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September 2003 News Archive


Cabinet Work Continues
I'm still waiting for some final pieces of the cabinet (such as the bezel glass), and I want to wait on completing the review until I have everything that comes with the standard package (such are the problems of getting the first unit off the assembly line, so to speak! ;-)

I did show off the current state of the cabinet project to a friend, who immediately fell in lust with the machine, and now is scheming of ways to sell the idea of buying a cab to his wife — the SlikStik cab certainly does make a great first impression!

New Version of MAMEWAH!
I don't know how this slipped past my radar, but there has been a new release of my MAME frontend of choice, MAMEWAH 0.96!

If you haven't tried this front end, it's worth the effort. It's a Windows-based front end that includes a number of different screen layouts, and you can even create your own custom layout if you wish. Of special note if you're just getting started with MAMEWAH is a new "Step by Step" instructions page by "Stuzza." Very cool stuff.


Updated SlikStik Classic Review
I received a very interesting email from Aaron Marshall this week. Apparently, in an attempt to decide between building a control panel himself or buying a SlikStik Classic unit, he worked out the costs for both routes. The results are surprising — be sure to check out the Conclusions section of the SlikStik Classic review for full details on his findings!


The SlikStik Cab, without monitor, marquee, or SlikStikCabinet News
The review is under way, and I spent some time today videotaping the assembly process. The second time around it only took me about 10 minutes to assemble, although I haven't yet installed the D9200 arcade monitor! Unfortunately, I don't have the correct mounting bolts for the D9200, but the correct bolts have been shipped and should probably be here on Monday. Then I'll mount the monitor and the SlikStik, and aside from a few small bits and pieces (such as 5" speakers), the cabinet should be done soon.

I was originally concerned about the "cam bolt" method of attaching the panels together, but it actually seems very sturdy. It also makes assembly very easy, and leaves the exterior surfaces completely free of nails or screws. Very nice.

Another nice touch was the fact that all the exterior surfaces were covered with a protective plastic sheet. Once you're done assembling the cab, you just peel off the plastic. It's great for avoiding scratches while you're putting the cabinet together.

Multiple Mice and Light Guns with Analog+ XP!
This is just too cool — you can now have multiple mice, trackballs, spinners, or light guns with Windows XP thanks to the latest release of Analog+ XP! There's an ongoing discussion of this over on the BYOAC forums. This now means that you can have two ACT Labs light guns working at the same time, each working separately. Of course, this means I need another light gun to test this out...


First Impressions
Some Assembly Required!Okay, it's been a busy day writing the installation manual, but I did promise to post my first impressions of the SlikStik Arcade Machine cabinet.

Bottom line is that I am very impressed. It arrived without a scratch due to an excellent packing job, the quality of the materials is first rate, and it's not very complicated or difficult to assemble. It's exactly what I was expecting it to be, and I had high expectations. ;-)

I've already disassembled the unit again in preparation for videotaping the assembly process tomorrow for the video review. Taking it apart took less than 10 minutes — this cabinet is going to be great for people who move often, or have a gameroom/basement that is hard to get into.

More impressions later this week, perhaps even a "teaser" video.

SlikStik Manual Now Available For Download
I apologize to those who read my SlikStik review earlier this week and noticed that the SlikStik manual I mentioned in the review was not actually in the Files section for download. It is now.

Sorry about that!


Omnicade Review Updated
I received a couple of angry letters about my Omnicade review (one of them from Laurent, the creator). Both mentioned that others had had no problems getting the installation to run perfectly. Unfortunately, I have to write about my own experiences with it, which weren't so successful.

In an attempt to give Omnicade the benefit of the doubt, I dug up another hard drive and tried the Omnicade installer again. This time I actually got it to boot up after installation. Unfortunately, I still had other problems. Anyway, the review has been updated with my new experiences with the Omnicade Arcade System.

Special Delivery...
The SlikStik Arrives...Yup, something special today. The SlikStik DIY cab arrived this afternoon via Estes Express on a big honkin' truck.

The delivery guy's first words were “you order a pool table?” (Yes, the box was that big!) Three boxes, ranging in size from UPS-friendly all the way up to "How the hell am I going to get that through the door?"

I've been busy with it, and I'll try and post some first thoughts tomorrow night. Right now, however, my muscles ache...


Custom SlikStikNew SlikStik Classic Review!
Finally, a new review! While I'm waiting on shippers to get their acts together, I've decided to complete individual reviews of each of the controllers that will be in the Controller Roundup.

First on the list is a review of the SlikStick Classic, which is the arcade controller I will be using in my new cabinet. No video review yet, as that will be coming with the later Controller Roundup article.

Omnicade Review Finished
I've just finished my review of the Omnicade MAME installation CD. It's an ambitious project to create an auto-setup CD for MAME cabinets, but is it too ambitious? Check out the review.


Cleveland Coin-Op Show: What a Ripoff...
Well, I paid my $20 admission, and it took me all of 30 minutes to walk by all of the antique dealers (all five of them) and discover that there was not a video game in sight, nor anything more modern than, say, 1970 or so. Hardly any old coin-op games of any sort, really. Just old vending machines and Coke signs. A real waste of time. Sigh...


New (and Improved) UniVert!
Marcus Tiller just can't leave well enough alone (and good for him!) — he's just improved the "universal vertical bezel" artwork, designing it at 640x480. The result? A much cleaner image. The file has been updated, but if you downloaded it yesterday, you'll want to get it again to make sure you've got the newest artwork. Thanks again, Marcus!


