MAME Arcade

MAME Arcade

I first learned about the program called MAME years and years ago and I enjoyed playing the classic games that were no longer in many arcades with it. Recently I discovered a product called the X-Arcade which gives you a real arcade feel of control playing games. I purchased one and hooked the X-Arcade up to my home theater PC and had a blast for several months but it left me wanting more. Jumping online, I learned of people creating MAME arcade cabinets and this got me even more excited. After reading for hours and hours I started my quest in searching for a cabinet with a large enough control panel (joystick area) that would suit the X-Arcade to be dropped in. After some searching, I found an empty Virtua Fighter 2 cabinet which worked out perfectly. The cabinet itsef costed me $200. You yourself, may be able to find a simliar cabinet for less or free. On this website you will see many pictures of the transformation of this cabinet along with tips and howtos. This entire process believe it or not, simply took about a week.

Before and After

Version 2 Upgrade

Version 3 Recent Upgrade

New Creative Labs Inspire T2900 2.1 Sound System, New Control panel (X-Arcade Components), Overlay, Marquee and plexiglass. Click here for new pics of version 3!

The following pics present the first development of its progress.

Some deep scratches here and there but in good condition.Complete with broken ballest and spiders. The beam in the back will prove to be useful later on.
Original Virtua Fighter Cabinet Serial #.


The back end with two wheels at bottom for moving in and out of my dining room to the patio to be worked on.The cabinet received what appears to be a partial conversion to Zero Gunner. The inside of the cabinet was rigged with several foreign holes as well.Stickers on the coin box cover and beat up treading.


Removed the Zero Gunner control panel. Removed stickers and treading (time consuming process), used newspaper and masking tape to tape off areas and used an electric sander. Painted cabinet with flat black paint, dried and taken inside. The X-Arcade simply sitting on the board.


Two piece custom control panel created for the X-Arcade. Created by cutting out boards to proper dimensions then placing the X-Arcade where I wanted it and traced the base and created holes for side button access. Bought a new skill saw and jigsaw for this and to also create the platform for the TV monitor.Not liking the small lines that were masked by the tape and the paint scratching off easily I took the cabinet back outside with all components but the speakers removed. At this point it is repainted with one more layer of flat black and two layers of clear coat. (This is where I could have saved myself some time the first time.)Coin bank removed along with its' components.


Components removed, cleaned and plastic is Armor-All'd. Coin bank painted with two new layers of glossy black and put back together. With custom coin slot badging of course. ;) This is done by taking the plastic buttons and removing the face plate to them uncovering a small piece of paper that can be replaced to suit your desires.


New ballest installed and speakers wired. The ballest is AC and simply plugs into the power strip I have sitting inside in the back of the cabinet saving me some time and trouble in wiring.Close up of one of the speakers with speaker wire ran and soldered...which will be powered by this set. I picked up this idea from this site, and added a twist which you will see later. This set is a bit more powerful and includes a sub for only $20. The speakers in this set were de-soldered and wires going to cabinet speakers soldered to it.


Temporary marquee printed up in three pieces on my HP Deskjet 5550 printer and taped on inside of plexiglass. The marquee can be found here along with other great examples and tips. The PC at this time is a Celeron 400 with 256MB of RAM and a ATI Rage PCI card with TV out.If you look at the bottom closely, you will see brand new treading for the cabinet which will get its share of shoe markings but will prolong the life. Here the cabinet also is equipped with with a 25" TV monitor and X-Arcade sitting in its' new home. The TV was purchased on clearance for $175 and works fantastic. After re-drilling holes, measuring and re-aligning for hours upon hours I correctly have the TV montor sitting flush with the frame. It was the largest pain in this process by far but the shell of the TV monitor did not have to be removed this way and sits nicely on a board going across two beams and secured. Booting up Win2K. Mame32 running like a dog. Waiting for new PC components to arive in a couple of days to replace the PC inside. The front portion of the control panel is a bit dull and gets another layer of clear coat later on to shine it up which can be seen in later pics.


The new PC. Athlon XP 2100, 512MB of Crucial DDR RAM, Abit nForce 2 motherboard, Radeon 9000 Pro 64MB DDR w/TV Out (for great 2D TV-Output). Built in sound card and NIC in motherboard. Typically I would run a seperate sound card but the onboard sound is high quality. In front is the power strip with surge protection powering everything in the cabinet.The sub that came in the speaker set sits below the coin box (aligned later on), keyboard is accessible through coin door. PC is also connected to the local network for terminal access via VNC. As for the cables, usually I would have an ultra clean install but being I am the only one that is ever going to see the inside and there is no heat problem because of all the vents, I kept the cables unbound and on the floor. Thinking about friends dropping by, usually drinking pop or beer is involved. I wanted the arcade to be something someone could be at for hours and what better to have than a cupholder. But where would I find one that I could screw into the side of the cabinet? I found two of these in the stationary section of a store. Paperclip holders. Black and meshed, perfect. I drilled in two screws horizontally right into the cabinet and painted them with one more layer of glossy black on both sides.


