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Old 4th Feb 2009, 22:52   #1
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Project: 'Troy's Arcade' - Scratch Build MAME Mod

Having been practically raised on arcade and console video games I've wanted to build a MAME system for a really long time. When I was a kid I would collect bottles and cans along the roadside for deposits and then ride my bike ten miles round trip to hit the local video arcade and play the awesome games from the eighties... yep, Galaga.

I would have preferred building a full sized stand up arcade machine, but I'm severely space limited and there's no room for one in my home. Small and cheap is so far the loose plan for creating a self contained dedicated MAME system and pinball emulator. I've ordered all of the necessary computer hardware for the build and plan to pull the whole thing off for around $500.



I've owned almost every home video game system since the Atari2600 (including the TurboGraphix16 and 3DO), the biggest difference between playing on an actual arcade machine versus any home console arcade port is that arcade controls have a tactile feel and response that can't be recreated by any home gaming systems handheld controller.

Building a computer that can run MAME is no big deal, the hardware required doesn't need to be high end, the controls however are another story entirely. I plan to build a seriously small - authentic feeling arcade emulator PC... that said, I found this deal on two joysticks and a bag of 20 buttons for $42USD shipped, it smelled like a bargain.



I had researched building my own arcade controls and then debated over just buying a ready made solution instead of hacking my own. Seeing how much cheaper it is to just do it myself I figured I'd give that a shot first. I found some really small game pads, ten button w/retractable USB cable, I bought the last two Wal-mart had on clearance for $9.00USD apiece, these things are seriously freakin' tiny.



This next bit is taken directly from the ebay listing of the mini-ITX HTPC system I bought for $99USD with free shipping...

CPU : Intel Pentium M 1.80-GHz
Memory Total : 1GB PC2100 DDR SDRAM
HD : 2GB CompactFlash Installed.
Optical Drive : None
Network : Onboard integrated One (1) 10/100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet and One (1) 10/100Base-TX Fast Ethernet NIC
Floppy : None
Power Supply : Included 100V - 240V
Video : Onboard integrated video controller
Ports : Four (4) USB, Four (4) Serial, One (1) PCMCIA and Two (2) PS/2
Form Factor : Mini-ITX
Memory Config. : 1x1GB
Audio : Onboard integrated sound (Line-In and Mic)
Dimensions : 13" x 11" x 3" inches
Model Number : i3368G-LF
Condition : Used, tested, working, and sold with warranty, Power Adapter Included

I almost considered using it in the project as is, but I'm trying to use every bit of space I'll have wisely, the HTPC case is far bulkier than this project requires.



Before I could move on I had to be sure the computer works, and it does...



Everything gets unplugged and the fun part begins, time to dig in and see exactly what my $99 scored. Clockwise from the top left there is a 2GB 120X compact flash card, 1GB Samsung DDR PC3200 (listed as PC2100), two different PCI riser cards, a PCI PCMCIA adapter card and a mini-ITX motherboard with a P4 1.8GHz processor. It's actually a pretty nice board with features a modder might find useful... like dual LVDS connectors, that's just crazy.



But wait, there's more... like a seven foot power cord and power brick, a small 80W power supply and a neat little HTPC case. I could have ripped out the front mounted CF reader, power button, blue LED's and 60mm fan from the case, but didn't because I'll be using it in a future project. I checked and the PCI risers alone are worth $20... the PC is a great deal at $99.



Below is what I plan to use instead of a hard drive, a poor mans SSD. 16GB should be plenty of space for WinXP, pinMAME, MAME32 and a few gigabytes of ROMs. The adapter was $14 and the CF card was $31, so far the project total is $206... not too bad.



