Hi Hyperspin community,
I've been a Hyperspin member for a while now and this will be my first post. I spent the past couple of days writing my project down from start to almost finished.. I have yet to write down the section about software/configurations/tips/tweaks, hoping I can provide that in an update shortly. Just wanted to say a special thanks to my friends that helped me with this project as well as the others in this awesome community that didn't know it, but your questions & answers helped me get through it all.. Sorry it's pretty lengthy..
Machine name : Pac-Cade Started on the build 11/2017 Finished (well its about 98% done)
Here is my couple of month’s life story of my first MAME cabinet build. Please, feel free to read for your enjoyment or skip through and look at the pretty pictures. I’m just hoping that what I went through helps others out with their build.
I’ve been wanting to build a Mame Cabinet for years and just never pulled the trigger. A friend of mine surprised me with blueprints of a cabinet, I just needed to buy the wood, find the spare time and get off my lazy arse and get it started. Then another friend found a Target Toss Pro Bags cabinet for $50 on ebay. FIFTY Bucks how in the heck could I pass this deal up. As you can see from the photos below, it’s basically a Golden Tee cabinet. After I pulled the trigger, drove up with a friend, put it on his flat bed I got the beast cabinet into my garage, I just stared in awww of all the cool things I want to do with this thing.
The cabinet came with the bezel, front glass, 4 buttons, marquee clear plastic, coin slots (BONUS) and a lot of dust. It was pretty much gutted but exactly what I was looking for. I wanted an extra wide cabinet so I can have some room for a 2 player setup.
Right below the marquee is a wooden board with a nice size open hole that had a metal plate where the speakers go and small rectangle tinted glass which you can see it still in the above photos.
With 12 screws around the edge of the control panel, I took off the lexan (similar) top layer and thankfully it was not glued down so I can use the control board. It was nice to see the metal plate for the track ball, but it just added more questions on how I’m really going to lay all this out.
Still not really sure how I’m going to layout the control panel at this time, but I do know I want two player (I considered 4 player), trackball, spinner and pinball buttons. So measuring the opening where all the buttons and joystick will go, I found my area to work with.
This part took the longest out of all the other projects and trying to figure out the layout was killing me slowly. I thought about laying it all out myself with button templates and looking up some cool graphics. I just couldn’t find anything I really liked and just couldn’t visualize it. Then I finally found a layout which was actually based off the Golden Tee control panel and oh my, I was sold. I can’t take credit for this so thanks goes to dmatanski at Deviant Art (hxxps://dmatanski.deviantart.com/art/MAME-large-control-panel-48650519). I found a couple of reasons why this layout is awesome. It’s based off my arcade control panel for one so I don’t have to retro-fit it, but something I never really realized…. 8 way joysticks suck for Pac Man!! So this layout has a third 4-way joystick at the top “classic setup”. Yes, this layout has lots of buttons!!!!!
After I printed the layout, I purchased some Forstner bits and made a practice control panel out of MDF so I can have a feel for how it’s laid out, practice drilling and get to use the buttons/joysticks I bought. I had my control panel upstairs hooked to what I was going to use; a Pi3 with retropi installed, using an external 500gig HD, attract mode, themes, video previews installed. Retropi is very slick, easy to setup and pretty darn cool and I think it work well in a cabinet.
Stuff I bought at this time-
Trackball – 90 bucks off Amazon
2 player buttons and 8-way joystick.. Here is where I think some will say I went cheap, and yes I slightly agree. But I do like them and maybe at a later date I’ll upgrade. Called Easyget LED illuminated 2 player, $67 off Amazon.
3.5 inch circle speaker covers
Light bar from Home Depot for the marquee
I happened to have an old CRT and my old speakers with subwoofer, so I temporary put them in place. I also removed the upper black wooded border so I can make room for a 2nd monitor idea frame out of MDF. And yeah the previous wood was glued to the marquee bottom board and it broke off.. eh, no biggie.
While playing on the Pi3, I just found that some mame roms were not work and customizing it was tedious. So, I bailed on the Pi3 and bought a 2.8ghz quad core mobo, 8 gigs ram from a friend and I had some extra parts laying around - 256gig SSD, sata 500gig, nvidia video card. So, now I’m using Hyperspin/rocketlauncher which I’ll go in more setup detail later in this brain dump of mine.
