Arcade Engine RKD Classic Cabinet Plans
Review by Kevin Steele
Deciding to build a MAME cabinet is a big undertaking, no matter how you look at it. There are a lot of things to consider, from the design of the cabinet to the choice of components used, to how in the world you’re actually going to assemble the beast!
Luckily, there is help. Arcade Engine offers plans for their “RKD Classic” cabinet, and to say these plans are thorough is an understatement — the plans even include construction templates, a full list of all the PC hardware you’ll need, and even artwork for the finished cab, including a bezel, control panel overlay, and sideart.
This set of cabinet plans aims to help you complete not just the woodworking portion of the job, but actually creating an entire, finished, working MAME cabinet, completely set up and ready for token operation.
Details, Details, Details
If you want detail, this manual provides it in spades. Weighing in at an impressive 61 pages, the instructions take you step-by-step through the construction process. It starts with a full list of the tools needed, including prices, photos, and even suggestions on where to buy! A detailed parts list also has the same level of detail (trust me, it’s very handy to have photos of the parts and tools you’ll need!)
Time estimates are provided for each section of the manual. I’m sure the time required will vary greatly depending on your level of experience, but it’s nice to at least have a rough idea of how long each section of the construction will take to complete.
Templates and Artwork
The Arcade Engine plans include construction templates, both in JPEG and Adobe Acrobat (PDF) formats. The PDF versions of the templates are designed so that you can print them out on multiple standard-size sheets of paper and tape them together to form a full-size template.
There is also 150-dpi artwork included: a bezel, control panel overlay, and even sideart. This is handy and nice to have, although it would have been even nicer to have the artwork in Photoshop format (.psd) with editable layers, although I realize this would have made the artwork file's distribution size prohibitive.
One Step at a Time
The manual includes an “overview” graphic of the cabinet from the side, with most of the parts identified. I found the graphic a bit cluttered, but informative. An isometric perspective would have helped to make things a bit clearer, especially with all the detail that’s crammed into the overview drawing.
The instructions have some nice suggestions throughout, such as having parts of the MDF sheets cut at the store to make it easier to transport them. The cutting instructions are appreciated for those of us who have only a passing knowledge of woodworking tools.
This is Your Cab…in 3D
Assembling a collection of oddly shaped pieces and parts can always be confusing, but the Arcade Engine plans handle this problem nicely with a large collection of 3D-rendered drawings of the assembly of the cabinet. A picture’s worth a thousand words, the saying goes, and it’s certainly nice to be able to see where a particular bolt goes or how one panel connects to another.
One thing I didn’t like about the 3D renderings was the ugly faux-woodgrain texture on the model. It didn’t help with the clarity, and I think that the rendering would have looked better without the texture applied.
The assembly instructions are comprehensive, even including details on such things as mounting the monitor and installing a coin door.
Completing the Connections
The Arcade Engine manual takes you all the way, guiding you through the final steps of setting up a PC for MAME use, including wiring up the coin door and setting up the cabinet for token operation. Follow the plans to the end, and you’ll have a finished, working MAME arcade cabinet system.
These are excellent plans for building a MAME cabinet, and the included extras like templates and artwork really help to round out an already great document. At $19.95, these plans are a bargain. There are some minor rough edges in the plans, and it would be nice to see pre-printed templates available, but overall this is a great deal and a wonderful resource for the first-time cabinet builder.