I knew this next part would be pricey, but I decided early on that this project deserved a touch screen. I found an ebay for an 18" commercial LCD touch screen with power cable for $175USD, it was too good a deal to pass up - here are the specs:

Part Number: EFL-1801X
LCD Panel: 18.1" Active Matrix (TFT)
Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024 @ 60 Hz / 75 Hz
Display Area: 360.4 mm X 288.9 mm
Pixel Pitch: .264 mm X .264 mm
Display Color: 16.7M
Contrast Ratio: 500:1
Brightness: 250 cd/m2 typ.
Viewing Angle: -80 ~ 80 (H), -80 ~ 80 (V)
Signal Input: Analog VGA (DB15)
Power Input: 12V DC, 3.8A
Touchscreen: 3M Cleartek 19.18" (13-5361-01MA)
Touchscreen Connector: Standard 9-Pin Serial (RS232) Cable
Touchscreen Controller: 3M Capacitive Serial EXII (5406120)
Dimensions(mm): 423.9(W) X 335.0(H) X 61.9(D)

I didn't have a DB9 serial cable so I haven't tested out the touch screen part of it, but the monitor itself works great, I ordered the serial cable off ebay for $6.99 with free shipping from Hong Kong... the project is at $388 so far.



Other than speakers, all of the parts are here. Time to do some measuring, this time I'm going to skip the usual pencil sketches and jump right into Google SketchUp. Here's a side measurements view...



3/4 side view showing parts placement...



Front view showing joystick and button placement...



And lastly the back view...



I still have to order speakers and the materials for the construction of the case, as soon as it all gets here this mods on like Donkey Kong.
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Old 4th Feb 2009, 23:42   #2
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The little mini-ITX computer looks like an iGologic product. Competent board and system used in POS systems. I had several of these - Cheapskate ended up with 2 of the power supply boards.

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Old 5th Feb 2009, 00:16   #3
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This is great, looks like you have found yourself some excellent bargains!
I will be keeping a close eye on this.
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Old 5th Feb 2009, 01:08   #4
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The desktop all-in-one but still arcade style system is a nice idea.
Much more practical than these huge cabinets you see people building.
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Old 5th Feb 2009, 09:46   #5
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My housemate still has a full-sized Arcade cabinet lying around, fully complete except for a display. Kind of a shame he isn't using it anymore

Good luck with this project
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Old 6th Feb 2009, 01:54   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhanlon303
The little mini-ITX computer looks like an iGologic product.
That is exactly what it is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveVader
This is great, looks like you have found yourself some excellent bargains!
None of it has been unreasonably priced so far, if everything works as expected when finished it will be awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfticket
The desktop all-in-one but still arcade style system is a nice idea.
Much more practical than these huge cabinets you see people building.
Exactly.

Quote:
My housemate still has a full-sized Arcade cabinet lying around, fully complete except for a display. Kind of a shame he isn't using it anymore
You should ask him to sell the cabinet to you cheap.

The small Logitech 2.0 speakers are ordered and on their way, but I still have to order the materials for the construction of the case. When the acrylic arrives I'm most likely going to have it all laser cut, below shows the sticks and buttons configuration I plan to use, it's a slightly condensed version of the 'Street Fighter' layout. The rectangle up top is where I plan to place a Matrix Orbital 2x16 character display... not really as anything useful, more just to look cool.

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Old 6th Feb 2009, 02:13   #7
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I found this place a couple days ago that does laser cutting. Prices don't seem evil.
http://www.ponoko.com/

Never used it yet - just found it.
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Old 25th Mar 2009, 17:35   #8
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I've decided not to use the touch screen monitor for this project, I was entirely wrong in thinking that MAME would or could in any way benefit from it. In all honesty I had hoped to score Megatouch software either by purchase or download, or a reasonable touch screen MAME type alternative. Sadly I have found nothing, and the touch screen would be totally wasted on this system... thankfully I have other plans and it will fit nicely into my next build.

Below is the Matrix Orbital display I plan to use, a pair of small speakers, a USB sound port adapter, a serial cable and VGA cable... not counting the Matrix Orbital (since I already had it) the total for the below shown parts is $32.



Big thanks to XGaming.com for sponsoring one of their cool BYO Arcade Kits (shown below) for this project. The nice thing about the BYO Arcade kit is that it only occupies a single USB port and it's geared to control two joystick/button layouts, whereas the game pads net a single layout and require a USB port each. I still plan on building arcade style controllers out of the two small USB game pads, but they will be built later as an add on to this project to enable four player games.



