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Raspberry Pi MAME Arcade Project

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I posted some of this in another thread, but as I am doing this as a project, I thought a new thread is in order.

I am beginning a new project, I would like to end up with something similar to:

Except with a set of controls on each side of the table with a discrete display for each player that is mirroring the output from my Raspberry Pi.  This way it wont be too crowded on my couch when I want to play heads up against a buddy.

Phase I:

Setup Raspberry Pi

Get OS on Raspberry Pi

Get MAME emulator compiled and running

Verify ROMS will run

? Overclock Raspberry Pi

Get frontend for MAME and verify compatibility

Use keyboard to extensively test games

Phase II:

Get USB keyboard interface for controls

Get Joystick and buttons for the arcade

Wire up controls

Get USB keyboard interface to work with Debian

Test with MAME games

Phase III:

Find / Build coffee table to house setup

Flush mount monitor / controls

Wire everything up in new enclosure

Enjoy new MAME arcade

At first I didn't realize that you have to install an image to the SD card.  This caused some confusion as I could not get the board to do anything other than light up a bit.  I tried using diskutil on my macbook air to flash the Debian image to the SD card last night, but I don't think it was successful since the Raspberry Pi still won't boot.  When I get home tonight I am going to re-try flashing the SD card.  Will keep y'all posted.

So it looked like the img of Debian for Raspberry Pi didn't properly transfer to my SD card, when in fact it was just taking forever.  When I got home from work today and began work on the project again, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the RPI would actually boot from the card:

I am quite surprised with how quick this little credit card sized computer is.  Upon first boot the RPI booted into a setup program:

After setting my environment variables, disabling graphical interface start-up, running updates, and rebooting I was presented with a fully functional Debian powered beast.  The next order of business was getting a MAME emulator up and running on this ARM platform.  A quick check of the GCC and compiler environments and another pleasant surprise; they were already in place with all the required dependencies for me to be off and running.   As an aside, I was very impressed with the network transfer speed as well.  This little computer was consistently averaging 2.3 mbps from most of the locations I was downloading from online.  After wgetting advanceMAME src and compiling it, I was able to run advMAME and was able to get the Galaga ROM running with minimal issue (after setting up a proper config etc):

Unfortunately, the first run of this ROM was VERY slow and the audio was stuttering something fierce.  I had read about people overclocking these little boards with pretty good success, so back into the config files!  I settled so far on a 200MHZ overclock (up from the stock 700MHZ to 900MHZ) on the processor and a 100MHZ overclock on the memory (up to 600MHZ).  I was able to resolve the stutter and lag issues with Galaga this way and both Galaga and 1942 run flawlessly at this point:

If you've played with advMAME or a command line based MAME emulator at all then you know launching a game involves something like: ./advMAME galaga, this is not very user friendly at all and would be a huge hassle once I have this in an arcade cabinet (since this computer will run without a keyboard).  Luckily there are MAME front ends that I can utilize that will facilitate launching games etc.  Back out to the internet with a wget command yielded advMenu's src.  After compiling and installing advMENU I had a bear of a time getting it to recognize  that I had advMAME installed as an emulator.  I ended up having to manually add it to advMENU's config.  The result was a half working advMENU:

Yes the menu is working and it launches the ROMs, but it doesn't give a preview or artwork or anything in the right hand pane for the ROM.  I think this is due to missing files from unzipping the ROMs.  When I get home tonight my next round of work will center around making this look more acceptable.  The other good news about transitioning into phase II of this project is that I have two joysticks, buttons, wire, etc on order for the cabinet.  I am still unsure which direction I want to take the cabinet, but am currently leaning more towards a full sized cabinet than the original coffee table idea.  I will have to give it quite a bit more thought and figure it out before ordering graphics etc.  Stay tuned for phase II goodness!

Got the iPac working with the Raspberry MAME last night.  Also got the ipacutil and ipacgui working with the Rasp-Debian as well.  What a PITA though, I was lost in dependencies hell for a short while.  As you can see in the video low horse power requiring ROMS the twin monitor setup for my coffee table idea seem to work just fine, but when I load a ROM that requires more horse power the left screen seems to flicker a bit.  I'll have to sort that out.  This project is getting very close to the needs an enclosure stage...

Why not use a VGA splitter if you're just mirroring the same output to both displays?


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