Ultimate MAME Cabinet Blogs
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
 
Touch Screen Goodness
I finally gave up (for now) getting twin video cards (of different vendor/chipsets) working in Vista (even with old XPDM drivers, as lots of stuff native to Vista quits working when you do that, if you can even get them installed). And I just focused on getting ONE of my flat panel 15" touch screens working. It frustrates me that I can't seem to save the position of the instruments on the second monitor, so I have to resize, move and orient the PFD onto the second panel every time (even if you crash, it is like quitting and reloading back in, and all the panels are reset). I haven't found anyone else able to size them and place them onto second monitors by default yet, but I'm playing with the SDK to look at the panel/guage config files to see if there is something I can do in there. So far, it is only sizing/moving initial location on the primary display.

But, the good news is, once you get them moved over there, the touch screen 15" display if flipping awesome with the PFD on there. The twin dials (inner/outter ring) sometimes can be a little touchy (no pun intended) to get exactly what you want, but it isn't too bad. And the soft menu keys and headding dial and everything else, including the nav/com tuner buttons all work flipping great! Also, I've begun to like putting the autopilot panel up at the top of the 15" as well as the toggle switch pannel (starters, mags, lights, de-icers, flap controls, etc.). It is so cool to just touch the toggle, and have it respond. And the auto pilot controls are excellent on a touch screen. I think these will ultimately reside perfectly on the 8" LCD touch screen, so I'll have the twin 15" touch screens with the PFD and MFD displays, then the 8" will have the Autopilot, toggle/ignition panel, and probably the fuel mixture/cowl controls (I'm even playing around with the XML gauges, to see if I can just make them all rolled into one custom panel). So far, I don't see a whole lot of down sides to running "virtual" instruments in my cockpit design, and ultimately, it seems the most flexible way to get different cockpit orientations (i.e. fighter jet, private twin prop, and commercial airliner).

I plan to just probably run XP and then I can run two video cards of non-homogonous manufacturer/chipset, which should support the TH2Go, twin 15" touch, and 8" touch very nicely. With the TrackIR, each touch screen, yoke, throttle quad, rudder pedals, jet TQS, and fighter stick each using a USB port, I think it is obvious I'm going to have to invest in a single 8 or 10-port powered USB hub too, just to simplify some of the cable routes and connections to the PC.

Also, I just got up a screenshots page of some of my in flight pictures.


Monday, June 30, 2008
 
Multi-graphic card support under Vista (or lack of)
I've been trying to get my ATI x1900 PCI-express adapter to work in the second PCIe slot along with my nVidia 8800 GT PCI-express card. Vista keeps disabling the ATI (secondary PCIe slot) and notes that an incompatible video card has been disabled. According to this article at Microsoft, it explains that WDDM drivers under Vista now require "homogonous" video card support due to the new simplified VGA stack. Basically, meaning regardless of if you have it in a PCI slot or anything else, all graphics adapters MUST RUN under the same display driver. Right down to it sounds like the exact same model (not sure about this, as it sounds like some of the unified driver settings from ATI and nVidia might work ok, as long as it can use the same driver). Anyway...that is a bummer. I might look into installing XPDM drivers, which sounds like it will make everything revert back to the more complex old XP vga driver stack..but that sort of sucks. I really don't need a complex, high end second card. I just want to use it to display auxillary display screens of the glass cockpit in FSX (I hope that even works).

Also, I got my two 15" TFT-LCD touch screens from Newegg tonight. WOW, is all I can say. These kick the crap out of the 8" lilliput touch display (funny, they can use the same vista driver for the touch display I found for the lilliput, though...good, because they didn't have any for vista on the install disk). Anyway, I went with the HyVision MV155 Megavision with a native 1024x768 display. Gotta run and try FSX with this new monitor. I now have 7 monitors on my desk I'm trying to play around with...sigh. I really need to move this into a dedicated cockpit...

Monday, June 16, 2008
 
Initial Cockpit design considerations
So, I've been going over what all I am going to need for an initial design plan for a cockpit. First, while a lot of folks in the full cockpit simulation experience are going for triple projectors for the wrap around 210-degree experience (sans virtual cockpit) and letting the ACTUAL cockpit obscure the view from there, I don't think I want it to be quite that big. With a 19" LCD monitor, that works out to about a 13.4" viewable x-direction, and typically, that represents about a 45-degree field of view at roughly 20" to your eye (that is with a 3" eye spacing, which puts you back from the center of the pivot about 3.6"). Left and right monitors pivot around that 16.3" focal point. But, if that is what I'm doing, then I really begin to question how the TrackIR (that I love so much in a virtual cockpit mode) becomes almost a liability. You don't want your FLIGHT view panning around behind your instruments. And, as I add MFD, PFD and possibly an 8" LCD touch screen radio stack, you really don't want your view jumping around.

