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Author Topic: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?  (Read 786 times)

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WoadWarrior

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How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« on: March 06, 2020, 10:36:16 am »
So a local arcade-bar in my town recently got a dual stick controllers for games like Robotron 2084 and Smash T.V.. It wasn't an original cabinet, but a MAME cabinet. I got to play with dual joystick controls for the first time in my life and I kinda enjoyed it. It was different and cool.

The bar also has another MAME machine, but this one was a very conventional, very cookie-cutter 90s type cabinet. The one with two joystick + 6 button combo (which is sufficient for almost all games). That's when I remembered looking at a picture of a cabinet that was mocked online for being 'nothing' like authentic arcade cabinets of the 80s to early 2000s because it didn't just feature the joystick + 6 button combo, but had something close to a flightstick, a trackball, and maybe a rotary dial, too.

Then it got me thinking about those ultimate MAME cabinets, one with four joysticks and button combos, a trackball, a sorta flight stick (or full on flight stick) and pretty much everything else to make able to emulate the game play of just about every single arcade game ever made.

I'm not much of a builder, not yet anyway. Maybe I might end up making a project like that, but I got some questions. Let's suppose I want to build a fairly large MAME cabinet that has the following: 4 joystick + 6 button combo, two of those joysticks have built in rotary nobs (for games like Ikari Warriors 1), a trackball, two flight sticks (with top and front buttons to emulate Afterburner and G-LOC and TRON games, as well as boxing games like Heavyweight Champ and Title Fight) with a rotary dial AND a pair of light guns to the side to allow light gun games to be played.

The only thing that would be missing I guess is a fixed light gun like Operation Wolf or Crossbow, but I'm not too concerned with that.

I know it's a crazy idea, but why not? how much would a cabinet like that cost? Also if I realize that I probably can't build it, are there people taking commissions for such a thing? How much would it cost to have someone else build it?

shaolindrunkard

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2020, 11:29:09 am »
That kind of thing is generally frowned upon in these forums. Most of us, go for a more subdued approach. These monster cabs, while technically there is nothing inherently wrong with them... Are generally regarded as ugly monstrosities and most people that build them do so more for bragging rights than enjoyment of the games themselves...

That being said, I'd estimate between $1000 to $2000 depending on the components you select...


Mike A

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2020, 11:31:35 am »
Aren't you the guy who wanted to build the cardboard cab?

shaolindrunkard

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2020, 11:50:35 am »
Aren't you the guy who wanted to build the cardboard cab?

If you are addressing me then no. Certainly not.

Mike A

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2020, 12:51:27 pm »
No. The OP.

Howard_Casto

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2020, 01:23:21 pm »
I take offense to the entire question.  There's no such thing as the ultimate mame cabinet.  No amount of money or work will make it so.  The correct question to ask is, which games, including possibly a mame cabinet or two, would make the ultimate arcade?  There are too many fun games with unique control schemes to cram into one cabinet.  You'd likely need multiple cabinets for the various styles of games out there. 

shaolindrunkard

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2020, 02:19:04 pm »
I take offense to the entire question.  There's no such thing as the ultimate mame cabinet.  No amount of money or work will make it so.  The correct question to ask is, which games, including possibly a mame cabinet or two, would make the ultimate arcade?  There are too many fun games with unique control schemes to cram into one cabinet.  You'd likely need multiple cabinets for the various styles of games out there.

Exactly.

keilmillerjr

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2020, 03:31:10 pm »
This thread will inherently turn into a crapmame thread.

Narrow down what you want to play for games. Find an empty real arcade cabinet. Keep crt if you can. Add a pc. Have fun. One machine to rule them all will result in mediocre gameplay. Dont fall into the 42,000 game trap.

pbj

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2020, 03:33:00 pm »
I'll do it for $10,000.

LMK.
This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

leapinlew

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2020, 07:49:43 pm »
pretty much everything else to make able to emulate the game play of just about every single arcade game ever made.

It's not possible.... why? Cause not every game can be emulated. Some require real hardware, for a variety of reasons.

