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Old 05-31-2005, 05:36 PM   #1
JCJones86
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Default MAME Cabinets

Anybody build one? Pics? I plan on putting one together this summer. <img src=smilies/thumb.gif>

Also, any cool ideas of yous guys would be helpful. I'm going to try to balance out price with features, but I'm sure nifty things to include would make me dig a little deeper into my wallet!
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Old 05-31-2005, 06:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

I built mine about two years ago. Buy an http://www.ultimarc.com/I-PAC</a> for your control hook-up — trust me. I was trying to hardwire everything into the keyboard matrix. One wrong wire and you fry the keyboard port of your motherboard so it won't boot up again. Set me back a long time losing that board.

Basically I demoted my old desktop to my machine. It's an Athlon 850MHz with 128MB RAM and an All-in-Wonder-128 card. Not the most powerful machine around — in fact with how great the Midway driver is, it can't even play Mortal Kombat. But it runs every SNK and Capcom game perfectly and that's what I wanted. Internally the cabinet is a load of parts from all over.

The monitor is a 21" 1989 Toshiba television set I got for $19. It had degaussing problems. When you're dealing with a screen 7 inches from your face, that's huge enough. I went with an actual TV monitor instead of a CRT because I like scan-lines, the games were made for them, and trying to emulate scan-lines is a total joke (it's not at all as simple as drawing black lines).

The sound system is an old Sony receiver that the headphone jack broke on back in 1996. I had it laying around so I put it to good use. I think the speakers I used were 7" woofer, 3" mid-range and 1.25" tweeter on right and left sides. The computer and everything else is wired up to a series of switches on the top-back end along with a volume dial (which I actually need to repair this summer, the POT blew a while back so I've been having to reach inside the cabinet through the coin door to adjust sound.

The front-ends available all stink. Just write your own.

It's by no means going to be an easy project but if you build one, even with less than ideal parts you can still have a lot of fun. http://www.happcontrols.com/HAPP Controls</a> and http://www.t-molding.com/T-molding.com</a> are your friends.

And something I learned the hard way ... AVOID USING BEHR CRACKLE PAINT ON A VERTICAL SURFACE! Also, if you find yourself needing to drill Plexiglas, you have two options:
1. Don't. Buy lexite (or maybe it's lexon, the unbreakable fake glass stuff) instead.
2. Get a new hole saw from Home Depot for $4. It's worth it to not use an old one. Go very very very slow.













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Old 05-31-2005, 11:00 PM   #3
JCJones86
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

Awesome! <img src=smilies/thumb.gif>

Thanks for the linkage and the advice. I was definately not going to bother wiring the controls to a keyboard. I've heard horror stories already. That and the controller board would be so much cleaner.
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Old 06-02-2005, 02:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

> That and the controller board would be so much cleaner.

Keep thinking that ... I didn't show you pictures of the INSIDE of my control board ...

It looks like a bag of fried noodles exploded and attached themselves to connectors via metal.
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Old 06-02-2005, 03:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

Yes, but at least with the cables closer together I can perform some sort of cable management. You were talking about wiring the controls to the contacts on a keyboard, right?
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Old 06-02-2005, 04:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

> The monitor is a 21" 1989 Toshiba television set I got for
> $19. It had degaussing problems. When you're dealing with a
> screen 7 inches from your face, that's huge enough.

Interesting about you taking the tube out of the plastic casing...can you give us more specific do's and do not's about doing that?

I've got easy access to cheap computers and parts so building a decent computer for this would be easy...my problem is the lack of knowledge of using tools for construction purposes. <img src=smilies/eek5.gif> I think this year I'll finally be able to have the funds to build my cabinet.
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Old 06-02-2005, 08:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

> Interesting about you taking the tube out of the plastic
> casing...can you give us more specific do's and do not's
> about doing that?

Unless you know how to manually discharge all capacitors in a television, you'll need to use extreme caution (and that means more than pushing the power button once with the cord unplugged, it's a TV -- not an ATX motherboard). I recommend letting it sit a minimum of three weeks unplugged. TVs can store enough juice in them to blow a man across the room from the shock -- in case the image isn't enough to make you guess, it's potentially lethal and any repair man will tell you the same.

Now, that out of the way, here are the specifics.

Assuming you are purchasing a non-flat screen TV since the whole point is to make it look like an actual arcade machine, chances are it has a bracket. The television screen itself generally will have a steel frame built into it that runs a complete ring around the monitor with three holes. These holes are bolted into the front mounting of the plastic TV casing. The rear end of the case just slides on -- this is partially responsible for why televisions are so insanely balanced with all their weight at the front.

Begin by unscrewing the back end of the television and slide off the back plate. Now disconnect any board that are in the way (make sure to make the connectors with different colored pens so you can match them later, often the same plug is used in four or more places).