I had a lot of friends to bounce ideas off and one of them gave me a 28” TV, which I considered to use for that retro look, so I bought a VGA to HDMI adapter from Amazon. I had some trouble with my PC recognizing it adapter and I could never get the TV to display. So, I bailed on it and started pricing out LCDs. I can still use this TV for my old consoles which I collect, so it’s a win win for me.
I had a quote for a sign shop to have them print my control panel on polycarbonate but it was too expensive for me. I reached out to my friends again and found one that knew a guy that had a full size plotter and once I gave him the dimensions of the control panel he printed me out 4 copies on sticky back vinyl, just in case I screwed up.
So, onto the secondary monitor thoughts and plans. My first thought was to buy a LCD screen as my marquee and have it just scroll through the game marquees when one is selected, but that area is fairly skinny and the LCDs are VERY expensive. I thought about designing my own marquee and using the space right below it for a laptop LCD.
So this open area right below the marquee area would be a perfect place to put in a 15” laptop LCD. I did some research about scrolling marquees and found an awesome thread about Hyper Marquee and (EDS) Event Dispatch System. And thanks to Mamefan for his youtube channel for setting up Hyper Marquee and EDS which helped me TONS! (hxxps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbcUzyfMtPc)
I had an old laptop that was dead but the screen still worked so I ripped it out and found the model number and looked on ebay for a LCD controller board. Bingo! clicked on buy now and it arrived in a couple of days!
So with Hyperspin loaded with HyerMarquee and EDS, I was able to display the rom marquee and its flyer. Learning those two new programs did take some getting used to, but once you work on it for a while it’s pretty darn easy. If the marquee isn’t available it uses hyperspins wheel image and if a flyer isn’t available it just displays a default picture (ready player one). Going portrait mode on the 2nd screen really makes sense and awesome looking. I’m able to easily add both graphics since most of the flyers are basically portrait. Below is my two screen temporary layout held up with some duct tape.
The one issue I did notice with this setup, if I power off the LCD controller board it doesn’t turn back on without physically pressing the power button. I thought that HDMI when the source is powered on it will turn on the monitor, but no matter what I did or how long I waited it would never turn on the 2nd screen. So, screw it! I fixed this issue by shorting out the power on/off button on the smaller pcb board that plugs into the LCD controller board. When the PC turns off or by the power strip and then turned back on, the LCD board comes to life and I have video. The 2nd screen even goes into powersaving mode and it will turn off when I turn off the PC.
Onto the 2nd LCD frame. I took measurements and even cut a groove for the screen to set in. My wood working skills are not the best at all and I normally have to measure 5 times and then cut/screw-up/buy new piece, measure two more times and then maybe I’ll hit my mark. Luckily enough the piece I bought was big enough for that 2nd try I needed! You can see on the upper right of the picture the original frame I ripped out. I thought it turned out pretty nice after semi-gloss black paint job and screwed in place.
Another couple picture showing the mounting of the LCD controller board and 2nd monitor frame.
So, what to do about the actual marquee area, I thought? I’m a huge Pac Man fan and was thinking an actual Pac Man marquee but I decided to just design one up myself and come up with a name of my cabinet, Pac Cade how original…. right? Some picture googling and paint.net skills I made this up and had it printed at Staples on what they called vinyl for only 6 bucks! What a deal.. slapped it on the plastic and there ya go! I just need to figure out what to do with the side-art. I do have light poking through the edges which I’m not a fan about, so I need to figure out what to do there.
I think I’m making good progress on it. But what I’m dreading the most, you might ask? Well it’s drilling the control panel holes through the wood/plexi/vinyl.. HOW will I pull this off! I kept prolonging that day when I had to start drilling. It made me nervous just thinking about it. But that will be a later day, time for me to fix this horrible CRT area.
I found a 30” TV at my local computer shop for real cheap and all I would need to do is route/sand the sides on the cabinet down about ¼”. But when I got there my main question was, when I turn on/off my PC what will the TV do and we never got a straight answer from the techs. Looked online and the specs said auto on with HDMI power, but I just didn’t get the warm and fuzzies. So I ended up going with a Dell 28” monitor. It fit without any issues at all, I was very pleased with the results.
