Instructables
Picture of Homemade Arcade Cabinet
arcade_side.JPG
Welcome! this is my first attempt to create a MAME arcade cabinet from scratch. I built this thing some years ago and just decided to upload it to instructables.com

I tried to take as many pictures I could to show the step-by-step creation process.
This project has many interesting topics in which I worked: woodworking, design, electronics, painting, programming.

If you like this project please comment!
 
 
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Step 1: Cabinet construction

I think a good blueprint is a must as a good starting point for this project. I wish I could created a 3d design but I only know a little bit about 3d tools. If you take this approach a good -and free- software to play with is Sketchup from Google.

I chose the way of hand drawing designs. Since I wanted to build an old-fashioned cabinet I looked up to the Taito cabinets designs (Alpine Ski or Jungle King for example)

Since I couldn't find any full sized blueprint of the cabinet I liked to build, I had to create it by my own. First of all, I got a small picture of the side view of an "alpine ski" and printed it out in a deskjet printer. 

After slicing the silhouette of the side view I took a small piece of squared paper and draw the design there.
The next part was easy. All I had to know was one of the measures of the real cabinet (for instance, the length from the floor to the control panel) and apply a simple rule to calculate the other values.

I got one of the measures from a cabinet installed at a restaurant. The height from floor to control panel was 92cm.

The height from the floor to control panel in the small picture was 5cm

With this data I calculated the depth of the machine, by measuring the depth of the small picture (which was 6cm) and applying the formula that gives the measure of the real depth:

real cabinet side depth = 6 * 92 / 5  = 110cm

I got all the measures of the side view with this method and created a blueprint of the cabinet sides as the construction starting point.

Based on the blueprints I started the process cutting the MDF sheets for both sides of the cabinet. Every cut was made with the circular saw except the curved cut of the upper sides. I didn't have any tool to make that kind of cut so I had to build it by my own. I did this by using a saw blade fixing one end as an axis and attaching the jigsaw to the other end. This kind of cut must be performed with a lot of care and in very slow motion because the jigsaw blade can easily get twisted.

After both sides were ready I sanded the borders to get a smooth surface.

Next, I created the inner frame. This part is the reference to build the rest of the cabinet because the control panel will be positioned just over this frame.

The distance between both cabinet sides is 66cm. I got this measurement from the control panel prototype created before. Although the cabinet can be narrower I this measure is very comfortable for two players with six buttons each.

After fixing both sides to the frame, I started with the control panel construction, as you can see in the next step.
JackM367 months ago

Really nice build. I am planning to do something similar too. I am a programmer, and I also want to make my own front end. Could you please give me some info about how you did it? ( I do know vb6 as well)

crusso (author)  JackM367 months ago

Hi JackM36,

I read the gamelist file generated by Mame and then displayed it in the screen
When the user choose a game, call the mame.exe with the game name as parameter along with other ones (like fullscreen display, etc). Basically what I do is to call command line mame.exe with parameters, with shellexec32

Anyway, as I mention before, there is a much better frontend than mine called MaLa which has many cool features.

Thanks for your comment and good luck.

JackM36 crusso7 months ago
Thanks for your reply, that was very helpful. I know about MaLa and other cool front ends, I am just the kind of person that like to do things myself. I also enjoy the challenge of doing things I never tried before! :)
thewildman1 year ago
Hi Crusso. Great instructable. You can use a router to cut a hole in MDF and get a smooth edge for the bezel. If you setup a jig with a straight rule to control the router its actually quite easy. Youtube has a lot of videos and this is how I learnt.
crusso (author)  thewildman1 year ago
Hi WildMan,
Thank you for your comment,
I have a router now but not at the time i built this arcade machine. You're right, it would be much better with a router.

Regards.
Great instructable, Carl..
Here is mine I am making..

It is a MIME, PINBALL..
cabinet build02.jpgcabinet build01.jpg
whats mime
Sorry, it suppose to say:
Mame

Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator
thanks for the info
Wow, that looks really cool. You should post an instructable or at least a video when you're done. It looks amazing,
kenobr1004 years ago
thats brill !
how much did that cost you to make?
crusso (author)  kenobr1003 years ago
hi, thanks.
you can see the complete cost list at http://www.carlosrusso.com/arcade/spanish/costs_sheet.htm

Thanks for your comment.
(removed by author or community request)
crusso (author)  wjohnson.20192 years ago
No more carlosrusso.com web site, I had to shut it down.
All the information is included in this project at instructables.com web site.
Thank you for writing.
Awesome gonna build asap
drake2212 years ago
thats cool might make this for the kids put there xbox 360 in it
scottinnh3 years ago
Awesome job, Carlos. You did very well making this from scratch, without blueprints.

