Step 11: Setting up the Software
One of the most time consuming, aggrivating, and rewarding parts of the project is the software setup. Due to the amount of detail it could take to explain this section I will not do it in too much detail. Some parts you just need to experiment with and research for your own needs.
Starting off install windows XP via an external cd-drive. Install as much as you want with the custom install, don't go too skimpy on installing drivers and such as you may need them. You also will want to install service pack 3 with this. I bet this would work with any version of windows xp and later, but I am not sure.
After windows is installed you will want to transfer all your emulators and any game images onto the system and organize them as needed. Additionally you will want to install xpadder to help fix some bugs with using your NES controller with the front end.
Another helpful tool is Alcohol 120%, which if you wanted to run a cd based console, you could use to load images of the cd rather than attach an external drive and have to swap drives. The hyperspin program has modules that will swap the disk images for you.
Finally, you want to install the Hyperspin 1.0 with updates. This is a fantasic free front end for M.A.M.E. machines and helps to hide the whole windows environment with a little tweaking. The job of the front end is to allow us to select a game, start it up, and then after we quit the game (remember the reset button) goes back to the menu to select other games. In order to set up Hyperspin you can check out the programmer's website forums to tweaking it to your needs, how to use the modules, etc... It will also direct you to EmuMovies that allows you to preview every game with a video and artwork rather than just text.
You will need to take some time going over the settings for the front end and each emulator to create a smooth interface. After you test hyperspin you may notice that the nes controller doesn't work perfectly (some functions are not working) this is where xpadder comes in. It allows you to map your controller button to a different keyboard key and substitute that for what isn't working. Seems to work fairly well and you can have the frontend auto load it on startup.
One of the most visually impressive aspects to this modification is after it is all setup and runs fine. Then you turn the frontend executable file into the shell that boots up. There are a lot of programs that will allow you to change the shell of the computer from explorer.exe (normal desktop that we see) to a custom program. You can also get programs that will change the bootup splash screen, mouse cursors, etc... Basically when you start the system you shouldn't see anything that reminds us of windows. If you do, then google how to remove that feature. Soon you will be able to run your new system without it showing any signs that it is a computer, unless you open it. You can see most of this on the video on step 12.