So, I'm back to the following specs:

Sunday, June 15, 2008
 
Cockpit
I flew from Cascade airport to Boise on a VFR route yesterday in a twin beachcraft. Pretty cool with Tile Proxy running. Buzzed our cabin and everything...grin. The boys evey did very well piloting the little ultralight around and were loving it.

I have to admit, the F/A-18 Hornet sure makes you appreciate how fast those military jets can fly. I barely get taken off and messing around with looking around (plus the exterior views are simply AMAZING in 3 monitors), and I'm already past Boise. Damn, those planes haul ass.

I got an F-14 Tomcat, but the quality of the instrument panel is crap. F-15 is a little better. I really want a couple jet trainers, and will probably try to find a good F-16. I've already decided this is going to need me to do some sort of a cockpit build. Just have to figure out details. I'm pretty serious about doing it with 2 PC's and 5 monitors. I just need to figure out specifics. It crowds my desk too much playing with it the way it is. I'll make sure it doubles as a race car pit too, since the flight yoke should work fine as a steering wheel, and the rudder pedals have two axis toe control for the brakes (they come with inserts to make them rigid on the rudder axis). I almost have too many inputs with the 6 axis quadrant on top of the 3 that are on the yoke, and I'm not real good at making mixture control changes, but it works out very well for a twin (like the beachcraft) to be able to control your taxi with just the throttles...then you have the prop levers and mixture controls. I'm using the ones on the flight yoke for flaps and gear...running out of assignable axis in FSX for any more. I'm sure a C130 or something would start making me short, with quad engines...grin.

One thing I've begun gaining an appreciation for (and I suspected it a little, but it is even more obvious as I get into this) is how you really almost need to specialize and begin to focus on a single plane. The more detailed you get on your cockpit, the more specific you have to get on what you are going for (had that same problem with the mame machine...how to do as much as possible, but all very well). If you try to cover too many bases, you do it all very poorly rather than simplify and do a few very well. I know I want fighter jet type setup, and if possible a twin commercial type. Unfortunately, that is about as diametrically opposite as you can get. But, maybe I can get the yoke/quadrant setup ok in there, and put the fighter stick and TQS in as well. Gauges may be a little interesting, but putting in something like a $169 Shuttle micro PC for dedicated additional displays may be ok.

Saturday, June 14, 2008
 
Wow!
Got all my hardware in and sort of mocked it up on my desk last night. Was up until 3:30AM dinking around with it all. The HannsG monitors are pretty much what you'd expect for $170. Two have dead/stuck pixels on them (one has one stuck and a grid of 4 dead on it) and they all seem to get some very characteristic "sparklies" on them in certain places (it looks like it is obvious stuck/coupling row very near the stuck pixel). Also, the image isn't that crip or clear, maybe that is just a function of it going through the analog interface and the triplehead2go, but somehow, I don't think so.

But the visuals of playing with 3-wide monitor in FSX...wow. I'm pretty sure I'm just going to have to try to find a better display (possibly get some higher cost 20" displays, I think, and maybe I'll keep one of these 19" for gauges/MFD's, because it really needs that).



I've bought a LOT of "gadgets" and strange input devices in my life, and I was skeptical about the TrackIR 4 motion monitor, but I can honestly say that it is possibly the best working input device I've ever seen. The head movement in the flight sim (all 6-axis) is almost FREAKY it is so realistic, even right down to leaning and looking around dashes and the 3D cock pit instrument panel. I'm not sure where I take it from here, but it almost certainly needs to move to a dedicated cockpit and a 5 monitor setup (triple wide main displays with two MFD's for the glass cockpit instrument panels to the lower left/right). Flying the F/A-18 Hornet up around Cascade is simply amazing. Need to try a winter date and see how it does, but it is very cool.

