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Scratch Build – In Progress Project: The Answer (Full 4 player MAME cabinet) UPDATED 8/28/06

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Abom, 29 Sep 2005.

  1. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Hi all. I've been lurking these forums forever and now that I have a project worthy of a log I figured I'd Share it with you.

    OK then, where to start. About a year ago I was trying to find an old arcade cabinet or two for personal use, but the problem of which game to buy kept popping up. Then while searching for Arcade reproduction parts (some of the older cabs need some TLC) I discovered MAME and emulation. If you have no idea what I'm talking about please read this link.

    MAME home page

    Which then led me to this site, Build your own arcade controls This site is basically the bit-tech of arcades. Covering everything from repairs, artwork, customization to full on one-off cabinets.

    As for the Arcade cabinet itself there are many designs and I decided if I was going to do this, I would do it right. So no comprimises on space, materials ect. You basicly have 3 choices; 1 buy an old cabinet (pac-man) and gut it to make way for your equipment, 2 build one from scratch either using your own plans or someone elses and 3 buy a premade kit and customize/assemble it yourself, I went with option 3.

    [​IMG]
    This is the Ultimate Arcade II from www.mameroom.com They sell plans, kits, and fully assembled cabinets. After weighing the cost of tools, materials and time I decided to go with the kit.

    Unfortunatly it arrived this morning in less than perfect shape.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Soooo anyway I hate DHL :waah: , I called them and thier customer service is actually pretty good and contacted Scott over at the mameroom, they are express shipping 3 new panels to replace them.

    I also got this in the mail today from Slikstik [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    They are illuminated joystick balltops and one red anondized

    [​IMG]
    A spinner with a solid aluminium top also anondized red

    [​IMG]
    And the mother of all control panels, the slikstik quad. This sucker holds 4 players comfortably, room for a 5th joystick (dedicated 4 way for old-school games like pac-man) Huge 3" Trackball, spinner and buttons for days mmm... This sucker is 4 feet wide and must weigh 50lbs
     
    Last edited: 28 Aug 2006
  2. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Project: The Answer (Full 4 player MAME cabinet)

    Discussion area for my mame cab
     
  3. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Figured Id post the spec's on this puppy

    Mameroom Ultimate Arcade II Cabinet
    Pentium 4 3ghz PC
    1 gig ram
    ATI 8500 video card
    DVI to Component Adapter
    250gig sata hard drive (four of these puppies!)
    Kiplish promedia 2.1 Speaker/subwoofer
    Soundblaster Live 24!
    Generic DVD/CD player
    Wireless network card
    500 watt power suply (may need 2 of these, not sure yet)
    2 HAPP 360 optical joysticks
    2 Happ Competition Joysticks
    1 Happ 4 way joystick
    18 translucent red pushbuttons
    18 translucent blue pushbuttons
    08 Translucent (clear) Pushbuttons
    03 Black Bushbuttons
    3" Translucent Blue trackball (looking forward to golden tee! happ also)
    Slikstik Spinner
    Custom translucent balltops for joysticks
    27" JVC TV (ultimate MAME TV, has insane options for a tv)
    Smartstrip power strip (basicly the ultimate power strip, allows me to power up and down the entire system with one button, no easy task
    Custom one-off sideart, control panel overlay and Marquee graphics by Snaake

    Thats about 1/2 the stuff you need for one of these suckers, Im leaving out the LED's, Resistors, Coin doors ect.. The little things but will expand on them as I go.
     
    Last edited: 30 Sep 2005
  4. JonDixon

    JonDixon Decking is the new modding

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    Pretty sweet looking kit. Have looked at getting a cab before, so Im glad of your thread, as I'll now look at mameroom. I'd never heard of that site before.

    Anyway keep us posted on the build. Are you going with any graphics for the cabinet?
     
  5. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    yeah, as I posted in the thread I'm having a guy design it, he is pretty well known on the arcade forums for designing fighter themed art. I'm having him design me a marvel vs capcom type theme. One half of the cab will be red theme'd the other blue (hence all the red and blue illuminated buttons and controls. With a marquee marrying up the two themes. Ill keep you updated on the art as he gives me samples.
     
  6. mattthegamer463

    mattthegamer463 New Member

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    innocent question: the specs are great, why waste that on a arcade machine playing 20 year old arcade games? youve got like a terabyte of HDD space, which is 500times more than youll need for a deticated mame computer. will it play other stuff too, like modern games with a arcade control interface?
     
  7. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Good question. First off, I love the 20 year old games but Im mainly building this for newer games, street fighter II, mortal kombat, golden tee ect. The way mame works is the emulation is almost 100% off your processor speed so GHZ is king, 3ghz Pentium 4 will play 99% of all mame games and the other 1% arent playable till we have a 10ghz + computer.

