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Building a MAME Arcade Cabinet

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Blog entry by Greg Wurst posted 07-31-2008 03:42 AM 17077 reads 15 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) allows you to play old arcade games on your PC. While playing them with a keyboard and mouse is OK, to really get the experience you need an arcade cabinet. I could spend some time on just the PC setup, but I’m going to just concentrate on the cabinet construction here. I built this back in 2003 over the course of a week.

If you’re interested in more info on MAME and where to get needed hardware you can check the project page here:

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/9022

I have many more pictures than what I will show here, so if you want to see my complete album on Photobucket go here:

http://s277.photobucket.com/albums/kk49/gwurst/MAME%20Machine/

Anyway, on with the show!

The cabinet is largely 3 sheets of MDF and a couple 2×4’s, so parts are cheap (until you get into the controls!)

I drew the side layout on The MDF and used a jigsaw to cutout the shape.

I then clamped to the two sides together and used a belt sander to smooth the edges and make them identical. This is also where I rounded the edges for the T-molding.


Cutout the control panel piece.

Layout the attachment points on each side for the various braces.


Attach the base to the sides. The 2×4’s and other pieces are attached with countersunk wood screws and glue.

Attach the other cabinet pieces. Now it’s starting to look like an arcade cabinet! The cabinet sits on heavy-duty caster so you can roll it around (MDF is heavy!).


Attach the drawer and door.


Back access door.

Automotive speakers are attached to panels to allow easy change-out should they need to be replaced.

Attach control panel sides.

The control panel rest over another panel attached to the cabinet with a hole in the back to allow cables to run through. This panel is just screwed-on to allow removal to get the cabinet through a door (with the panel removed you can get it through a standard 32” door frame).

Layout controls on control panel and cut holes.


Patching screw holes before priming and painting.

Word of advice – Rout the slots for the T-molding BEFORE assembly. I was fortunately able to use wood putty but when I built one of these for my in laws I routed the slots right after the sides were cut.

Prime and paint with the Wagner power painter.






After attaching laminate to the control panel I recut the holes for the controls.

Attach T-molding to the cabinet.

Fun time! Attaching and wiring the controls.



The monitor is the perfect width and just rests against a couple braces. The monitor control board is mounted to the platform.



PC and subwoofer go in the cabinet. I wired the speaker leads to the automotive speakers on the top of the cabinet. The volume control is on a separate control that is velcroed to the bottom of the control panel.

Print the marquee and attach it between a couple Plexiglas panels with a fluorescent light behind to shine through.

Drape cloth over the speakers to keep light from shining-through.

Attach Plexiglas to the front to protect the monitor.

Let’s play!


Thanks for looking!

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.



19 comments so far

View itsme_timd's profile

itsme_timd

688 posts in 2526 days


#1 posted 07-31-2008 03:49 AM

What a neat project, and a great blog of the process. I’d love to have one of these!

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8791 posts in 2795 days


#2 posted 07-31-2008 05:44 AM

That is just too stinkin’ COOL!

Space Invaders was my favorite.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

348 posts in 2528 days


#3 posted 07-31-2008 12:55 PM

Very cool. Did you use an online design reference for this? What about the sourcing of parts? I’d love to learn more.

update….nm…I just saw that you posted this info on the project page for this. Thanks!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL http://www.TenonAndSpline.com/blog

View Brad_Nailor's profile

Brad_Nailor

2531 posts in 2652 days


#4 posted 07-31-2008 01:41 PM

Nice! What a cool project. looks like a professional video game. I’m a little disappointed in you though Greg…wheres the elaborate Sketchup drawings? I thought you were a Sketch a holic like me and cant screw two pieces of wood together without 5 pages of 3D drawings! ;)

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248

View thebaldguy's profile

thebaldguy

22 posts in 2282 days


#5 posted 07-31-2008 02:20 PM

If you don’t mind me asking about how much total for everything and what are the dimensions of the cabinet.

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

781 posts in 2527 days


#6 posted 07-31-2008 02:22 PM

2003 was a wee bit before Sketchup and I became intimately acquainted. ;)

Don’t worry, though, I was just as anally-retentive then. :)


I changed the control panel from the plan, but otherwise it’s what I went with.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View captainfats's profile

captainfats

5 posts in 2696 days


#7 posted 07-31-2008 07:53 PM

Very Very cool… Electronics and woodworking… how much more fun do ya need.. MAME rocks.

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2683 days


#8 posted 07-31-2008 08:04 PM

I think I’ll have to make one of those!

Very cool!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

781 posts in 2527 days


#9 posted 07-31-2008 09:25 PM

Because you asked and I’m bored, I’m creating a Sketchup file for this. I’ll post it once it’s done.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

781 posts in 2527 days


#10 posted 08-01-2008 02:53 AM

Ok, I’ve created a Sketchup drawing and material list for the cabinet. It does NOT include the control panel since it will vary depending on what controls you want. I also did not include the 2×4 bracing and MDF braces for the panels on the material list, but they are in the Sketchup drawing so you can get the dimensions from there. You will also have to determine how you want to mount your display since it’s unlikely you’ll have the same monitor I did.

You can get teh files as well as a couple marquee images and a JPG of a control board here:

http://cid-258899c12334cc4d.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/MAME

THEBALDGUY – I had the PC and monitor, so a large bit of the cost was already absorbed. I think I spent about $700 total.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Alan's profile

Alan

19 posts in 2395 days


#11 posted 08-01-2008 06:01 PM

Nice work! Fun to make and play.

View JamesRyan's profile

JamesRyan

9 posts in 2402 days


#12 posted 08-13-2008 05:42 PM

Hi
Great project – I just completed mine as well. But I was interested in what software you are using for the emulator as well as happ controls?

Tks

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

781 posts in 2527 days


#13 posted 08-13-2008 06:08 PM

I use Advance Mame for DOS and Game Launcher for the frontend:

http://advancemame.sourceforge.net/
http://www.dribin.org/dave/game_launcher/

As for the controls, I went with the Happ 8-way Super Joystick:
http://www.happcontrols.com/joysticks/super_joy.htm

For the diagonal 4-way I went with the Universal Joystick:
http://www.happcontrols.com/joysticks/universal_joy.htm

Trackballs are the 3” High-Ball:
http://www.happcontrols.com/trackballs/560110xx.htm

Pushbuttons are the Competition Pushbuttons:
http://www.happcontrols.com/pushbuttons/5896xxl.htm

Spinner was an Oscar Model 3, which I don’t believe can be bought new anymore:
http://retroblast.arcadecontrols.com/reviews/roundup2.html

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View JamesRyan's profile

JamesRyan

9 posts in 2402 days


#14 posted 08-13-2008 09:33 PM

Very nice – i have been using http://www.maximusarcade.com/ and have had a lot of success.
It also turn your machine into a jukebox – puts that woofer to use . smile.

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

781 posts in 2527 days


#15 posted 08-13-2008 10:14 PM

I dual-boot into Windows to access my media server and my audio files. I don’t use a frontend there, just the trackball as a mouse and buttons on the side of the control board for the mouse buttons. If needed I pull-out the keyboard tray.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

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