There are three different things that FSX does for rendering scenery.
  1. Is the terrain mesh data, which is all elevation information. There are quite a few different ones out there besides the default. One really good one for North America, is FSGenesis.
  2. The second is the actual texture map that FSX applies to the terrain height mesh data. The default one is not too bad, but it is pretty generic and you really don't get a good feel for being at the exact site, but it does all for autogeneration of houses, trees, buildings, etc. and for different times of the year for snow and stuff. If you get Tile Proxy, which is as sourceforge community project, you can have it hook into most of the major satellite mapping services out there and it will on the fly skin the scene with real mapping texture. This obviously has problems with seasonal changes and you get no "autogen" structures (the next topic). Here is a sample of default FSX vs. Tile Proxy.
  3. The last one is what is called "autogen". Normally, FSX will generate trees and buildings that actually stand out of the landscape. When you do photo realistic satellite skinning, like Tile Proxy, it is more difficult to support this reasonably, but it only affects really low level flight, and there is work to get some level of autogen back enabled.

Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
Flight Sim Cockpit - Take 2
I just got back from visiting Washington DC last week, and we spent time at the Air and Space museum. While there, I had the chance to play around in a flight simulator (for $8) that tilts up and down and rolls 360', called SX-Interactive from Simworx. Looking online, they only run around $85k, new (grin). There is an even better one, called FS2000 from Maxflight that does both 360' pitch and roll. That is only $150k new (HA!). That was fun, and I got renewed interest in going back and trying to build my flight sim cockpit (sans-rotation and stuff for now...grin). Though, this motion cockpit video looks cool (and this one).


After searching for a little while, I turned up a bunch of YouTube videos showing multi-monitor flight sims and PC car driving games, mostly running Microsoft Flight Simulator X. A lot of them seem to use a couple products. First, the Matrox TripleHead2go, which is a product that takes 3 monitors with 1280x1024 native resolution (like a 19" LCD 4:3 display) and maps them all together to look to the video card like a 3840x1024 single display. Also, since most current generation gaming rigs can support 2 monitors/video card, and typically, you can run two video cards in a system, you can extend that to have up to 6 displays easily on one computer to show off wide view flight cockpit and dedicated map/instrument displays. So, I picked up 3 19" LCD normal 4:3 HannsG displays for $169 each to try with the Matrox TripleHead2go. We'll see if I get something better and use these for instrument/aux/map displays later. Also got a new nVidia 8800 GT PCI-X DX10 with 512MB GDDR3 video card and a new 3.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Wolfdale E8400 (45nm process).



Next, is getting all the input devices. I wanted the cool feature of the TrackIR 4 6 axis input that seems to be supported for looking around in FSX. I also wanted at least a good flight yoke and throttle mixture setup. I went with products from CH Products Flight controls. And I already had rudder controls from CH. That was good for commercial type flight, but I also wanted an updated USB input fighter stick and throttle control. Picked up one of each, also from CH Products Flight controls.



Hopefully everything gets here by the weekend for me to try to set up and play with it a little on Father's day, Sunday. Lots to learn and get worked out and figure out what works well and what is just gadetty and not great. I have high hopes for the TrackIR, but I think it is going to be weird to turn my head, but keep my vision focus on a static monitor. We'll see, and hopefully if I turn up the gain a little, it will not be too weird (slight turns of my head should move it quite a lot and not cause too much eye strain).

Next, I'm going to have to really go back and brush up on my private pilot ground school. Especially on the navigation part. There is a pretty good site, geared toward flight sim at Flight Sim Navigation. Also, my father-in-law is a long time private pilot, that maybe I can get interested in helping out with and playing around with flying different aircraft in a "sim" that he wouldn't normally be able to. I think it is really something that he would like.

Here are a couple links:

Home Built Cockpits
Mikes Flight Deck
Flight Sim Cost Proposal
FS2000 Commercial Model
Microsoft Flight Simulator X
CH Products Flight controls
TrackIR
Flight Sim Navigation

Monday, May 29, 2006
 
Updated Control Panel Layout
I get so many emails asking questions about the Control panel (more than anything else), so I took some time and updated my Control Panel page (at the bottom) with more details of how the buttons are arranged (and what they do).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
 
XBox MAME
I've recently got into hacking my old XBox game console (essentially a Celeron 733 with 64MB RAM, DVD, and 8GB HDD). Well, this is a freaking HUGE universe with tons of mod options (chips, cases, controllers, etc.). It also has a great support cummunity: XBox-HQ, XBox Scene, XBMC, and The MOD Chip.

