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Mame Cabinet Build - Complete at last!

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by Kie, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. Kie

    Kie Member

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    Hey guys!

    Presenting the start of my first Mame cabinet build. All I have so far is the gutted cabinet (bought off gumtree for $200) and lots of ideas!

    Here she is:

    [​IMG]

    Notes:
    - Cabinet does have back panel, it's out of picture, not attached.
    - No screen
    - Coin slot doesn't work
    - No control panel
    - I'm assuming there's no light behind the marquee, since there's no wires dropping down
    - Includes a bezel, sized for about 22"
    - Has two wheels and 2 indented handles at the back; very easy to move around!

    So I'm looking at the following tasks (in roughly this order):
    1. Clean-up. It's fairly dusty and although the paint job is nice, it could use a varnish or something (suggestions?). I like the red. So while I wait for things to arrive, I'll clean it up a bit.

    2. Build Control Panel (16mm MDF) either to the Width of the cab or slightly wider. The Height can be either level with the bottom of the glass or be positioned under the lip (i.e. slightly lower). I would like to hinge the CP so the top flips up towards the glass, so the lip idea, while it may look neater, probably won't be practical. The Length can be the length of the little alcove I'll be putting it on. It even has a hole at the back where the wires can go. It's like someone just chucked an x-arcade on it or something :p

    I'll be going with a standard setup, nothing fancy at all. Linear layout of buttons for easiest use. Mum says she's gonna come over and play :Paranoid: so I have to make it easy for anyone to use.

    For cutting the big pieces, I'll probably have to use a jigsaw or grinder. Small pieces for the joysticks/buttons I'll be using a few different sized spade drills bits. Failing that, a router.

    As I said, the top will be hinged to the back side, the sides and bottom will be stuck together and to the Cab (after painting) with hot glue. So that way the only screws I have to conceal are those for the hinge.

    3. Buy joysticks/buttons. I've actually already gone and bought some from Austin Amusements, as well as a usb keyboard encoder with quick connects (this one). They're having a sale atm so I got two joysticks (red and green knobs), 12 player buttons (3 each of red, yellow, blue and green with LEDs), and 1 each of the player 1/2 buttons. Altogether with postage was about $80, which isn't bad! Will update when they arrive!

    4. Paint CP. It will be red, and I'm hoping to get the same red as the cabinet, but that will be a stretch. Anyone know if bunnings or similar can make paint colour to hexa code? I guess I'm half-serious - Was thinking of taking a photo and getting the code of the red from photoshop and giving it to a paint place. Failing that, I could just take a picture in and compare myself. I'm also planning to get an overlay for the CP, so the closeness of red doesn't matter tooooo much since people will be staring at the overlay mostly.

    For painting, I know there's lots of methods, but I'm thinking of going with primer -> light sand -> first coat -> light sand -> second coat and sand if necessary (good idea?). Also a third coat if required.

    5. Get a screen. The bezel I'm keeping, and it's sized for a 22" CRT by the looks of it, but I'm thinking of going LCD. This would mean adding something to the top and bottom to cover the gap, or getting a screen that's tall enough but would have to be squished to 4:3. So I'm really in the air about this one, since a CRT might get complicated but would fit better. I'm assuming an old flat screen tv still counts as CRT (I'm not a TV person :p). Mounting either LCD or CRT will be one of the only foreseeable challenges, but it means I can be creative.

    6. Install speaker/s. There is a speaker grill (hard to see) under the marquee, so a single speaker could fit in nicely without tearing the case apart to add more speakers. I think one in the centre would probably be enough, I'm not trying for surround sound or anything!

    7. Mame it up! I've already got a spare PC, dual-core, no GPU (which doesn't matter), 8gb of RAM, 2TB hdd etc, so I'l just whack that in the bottom. The challenge of course will be setting up Hyperspin, which will probably take a while. I've got a few quick-settings files to try out and see if it needs much more work, so hopefully should have to start from scratch.

    8. Improve Aesthetics. So at the moment I've got a "Golden Tee Classic" cabinet with stock instructions on the bezel. Not sure about you guys but I'm not really a golf kinda guy :D I'll be adding a light to the marquee and getting a custom one (bubble bobble or something so the missus is happy) and order some classic side art (not interested in making my own when there's lots of good, authentic ones out there). As I said, I'll probably touch up the existing paint job and make it look shiny.

