Monday, November 7, 2011

Arcade Cabinet

Some time in late 1998 or early 1999 I first heard of a program called MAME.  MAME stands for Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator.  What it does, in a nutshell, is allows a modern computer to emulate the hardware that was in old arcade machines.  This allows you to play classic arcade games on your computer.  I'm not talking about updated versions of old games, you can actually run the machine code that originally ran the games in the arcade.  This code comes in the form of software ROMs which are dumps of the code stored in the hardware ROMs of the old machines.

Shortly after I first downloaded MAME, I found out people were building arcade style cabinets to house computers running MAME.  Not only that, they were building control interfaces using original arcade hardware and doing lots of other cool stuff to trick out their cabinets.

I knew back then, that some day I'd have to start my own MAME cabinet project.  But, aside from playing some MAME games on and off over the years I didn't think too much more about it, until I fired up MAME one day to show my 6 year old son some of the old games I like to play.  One thing lead to another and a trip to the hardware store was in order.

The first thing I did was dig up the old plans I had printed out years ago.  The ones I had were drawn up by Lucid, I really like the general shape of his plans.  But the ones I finally went with were based on Lucid's but modified a little, and I modified them a little more for my project.

This is the basic side panel design I went with.

I measured out the dimensions and drew the shape onto a sheet of 3/4" MDF and proceeded to cut it out.  I then traced the outline to another sheet and cut it out as well.

I cut the first sheet late in the day on Saturday (Oct. 22), then cut the second one on Sunday (Oct. 23), total time of drawing and cutting was less than 2 hours.
The next weekend I was out of town for a football game and didn't work on it at all, but I did get the router bit I ordered and was able to cut the groves for the t-molding that Monday night.

This past Friday after work, I cut the piece for the bottom and attached the casters, then Saturday between watching football games I attached the sides to the base.
Sides are glued and screwed to the base and the monitor shelf is roughed in.
Later on Saturday I put a computer in the box so I could see how it looked and my son promptly took charge and I didn't get anything else done on Saturday.
I lost control of the project while my son played some DBZ.
Today, again between football games, I got a lot more work done.  And again, I had to fight my kids for control so I could work on it.  Will and Abby had a lot of fun playing it today.

Now it's ready to be stripped back down and painted.  I put in a different monitor and speakers than I had yesterday, and I may end up changing these again, but this will do for now.

I got the keyboard drawer in, the front door hinged and installed, the speaker shelf and marquee box is there, but not completely done.  I'm about to leave town for 10 days and will get back to work on it when I return.

No comments:

Post a Comment