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Author Topic: The MAME Monster  (Read 1618 times)

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byancey

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The MAME Monster
« on: February 07, 2019, 09:39:16 pm »
Just wrapped up my cabinet build, and figured I should post a project thread while it's all still fresh.

Background
Back in 2015 I designed and built a 2-player Bartop cabinet with my Son.  The project thread for that cabinet can be found here.  At the time I had it in the back of my mind that eventually I would like to build a full-sized arcade cabinet with additional controls, including trackball and spinner.  I can be a bit spontaneous when it comes to these things, and at some point, in mid-October, I suddenly realized that I was ready to move on this, and began planning so that I could start (and hopefully complete) the build during my planned holiday break in late December.   I immediately began sourcing some of the more obvious parts that I knew I would need (processor, monitors, etc.) and started working on the actual design to narrow down controls, etc. so that I could get those all sourced before the holidays…nothing worse than having time, and not having the parts you need on hand.  It was a bit frenzied given my limited free time, but I managed to have all the parts that I knew I couldn’t pick-up at my local Home Depot sourced and ready to go a day or two before my break.

Goals, Inspiration, and Cabinet Design
Going into this project, I knew that I wanted a full-size 2-player cabinet with at least 2 joysticks with 6 to 8 buttons each, a spinner, and a trackball.  Beyond that I was open to inspiration, so I began digging through various build threads in this forum for ideas.  My wife had a few requirements as well, the main one being that the cabinet had to fit into roughly the same floor footprint of the small bar table and Bartop arcade machine that that it would displace in our game room.  This meant that I had to go with a fairly slim design.

I looked at a lot of projects, and it would be difficult for me to give credit for every system from which I took some aspect of my design.  In addition, I know each of the systems that I mention below likely took some of their inspiration from other builds as well.  With that in mind, here is the list of projects that I feel were most inspirational in my final design.

The starting point for my design was probably the Lakeside Arcade.  This build caught my eye due to its relatively slim profile and zen-like control panel layout.  Although I ended up adding some additional controls beyond what was used in the Lakeside Arcade, I tried to keep the overall layout well-spaced and simple, with the bare minimum number of buttons on top.

Our family is tall.  I’m 6’4, and my sons are all over 6’, the tallest clocking in at 6’7.  Based on that I knew I wanted to raise the control panel surface a few inches above what is typical, and also allow for bar stool use.  That meant knees also had to be taken into consideration, and several of the console style cabinets caught my eye in this regard.  Working with the Lakeside Arcade as my baseline,  I used the RetoBox arcade machine as a template to modify the design into a console-style base.  I was also a big fan of the diamond plate at the bottom, as well as the dynamic marquee, so both were incorporated into my design as well.

Finally, I customized the width of the cabinet to be as narrow as possible while still fitting both my main display and my marquee display.  Here’s are a few images of my final design exported from Sketchup.




Control Panel Design
There’s a post here with some additional details on my final control panel layout here.

As indicated earlier, I tried to strike a balance between having the necessary controls to play a wide array of games, while also keeping the layout from becoming cluttered.  The P1/P2 start buttons and select, back/exit buttons are on top, but the credit buttons are tucked below the control panel along with some USB ports.  For the joysticks, I wanted to retain the “click-y” feel of an original arcade stick, so I went with Servo Sticks for my main P1/P2 controls, but also added a single analog U360 for its versatility with games like Q-Bert (diagonal 4-way) and Sinistar (49-way), and paired it with a U360FS flight stick for use in flight games, tank games, and, of course, to be paired with my spinner for Tron and Discs of Tron.  For the P1/P2 buttons, I went with 7 buttons in a slightly modified Neo Geo layout.

With all these controls, I also felt that it was import to have some way to indicate which controls and buttons are relevant for any given game, so I planned for RGB LED lighting on each of the controls.   Flynn’s arcade was my primary inspiration here, as I have always been a big fan of the ring-style lighting of the controls.  The RGB lighting for the buttons and trackball were fairly straight forward, but given that Nephrings are no longer available, I had to get creative when it came to lighting the joysticks, as well as the spinner and eventually the light gun mounts.  I'll try and add more detail later in the build thread, but lighting each of those latter controls involved the use of ¼” acrylic rods and a heat gun.  I did manage to get each of the controls and buttons to be independently light-able.  Here are a few close-up shots of my control panel design:



I'll follow-up shortly with photos and details of the actual build.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2019, 05:07:07 pm by byancey »

byancey

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 09:46:46 pm »
Sourcing of parts

I sourced the following parts direct from Andy Warne over at Ultimark:
  • 2x ServoSticks + servo control board
  • 1x U360 Ultrastick
  • 1x U360FS flight stick
  • SpinTrak Spinner
  • U-Track Trackball + RGB Lighting module
  • IPAC Ultimate I/O control board
A shout out to Andy Warne, as I’ve had a couple of questions regarding his products along the way, and his support has been outstanding!