One of the coolest things I've found, is that once hacked, you can pretty much run all sorts of stuff, from Linux and music/DVD/MOV/AVI/WMV players to custom older console emulators. Namely, MAME, and Nintendo 64. Now, There is also the cool aspect that an xbox controller, while it has proprietary connectors, is essentially just a USB device. Well, that has allowed a couple add-on developers to create a PS2 mouse/keyboard plug adapter (and there are plenty of USB to XBox adapters as well) that will work in Linux. The SmartJoy FRAG adapter is the first/best out there. I'm not sure if you can bring a PS2 keyhack (or hagstrom controller) into this PS2 adapter and have all the normal PC keys recognized for use as a control panel interface, but it seems reasonable.

Some of the MAME roms are a bit much for the XBox hardware to run at reasonable speeds, but it is pretty cool (and about as cheap as you can get for a MAME PC).

Sunday, August 21, 2005
 
Installed Side Art Pictures
Here are some pictures of the new side art from Mame Marquees on the MAME II Cabinet. I still need to take the LCD out and pop the bezel off and paint it a nice glossy black to make it fit with the cabinet better.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005
 
New Side Art Graphics
I have really been wanting to put some nice side art on my cabinet ever since I finished it over 2 years ago. I've just never found anything that does a good job of showing off all the classic arcade games in a way that seems to fit. Well, I finally found MAME Marquees, and picked some nice images:




The top one is picture of the two large images made by DK (I don't know real name, but it is listed all over the web as DK's MAME side art). I don't know who to credit the bottom one with, but it is perfect (and a GREAT job by the original artist) for a classic oriented MAME cabinet. I ordered two of them as well, and while they are technically marquee prints, and meant to be sandwiched between plexiglass, I'm going to try to get them put on the side of the cabinet as well with some spray adhesive.

I'm getting it all put on the cabinet right now and will post pictures when it is done (I need to get some 3M 77 Spray Adhesive to help tack down some of the side art corners a little better, as well as the marquee "posters"). Scott, at MAME Marquees, seems like a really helpful guy and willing to work with you and get you what you want. Thanks for all your help, Scott!

Monday, August 15, 2005
 
New Hardware
I've been fighting stability problems with my USB ports (the ABIT KT7-RAID board is notorious for having problems with the onboard USB). So, I popped in an IEEE-1394 firewire and USB PCI board I had laying around, and that seemed to really fix the problem. I also took the opportunity to swap out the twin 30GB IBM drives (running as RAID-1), for a new 200GB 7200RPM UATA Maxtor, since I needed the space to fit all the .CHD files from MAME 0.98 roms. Well, I reinstalled all of Windows XP, and all was good, for about 2 days. Then, I couldn't get it to wake up out of sleep mode one day, and had to reboot. That started all sorts of problems (missing DLL's, and hung boots). I reverted to last known good windows, and that helped a couple times, but I even got a failed post a couple times with BIOS errors.

So, I figured it was time to get rid of the aging KT7-RAID board and AMD 1.1GHz CPU. I had just upgraded Sarah's computer to a new Dell, and had her ABIT KG7-RAID with AMD Athlon 2100 available. Popped that in, reinstalled Windows XP, and things seem to be running just splendidly so far, and I have the power to run some of these newer games.

Monday, July 18, 2005
 
Quick update
Just wanted to update some pretty cool links. Plus I am planning to pain the bezel of my new 30" LCD (which I still love, btw) black. And, I figured I'd mention that my web site was put into PC Intern, a German PC magazine!

Sunday, June 12, 2005
 
New Vizio 30" LCD installed
Update!! Just put in a new 30" Vizio LCD 16:9 flat panel display. It fits (barely) with the speakers on the bottom (one of the few that I've found like this). And, it is using a DVI input from the new ATI Radeon 9200. I also installed my Xbox in the cabinet with wireless 2GHz controllers from Logitech and a hidef pack (this LCD supports up to 720p natively!!!). The Windows picture is excellent and has tons of more room than the old 800x600 (at 1280x768).


Monday, November 22, 2004
 
Stupid Princeton Graphics HDTV!!!
Well, I've spent $850 originally, $190 in repairs the first time, and now another $30 just to have the repair shop say that they can't fix it, get parts or a service manual for this Princeton Graphics AR2.7AV (serial number 991212232 for my own future reference). Shop said the TV is actually manufactured by Mitsubishi, and that the fly back is dead and probably took out the HV circuitry as well.

I'm sick of this. I'm going to give it a couple months, while I try to contact the manufacturers, but I may have to try to find another TV...Sigh...$1000 down the drain.