Overkill? Well, maybe. I bought a 24" vinyl cutter/plotter and 120 yards of adhesive backed vinyl. I figured it'd come in handy for making the yet to be designed project panel graphics. I've wanted to buy a vinyl cutter for a while, it actually cost less than the very first inkjet printer I bought... and that's exactly how I rationalized getting one. Ok, time to start putting this thing together - on to the build.



I bought a pair of 24 LED strips for $5.99 shipped off ebay, they measure 9 inches long each. I wired them up then fired them up, they are plenty bright and will be used to back light the front marquee.



I transferred my side panel measurements onto a sheet of 3/8" thick clear acrylic in preparation for cutting.



I used a jigsaw with a plastic cutting blade and a drill with a specialized plastic cutting bit and carefully cut out both side panels.



I set both side panels up, measured it out and then sloppily clamped them together just to get an idea of size and also to help me better visualize things.



I cut a few lengths of Aluminum Angle to size and roughly arranged them on the side panels, when attached they will be the framework upon which everything else will be built.

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Old 25th Mar 2009, 19:50   #9
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wow one retro modd
wry good!!
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Old 26th Mar 2009, 03:57   #10
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I am starting with the bottom and working my way up, the following picture shows the Alum-Angle lower framework all laid out, measured up and ready for drilling.



I used my Dremel Workstation and an 1/8" drill bit, the pieces of Aluminum Angle are (for now) held together with screws, they will be riveted together later on.



Below is the finished bottom section, I added the center support Alum-Angle piece to help sturdy things up and as a possible attachment point for hardware.

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Old 5th Apr 2009, 01:04   #11
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I was going to use an 18" touch screen monitor in this project, but that would have been a total waste - so I instead sacrificed one of my 19" Samsung 915N monitors. Not having dual 19" LCD monitors sitting side by side on my desk made little baby Jesus cry, I wasn't real happy about it either.



Fast forward three days and my two 19" LCD's that worked so great together have been replaced by two brand new wide screen full 1080P Samsung 21.5" monitors... shiny and awesome, the little monitor in front is my Cintiq 12WX tablet.



The Alum-Angle bottom framework is just that, framework... it's not a proper base for my arcade machine. Below is a piece of plywood I had in the shed, it fit almost perfectly as was. I marked it in preparation for cutting it using an 80mm hole saw and jigsaw.



The finished product is shown below, I have the Alum-Angle framing set on top to test for fitment.



I painted all the outer edges of the base with black acrylic paint and then cut two strips of plastic mesh to cover the side edge vents.



Back to the side panels... I traced all of the pieces of Alum-Angle onto the inside of one panel and then marked each aluminum piece for drilling.



The next picture shows all of the aluminum pieces drilled and lined up on the side panel, it also shows what twenty-six dollars worth of nuts, bolts, washers and screws looks like... crazy.



I lined up and taped both side panels together and then lined up all of the pieces of Alum-Angle and taped them down in preparation for drilling the acrylic.



Since the holes needed to be perfectly straight I bust out the drill press with a 13/16" TAP Plasdrill bit, the aluminum angle acted as a guide template and the bit cut through both acrylic panels like butter.



Below shows both sides of my side panels with their aluminum parts bolted on.



Well, now it's starting to look like something. I set my side panels onto the plywood base and then set the monitor inside to make sure it's all going to line up, so far so good.

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Old 12th Apr 2009, 03:48   #12
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I marked a sheet of .220" 18x24 Optix acrylic for cutting, it will become the top most panel and control panel. I also marked the side panel scrap piece that will be jigsaw cut to become a center brace for the control panel.



Below shows my front porch/work area. The chair closest to the corner has the top acrylic piece with a length of Alum-Angle double side taped and clamped onto it with my Mouse sander sitting next to it. Clamped down Alum angle and the sander work great for straightening screwy jigsaw cuts.



The following picture shows the top piece and control panel test fit... it let me know that I need to make some minor adjustments to a few pieces of Alum-Angle to make things fit together correctly.



I installed the center brace beneath the control panel and positioned paper templates for the buttons and joysticks layout, I also marked out the Matrix Orbital display location.



The hole saw kit is a $6.99 Harbor Freight special, it had the two sizes I needed and they cut holes in acrylic pretty good, well worth seven bucks anyway. Below shows the nearly finished control panel, it still needs a bit more filing before I can prep it for paint and final assembly.