    9. Final touch-ups. This includes replacing missing screws, cable management and anything else I think of that needs doing.

    Looking forward to getting started!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  2. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    22/06/13 Update

    Over the past week I've been designing the control panel. After taking measurements of where the CP used to be, I decided to make a box-style CP, with 2 sides, a front and back. The bottom isn't necessary, so I didn't design one.

    I did a rough design on cardboard and measured it out. This didn't stand up long enough to take a photo but it was pretty accurate.
    Anyway, a proper outline was done on a sheet of 16mm 900x600 MDF (Edit: bad quality pic sorry):
    [​IMG]

    Everything fits on there pretty easily with room to spare! I bought a second one just in case I made some crucial error during the cutting.

    Cutting was done using a standard handheld jigsaw. The holes were cut using a 25mm hole saw bit. 1P and 2P buttons are actually a bit bigger so I had to use a reamer bit to get them from 25mm to approx 29mm. Results below:
    [​IMG]

    And close-up of the CP top:
    [​IMG]

    Little bit of sanding required on some edges to smooth them out, then it's time for priming/painting. The back side has a rectangle cut-out for wiring, which matches the cutout of the cabinet (see OP).

    Also, my buttons/joysticks/encoder came! The buttons are LED backlighted, but I don't think the encoder has the capability of lighting them (from a quick glance at the "guide"), so I might have to investigate another method of lighting. Not sure what voltage the LEDs would be, so I'll have to test that first. All to come!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  3. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    Umm..
    I think the bottom IS necessary?
    How are you going to fix it to the cabinet? see those 2 little holes there on the cabinet? they're used for bolting the CP to the cab.. :)
    Otherwise.. good luck :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013
  4. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    The idea is to use a few L-shape brackets to mount the front, back and sides to the cab, and glue the rest together. Whether I have a bottom panel or not, the same problem would have occurred, so I decided not to bother with a bottom. The cab provides a good bottom itself.

    Thanks for the comments!
     
  5. Jeffo

    Jeffo Member

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    Looking good, this has encouraged me to continue the finishing touches on mine.

    I'd suggest painting at the end so that you have cut all the holes you need and everything works correctly.

    Not sure how high the machine is but would it feel better if there was a slight angle to the CP?
     
  6. hathro

    hathro Member

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  7. CREDO

    CREDO Member

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    Well that's a matter of preference. I like my buttons straight.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    +1. I sort of played around with button configurations beforehand. I like the straight layout because I'm used to keyboard typing, which has trained my fingers to be quite comfortable with straight layouts. But thanks for the input hathro, the link was an interesting read!

    Small update; I've primed my CP and it's ready to paint. Still looking for a CRT the right size, but I'm being vigilant, so it's only a matter of time! After that, I'll be hinging the top and putting it all together on the cab. Still lots to go! Being married makes this a slow project. I'll post pics of the priming and my parts soon.
     
  9. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    Yeah I prefer a curved layout myself..
    but each to their own :)
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    Hey guys,

    Long time no update for me I know. There hasn't been too much progress due to sickness and holidaying. I've managed to power the LEDs for the buttons, using a single 12V adapter on the chains.

    Unfortunately I'll be living in Thailand for the next 4-6 months, which will obviously hamper my project, for now. I'm committed to finishing it when I get back though!
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    So after over a year, I finally have some updates! I thought it was a dead project, but I somehow found motivation (mainly cause I still really want this!)

    What's been done in the past month:
    - Moved the cabinet to its final place upstairs (which was fun...) and mounted a TV inside (which was even more fun...).
    - Painted CP and repainted the cabinet.
    - Hooked up the PC and tested gameplay. Works fine with a keyboard.

    I found a CRT that somehow fit perfectly into my cab, see pics below. It's connected to the PC via a usb powered VGA box.

    This weekend I'm looking at finishing it up, which includes lighting the marquee (which will not be golf come Monday), fitting the CP, and hopefully getting a speaker in there too. After that it's just aesthetics. There's some sideart and a new bezel to come.

