The goal for this project is to fabricate an arcade cabinet for a MAME machine. This could be the beginning of a Lowell Makes Arcade. This could definitely be a selling point with new members.
- The aracde machine size would be dictated by the size screen we put into it.
- There are many tutorials online that go into building cabinets in great detail.
Parts and Materials
I'm keeping a running list of the parts purchased thus far in this Google spreadsheet.
Things we still need to source:
- Play screen
- Panels, perhaps adorned with Lowell Makes insignia
The screen size dictates the placement of the monitor shelf, to ensure even bezels on all sides. The arcadecab.com instructions yielding a cabinet that is 20" wide internally. Assuming a 4:3 aspect ratio, that means we'll be ideally looking for a screen that is 25" on the diagonal. We are also limited to about 24" clearance from front-to-back of the monitor, due to the depth of the cabinet at that point.
If we assume that we are going to be going with nothing less than the largest screen possible, we can resume the process of constructing the cabinet, based on a monitor height of 15".
I (Keith) went ahead and ordered an I-PAC2 from Ultimarc. Based on my reading this seems to be the go-to encoder for DIY cabinet builders. It has room for 32 inputs, which should cover our needs. The board itself has PS/2 outputs but comes with a PS/2-to-USB cable. We should be able to simply wire our controls to these inputs and get USB keyboard commands out of it.
The silkscreen on the thing indicates the default controls (8 buttons, 4 directions, coin and start per 2 players) but it looks like there's also a means to rebind them as necessary. It's also all just keyboard commands so we should be able to configure the games to accept whatever we throw at it.
I also tested this with the Raspberry Pi, hooked up to a single button. It seems to work exactly as advertised.
Source materials and initial design.
- Source T-molding
- Construct cabinet
Cut panels, siding, and ledger boards
Route/dado cut base slot
- Attach monitor shelf
- Attach all ledger boards
- Construct speaker area
- Slot-route sides and control panel for T-molding
- Bevel cut panels for butt-jointing
Design control panel
- Construct control panel
- Keith to buy 1 1/8" Forstner bit to cut button holes
Cut top panel to size
- Cut remaining side and bottom panels
- Slot route for T-molding
- Wire controls to IPAC and Pi
- Test control panel and monitor, outside of cabinet
- Design painting scheme
- Paint cabinet
Mike had a fascinating idea to use layered cut plexiglass on the side panels, illuminated via fibre optics, to show animations.
- Official MAME website
- MAME reddit community
- ArcadeCab - DIY arcade cabinet step-by-step walkthroughs (from scratch)
- Ubuntu MAME installation tutorial
- Instructibles article on DIY arcade machine (One of many such tutorials out there)
- Another Instructables on building your own cabinet
- RetroPie Project - Raspberry Pi Multi-emulator image