    As for the hard drive space, I have about 450dvd's (yup DVD's) worth of material I am putting on there not to mention about 100gigs of music (The reason I put a soundcard and those awesome speakers in there) As it is with 1TB of storage I will have to weed out some stuff to fit it on there. With the prices of hard drives now I was going to get even more storage but reason prevailed.

    Also, as for the modern game question. The way MAME works you have to have roughly 10x the processor speed of the origional game to emulate it. That means games made in the last 3-5 years are unplayable sooo... Im also going to hack up a dreamcast and put it in the cabinet and I also have an Xbox that I just put a 300gig hard drive in that will be integrated into the cabinet for the modern games.

    The arcade machines you see running of pentium III's or sometimes (gulp) pentium II's all have to use stripped down OS's (linux, dos, win 98 stripped) I'm going to make a very graphics heavy frontend in windows XP, same with the jukebox.

    Another reason to go with that strong of a computer is emulation of consoles. N64, SNES, PS1 ect need a faster computer to be emulated effectivly. That is also why you see my control panels #3 and #4 players have more than 3 buttons (no arcade game ever made has more than 3 buttons for players number 3&4, but N64 does)

    And probably the best reason is this, I didnt have a spare computer to put in this cabinet. So I had to go buy one, and what Ive noticed is the older stuff isnt always cheaper. I got this computer on ebay for 187$ bucks. I had him upgrade it to 3ghz but even so I think its a great deal and I already have the hard drives, memory and power supply's from another system.
     
  8. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Ok started assembly of the kit, and its a pretty good idea the way they have the fasteners using a cam kit. Stops screwups from stray screw's and glue and its fairly secure, and also brings in the possiblity of disassembly. The one catch is Im not sure if I see it being robust enough so I think Ill add some angle iron and brackets to beef it up. Also, T-moulding isnt the easiest thing to install with all the convex and concave curves on these pieces.

    This is the base with T-moulding, I'm going to delay putting on the back till I get my computer and lights installed, wired and secured just to make my life easier.
    [​IMG]

    This is a trial fit of the control panel top, I wish you could see the size of this thing, I didnt realize it till I put this on top but this sucker is HUGE. I have a breakfast nook and was planning on putting this arcade and a pepsi machine there, looks like the pepsi machine is gonna have to find a new home.
    [​IMG]
    Dont mind the wierd spots on the pictures, its dust floating around in the air from building this thing.

    I don't like the way this entire cab rests on the two sides of particle board. I just dont see how it will support all this weight (I estimate upto 500lbs) without any damage over time or if I move so I think im going to have to investigate puting on casters or some such thing.
     
  9. OtakuHawk

    OtakuHawk New Member

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    the particle board should support the weight fine, it's strong on compressive forces, but crap against shear. the way they design most of the desks and stuff they make of particle is the same.


    EDIT: but some crossbracing wouldn't hurt. I suppose you'll have to put some brackets in to mount the hardware anyway.
     
  10. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Yeah I ran to home depot and bought some stamped steel corner braces and some angle aluminium. Its not so much the supporting the weight, its supporting the weight and wear and tear from movement/time. I seem to move once a year and I would like to insure against any sloppy movers. Its small insurance for something Ive invested this much time/money into.
     
  11. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Sorry for the delay in updates but between vacation, my camera breaking and insane overseas shipping delays it took me awhile to make any progress or be able to record it.

    Well enough of the BS. Basicly I knew from the begining the software and the control panel were going to be the hardest parts of the project by a long shot. I decided to do the control panel first.

    This is the Blank control panel before any electronics or art.
    [​IMG]

    I was extremely concerned about the art I was going to use and found a guy to do it for me, he is good but man oh man is he slow as hell. This is the art he came up with for the control panel.

    [​IMG]

    I also did a layer in photoshop to show you where the controls will fall on that art. This is on a slightly older version of the art but the first picture is actually what was printed in a much higher resolution version.

    [​IMG]

    I had scott over at www.mamemarquees.com print it for me. Talk about a helpful guy, he does this in his spare time and walked me through what I thought I wanted (I was wrong lol) and corrected me and the image a bit to make it come out as nice as possible.

    At first I wanted the art printed out and to put a thin 1/8" layer of lexan over it to protect it. He warned me that it would take away from some of the arcade feel I wanted and that while it would protect the art in most ways the lexan itself would scratch and haze over time. He reccomended (and I followed his advice) that I have it printed out on vynil with a polycarbinate laminate on it. This stuff is bulletproof (well its what bulletproof glass is made out of :)) I'm very glad I went with his advice.

