Project - Arcade Cabinet

Arcade cabinet

When I was growing up, video games were very exciting. These days arcade games seem to be limited to driving, shooting, or dancing games, but in the 80's and early 90's there was a huge variety of games.

I grew up in a fairly small town, and so didn't see a huge amount of arcades, but I remember our local swimming baths had Mr Do! And I remember on family camping holidays seeing other machines like Moon Cresta and Galaga.

More recently I became aware of projects such as MAME which emulate old arcade games, running the original code. Since then I have wanted to make my own arcade machine with a PC in it.

My original intention was to build a cabinet. I made a design and was pricing up wood and things, when I had a huge stroke of luck. Some guy was selling a load of stuff on eBay - 2 empty arcade cabinets, 2 monitors, 2 TV's, a wireless keyboard, a Jamma board, an iPac, some buttons, and loads of other stuff. Stupidly, he'd put all this in one auction, so nobody would be able to collect it unless they owned a large van or lived really close by, so nobody was bidding. Luckily, I lived just round the corner!

I got hold of a black 19" CRT PC monitor for the screen, and used the iPac as a keyboard interface. Amongst the eBay stuff was a new metal control panel with a hinged lower bit, so I created a mechanism so that a PC keyboard could slide out from under the control panel.

Unfortunately, the PC tower case wouldn't fit inside, so I took the components out and made custom mounts for them. Plus I made my own audio amplifier with regulated power.

I wrote the front-end myself in Visual Basic. It will run arcade games using MAME, and Sega Megadrive games using MESS. It detects new games automatically, highlights games which have not yet been played, and you can 'unlist' games if you don't like them (rather than deleting them, so you can keep track of them or 'relist' them if you wish). The machine can be shut down from the main menu, or by pressing the power button in any of the sub-menus.

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