My Arcade
Last updated: July 3, 2003 2:40 PM (CST)

My MAME Arcade Cabinet Project.

My MAME Cabinet Project

My Mame cabinet... who turned the lights off?

...Is History...

Sold it for a LOT less than I wanted to at an auction in Milwaukee. Hard come, easy go
Or something like that...

This project started out as a generic JAMMA cabinet. Beats me what it was originally.
It was a Fighter & Attacker Vertical cabinet with a 19" monitor when I got to it.

Now If you're looking at this page, and have NO CLUE what I'm talking about, let me give you
the nickle tour of arcade games.

An arcade game is a large box of wood that's designed to play ONE game.
When that game no longer makes money, it either gets moved to a new location
or gets converted into another game by swapping out the dedicated
computer board and changing the outside controls/graphics.

Since the late 1980s, a wiring standard was created to make converting
cabinets much easier to do. This cabinet wiring standard was called JAMMA for
the Japanese Arcade Machine Manufacturers Association.
The JAMMA Standard uses a 56 pin edge connector (wiring harness) and dedicated
computer boards, to make swapping games easier.

So, I had this Jamma cabinet... And being an arcade game collector, I realized there was
NO way I was going to be able to keep collecting the games I wanted, from both a
financial standpoint, and a space standpoint. Remember, each one of these cabs
is like having another refridgerator in your house, from a space standpoint.

I decided, since I had a spare cab, and since arcade emulation was geting to the point that
games were being emulated at arcade speed, why not sell off the games I had that were
emulated, and make some space in the house at the same time?

And another pic of my MAME Cab... using a flash this time...

So far, this is what I have into my project...

JAMMA cabinet $25.00 Bought it from a friend who only wanted the game boards inside... and I needed a monitor for another game. Sooooo...
Older Compaq computer $70.00 I think it's a Pentium II 400mhz with 128mb ram. Running widoze 98. Bought it from a local store manager when he bought a new PC.
500 MB Hard Drive $50.00 Okay, it cost me $50 like 8 years ago when I bought it, and never used it, to replace the 80MB hard drive in my 386SX/16. Sat on the shelf and what the heck, it still works!
no-name brand
10 Gigabyte Hard Drive
$60.00Bought this on to replace the 500MB drive, and THEN discovered that I can't get it formatted, and the Bios on my motherboard won't even recognise that the bloody thing exists! I will NEVER AGAIN buy another generic brand hard drive (Maxtor all the way baby!) and I'll also
never buy another Compaq computer...
ATI 8MB video card w/TV out $20-40.00? I bought like 6 different video cards trying to get ONE of them to work with the stupid Compaq computer. I figured 8MB would be more than enough video memory to run most of the older arcade games. And I will NEVER buy another Compaq either by the way...
1.5 hours Computer Tech Support $50.00 Paid to someone to actually GET the new video card to frelling work correctly. I got sick of dealing with it. They had to update the BIOS on the lousy motherboard... TWICE... to get it to finally work. Again, I hate Compaq computers. Sony all the way from now on. I love my laptop. :)
17" VGA PC monitor $FREE! Got this one from a friend who works for a PC company. They said it didn't work. He took it home and said it died after running for a few hours. I ran it for over 8 hours without a problem, and then it acted a little jittery. Well, the price was right... and I never play games for more than a couple hours anyway...
I-PAC keyboard encoder board$75.00? I bought this on the recommendation of my friend Steve, and it works quite well. What it is, is a little PCB that attaches to your keyboard socket on your PCB, and then you wire up arcade joysticks and fire buttons and all that. It also Isn't affected by the keyboard "ghosting" that happens when you push too many keys on a computer keyboard at the same time. Try playing a 2 player version of Mortal Kombat on the same computer keyboard and see what I mean. The standard PC keyboard can only accept like 8 simultanious keypresses at the same time before it starts missing them.
Custom Control Panel Overlay $45.00 I custom designed one using graphic elements from Pac Man and several other games and had it printed at a local print shop. It turned out Okay, but I wish it was sharper detail. Some of the details were lost in the printing process. I imagine if I'd taken it to Kinkos it would have come out better. Live and learn I guess.
Plexiglass $20.00 Bought a sheet of plexiglass at Home Depot to cover the control panel overlay. Turned out pretty nice overall, but I should have made the holes slightly larger so it wouldn't crack the plexi when the panel bolts were tightened down. It cracked slightly in a couple locations. Not too bad, but more than I would have liked.
Keyboard & Mouse $30.00 The PC I got secondhand didn't have those items... so off to Office Max I go...
SUB TOTAL $465.00 Of course the total doesn't include things like screws, bolts, paint, Joysticks, fire buttons
(figure an additional $50 at least for those) emotional distress, etc.

The Monitor...

The first major assembly issue I had, was the fact I wanted to display my PC graphics on an Arcade Monitor.
I had a cabinet with a nice clean monitor, so why not use it, right? WRONG! I was going to
use an NTSC to RGB conversion board that I had on hand from an old laserdisk game. So, that's
why I went the extra mile to get a video card with TV out. Well, having not used the
converter board in a while, when I finally fired it up, it didn't work correctly. In fact,
after a while, it quit working completely. So, at this point I figure I'm screwed, and maybe
I should just quit. Well, a friend of mine says he has a "mostly working" 17" computer monitor
that I can have for free if I want it. Well, I take him up on the offer and it pretty much works!
Okay, monitor issues down.

The Control Panel...

Next, the control panel. I wanted to make a HUGE control panel for multiplayer games, as well as
have space for a trackball and rotory knob. So I designed my panel using real arcade controls, and a
large piece of cardboard to lay everything out.

Left side...

Right side with obligatory Sakura 'panty shot' he he he...
In retrospect, I should have tried to find a cabinet that already had a large panel, and modify
it to suit my purposes. Not having such on hand, I had to improvise.

And ALSO in retrospect I should have used MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) to make my control
panel and box. The plywood I used, while nice and lightweight, also sucks up paint like a
sponge and looks crappy, even after being painted. Also, adding in the fact that the plywoods
not terribly thick which means that you can't recess the screws at all, and you also can't add
trim molding to the edges of the box, resulting in a slightly unfinished look.

All images, unless specified, are Copyright 2002-2005 Rook's Castle.