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Project Arcade 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it-they-will-play dept.
Craig Maloney writes "Growing up, I found myself more than once in an arcade, be it in the mall, Meijer, or a free-standing building. The atmosphere was unmistakable: loud, with lots of activity, and people getting fully immersed and "in the zone" between them and their pixellated avatar. While playing an arcade game at home has been possible for many years now, the true arcade experience has been a little more elusive. There's something about having an upright video game cabinet, and playing on arcade hardware that gives the game that extra sense of being right in the arcades of my youth. There are many sites out there that have different plans for building a MAME arcade cabinet from scratch, but most read like a post-mortem for how the author pieced together their particular setup. What if you just want to convert an old (non-working, I hope) cabinet into a MAME arcade cabinet? Lots of information is out there, but where do you start? Project Arcade is an excellent introduction for building your own MAME arcade cabinet from scratch, and compiles lots of material into one comprehensive book." Read below for the rest of Craig's review.
Project Arcade
author John St. Clair
pages 476
publisher Wiley
rating 8/10
reviewer Craig Maloney
ISBN 0-7645-5616-9
summary An excellent primer for anyone who is looking to create their own MAME arcade cabinet.


Project Arcade is split up in to five parts. The first part describes the planning process, and comprises complete plans for building an arcade cabinet from scratch. The second, third, and fourth parts are a list of parts and design decisions for the hardware for your MAME arcade cabinet, from the control panel and computer, to the speakers and monitor. The fifth part is a summary of various "off-the-shelf" solutions for purchasing a complete MAME-ready arcade cabinet, as well as links to other "inspirational" projects. Obviously, if you're building the MAME arcade cabinet from the wood up, and outfitting it with your own hardware, then most of the book will be applicable to you. I found all sections to be very valuable, and regardless of which direction I take (build or buy) I'll be more informed when I finally devise my plans and make my purchases.

One thing that stood out in Project Arcade was the thoroughness of the book. Unlike some "build your own arcade books", Project Arcade contains complete plans for an arcade cabinet, from start to finish, including lists of all of the materials. I unfortunately didn't build the cabinet, and am not an expert on woodworking, but the plans looked complete and well thought out. At the very least, it left me with the impression that this was something that I could likely handle with some help. The part I am a little more familiar with (the electronics) was quite fascinating. The book catalogs a great deal of hardware available to the arcade-cabinet builder, and there were parts that I didn't know were available, such as screw-terminal keyboard adapters (no more taking apart cheap keyboards for me). The author details many different joysticks, trackballs, and button choices available, with thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of each choice. I felt through most of the book like I was being guided by someone who was passionate about building excellent MAME arcade cabinets, and had a lot of knowledge to share. Even the section on pre-made cabinets was carefully put together, with the benefits of each cabinet design explained thoroughly. There are also copious amounts of photos, so you'll know exactly what it is you're looking at. Also, where applicable, there are diagrams and charts to aid and assist.

Unfortunately, the strengths of Project Arcade are also part of its weaknesses. There are a LOT of parts described in the book. After a few pages of the same type of part, my mind started to wander. While the descriptions are comprehensive and insightful, I found myself after a while thinking "I get it already". Detailed descriptions of taking apart keyboards and soldering to them to me seemed obvious, but I can see why the author decided to take the time to explain the process more thoroughly for those who may not be as comfortable taking apart something electronic. Also, the book focused mostly on the hardware for building a MAME arcade cabinet. I would have appreciated the same depth of discussion on the software available to complete the project, mostly because I think the author could have brought some very insightful recommendations on what software to use with the MAME arcade cabinet.

When I build my MAME cabinet, be it a conversion of an old (non-working) cabinet, or from scratch, Project Arcade will definitely be the book I use on that project. While the descriptions can be a bit verbose, the book delivers a very thorough and insightful perspective on what I should be looking for when envisioning what my completed MAME cabinet should be. Much like a do-it-yourself book for remodeling your bathroom, the book can only provide you guidance; the finished project is up to your creativity and imagination. Project Arcade is that guide to building yourself the perfect MAME arcade cabinet.


You can purchase Project Arcade from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Project Arcade

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  • I'm curious... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @01:48PM (#19986751) Homepage
    Does the book out anywhere that abandonware is a myth and that unless you already own an arcades' worth of authentic machines this project will involve copyright infringement? I'm not saying this is right or wrong, just that it would be irresponsible not to make readers aware of that issue.
    • Re:I'm curious... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:00PM (#19986915) Homepage Journal
      "Does the book out anywhere that abandonware is a myth and that unless you already own an arcades' worth of authentic machines this project will involve copyright infringement?"