    I was worried about actually applying the art, air bubbles ect.. But with the amount of holes in the Control panel and the thickness of the material it went on without a hitch.

    Here is the finished exterior pictures (had to use two pictures because with it on the cabinet I cant get far enough away to put it in the picture)

    Left Side
    [​IMG]

    Right Side
    [​IMG]

    I love the way it turned out and wish I could take a good enough photo to convey how cool it looks.
     
  12. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Now part of my excuse for taking so long to post replys was the length of time it took me to wire the control panel, to be honest this was a nightmare... I would be stripping wires and soldering till my fingers were raw and burnt for days, It took me probably 10 hours to do this. Never ever again lol.

    Evil wires!
    [​IMG]

    I went through 4 spools of wire setting that sucker up! Now buttons are fairly simple to wire. One wire goes to a common ground (used a block to collect them all) so you only have one wire to really worry about. But I decided to make my life a living hell and put a superbright LED in the middle of each button thereby doubling my wiring nightmare, looks killer but WOW no fun. Now at this point you have a few choices. 1 hack a keyboard and attach the buttons to that hacked keyboard or buy basicly a keyboard emulator to do the same thing just cleaner, I went the second route with whats called an I-PAC from www.ultimarc.com. This guy was great, he shipped from the UK to the United States but his shipping took 1/2 the time of most of my local suppliers for this stuff!

    This is the IPAC wired up.
    [​IMG]

    Well once you get your keys wired up there is the issue of analog controls, trackballs and spinners. Again you have basicly the same two choices, 1 hack a mouse or buy a cleaner version. I went with the same company and purchased whats called an Opti-PAC. It allows the input of multiple analog devices and has a nice feature of automaticly disabling the unused extra controls so they dont interfere with your game. For example if your playing Golden Tee and someone bumps the mouse or spinner it doesnt move your trackball ect... Spinner super simple, plug in a USB cable and it worked, woot! Trackball I just had to cut the harness and wire it to the opti-pac, very simple also.

    This is the bottom of the trackball with a 9 LED light array I wired to it, it all looks very ghetto but its all solder'd together propperly the electrical tape is just to stop an accidental short

    [​IMG]


    This is that Opti-PAC
    [​IMG]

    I used two different kinds of joysticks, an optical 360 and an Ultimate 8 way. Its been debated to death but a slight majority belives the Optical 360 from www.happcontrols.com is the best fighter joystick in the world. I decided to go with 2 of those for players one and two and 2 ultimates from the same company for players 3 and 4 (Opticals are very expensive so decided to use the ultimates because there are no known games that could even take advantage of them for player number 3&4)

    The opticals wire pretty easy, there is 4 terminal hookups that are labeled, very straight forward.

    The ultimates were a tad more difficult but still very very simple. They actually had 4 of the switches the arcade buttons use the only confusing part is figuring out that when you push up, the down switch is activated, so you have to wire everything backwards.

    Picture of the ultimate
    [​IMG]

    Now the last two controls I hooked up were some of the more exciting ones for me, GUNS! Ahh dont ask me what it is about americans and guns, but I love'em. Unfortunatly even though americans love guns they love lawsuits and political correctness even more soo I ran into a problem with lightguns. They all either looked like unusually colored sex toys or ray guns. The closest I could come to finding a gun that was cool I would have had to vynil dye it to not be embarrased. My issue was with the high amount of use they would get I didnt want it to look at all thrown together so The English to save the day!

    I found the brits have no such willy nilly problems with selling completly realistic guns to children, as a matter of fact my choices were almost overwhelming in volume. I finaly settled on this bad boy..

    The P99L from logic 3
    [​IMG]

    Ahhh this puppy is nice, Tons of buttons for quick reloads, autofire buttons, intigrated laser sight and most importantly a blowback/recoil feature just like the arcades.

    [​IMG]

    This puppy is bad, its a full replica of a Ruger P89DC.

    This is a picture to give you an idea of how the blowback works

    [​IMG]

    Now these suckers are by no means plug and play, oh no :p This is probably one of the more umm custom solutions to mounting a control. These are actually Guncon2 controlers for the playstation 1 and 2. Thankfully sony made the ps2 usb compatible instead of forcing some new wierd thing down our throat like they usually do so you would think it would be simple but noooo.

    Apparently the power coming from the USB port is enough to power the gun and trigger but not the blowback or the laser site. Well thats just not acceptable sooo in comes the custom wiring part.

    Someone came up with this very complicated, very high tech wiring diagram
    [​IMG]

    It supplies the missing 9v that the PS2 provides to enable those features.

