Mark Tomlinson

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Mame Cabinet - a photoset on Flickr

Mame Cabinet - a photoset on Flickr

Another weekend, another project down. We finally got the one MAME cabinet fully completed. This is a fairly decent photo set of the job. A lot of work, mostly just getting the software done correctly. Final configuration is MAME 111 and MAMEWAH as the front end. We seriously considered 3D Arcade and decided against it for 4 reasons:

1) Needs to run 800x600 (and really wants 1024x768). The old arcade monitors run better at 640x480 (most games are much less than that and these monitors don't do 'multisync'*).
2) Stone Cold Bitch to configure.
3) If you pile on all the MAME ROMS it is a real pain trying to find your game to play. Yes, you can setup Favorites lists, but what about something that isn't there you decide to play? Yeah, wander around 5k+ machines looking for the one you want...
4) It wants more of a computer than 99% of MAME needs. Without it some things will just run slow.

MAMEWAH on the other hand wins out on all of these. Easy to configure, wants to run 640x480, needs no more CPU than MAME.

Ultimately the PC ended up looking like this:

ASUS motherboard, AMD Sempron 2 GHZ processor with 1 GB of RAM and a 320 GB SATA II drive for storage. I tossed in a Wireless G card since I had a couple of spares laying around and that is pretty much it. I added powered stereo speakers in place of the original (and lame) single 4" cone that was there. ArcadeVGA for video and a JPAC card (both from Ultimarc) to complete the PC. Some of the art is custom and some came from places like Arcade Controls.

*there is at least one thing that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere, so I'll mention it myself--it isn't in the phot blog either. It has to do with the multi-sync (or lack thereof) on the original arcade monitors. This used to be largely true of PC monitors 'back in the day', but I had totally forgotten. Anyway, the thing is that not only do the games run at many different resolutions, but they also vary a bit on scan frequency. The combination of the two may differ enough across some games that the vertical hold will drift. I imagine if you built your cabinet around a select set of ROMS this is likely not an issue, but to try and get most of the MAME set working--it is an issue. You could just use a PC monitor (19" is about the right size) an old CRT, not an LCD, those are all capable of handling the wide range of scan frequencies and they have the added adventage of not requiring a special video card that can do a 15 khz vertical. If you choose to stay 'old skool' and use the original monitor, you'll eventually run into this. My solution? Bring out the Vertical Hold pot to the top of the cabinet with a bit of wire so that it can be easily 'tweaked' as needed when you launch a ROM or return to the front-end.