      Well, I don't think it is that large a concern. Many places out there will sell you a blank machine....but, it is easy to get a free 'wink' 'wink' CD on the side of the ROMs to run it.

      It has only really been recently that some companies have started putting these old games out there for anyone to play with them again....until the MAME movement, they were largely lost, and many game still aren't commercially available.

      I don't personally see anything wrong with it...the idea behind MAME was to save and preserve some early computing. I like to see it when my friends' kids play these old games...hoping it might show them that game PLAY is more important often than graphics or sound. To this day, I think Robotron is one of the most fun and intensive games made. I usually finish a session worn out, sweaty, and have either nearly ripped out the dual joysticks, or have severe tennis elbow.

      • Wild Gunman (Score:5, Funny)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:09PM (#19987007)

        I like to see it when my friends' kids play these old games...hoping it might show them that game PLAY is more important often than graphics or sound.
        "You mean you have to use your hands?"
        "That's like a baby's toy!"
      • Re:I'm curious... (Score:5, Informative)

        by twistedsymphony (956982) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:43PM (#19987425) Homepage
        You don't have to do any winking at all... You can find boards for most classic games on ebay for $2-$40 depending on the game (more modern or rare games can go up to $200) and you can get an EPROM reader for about $50 and rip your own ROMs from the boards that YOU OWN. I know because I've done it.

        I worked for 3 years as an arcade tech while I was in college, we'd have bins and bins of scrapped gameboards, most of them had good ROMs and were just tossed in a bin once the cabinet was converted to a more lucrative game. We then scavenged spare parts off these boards for when active machines had problems. It was a great resource for the arcade because when a obsolete proprietary Sega chip failed on still popular classic game X we could dig up the board from the old Sega game Y from the same year that we binned years ago and find the same chip on the similar board.

        The arcade I worked at had a lot of classic machines and the head tech actually started reverse engineering and building hardware emulators from scratch for a lot of classics that would die frequently from design flaws. (he was a really bright guy, and IIRC he was the head of the EE department at RI tech, the arcade was just his part time summer job).

        There are however quite a few games that were encrypted or had some other form of copy protection to keep arcade operators from cloning machines by dumping the roms to similar hardware from a cheaper game. Even still many of the popular classics have legal roms available for sale. I seem to recall at least one of those "classic games in a joystick" packages coming with a CD that included legal, MAME usable roms; or maybe I'm imagining things.

        In any case there are legal ways to obtain roms... though personally I prefer to just use the original hardware too.
        • by HTH NE1 (675604)
          I seem to recall there is one MAME ROM that was specifically released for free, non-commercial distribution. I think it was FHMC Q*Bert [wikipedia.org].
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "In any case there are legal ways to obtain roms... though personally I prefer to just use the original hardware too."

          Some of the old games, you can ONLY play them with the original hardware. You can't get a ROM of Deathrace [wikipedia.org] ...that old B&W one that you drove over people/zombies, and they turned into a grave with a cross tombstone. Man...that one raised an uproar by the powers that be...back in the days before they started targeting music. Yup...parent groups have been bitching about kids stuff for q

          • You're absolutely right... most of the older B&W games (read: pre 79) didn't have roms but just ridiculous amounts of logic circuits. The versions of those games on MAME aren't actually rips of the original roms but roms created from scratch to emulate the original hardware. I'm not quite sure where that falls in the legal spectrum of things where on the one hand it is a new piece of software completely reverse engineered from the original hardware, and on the other hand the end result is an exact dupli
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              > The versions of those games on MAME aren't actually rips of the original roms but roms created from scratch to emulate the original hardware.

              Actually, when it comes to discrete logic hardware like you're talking about there is almost none of it present in MAME. There was an attempt to emulate Pong for a while, but that was eventually ripped out from the main build. MAME's stated objective is 100% accuracy to the original hardware and as of yet there's no system of emulating the circuits back then that'
    • by Peale (9155)
      The book concentrates on the building of arcade controls and/or cabinets. It does touch briefly on ROM use, but the focus is construction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      I disagree that it would be irresponsible. Anyone that is into this enough to want to spend the money to make a cabinet already KNOWS the legal situation of what they are doing. The ones that believe the 'abandonware myth' won't listen to you when you try to tell them it's illegal, and if you ever DO get them to listen, they'll just justify it to themselves and carry on.

      On the other hand, there ARE legal alternatives other than owning a cabinet and playing MAME.

      GameTap, for instance, has quite a few arcad
    • Yes it does: no less than five pages (342-346) are devoted to legal issues surrounding obtaining the necessary ROMs, which is what I believe you are referring to.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Abandonware IS A FACT - a patent/copyright CANNOT EXIST in reality when all parties involved died and the holding corporation dissolved. When private people die without a will and no heirs, they die intestate and their assets are free to distribute. The same concept applies to corporations, regardless what any goddamn bastard lawyer tells us, we listen to morality and common sense.

