Using Mame/ Building a Mame Cabinet





Introduction: Using Mame/ Building a Mame Cabinet

Well after a few months of thinking of building a mame cabinet, I'm on my way. I thought I would post my progress and such. This is a semi FULL tutorial that will break down each piece of building a cabinet. Also below is a pdf file that will help you on your geek, handyman of a trek. Also check this instructable, themakeclass did a fine job I'd like to think of mine as a "puddy" to fill in the "cracks" where themakeclass had "cracks"

Step 1: MAME 32

To start off you will need to download a version of Mame, to help with this part I stole some videos off of you tube to help because me explaining it will take forever!!! Google "roms" to find some cool games to play on the emulator. My favorite site is because its easy to use and has screen shot and a lot of other user friendly features

Step 2: The Cabinet

If you decide to take mame to the next level off your desk, and into a cabinet you will need to either build from scratch or restore an older cabinet. I had a older cabinet in my work shop from years ago and though to restore that and use if for mame. My older cabinet was dirty and grimmy so I took it apart in order to wipe everything down with clorox and it also made it easier to sand and prep things. Later on as seen in the pictures we took a few 2x4s and stabilized the whole cabinet.

Step 3: The Monitor

the monitor is key for an awesome mame cabinet I used an old 21inch CRT TV because it was free and it fit perfect in the cabinet. Note: If you use a TV you will need a graphic card in your computer that allows for a composite out. I build my computers so finding a spare graphic card as such was no big sweat but for the average joe, you may need to look for such a graphic card. For the TV to be held in the cabinet at such an angle we used two 23.25" 2x4s to hold it in place and used an additional one for extra support. Please check out the pictures to fully understand what I'm talking about.

Step 4: The Play Field

My panel has 2 players 6 buttons and 2 credits and 2 starts also an exit and pause. The play field/ panel design I have is an influenced design of mine I have been looking into this subject for SOME time and during this time I thought of what I liked and what would work. For my panel I have it on 3 hinges so that the keyboard below in exposed in case I need it. I have a picture of the OLD panel and have a picture of the newly cut piece of MDF that "Is to be" the new panel. Later on I truly hope to insert a trackball (missile command rocks)

Step 5: the Controls of the Panel

For my controller interface I used a hacked keyboard the video will explain everything Keyboard hacks are one of the most popular methods of hooking up an arcade control to a computer. A keyboard hack involves taking apart a keyboard, and using the guts to hook your controls to. Almost all games support keyboard control, and keyboards can send hundreds of keystrokes to the computer, giving in theory hundreds of possible arcade controls. However . . . One important consideration is that if you take over the keyboard input for your arcade controls, you lose your ability to use a keyboard with the computer. If you're confident that once you get it set up you won't be needing a keyboard anymore, then you can get away with just swapping them back and forth. If you want the ability to use both arcade controls and the keyboard at the same time however, you can either build or buy a keyboard splitter.

One other important consideration is keyboard "ghosting" and "blocking." If you've ever been typing fast or just pressed many keys at the same time, you may have seen a weird keystroke appear that you didn't type - this is ghosting, a phantom keystroke that appears. Alternatively, you might see the situation where you hit several keys at the same time, then try yet another, and the final keystroke doesn't appear - this is blocking, a keystroke that refuses to register. Both situations can play havok with game controls. Imagine trying to fire and instead just sitting still while a bad guy gets you, or accidentally jumping off a platform when you didn't hit jump. There are whole pages devoted to discussing ghosting and blocking, and it's hard to get two people to agree on the causes and cures. However, everyone agrees the problems exist and need to be considered carefully in your design.

Step 6: Panel Idea 2

The joystick port is a logical place to try to hook up your arcade controls to - after all, that's its primary function, right? Like a keyboard hack, you take apart a cheap joystick or gamepad, and connect your joystick and buttons to the original circuit board. Most games support joysticks already, what could be simpler? This method has the advantage of being one of the quickest and easiest ways to interface arcade controls to your computer. Also, as you're using this particular computer port for its intended purpose, you don't have to worry about losing your keyboard/mouse, or having to hook up a splitter.

There are, however, some drawbacks to consider. The first and biggest is that the joystick/game port has a very limited number of inputs it will accept. Where a keyboard numbers in the hundreds, a joystick port accepts a limited number of inputs. X and Y axis on player 1, up to 4 buttons. Then, if you add a second joystick, you lose two buttons on the first joystick, allowing X and Y axis on player 2, with 2 buttons. No 6 button per player joysticks here, never mind extra buttons for coin inserts, player 1, etc... The other drawback is that not every system has a game port (laptops mostly), and believe it or not, not every game supports one!. I used an old (when I say old I mean serial port old) but I used a game pad that wouldn't be used. all you have to do is etch out the contact points until the copper/bass is exposed an the solder on each point. the pictures really help out explaining this so check them out. also this site will go even more in depth with this hack:

Step 7: Marquee

Do some research on Google and find a "mame marquee" then print it out the ideal sized marquee as yo can see I had to cut mine. Also instead of making a big ordeal about this I also have another tutorial on this idea check it out

then after this incorporate this tutorial to the cabinet

hope there aren't any ?s

Step 8: Sound

The sound comes out of the computer by the sound card you can amplify the sound with really anything, computer speakers, tv amps etc. but I used a 80watt car speaker. I'm just showing where on the cabinet it would go. Well I found an old amp in our billiards room and did some testing with it. with any unknown electronic there are a few ? s to ask, 1) what volt does this take, 2) if its ac or dc volt, and what the inputs and out puts are. Well for #1 I had a multi volt adapter which took care of ? 2 because it has dc and ac settings. and for ? #3, I took 2, double male head phone jacks and connected it to my mp3 player and the other ends went into the amp. to explain watch the video.