    Some pics:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    More to come!
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014
  12. mamoime

    mamoime New Member

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    Hi there,

    I am thinking in start a project like this but I am not sure about one detail.

    I am thinking in build my own housing, use an old CRT screen and an old laptop but how can I interact with the games? I mean where can I find a retro joystick with buttons that is compatible with a modern laptop to play the games?

    links with prices are much appreciated!!

    All the best!
     
  13. mamoime

    mamoime New Member

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    By the way, anyone knows which is the average CRT screen size of an arcade machine?
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    Hey mate,

    I got all my stuff from Austin Amusements. They have a great selection of arcade gear and good customer service. Some parts include:

    Joystick and Button Packs: ~$42
    Keyboard Encoders: Well, they can be pricey but I found the cheap $25 one worked just fine and is instantly recognised by the PC.

    Have a look around there for more stuff. I went a bit extra and bought the buttons with coloured LEDs but that's just me.

    Regarding screen sizes, I'm not sure on averages, but I reckon mine's about an average size. It's 22".

    Project update: This thing is verrrry close to the end of Phase 1, which is a basic working system. I have a few ideas for further improvements, which I'll post with a full up in a few weeks.
     
  15. mamoime

    mamoime New Member

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    Thanks Kie!

    This guys seem to have everything I will need :)

    So I have to buy the buttons + the encoder which I will use to connect the buttons and then connect the encoder to the laptop but I guess I will need a windows driver for that.

    Then in the MAME options I select the encoder previously installed and define the action for each button.

    Is this correct?
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    Pretty much, although I found that I didn't have to manually install any drivers. I had the PC connected to the net and it installed some drivers which worked immediately with all emulators :D
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Kie

    Kie Member

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    It's done!

    So this is basically complete now, a year and a half later. Pics below.

    The following has been done in the past couple of months:
    - Installed CP with screws and L-plates (selected due to better stability)
    - Installed speakers up top (2 standard old-school Soundblaster ones)
    - Installed Cathode lighting behind the marquee (in front of the speakers)
    - Printed off marquee and put in place.
    - Set up CP and wiring of LED buttons / keyboard encoder.
    - Software / useability enhancements (see below)

    Useability-wise, it now runs MAME, Master System and Genesis roms without any config / keyboard required. I can start-up, navigate, play and shutdown without ever touching a keyboard, which is what I wanted from the get-go (and isn't always easy!). XPadder has really helped on this side of things. I had some issues with Hyperspin not playing nice with my joysticks, but XPadder fixed it all up and added a lot of functionality to help remove the keyboard altogether (e.g. hold press key combos).

    Couple of things I picked up during the software process which won't be of use to most people I guess, but I found interesting:
    - Hyperspin does not work well if you assign the joysticks as controllers instead of keyboards. Disable all controllers and use XPadder and Keyboard settings instead.
    - Controls won't work on Hyperspin if it's in run in Administrator mode.
    - XPadder considers P1 and P2 as two different profiles from the same set of inputs, so once you set up P1 the normal way, it copies that data to P2. Therefore, you just have to update P2 in the program manually (rather than trying to get XPadder to recognise P2 keypresses, like I tried to do for an hour...)
    - If you assign a Hold function to Alt+F4 on XPadder, I'd recommend adding a Pause at the end, so it only presses Alt+F4 once :p
    - Quicksaves won't work if the save folder is in C drive and isn't access-granted.
    - Setting Hyperspin to shutdown PC on exit only works if you exit properly, e.g. not using Alt+F4.
    - Don's Hyperlist Generator is very useful for removing all the games you don't want to see in Hyperspin. I copied all the games I wanted to play into a separate folder first to make selection easier in the program.

    So it's almost there but not quite finished yet! I've got a few things left to do:
    - Side and Bezel art.
    - Install a working coin door to link with MAME.
    - Maybe add side buttons for Pinball, though I'm also considering a HyperPin project.

    The full setup (marquee is clearly visible with the backlight, but cameras don't like it :p):
    [​IMG]

    From the front:
    [​IMG]

    Better light:
    [​IMG]

    Back and front ready to go on:
    [​IMG]

    In the dark:
    [​IMG]

    Some untidy cabling under the hinged control panel:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015

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