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Mame cabinet builders / buyers /sellers

Discussion in 'General Video Gaming Chat' started by peterc, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. peterc

    peterc
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    Hi all
    I built a mame cabinet a while ago from a reclaimed original cab, and am now moving to some where with a little less room to store it, and was wondering if any one here is interested in this sort of thing..?
    Just to get an idea for interest sake, not wanting to sell yet, as I would like to try and squeeze it into my my place..
    Also would be interested to chat to any one in a similar situation, and whos into retro arcade stuff in general
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  2. JUS

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    Hi Pete,

    I haven't bought anything yet but I sure am interested. I would love a Pheonix (dodgy spelling?) machine.

    I don't really know my stuff. I think I'll be looking for an original single game cabinet rather than a generic one.

    Haven't worked out how to get it past the Mrs yet.

    Jus.
     
  3. CrystalClear

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    I got my feet wet a few weeks ago with a Mortal Kombat 1 PCB Kit. It included the Marquee and all needed wires to connect the boards. I need to get a JAMMA harness for it, and an audio adapter plus a video adapter so I can hook it up to my TV and high-end audio system. Basically, I'll be creating a box that acts like a console system and I just plug each board into a pin connector to play whatever game I want.

    Some putsy wiring stuff to do, but other than that, I've been watching a few of my favorite boards on eBay lately. Would like to do a machine, but even when I get the room later on, I really don't see the need. The overall reason I probably won't build a cabinet is because I like to send EVERY possible video signal alive to my 36" sony vega, and every possible audio signal alive to my B&W 604s. When I get a projector here pretty soon and a 120ish inch wall screen, that will take the place of my tv.

    If it weren't for my setup of everything kinda of working together and such a versatile setup, I'd want to build a machine. I still might get a coin door just to monkey with it though! :)

    Other than the arcade stuff, I also get into console game systems. For example, I have a small little set of 18 NES catridges for my front loading and top loading NES. However, slowly but surely, I'm replacing all the original catridges with the "complete" form found off eBay(box, manual, and all inserts included). Nostalgia :). I kinda want the complete form of everything since, before the past few months when I got serious about it, I eventually ended up losing boxes and manuals :(.

    I have the following game systems:
    front loading nes
    top loading nes
    2 sega dreamcasts
    sega genesis
    sega cd
    super nes
    playstation 1
    nintendo 64
    gameboy classic
    sega game gear
    atari 2600
    a modern pc for modern games and emulators
    a legacy type computer for dos games and fairly modernish 90's game that crash like it's going out of style on Windows XP/2000/NT.

    if you wanna pm about all sorts of retro type stuff, feel free to do so peterc.
     
  4. peterc

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    PM on it way CrystalClear! :)
     
  5. beng

    beng
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    I've decided to take the cabinet plunge although I'm going with a PC running mame rather than a supergun type system.

    To say I'm looking forward to getting it is an understatement. To get started, I read up on mame and did a bit of research in and around the community. Then I went to ebay with the idea of doing it myself. Seeing as that would have taken quite a bit of time due to the enormous learning curve, I found someone on ebay that offered a conversion service. Http://www.mamecabs.com. We've only just started really. These two guys seem to do this as a hobby and to make a bit of extra cash on the side. Their feedback is superb and the communication so far has been excellent. Hopefully the service and delivery will be just as good.
     
  6. peterc

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    Do it your self man, no learning curve if you have people like me that have done it before to ask! It really was very cool, but i do know a little about electronics and the like, so i would say if your in that boat, give it a bash!
    Ask any q's i'd be more than happy to answer, although i'm on my hols tomorrow till next fri..
     
  7. CrystalClear

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    The amount of electronics tinkering and wiring stuff that's involved in an arcade cabinet i'm pretty fluent with IMO. I could help were needed also.

    Save a few dollars, allow yourself the power of customization, and do it yoursefl. I second that notion!
     