Step 9: Update

well the past few day I got back to work and I started with the panel, I also did the cabinet as well but I started painting. for this project I used a foam roller, (found at and hardware store) and a can of black gloss paint as shown. for the most part it worked beautifully. BUT after I painted the side of the cabinet I realized that the fiber board sides looked bad so I am currently in the process of adding more wood filler.

Step 10: T-molding

After the paint dried I then started on the t - molding. I had t - molding left over from my original arcade machine so I went to work. I grabbed my trusty dremel tool and cutting wheel, then tried to make a notch in the middle of the sides on the panel.And tried to slowly, inch by inches hammer in the molding then try to work my way around the panel. For corners to fit I had to cut pieces of the t - molding out (see picture) then just folded it over to fit the panel. After about an hour I finally finished and I have to say it looks pretty good.

Step 11: Trackball

As shown I made a track ball from a stock microsoft d67 mouse, All I did was I took the mouse apart, then took the componets out. Then measured the diameter of the trackball hole, and drill it out with a spade bit in the plexi glass. Then I glued the holder of the ball under the hole in the plexi glass. After the trackball business is done I soldered the left click and mouse click with 2 wires then soldered them to the cherry switches. Then attached them to the (red) buttons

Step 12: Finish

Well over the course of my summer vacation I can proudly say that I have finished my Mame arcade. Although there needs to be some side art on the side the cabinet looks and works %100. Here are some pictures of me next to my new member to the family.



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    Haha! Just did a 4-player machine for our church! You might want to check out the Hyperspin frontloader. It's awesome!

    My show off of the arcade machine:

    Short little vid of our church's new coffee parlor . IThe arcade machine is there towards the end:

    Totally a fun build if you are well prepared for it!

    If you use mechanical keyboards you wont have keyboard blocking problems. The reason they're blocking is that newer keyboards are cheapily made with silicone buds under them.

    nice i might use this for a old monitor

    wow man, looks good, I did one kinda on the same idea as yours, a few diffrences thought. I couldn't find a trackball mouse at the time, so I didn't add one. I used a old monitor insted of a TV, for the same reasons you did, I had the thing already, and it was free. I went to my local goodwill and picked up a USB keyboard for the controls. the big diffrence between what you did and what I did was connecting the 2 together. my keyboard had 2 plugs that connected the carbon contact sheets, I just un-soldered the plugs, soldered in wires in their place, mapped all the wires, and hooked up the controls. My Cabinet only had 4 buttons per player, 2 players. and was the older style cabinet, like pac-man style (not a pac cabinet) I used the onboard sound card, and didn't need an amp, I was pretty impressed with the output. I actualy hid my coin button in a loose bolt in the speaker grill, push the bolt, activated the button, I also hooked up p1 and p2 coin slots to the actuall coin mech, so you could actually use quaters or slugs.
    I hat to give up my cabinet when I moved, I wish I still had it. might have to build another one in the future.

    If you were to use two USB keyboards (one to remain and one to be hacked) or one USB and one PS2 you would have no problem having them both hooked on :)

     Great idea!!! and also, what a coincidence, I also have that very same trackball mouse :D, just one question, which of the mouse buttons should I use?

    I downloaded the .133 version of mame and put zipped roms in the rom folder, and whenever I try to play any of the games it says "The selected game is missing one or more ROM or CHD images. Please select a different game. Press any key to continue." DO you know what is wrong an how I can fix this. Please help Thanks in advance

    1 reply

    yes if u notice mame has a million versions. this is because as soon as they release a new version certain roms will not work after they get a few new roms working. so there will always be a lack of working roms in EVERY version of mame. though i had a copy of mame beta which is the newest and most likely best running mame to date. though i say its the best to date i still have problems with games such as metal slug or similar games. its all in the software download a newer or even older version of mame and try re-running the roms hopefully it works. also be careful as to where you download roms most are junk, or just spam. so just maybe re download the roms as well from another site. hope this helps

    yer the middle one doesn't work lol.

    unfortunately my stupid computor has been silly and i cant view videos on this website could you tell me were i could find these videos on youtube. ty

    1 reply

    You know the second after I posted this, I clicked the pdf... doh?

    battle toads, pac man, 1942, 1943, super mario, donkey kong ... i mean any old school games i can run, also it does newer 90s games like street fighter, marvel vs capcom. and metal slug. awesome games....

    Nice job on the tutorial. A piece of advice if I may. Instead of doing a keyboard hack just spend $25 on a Keywiz encoder. By the time you buy all the "extras" needed to get the hack working you'll have spent the $25 anyway. Not to mention it will save you several hours of work and you will NEVER have any blocking or ghosting issues. I've made several keyboard hacks. And while it was great soldering practice they hardly ever worked correctly. Not worth the effort!

    1 reply

    well wouldn't you still have to wire everything to your buttons even if your running a Key wiz encoder? plus i build computers so i have a spare keyboard laying around so that was no expense to me. and considering i did like 10 buttons tops it really wasn't that much work. plus i am yet to have ghosting or blocking,i have read up on this subject on many forums and i have know about this issue. i have had the machine running for well over 1/2 a year with use every other day and no issues. i appreciate the concern but really not needed