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Hey guys, this is a basic little step-by step for building your own home arcade. I have basically always wanted to do one even before MAME was around. When I was a kid I had the great idea of putting an NES in a cabinet and using the NES Advantage as a controller. Of course when you are a kid you always get great ideas an never capitalize on it when you have the chance. Now MAME cabinets are pretty common among hobbiests and you can even order pre-made parts and systems from various places. I decided to go with the good ol' fashioned DIY approach with mine and I'm glad I did. not only does it look 100% better than anything I could have bought, but I had total control over the parts that went into it, and I already have several people lined up to get me to build them one as well. In fact I have had so many requests since I did mine I had to add them to my list of services for my company Digital Elite PC.
In this DIY Tutorial I'm not going to go to much into the software or the actual PC that runs this. This is mostly aimed for the "How to make an Aracade" part of it all.

If you have any questions, would like help or advice, or just would like some more details. Please visit our website forums.

Step 1: Pick A Cabinet

1. Pick a Cabinet
You have three basic options for a cabinet, each with their own pro's and con's. The first obvious choice is to build one from scratch. This offers the biggest set of positive and negative factors. For one you can make it custom to whatever size or shape that you want. If you chose you could make it accommodate a big screen TV. However, this method requires allot of time, planning,  and tools. It also requires that you have a pretty good work space and better than average woodworking skills. 

Your second option is a pre-fab kit. These can be ordered online for a considerable amount of scratch, straightforward to put together, and look good to boot. The downside is that they are not 100% customizable and can be expensive to ship to your home or shop. 