I sourced my AimTrak lightguns from Arcade Emulator over on e-bay.  He’s a re-seller of a lot of different arcade parts, including most of the Ultimark parts.  I know Andy works closely with him, and he’s a good source of Ulitmark parts if Andy is out of stock.  I’d say he had the advantage of being Stateside vs. Andy in the UK if it weren’t for the fact that Andy’s stuff ships from the UK faster than a lot of stuff I source stateside.

I sourced my buttons and RGB lighting modules from Paradise Arcade.  Again, great support here as I had questions before placing my order, and they actually picked up the phone, and recommended a more suitable product for my needs, that saved me time in the long run.
  • 20x IL Trasnparent Buttons
  • 31x IL Lumination RGB  Modules (used these for joysticks, spinner and lightgun holster as well as the buttons).
My T-Moulding and sound system was sourced from T-Moulding.com, and all other parts were sourced from misc. Amazon sellers or from my local Home Depot.

Cabinet Build
Given that I only had a few weeks to complete the cabinet build, I decided to have all the rough cuts of the cabinet parts cut from 3/4" MDF by a local shop with a Laser CNC.  By the time I had the design complete in mid-December I didn't have a lot of lead time, but the shop I worked with was able to get the job done on fairly short notice.  One drawback of Laser CNC is that it is unable to do beveled edge cuts or any routing, so I had to go back over a number of the parts with my table saw to add all the bevel cuts, and used my hand router to knock out all of the routed cuts, including for the T-Molding.  Having the parts laser cut saved me a huge amount of time, but I was still surprised by how much time it took to do all the finishing cuts and routing.  I started the build on 12/19 and managed to complete most of the cabinet build (sans electronics) a couple days after Christmas.  I didn't take a lot of photos, but I tried to snap a photo of progress about once per day.


Just picked up all the cut cabinet parts from my local CNC shop.  The cuts actually burn the edges of the MDF, which gives off a really strong smell, so they were all moved to the garage within an hour of when I snapped this photo.


Day 1.  Not a lot of progress, but sometime getting that first screw in is a big accomplishment.


Day 2.  Starting to come together.


Day 4. Now it's starting to look like an arcade machine.


Day 6. Dec. 24th.  Finished most of the "dirty work" before Christmas and got it moved inside.  The weather cooled down after that, so I ended up laying down a drop cloth in the entry way and painting it inside.


Day 8.  Painted with diamond plate kick and glass installed. Ready for electronics and wiring.


Day 10. Jan. 1, Happy New Year.  Most of the electronics are installed, and some games are playable (sans front end support)


A little peak at the wiring, including all of the RGB lighting.  Not as neat as many I have seen, but I did appreciate the extra long wiring harnesses that came with the paradise arcade RGB lighting modules.





« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 11:35:42 pm by byancey »

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 09:48:01 pm »
Here are a few shots of the final build taken last week after I got my light guns installed.  Note that the control panel art seen here was printed on Super B paper with my photo printer, pieced together, and is held down by a 1/16" sheet of plexi-glass that was laser cut the same time as my control panel.  Works fairly well as an temporary solution, but in daylight, on close inspection  the seams are visible.  I eventually plan to have this redone when I have some side art done.








Here's a couple of links to some YouTube videos of The Mame Monster in action.   





Marquee Server

I also wanted to mention a little snaffu I ran into toward the end of the build with respect the the Ultimarc AimTrak guns, and the approach I took to address the issue.  Apparently the AimTrak guns aren't compatible with a dual monitor configuration on Windows 10.   Dual Monitor on Windows 7 is OK, and single Monitor on Windows 10 is fine.  However, due to the way windows reports mouse coordinates in Windows 10, it is currently not possible to correctly calibrate the guns for a single monitor in a dual monitor setup.  Instead, the calibration process will place some of the calibration points on the marquee monitor, which is physically above the sensor bar.  This pretty much makes it impossible to use the guns.  I played around with using an AHK script to disable my marquee display when playing light gun games, and re-enable it otherwise, but this did not play nicely with LaunchBox, and I'd lose my marquee functionality after launching any light gun game until I exited and restarted LaunchBox.  I worked a bit with Andy over at Ultimarc, and he confirmed the issue and indicated that at present, there is no known solution for this problem on Windows 10.  This left me with the prospect of either giving up my dynamic marquee display, or giving up the light guns, neither of which was a very appealing option.