The scope of your question is very broad, too broad. It's like asking for the ultimate car that can do the 1/4 mile in 7 seconds, room for 9 passengers, allow me to haul as much as a full sized truck, gets 50mpg, can use gas or electricity, etc. See what I mean?

leapinlew

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2020, 08:17:05 pm »
I would like to answer your question somewhat....

The controls you listed, I would expect to pay somewhere around $500-$750 for just the controls (not counting things like steering wheels, fixed guns, yoke, multiple trackballs and spinners). I suggest you start small, build a control panel box, mount some controls and use a Pie or PC to emulate some games to play on a TV. See how you like scrolling through a couple thousand games, or see what games you can't play but really want to. 

There are several examples of all-in-one arcades on this forum, check them out. Over the years, we have seen cabinet design be more limited to a genre of games, opposed to trying to do everything with a single cabinet.

yotsuya

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2020, 09:42:33 pm »
pretty much everything else to make able to emulate the game play of just about every single arcade game ever made.

It's not possible.... why? Cause not every game can be emulated. Some require real hardware, for a variety of reasons.

The scope of your question is very broad, too broad. It's like asking for the ultimate car that can do the 1/4 mile in 7 seconds, room for 9 passengers, allow me to haul as much as a full sized truck, gets 50mpg, can use gas or electricity, etc. See what I mean?

Thatís a really good analogy, Lew!

Iím with you on cost, as well.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

WoadWarrior

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2020, 09:46:38 pm »
Thanks for the answer. I did not mean to annoy anyone here. It's just that I found those cabinets to be rather interesting to look at rather than ugly or impractical. Also after reading Leapinlew's response I figured that trying to have one machine that can do so much is probably not going to work.

The only reason why I thought this is, if I ever actually get to own a condo with some actual living space or even a house, I don't know if I want multiple arcade machines there, but who knows, maybe things might change.

Aren't you the guy who wanted to build the cardboard cab?


Yup, that's me. I never got around to building the cab due to certain things happening around that time. I might still get around to if I have time in the future. I want to make it clear, I'm only interested in making the frame for the cabinet, but not actually try to wire it up or put a screen on it. I just want to try to build something big. My issue is that I have far too many hobbies and not enough time.

pbj

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2020, 10:32:00 pm »
Anytime someone makes a car analogy take that as a signal you should never listen to them. Pull out your credit card and make your dreams happen, bro. These guys will have you wound up restoring ---steaming pile of meadow muffin--- nobody actually like or remembered.
This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

bobbyb13

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2020, 03:56:47 am »
The ultimate cab is one that you play often- and regularly use ALL the controls you crammed into it.

What I am building right now is the ulitimate cab for ME presently- to cover the few dozen games I play often- and I would want $5000 for it based on the materials and countless (but enjoyable!) hours spent designing and building it.

If you don't have a lot of time then take pbj's advice and pony up.
The very generous community here is a treasure trove of wisdom and advice pretty freely given in itself, but that still requires a ton of genuine time spent.

If you are looking to do a scratch build, unless you are already an industrial designer, ergonomics savvy engineer, cabinet maker, computer geek, electronics wizard, painter, graphic artist and printer then buy the Project Arcade book before you do anything else.
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Mike A

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2020, 07:12:35 am »
It seems like you are a guy who talks about stuff, but doesn't ever get around to doing it. Talk less and build more or just forget about it. Everybody falls into this trap to some degree.

Building a cardboard mock up should take a couple of hours. You talked about doing it a couple of years ago. Now you mention that you still might get to it. Do it or forget about it.

Narrow down your focus. I have a bunch of other things that interest me. I stuck with woodworking and arcade stuff. They compliment each other.

My best advice is to start with a smaller project and actually do it. Build a CP box. Maybe 2 joys and 6 buttons each.

Then build an identical one with a trackball or a spinner.

If you like doing it then build a cab that makes use of the CP boxes you built. If you don't like doing it then at least you have a CP box or two you can use.

We can help you build something that makes you happy. You just have to be willing to get started.

Let's dig in.






