I've been talking recently (for the last couple of weeks-ish) on IRC about progress being made towards my Mame Arcade cabinet and decided it'd be nice to have a topic devoted to such cabinets for a prolonged discussion, as well as a place for me to sum up all the work I've done on the cabinet. If you've got an arcade cabinet (or supergun, too) please feel free to flaunt them in this thread. So back story on my cabinet - back around 1999-ish, I joined the Build Your Own Arcade Controls message board. The golden era of arcades had reached the twilight in the US, and the industry began ramping downward going forward. I had always wanted an arcade machine, but logistics made it virtually impossible for me to get my hands on one. Everyone on BYOAC and the general internet at the time felt that arcades were starting to lose their footing (I remember when Soul Caliber came out on the dreamcast, it really cemented the point). So my story began on BYOAC, where the concept of a "mame-cade" sort of birthed. Back in those days, the mame itself was still rather new, and the idea of gutting an arcade cabinet and placing a PC inside was novel. Today, there are entire companies that have built their businesses off of selling pre-made mame-cabinet kits and pieces, but back in 1999, you either had to build one yourself, or gut a real cabinet. The site itself offered a bunch of indispensable advice on building your own controls and wiring up jamma harnesses and things of that sort, but for the most part it was the wild west. I began my quest for a Mame cabinet by looking around in Houston for arcades that were closing down, hoping to score a cabinet I could gut for cheap. That didn't really work out, as every arcade I'd wind up at wanted at least a few hundred bucks for a dead cabinet, which was outside of my price range. Eventually, I came across the building above in the yellow-pages. "Houston Arcade Game Repair Center" was what it was listed under. One saturday, my dad and I decided to show up in his pick up truck without calling the place and just looked around. Talking to the owner, it turns out the place really didn't service the general public. Instead, the store was intended for Arcade operators to repair their machines, and as such they had an entire warehouse of dead cabinets rotting away that they used for parts. I explained what I wanted to do with such a cabinet, and I'm guessing a combination of my ambition and age (I was 15 at the time) caused them to take pity. The owner truthfully liked the idea of restoring a cabinet, although he had never heard of MAME at the time, and let me wander through his warehouse to pick out a cabinet for $25 -- an absolute steal. This place was amazing. It was about half the size of a modern walmart, but filled wall to wall with cabinets. Lots of really amazing cabinets. I remember seeing a ton of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighters, and even exotic and specialty cabinets like a real-deal R360 cabinet and a sitdown Outrun cab. Cabinet shape is important to any arcade owner, and I wanted a cabinet that, to me, looked like a conventional, US-style cabinet circa 1990-ish. I eventually wound up picking up this cabinet: Originally, the cabinet was a Carnival Games cabinet, although sometime after it had been converted to a Wonderboy cabinet. I knew from the get-go that any cabinet I picked up would have had to have some sort of Sega background, and Carnival Games was distributed by Gremlin and Sega back in the day (the included instruction booklet still had the old-style Sega logo on the corner). It's interesting to note that my specific cabinet seems to be an undocumented second revision of Carnival Games, as the shape of the glass mounting plate is different (mine is angled, where all pictures of carnival games I've seen online is vertical, and mine has an additional shelf in the back behind the monitor). These changes don't appear to be cosmetic post-purchase changes, but rather original design. $25 later, we loaded the cabinet on the back of my dad's pick up truck and were on our way. Now, the cabinet itself was a wreck. The entire front panel was warped and flimsy -- when you touched it, it'd sway, as though the MDF board had absorbed water. You could really punch right through the front of the machine if you tried. Additionally, the inside was infested with spiders, and it appears someone had shot one of the sides of the cabinet with a shotgun as there were burn marks and buck-shot-sized holes all over one of the sides. The control panel on the thing was metal, and cut to a weird wonder-boy configuration: This configuration wasn't suitable for general gaming, and worse yet, the control panel itself