My First Custom MAME Cabinet
The Stats / Parts:
Currently, I run the SMAME (arcade), Gens (Sega Genesis), Stella (Atari 2600), Nemu64 (Nintendo 64), and X64 (Commodore 64) emulators on the cabinet, in addition to a number of "standard" PC games which seem to work well with the arcade controls or game pads (Spin, Xenon 2000, Motorcross Madness 1 & 2, Ultimate Race Pro, Doom, Doom 2, etc.) My front end of choice is (of course!) MAMErunner.
The main components:
The control panel is shown here in both its closed and open postions, the open exposing the wiring and control interface. The original control panel had been re-covered and re-drilled (rather poorly) to accommodate the extra buttons in the Clutch Hitter game (the original game in this cabinet, Joust, only uses a two-way joystick and one button). Since this control panel was in pretty poor shape and couldn’t be reworked to accomidate all the controls I wanted, it was scrapped, and we started fresh, building the control panel box you see completely from scratch (although it is almost identical to the original construction). I designed the control layout before actually performing the panel rebuild, the results shown in these mock-ups: Angled View / Top-Down View
The custom panel has two microswitch joysticks and 8 buttons per player, plus 2 coin and 2 start buttons to support two player games. All controls are wired up through an Ultimarc I-Pac. You can see the I-Pac in the foreground (with the PS/2 keyboard cables plugged into it), and the silver box on the far side of the control panel (the one with the wide, black, 48-pin D-Sub cable connected) is a connection panel which extends many of the ports found on the back of the motherboard to the front of the cabinet.
This connection panel was originally put in so that I could use headphones on the front panel or to connect external game controllers (game pads, etc.), but it has turned out that I use the USB connectors the most: I didn’t include a floppy disc drive in the cabinet (why bother, really?!), but I soon realized that once this machine was installed (and no longer on my home network), that the only way to transfer new files to the machine was by burning CD-ROMs. This became really annoying, having to waste a whole CDR just to push a few files out to the cabinet, and there was no way to copy files from the cabinet machine! Solution: I had an IBM MicroDrive sitting around (a 340 Meg harddrive which fits in a Compact-Flash Type-II slot, slightly bigger in surface area than a quarter), so I purchased a Compact-Flash USB "dongle", and I now had a mobile harddrive roughly equivalent in size to a floppy disc which plugs right into the front panel of my cabinet, and holds about 300 times as much data as a floppy would anyway. After using this for a while, I highly recommend this as a solution for moving relatively small amounts of data around — I also use the "dongle" with a 128Meg Compact Flash card, and it’s a really convenient way to move data around (if you don’t have a network available, that is :-).
The monitor unit and mainboard assembly are both fitted with mounting knobs which unscrew for easy removal, allowing the entire machine to break down into 3 major parts (cabinet, computer mainboard / CPU assembly, monitor assembly) for transport.
The Construction Process
The cabinet was then thoroughly sanded and completely repainted. The coin and lock box doors were also repainted and re-keyed (such that the keys would match my R-Type machine 🙂 I also painted the MAME side logos and designed a custom marquee, although I think I’ll probably "cheat" and buy some side and marquee art for my next cab’. 🙂
The Finished Product
The cabinet settles into place next to my R-Type machine… 🙂