This has been a long time coming but I've decided to go back into my archive from 2009 for a project that I pulled my brother in on. We were inspired by my initial Barcade hack where I took my favorite Neo-Geo and Mame'd it out using an old Vaio pc and a keyboard hack. I wanted to take it one step further and build a Mame-cade from scratch - well, at least the cabinet. Inspiration came from the many other tutorials that I found online that boasted of weecade-mania. I'll try to make this brief and try not to ramble. I also won't include any info on the roms or the software as I would like to focus on a custom cabinet and hardware set up. I know I know, I am not the first to create a weecade and there were others who came up with that cutesy term. I give those people credit for the credit they deserve for pioneering the art of barcadia (I claim coinage of that term). This is merely my creation of a barcade from 3D model to gaming beast.
Step 1: 3D Modeling and Prep
I went so far as to model all my components in 3D so I could account for spacing issues and strategery (it's a word thanks to Bush). I used 3D Max to design the build and kept it as inspiration as I progressed throughout the build. I ended up breaking apart all the components in the virtual space and laid them all out flat for a large print that I went to Kinko's to get printed out. From there, I had my perfect template that I simply traced on the mdf. See the next step for the zipped jpg that I printed an oversize print of for the the template. At this point, I didn't plan on it but I told my brother that we might as well make 2 since we have enough wood and pc parts so we set out to double our efforts.
Step 2: Cutting the MDF
We used 5/8 MDF to keep the units light and portable if needed. I can't remember what size of MDF we got but it was big enough to cut out all pieces for 2 barcades. Just used a sawzall to cut the mdf so I could make the freehand curves with ease. Plus it was all we had at our disposal. Since we had the 3D model and all components fit in virtual space, all we had to do was follow the template and then piece it all together like a big model kit.
5-18-12 Update - I have added my template per request. See the zip file below and uncompress to see the full size pic. The uploaded pic was reduced and compressed for web use so I zipped that puppy up.
Step 3: Build Cabinet(s)
So we had our pieces cut out and ready to go. We ended up using 1/2" square dowel wood for making the joints and support brackets. We also "recycled" a handy road sign that was purchased at a local thrift store (not sure where it was found). It was made of aluminum but after bending it slightly, we found that the stability was strengthened. We the aluminum sign for many components including the monitor bracket and the main control deck.
Step 4: Put in the Guts !
Next came the fun part of putting the working parts into the beast. I used a couple different monitors that I picked up from craigslist action and pulled some working mobo's out of some Dell optiplexes that I picked up on the cheap at a local school auction (they thought they were useless HA!) I also used the PSU for powering all components by splicing the power to the monitor and the speakers so with the flick of one switch, everything was locked and loaded. Some may recommend a surge protector but I have limited space and my monitors are pretty low power. Control parts were picked up online at a random dealer on eBay. I used a couple old dell keyboards in order to hack the controls, which I later programmed using the front end interface. It took me a while but this particular Dell keyboard was easy to hack so I made an excel doc that I was able to reference for the other keyboard. I have added it but actually have no idea how I read it so have at it for all I care. Must have had PBR on my brain at the time. I know that there are products out there that would have negated the use of the keyboard hack but .... then I wouldn't have hacked now would I ? I wasn't willing to wait another week to get my product either. I also used a ps2 Microsoft intellimouse that I hacked for both units and hardwired to the trackball that I picked up also on good ol' e to the Bay. Hard drive bracket - screwed into side of the cabinet to keep it cooled and away from hot components. I only used a cd drive for installation of software although it would have been cool to install a drive door on the side ( usb is all I would need anyhow for future use ) I also added 2 buttons on either side of the unit since I was to add all the 3D pinball roms. I needed one button for the flipper and the other for the tilt. Light was installed for the Marquee and was also hotwired to the PSU. ...... Think I've covered it all but feel free to reply with questions. This was 3 years ago so no hard questions, please.
Step 5: Paint and Play
I decided to model one unit after my full size arcade and stay true to the classic which I tried to emulate with my 3D modeling - Neo Geo. The other was suggested to me by my older brother who thought it would be fun to have a Black Hole themed weecade. I tried my best to capture the scary that Disney brought but don't think I nailed it quite like some people would. Plexiglass of course for the control deck and marquee. I can't remember what paint we used but I think it was a latex and then I did an overspray of clear coat. Probably should have gone to have a full size print for the control deck but I decided to splice together my own prints. Hindsight is 20/20. Side art also was stenciled for the Neo Geo and glossy print for the Black Hole.
Next came wiring up all the loose ends and then installing software and roms. We then played to our hearts content and continue to add to our favorites list day after day. I must say that it feels pretty nice being able to play any of the thousands of roms but it's even sweeter when I beat my brother. Thanks Thom for your help in putting these guys together