I love MAME .  What I don't love is moving MAME cabinets.  This project outlines the steps involved with building a MAME cabinet in a controller box, allowing it to be moved or stored.  In this project we will build a MAME controller that is self-contained, and battery powered.  I've broken it into sections so you can take this project as far as you want.

If you're asking yourself CAN I MAKE THIS the answer is yes!

It's pretty clear l'll never be a film maker or a photographer, but here's a quick video walk through.

Phase 1 - Building the controller
The hardest part of this whole project is building the plywood box, but if you're unable to do that, you can probably scavenge something that will work - an old chest, a toolbox, use your imagination!  In this phase, you will build a plywood box, attach a hinge, drill holes in it.  At the end of this phase, you will have a really cool, heavy duty, arcade style controller that can be connected to your laptop via USB.  Just skip steps 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8

Phase 2 - Adding the Raspberry Pi (AKA RPi)
If you choose to go this route, you will end up with a great controller that just needs power and a monitor (or external projector)- no laptop necessary!  Just skip step 4 and 7.

Phase 3 - Add the Projector - this is the finally step to make the whole system self-contained and wireless.  The RPi is powered from the projector, and the iPAC is powered off the RPi.  Of course the batteries have to be recharged eventually.

1) As with everything, your mileage may vary.  I haven't tested all MAME ROMS on the RPi, and I've run into a few that seem to run slow.  It could be the ROMS, I'm not sure.  If you have specific games you want to play, perhaps try first with just an RPi and a keyboard and see what kind of performance you get.
2) I've been getting about an hour of play time out of a charge, but usually I shut it down after that.  I'm not sure what the total play time would be.  The projector is rated for two hours, but that doesn't account for the extra drain from the RPi.
3) I've done my best to list all the steps I can think of here, but it's possible I've missed something.  If that's the case, I'll do my best to add it once it's pointed out.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

For the Raspberry Pi 
     A laptop with an SD card reader

For the controller box
     A saw - a table saw is best, but a skilsaw will work
     A screw driver to attach the hinge
     Sand paper
     3/8" Counter sink (optional)
     A drill
     A set of drill bits - (really, all you should need is a couple around 1/4" and 3/8") for pilot holes when building the controller box and mounting the joysticks
     A 6mm hex key to screw in the blind hole screws
     1 1/8" hole saw - another type of drill bit that looks like a cylinder with teeth
     hacksaw - to cut the hinge and the electronics mount

For installing the wires on the switches
     Wire cutters
     Wire strippers
     Crimping tool (or pliers)


Phase 1 - Controller Box
3/4" plywood good one side (about 1/2 a sheet) $26 per sheet
piano hinge from Lee Valley $7.00
rubber feet $4.00
Wood plugs $3.00
Box of screws (I used 1 1/2" drywall screws) $3.00
(optional) Primer and Paint $51.00
Acrylic, wood or some other thin, non-conductive materialsmall piece (4" x 4") plexiglass, .  This will be used to mount the iPAC and RPi to the inside of the cabinet.
Adhesive feet  $2.00
(optional) Roll of velcro $7.00
Total: $103.00

Phase 1 - Arcade Parts
I get all my parts from Ultimarc (http://www.ultimarc.com/ ) in the UK.  This setup will be for 2 players.  Each player will have a 4/8way joystick, 6 buttons, a player start button, and there will be on Add Coin button.  Ultimarc are great to deal with, and the shipping is really quick.  The controller parts required are:

I-PAC2 Interface - this component acts as the brains in a way.  All buttons and joystick controls are connected to this, and this interface then plugs into your computer.  The I-PAC works right out of the box using the MAME standard for controls.  It basically takes button pushes, joystick movements, etc, and converts them to keystrokes, then send them to MAME running on your computer.  We will reassign two buttons later on.  It comes with software that lets us do so.  