      And yet, here you are in the first comment bashing us over the head with the Public Service Announcement that it is a crime wors
      • but corporation "IP" assets are almost ALWAYS sold to another corporation... so somebody "owns" these if you looked really closely but the "owners" don't usually know it... until somebody like EA buys them up at fire sale to sue every body over. So yes, the myth of abandonware is EXACTLY what that witty tag says.. These works have "died" before they expire and there's nothing legally you can do about it. I do believe the copyright office is making some attempt to poke a hole in the situation, but not much
      • So, your legal argument to support your position is "regardless what any goddamn bastard lawyer tells us, we listen to morality and common sense" ?

        Get thee to the courts, next Chief Justice, for who could argue that !

        Abandonware IS A FACT - a patent/copyright CANNOT EXIST in reality when all parties involved died and the holding corporation dissolved.

        Who, then, owns the copyright? Care to provide a reference in the US Code to this 'abandonment' provision?

        they die intestate and their assets are fre

    • by vux984 (928602)
      Does the book out anywhere that abandonware is a myth...

      A myth you say? Really? Software that the copyright holders won't sell you, and refuse to support to the point that getting them to even acknowledge that it exists and they own it is an accomplishment -- all just a myth like unicorns and pixies?

      Seems odd that I have drawers full of the stuff.

      Or perhaps you mean a myth that abandonware is legal? That might be a myth if people actually thought that. But they don't really.

      We know its illegal; we've just e
    • Yes, the book does spend some time on copyright issues. It recommends the public domain roms that work with the emulator and points out that whether or not the reader uses roms they have no legal right to is for the reader to decide.

      I use roms I don't own, but I also collect real system boards of my favorite games when I can find them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192)
      unless you already own an arcades' worth of authentic machines this project will involve copyright infringement?

      So sue me.
      • And on this point, does anyone know of any actual court case involving a company suing someone for infringement over the use of emulators and ROMs?? AFAIK, this has not happened yet, but then again, maybe it has and just didn't generate a lot of publicity.
    • by siredgar (144573) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:56PM (#19991231) Homepage
      I do cover the legalities of ROMs and such in the book. I attempted to distinguish between the moral issue of using ROMs (short version: That's a personal decision for you to make) and the legal issue of using ROMs (that for the most part it involves a copyright violation). I mention the various clearly legal ways to get ROMs (the alas defunct StarRoms service for instance, compilations you can buy, etc), and the grey area (are you entitled to use a ROM if you own the board set, for instance).

      One point I want to make though is that the book is not about building a MAME cabinet. You'll never hear me refer to one as a MAME cabinet. It's about building an arcade cabinet that runs various software which is an important distinction. Most people will run MAME, of course, however there are hundreds and hundreds of other software games that you can run legally that don't involved copyright violations. Digital Leisure games, Atari releases for the PC, shareware/freeware games that are replicas or similar to arcade games, retroremakes.com, Dance Dance Revolution, the open source dance pad game I can't recall the name of, Williams Classics if you can find it, etc. The two top games as far as my kids are concerned on the cabinet I built are Jazz Jackrabbit and a game called "Best Friends" (retro64.com).

      At any rate, thanks for the review Craig and the comments everyone!

      --- John St.Clair
              Project Arcade
              http://www.projectarcade.com/ [projectarcade.com]
              Build Your Own Arcade Controls
              http://www.arcadecontrols.com/ [arcadecontrols.com]
      • by Have Blue (616)
        Thanks for replying. The review does mention MAME many times; I'm glad the book is more comprehensive than it implies. If I ever want to do this sort of project, I know where I'll look first now :)
    • by Maul (83993)
      Building an arcade cabinet does not immediately assume that you are pirating games and then playing them with MAME or another emulator. Once you build the cabinet, you can hook any type of software you want to it.

      1. There are several PC games that you can purchase which are "arcade style" and would be well suited to a cabinet.

      2. With a little work, you can convert a regular console controller into into an arcade stick. Place the console inside the cabinet (rather than a PC), and you can play your legally
      • There are several PC games that you can purchase which are "arcade style" and would be well suited to a cabinet.
        Say I've renovated a cabinet that was originally built for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or NBA Jam. Which 4-player PC games would you recommend running on this cabinet?
        • by Maul (83993)
          Most of the games I can think of are, admittedly, 1-2 players. I haven't seen any arcade style games for more players than 2 on PC. I guess an older game like Jazz Jackrabbit 2 may support more than 2 players on the same screen and be suitable for that.

