Ultimate MAME: The Quest Begins!

all material on these pages are copywrite Jeff McClain, 2000 and 2001 and may not be used without express permission

July 17, 2000 In the Beginning 6:26 AM

Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator

It all started when we went to one of our periodic events we call "Nerd Link". About 20 of us all pack up our computers and haul them over to one of the other's house (usually mine..grin), and we network them over 100Mbit twist-pair cable (and about 5 hubs). We play everything from Quake, to Descent, Unreal Tournament to Diablo2 and Total Annihilation. Anyway, this particular nerd link was being held at Jason's place. Well, he was into this thing called MAME. I had dabbled in it a couple years ago, and it was fun, but I just didn't really fall into it, and with all the reinstalls I normally do on my PC for hardware reviews and new hardware, it sort of passed by the way-side.

Jason had always talked about setting MAME up in an arcade cabinet. I sort of nodded and agreed, but didn't really share his dream. Until that day. That day when we all got over to his house for the nerd link, and lo-and-behold, he had a 4-player basket ball FULL ARCADE game (this is one of those newer games that is really like 2 arcades joined together at a 45' angle with controls for 4 and two 27" monitors). Even more impressive, he had one of the sides hooked up to his little 486 computer and it was running this arcade game selector that you could maneuver right there with the joysticks and pick pretty much ANY GAME YOU WANTED to play!

Well, I don't have to tell you, that was the life of the party. Any time there was a pause in the nerd link action, people were dashing over there to check out an old lost forgotten favorite. Heheh, the "ooohhs" and "aaahhhs" that came from over there. Oh, and the "OMG...remember this game?" and "Oh man, I pumped so many quarters into that game..." It was truely heaven, and it was SO different than it had been just playing it on a computer. Standing there, hitting these REAL arcade buttons, looking at a REAL arcade monitor, jerking that REAL arcade joystick around...well, it just can't be compared to. I pretty much decided right then, that I wanted one.

So, Monday morning came, and I sent this email to Jason:


     I'm serious about setting up an arcade machine.  I'm going to order an all-in one 
     Celeron/motherboard/video/sound card today if I can figure out what would be 
     best suited for running this.

     A couple of questions.

     1) What is the best MAIME page link (or links)?  Are there any documents to 
          help with this that someone might have prepared?
     2) What should I look for (and where) in a used arcade machine to put this 
          whole thing into?  How do you make sure that the video card will be able 
          to drive the monitor (do you need to target newer arcade machines)?  
          And what all do I need (just to be sure) for this?
     3) I think I'll look for something with at least a 2 player station (not two monitors 
          like yours, but that would be nice) and at least 4 buttons and an 8-way joystick 
          each.  I just want to be sure that I get something that will work.  Probably a 
          stereo speaker game (somewhat newer) with newer display (this is what I'm 
          most worried about) that looks in good shape.  What is the best button/joystick 
          supplier for these things?
     4) How do you get the joysticks to control the game?
     5) Is it possible to put a button on the control deck that functions as the ESC key 
          and as the COIN key (I could mount them under the deck if need be).



Well, the plan was hatched, and many questions were answered by the following pages: PC2JAMMA proved excellent to read through for arcade monitors and TV's being driven by MAME off a computer. Arcade Controls was visited thousands of times for both the great help, advice and cool examples and links over the next 2 weeks. Slowly my dream developed...

August 3, 2000 Working on the HTML 7:23 PM

The next couple weeks saw me firming up what I wanted to do. Some of this changed radically after exploring possible opportunities for buying an already built existing arcade cabinet to rob and supplant my little PC into. Jason had gotten a sweet deal (as I learned later when trying to find one myself), and had picked up that 4-player game with two 27" arcade monitors for only $500 at a local auction. I contacted several arcade vendors in the area, and they weren't too interested in talking to me, and it was looking like the LEAST I could spend on even a beat up piece of crap was going to be $350 (that was for something that didn't even work real well). And if I wanted something with a newer 27" arcade monitor in it, don't even think about anything under $1000. Sigh, I kept this up for about 2 weeks, while beginning to work on drafting my own version of a scratch built cabinet. You see, I do have a shop, was raised on a farm, and loved these sort of projects, so all the pre-requisits were met. I did a couple Ebay searches, and yes, I probably could have picked up an X-Men game or something like it (basically a slightly newer game with a good 25-27" arcade monitor) for around $450-600, but then shipping was almost $200-450 more!

Now, my drive for building was really taking off. I had Turbo CAD Pro that I use for drafting all of my furniture and other things I build. I begn delving into the 3D Modeling portion of the tool to get the dimensions and "look" just right. LuSid's page had a very nice looking home built, but I was really wanting something a little more like Guantlet (I thought). But the more I tweaked and played with dimensions, the closer it looked to a traditional standup cabinet. You also might want to consider a comercial product after you read the rest of all my pages and all of the work. There is a pretty good one at Arcadium, but it costs $6000!!! Ouch.

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