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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2020, 04:23:07 pm »
Good post Mike, this should be the standard answer to any 'newb blue sky dreaming/ultimate cab question'.  In fact I hope to see this quoted where applicable in all future instances :cheers:

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2020, 04:52:42 pm »

My best advice is to start with a smaller project and actually do it. Build a CP box. Maybe 2 joys and 6 buttons each.

Then build an identical one with a trackball or a spinner.

If you like doing it then build a cab that makes use of the CP boxes you built. If you don't like doing it then at least you have a CP box or two you can use.


Dont know about price but the "Ultimate Mame Cab" like you are looking to do would be along the lines were you would build SEVERAL control panels and then pop off and on the one you need for the game you are playing.  I know that I have seen a similar project somewhere (now sure here or not).  But it would take on heck of an engineer to design the modular interface or universal connections so that each board can connect to the same unit.  Good luck!
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Ond

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2020, 05:09:20 pm »

My best advice is to start with a smaller project and actually do it. Build a CP box. Maybe 2 joys and 6 buttons each.

Then build an identical one with a trackball or a spinner.

If you like doing it then build a cab that makes use of the CP boxes you built. If you don't like doing it then at least you have a CP box or two you can use.


Dont know about price but the "Ultimate Mame Cab" like you are looking to do would be along the lines were you would build SEVERAL control panels and then pop off and on the one you need for the game you are playing.  I know that I have seen a similar project somewhere (now sure here or not).  But it would take on heck of an engineer to design the modular interface or universal connections so that each board can connect to the same unit.  Good luck!

While the appeal of a slick design with plug 'n' play panels appeals to the techno geek in me, the realist in me knows that ultimately these type of cabinet designs are not worth the effort.  There's been a few attempts over the years on BYOAC to build swap in-swap out systems.  Builders seem to get bogged down in the process of achieving it.

I get it, trust me, I've been there, dreaming about exciting designs is great fun.  When you've been in the hobby for a while you learn to appreciate simplicity and deliberate, purposeful design.

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2020, 03:17:27 am »
I'll second the vote for Mike A's advice (and also a similar plan suggested by leapinlew earlier too-)

Walk before you run-
or be paralyzed with planning out perfection on a really involved build, like it sounds you have been.

I am in the midst of building the very multiple/swappable control panel cabinet to which some of you refer- and it is possible- but it is NOT the build to begin with.

Although it takes up only one cabinet worth of space, it is exponentially more expensive, complicated and time consuming to make work.
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Wzrd0803

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2020, 08:03:07 pm »
I'm probably gonna get slammed by the users here but I would say get a pre made MDF cabinet that you can paint and put together yourself. That was what I did since I'm not good at construction. Not sure if links or names of websites are allowed but I got mine from Ebay. I got the joysticks and buttons from X-Arcade.  Got the speakers and control from T-Moulding.  Painted and put it together myself since the kit comes with all the screws and wood to assemble it then put my own monitor and computer with MAME.

Mine has 2 joysticks and 6 buttons as well as 1 player and 2 player start buttons and 2 buttons to "insert coins".  I'm thinking of adding either a trackball or spinner below the joysticks but haven't done it yet.

I would say start with the 2 joysticks and 6 buttons and then add either a spinner or trackball depending on what other games you want to play which use those controls.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2020, 08:23:41 pm by Wzrd0803 »

leapinlew

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Re: How much would it cost to built an 'ultimate' MAME cabinet?
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2020, 08:21:09 pm »
I'm probably gonna get slammed by the users here but I would say get a pre made MDF cabinet that you can paint and put together yourself. That was what I did since I'm not good at construction. Not sure if links or names of websites are allowed but I got mine from the BAY. I got the joysticks and buttons from X-Ar_____.  Painted and put it together myself since the kit comes with all the screws and wood to assemble it then put my own monitor and computer with MAME.

Mine has 2 joysticks and 6 buttons as well as 1 player and 2 player start buttons and 2 buttons to "insert coins".  I'm thinking of adding either a trackball or spinner below the joysticks but haven't done it yet.

I would say start with the 2 joysticks and 6 buttons and then add either a spinner or trackball depending on what other games you want to play which use those controls.

Kits are definitely an option. Also check out buying a previous arcade cabinet and customizing it to your needs.