I would be a little concerned about using fiberboard, if your operating environment has moisture. That's not a problem for you maybe, but on a basement floor (even if it is "dry") it would be an issue. Fiberboard just wicks up any moisture it can get. Rubber feet will help, raising it off the floor.

I would love to build one of these, but in a cocktail format cabinet.
crusso (author)  scottinnh3 years ago
I totally agree with you. The MDF is not the best kind of wood to do this... I'm currently building a new pacman-style machine, with other kind of multi-layer wood (i don't know how to spell it in english :) like this one:

http://centrocarpintero.com.uy/imagenes/placas/multiplaca%202.jpg

Thank you for your comment, hope to hear about your cocktail cabinet soon!
maclinfuehr3 years ago
If that saw blade driven by a drill lol
That's no saw blade, it is a sanding disc!
crusso (author)  scottinnh3 years ago
that's right scottinnh :)
adrian1163 years ago
Im really new to this whole thing. Do you think you could some how explain exactly what to do for a fellow amature? Brilliant project by the way.
I dont get it ether
crusso (author)  17jrobinson3 years ago
I don´t understand your question, please let me know how can I help you.
adrian1163 years ago
Sorry ignore that comment I skipped the keyboard step. But would you make a list of all the games?
crusso (author)  adrian1163 years ago
Hi!
For this project I installed mame 0.84. There are thousand games supported in this version, but i recommend you to visit www.mame.net to get the latest version much newer than this one. And if you wish to install a frontend to launch mame in a friendly fashion, go to www.malafe.org.

Thanks for your comment.
nolte9194 years ago
I don't suppose you'd post your marquee artwork as a downloadable file? And did you print it on regular paper or use some sort of transparency?
Mikey85674 years ago
Not to be a stickler but that isn't a neon light. It's a florescent light. And a 13w florescent light is the same output as a 60w incandescent light bulb. But over all this is a great instructable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
crusso (author)  Mikey85674 years ago
Hi Mikey, thanks for your comments. Yes that's right, it's a fluorescent light.
I live in Uruguay, here we have 220v AC. This bulb has a little transformer, so the bulb works with only 12v. Best regards! Carlos.
Yea I'm a electrician by trade (Many other trades under my belt too LOL) and I've dealt with a lot of voltages ranging from .01 vdc to 10k. a lot of the electronic ballast's for florescent fixtures take multi voltage inputs. I've been replacing most of my projects with LED so I don't have to change out builds as much. Good job on the project!
Mikey85674 years ago
Might include a warning that #1 the input to it is 125 VAC and the output to the bulb (via the ballast) is around 8k-10k VAC so a electrical shock warning to all the users.
gdhenson4 years ago
great work
rc jedi4 years ago
Wow! very nice. I plan on doing 1 soon. great project. thanks for shareing
crusso (author)  rc jedi4 years ago
Thank you!
crusso (author) 4 years ago
Thank you very much! I am just an amateur in woodworking, but I like a lot to build things and enjoy the whole process.

Regards!
Carlos.
ldb4774 years ago
You mentioned the image was flipped in the tv and did not look right. Just fyi there's a plug inside your tv called the yoke connector that connect to the large mess of windings on the back of the tube. There are only 4 wires on this connector so its easy to find, and it goes straight to the main board inside the tv. The four wires basically control the height and width of the image, and if each correspoding pair is reversed, they will reverse the image. Flipping it horizontally AND vertically will make the screen perfectly upsidedown. Your supplier may have only flipped it vertically which would have accounted for the "mirrored" image (which many of the old arcade cabinets used along with an actual mirror to reposition the video screen to a more natual position, while keeping the tv itself tucked away where there is more room).
crusso (author)  ldb4774 years ago
Yes, that's right. The supplier did it wrong the first time and I went back and ask him to fix it.
He told me what you're mention, about the wires. He did it this way.

Thank you for your comment.
ldb4774 years ago
Wow, I am thoroughly impressed. I work as a gameroom technician for an arcade and I have to say your craftsmanship surpasses most of the arcade games that I work on that are from professional companies. My favorite part is the pull out keyboard tray, well hidden!
ironsmiter4 years ago
I like the finished product.

I especially like your keyboard controller hack.


You said "Most of the older TV's in my country has composite (RCA) inputs and not s-video"

Just so anyone trying this knows, there are MANY many many s-video to rca cables available. In fact, my last 2 video cards came with them, in the box. You can even hack one together with an old p/s2 cable, and an rca jack. Just a matter of hooking up the correct pins.
crusso (author)  ironsmiter4 years ago
Hi ironsmiter,
thank you for your comment. I have another keyboard hack much simpler to be used on a 1 player arcade. I made it by hacking a keypad. Is much simpler and fits in a very little plastic cabinet.

I tried with many different s-video to rca cables but I got very poor results, that's why I decided to buy the xga unit.

Thanks!
Carlos.