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Old 13th Apr 2009, 03:30   #13
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I determined placement of the X-Arcade BYO Arcade controller board, filed down all the hole edges and dropped in both joysticks and sixteen buttons just to get an idea of where I'm at. I'm excited, it looks (exactly like my SketchUp design) and feels like an actual arcade machine.

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Old 13th Apr 2009, 09:30   #14
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Looks very interesting. I will follow this.
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Old 16th Apr 2009, 04:08   #15
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I cut all the pieces of acrylic needed to finish the outer casing and put it all together for a test fit... I still have to cut the speaker holes, but after that it'll be ready for masking and painting.

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Old 21st Apr 2009, 01:27   #16
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In the following picture you can see that I cut the legs off the speakers and marked their position onto the acrylic, now it's time to cut some speaker holes... to do this I will once again be using my handy $7 Harbor Freight hole saw kit.



Ok, speaker holes are cut and filed, below is a test fit. After I vinyl dye the acrylic sheet I plan to use some Weld-On 16 to permanently attach both speakers onto it.



I had to figure out a way to keep the monitor from shifting around inside the cabinet, I considered cheesing out and just running wood screws through the base, but I really didn't want to have to modify the monitor... below is what I came up with.



The monitor is held firmly in place by the three pieces of alum-angle and the front of the monitor base presses tightly against the control panel support brace I made. Doing it this way makes it easy to remove or replace the monitor if needed.

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Old 28th Apr 2009, 04:30   #17
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I used aluminum binding posts and plastic spacers to mount the motherboard and power supply to the back Alum-Angle, the IDE CF card was similarly mounted onto the plywood base using wood screws.



I decided to make the back panel out of pressboard because it's cheaper than acrylic and nobody will see it anyway. Below shows where I plan to install a 120mm fan that will be temperature controlled by the Matrix Orbital.



I cut my holes, assembled it all and then gave the back a couple coats of black spray paint, below shows the test fit.



I cut lengths of adhesive Velcro and placed them on the back framework and back panel, I figured Velcro was simpler and more forgiving than screws and it works great.



I drilled holes for both the power connector and the power button and also cut a couple USB ports into the bottom Alum-Angle, below shows everything installed.



I masked and prepped all of my acrylic pieces... too bad the sun went down before I could coat them with black vinyl color.



I spray painted a bunch of washers with black enamel and then transferred them to a paper plate to dry.



The next picture shows all of my acrylic vinyl colored black and ready for assembly.



All of the nuts and bolts are just finger tight right now, but I put it all together for a post paint test fit and to get an idea of how cool it's going to look when I'm finished.

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Old 28th Apr 2009, 04:41   #18
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What frontend are you planning on using?

I love this bartop mame machines, awesome log! My mame machine was one of the better things I've done with my time lol
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Old 2nd May 2009, 04:34   #19
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@ Abom - most likely just MAME32.

Since everything was out of it I decided to cut a couple more holes in the base so that the bottoms of both joysticks were accessible. I then reinstalled the motherboard, power supply and CF card IDE adapter card.



Next up, I installed the arcade control panel support brace, X-Gaming BYO Arcade controller board and the monitor into the cabinet.



I used Weld-On 16 to mount both speakers onto the acrylic panel and then clamped them down... Weld-On 16 dries clear and is some seriously wonderful industrial stuff.



The speaker panel and the monitor overlay acrylic panel are installed. I cut some of the bottom right monitor acrylic panel out so that the monitor controls can be accessed when the arcade controls panel is removed.



Below is my nearly completed arcade controls panel, for now it is just loose fit onto the cabinet, but both joysticks, all sixteen buttons and the Matrix Orbital display are installed.



Here's another look at the arcade controls panel from a top down perspective...



And a look at the back side - twenty four micro switches still need to be wired up to the BYO controller board, but not far now.

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Old 2nd May 2009, 06:30   #20
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jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.jhanlon303 is the Cheesecake. Relix smiles down upon them.
I did a ton of pinball back in the 60s. I have never played an arcade game so you will have to excuse me here but

D A M N this is nice. The detail, the effort is just amazing.

john
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