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FAQ Entry

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Once the wiki is back up and running, I think that it would be a good idea to update CitznFish's FAQ -- written a decade ago -- and put it in the wiki.

It is currently only available here via the Internet Wayback Machine.


EDIT:  Compiling a list of general topics/sub-topics to organize for FAQ. 
Will update/rearrange as suggestions are made this thread.
Questions will have basic answers, pics as needed, and links to related wiki entries and/or threads.

1. Cabinet Basics
1.a. - Types of cabs
-- Standing -- regular, cabaret, low-boy?, pedestal, showcase?
-- Seated -- candy, cocktail, cockpit, ride-on?
-- Small -- mini, bartop, micro

1.b. - Parts of a cab (diagram)
-- Marquee, retainers, light
-- Speakers
-- Control panel (CP), latches, overlay, player buttons, admin buttons (Coin, Start, Exit, Pause, etc.)
-- Kick panel
-- Coin door
-- Sideart (vinyl, stencil)
-- Power supply
-- Game board/MAME computer
-- Wiring harness
-- Smart strip
-- Leveling feet/casters
-- T-molding

1.c. - What type of build meets my needs? (flowchart?)
-- One approach to the decision making process here.
-- Start with a gamelist
-- Where do I want to put/use the cab (measure doorways and available space)
-- Should I build a four player setup?
-- What controls should I include?
-- Regular vs. swappable vs. modular panels
-- CP layouts

1.d. - What is the difference between an original arcade cab and a MAME cab?

1.e. - What is JAMMA?

1.f. - What type of wood to use? MDF, Plywood, MDO

1.g. - What tools do I need?
-- Drill
-- Forstner bits, spade bits, holesaw
-- Jigsaw
-- Circular saw / sawboard
-- Tablesaw
-- Router
-- Dremel
-- L-square

2. Controls
2.a. - Joysticks
-- 2/4/8-way -- switchable, auto-switch
-- Analog
-- 49-way

2.b. - Buttons
-- 3 terminal buttons (NO, NC, COM)
-- 2 terminal buttons
-- Leaf buttons

2.c. - Trackballs

2.d. - Spinners

2.e. - Other specialized controls (yokes, steering wheels, trigger stick, rotary joysticks, light guns, etc.)

2.f. - USB gamepads/controllers

2.g. - Mounting options -- Mounting plate / top-mount / under-mount / carriage bolts / threaded inserts / support blocks

3. Encoders
3.a. - What is an encoder?

3.b. - What ports do they use? (USB, PS/2)

3.c. - What type of encoder(s) do I need? (keyboard, gamepad, optical, combination/hybrid?)

3.d. - How many encoder inputs do I need for my control panel?

4. Basic wiring
4.a. - Quick disconnect sizes

4.b. - Soldering

4.c. - Commonly used AWG sizes

5. LED Lighting
5.a. - Single color buttons

5.b. - RGB buttons

5.c. - LED controllers

6. Displays (Arcade CRT/Computer CRT/LCD/LED)
6.a. - Differences: pros/cons

6.b. - Types of connections (composite, component, arcade, VGA, DVI, HDMI)

6.c. - Input lag (Not response time)

7. Software
7.a. - Emulators (MAME, console emulators, pinball, flash games)

7.a.1. - What is an emulator?
A software program that duplicates the hardware, firmware/software, and gameplay of an older game system.

7.a.2. - What is a ROM?
For the original games - Read Only Memory chip(s) on the game board/cartridge that holds the program code for a game/game system.
For emulators - .ZIP file(s) containing a dump of the game/game system code.

7.a.3. - What are the different "flavors" of MAME?
MAME - The command line program that the other variants are based on.
MAME32, MAMEUI, or MAMEUIFX - Graphic User Interface (GUI) versions of MAME.

