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Written by Marc Fournier   
Sunday, 05 February 2006 11:31
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The MAME Project
The cabinet on display, the application

The MAME Project

Project by Marc Fournier and Bruce Desi
Article by Marc Fournier

Click for full-size image
Click for full size image

The idea of building an arcade cabinet came about 2 years ago when a co-worker told be about an emulator (MAME) that allowed you to play arcade games in all their original glory on your PC. I had purchased a Robotron 2084 machine about 15 years ago and always thought of purchasing a couple more game boards and making a multi game unit out of it. Yeah right! Enter Mame and exit that crazy idea. From that point on, I became obsessed with creating a software and Quad MAME cabinet that would be an all in one entertainment unit.

What is MAME?

MAME was first conceived in 1996, when Nicola Salmoria began working on single hardware emulators. These were later merged into one single emulator, MAME (which stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) This emulator enables one to experience thouands of ROM sets from various arcade hits, ranging from Street Fighter to Killer Instinct.

The first version of MAME was released on February 5th, 1997. MAME was initially a DOS based emulator, but this changed later in 1997 when Chris Kirmse created MAME32, the first port of MAME to the Windows operating system. This featured a GUI, and was slightly friendlier to use. Whilst both emulators can be used to enjoy long forgotten arcade classics, the true purpose of both programs is to document the internal hardware and code of arcade games. Further information on both can be found at the links below...

- MAME32

The cabinet

I had downloaded a few game launchers, some excellent, some horrible, so decided to write my own. I'm now glad that I did because it offers me all the flexibility and functionality that I need. The cabinet was a dual effort between my brother-in-law and I. He is the woodworking king who designed and built the outside of the box concept. I was responsible for designing the controller layout, the software, the wiring and the endless amounts of research. We made a few mistakes along the way, but overall I am quite pleased with the results.

Click for full-size image
Click for full size image

The cabinet itself is quite a bit smaller than some of the beasts out there such as the Krawdaddy's Goldmine cabinet (what a beatiful beast). But don't let size fool you. It is quite heavy and very solid. The center unit is made from MDF and surounded with maple veneer finished plywood, and the sides are all capped off with solid maple. The control panel is also solid maple and has been routed and shaped very nicely. The reason we went with an LCD is simple, it rotates and doesn't require an insane mechanism for rotation and looks great on top of the unit. The unit also sports a built in shelf to support your PC and give easy access to it.

Click for full-size image
Click for full size image

Controls Used
- Happ Controls
- Ultimate joysticks
- Heavy duty 8-Way trigger joystick
- 3" diameter trackball
- The replacement joystick for MS PAC-MAN/GALAGA (I think the ball is much too small for proper adult use)
- Competition Pushbuttons
- Tornado Spinner (Very nice spinner. The screw holes in the bracket are far too small.)
- Hagstrom KE72 and the ME4

I'd just like to mention that the guys at Hagstrom are very helpful, because I had a problem with the config file. They also sent me a free connector (a full year after ordering) for the ME4 because the one I had originally ordered was not correct.

Click for full-size image
Click for full size image

LCD - Viewsonic VP2000s. Very nice. I had originally purchased the Samsung 19" 930BF-Black and the picture was yellowy
when viewed from the sides. It also did not rotate like the VP200s.
Overall costs
- $2,200 and $2,500 Canadian dollars (without labor)
- 100,000 with labor and 2 misplaced years of our lives (Ok. So I exagerate)

Next time around I'll bypass using the ME4 due to the trackball and spinner being offered in USB. I'm currently only using the ME4 for the trackball since I purchased the Tornado Spinner with a USB connector after finding out my far inferior Oscar spinner was not working properly. I'm also looking into using the PERFECT 360° ELECTRONIC JOYSTICK joysticks instead of the Happ ultimates the next time around or maybe even swap out the current ones and replace it with these.

Click for full-size image
Click for full size image

We've learned quite a bit from our first prototype and plan to create the M.O.A.B. (The Mother of All Boxes) next.  Hopefully it won't take as long to complete and this time around we'll be able to correct a few of the mistakes that were made the first time around with our very useful prototype.

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