|The Arcade Cabinet|
First, let me tell you that this document is designed to help the electronics do-it-yourselfer understand the concept of converting an arcade cabinet for use with MAME. It is my wish to be able to give you the tools, contacts, and information you will need to make your project a bit easier to build than mine was. I have spent hundreds of dollars more than I originally intended to spend, and reorganized my cabinet way too many times. I'm quite pleased with the final result, and maybe I can help you not make the same mistakes I did.
I hereby assume that you know how to solder, and that you understand the basics of circuitry and switches. Furthermore, I'm going to assume you are not a minor who is about to destroy your parent's computer.
With that in mind, I relieve myself of any responsibility for damage caused to your system by your following any instruction or action described or offered on this website. Short and sweet, but I promise I'll ignore your emails if you complain to me. I'm doing this to make it easier for you to get your own arcade cabinet rolling, and just want to make sure you understand that there are risks involved.
Now that I've put in the blah blah about you not being mean to me, let's have some fun. I'm going to give you a little wish list of things that you will need to purchase to make this project the easiest to do. I'm also going to tell you about some of the things that I've purchased that were supposed to make this project easier but managed to make my blood pressure rise.
Here is a chart with the items that you will need to buy to build your cabinet like mine.
|Electrical||HAPP Controls (#80-6000-UL or #80-6000-00) Power Amps|
Controls (#54-0004-20) Small Round Illuminated Red (9)
HAPP Controls (#58-9111-L1PLY) Player 1 Button (1)
HAPP Controls (#58-9111-L2PLY) Player 2 Button (1)
HAPP Controls (#58-9111-L) White Button (4)
HAPP Controls (#58-9166-L) Black Button (4)
HAPP Controls (#58-9122-L) Blue Button (1)
HAPP Controls (#56-0100-11) 3" Trackball (1)
HAPP Controls (#50-6084-00) Super Joystick (2)
HAPP Controls (#56-5530-16) Plate for trackball (add nuts/bolts)
|Electronics||Hagstrom Electronics KE-72 & ME4 (and wiring harnesses)|
Controls (#80-0006-10) Fan w/sealed bearings (2)
HAPP Controls (#80-0006-20) Metal guard for fan
|Connectors||25-pin male & female connectors (2
Various .250 wire connectors
For the joysticks, make sure you are getting "leaf-switch" or "lever-switch" types and not "micro-switch" types. The action is smoother, quieter, and a lot more reliable.
I want to mention a couple of options at this point. The USB Game Control Interface (#95-0800-30K) from HAPP Controls. This plugs into the USB port and comes with wiring harnesses to connect to all of your buttons and sticks. It will handle the trackball, though the handling does not seem to be smooth. The main fault with this control is that you have to have access to the O and K keys, unless you can compile the MAME source yourself and bypass the OK screen. This means if you use the HAPP interface, you have to hack your keyboard. Not the suggested route. I did it, and it's far too difficult to explain here.
The second option would the purchase of a HotRod Joystick from Hanaho. These are a self-contained arcade control, complete with two sticks, seven buttons for each stick and one and two player start buttons. The HotRod plugs in-line with your keyboard, and works well with MAME. The higher price of the HotRod, combined with the fact that you still have to hack the keyboard for O and K, makes this another complicated effort.
The Hagstrom KE-72 lets you program what keystrokes are sent to the PC when any of the 72 inputs are activated. You can send macros, key combinations, or whatever you want. I actually have one of my buttons perform the entire shutdown routine automatically. This also comes in handy for the OK screen, when you need to press OK to continue with the loading of a game. You simply program one of your buttons to send O and K.
If you are still with the list above, and are not opting for the USB Interface or the HotRod stick, read on.
You're also going to have a PC that you can donate to the cause. It is suggested that you have at least a PIII-450 or equivalent as of MAME .37 beta 11. The speed is required for some of the more intensive games in the NEO GEO family, and the graphically rich fighting games. Don't skimp on the sound or graphics cards either. A Sound Blaster Live sound card will do nicely for the audio.
My control panels are made so that I can quick disconnect the panel and install a new panel with a different configuration. To achieve this, I wired from the buttons through a 25-pin male connector. I then wire from the 25-pin female connector to the KE-72. (I.e. Pin 1 from the KE-72 is wired to the female connector pin 3. Pin 3 of the male connector is wired to the joystick 1 up switch.) Note that the GND pins coming through Cable 1 pins 1 and 2 are universal grounds and should be used to connect to all of the switches on your panel. If you create more panels, and they use cable 2, you will have additional grounds to use. I have two 25-pin connections from the KE-72 to the control panel. I designed my configuration so that my one-player panel only needs to be connected to one 25-pin connector.
Here is the schematic for connections:
Here are the connections to the KE-72 that are not on the two quick-connect cables:
Here is the image of my control panel layout. You can click the image for a larger view of the panel. I am not interested in the fighting games in MAME, so 99% of the games I play will only require 4 buttons. The second stick was installed to accommodate such games as Robotron and Battlezone. The trackball is an obvious bonus for games such as Centipede, Missile Command and Birdie King 2. The trackball also doubles as an actual mouse in Windows, and the blue button is wired to the Hagstrom ME4 as the left mouse button. Note that the ME4 can also handle a spinner, so it is possible to create a control panel for games such as Arkanoid and Tron. You could manage a quick-connect cable for the trackball and/or spinner, but I chose not to. I did put in .250 male/female connectors so that I can disconnect the wires to change panels. I will be updating this in the future to a third 25-pin cable.
The control panel artwork was custom made by myself and Walter Smith. We simply used artwork available on the web and combined it with screenshots taken from actual game play in MAME. (Yes, you can get screen shots of your game play by pressing F12). We then printed it on photo paper in four sections, trimmed it and put it between our plywood and a layer of plexi-glass.
You will notice that the items contained on Cable 1 and Cable 2 are only for game play. You will have to duplicate the items on pins 19 through 24 on every panel you create. These are the basic buttons that must be present. The extra connections to the KE-72 are wired directly to buttons mounted in the cabinet. Four are on the sides of the control panel. Two on the left are for PageUp and PageDn. Two on the right are for Up and Down. These are used in the Mame32 shell to move through the game list. On the bottom section of the front, I mounted 5 buttons. One is for Tab, which is used in Mame to enter the configuration screens. This is quite handy if you want to be able to cheat or change the joystick layouts. There are two buttons that are inline with the coin slots, so that you can press them instead of inserting a coin to play. Mind you, this is a great way to start a savings account. I also mounted a button that is used to shutdown the CPU. The last button was hardwired into the power switch of the computer.
I have also installed other emulators in my cabinet for game consoles such as Nintendo and Super Nintendo. By selecting ones that allow me to change the controller configuration of the game, I've been able to play my favorite console game titles on the cabinet setup as well!
I hope you are not disappointed that I did not go
into great detail about the connections and wiring. I feel that if you are
wanting to undertake a project like this, you will have to understand the basics
of wiring. When I started this project, the information that was hard to
find was what items to purchase and what to avoid. Everyone has a
favorite, and I've tried a few different approaches before settling on the
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