 

I'd like some kind of custom marquee and bezel, and come up with something for the side designs at some point.

 

Soooo..the question is, is this a project that's doomed to fail before it starts? I wonder how many of you here who have done such a project actually saw it through to completion.

 

I'm tired of using my X Arcade an laptop :D It's time to get this project on the go for 2017 :D

 

Any tips, thoughts? Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use Windows XP with the powertoys software so I can autologon and do other things like hiding desktop icons. From there I have a bat file in startup that calls the MAME frontend and then executes the shutdown command once the MAME frontend closes (I have a button wired up inside the coin door that shuts down the front end). No need for a keyboard. Make sure your computer automagically turns on when power is applied.

 

I use Kymaera as a MAME front end because it was the one that could get me up and running quickly. You can dress it up all you want with kewl graphics and the like but I don't have time for that I just have a text listing for games. But nobody ever takes my advice on using Kymaera.

 

I use keyboard encoders from Hagstrom Electronics.

 

I buy 19" LCD monitors from Suzo-Happ. I'm pretty sure you can get all your buttons, joysticks and spinners from there too. I've bought controller parts from Mike's Arcade as well.

 

It sounds like your control panel is going to be the size of a coffee table. So with that in mind, please don't kill an arcade cab and build yours from scratch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My $.02:

 

What I'm asking for is some advice on how to go about doing this. I have an old PC that will be running the MAME program. The games are going to be pre 92, and no fighting games like SF2.

If you are building a full cabinet then that means you have space for an old PC; in other words, you can skip the Raspberry Pi and get a better version of MAME running on a PC that you could probably find in the classifieds for $20.

 

My goal is to build a multi-cabinet similar to what you saw in the late 80's arcades, with a control panel setup very similar to Double Dragon: two players, three buttons each (in a triangle pattern, if memory serves, rather than a straight across three).

Not a bad choice at all--you won't be able to play fighters, but you said you don't want to, and those are pretty much the only games that benefit from more than 3 buttons (with few exceptions). You may want to consider 4 buttons if you like Neo Geo, but even many of those games don't need 4.

 

I'd like an independent four way stick in the middle (or some way to go from 8 to 4 way, I've seen some sticks with magnets that allow this without removing the sticks), with a spinner for Arkanoid style games as well. I'm thinking I'd like a trackball too but things are getting kinda crowded at that point.

 

Since I also like the rotary firing sticks you find on games like Ikari Warriors, I'd like to incorporate that too (somehow).

I'd go for some quality 8-way sticks for the 1- and 2-player main sticks and not compromise them with switchable sticks. A dedicated 4-way is really nice to have (I use mine all the time) but you need to weigh the benefits of the different control types because you can't have all of them without your control panel becoming ridiculous. There are very few reputable games that make use of the spinner; best I can tell, the only good reason to get one is if you count Tempest and/or Arkanoid among your must-haves. There are lots of trackball games. As for the rotary sticks, to have them you'll need to either make swappable control panels or have two different joysticks per side. Neither scenario sounds good to me, but up to you.

 

I'm pretty sure I want a CRT, not some digital screen.

Pick up a PC with S-video and get a CRT television for free from a friend.

 

I want all leaf-switches for joysticks and buttons, with the red-ball top sticks (rather than bat-style).

More expensive, but worth it if that's what you want. Do research first.

 

I'd like a simple but inviting front-end for game selection, that allows for random games to have their attract modes on for reasonable amounts of time (or a single game, if possible).

Lots of options. You'll just have to research and make a choice.

 

I'd love for me never to have to access the keyboard (as in, I don't want a shelf specifically for it), or a good way to have it hidden.

You can use some kind of remote desktop software, or pick up a wireless keyboard that you set aside for the rare moments you need it.

 

I also would like to get the whole system setup so that you have to actually drop quarters into it to get the games to start...just for fun.

Should be easy--pick up a coin door/mech, install it, wire its switches up to your "coin in" inputs.

 

I'd like some kind of custom marquee and bezel, and come up with something for the side designs at some point.

Sky's the limit.

 

Soooo..the question is, is this a project that's doomed to fail before it starts? I wonder how many of you here who have done such a project actually saw it through to completion.

I designed and built one from the ground up, similar in scope to what you've listed here. It took a long ass time, and cost me close to $1000, but I've used it steadily for 5 years and counting.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pick up a PC with S-video and get a CRT television for free from a friend.

 

Great recommendations overall. This is the only one I saw that might be a bit iffy. Is S-Video out of graphics cards even a thing?

 

If you are building a cab and are going with a CRT, I would assume the arcade RGB look is what you would want, so you would go with something that takes VGA or DVI. I'm not sure if there were any consumer-grade televisions that take these inputs, but CRT computer monitors are probably a dime a dozen if you know where to look (screen size is the only potential there).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great recommendations overall. This is the only one I saw that might be a bit iffy. Is S-Video out of graphics cards even a thing?

 

If you are building a cab and are going with a CRT, I would assume the arcade RGB look is what you would want, so you would go with something that takes VGA or DVI. I'm not sure if there were any consumer-grade televisions that take these inputs, but CRT computer monitors are probably a dime a dozen if you know where to look (screen size is the only potential there).

Yes, you can get S-video on PC video boards.

 

My "main" MAME cabinet uses either a 20" or 21" CRT monitor (can't remember) through VGA, and I like it, but in absence of any filter effects, there's no mistaking it for anything other than a computer monitor. And I use old crusty PCs for MAME, so filtering is usually not in the cards.

 

I have a second "garage" setup that consists of an X-Arcade tankstick mounted on a pedestal that I built. For the computer on that one, I bought an old PC for $40 or so off some guy who salvages old PCs to sell in the classifieds. I asked the guy if he could fit it with an S-video card from his pile of parts, which he did. I used that to connect the PC to a 27" CRT TV I had collecting dust in my garage. It worked great, and did a far better job of looking like an arcade screen than the VGA computer monitor. Computer monitors in general are too sharp, which is usually a benefit, but not for replicating the look of arcade monitors.

 

I don't use the CRT TV on the pedestal rig anymore because it took up too much space, but it was cool while it lasted.

Edited by Cynicaster
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...