With the boards all pulled out, the only board remaining should be the chroma converter hooked to the back end of the screen itself. DO NOT BUMP THIS. Reach around and undo the bolts connecting the screen to the front bracket and lift. You now have the monitor loose. Congrats. There may be another panel hooked to the front of the TV for buttons on the front. Hang on to that one for later.

To mount the screen into the cabinet, first cut a hole about the same size as the steel bracket. Drop the screen in and have a friend hold it on the other side (I recommend laying the cabinet on its back for this). Now mark where the holes in your mounting bracket are. You need an angular bracket which, if you are lucky, your TV may have had one in its casing. It's a flat bracket where you would shoot three screws in the same direction (sorry I don't know the technical name). Basically it's a slightly rounded L shape but the screws would all go in like you were looking down at that L on a flat surface, this is not for joining perpendicular boards. Shoot screws into the bracket to hold it in so the big hole lines up with what you drilled before. The arc should point away from the TV instead of following its edge. Now drop in the monitor and put in some big bolts with two washers on each side. Tighten well.

This is where you encounter a design flaw with the cabinet layouts online. None of them were made to take the weight of supporting a monitor. Right now it would rip the face plywood clean out of your cabinet. To get around this, use some 2"x4" boards in a hard wood. These should be cut and mounted to the sides of the cabinet. The facing part of your cabinet will rest against it. Shoot two screws in from the sides, then run 6" carriage bolts through the whole 2"x4". (in case you didn't guess from that measure, they go in so the 4" side is flush against the side of the cabinet).

You're pretty much set at this point. Assuming you secured everything well this thing is going to be rock solid. I've moved my cabinet 4 times and the wood where the television is doesn't even bow.

Last step is to secure the boards for the inside of the TV. If you have enough room, I'd just shoot screws and attach them right to the side of the cabinet. My cables weren't long enough for that so I had to go with plan B. Get a thin board and mount it horizontally across the cabinet's interior. Screw the boards onto that. Plug everything back together and fire it up.

Congrats, you just built a fancy wooden casing for your TV
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Old 06-03-2005, 12:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

Wow, great read. I'll definately log this info. How practical would it be if I used the exsisting television case inside of the arcade cabinet instead of just using the tube? Would it fit, and if so how hard would it be to secure in the cabinet? I'm thinking about using a flat 20" television or 21" CRT computer monitor for mine. Scanlines or not I don't really care either way. <img src=smilies/thumb.gif>
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Old 06-03-2005, 03:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

> Wow, great read. I'll definately log this info. How
> practical would it be if I used the exsisting television
> case inside of the arcade cabinet instead of just using the
> tube?

The problem is your screen will take on a very sunken look. You will not success at mounting a TV in its casing unless you either build a wooden platform for it that supports its weight, but you will also need something to support it fromt he back. Moreover, unless you open up the back side of the casing and bolt it down from within, the thing will roll if you move your machine.

I built my cabinet to be able to be leaned back and rolled like an actual cab in tansport. A free-standing TV or one half-assly supported by boards would roll all over. I imagine the people building a cab this way have to disassemble it before tansport ... And like I said anyway, without an insane supply of custom-fitted steel brackets you'll never secure the TV enough. The wooden box idea would also lead to massive overheating.

It's practical if you're just cloning that shitty old "arcade cab" nintendo sold in the 80s. You know, the one that you just set a TV in on the the wooden shelf and plugged the joypad into the nes console. Not very authentic.

The method I described is your best bet for making something solid enough to take a beating and handle relocation, and have a screen authenticly risen like the actual arcades. My only regret is I should have set the whole board into the machine deeper than I did. I didn't account for the protrusion of curvature of the glass.

> I'm thinking about using a flat 20"
> television or 21" CRT computer monitor for mine. Scanlines
> or not I don't really care either way.

I would say 19" - 20" but not an inch more, unless you're building one of those 40" monsters here the controls are on a pedastal 3 feet away from the screen (see the initial Marvel vs Capcom 2 or DOA2 machines).

If your card supports TV-out, I would seriously recommend a regular television. It looks much, much more authentic and the colors are way more vibrant. Take a look next time you're in the arcade -- nothing is running on flat-screens or CRT monitors. The games just aren't designed with that in mind. Why it would be as stupid as running a SNES or NES emulator in 256x224 when the games are all designed for display in 4:3 aspect ratio.

Oh wait ... people do that.

They are absolutely dirt cheap at this point too. My TV barely cost me more than one of my joysticks. In the event of repair, it will also be easier to find a hack television repairman to come visit your cabinet on-site instead of a CRT specialist.

Also, I heard something about how Swampgas may be changing forum software? If this is correct maybe you should save a local copy of the thread. You never know when it might vanish.
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Old 06-03-2005, 04:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: MAME Cabinets

In my case, I really don't want to mess with taking a television apart. I was thinking of using straps bolted to the inside of the cabinet to secure the television in place... Do you think this won't work at all?
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