          I was thinking more along the lines of:

          1. "Arcade Classics" compilations for PC. These are often budget titles containing several classic arcade games and can be purchased from major retailers.

          2. PC games such as MeltyBlood series and Big Bang Beat (both J
          • by tepples (727027)

            Most of the games I can think of are, admittedly, 1-2 players. I haven't seen any arcade style games for more players than 2 on PC.

            Why not? Why don't developers target set-top PCs, which have many of the same issues?

            "Arcade Classics" compilations for PC. These are often budget titles containing several classic arcade games and can be purchased from major retailers.

            Which would let one copy the ROM files from the disk into MAME. But I was looking for something that runs natively on a PC without the slowdowns inherent in an emulator running on an older computer.

            PC games such as MeltyBlood series and Big Bang Beat (both Japanese "Doujinsoft" Fighting games), or the Korean beat 'em up Dungeon & Fighter. You can legally purchase these online.

            Per 17 USC 602, can I legally purchase them online without moving to Japan or Korea? Are they in the English language, or would I need to purchase English locale files for them separately? And how much does a copy cost, compar

            • by Maul (83993)
              1. I would assume that any most modern games PC games that supports more than 2 players does so via a LAN, to be honest. I honestly have little interest in anything but fighting games when it comes to these types of titles.

              2. I'm not certain how each individual compilation set works. It is said that "Atari: 80 Classic Games in One" for PCs have certain issues on some games, for example. If you want the real deal, I'd go out and try to buy an original arcade PCB. ;)

              3. IANNAL but from my interpretation of
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I purchased an earlier version of this book, and I really enjoyed the presentation.
    I would recommend it to anyone serious about building their own cabinet.
  • The author of this book runs Arcadecontrols.com [arcadecontrols.com], which provides a lot more information on building an arcade machine.
  • Rob built his own too: http://cmdrtaco.net/jubei/ [cmdrtaco.net]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by siredgar (144573)
      Actually, his cabinet is one of the ones I featured in the book :)

      --- John St.Clair
  • The way I see it, if you really are after duplicating a full arcade experience, go for this work. You will get some hands on experience (rather than just sitting in front of your computer all day), and will enjoy the result and the conjured memories fully. Assuming you can get hold of an old MAME arcade cabinet. Or, you could just build your own, make it look like the old ones, and live happily ever after. Even better, if you just want to play the old games, and have dismissed the memories of the actual arc
    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "Of course, most of us will stick with the renovation and just use an old cabinet."

      Yup...got mine in an old original Tempest cabinet. I'm gonna redo the sound...put in better stereo speakers and a big subwoofer...

  • missing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by crossmr (957846)
    What's missing from the home experience isn't the cabinet, its the people and the loud environment. North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.
    • Re:missing (Score:5, Funny)

      by smurphmeister (1132881) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:19PM (#19987117)

      North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.
      This is such a lie! Why, if I could afford a plane ticket to wherever you are and wasn't afraid of leaving my house, I'd come over and kick your ass right now!
    • Re:missing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:20PM (#19987137)
      > What's missing from the home experience isn't the cabinet, its the people and the loud environment. North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.

      It won't replace the ego boost from the throngs of humans crowding over your shoulder in awe of your godlike playing skills, but the Arcade Ambience [hofle.com] project is a pretty good replacement for the background sounds of dozens of arcade machines.

      • It won't replace the ego boost from the throngs of humans crowding over your shoulder in awe of your godlike playing skills,

        Yeah, because a lot of people have that level of skills.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gulthek (12570)
          If you don't possess the skills, you can be part of the crowd of people who admire. Don't you see that there is a role for everyone?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rkanodia (211354)
        +4, Interesting? I could see either -1, Troll or +532, Brilliant Satire, but Interesting?
      • by Chordonblue (585047) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:02PM (#19991861) Journal
        Oh yes, I was one of those 14/15 year old kids that could totally wipe the floor with you on Defender, Stargate, or Blaster - and I relished the crowd. Back then, Williams Electronics was the shit - the single best game company in the world (next to Atari, IMHO), and Eugene Jarvis (programmer of the Defender/Robotron series) was my personal hero. My best friend's poison was Robotron - NO ONE ever beat him. I once monopolized a cocktail Defender machine in a mall arcade for over 8 hours drawing a HUGE crowd. After the 6th hour, I had enough ships to simply stand up and use the restroom, get a drink, watch other people try and play the 300th+ wave (whatever it was rolled over to at the time), and then after a 1/2 hour or so, took control again.

