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Old 6th Jun 2007, 09:56   #1
Constructacon
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MAME Over - Updated 25/04/08 - Marquee and Video Cable

As I've had to put The New Black on hold for a while I've decided to kick along another of my projects - a full size MAME arcade cabinet.

About 2 years ago I decided to look into the whole MAME thing as I loved the arcade as a kid growing up in the 80's and early 90's. MAME can work off just your keyboard but I found that it lacked in feeling.


Enter the MK 1 design. I bought a basic set of buttons and joysticks off ebay and created this desktop version as a rough draft. It sat on top of an ironing board in front of the computer to allow you to play.


Control of the buttons was through a keyboard hack. This involves disassembling a keyboard and drawing up the matrix table for every key press. Every key on the keyboard connects 2 contacts on a film sandwich that run to a small circuit board. It was then just a matter of wiring 1 side of each button up to the corresponding terminals on the circuit board. The use of terminal blocks (in the centre of the picture) make this easier. That way you only have to solder 1 wire to each terminal rather than about 5 or 6. While crude, this desktop solution is a cheap way to get into the MAME scene for those interested and MUCH more fun than just playing with a keyboard.

EDIT: The links below will jump you ahead to a specifc update in the thread and all posts after.
25/06/2007
23/09/2007
11/10/2007
21/10/2007
02/01/2008
25/04/2008
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MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"

Last edited by Constructacon; 25th Apr 2008 at 05:04.
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Old 6th Jun 2007, 10:51   #2
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While the desktop unit is fine for a bit of fun, I've decided to step up to the next phase. MK2 has begun! Because I'm well over 6ft tall I wanted to make this cabinet proportional to me for comfort. This plan is the largest I could make it so it would still fit through the internal doors in the house.



I started with 2x sheets of 2400x1200 18mm MDF from my local hardware mega-store. I had them first cut 500mm off the top, then rip the remaining sheets down the middle. They even kindly forgot to charge me for the cuts. The sheets now fit in the back of our hatchback and are the perfect size to work on.



The first cuts were for where next to the display. If you look closely you can see where the tv will sit.



The control panel supports were then mounted to the front edge. By doing it this way I saved heaps of wastage and get more use out of the sheets. While I dropped out of my engineering degree, by just eyeballing it I don't think these will come off.



I then filled the outside of the join with wood putty. This will be sanded back smooth later once it's dry and painted.



After the first side is cut, the second side is cut roughly into shape and then clamped to the top of it. When trying to hold large objects together ratchet straps come in real handy.



I then used a flush trim bit on my router to trace around the bottom template.



It turns this.....



...into this.


A new bit for my router - a slot cutter for the T-moulding around the edges.



I routed a groove almost completely around the edge of each side plate.


I screwed on battons 18mm from the edge to allow flush mounting of external pannels. At this point I decided to test assemble to ensure that the 68cm TV will fit inside.

I love the way this thing is coming together but (as you might guess from the title) this beast needs a name. So far I've come up with the ideas:
  • Battlefield 1982
  • MAME Over
  • Old Skool Daze
Feel free to suggest anything better.

Stay tuned for the next update in the next couple of days.
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MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"
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Old 6th Jun 2007, 11:51   #3
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Haha, I like MAME Over. Nice work so far. If I ever made a MAME cabinet I'd make it like the football games where you sit down on a bench infront of the thing. I'm lazy.
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Old 9th Jun 2007, 13:27   #4
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groovy man! love it!!!!! bubble bobble lover here!!!
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Old 9th Jun 2007, 21:49   #5
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Hey man! Great project you have undertaken. I love my cabinet and have built a few for people since I did mine. If you need any help at all feel free to PM me. Also, check out the link in my signature and check out my mame cabinet. Have fun!
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Old 10th Jun 2007, 09:51   #6
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Nice looking cabinet, great work!
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Old 25th Jun 2007, 12:39   #7
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Small update time. Unfortunately Real LifeTM has been interfering recently so not a great deal has moved forward on the cabinet. However, I'm happy with what small gains I've made.