Thursday, September 16, 2004
 
More problems with the Princeton display
Well, my Princeton Graphics HD display just died (again). I'm going to have to take it in and get it worked on (again). I don't care as much about the $60/hour service charge as I do about pulling the cabinet away from the wall, getting in the door and trying to manhandle that beast out of the cabinet and into the truck, then out of the truck at the service center!

Sunday, August 01, 2004
 
Son of MAME!
Heheh. Here are a couple pictures of my son, Riley playing my MAME machine.



Tuesday, February 10, 2004
 
My MAME Cabinet featured in Orielly hardware hacker book
About 2 years ago, I got an email from a guy (Scott Fullam) asking for permission to write a chapter in a hardware hacking book he was doing on my Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) cabinet I built. I said sure, as long as I got credit for any photos or plans. Well, it is finally out! And it is a pretty good book.

www.oreilly.com -- Hardware Hacking Projects - for Geeks: "From building a home arcade machine to creating a cubicle intrusion detection system, Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks offers an array of inventive, customized electronics projects for the geek who can't help looking at a gadget and wondering how it might be 'upgraded.' The book begins with less complex hacking projects then moves into more advanced hacks. Clear step-by-step instructions allow even those with no formal electronics- or hardware-engineering skills to hack real hardware in clever ways"

Saturday, January 25, 2003
 
New project plans: Flight Cockpit PC
It has been a long time since I've put much new content up here (I get thousands of emails every month and lots of questions, and I should probably put them all in a FAQ or something, but I'm too lazy...grin). I still have my beloved MAME 2 that I finished almost a 18 months ago, and I still love it (though I just had to spend $90 to get the Princeton Arcadia 27" Hidef monitor fixed). I've also gotten a 55" HDTV and XBOX now in my main living room to spend some time with, now that I have a 4 month old to watch over.

But, of late, I am really getting ancy to begin working on my latest "vision". The project is basically a flight cockpit for PC games like MS Combat Flight Simulator 3 and some good old classics like MechWarrior 2/3 and Descent 2/3 type games. One with the full setup of the Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS sticks and rudders (which I have used in one form or another for over 6 years now, but they are too cumbersum to have setup all the time at my main computer desk). Plus, I have some ideas of my own about putting in a roll axis on the throttle. That is where this new "cockpit" PC project comes in. I plan to have a flight yoke and rudders setup for both flight sim programs AND it should work great for driving sim games like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Plus the rudders, programmable F16 joystick and throttle with thousands of hats and buttons (and the roll axis on the throttle that I'll add) should make it VERY immersive. I'm going to have it fully enclosed and probably use a flat screen 17" or 19" monitor and will also have a track ball mouse and lots of "buttons" that can be keyboard programmable scattered around the cockpit, all using the Hagstrom Electronics USB 36 encoder again. I'll have 5.1 surround with speakers just behind the flight chair (or right in it by my head) and up near the monitor, plus a big sub woofer. I may even try to support twin monitor support somehow, just incase a game finally takes advantage of being able to have two monitors (but that may slip in time).

I really can't explain it too you if you have never played MechWarrior with a full joystick/throttle setup and rudders, but the simulation experience is awesome. Same goes for a really good flight sim, when you have all the controls. The cockpit will just finish off the experience and give me some place to have all of that equipment setup to play without cluttering up my main desk. The only thing that is really holding me back from doing it right now is space. I don't have anywhere to put it. This might take longer than I think, just waiting for somewhere to put my cool invention (like waiting to buy a new home with a bonus/game room that is big enough to fit my 4 computer network, the MAME 2 machine and this new behemoth). Oh, yea, and I need to begin working on my wife to slowly get her use to the idea...grin. I'll keep you all updated here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001
 
When it's done!
So, here is the new MAME2 cabinet finally pretty much finished. There are a full set of pictures of the new one here.

finished!