        I was kicked out of almost every local arcade and pizza place. The smart asses at one Italian-owned pizza place in Philly invited me back in a few days after they had kicked me out. 'Hey! Youa, COME IN! COME IN! You cana play, that's a nice boy...' I soon found out why they were all smiles - they had jacked up the difficulty settings on their Stargate machine - almost no Inviso, extra lives at 40,000, not 25,000, etc. Still, I lasted about an hour and a half on a single quarter and they weren't as smiley when I left that night.

        For a 14 year old boy, there's no better ego booster than doing something very few people could and being recognized for it. Later, I entered (and won) a regional contest on Stargate - I still have the cheesy t-shirt.

        Yeah, it was all about the attention I got. To this day I love to perform - I run a small school network and always try to be the 'answer man' when it comes to anything remotely related to computers and on the weekends, I play with my classic rock band, 'Dizzy Lizyrd'. ROCK ON!
        • by BranMan (29917)
          Oh yeah - I remember those days too. Especially the very delicate task of getting the high score on Defender. See, it rolled over at 1,000,000 and went back to zero, so the high score was 999,975 (25 points being the least you could get). BUT the fun part was the bug that kicked in at 990,000 - between there and 1,000,000 every time you got points you got and extra life. Which was cool except you got points for being shot. The only way to get the high score was to carefully run out of ships AND blow
          • They sure were. Didn't know about the Hyperspace scoring trick - I always wondered how they did that!!! Dang. Just goes to show you - you'll never know it all. :)

            The other thing you had to be careful of - and I did not know this until it happened to me that day at the mall - it was like the 4th or 5th million rollover and I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention when all of a sudden, I noticed I was down a ship. Well of course it only showed the first five so that meant that I only had FOUR ships left! In a
    • What's missing from the home experience isn't the cabinet, its the people and the loud environment. North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.

      I'm not sure about that, it seems that a lot of people buy a lot of games, buy lots of hardware, accessories, TVs and such.

      Maybe it's just antisocial, possibly having nothing to do with frugality.

      Personally, I hated the loud environment.

      Most of the places that had the machines didn't maintain them very well. Many machines had noticeable screen b
      • Screen burn? Not as bad as the cigarette burn. Seriously, did you ever walk up to your favorite game to find out someone had been resting their lit cigarette on the control plane? I'm a smoker, but I still found it highly annoying. Sometimes you'd see a Japanese import that actually had a built in ashtray.
    • North Americans are anything but frugal! Here in the USA and in Canada people spend money like water, let food spoil, spend money on car detailing, botox, and sleepaway camp.

      And all though I spend an large amount of time in the arcade in the 1980s there were better places to be social.

      Skating Rink, corner store, the shopping center.

      Of course in my day you could smoke in the arcade, buy dope, and check out rat tails and members only jackets and listen to Pat Benatar. Maybe that is why we do not go to them.
      • What's funny is that the hoodlums that hung out in arcades (me among them) were considered anti-social types. And you're right, it was a place to buy pot or whatever, but usually not the best place. More of a last resort.
    • What's really missing is the sticky rubber/vinyl floors, the smell of cigarette smoke, the sound of traffic a few yards away* and a surly fat guy wandering around with a metal coin dispenser gadget who acts like letting a kid exchange his handful of nickle and dimes for a few more quarters is some huge hassle.

      *One of the biggest arcades in Toronto,ON back in the day was the "Funland" On Yonge St. The entire front of the place was fold away doors and in the better weather they would open them all up. Since a
  • Like others have said, the author of this book runs the site arcadecontrols.com, which has a very active community with tons of great info. I stumbled on the site a while back (before hearing about the book) and it has become a fun hobby (making arcades and such). We are just finishing our 5th arcade now (a custom cocktail cabinet). It just never gets old. I would suggest checking out the site to get a feel for the hobby and then buying the book once you're ready to build. Most of the content from the
  • by atarione (601740) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:06PM (#19986979)
    how to convince your wife to let you have an arcade machine in the house???

    oh right this is slashdot sort of a moot point by in large really.

    • by Thyamine (531612)
      Convince the wife? Hell, my wife wants to have a game room with pool table, MAME cabinet (already built, sweet fun while drinking), and a bar. Sure she doesn't want it in the living room or kitchen, but even if you aren't looking to have a game room exactly, there must be a spot where all the computers are located (i.e. office/man room/server room) that she won't object to.
    • by bugnuts (94678)
      I'd tell her "Hey honey, I'll replace the enormous Gauntlet II machine occupying the living room with this smaller one" and she'll go for it in a second.