    Now as I'm sure you can imagine USB or not this wasnt exactly plug and play, we need a driver. Very recently someone wrote one (recently meaning last week lol) and he released it! The guy who wrote it goes by the name of Smog and I'm very grateful for his work, this is a link to his website and that driver. http://xoomer.virgilio.it/smogdragon/ Up until this point it wasnt actually possible to do this with one exception a company called actlabs that makes wierd tiny rayguns for mame, universally accepted as garbage and very very expensive.

    I didnt really document each wire crimp just because after watching these forums I think this project is within reach easily of the majority of people on here, its just different not really difficult. These controls are by far the hardest part so far so if your considering doing one of these I highly reccomend it.
     
  13. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    While I was at it I decided not only to make this an arcade cabinet but a jukebox as well the only thing I would need extra was a soundcard and speakers. I went with a Soundblaster live sound card and Klipsch Promedia 2.1 speakers .

    [​IMG]

    Man those speakers sound great, so good infact I purchased a 2nd set for my computer. I had an issue with making the speaker panel above the monitor look good with these speakers mounted inside thier pods and was unwilling to remove the pod's in fear they wouldnt sound as good so I cheated.

    [​IMG]

    Its not that easy to see in this picture but its not that easy to see in person either, I cut the holes for the speaker pods and mounted them with some alluminium L channel and just covered the board with speaker grill, looks great imho.

    If you notice on the picture there is a volume and subwoofer control mounted there, I took it off the base of one of the speaker pods and filed it flat and mounted it to the outside of that board for easy access, works like a charm.

    Now the subwoofer I just mounted to the inside of the cabinet but I had an issue with it rattling inside of the cabinet so I cut up a few pieces of styrofoam and used those to mount the subwoofer on top of.

    [​IMG]

    The subwoofer is on the right, no flack for the wiring job either, I havent figured out some of the placement of a few items yet so I cant finalize the wire routing yet.

    As for the results, wow these things ROCK. I can shake the windows in this place with the bass the comes out of that little 10" sub and the mid's and high's are insane. The speakers cost more than I would have liked but thier reviews were unmatched and I'm glad in the end I used them.
     
  14. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Thought I would bump this since its been about 6 weeks since an update, there are about 3 updates in the project log as of today :)
     
  15. Lemmingzappa

    Lemmingzappa New Member

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    I really really really want to build something similar to this, im serously considering it, but the main problem is, im TOO scared to solder all that stuff, I made a mess of my LCD mod, and I dont want to have to go through the pain again. I dont know what to do :(
     
  16. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    there is nothing to be afraid of, the only thing I used sauder on was connecting wires to the ends of LED's or resistors, or when I connected 2 wires together. If your ok without having the clear/translucent buttons and wanted a more traditional cabinet I dont see how you would ever even touch a solder iron. The majority of DIY stuff comes from making the wood portion, if you want every other item without fail can be basicly plug and play minus the software.

    If you can build a computer without much hassle and can or are willing to try woodworking (not the most complex skills are needed by any strech) I say go for it.
     
  17. Doctor

    Doctor New Member

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    The link didn't explain this, I guess if the main socket starts using power it activates secondary outlets? So to turn on the other stuff you'd just fire up the PC and its power draw fires everything up?
     
  18. allforcarrie

    allforcarrie Banned

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    Great work!
     
  19. Abom

    Abom New Member

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    Exactly
     
  20. comp1demon

    comp1demon New Member

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    Some Mame Help with my cabinet

    Hey I love your Work in progress.

    I've been keeping up as reseach for my mame cabinet.

    I also ordered a Cabinet from Mame room. Should be here in a few days. I hope it isn't destroed like yours was and I also have to order new parts and wait. That time hasn't come yet so i wont worry bout that now.

    Anyways. I was Curious What Model JVC TV you are using. I was going to order a Wells Garner D9200 But i hear they have problems. SO i was curious what 27" you were using?

    Also can you take better pictures of how you mounted the Klipshe speakers. I was going to Logitech Speakers but they seem to have the same shape so i was curious how you did.

    ALso i give you mad respect for doing all the wireing. I had slikstick make my entire Quad for me $1000+ expensive but worth it.

    Lastly Is that Light gun for games like time crisis? Let us all know how that works out. I was gonna go with an Act labs setup, but dam that gun is SWEET. Maybe i'll splurge and go the same route.

    As for my PC, no where near as powerful as yours but more POWER TO YA (your mame Cabinet that is...)

    Lastly how are you connecting from the ATI to the TV? RGB? Svideo? VGA? SInce I don't know the model number I cant figure it out.

    Again good luck and what a great cabinet...

    I hope you can help me out I really would love to have all the right information as my project progresses.

    Thanks and Happy H Day's
    Chris
     

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