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!
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.