  8. MatC

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    Been down that route myself.
    Bought an old Cabinet, and a couple of boards which I played with for a while.
    Got bored with that, so I mamed the cabinet, pretty easy, get a JPAC, which interfaces the JAMMA harness to the PC, loaded up mame and thats the basics. Eventually the original monitor blew, so I've put in a PC monitor, which the purists will tell you is a bad thing, however for me its much easier to configure and the display looks about the same.
    Good fun, but can take ages to choose a game from the list!
    You'll need a meaty pc if you want to run some of the newer stuff on mame, but I'm more interested in the classics so its not a problem.
     
  9. CrystalClear

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    Yeah, Matc is right. If you're looking at a PC-powered cabinet, with strictly game support as the number 1 goal, you're looking at the fastest processing-based computer you can build with today's technology. With that kind of a PC, a few games still won't be 100% speed. Luckily for me, a hair over 2ghz will run everything I want to run. I'm sticking with my idea of building a home console PCB switcher type thing that'll easily interface into whatever video outputting device I choose(TV, projector, etc.) and my audio system. MAME32 only counts 118 games for me, so I don't have the dreaded mile long list of games which takes hour to search. Trying to choose a character on marvel vs capcom 2, now that's another story.

    Even though it's nothing new to me, I'm still facinated in people's setups. Anybody got any photos of their emulation/cabinet/arcade related projects they'd care to share? :smashin:
     
  10. shoehorn

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    So how much should it cost to put together something with a PC of 1.5 Ghz or so....?
     
  11. CrystalClear

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    Last time I checked, the computer I have would cost around $500-$600.

    My computer is:
    average case(replaced with a $100 sleek black case, but this is irrelevant to you)
    ASUS A7N8X MOBO(on-board 6 channel analog surround, or digital stereo out support - need to order a cheap part for this though, on-board lan also, 4 USB)
    512mb PC2100 DDR ram
    AMD 2000+ CPU(1.67ghz)
    Radeon 9000 vid card(64 mb, 400mhz, tv-out)
    40 gb hard drive

    cd writer
    17" monitor, keyboard, mouse

    Tiger Direct is selling AMD 2000+s for $63. Mine was 85 bucks a year ago when I bought it.

    And you can usually find a gutted cabinet for dirt cheap. This varies, but a while ago(like a year or so), I could've got a complete and fully working x-men vs street fighter machine for $200 locally. The 25/27"(can't remember which size) monitor in it is worth it alone. I'm sure you realize what else you can turn up...
     
  12. beng

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    Thanks for the advice and offers of help guys - If I had just a little more confidence in my soldering and wiring ability then I may have given it a go. As it is though, the time / money / potential electrocution ratio means that someone else gets the job!
     
  13. CAS FAN

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    Hi Beng!

    Mame machines are a doddle to build mate, the only remotely tricky bit is getting the software to run correctly on an arcade monitor. Instead of going down the route of using a PC monitor (which simply just doesn't look right anyway), just get yourself a decent working JAMMA cabinet. Then get a J-Pac board (as has been mentioned above)from www.ultimarc.com and connect your keyboard port and graphics card port on the computer your using to the J-Pac. Some graphics cards are a bit dodgy but I use an Nvidia TNT card ok and ATI Rage cards are supposed to work well. Ultimarc actually sell an arcade VGA card as well so with some extra expense you can get an "out of the box" solution. If you are not using an Arcade VGA card then run mame using the AdvanceMame frontend which can program your card to output at the correct frequency for an arcade monitor. This way you do not have to modify your cabinet and you get the proper screen and controls. To get sound the best way is to use PC speakers (I have some housed behind the marque). As stated previously, you will need a decent computer to run the more modern games though...if you just want to run the old classics though then a cpu like my 800mhz duron with 256mb of ram does the job.
     