was rusted and had holes in it. The monitor in the cabinet actually worked, in that it'd turn on, but the red and blue sub channels weren't working at all, and thus the image was entirely green. And besides, the monitor was a JAMMA monitor, and thus not really fit for PC gaming. I unfortunately did not snap pictures of the cabinet when we selected it; we were in a huge hurry. You see, my mother is a notorious neat freak, and she would have never signed off of me grabbing an arcade cabinet to throw in my bed room, much less one that was rotting and falling apart. The saturday we went to pick up the cabinet, my mother was out of town. That gave my father and I all saturday to scrub the cabinet out, empty out straggling spiders, and throw whatever PC I had laying around inside quickly enough to get it presentable before my mother came back. Despite our efforts, she still had a fit. All I have are a few pictures from 2002, after some repairs had been made, to show what I was working with at the time: These pictures were taken in October of 2002, but back in february of that year, I built a rough control panel and had the machine up in "working" condition. Keep in mind that I was like 16 at the time, and this was my first wood working project: This first "working" version of the arcade cabinet was about as thrown together as it gets. The warped front panel still existed, and my dad and I made a "control panel" that was just 2 pieces of plywood nailed together at a 45 degree angle, that was then nailed to the front of the arcade cabinet. Where the original control panel was on a hinge and sat flush with the cabinet, the new control panel just nailed into the wood on the front of the cabinet, and the angle was wrong so it wasn't flush and actually stuck out in front of the cabinet. The entire panel was eyeballed, and thus the buttons weren't really in a comfortable position: Inside, I had an AMD K6 processor, some rinky-dink SVGA video card, and like 128 mb of ram. The computer couldn't really run anything -- the sole game that would play decently on the computer was Shinobi, but only when frameskip was turned up to 9 (and even then, it ran slow, and the music was choppy.) The monitor inside the cabinet was pathetic, a 13" CRT computer monitor that I had to use duct tape around to block the excess space: As I said earlier, you couldn't really buy parts for this stuff pre-made, so I had to build a PC-to-JAMMA converter myself out of a keyboard, and, being my first big soldering project, it produced a wasp-nest-like ball of wires inside the cabinet: Yes, in virtually every way, this cabinet and mame-build weren't anything worth talking about. And thus, my mame-cade sat in this condition, very ugly, very unfinished, for about 8 years, my mother constantly bitching about how it uglied up my room. At one point, we tried painting the sides of the cabinet black, but in a comedy of errors, we used a high-gloss paint which made the cabinet look even cheaper and uglier: To be honest, between my mother's complaints about my cabinet, and snide remarks friends would make about "that pile of junk in my bedroom," I'd think only my father and I ever had faith that we'd eventually get the cabinet looking nice and even worthy of drooling over. By 2007, I was already knee deep in college, and thus didn't really live with my folks anymore. They still had the cabinet at their house, and that summer, when I was on break, my father and I decided to finally fix the cabinet up correctly, given that I now had much better wood-working skills. Firstly, I nabbed a 20" CRT computer monitor and got it ready for the cabinet: Then I cut a new front panel for the cabinet: For the control panel, I decided to make the entire thing from scratch, this time using a laminate Formica exterior for a nice, non-wooden finish, and attaching the entire thing flush with the cabinet at the right angle, and thus attached to a hinge that could open and shut. This made building the panel itself much more complex: The panel itself needed to be flush with the mounting brackets on the hinge, so I needed to dig out parts of the wood to create enough space to screw the panel into the machine to begine with: We used bonding cement to attach the laminate to the wooden panel: At the same time, I began sanding the sides of the machine: then patching the buck-shot holes with putty: Then primed and painted: I used a flat-black this time rather than a high-gloss, and applied a new Sega-Blue t-molding to the machine. The result: Rather than flood a single post with tons of images, I'll wait till the next post to continue. Up next, I build the control panel then move on to coin mechanism assembly and software installation!