With some scrap wood I made bracers on the back and bottoms of the LCD screen to keep it in place. Boy It sure did take me a long time to measure and make sure each side of the screen was at the same height.
Once that was all in place. I had another anxiety attack since I had to now measure and cut another frame for the monitor. This time it only took me one attempt and look at how nice that fits. There is hope for me after all! Spray painted it black and onto the next grueling task.. the dreaded control panel.
Sorry, going to go in more detail on this as this section was slightly stressful. At this point I didn’t really research into what I should use. At my house (we just moved) the previous owner used plexiglass for an additional layer on our windows. I thought, score I can spare a couple for my cabinet and save some space. I looked up what to use to cut plexiglass and found that using a Stepping Bit is a good way to go, so off to the local hardware store!
I needed to figure out a way to mark my buttons and joysticks on the vinyl and board. I used a drafting compass draw a 30mm and 24mm circle on cardboard and with a hole poked through the middle, booya I had my center. I then laid the cardboard circle on the vinyl and marked the center with a marker. Then used point of the compass to poke a hole through the vinyl. This part wasn’t so bad since I had 3 other vinyl sheets on the ready. I then used a utility knife to cut the lines into it. Geez, this part was a little unnerving.
Once all the holes were done in the vinyl I laid that on top of the control board and just marked my pilot holes. I also bought a dowel rod and plug the original 4 holes of the control panel. Used my Forstners bit and a hand drill. There are two sizes holes here – 30MM and 24MM. Mainly because the Easyget buttons came with 8 30mm and 4 24mm size buttons.
It’s heartbreak and stress time. It didn’t take long to figure out plexiglass will not work, at least what I had in my basement. It might be too brittle or sun damaged etc.. The sound this stepping bit had on the plexiglass was horrific! As you can see from the right pic that cracks & chips were very visible. WHAT TO DO!!
My local hardware store had lexan polycarbonate and WOW what a HUGE difference that made. The sheet was expensive but well worth it. The stepping bit drilled into this stuff like a hot knife in butter. But this part was very stressful and it took a while because I didn’t want to screw up. After many practice runs with a circle cutter bit on scrap lexan, I made my final 3” hole.
Here is the end result of my control panel finally all drilled and assembled. As well as adding what I have for joysticks/buttons and trackball. Looking pretty good so far. Just need to order the other 4-way joystick/buttons and the spinner.
I ordered the other set of buttons and joystick and then decided to spin up Paint.Net for one ugly looking wiring schematics. This did really help figure out where everything is going. The two purple buttons on the right and left of the panel are the pinball buttons that I’ll drill on the side of the control panel box. After doing some troubleshooting, I had to route my pinball buttons on my first button controller board. Splitting them up between two controller boards seemed to cause some confusion even with JoytoKey installed.
Here are a couple of screenshots of the pinball holes I drilled out as well as I hooked up the LED switch to my coin slot buttons. SO cool! Turns out Christmas LED bulbs work great for replacement bulbs for the coin buttons.
After some time I did finally pulled the trigger on getting the rest of the buttons and my 4-way joystick. I ended up with white player/coin buttons and the rest blue and I think it came out pretty nice. Not sure why in this picture my red buttons look more yellowish. Still holding off on the spinner, they are not cheap. After I got my 4-way joystick I read its small paper doc and it showed me how to make it an 8-way and shockingly enough I looked at my other two 8-way joysticks and they are also convertible.. Go figure.. here I was dying to play Pac Man during this build and I could have if I would have just converted a joystick!
And the 98% final results. With 4 added quarters from 1980 - 1984 on the glass...
Some high level software and info-
HyperSpin Start up script
Mame (w/ high score save)
crap ton of system emulators
I figured out a neat way to make a Main menu item for a second MAME selection for multiplayer that I created a database for.
PinballFX 2 and 3 (still trying to get 3 to work)
Made most of my own themes
I know I'm forgetting something... =)
I would be more than happy to answer any questions or share my config settings. If you want to see a video, I can post one.