Monday, September 24, 2001
 
More Old vs New
Old cabinet is in the middle. New one is on left and right.

new old new
panel

Thursday, September 20, 2001
 
More Old vs New
MAME1 on the left, MAME2 on the right.

oldnew

Wednesday, September 19, 2001
 
Old vs New
Someone asked for "old" vs "new" cabinet comparison photos side by side. I'll try to keep posting others as I get to those stages in the new cabinet. Painting is next, then putting the formica on the control panel.

oldnew

Tuesday, September 18, 2001
 
New Pics
Two new pictures now that I trimmed down the angle of the flying nun control panel. The one in the middle is the OLD angle.

new trimmed down angleold steep angle on control panelnew trimmed down angle

 
My New Cabinet
Here are some pics of my new cabinet in the build process. I've been working on it for about 30 hours now. I went with a 27/29" HDTV from Princeton Graphics. I will try to have the new dimension cut plans up and a whole web page with the new changes up when it is done. This one is going to be a little more expensive due to the $850 price tag of the monitor alone. Also, I got a new coin door and will be putting in a spinner and blinking lights for the player 1/2 start, since MAME will toggle the keyboard CAPSLOCK and SCROLLOCK lights on the keyboard when coins are entered. Since I went with the Hagstrom USB 36 key encoder with trackball support, I will be sticking with only a two player control board, but I've added a couple more 4-way joysticks (for games like Karate Champ) and one of them is a trigger joy (for games like tron). I'm trying to build my own spinner out of spare bath fan parts, but I need a large knurled aluminum knob...can't seem to find one anywhere.

As you can see from the pictures below, there are a couple changes I made from my original design. I made it wider for one, to fit the new HDTV. I also made the monitor slant a little more aggressive and then beefed up the top marquee portion to be thicker. The depth of the main cabinet is actually 2 inches LESS than the old design, but the control panel sticks out about 6-8 more inches. The marquee area is larger and a few other slight changes. The control panel is larger at 3-foot by 4-foot (too big, I think in retro-spect). Also, after looking at it in the current form for a couple days (right pic), I'm pretty certain I'm going to try to cut the angle of the control panel down about 1-2" on the front. I think I made the skirt on the control panel a little too high, and the width of that bad boy is a bit much...looks like a dang flying wing... But we'll see.

cutting the sidesputting it togethermost of the framework finishedold flying nun wing angle on control panel

Monday, August 06, 2001
 
Sold My Cabinet!!!
I think my cabinet just sold. $1450 was the winning price on Ebay for item 1171497719. Kevin Lambert took the high bid, and I'm working out pickup now. Guess that means I have to start ordering all the replacement parts and stuff for a NEW cabinet. I'm actually a little bit sad. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?

Wednesday, August 01, 2001
 
Friend's Cabinet Pics and my Cabinet is on EBAY
I put my cabinet on Ebay under item 1171497719: Custom Built Full Size MAME Arcade Cabinet. Reserve is $1500. Take a look. Also, here are some pictures from a friend's cabinet that he borrowed plans from me on. It has the Princeton Graphics Arcadia monitor...



Also, I think I really like the looks of the Gauntlet: Dark Leagacy and Legends cabinets.


Monday, July 09, 2001
 
New Cabinet Plan scans
I just put brand new HIGH resolution scans of my plans (with full dimensions and stuff) on the downloads page. Hope that helps some of you all have as much fun as I have with this.

 
Thinking about doing a NEW MAME Cabinet
I'm SERIOUSLY thinking about selling my mame cabinet. I am sort of getting the urge to build another one. Don't know why, this one is great and works flawlessly, but I wouldn't mind trying to build a 32" HDTV unit..grin (too bad the cheapest display I can find is a 32" Princeton HDTV for $1400). Anyway, if you are interested, I'm asking $1500 (plus S&H) for everything except the PC. Basically, that includes the marquee, fourescent light, 27" RCA TV with S-Video inputs, power strip and switch, twin fans (too keep it all cool), KE-72 keyboard encoder (no ghosting), ME4 mouse/trackball encoder, control surface and keyboard drawer, two player 8-way joysticks with 8 buttons each (no ghosting), one 4-way joystick (wired in parallel with the player 1 joy for games like pacman and donkey kong) with 2 buttons, the 3" Happs trackball/mouse with 2 buttons, the two coin buttons, two player start buttons, and 5 control buttons (that is 29 buttons, 3 joysticks, and a trackball). All you would have to do is plug in a computer with S-Video out card and it would roll (provided you had ROMs and MAME...I can't sell that stuff). Email jmcclain@spro.net if you are interested...Not sure HOW you would ship something like that.

Friday, July 06, 2001
 
Whew..been a long time
I'm sorry it has been so long since I posted an update in here. Really, there isn't much more beyond the guide I already have up (other than there sure have been a lot of interested emails and questions of late). I'm currently trying to finish a second control pannel for the machine and trying to figure out how to hook in a gun control that will work for things like crossbow on a TV. ACT Labs has a very cool gun system for the PC, but it only works with VGA monitors, not NTSC or S-Video TV's (Damn, I wish I had paid the $$$ and gotten a 27" Princeton Graphics Arcadia HDTV monitor).. Additionally, Hagstrom Electronics now has a USB 36 key encoder with trackball support and also has a VERY cool Header board for the encoders (this will save a lot of you the complex soldering and small proto-board I had to make on my own) for only $15.