  14. danny-p

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    Can you or anyone else please explain your comment on a pc monitor not looking right for mame roms?
    If not then what about a panasonic plasma set @ 4:3..surely a arcade monitor isnt better @ reproducing a better picture or am i wrong?
    Thanks

    Danny-p
    PS How much & where would you buy an arcade monitor...say a 25"....cheers
     
  15. CAS FAN

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    Hi Danny,

    The point is that the purpose of reproducing arcade games via emulation is authenticity. With an arcade monitor it obviously looks more authentic and you don't have to use the software scan lines function for example to try and make it look authentic.

    Arcade games (at least the older ones) also run at low resolutions so would look quite blocky on a plasma. It depends what you're after though - if it's the authentic arcade feel then you really need proper arcade controls and an arcade monitor.

    Cost wise, don't bother building a machine from scratch, and buying an arcade monitor. Just buy a JAMMA cabinet with a 20" or 25" monitor off ebay! Expect to pay £100 to £200 depending on the quality of the cabinet. I have a 20", 2 player (6 button per player) cab in nice condition and that cost around £150. The monitor is nice and sharp with great colour and the games look perfect on it. Just stick a reasonable PC in it (can build a decent one for around £200) with a J-Pac interface and you're away!
     
  16. beng

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    My deal with Mamecabs has fallen through - unfortunateluy the guy has a day job that's just eating into his time too much!!!

    And I respect that. However now I'm going to be self building and dicing with expensive equipment death!
     
  17. CAS FAN

    CAS FAN
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    Beng...You shouldn't need to build anything, solder anything or dice with expensive equipment death.

    Just do a Mame to JAMMA cab as i've explained in previous posts. This involves no building or electronic knowhow...just a generic JAMMA cabinet (loads about in varying styles & sizes etc) a J-PAC board to interface the computer with the JAMMA connector and a PC with ADVANCEMAME and the MAME roms installed running in dos 7.0 (can be booted into from WIN 98). If your PC will fit (like mine does) and you do not need to use it for other things then stick it inside your cabinet.

    Simple as that ....once you have the bits you need you can stick it all together in 10 mins! The only tricky bit is getting Advancemame to run in dos with a working soundcard etc. There is loads of help on the net for this though and I had it up and running within the hour. To make it even easier you can splash out on an ARCADE VGA card from ultimarc and this will even run mame in windows on your cab! That option will take around 15 mins from start to finish to put all the bits together and install the card drivers etc - you'll be up and running after that!

    To build a cab from scratch needs decent equipment (or a pre cut self assembly pack) to make a decent looking cab. It really needs some sort of laminate over the wood to look good. You need to wire up the controls (not difficult but extra hassle). You need to build a shelf or mount for the monitor. At the end of the day it's far too much hard work for something that doesn't even have the authenticity of an arcade monitor.
     
  18. MatC

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    Spot on advice.
    If you like I have an arcade vga card (AGP) which I bought from Ultimarc. Hardly used and now not needed. Might need some digging around to find it, let me know if your interested and I'll go looking....

    If you stick with a "standard" sound card, for example a creative labs one, dos support is much better, I gave in and bought an ISA (old non PCI) Soundblaster Awe32. In it's day a fine card, and came with DOS support, so setting up was a breeze.
     
  19. CAS FAN

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    Yeah I was very tempted by one of those MatC but it just over ran my budget so I made do with an Nvidia TNT card I had knocking about. Works ok though. I used a Soundblaster live card which was easy enough to setup after downloading the dos drivers for it.

    I'd see if you can purchase MatC's Arcade VGA card if I were you Beng, it really does make connecting a PC to a JAMMA cabinet a doddle along with a JPAC interface.
     
  20. beng

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    Thanks Guys - I'll set about making a plan this weekend. I'm sure I'll have no problems picking up the cabinet - ebay do them for as little as £150. I have an old Pentium2 lying around that could probably do the job for the hundreds of older games - running windows 2000. But I might just go out and see if I can get a reasonably spec'd PIII or PIV with lots and lots of memory. As for video cards - they aren't my speciality. Is the Arcade VGA card all about not having to mess around with screen resolution output? It's my understanding that other than that video cards have little overall impact on how mame emulates. Most of that is down to processor emulation speed, memory issues and specific drivers. I can't quite decide what the scope is yet! Are games from 1999 really worth shelling out the extra money for?