I've enclosed the front bottom of the control deck. This was more difficult than anticipated due to the small surfaces.


This was fixed with 2 metal brackets in the corner. I then ground off the screws protruding through. All screw holes and the small gap at the end of the face will be wood puttied later and sanded smooth. I've tried to make this section as bulletproof as possible at this is what will be taking the most force on the cabinet.


I've also put the back half of the top of the cabinet on. In the center I've cut a hole and routed a lip on the inner edge to match up to a 150mm fan. I'm thinking of forgoing the fan and just letting the hot air vent itself with a grill covering the hole.

Apart from my recent birthday presents, the mailman (and courier) brought me some new toys for the cabinet


One Ipac controller. This is so much easier than using the keyboard hack. As you can see each side has all it's inputs for a joystick, 8 buttons, a start button and coin button. While I can have 8 buttons per player, I'll on be using 6.


2 illuminated credit buttons. Ah... I remember when games were 20c each. Those were the days. The flash makes them look really washed out. They're really a much deeper red.


I've decided to go with a purple and blue theme similar to the MAME logo. The blue buttons are actually a dark blue (I couldn't get it to photograph right). I'm not sure if I'm happy with the colour. I may end up buying lighter blue buttons and finding another use for these. In the same parcel came 14m of black T-moulding.

I've also decided to go with the name MAME Over for the project. I've also been putting together a custom marquee for the lightbox in Photoshop - but more on that in a later post.

As always, comments, praises or criticisms are welcomed. Bye for now.
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MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"
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Old 25th Jun 2007, 20:17   #8
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This is absolutely brilliant! Correct choice with "Mame Over" What games will it be playing? Any ideas on paint? is the ipac controller usb? or how does that work?
I'm assuming that pretty much anything Pentium3 or up would be fine for this.
Just thinking about it finished puts a smile on my face... What a great mod!
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Old 25th Jun 2007, 23:52   #9
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I have a host of games. Games that hold special memories for me (and I have) are:
  • Metal Slug
  • Simpsons
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Final Fight
  • Raiden DX
  • Puzzle Bobble

I also have bucket loads of others as well. I'm really looking to get stuck into Marvel VS Capcom and some of the really old school classics.

The Ipac can be hooked up using the PS2 port or USB on the computer. Plug and play!! The cabinet will be black base but other than that I'm not sure. I'll either be painting it or using black laminate (depending on the cost as that' stuff's expensive). Minimum specs for MAME can be found here. This is bringing a smile to my face too. I'm glad you like it.
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MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"
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Old 28th Jun 2007, 13:38   #10
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That looks really good Constructacon. What are you using for the display? Are you going to get a video card that can output at the arcade freq of 15Hz? I've heard that playing some arcade games in different freqs and resolutions that they were originally designed can cause a number of graphical problems.

Anyways, looking good, I'll be keeping an eye on this project log
What have you got planned in terms of graphics for the cabinet?
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Old 30th Jun 2007, 17:55   #11
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Nice construction work on the cabinet
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Old 23rd Sep 2007, 12:27   #12
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Ok, it's update time. So without further ado.....


The next stage of the construction was to build a frame for the back door to hang from. All hinges used in this project are 94 degree self-closing, concealed cupboard door hinges. As this frame had to support the vertical dead weight of the door I didn't want to take any chances with the engineering of it. On top of the 4 screws in the plate there are another 3 vertical holding the 2 beams together. The vertical beam is screwed to the back board in 3 places, the horizontal in 2. It won't go anywhere



From this angle it's easy to see why the rear door is so low. The opening will now line up with the back of the TV when it sits on the sloped shelf. The center of the frame is removed to make room for the back of the TV case. Tolerences are pretty tight inside this part of the case.