I have really been using my machine a lot, for M.A.M.E. play and for PC games (Motocross Madness 2 is just too fun on this 27" TV) not to mention using it as a dedicated server for all of our Counter-Strike, Tribes2, and Diablo2 LAN games.

Friday, December 01, 2000
 
Updates
I got my PIII-800 in as well as an ABIT VT6X (via apollo 133Mhz chipset) motherboard. I'm running the 800 in my main computer and swapped my old PIII-550 in to the Mame cabinet. New case, floppy, and a new 42x Sony CDROM. Picked up an AGP 32MB ATI Rage Fury Pro with TV out (much faster at OpenGL for the N64 emulators as well as Need For Speed III). Bought a logitech force feed back dual controller (looks just like a playstation controller with force feed back). I also installed Windows ME on the new system. Not sure I like it. I've already moved back to Win98SE on my main system (there were some problems with my ATA-66 drive). Did find the DOS box (they just put it further down into the start menu).

Friday, September 29, 2000
 
More Computer Upgrades...
Now this is just getting plain ridiculous. Grin. I just sold the whole Celeron 566 computer core (minus OS and DRAM) for $250. Case, hard drive, CDROM, floppy, network, modem...everything. Ordered a new ABIT VT6X4 (via 133Mhz) motherboard, with a PIII-800EB (6x133Mhz), a new Sony 42x CDROM, and a much better ATI AGP video card, the ATI Rage Fury Pro 32MB with S-Video out. Also picked up a pretty dang nice little ATX case and floppy from a friend that runs a business. Finally, I got a cheap 10/100 PCI Ethernet adapter ($12) and I think I'm ready to rock and roll. I'm going to migrate my PIII-550 from my main computer into the MAME machine, and put the 800EB in my main computer. I also am going to put the 15GB ATA-66 drive in the MAME machine that I put in my second computer and trade back the 6GB that I originally stole from there. Might even swap cases, but probably not. Hopefully, I'll be able to play N64 games on the MAME machine now...

I also upgraded to Windows ME (Millenium) the other day for $49. So far, it is a toss up. I like some of the stuff, but a MAJOR killer is that Windows ME no longer has a DOS BOX that you can open, nor is "exiting to DOS" even an option on the shutdown anymore. This is sort of a cramp, since the KE72 requires you to be in true DOS (not just a DOS box) to program the encoder. Guess I'll break out my old DOS 6.22 and make a boot floppy. One other thing that sort of has me worried, is that Diablo2 play has gone to complete crap. This is on ALL of my systems (including the PIII-550 overclocked to 660Mhz). Weird stuttering happens throughout game play, sort of like server network lag, but I'm only playing in Single Player. It is COMPLETELY unplayable. On the plus side, UT and Crimson Skies doesn't seem to be affected, so I suspect it is a problem unique to Diablo 2.

Thursday, September 07, 2000
 
Computer Upgrades...ALREADY!!!
Finally figured out that a 4GB hard drive wasn't going to do (I mean, Diablo 2 takes over 1GB for a full install...grin). Basically, I had the bright idea that I wanted to start putting PC games on here too, and try playing them. Hell, the machine is on the home LAN already...maybe it could even be the SERVER for some of our Nerd Links...heheh. The trackball has been the BEST purchase I made. It serves as an EXCELLENT mouse, and maneuvering through Windows is a breeze. You don't realize how little you use the keyboard in Windows until you put it in a drawer. Also, I'm wishing now that I had tried to find a little bit better Video card than the Rage Pro Turbo chipset that is in my ATI Xpert@Play 98 Mortal Kombat 3 is a little sluggish (even with the Celeron 566), and Diablo2 is DEFINITELY jerky. Nintendo64 emulation is not even an option (though it seems to work fairly well on my PIII-550 with a Voodoo5). For the most part, it seems to be the poor performance of the Video card. OpenGL performance sucks, so does D3D. I need to find something that will still support PCI (since I don't have an AGP port on this motherboard) but has really good OpenGL and D3D performance AND still has EXCELLENT TV-OUT. Sounds like one of the new ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder boards...heheh.