* 14  Game Buttons - (only 12 are shown) I used the Happ Classic Pushbuttons.  Note that the buttons from Ultimarc come with switches, but some other sources may not.  Don't bother putting the switches on your buttons until they are in the controller platform.  The switches that come from the Happ buttons from Ultimarc are E-Switch.

*  1 of each Player Start 1 and 1 Player 2 start Buttons - They come in white and black

* 2  Add Coin Button - This is really just another Happ button like above, but I picked a different color.  Strictly speaking, you can get away without this, as you can program the I-PAC to send the 'add coin' keystroke using existing buttons and movements.  I think by default it's Player 1 start + Player 1 button 1.  I wouldn't recommend it though.  Just buy the extra button.

* 2  Mag-Stik Plus Joysticks - I picked these because they can easily be changed from 4 way to 8 way.  Some games require 8 directions and some don't really work well with 8 directions enabled, so it's nice to be able to switch back and fourth without having to get at the bottom of the joystick.  These are expensive.  If you want to save some cash, get a cheaper joystick.

* Mounting hardware for Mag-Stik Plus - A nice kit for mounting the joystick to the controller platform, assuming your platform is wood.  You could probably get away without this if you wanted to save a few bucks.  Note: If you order this, be sure to get size that matches your joystick (6mm for the Mag-Stik)

* 1  Daisy-Chain Harness - again, if you want to save a few bucks, you can probably do without this, but this is a really nice premade kit that just allows you to connect the ground from all the button switches together.  We'll cover this more later, but each switch (and direction on a joystick) has a ground, a Normally Open, and Normally Closed.  When we wire these, all the grounds can be chained together from switch to switch, but the Normally Open  connector must be connected directly to the IPAC.  This is why we have both the Daisy Chain, and other crimp connectors.  Note that this harness must match the size of the switches on your buttons.  This may differ by brand, but it 6.3mm for the Happ buttons I'm using.  Also note that switches are included with the Happ buttons listed below.

* 1 pack Crimp Connectors - These are the connectors that connect to the joysticks and switches.  As with the daisy-chain harness,  these connectors must match the size of the switches on your buttons.

Total parts list (prices in Canadian Dollars):

Classic Pushbuttons from Happ Controls. Orange 2 x 1.95 = $3.90 (only one shown in photo)
Classic Pushbuttons from Happ Controls. Red 1.95 x 4 = $7.80
Classic Pushbuttons from Happ Controls. Blue 1.95 x 4 = $7.80
Classic Pushbuttons from Happ Controls. Black 1.95 x 4 = $7.80
Classic Pushbuttons from Happ Controls. White 1.95 x 4 = $7.80 (not shown in photo)
Crimp Connectors 6.3 mm 9.00 x 1 = $9.00
Daisy-Chain Harness 6.3mm (1/4in) Connectors 14.00 x 1 = $14.00
Joystick Mounting Kits 6mm for Mag-Stik 7.00 x 2 = $14.00
Mag-Stik Plus Red 33.00 x 2 = $66.00
Start Logo Pushbuttons Black. Start1 1 x 2.90 = $2.90
Start Logo Pushbuttons Black. Start2 1 x 2.90 = $2.90
Sub-Total: $134.17
Shipping: $27.00
Total: $161.15

Note this cost doesn't include the two white buttons, or the second Coin button.  I added the 2 player coin later in the project after I realized that some games actually require the player 2 coin in order to go into 2 player mode.  Also, the two white buttons are used as Enter and Escape.  These are not absolutely required either, but I highly recommend them.  They make the MAME controller playable without having to know the secret combinations for Enter (Player 2 Start + Player 1 left) and Escape (Player 1 start + Player 2 Start).

Phase 2 - Parts for the Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi from Lee's Electronics 1 x $45.00 (for Phase 2) - this is the amazing little computer that will run MAME.