To stop the door falling on anyone's head 2 gas struts are needed. Locating these little beauties was a bit of a trial. None of the major hardware chains stocked them, neither did the kitchen installers I checked. I had to source them from the company who actually supplies the people who build kitchens (Lincoln Sentry for the Australian readers). Each of these units is rated for 3kg. The door actually weighs 6.8kg unpainted. They just work. The door will open by itself slowly but realistically will just sit wherever you stop it. I may get them regassed in the future if I don't like how they operate.


The door in place from the front.



Current rear view with the door open.



Door closed. Ignore any panel gaps for now as everything has to be disassembled to be painted/coated. Panel gap/alignment adjustment will happen after reassembly.


To support the acrylic that will go in front of the TV, a lip was routed into the board it will sit on. The intention is for the acrylic to be under slight tension so that it will force itself into the corner.



The lightbox uses the least screws of any of the work done so far. Unlike the rest of the cabinet, the lightbox back plate was wedged in place at the top and held in with only 1 screw at each end.



The next additions to cabinet were the front door......



....and keyboard drawer. This is just an old keyboard that was lying around to give a rough scale. Actually it's 780mm across inside.



We'll leave this update here with a teaser pic of how it's starting to look. To be honest, I wanted to see how it would look myself with the TV in place. I think it's starting to shape up nicely. The cabinet is already a couple of steps ahead of this so expect another update soon. Any feedback and suggestions are always welcome.
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"Of course, overclocking doesn't normally involve a tank of acetylene large enough to blow a house off its foundation." - zackbass

MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"
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Old 11th Oct 2007, 11:43   #13
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Update time...


Oh noes! When removing the tv from it's test positition, it caught on the front panel and started to delaminate the MDF. I'm thinking that by putting another board on top of the platform it sits on now it won't catch any more as it will be about 15-18mm higher. This will go in after the cabinet is painted.



The next step in surface preparation is filling all the screw holes and panel gaps. For this I'm using 2 products - a large crack filler for..... well large cracks and then a skim coat for a fine finish. If you ever use a large crack filler don't build it up too high as I found out it sets like rock the hard way.



The area that needed the most attention was around the front console. I had foolishly used a circular saw to cut some of the front pieces and this cut too much off the edge (thick blade and all). All other panels were cut with a trusty hand saw. The really surprising thing about this is that through a soft wood like MDF a hand saw will actually cut quicker than using a power tool AND give you a cleaner finish.


A little filler around the back too.



Also the sides of the front console got a little TLC too. After painting this will now look like one solid peice.



This was one of the real reasons I decided to go powertools unplugged. Underneath that plaster is a gouge where the circular saw jumped out of the cut and scored the panel I was working on. That was a scary moment. Especially as my fiance was supporting the other end of the timber at the time.



While the last picture gave a sense of scale of the slip up, you can see clearer here the groove across the panel.



This week I celebrated spending my birthday gift voucher (only 4 months late) on a set of speakers. They're Logitech X-230s. As this will be a jukebox as well I wanted the best I could get. Unfortunately the place I got them from didn't have the Altec Lanseng VS2221s that I use for my main rig, but they'll be more than adequate. They sounded pretty darn good when I tested them in the store (with my music thankyouverymuch)



Filling out the warranty card would have been a waste of 5 minutes of my life. The right speaker has already been opened once and I will be relocating the volume knob elsewere once I can find a suitable location on the cabinet.



If you want to make perfectly round speaker holes, you can't go past a drill press and hole saw in my opinion.



Remember to follow the safety rules guidelines.



After the holes were cut, I routed a 45 degree chamfer on the front face.



The effect turned out quite nice. I'd go so far as to call it attractive (if you can call a hole in a piece of wood attractive).



A quick test fit behind showed that my measurements were correct. It looks like the speaker isn't aligned in this picture, but it's an optical illusion because the camera is so close.



Just before I sign off I'll leave you with a teaser of what's coming next. No longer is the beast naked - but now has some undies (well a coat of paint at least). As always feedback and suggestions are welcomed.