The last option is to find a used machine locally. This can have some good benefits, namely being cheap. Especially if you look for something that's not working. The downside is that you will be limited to certain hardware limitations based on dimensions. Be sure to get something that is within your skill to refurbish and something that will have the space you need for the parts you want. If you like classic games a classic cabinet is awesome, if you like fighters an more modern style games try to find a Midway cabinet. Finally if you want more than 2 players be sure that the machine has an accommodating control deck or space for you to build one. 
<p>Seriously you do that to Ms. Pacman Cabinet? </p>
<p>LOL. Only have like 3 of them.... They are pretty common in my area. </p><p>This one had enough issues it wasn't worth much anyway. </p>
<p>I know... Seriously???<br>I want to cry</p>
<p>Could you make one for me? How much would you charge?</p>
<p>I'll be posting a follow up to this soon. I'm currently restoring a Golden Tee 2005</p>
<p>Hi x8xid,</p><p>Great job on a great machine. Looks very professional!</p><p>I've finally managed to make my own machine after many years of 'round toits'. I'm from africa and parts are real hard to come by. But I think I've shown it is not that difficult even in remote areas.</p><p>I've started a website to encourage others that might be considering it. <a href="http://www.timewarp-retrocade.com." rel="nofollow"> www.timewarp-retrocade.com</a> </p><p>I wonder if you could have a look see and perhaps put up a referal for me if you think it is worth it.</p><p>I'm new to building a website so comment or direction from your side could be most helpful.</p><p>Thanks and kind regards</p><p>Chris (Timewarp Retrocade)</p>
<p>I'll have to look at it sometime this week. I'm jsut now gettign back to having free time. </p>
<p>I have the exact same cabinet up and running as single player, but want to remake my cp for two player. Any chance you'd share your plans for the control panel to save me some headaches?</p><p>Also digging your idea of setting the monitor more vertical. My only concern is how to mount the glass properly in front of it. </p><p>This is my (much in need of a paint job) cabinet.</p>
<p>Wow been a long time since I looked at my indestructible pages... I'm not sure I still have the plans anymore. However I'm pretty sure I got the button layout from X-Arcade. You should look there. </p><p>I did not use actual glass. My screen cover is plexi. Since it does not weight much it actually just lays on top of the bezel, and sits behind the lip of the CP. Nice machine BTW, like your color scheme. </p>
<p>Hi x8xid,</p><p>Great job on a great machine. Looks very professional!</p><p>I've finally managed to make my own machine after many years of 'round toits'. I'm from africa and parts are real hard to come by. But I think I've shown it is not that difficult even in remote areas.</p><p>I've started a website to encourage others that might be considering it. <a href="http://www.timewarp-retrocade.com" rel="nofollow"> www.timewarp-retrocade.com</a> </p><p>I wonder if you could have a look see and perhaps put up a referal for me if you think it is worth it.</p><p>I'm new to building a website so comment or direction from your side could be most helpful.</p><p>Thanks and kind regards</p><p>Chris (Timewarp Retrocade)</p>
<p>Hi x8xid,</p><p>Great job on a great machine. Looks very professional!</p><p>I've finally managed to make my own machine after many years of 'round toits'. I'm from africa and parts are real hard to come by. But I think I've shown it is not that difficult even in remote areas.</p><p>I've started a website to encourage others that might be considering it. <a href="http://www.timewarp-retrocade.com." rel="nofollow"> www.timewarp-retrocade.com. </a> I wonder if you could have a look see and perhaps put up a referal for me if you think it is worth it.</p><p>I'm new to building a website so comment or direction from your side could be most helpful.</p><p>Thanks and kind regards</p><p>Chris (Timewarp Retrocade)</p>
<p>So... what emulator are you running that can accurately get PSX and N64 lawless on the same machine? I've got a beast pc for the guts, but the software and emulators are where I get hung up. Also, any recommendations for the buttons/stick suppliers?</p>
<p>Unfortunately I cant tell you WHICH emulators I'm using because I don't have permission to promote the software. Also, there's some legality stuff. But I can tell you some hints about how to troubleshoot your issue. A) are you running a seperate GPU? If not, you should. It will make allot of difference. B) are you running a 64 or 32 bit system? I have found that with the older emulator software, 32 bit hangs up alot least because the structure is similar. c) be sure you have as much memory as your machine will support. d) if you have a multi-core processor, try disabling cores by playing with the affinity setting for the processor. Multi-cores sometimes are TOO much for the emulator to deal with. </p>
Poor poor Ms. PAC-MAN :*
<p>not as big as you want but a Samsung 214T?</p>
I watched your video were you had a Emulater that had a bunch of games in it, like from Sega,Nintendo, Playststion, Ect, what is it called.
That is a custom front end called Hyperspin. It is not an emulator itself, but a program that loads to launch each individual emulator that has been configured. There are several options for front ends some examples for beginners are MALA, and ROMShelf. Hyperspin is probably one of the better looking ones and most customizable, but a little more complicated to configure.
This is AMAZING! ... and way beyond my scope of ability! Excellent job! :)
Nah, easy as pie. I'm actually already starting another one that will be bigger and better.
I'm in awe of you! Can't wait to see your next one! :)
Ive been wanting to do this for a while now and I love the look of your cabinet, very nice. I may borrow some design ideas for inspiration. One question about the monitor though. I had heard that newer lcd monitors make older games look worse than on the old tube televisions, like old tubes would average out the grittiness or something. Having done this yourself any word on this? I would like to opt for a newer monitor but not if its going to make my classic games (what this would mostly be for) look terrible. Thanks.