    Forgive the simplicity, but the JPAC is effectively a device for allowing the machine and the computer to "talk" to each other?
     
  21. MatC

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    Thats exactly it. Basically the JPAC plugs into the cabinet via the JAMMA connector (the one you would normally plug the game board into), and then lets you plug the arcade machine into the PC via the video and keyboard connectors. The upshot of this is that the joysticks and buttons are converted into the same signals as a keyboard, and the video signal is sent to the arcade monitor.
    Even with the Arcade VGA card, you will need to do some fiddling with settings, I found that the basic setup was ok, but with changing some settings, you could get a better signal.
    The old pentium 2 you have will be fine for the old classics such as Pacman RType etc, but the newer 90's games will be a bit slow. Best to get as much memory in there as possible as this will help with loading times. I aslo found that using the DOS command "smartdrv" also helped. (Can't remember the command line, Googling will provide an answer i'm sure)
    The spec of your machine is going to be the overriding factor on what you play, and it all depends on what you want to do, if you want to play the newest 3D beat 'em up's then you will need a ninja PC.
    When you buy your cabinet, a few things to check. First is size, some of them are huge! The benifit is obviously a larger screen, but it will take up a lot of room, second check the screen, they come in vertical and horizontal versions, vertical is the least favorite as it limits the number of games you can play, horizontal is best, and most vertical games can be tweaked to work on horizontal screens (bit like widescreen movies on a normal TV).
    Check for screen burn, some games can really damage a monitor, some games leave a "game Over" on the screen always when it's not playing and this gets burnt into the monitor, very distracting!
    Make sure the cab is a JAMMA standard, some older games (and some new ones) don't follow this standard, and will have a non standard connector. this means the JPAC won't plug in.
     
  22. CAS FAN

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    Hi Beng!

    No probs i'll try and answer your questions..

    PC spec - depends on the games you are wanting to play - I have a Duron 800mhz with 256 ram and this doesn't play many of the newer games. This doesn't bother me too much though as I use my cab for mainly 80's games. A P2 will run a lot of the older stuff but i'd go for the best pc you can afford. Memory is important so stick at least 128 mb in and 512 if poss. 256 seems to do ok with most but I think the reason some games run slow on mine is due to lack of memory.

    Graphics card - yes you are correct, the Arcade VGA card lets you set up the output to the correct frequency of 15 htz for Arcade monitors. Programs like AdvanceMame do this as well but they involve some setting up. New graphics cards will help with the more recent 3D games but again for 80's stuff an old ATI Rage provides about the best output. I get a great pic from my NvIdia TNT as well.

    Games - some of the more recent games are pretty good but like I say it's more nostalgia for me and games released in '99 and 2000 etc are not that old and you'll still find them in arcades now or converted (usually very well) to consoles anyway. The Metal Slug games for the Neo Geo are good though!

    J-Pac - yes this is basically an interface that allows you to hack the keyboard commands to the arcade controls. It also allows you to input your PC's graphic output which is then sent to the monitor. Obviously this needs to be at the correct frequency as discussed but one good thing about using the J-Pac is that it can be set to allow only 15 or 31 (or both) htz signals through so as to not damage your arcade monitor. To fit this you plug your keyboard into it then connect your keyboard socket on your computer to the J-Pac. Then you connect your video card to the J-Pac. Once done the j-Pac unit is connected to the standard JAMMA connector of your cab and apart from setting up the software, you are done!
     
  23. beng

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    Typical - usually you can't move on ebay for old cabinets and as of right now there are two!

    Thanks for the advice guys. It's reassuring to know that there's so much help out there available on the web and in places like this forum!
     
  24. CrystalClear

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    > 256 seems to do ok with most but I think the reason some
    What games are slow on that 800mhz? You probably need a faster CPU. The CPU is almost the only important thing to MAME.
     
