Build an arcade cabinet for around €200 ($250)

It all started with some SNES gamepads and a SNES emulator, but it all got slightly out of hand.

After we had done some SNES gaming with some cheap knockoff SNES gamepads we converted to usb, we wanted more. We came up with the idea to make a MAME arcade machine, and settled pretty quickly on the fact that a full size arcade cabinet was the only way that would fulfill our dreams. But, there's two of us (me and my friend) surely we can't share one machine, right? Of course not! We're building two of them!

That wasn't all. Why build a huge machine with only a single function? So we tried to come up with more. The major other feature of our arcade machine is a fridge! There's loads of space below the controls and the screen that we weren't going to fill with electronics like in the old days. So we've put a fridge in there. This of course did mean that there would need to be a door in the botom, and that also added a problem of sturdiness because the door can't help support the other three sides. But afterwards the machine ended up really sturdy, especially because the fridge holds it together a little bit as well by it's weight. 

Before building the machine, we did a lot of planning and designing, stuff that, if you are genuinely interested in building a MAME, you might be doing at the moment. We know how hard it can be to find all of the perfect information in one place, so we will try to do our best to give you all possible information we've found in our building process.


If you're not familiar with these terms I'll explain them here:
Bezel - the bezel is the plastic in front of the screen and the black around the screen
Marquee - the marquee is the image above the screen, this has a 'marquee light' behind it so it is backlit
Cabinet - the cabinet is another name for the whole machine, but especially the case

Step 1: Precise Planning and Detailed Design

First, you need to know what you want. What should it look like? What size should it be? What materials am I going to use?

Cabinet Design
For us, we already decided on the size of a full size arcade cabinet, about 180cm high and about 60cm wide. However, if we wanted to fit our fridge inside, it needed to be at least 60cm wide on the inside. (fridge measurements are: 60cm x 60cm x 85cm)
Our first design was inspired by someone else's MAME machine, called 'project mame'. But the fridge wouldn't fit inside and we didn't really love the design yet.

We scrapped that design, and set off to make our own. Which was mainly inspired by the Neo Geo MVS. It's big, red and doesn't look too complicated to build. We designed our cabinet in Google SketchUp (a free cross platform 3D design program), and we were very sure to design every single little bit to make sure that we wouldn't run into trouble halfway through the build. You can find the design files below. Feel free to use them or change them in any way you want as long as you don't sell them and mention us as a source if you (re)upload any of them (GNU public license).

Artwork Design
We weren't out to replicate a Neo Geo MVS, although it was a big inspiration. The control panel artwork is similar to the one on the Neo Geo but a but simpler. The marquee design was totally designed from scratch, because we wanted to keep the design general (not specific to a single game) and we didn't want 'MAME' written all over it either.
We designed the artwork in Adobe Illustrator, the design files and the .png pictures will be uploaded as well. I've also tiled the artwork files so you can print them on A4 paper.

Again feel free to use them or change them in any way you want as long as you don't sell them and mention us as a source if you (re)upload any of them (GNU public license).

What you want to pay attention to:
While designing you want to pay attention to  these points:
-Will it fit where i want to put it?
-Will it still fit through my door / in my car to transport it?
-Can i fit it on a round number of MDF (or other material) sheets? (you don't want to buy a whole sheet for a few centimeters)
-Is it easy to saw out of the material i'm using?
-Did you think about the thickness of the material?
-How will I access my electronics on the inside? (we went for two big holes, both for access and cooling of the electronics and the fridge)

These are just some key things you might want to think of. It's just to save you that stupid feeling when you, for example, find out it doesn't fit through the door.
<p>I like this because you didn't cannibalize an old arcade cabinet, that could have been restored. Good work. I might have to build one once I have some free time.</p>
<p> personally, i would have used an mc cthulhu to avoid wiring, and for future projects it's compatible with most consoles </p>
So, you solder the 1P and 2P start buttons to the gamepads, and the arcade buttons to the 1, 2, 3, 4 inputs on the gamepad, and the joystick to the d-pad, but where does the coin button go to?
Do the game pad controls translate into the MAME software?
This is a work of pure GENIUS!! Thanks for the idea!! xx
sweet i was thinking of a beer themed cab in the past with a fridge but never did it <br>NICE!
I like your topper. Nice play on words haha. I never thought about about putting a fridge underneath a compcade. I haven't built one yet but when my parents brought an arcade home one day from an auction, I always wanted to build one. Back then though they were saying to take old keyboards and solder the buttons on to the keypad PCB. <br> <br>Shoulda thought about just using a game pad. Theres something awesome about standing playing a game. I think you generally play better that way because you're more alert, like when you gotta read speaches standing up at school haha
Would be cool if u could make a handle for the fridge door that looked like coin slots
You should win some kind of medal for this. It is so choice.

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