8GB SD Card 1 x $9.99 - There's debate about the best class of card to use.  I'm using a cheap class 4.  This will be running the brains of the system, and I've read a few articles that discuss how different classes of cards affect speed.

Micro USB B to USB A cable 1 x $9.99 - This will provide the power from the projector (USB A) to the RPi (Micro USB).  Don't mistake Mini USB for Micro USB.  

Total Phase 2 Costs $64.98

Phase 3 - Parts for the Projector

1/4" x 1 1/4" bolt to mount the projector

Self Adhesive closed foam weather stripping for the projector mount $4.48

(Optional) 1/8" Headphones stereo splitter 1 x $4.00 (I got mine from Lee's Electronics, but I can't find a link on their site)

(Optional) Old headphones that you can cut apart (free) or 1/8" Headphones stereo extension cables 2 x $16.0 - I put the headphones in Phase 3 because I connect the splitter to the projector rather then the RPi.  I noticed that I was getting a lot of noise when I ran the audio directly from the RPi, however, the audio from the project was fine.  I think maybe because it's a digital signal from the HDMI cable, as opposed to the analog signal from the RPi?  I don't really know.

Brookstone Pocket Projector from Brookstone.com 1 x $329.00 (Phase 3) - this is the key to making the system portable and battery powered, as the projector contains a rechargeable battery that can power the Raspberry Pi and the iPAC.
Plus taxes and duties: $38.46
Plus shipping: $36.84
Total projector cost: $395.79

Total Phase 3 Cost: $420.27
Cool! I'm looking to make something similar with my pi, but would the IPAC work with retropie, if you don't know, its like a MAME, but with SNES NES GB and GBA games?
NEIN, I followed your excellent instructable and am now the proud owner of a portable, wireless arcade console. I had a lot of fun working on it and even a newbie like me had no problems following the steps. Thanks for your work.
Unbelievably amazing!!!!!!! You should get an award for how detailed your instructions are and what a cool idea this is.
Thanks! I hope we see some other folks build this too!
Very in depth, love it!
Thank you! When I finished I was a little worried that it was too long, but I wanted everything covered, so I left it as is.
Wow vientos <br>
Looks fun! <br>Not sure I'd embed the projector, as some players are a bit rough, and it's not great fun if the screen is bouncing. <br>Most of the ROMs that don't work well in MAME weren't designed all on the ROM. They had been manufactured with separate sound boards to generate the sounds, and not part of the &quot;ROM&quot; itself. It was a time of physical transistors and 16 pin chips - and the pinnacle of hardware at the time. Additionally, some of the ROMs being downloaded for MAME use could be corrupt images, given the hardware age. <br>
Thanks! Yes, you need a stable surface to play it on. You could always put the projector outside and run the cables through the projector hole I guess. I did a few tests with mounting removable legs on the bottom, but I haven't found anything good enough yet. <br> <br>I really love the original arcade machines. Brings back memories of a misspent youth!
I've wanted to make a wall mount version of this (sans Projector) to share with a wall mounted TV. Still haven't figured out a proper mounting for it, similar to your removable legs issue.
Yes sorry left that part out :)
shutdown -r now should reboot the system without having disconnect and reconnect the power. -r is for restart or reboot. -h is for halt.
Excellent point - thanks for the tip! I believe the way this iso is configured, you may have to use sudo: <br> <br>sudo shutdown -r now <br> <br>Would that be correct?
Great project! How well does MAME play on the Raspberry Pi?
I don't cover it in this instructable, but there's also an option to run MAME4ALL in that RPi image. I haven't tried it, but from what I've read, it seems to be a bit more optimized for the RPi. https://code.google.com/p/mame4all-pi/
I should probably run a comparison between the RPi and my laptop to say for sure. Most games are fine, but it feels like some of the more graphics intensive games may run a little slow, but that could just be my imagination. I've also noticed on some games, the audio is a bit distorted, but again, that could be the ROMS I'm using. For 90% of the games I've tried, it fine.

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