      Or you could just get rid of the exercise machine she forced you to buy that's been used only twice.
  • Pay for nice wood (Score:3, Informative)

    by GrayCalx (597428) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:10PM (#19987019)
    I made a MAME cabinet a few years ago and I enjoyed it while I had it. The one recommendation I'd pass along to others is go ahead and splurge and get the nicest wood you can. I went cheap cheap cheap; bought the roughest, cheapest pieces of crap wood I could get. I never got over that disappointment. That and instead of dropping another $30 on paint, I used the glossy black paint we had lying around. Another big mistake, but cez la vie.
    • Or you could just pick up one of these [slikstik.com]
      • by GeckoX (259575)
        You may turn in your geek credentials at the door on your way out if you please.

        You do realize that's like commenting on a build your own PC book by pointing out a link to Dell right?

        Kinda missing the point? Just maybe?
        • Actually, my geek creds are safe. I've done everything from building computers and networks to building buildings and blacksmithing.

          This book is about making a MAME setup from an old arcade cabinet. Offering another place to start with similar materials is by no means cheating.

          If you want to demand that I turn in my card, demad the same of the book's author.
          • by GeckoX (259575)
            ?

            You provided a link to a finished product, completely bypassing the whole process of making the thing, to any extent, yourself.

            Not saying it's not a viable option, just kinda odd considering...
            • Actually, while it is a functional cabinet, it is rather bare and can be modded to your heart's content, much like starting out with the old arcade cabinet.

              Again, I restate the point that this book is *starting* with an arcade cabinet, not making one from sheets of plywood.
            • by karnal (22275)
              Some people don't want to invest their time and money into new tools etc required to build such a cabinet.

              That's why we've got this thing called money. I can pay someone else to do stuff that I'd either rather not do or don't want to spend the time on.

              It's kind of like my Operating System. Even though Linux is free, I'd still rather pay for it than create it....
              • by GeckoX (259575)
                And where did I try to take that away from you or anyone else?

                Sheesh.

                But considering the topic at hand, it'd be more interesting to talk about actually building one than skipping the entire topic completely.

                No need to get all up in arms.
        • by joe 155 (937621)
          "You do realize that's like commenting on a build your own PC book by pointing out a link to Dell right?"

          I'm confused by your analogy, now if it related to a car...

    • by hazydave (96747)
      Prior to my latest startup company, I was working on a MAME cabinet. I built it from scratch, based on an internal pine frame, with oak and oak veneer surface. I collected a number of arcade controls, and was pretty happy with both used and new stuff, particularly the Tempest-like spinner I found on one of the online sites. The only big issue was a trackball... the one I found used was a bit too used.

      I designed my own electronics for system control, largely because most of the MAME controllers of the day we
  • by Fizzl (209397)
    Nothing more than a slahvertisement for plywood ;)
  • by glindsey (73730) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:13PM (#19987055)
    The I-Pac [ultimarc.com] from Ultimarc is a really nice screw-terminal-to-keyboard interface board, and the one I've used in my own arcade console. Its biggest benefit over a hacked-up keyboard is that it uses discrete I/O for all of its inputs, rather than matrix scanning like a keyboard does, so there's absolutely no limit to the number of simultaneous keypresses it can process.

    I'd also like to recommend the Opti-Pac [ultimarc.com] to connect trackballs, spinners, or optical joysticks that don't have built-in USB or PS/2 mouse interfaces.

    And while I'm on the subject of spinners, the SlikStik Tornado Spinner [happcontrols.com] is really nice.
  • by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:26PM (#19987215)
    The author of this review asks, "What if you just want to convert an old (non-working, I hope) cabinet into a MAME arcade cabinet? Lots of information is out there, but where do you start?" Based on the review, the book seems to focus a lot on making your own replica cabinet from scratch.

    If you want to build a cabinet from scratch, it sounds like this would be a fine book. If you want to convert an old cabinet, there are much easier solutions. Ultimarc, [ultimarc.com] for example, produces several products that convert standard JAMMA interfaces to PC keyboard and video connections. JAMMA is the standard that arose to allow for easily changing games out in arcade cabinets.

    I ultimately ended up with a HotRodSE [hanaho.com] connected to a home theater computer because I didn't have the space for a dedicated cabinet. Ultimarc's products, though, appear to allow for the joystick and buttons on a JAMMA cabinet to connect to a PS/2 interface and for the video connector to hook to VGA (refresh and resolutions on arcade machines are different from standard computer modes). They even sell an AGP or PCIe video card that appears to have a special RAMDAC so that you don't have to screw around with getting the weird video modes working.