Catch you soon.
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Remember - for every silver lining there is a cloud.
"Of course, overclocking doesn't normally involve a tank of acetylene large enough to blow a house off its foundation." - zackbass

MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"
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Old 11th Oct 2007, 11:51   #14
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Amazing work always enjoyed the arcades too bad now-a-days not many places still have them.
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Old 21st Oct 2007, 10:21   #15
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Only a small update this week. As I've been working 12-13 hours every day this week I haven't had time for much modding. I have howerver managed to pull together a mini update for you. Today we'll be continuing from the last update and be looking at how I went about making the speaker grills.



Even though it will mostly be me who uses this cabinet, it will see the odd party duty. For this I needed something to stop drunk people poking the exposed speakers (who honestly has never touched a moving speaker "just to see what happens"). For this I'm using some mesh liberated from the demolition site accross the road from my house. This mesh had a few dents in it but I'll be working around them. You just can't beat free stuff can you


A little tape allowed me to mark out the shape I wanted. A couple of minutes with the Dremel and we were all done.



All that's needed now is an attractive way to hold it down. For this we'll need a jig.....



No not the dance. A jig is a way of making reproducable parts quickly and easily without having to hand form each one. With this shape I'll screw aluminium sheets to it and then using a transfer router bit cut out the shape. Remember: the more time you spend making your jig perfect, the less time you'll have to spend doing clean up work on your finished items.



The aluminium I got (also for free) was predrilled ready to be screwed to the jig. All the holes are countersunk so the screw heads wont get caught on the router during the machining phase.



Once screwed down we mill this sheet.........



...into this. This might seem like a lot of effort to go to just to make 2 speaker surrounds - but what's not shown here is that using the same jig I tried making them out of acrylic (it failed) and I was planning on making several more to see what they would look like brushed, sandblasted etc.



And here's the final result after being finished off with a linisher and flap wheel. It's now ready for a coat of gloss black spray paint.



Another thing to remember is if you're thinking of milling aluminium - it makes a heck of a mess (and acrylic is worse). This pile was only from cutting out 3 pieces. There was about half again more that made its way into the loungeroom carpet and onto the dust sheets in the garage. I was not popular with my fiance.

Well that's about all for tonight everyone. Talk to you soon.
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MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"
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Old 21st Oct 2007, 11:22   #16
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Great work, I like it! I remember the old games
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 01:30   #17
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Well, it's been a long time between drinks but the beast is back. Over the past few months a few things happened which put modding on hold. The biggest of these was my piggy bank being emptied to buy a lovely engagement ring for my now fiancé . Let's begin.......



Every panel of the cabinet was given a coat of matt black paint both inside and out. While only the outside of the cabinet will get the final vinyl coating, I wanted the inside to look at least presentable. I also did it to prevent reflection of any light that may leak from the light box or TV from shining out elsewhere.


For the purposes of covering the cabinet, I purchased a roll of self-adhesive vinyl. I bought it from a company who actually supplies sign writers. It's the vinyl that stickers are cut out of. I bought about 10M of it and as you can see it's just over 1.2M wide. Shiny too . You can easily see my reflection in it.


Where the vinyl was to be applied, I sanded down first. The plastic I used was only about 0.4MM thick so any lumps underneath where not only transferred through, but the colour also highlights any imperfections too (just ask anyone who's painted a car black). The photos just seem to compound the problem. While not a mirror finish, the surface in real life is certainly tolerable. It looks like a kitchen bench or something.


In keeping as close to possible with real arcade aesthetics, I decided to move the volume control to the top of the cabinet. While not entirely accurate it's the best compromise I thought. In order to do this I removed the controller circuit board from the main speaker. The front faceplate was scanned and then printed out to ensure accurate hole placement in the new enclosure. Unfortunately while doing this I had some breakout while drilling one of the holes so I will be redoing this piece.


For acoustics, a piece of rigid plastic was hot glued over the remaining holes.