7.a.4. - Why won't this ROM work with the newer version of that emulator?
The game may not be fully functional yet. (Encryption issues, driver problems, incomplete ROM dumps, etc.)
There may be a more accurate "dump" of that game's ROM used by the newer emulator -- emulator and ROM versions must be compatible.
You may also need other driver files or a .CHD (Compressed Hunks of Data) hard drive image.

7.a.5. - How can I tell if my ROMs and emulator are compatible?
Use your emulator's "Audit" function to check the ROMs.

7.b. - Front end

7.c. - Other useful software (Joy2key, DrVenture's controller remap?, AHK?, mrotate?)

8. Forum tips for asking questions that get good/faster answers:
- Search first, somebody else has probably encountered this problem before -- don't ask people to retype the same old answers to the same old questions.    :angry:

- Take your time editing the post so it is specific, clear, and easy to read.

- Whenever possible, include decent pics/screencaps/diagrams.

- Include software/OS versions if applicable.

- Include your location when asking about parts/vendors or electrical wiring. (different countries use different wire colors and/or voltages)

Several questions that might be good for the revised FAQ:

-- What is an encoder?

-- What type of encoder(s) do I need?

-- How many encoder inputs do I need for my control panel?

Please post any other questions/topics that you think should be included or excluded.


Le Chuck:
How expansive are you seeing this faq as being?  It could be quite an undertaking to cover all the "n00b" bases with good advice and multiple points of view.  You can start really simply:  What is MDF, what is MDO, what is PLY, and what's the difference.  What is a CP?  To build four player or not?  Do I need a spinner?  What's a spinner?

Maybe we should build one of those large yes/no charts that helps a person determine what kind of cab they should be looking to build.

I think maybe the best thing you could do is just make "PL1's thread repository".  A gigalist of all the threads that answer these questions.  Arrange them into subtopics and then when we get the n00b question we can just drop a link to the section of the repository that is applicable.  Probably easier than building a faq and reading applicable build threads is more fun than a how to anyway.  If you troll (fishing use) your post history you probably have the majority of built already. 

Good questions.

I'm looking at this as a really basic introduction to terms and common issues/considerations they will face in a typical build -- the 30,000 foot perspective as opposed to nose-in-the-weeds.

Some things you know that you know (known-knowns), some you know that you don't know (known-unknowns), and some you know but you don't realize it. (unknown-knowns)

The idea is to make noobs aware of the things that they don't know that they don't know. (unknown-unknowns)

Once they know the commonly used terms and issues that they need to consider, they can do better searches and ask better questions.

I see the FAQ as having simple answers and links to the related wiki topics and great threads.

Once the wiki is up and running, maybe we can take some of the great threads and consolidate the best (and current) info into the related wiki entries.


Chris John Hunter:
I think you should approach the subject thusly:

How do arcade machines work ?

Arcade machines work by registering clicks and joystick movements which are sent to the internal computer hardware, this information is converted by the game into the movements and actions you see as you play. Most original arcade machines use a coin mechanism which allows for a Pay To Play system.

You have the option to use original hardware or to build a machine from scratch which can play one or a handful of games or take advantage of modern technology and emulation (where a program pretends to be the original hardware) to play many if not thousands of games in most cases free to play.

What do I need to build my own arcade machine?

(then a list of the main components of an arcade machine)

There are two methods in use today: Traditional with original arcade machine parts or modern: using emulation to play older games on a pc system. The traditional method is more difficult as it requires you to track down the original parts. Most of which are no longer being made. This can make this option quite a costly process. However a lot of enjoyment can be garnered from restoring an original arcade game, many of which have been documented in this forum.

How does the computer know when I move my joystick?
What is an encoder?

All you have to do, is cover the bases for people who don't know what arcade 'specific' kit is.
You don't need to explain to anyone what MDF is. Nor a Monitor. Nor a Joystick.

What I mean is, only explain what you need to and don't dumb down information, just explain things people don't know though either living or liking games previously. :cheers:


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