So, I bought a new 15GB hard drive and swapped out the 6GB one that was in my wife's computer and put that 6GB one in the Arcade Machine, bringing it up to a total of 10GB of drive space. That should last it for a little while. I also hadn't bothered putting a CD-ROM in the Arcade Machine, and so I bought a Sony CD-RW drive and put that in MY main machine, swapping out the 24x Pioneer to use for the Arcade Machine. That poor little AT case is getting CHOCK FULL of cables and stuff now. Everything seems about done with it, besides minor software upgrades (maybe I'll put Windows ME on it next week) and tweeks. Got the modem working and can now browse the internet too. Eventually, when I get a cable modem, I'll setup a gateway on my wife's machine and just have it port out to the net over the LAN.

Monday, August 28, 2000
 
It's DONE
I had a friend help me wheel the bad boy into my computer den last weekend. Except for tinkering with the computer hardware and software and key bindings, this thing is DONE!

I spent some time fooling with the KE72 keyboard bindings. For one thing, I'm not sure why the MAME designers chose such dangerous keys as CTRL, ALT, and SHIFT for 3 of their main Player 1 buttons. I mean, HELLO! Why? I was trying to play some Mortal Kombat (which I suck at, but that will change...grin) and I was hitting keys like a mad hatter trying to put out a fire on his lap, and the damn thing would drop me back to the desktop (you see I run ArcadeOS in a DOS box from Win98). ANYWAY, I begin looking, and it turns out that ALT-SPACE is a special key sequence for pulling up the little minimize-maximize-close-tool bar for the program. Well, that meant that any time I hit P1-B1 and P1-B3 at the same time, viola...back to the desktop. And there are other more dangers ones (like CTRL-ALT-DEL and ALT-TAB). I tried tapping buttons while hitting the TAB config menu button, and sure enough, it took me to Windows Task Switcher. At this point, I opened my handy notepad and began editing all of the KE72 bindings to ONLY include BENIGN keys. That means A-Z and 0-9 (and I think I left ENTER and ESC in there too as well as SPACE). So, at the same time, I decided to bind P1-B1 and P1-B2 to 'O' and 'K', respectively, so that I could pass the OK prompt on new ROMs. Works like a dream, except I had to change Arcade OS config for the new launch and configure keys.

Well, that was all well and good, but then I needed to get the SNES emulator working. Turns out that the emulator I chose uses the 0-9 keys for some background switching and other built-in functions, and you can't really configure them (i.e. that's what they are, and you can't change it). So, I went back and made a SNES.CFG file for my KE72. Began playing around with that, and got something that worked pretty well for the paddle buttons, the joy, Start, Select, A, B, X, and Y buttons on two controllers. Well, now I was hating having to EXIT to DOS everytime I wanted to change the KE72 keydefs between MAME and SNES. [Side note: WHY can't you program the KE72 in Windows or from a DOS box? That sucks!] So, I opened my notepad again, and merged the two, getting something that would work for BOTH programs (and hopefully any other emulators I decide to try and run).

In MAME, I just opened up any game real quick, hit TAB on my keyboard (since it was no longer bound on my buttons anywhere) and entered the GLOBAL keyconfig (not the one for JUST that game). Then, I just went through and set up all the Player 1/2 Joystick and 10 buttons plus the User Interface up/down/select/etc and also setup the controls to use the Player 2 joytick as the right joy for two joy games.

Overall, everything seems pretty playable. The only thing I'm missing is I wish I had ordered a 4-way joytick with a thumb fire button for games like TRON and BATTLEZONE where both your hands are occupied. Maybe I'll order one. Also, I think I'm going to try and work up a spinner, but there aren't enough games that HAVE to have it to justify the exhorbant amount that Happ Controls wants for a new one, so I'll probably try building one out of mouse parts or something. Finally, I am glad that I went with 5 CONTROL buttons. They are centered in the top of the control panel and are setup for VOLUME-CONFIG (~), DIP/CONTROL-CONFIG (TAB), ESC, ENTER, and PAUSE. Then I have two Player START buttons and two Player COIN buttons (since some games DEMAND that have separate player credit, like guantlet).

Sunday, August 20, 2000
 
Pics of my shop
My ShopMy ShopMy Shop


I got some pictures of my shop (basically 1-1/2 bays on the back of my 3 car carage) up finally. I put in the sink, cabinets, counter top, and vac system. It is pretty nice, and I love having all of the space. Only problem is, I can't find anything in all of those cabinets...


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