The speakers mounted to the board. They are held in place with a downpipe bracket purchased from my local hardware store. I used a piece of old foam to dampen any vibration and to ensure a snug fit. I didn't take any pictures of the back as it's ugly as hell. Just like women, there has to be some mystery


This panel is the only one on the cabinet that has external screws. To cover them I used these screw caps which are often used in office furniture for this very purpose.


For the light box, a pair of CCFLs will be used. These will be powered directly from the PC. The 150mm wire grill is for the heat extraction hole in the top of the cabinet. If anyone can point me toward a cheap 150mm fan that would be fantastic. Otherwise the old "hot air rises" and natural convection will be used.


Instead of black, the light box is painted white (strangely enough) for maximum light reflection. Zippy ties are used to hold the CCFLs in place.


At the end of this update, here's how it stands. On the right is a shot of the first light test. Any doubts I had about whether the fluoros were up to the job were soon put down. As you can see they are more than capable of the job. What's blocking the centre of the light box is a test print of part of the marquee I designed. This will be printed on translucent plastic by a professional at a later stage. More about that later.

As usual feedback is always appreciated. Stay tuned for imminent updates.......
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MAME Over - Custom built arcade cabinet.
This season's mod - The New Black
Also modded - "Got Milk?"

Last edited by Constructacon; 2nd Jan 2008 at 02:54.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 02:35   #18
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And the update continues......


Covering the large panels was done using the same techniques used by your mum to cover your school books as a kid. Start at one edge and pull off the backing paper as you press down the leading edge with a cloth. Only pull back a little at a time or you'll trap bubbles. If you do, back off the vinyl and rub it back down. Any tiny bubbles can be pricked with a pin or razor blade at the end and have the air squished out of them. Another person to help comes in real handy when doing large surfaces such as this.



I didn't trim right up to the edge but left a small amount of overhang. This was then folded over the edges. The T-moulding will hold this in place afterward. Hopefully this will mean that the vinyl will last a little longer and not peel off. Some of the trickier curves didn't want to stick so a couple of upholsterers tacks were used to stop it lifting. Care needed to be taken not to distort the centre channel for the T-moulding otherwise it wouldn't fit.



To tap the T-moulding in I needed something both heavy and soft so as not to mark it. I used a wooden mallet with an old army sock doubled up over the head for cushioning. Straight edges were easy but curves required a little modification of the moulding's spine. In a concave curve such as this one, I put a series of splits in the spine to allow it to open up as it goes around the curve. In a convex curve (goes the other way) several wedges were cut out of the spine instead of slices. This allows the spine to bunch up.



In preparation for the credit buttons in the door the holes were drilled. This also meant drilling locating holes for the dowels on the back of the button which prevent it from rotating. This was done before the vinyl covering went on and were then re-cut with a scalpel.



Here they are in place. These will be illuminated later.



To stop the door and drawer from flapping open when the cabinet is moved, 2 cam locks were procured. This then meant I had to buy a 19mm drill bit too. Strangely some of the most expensive things so far for the cabinet were the drill and router bits. Gosh they're expensive.




Here's how it stands today. It's getting really close now.

All that needs to be done are:
  • do the control panel
  • get the marquee and control panel backing printed
  • install the computer
  • software configuration
I'm not sure what to do with the sides as they're so big and black. I looked initially into full colour printed stickers but $400 approx per side seemed a little extreme for me. Any ideas would be appreciated. As usual I'd love to hear what you think. Talk to you soon.
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Last edited by Constructacon; 2nd Jan 2008 at 02:48.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 08:38   #19
Tyinsar
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Originally Posted by Constructacon View Post
...I'm not sure what to do with the sides as they're so big and black. I looked initially into full colour printed stickers but $400 approx per side seemed a little extreme for me. Any ideas would be appreciated. As usual I'd love to hear what you think. Talk to you soon.
Cool stuff. That last picture has a clue in it - use posters on the side. They're relatively inexpensive, a decent size, and you can cut them to the shape you need.
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Old 4th Jan 2008, 07:21   #20
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I used this place for my sides, http://www.mamemarquees.com/ . The prices were really good and the quality was off the charts.
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