After getting tired of jumping onto VNC on another one of the computers at the place to adjust the volume in Windows for some of the games that the default is either too low or too high, I came up with an idea of modifying the existing amp controls to be accessible. But where to put them? Because the X-Arcades serial port comes out more than the 2.5" I had allotted, the custom control panel had to be moved forward slightly in order to fit. With that space we have just enough room for the idea. With the help of a dremel the top half of the original speaker and amp was cut in half to just the base. One hole drilled in the center of the base bottom of the glass bezel. Keyboard from the PC can be seen below.Circuit board put back in place, front cover put back on, cords reconnected to amp and X-Arcade reinstalled. Looking great and easily accessible.


Everything is almost done, but I knew it would not be complete without the coin slots lighted up to make it more authentic. After some research and wanting to keep it simple just as the rest of the project I found this page. The irony is I threw away six AT power supplies away two months ago. Now I could use one. I jumped on eBay and won the auction for this bad boy for $5 plus shipping. The power supply is brand new and for servers. A bit of overkill but will do the job fine. You yourself could just as easily use your existing PCs powersupply to power the coin slots. I myself, wanted to keep them seperate to ease troubleshooting and portability.Here is the power supply near the back of the cabinet blowing air out the vent behind it. Two five foot 16 gauge wires are spliced into the red positive and ground wires. Soldered, taped, and ran.


The wires are ran to the lights which will feed off the source in parallel. I notice one light is a different brand than the other. We'll see what happens. Lights are slid back into coin slot buttons and cleanly routed to the power supply in the back.The light ends up being so bright that it leaks out the key holes which are missing their lock chambers. I patched them with electrical tape one piece with the adhesive facing backwards, then that piece taped on the back. This way it matches the front and is not sticky in the front. Oh, the little things.


Different brand bulbs? Ahhh so we have one brighter than the other. I am sure one of the originals went out and was replaced with one of these. It does kind of add some of the classic nostalgic feel doesn't it? :)So everything is put together and working great. One problem. MAME32 does not work well with the X-Arcade at all as a game selector (menu select screen). I find myself pulling the keyboard through the coin slot and often using it to select a game. What happens if I have guests over? This is just not acceptable. Either I get a touchpad and mount it or I find a new way of loading the games. I tried most of the front ends but nothing worked with both the X-Arcade and loaded Mame up with the X-Arcade configuration. After some more searching of the main cabinet sites I hit up google with the keywords Mame X-Arcade frontend. Aha! It's party time! MAME Front EndFor the life of me I can't figure out why this is not linked on more sites. It is an amazing program. Not only does it work with MAME AND MAME32 which is a huge plus, it has a very customizable selection, looks fantastic, supports several languages, but it ALSO works with both the X-Arcade and Hotrod joysticks. It is also skinable. I have the second player joystick to page up, page down, screenshots, and detail modes. This way a guest can scroll through the screenshots of games, or switch to detail mode easily, select by just names, and simply hit the 1 player button when they find a game they like. I threw MAME Front End into startup group, changed the desktop to black, and killed the desktop icons and taskbar. That way if the system has to reboot it goes straight to MAME FE 2.2.


I really liked the marquee Cory did but I wanted a marquee that really reminded me of the games I grew up with as a kid. So I loaded up Photoshop and proceded to make my own marquee. Every one of these games in the screenshots are games I can distinctly recall playing at a time and place and really brings a lot more flavor to this arcade cabinet to me. Above is a scaled down version. You can download the full version of it here. The dimensions which fit perfectly into the marquee spot and plexiglass for this cabinet are 26.5" x 9". Feel free to resize or do what you like with it. I took this into Kinkos and had them print it up into a full sheet with matte for only $22 and looks fantastic. A gloss should look even better.Ok, so what happens if you don't want to stand up all the time? Don't tell me you didn't see that one coming. ;) Of course, painted to match. The other one in the set is out back drying at the time of this pic.

And here is the final shot again along with my little brothers head in the pic as he gets ready to jump back onto it. I hope this site was not too paintful on the download and it was enjoyable to view the process and provides some use to you in maybe your own future project. It was a blast to build. Adios!

Update: Provided below is a picture of the Arcade in its' current form.


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MAME Arcade