Monday, March 9, 2009


We are both really pleased with the final product. Two months of work and we have an arcade machine in our dining room!

Video of the startup (with custom graphics/sounds) to come soon!


Installing the marquee wasn't the most fun thing to do, but I'm happy with the way it turned out. TIP: If you are building one of these things, print two copies of your marquee graphic. The guy at formerly-Kinkos accidentally printed two, and gave me both. I'm glad he did. What you see in the photo is both copies of the graphic stacked on top of each other, lit from behind. With just one copy, the paper isn't thick enough and the graphic gets washed out by the light. Just make sure they are lined up exactly. A thin strip of gaff tape held the 2 prints and a piece of acrylic on either side. The ribbing of the t-molding was stripped out and glued on, then the whole thing stuck on the front. Looking back on it, I would have rather used magnets.

Bo Jackson from Tecmo Bowl is the unofficial mascot of Return of the Super Kombat Turtles from Space II Turbo Remix. "So real it hurts" comes from an old ad for the Mortal Kombat arcade game.

The Guts

Here's the inside of the cab, under the monitor shelf. The PC with all the MAME software/roms, subwoofer (doom doom), speaker controls (in plastic baggie for dust protection), and Smart Strip to turn everything on at the same time.

We drilled a hole under the CP box and installed the secret power button. One push turns everything on, one push turns everything off.


We trimmed down the monitor bezel and acrylic with the Dremel and a razor blade for a more precise fit. After giving the TV a good Windexing, we lined up both pieces, tucked them behind the speaker panel, and drilled 2 screws (bottom left, bottom right) into the 2x2s to keep everything in place.


The first order of business after the paint was completely dry was to install the speakers. We used the screws that came with them, originally for holding them into the plastic cases. I extended the length of the wires so the control board (volume, treble, bass) could rest on the floor of the cab instead of dangling behind the monitor.

And from the front:

Friday, March 6, 2009

MAME Monitor Button from Dan Price on Vimeo.


Not much to say...high gloss, black, oil-based enamel. Used foam rollers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


While we were moving the CP panel off of the box to prime it (the box), the PS/2 cable got caught and ripped from the interface, leaving the connector still in it, and the cable on the floor. I won't go into detail on the expletives used, but they were bountiful.

"I'll just pick up another cable." Dumb.

Unfortunately, male-to-male PS/2 cables (PS/2 being a connection of the past anyway) are impossible to find in a store. Sure, they sell them online, but this thing is going to be finished by the weekend.

Thanks to Dave at work, who "lent" me 2 male-to-female PS/2 cables, I able to have at it with an old Weller soldering gun. Clip-clip go the female ends and strip-strip go the wires. Then strip-strip-strip-strip-strip-strip (x2) go the wires inside...PS/2 has 6 shielded connecting wires and 1 unshielded ground wire. Thankfully they were color-coded and matched up easily. Here was my set up.

Two battery clips to hold the two cables in place, and two clamps to hold the clips upright. I had a wet sponge to keep the gun tip clean. The first 4 or 5 went swimmingly, the solder melting like a champ, me breathing in all that glorious lead smoke.

Then, the gun decided to give out, and I resorted to soldering the that last two wires using my cigar lighter. Not the cleanest connections, but it worked! I electrical-taped everything together, and used the clamps (now zip ties) to keep any undue pressure or pulling away from the new connections.

Alex figured out what was wrong with Player 3 controls! It was just a break in one of the ground lines. One re-crimp and we were back in business! Now ALL the controls work, and we are happy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Up and Running! (for the most part)

We finished wiring the CP yesterday. All in all, connections and grounds, it maybe took 3 hours total. Not bad. Here's the orgy of wires that resides under the buttons and joysticks (black is ground, red, the connections):

And hooked it up to the monitor (X-Men vs. Street Fighter):

Going CRT for the monitor can't be beat. It looks like the real deal, and not distorted like it would on an LCD. Here's Rambo:

(Note: "for the most part" means that the Player 3 controls, as well as 4/6 Admin buttons don't work yet. Not sure why; we haven't done any troubleshooting (too busy playing :). Hopefully it's a quick fix.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cut, Strip, Crimp (Repeat)

We began wiring the CP last night, specifically daisy-chaining the ground wires. It was much of the same process, but we got it down to an assembly line sort of, and it really didn't take that long. Cut wire to length, strip both ends, stick into quick connect, crimp. Repeat 54 times. (Pro Tip: get GOOD wire strippers, it will make your life easier).

Half of the CP is daisy-chained together and goes into one ground on the interface. The other half? You guessed it.

All buttons and joysticks are grounded.


Well, primer, if you want to get technical (and a severely underestimated amount of it, at that).

CP Box

There is probably a better term for what we keep calling the control panel "box," but that's really all it is. The box that goes under the CP. We built that yesterday. Here it is.

Box on cab.

We (read: Alex) also routed for the T-molding. I didn't get a picture of the routing work because this was more interesting.

Bad guy smoke. Don't breathe this.

CP Assembly

The final step before we could start putting the CP together was to countersink the joysticks so they would be taller on the top. We did this with a Dremel and a woodcutting wheel (part no. 543).

We then bolted the joysticks down (countersinking the heads on top to fit under the graphic) and mounted the feet for the I-PAC 4 controller.

We layered graphic and acrylic, then started poking holes and installing buttons (not before lining it up numerous times, clamping, unclamping, and dremeling out more acrylic for the ones that didn't fit).

Aaannnnd the front (before the graphic got trimmed):