cool MAME cabinet conversion

MAME'd Millipede: This guy converted a Millipede cabinet to a MAME computer, but the neat thing about it is that he did it without altering the original cabinet: he just built a new control panel that clips on the front, and hooked a PC up to the existing monitor. This is a very cool approach, since it has always seemed pretty blasphemous to me to cannibalize an existing cabinet...

He's in the process of doing a similar conversion to a Marble Madness cabinet (which has a horizontal monitor instead of vertical.)

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16 Responses:

  1. guyver3 says:

    I liked the conversions of the old table top arcade machines you'd find doubling as tables in pizzarias.


  2. greatbiggary says:

    I've thought long and hard about those 'rotatey panels' links I pasted in my reply to your last MAME posting. One huge problem is that of the wiring. The method they've been using involves a tube through the middle (PVC or metal), and the wires go in there. This lets the wires out of a central point in the spin. They get twisted up (can't free spin the wheel), and you get cramped in there with all the wires.

    I've been thinking it would be a lot better to have metal contact panels on the inside edge of the cab that all run back to every input on the controller board. The panel(s) you make for the front of the cab would then have springy metal contacts (like those metal teepee shaped deals on many LIon batteries that would securely press against those metal panels. This means all wires can be stapled/glued across the bottom of panel to a row of like-spaced contacts, which can be otherwise free of all mess. Also, this would set up a nice 0-n pin designation, so you could easily look under a board at say, pin 9, and know that your fire-button got disconnected, and that's why you totally blew the last battle against Magneto.

    Then, you have the freedom to either make removeable panels (like this Millipede cab), or hook them into a wheel, or go all out (which is what I want to do), and extend the rotatey panels idea to more like a full tank tread of panels inside that loops all over on a track. Then motorize it, tie-rack style. You press a button on the cabinet, or even link it into the MAME software so it automatically chooses based on your per-game settings, and away it spins to the appropriate panel.

    And I want a pony.

    • technotronic says:

      Why not just put a limiter on the wheel so it doesn't freely spin? So if you're at panel 3 and you want to go to panel 1 you have to go through panel 2 (do not pass go, go straight to jail). Seems to satisfy the KISS approach much better.

      A tread, huh? Why not just have the system use an energy to matter converter and have it fabricate the controls you need for the game. For the ultimate experience invite Johnny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie and Matthew Lillard over.

      • greatbiggary says:

        No limits! For important things, I always follow KISS, but when I just wanna have fun, KISS bores me. The whole point of free spin was that I wanted, say, 10 panels, and I don't want to have to go from 10 back to 1, or worry about twisting up any wires.

        Honestly, I wouldn't mind the drop-in panels method as long as I can have a converted rustic gun rack/cabinet from which to store/display all the ones that aren't in use.

        The pony was just gonna be hooked up to the tread to drive its motion - save me having to hook up a motor. Besides, Jolie likes horses. This would give her something else to play with after she got mad at me for totally kicking her ass at Robotron. I figured the pony could also kinda double as a seat for all the games where you have to sit on a motorcycle or jetski. Maybe I can rig the saddle to something that senses when I'm leaning into a turn...?

    • krick says:

      Wire twist in the rotating panel idea isn't really that much of a problem if the panel isn't allowed to make complete rotations.

      i.e. To go from position 3 to position 1, you're not allowed to rotate forward one position. You have to rotate BACKWARDS two positions.

      That way, any wire twist is always "undone".

      Granted, EVENTUALLY, the wires will break from even this amount of twisting. But I think that will be a LONG time with 20 gauge stranded wire.

    • darkengobot says:

      I had this same thought, but done differently. I've got a Phoenix cab (in very nice condition, with side art!), which I'll re-hab into a full working Phoenix machine, but which will also be a MAME cabinet.

      Rather than go the edge contact route as you describe, I'll use a standard connector between the swappable control panels and the cab. My thinking on this goes:

      1) I'm not going to make a do-all cabinet. The display will remain vertical. I'm not going to try to play 4-player Gauntlet on it, so the control panel will not extend past the edges of the cabinet.

      2) Swapping control panels will be a pain, but for most classic arcade games, you don't need many different control panels.

      3) The hard part is not making the connection, it is securely attaching the control panel so normal wear-and-abuse doesn't pull screws out of the particle board, AND doesn't look like ass.

      4) Do-all control panels are the suck. When I want to play Defender, I don't want the same button layout as Street Fighter.

      5) So long as I'm making different control panels for different games, make the panels all graphical looking and hang them on the wall like trashy redneck vidiot art.

      More work, more expensive, sure, but more satisfying visually I think. I'll only have 1-player (or swapping 2-player), vertical games on it, but that's fine.

      In keeping with the theme, while I'm wishing, I also want a Sinistar sit-down machine and the environmental Discs of Tron.

      • greatbiggary says:

        Your ideas all sound pretty sweet to me. Another option I've mildly considered, and then unconsidered, and then reconsidered multiple times is building modular pieces into these drop-in boards, such that different configurations could be dropped in, instead of swapping the whole board for just, say, different joysticks, or a slightly different button layout. I'd use a similar comb-contact rail on that if I did it, but I'd want to be sure there was no mushiness, wherein the board would rock around noisily. It would definitely have to lock in place, and that leads to questions of how to make it awesomely and instantly disengage whenever I want to impress the ladies by swapping out controls in short order.

        I'd [attempt to] precision machine things so they fit well, and locked tight, but this all might be even more work than just making a whole new panel every few months, or whenever the urge strikes, as it requires more inventiveness to develop layouts and drop-in section sizes that can accomodate all current, and as many future ideas as possible. And of course then I'd want to make the artwork for all the subsections match up and keep the theme. You know what? Screw it.

        I'm pretty hyped up and annoying my friends about ideas that involve modularizing the cabinet, though, such that it can easily be broken down and packed flat in a trunk or closet, in case I need to move, or impress certain ladies by /not/ having a MAME cab, as they had fully suspected. I'm also really interested in automating some things. I'd like to go flat panel with it, albeit begrudgingly. The CRTs are just enormous and heavy, and even with their old skool radiant emissions and sweetly curved faces, it goes against my cornerstone idea of keeping it fairly light and collapsible. I also want the monitor to automatically rotate with the game's chosen monitor orientation, via some magics with a frontend that I haven't yet worked out.

        If you get anything working, and feel like gloating, you're welcome to spread links and pictures in my then-current journal entry. I applaud all but the most feeble of MAME efforts.

  3. attykins says:

    check out this inspired arcade origami!

    It's fun for all the family.