    I've never used Ultimarc's stuff, so I have no idea how well it would work. Assuming it's decent, the formula would be pretty simple: find an older Street Fighter cabinet in decent shape (functioning buttons and non-burned screen). They have six-button configs, which seems to be the most buttons used for the majority of games, thus saving you from having to cut holes for new buttons. Street Fighter was also ridiculously common but is old enough that you should be able to get the cabinet for a few hundred dollars if you're in/near a big city. Pull the board, plop in a computer, wire a couple of adapters, spend some time on a nice front end, and it shouldn't be too much work to have a functional MAME cabinet.
    • If you want to convert an old cabinet, there are much easier solutions. Ultimarc, for example, produces several products that convert standard JAMMA interfaces to PC keyboard and video connections...Ultimarc's products, though, appear to allow for the joystick and buttons on a JAMMA cabinet to connect to a PS/2 interface and for the video connector to hook to VGA (refresh and resolutions on arcade machines are different from standard computer modes). They even sell an AGP or PCIe video card that appears to
  • by Magorak (85788) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:27PM (#19987219) Homepage Journal
    I took an old Street Fighter II box and re-did it as a MAME box a few years ago but for me, I wanted to do more than just the arcade games. I also included NES, and Atari stuff in it as well. I also liked the idea of running some of the well done remakes of classics (Activision's Space Invaders was done very well, as were some of the other remakes).

    What I found was that pretty much every one of the launchers/front-ends I found sucked. I found nothing that allowed me to incorporate multiple emulators, and non-emulation apps, into one nice little launcher. Yes, there were some nice apps out there but nothing really worked overly well, and I was very disappointed. All I wanted was a long list of games, each with a screenshot, and a launch button. Nothing fancy.

    I ended up writing my own little app which launches when the machine boots, and then kicks off whatever app/emu is required to launch the game.

    For me, writing the app was part of my experience, but it would have been nice had I been able to just use something that already existed.
    • If you're doing it in windows, GameEx (http://www.gameex.net/) is pretty popular and a decent front end that has basically exactly what you said you wanted - list of games (which can be split up by console/mame), screenshot, and launch button.
  • Here is info on my MAME Cabinet [nuxx.net], if anyone is interested. That link also includes the control panel template I came up with, info about the hardware, software, an image of the whole OS setup which can simply be dropped on a Compact Flash card and booted, and a bunch of other things.

    The cabinet was built completely from scratch, patterned off of a early 90s Data East cab.

    Of course, I did this all back in the summer of 2000, so some of the electronics I used for it might be a bit dated. However, I think most
  • by obarel (670863)
    Having to pay for each game, and taking pride in spending 15 minutes (or 45 minutes) on a single quarter (or any other coin).

    I think it was the fact that I had to pay for each attempt that made me memorise most of Slapfight and R-Type. I've played both on MAME (R-Type on the Wii as well), and I don't have the same motivation. If I die, I die. Press 5 a few more times and have another go. It's also the amount invested so far that can make a difference (when you realise that you've already spent around $100 o
  • This book is three years old, man - haven't people seen it by now?
  • Most of the "post-mortem" reviews of DIY cabinets give far, far more than enough detail to reproduce them.

    Why?

    Because this involves a relatively easy task! If you have an old cabinet and can build a PC, buy an X-Arcade dual (and perhaps the trackball), and whip out your jigsaw. Half an hour of work (not counting the PC itself and finding romsets for your favorite games) will give you a decent base cabinet ready to roll. Add another hour if you want to go all out on decorations.
  • by Greyfox (87712)
    It's a laudable project to be sure, but I don't think you're capturing the general chaos of an arcade that way. They always turned Centipede's volume all the way up and put it at the front of the arcade so you could hear it clear to the mall entrance and navigate your way to the arcade based on that. Inside the arcade it was a cacophony of a couple of dozen different machines all going at once, but you could still somehow tune all that out and hear just the game you were playing.

    Then of course there's the

  • by bryan1945 (301828) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @03:09PM (#19987753) Journal
    I got this a few years ago when I was interested in building my own box (then had some financial problems with this). It was great, especially if you coupled it with their website. They go into the legalities of MAME a bit, but mostly focus on how to built the machine.

    I run mame on my desktop, which is ok, but I always (and still) want a spin, real joysticks, a flight stick, and the great old games. I've learned you can put multiple simulators on a machine and run stuff like old Apple II games up to fairly recent PC games.

    This book is not comprehensive is everything you can do, but it gives you a great start if this is a hobby you would like to do. Well worth the price. And definintly check out their website. You could easily spend hours there.

  • FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @03:30PM (#19987999)
    Granted, some of this has already been said, but I'm going to try to cover it all in one place.

    For 15 years I repaired arcade games and pinball machines. In that time I must've installed a couple thousand 'conversion kits' to make over an old game into a new one. I left that industry in 1997, but I doubt things have changed much: converting an old game into a new one is much cheaper than buying a whole new game.

