Email
GameRoom Articles
GameRoom Web Store
RetroBlast Reviews
RetroBlast Articles
Game Room Links
File Downloads
Site and Contact Information

Construction Details

Before:

An old Atari Roadblasters game, basically just an empty shell, about the only hardware remaining was the coin door and the original speakers. This is an Atari System 1 cabinet, which was used in several Atari games, including Marble Madness, RoadBlasters, Indiana Jones, and Road Runner. Note that I didn't have to strip what remained of the original melamine paint, it actually just fell off in large sheets!

Empty Arcade Cabinet

After:

Ready to play just about any arcade game ever made...

Finished MAME Machine

The retrofit was primarily a matter of creative component placement and some new wiring. I had to extend the wiring for the power and reset switches, which are mounted in the lower coin door (I thought about making it easier to turn on the machine, but then realized that with two small boys I wanted a lockable solution!)

Coin Door and Power/Reset Switches
The Power and Reset Switches

The coin mechanism is fully restored, although I haven't wired it up to give credits for coins yet. Someday, perhaps, when I want to use the MAMEframe as a “reward” for my kids. The fan filter you can see under the coin door is covering up the hole for the foot pedal on the original Roadblasters game. I originally had my subwoofer mounted behind the filter, but later moved it up between the two main speakers.

The lights on the coin doors originally were W55 7v bayonet lamps, which I've since replaced with "ultra-bright" white LEDs. Another lighting effect is the translucent blue trackball, which is lit from underneath by a cluster of 4 ultra-bright LEDs.

I also had to create some new patch cables to connect the original arcade speakers to the amplifier/subwoofer section of a set of Creative Inspire 2.1 speakers that I got on sale. This setup replaces a generic set of PC speakers I had been using originally.

The new Creative 2.1 sound system is great, especially compared to the original “generic” speakers! It even has a volume control/power "pod" that I've mounted on the outside of the MAMEframe, on the back left-hand edge of the SlikStik controller (along with a miniature 4-port USB hub for joysticks).


Volume Control and USB Hub

The larger subwoofer really creates chest-thumping sound (especially since it's mounted right in front of the player's chest!) It makes a world of difference in the game experience. I was genuinely surprised at how important good, strong bass is when playing games.

Closeup of Speakers and Keyboard Transmitter

An Interior Shot. Here is the heart of the MAMEframe. Right now the cabling is a bunch of spaghetti, but I do plan on cleaning things up and routing/bundling the cables a bit.

Inside the MAMEframe

The “@Power Strip” that is in the unit was a great little item that used to be available from Cyberguys — it senses when the computer is turned on, and then turns on all the other outlets on the powerstrip. When the computer is turned off, it turns off the other outlets in the MAMEframe, which is great for the speakers and marquee light. Unfortunately, it seems that Cyberguys is no longer carrying the @Power Strip. Andrew Lattof (Acey) on alt.games.mame found an alternative power strip:

 > I also was looking for this power strip for the MAME cab I'm putting
 > together, but had no luck in finding it anywhere. The manufacturer
 > for the @Power Strip is http://www.superturn.com.tw but their site is
 > mostly in Chinese and from my time spent there I can't find any place
 > to buy it from them.
 > 
 > However, I found what looks to be a nice alternative in the Bits Ltd
 > Smart Strip : http://www.bitsltd.net/smartstrip.html

You can read his review of the SmartStrip here.

This is an interior shot showing the CD-RW mounting and the amplifier section of the Creative Inspire 2.1 speakers. The amplifier unit was removed from the original subwoofer wooden “cube” and mounted into the bottom of the speaker section of the cabinet. The CD-RW drive is mounted vertically on the left side of the main access door for easy access from the front:

CD-ROM Drive
The CD-RW Drive, Side Mounted

The CD-RW drive is an older 4/2/24 CD-RW drive that I had sitting in storage, and I painted the faceplate black to match the cabinet. The CD-RW allows me to run the kid's games on the MAMEframe, as well as play music CDs. I haven't had any problems yet with running the drive vertically.

Overall, it was a very rewarding project — there wasn't a whole lot of woodworking skill involved. I only had to make a few cuts to fit the SlikStik controller (www.slikstik.com) onto the cabinet:


Cabinet Surgery (Yellow Lines)

Other than that, all I had to do was to hack out a few minor internal wood supports to rig up a mounting system for the monitor:

Front with Bezel Removed
The Bottom Mounting Frame, Cut For the Monitor Base

To mount the monitor, I first opened the monitor case and removed the back half. I then bolted the empty back half of the case into the arcade frame. I then slid the front half of the monitor back into the mounted back section of the monitor case and screwed everything back together. Unfortunately I couldn't get the swivel base off of the monitor, believe it or not!

I spray-painted the front of the monitor a semi-flat black (after masking off the tube) to help it blend into the front bezel. If you look closely, you can see the keyboard LED lights on the wireless keyboard's “transmitter pod,” which is mounted just behind the Plexiglas in the lower left corner.

Software: I'm currently running MameWAH for my front end, which has been great for MAME cabinet use. It even allows you to customize the title graphics for each type of emulator that you run with it.

MameWAH Screenshot

I've added a second menu page to MameWAH, entitled “Other Games,” which has Arcade Jukebox 7, Mutant Storm, and Visual Pinball installed on it so far. I'm using a program called notMAME to launch them. notMAME allows you to easily add other programs to MAME-based front ends through a simple batch file (MameWAH can be configured to recognize .bat files as the “ROMs” for notMAME). MameWAH basically builds a menu out of all the .bat files it finds in a specific folder, and then passes the batch file off to notMAME to launch when a menu item is selected. Here, for example, is the batch file I use to launch Mutant Storm:

   @echo off
   cd "C:\Program Files\MutantStorm"
   start MutantStorm.exe /max /w
   cls

A side shot. (Notice the pinball buttons) No artwork on the sides yet, I thought about buying replacement Atari System 1 sideart, but I'm finding that the basic black look is growing on me.

Side Shot of MAMEframe

The lower front of the machine was painted with a semi-flat Krylon spray paint, and I had planned on using the same paint for the sides. However, after five coats of spray paint (and 4 spray cans) on just one side, it still looked spotty. I ended up using regular outdoor latex semi-gloss black paint for the sides - two coats and it looked great. I used a roller to apply, so the sides have a slightly textured appearance, much like the walls in a house.

Return to the MAMEframe