  25. MatC

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    Couple Of Ebay auctions you might want to take a look at..

    JPAC

    Arcade VGA Card

    Have Fun

    Mat
     
  26. CAS FAN

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    Yeah you are probably right on that, the CPU is a bit slow for modern games. However memory is a factor as games such as Metal slug 3, King of Fighters '99 and other more modern Neo Geo games need at least 256 meg. This isn't a problem with older games though as you should get by with as little as 32 or 64 mb with many of the old classics.
     
  27. CrystalClear

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    RAM is important, but mostly for loading the game and that's about it. I got Garou: Mark Of The Wolves to run on a 500mhz CPU - it was pretty darn close to reference frame rate. That was on a 256mb SDram machine. Garou is a 70mb SNK NEO GEO game. As you probably know the other SNK games such as the King Of Fighters series, get pretty big pretty fast. However, RAM is mostly for allowing a game to load, not speed.

    Quick story:

    2 indentical machines(essentially)-
    A - 500mhz Celeron 64mb RAM
    B - 500mhz Celeron 256mb RAM

    X-Men VS Street Fighter refused to load on A through Final Burn Alpha. It did load however on B through Final Burn Alpha and MAME, played great through FBA, and almost played perfectly through MAME.

    This test, however was done a long time ago, which means that the software being used(FBA & MAME) was with much older, and out of date versions.
     
  28. danny-p

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    I'm happy with my home cinema set up that will also play my favourite arcade games via my pc using mame.
    So back to my original question about an "arcade monitor" & a pc monitor....are they both the same E.g both 4:3 screens 50/60 htz screens etc.

    cheers

    Danny-p
     
  29. CAS FAN

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    A PC monitor and an Arcade monitor are both the same ratio i.e. 4:3, however the refresh rate is very different. Neither really operate at the 50/60 htz you mention. The PC monitor is capable of running at 60htz but it's generally a good idea to set them as high as possible - I have mine set to 100 htz. The standard low res Arcade monitor runs at 15 htz and Medium res run at 31 htz.

    To output the signal to an arcade monitor you need to either use some software to reprogram your Vid card to out put a 15/31htz signal or use an Arcade VGA card to automatically output the 15 or 31htz signal directly without additional software.

    It's each to his own when it comes to displaying them - i've run them on a 29" 4:3 TV via S-Video before ant they look ok but I prefer the in cabinet/authentic feel and look that helps take me back to my mis-spent youth.
     
  30. CrystalClear

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    I run all of my emulators, PC work, and video game systems through my 36" Sony Vega, and 99% of the time, this works out great. Especially with MAME. But, there are times where the arcade monitor will prove to be handy. Mortal Kombat for instance, which has a refresh rate of 53.x something. This creates jerky scrolling even on a CPU 2-3 times the required power for MK. You're just going to get jerky scrolling. Normally, it isn't really noticable. Where it is noticable, however, is at the battleplan tower layout screen where your character's mugshot scrolls down the column/tower. It jerks every so many frames. A MAME derivative such as SmoothMAME can fix this, simply by altering the game's emulation code to force it to run at 60hz, which makes it match up to your pc monitor, hence smoothing that out a tad. It however, makes the game 7 frames per second faster. It is noticable, but livable.

    I fried 2 power supplies using smooth mame. It was the only program that did it. I did EXTREME power user type things on my computer, for _days_ leaving it on for several days in a row downloading big files over night, running all sorts of emulators, watching DIVX movies, music videos, you name it I did it. I ran smooth mame playing mortal kombat 2 for like a minute and a half - CLICK, the computer shut off immediately and my PSU's fan area smelled like burnt broccoli. I decided that it would be more productive to just buy the cheap PCBs and I enjoy the techy nostalgia feel anyhow. :D

    You may have better luck with such software, I just don't care about using it. I'll buy the cheap PCBs and I've grown to demand MAME's accuracy, even if it isn't 100% accurate on the video restrictive stadard PC setup(Not MAME's fault at all).
     

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