    * Old arcade game cabinets (with or without working games in them, or even with non-working games in them) can be purchased; similarly, brand-new cabinets, manufactured with installing a new game kit in them are available. It's much easier and cheaper to renovate an old cabinet than it is to try to build one from scratch, that's for sure.

    * Arcade-style buttons, joysticks, trackballs, etc. can also be purchased brand-new and used. Common controls like 4- and 8-way joysticks and standard pushbuttons are much, much cheaper than you'd think and readily availble.

    * Older or "classic" arcade game PC boards can be had for a song from reputable companies. Most of the business the last company I worked for was buying and selling used hardware. While using an emulator is kinda cool (used to have an Asteroids emulator back in the day), nothing plays quite like the originals. Wiring up most of the old classic games isn't that difficult, most have one single harness connector and require +5 and +12 volts, monitor (RGB plus sync), speaker, and controls. Some multi-board sets are more difficult, but a decent company will sell it used with some sort of workable wiring harness and documentation showing cabinet wiring (I used to generate my own documentation if there was none available).

    * Newer games (hopefully, all still) use a standard 56-pin wiring harness, which allows you to switch games as easily as pulling one PC board and installing another, no (or minimal) rewiring necessary. Where I worked, I started manufacturing adapters from the older games to the newer wiring harness standard, to facilitate selling older games to people and vendors that wanted them.

    * Commentary on the legality of ROM images: last time I checked, even something as old and ubiquitous as Pac Man was still of great interest to Namco, and they'd sue your pants off if they discovered you pirating them. Piracy of arcade game hardware and software always was and probably still is a big problem for the arcade game industry; I'd see knock-off arcade games all the time. Copyright holders would sue the living daylights out of anyone trafficking in such things -- although I kept a library (past tense!) of EPROM/ROM/PAL images around for repair purposes, and you can likely still download them from the 'net.

  • No, my friend, you've missed the boat on this one. The "arcade experience" was standing in front of Gorgar [ipdb.org], with its immense vocabulary of seven words, and immersing yourself in pure physics joy. Other than Asteroids and Galaga, there really aren't many video games that can even remotely hold a candle to pinball.
  • It's not a real stand up arcade game unless it has cigarette burns on it by the player 1 & 2 buttons.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @04:00PM (#19988399)
    You need to invite strangers to your house while you are playing, who will annoyingly hang around the machine hoping for a free go.
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:57PM (#19989605)
    I own a Double Dragon arcade cabinet and am in the process of restoring it... For the ones who truly want to re-live the 'good old days', especially with a favorite game, you can't beat a dedicated cabinet (READ: *not* MAME).

    The reason is simple: You get the cabinet's original dimensions, artwork (side-art, bezel art, banner art, control panel art) that was half the reason you loved the game in the first place. There was nothing like scanning an arcade for your favorite game and seeing it, all lit up, ready for you to pump in a few quarters.
    • For the ones who truly want to re-live the 'good old days', especially with a favorite game, you can't beat a dedicated cabinet (READ: *not* MAME).

      The reason is simple: You get the cabinet's original dimensions, artwork (side-art, bezel art, banner art, control panel art) that was half the reason you loved the game in the first place. There was nothing like scanning an arcade for your favorite game and seeing it, all lit up, ready for you to pump in a few quarters.

      I think you're a bit confused here - MA

      • I know exactly what MAME is, what it does, etc... My point was that if you had a *favorite* game(s), and you really wanted the full arcade experience, you need to have the artwork (preferably the original cabinet that the game was built for). It's just more true to the game. But that's just collectors - the typical tech enthusiast/Slashdotter that likes video games probably wouldn't want to go that far, and would like many more games than just one in its original dedicated cabinet.

        $2k? Wow. Must be a nice s
      • Now, that said, having a nice Double-Dragon cabinet is pretty sweet, but so is having one cabinet that will play 4 player Gauntlet (4 stations), Gyruss (37-way stick), Tempest (spinner), Missile Command (trackball), and Time Crisis (gun). No, it wont have that totally immersive nostalgia effect, but it also wont take up the entire garage.

        I think the best compromize would be to build 5 MAME machines, each with a different control scheme, and on each load up all the games that use that particular scheme. For

  • While we are at the topic of arcade cabinets, does anybody have a good recommendation for an simple arcade stick for those that just want to play games on their PC without building their own cabinet?
  • Seriously...if people wanna bitch about arcades being pretty much non-existant just get outa the country, and go visit Japan. I'm there atm. Actually I can walk downstairs, and theres a bad ass arcade thats better than anything in the US right now, and it's in Fing Hiroshima!!!

    If Americans really want arcades they'll show their love with money. So far Americans would assume play games at home, and steal games via MAME (things this book pushes). Thing that Arcades in the US really missed is those sutpid asse

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