I disagree with the people that say that. What they are complaining about is the lack of scan lines on an LCD. The LCD does sharpen up what used to be a fuzzier picture so some games you will notice a slight bit of extra rastering. But over all I think the images are actually better, and considering the $300.00 price difference, I'm fine with that. <br> <br>But what the MAME snobs wont tell you is that most of the emulators and front ends have scan line emulation that looks just as the original monitors looked if you are really worried about it. It may also be that they didn't get 1080p monitors so their image isn't as clean as it could be? <br> <br>I'm happy with the picture, happy with the space it saved me, an really happy with the money it saved. I wouldn't do it any other way. Plus since I use my cabinet for some newer games, and as a juke box via internet browser, it's nice to have a good clean look outside of games. If you try to do that on an authentic monitor, everything but the games just look horrible.
The main argument for the old CRT displays (and specifically the arcade monitors rather than old TVs or computer monitors) is the colour representation. The old monitors give better colours than a LCD monitor does. <br>Things like scan lines can be simulated if you want them, but I don't know why you would bother. <br> <br>The other advantage to any CRT over an LCD monitor is that you can use the original light guns! the way those guns work is by tracing where the monitor is redrawing the image, and how that related to the position of the gun when the trigger is pulled. This cannot be done with a LCD monitor because they redraw in a different way! If you use a LCD screen you need to have some LEDs around the screen to let the computer know where the gun is pointed. Like how a Nintendo WII tracks the controller around the screen. Unfortunately this is less accurate than the old style.
I think it really depends on the LCD. I think the color difference now compared to when LCDs first became common is negligible. Unless you have two running side by side are you really going to notice that pac-man is 1 shade off from being the correct yellow. I stand by my price argument and the multi-app argument. Having 100% precise authentic colors on less than 8 bit games is not a $400 trade off for me. I say if you have a cabinet that comes with a working one with the right adapters, use it - it's there it's working, it saves you money. If not, I pick the LCD every time. But actually my PERSONAL taste because of many of the games I play, I may even sell the CRT buy the LCD which looks great to me and pocket the profit. <br> <br>The ultimarc gun work very well on LCD, and are incredibly accurate actually. I know there's a bunch that are iffy, but the Ultimarc ones really are the BOSS. I also like that the LED bar is discrete. Way more accurate than the Wii - which actually brings me to another tutorial I need to make (hacking the Wii bar to make it more accurate for your screen.)
I've been looking at the ultimarc aim track guns for my next cabinet. Unfortunately in Australia I'm a bit limited for choice on parts and its all fairly expensive (either to get locally, or to import myself, seeing as the local suppliers are buying from the same people I could in the USA and paying about the same postage). <br> <br>Connecting a WII to PC can be easy or hard... depending on how the gods are looking on you on the day. I've done it on several PCs, and sometimes its easy as (glove)pie, other times its like the devil him self is cursing the hardware and software to make it as awkward as he can!
Yeah, that sounds like the way to go then. I definitely like saving money and it would be nice to have it usable for some music or even put on a movie or something for the kids. Maybe even keep a keyboard and mouse close by for some quick internet access if needed in the garage so when I build I will surely go with a newer monitor. Ill take all those advantages over a possible slight degraded look on older games. Thanks for the response.
Since you mentioned it I realized it's not in my DIY. I'm using one of the older USB wireless keyboards for a PS3 that has the built in touch pad for the mouse. I keep it tucked away out of sight on top of the cabinet and it comes in handy for stuff I do outside of the Front End program. I have actually taken to using this as my shop computer... you should see the look on my customers faces when they bring a system into the shop for repairs when I type up and print their invoice from an arcade machine... lol. <br> <br>It's also been nice to have around for my customers to play around with if they are waiting while I work on their computers. After playing it 45 minutes while I'm tinkering with a broken system many ask how much for me to build them one. Then I spend the next 15 minutes doing a quote.... lol. <br> <br>It just goes to show, there are more advantages to owning one of these than meets the eye. However I'm not looking forward to our next garage sale, I'm sure I will get badgered non stop.
Looks good. <br> <br>I would argue that building a machine from scratch isn't as hard as you made it sound. With only basic woodworking skills, and a little planning you can make something awesome! <br> <br>Here is the link to the site I built while making my first cabinet: <br>http://labrada-designs.com/Arcade/ <br> <br>I'm not sure about in other parts of the world, but in Australia to buy a old original cabinet is very expensive (even if its non-functioning), and really can only be justified if you are going to restore it, rather than turn it into a MAME cabinet. I assume that is different in the USA, judging by the number of Instructables and other sites I have come across with people doing it.
Yes, I saw this cabinet when I was writing up some of my own plans and doing research. Good job by the way, quality work. However, you design was not the look I was going for felt a little too &quot;square&quot; on the angles. It may be the difference between a US feel and other styles. I know many Japanese cabinets I looked at had some REALLY strange angles. I didn't say that building from scratch was necessarily hard, I just said that it required a good deal of planing, space, and better than average skills at woodworking. I don't think that's too tall an order. <br> <br>The US is one of the top places in the world where arcades were popular in the 80's so finding a cab is pretty easy especially in area where many were manufactured. I was going to build one for scratch but got this cab at just $100 - which is about a quarter what it would have cost in material here. Not to mention I made that money back selling off many of the parts I didn't need. What would have taken about a month for me to build I basically got for free it just needed some touch up work.
Wow, great work!
Thank you sir. It was allot of fun, I can't wait until my next one. I'm thinking I will try the build from scratch approach and go with a 47&quot; screen and 4 player deck.

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Bio: I have been working with and fixing computers and electronics for 15 years. I own operate a local repair and custom build shop in Fort ... More »
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