Alternative MAME Light Gun
LikSan PC Bio GunI received an interesting email from Christopher Mar pointing out this light gun that he had discovered, which even mentions MAME compatibility in the product FAQ. It might be a viable alternative to the ACT-Labs light gun, and I'll be checking into seeing if I can get a unit to review.

One thing of interest is that it is that it uses a PS/2 pass-through connection instead of USB, which may make it a viable light gun for DOS-based MAME cabinets. Thanks, Chris!

New UniVert!
UniVert Border for Vertical GamesMarcus Tiller has once again updated his excellent "universal vertical bezel" utility, this time for MAME .74!

If you haven't tried it out, the UniVert macro creates a bezel that "fills in" the unused side sections of the screen for all vertical games in MAME. It's very cool, very handy for landscape monitors (most of them are, you know ;-) and now it's updated — you can download it from the File Downloads page.

Cleveland Coin Op Show
Living in Cleveland, I have to point out the Cleveland Rocks Coin Op Show this weekend (Sept. 19-21) I'll be going, and if any other fellow retrogaming enthusiasts are interested in getting together, drop me an email. I'm planning on taking lots of pics, so check back early next week.


Maxtor Blues...Again
My nearly unbroken string of bad luck with hardware on this project continues — after praising Maxtor for their quick turnaround in replacing my hard drive that died, I now discover that the replacement drive they sent me is (yes, you guessed it!) defective. Actually, it's not completely dead yet, but it's clearly on life support. I spent an entire day trying to install the Omnicade CD to this drive before the drive finally went belly-up. Sigh...

Mutant Storm Videos
I received an email yesterday from an Escaped Turkey, who is apparently a big fan of the great game that I reviewed a few weeks ago, Mutant Storm. Anyway, he's got a fan page for the game, which even includes some nice video of the game in action. If you're wondering what Mutant Storm is all about, check out his site.

Cabinet Update
The SlikStik DIY cabinet has been shipped, at last! It's been a long wait, but I'm sure it will be worth it. I'm going to be a bit busy with writing the installation manual once the cabinet arrives, but I'll be sure and post my first impressions before I get down to business.


If all goes well, my SlikStik DIY cab should ship today. We'll see how long it takes to ship something that big!

I'm also planning on testing out the Omnicade distribution this week. If you haven't heard of it, it's a "turn-key" MAME software setup solution: run the CD, and everything (OS, MAME, etc.) is automatically set up for a MAME cabinet. It looks intriguing, and I'm anxious to give it a try.


X-Gaming's X-Arcade ControllerX-Arcade Has Arrived
The X-Arcade controller unit has been delivered. Two units (X-Arcade and SlikStik) that will be in the Controller Roundup Review are are now ready, and now I'm only waiting for the HotRod unit for Hanaho. I'll be giving the X-Arcade some preliminary testing over the weekend.

Props to Maxtor
I just received a replacement hard drive from Maxtor in exchange for the drive in the game system that died. Not only did they give me great turnaround time (two weeks), I received a 120GB drive with an 8mb buffer to replace the original 80GB w/2 mb buffer. Very nice. It would have been better if the drive hadn't died at all, but I've got to give Maxtor credit for great customer support!


I'm sorry I haven't updated the site in the last few days, but I injured my leg, and the muscle relaxants I am taking have done their job — I'm very, very relaxed. So much so that it's hard to even stay conscious. I'm the ultimate couch potato at the moment. ;-) Anyway, give me a day or two to recoop, and things will pick up.

ACT-Labs Light Gun Review
The written review of the ACT-Lab Light gun is now ready and available from the Product Reviews page. If you haven't already, be sure to also check out the video review.


Email Back Up
Just got word that my email server is back up and running, and, judging from the sudden influx of mail, it seems that not many messages got bounced.

Fantastic Encoder Article
If you're building your own arcade controller, choosing a keyboard encoder for your joysticks and buttons is suddenly a lot easier thanks to an extremely detailed encoder comparison article over at Fraggersxtreme. Trust me, this is Anything and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Encoders.


ACT Labs LightgunACT-Labs Video Review Ready
The video review of the ACT-Labs USB light gun is now ready. Check it out from the Video Reviews page.

US ROM Burning Services
If you're looking for a full set of MAME ROMs and are located in the U.S., is a good place to check for a local burner. It's part of the Lazarus group, whose main web site is still, unfortunately, down.

Controller Roundup A Go!
Well, things are really looking good for a "MAME Controller Roundup" review. It will most likely cover the SlikStik Classic, X-Gaming X-Arcade, and the Hanaho HotRod controllers. I'll post more details once I get all the details and arrangements worked out.


ACT-Labs and ArcadeVGA: Not Compatible?
Well, I got my replacement ACT-Labs USB Light gun, and almost immediately discovered that I could not get the calibration screen to work properly with the Ultimarc ArcadeVGA card. Swapping out the card with an old TNT2, I discovered that the light gun works exactly as expected.

This is one more "issue" with the ArcadeVGA card that I'm going to have to see if Andy at Ultimarc can address. In the meantime I'll do my light gun testing with the TNT2 card, so at least the light gun review can proceed now...


Upcoming Reviews Update
The replacement light gun from ACT-Labs should arrive tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be able to begin work on the review. I'm also going to be working on the SlikStik review this week, so hopefully it should be finished before the weekend. I'm holding off on the ArcadeVGA review until Andy at Ultimarc can look into the problems I've been having with the card a bit further, and since he's currently on vacation, that may be another week or two.

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