My Mame Machine (continued)
(How to build a custom arcade machine in 70 complicated steps)
I called Brad a couple of weeks later and said, “I have Mame ready, how are you doing on the cabinet design?” Brad said, “Cabinet design? Are we doing this?” I thought we had already decided we were, Brad wasn’t so sure but agreed to do it. Soon after, Brad and I needed to figure out our cabinet designs. We went to my basement and started taking measurements of all of the machines, control panel height, marquee height, width, distance between buttons from center, etc. We decided to go to a local arcade and take measurements from new machines. The local Putt Putt was the last arcade in town and had a few games. With a tape measure in hand, we went in and took the measurements. After we confirmed some standards we headed back to the car. I noticed a dead arcade machine by the dumpster 70 yards away. We snuck over and it was a complete, except for the monitor, Atari Vindicators. I grabbed the board set, Brad grabbed the coin door. We are not normally dumpster divers but had had a good laugh about it.

I went back to working on the software and Brad noodled the design. I looked at every Mame front-end available and could only find one I was satisfied with, MAMEWAH. It had a majority of the basic functions I wanted and allowed me to customize it with my own graphics and layout. I spent a week or so playing with it and had something I liked. I closely followed the Mame forums and noticed a couple of new version had come out since I had created my own custom version. I decided to upgrade which meant changing the code again and recompiling everything. I was pretty much ready to go, Brad was still noodling.

The first big cabinet hurdle was the control panel. We had to decide what controls we wanted and how we wanted to arrange them. I wanted the capability for two players, trackball, a four way joystick (Pac Man, Galaga, etc.) and I had to have a Tempest spinner. Brad said, “What’s Tempest?” I’m 39 now and Brad is 31 so, yeah… Brad wanted the ability to have 4 players at once. There was a specific game he played in school that he wanted on the Mame box (I can’t remember which one.) Since we had different needs, we designed 2 panels. I created a list of hardware I needed from Happ Controls:

8 way ultimate joysticks (which stink btw) qty 2
4 way joystick
Golden Tee 3” trackball
22 different colored buttons and switches
Oscar Controls Tempest spinner
Ultimarc keyboard interface
Ultimarc mouse interface

There goes $500. Oops, I guess we didn’t consider that controls would be so much.


Top of the panel with pencil marks for positioning

Controls mounted, time for t-molding

The wiring is done