My solution to this problem was to drive the marquee display without actually attaching it as a monitor to my main PC.  I basically setup a Raspberry Pi as a marquee server, mirrored all my marquee images to the Raspberry Pi, and configured it to listen on a UDP port for a string indicating which image to load.  I then implemented a simple plugin for Launchbox which acts as a client and sends a string out over the UDP port each time the game selection changes.  The marquee monitor is attached to the Raspberry Pi via HDMI and the Raspberry Pi is attached to the Windows box via USB in Ethernet Gadget mode. The Windows box only has a single monitor attached, so the light guns can be calibrated normally.

I wasn't sure how well this would work when I started working on it, but it actually worked better than I expected.  With a Raspberry Pi 3 A+, the marquee loads pretty much instantaneously when a new game is selected via the Launchbox front-end.  I also tested this with the cheaper Raspberry Pi 3 Zero W (a $10 board) and while there is about a half-second delay, the marquee image is still loaded and ready to go before the Launchbox transition animation completes.  Those are pretty impressive little boards.  I know a lot of folks actually use them to drive their emulators, but in my case they ended up being the perfect solution to drive my marquee display.

Not sure if there are that many folks who actually use a marquee display with light guns on Windows 10, but I'd be happy to share more information on this if anyone is interested.






« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 11:59:24 pm by byancey »

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2019, 11:28:00 am »
 :o :o 

Nice build.   :applaud:  Love the design, and the marquee.  Any video of it in action?!

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 01:35:39 pm »
Really nice build. Love the dynamic marquee.

What did you use to holster the light guns? I'm looking for clean options currently.

Hopefully I don't run into issues with light guns and the dual screen setup on mine. I'll be running Linux underneath.

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2019, 02:10:18 pm »
Is that a 32 inch tv or computer monitor in your build?  The whole thing looks awesome.  What are you thinking for artwork once you do the sides?

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 02:58:43 pm »
great build from start to finish mate! Top job!!  :applaud:

I tried to use aimtraks on my pimcabs backglass monitor, where you normally have playfield + backglass in win10 give me the sam issue, though I want to use
the backglass monitor to play on, and it would be prefectly fine to disable the plafield screen during light gun games.
Thried to find any program or ahk which could kill the port, but as of now I have to pull the HDMI cable from the playfield monitor or the calibration is bananas.
Would be awesome if you found any ahk script or the like to kill a monitor from the setup and put it back on thrack upon exit back if possible.

Any help appreciated!  :notworthy:
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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 07:39:19 pm »
:o :o 

Nice build.   :applaud:  Love the design, and the marquee.  Any video of it in action?!

I included a couple of YouTube links in my reply #2 above.  Here they are again:




Note that these videos were taken before I added my light guns, so they don't demonstrate how I used RGB lighting with the guns.
 

byancey

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 07:50:38 pm »
Really nice build. Love the dynamic marquee.

What did you use to holster the light guns? I'm looking for clean options currently.

Hopefully I don't run into issues with light guns and the dual screen setup on mine. I'll be running Linux underneath.

My light gun mounts are basically two pegs spaced such that the guns are balanced when placed on top.  The back peg is just a 1/4" dowel that has been inserted into the side of the cabinet and covered in heat-shrink tubing.  The front "peg" is a segment of an acrylic rod, which has been bent to a 90 degree angle and inserted all the way through the side-wall of the cabinet, with an RGB LED connected to the back end.  The acrylic rod is also covered in heat-shrink tubing except for the exposed tip, which is angled towards the player so that the tip is visible and lights up when the RGB LED on the other end is turned on.  The bend in the rod also adds some extra support around the gun handle so that it doesn't slip off the rods. I've attached a photo.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 08:58:26 pm by byancey »

byancey

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2019, 08:07:14 pm »
great build from start to finish mate! Top job!!  :applaud:

I tried to use aimtraks on my pimcabs backglass monitor, where you normally have playfield + backglass in win10 give me the sam issue, though I want to use
the backglass monitor to play on, and it would be prefectly fine to disable the plafield screen during light gun games.
Thried to find any program or ahk which could kill the port, but as of now I have to pull the HDMI cable from the playfield monitor or the calibration is bananas.
Would be awesome if you found any ahk script or the like to kill a monitor from the setup and put it back on thrack upon exit back if possible.

Any help appreciated!  :notworthy:

Disabling the monitor was accomplished through the used of a utility that allows you to save and switch between windows monitor configurations on the fly, combined with an ahk script.  Basically, I saved one profile where windows was configured to "extend" the display onto the marquee monitor, and a second profile where windows was configured to only output to monitor 1.   The ahk script simply invoked the utility to switch between those profiles depending on whether I wanted the marquee on or off.   This actually worked just fine for enabling/disabling the monitor on the fly...only problem was that LaunchBox refused to use the marquee montior once I had disabled and re-enabled it.  Perhaps that won't be an issue in your setup.

I actually used this same monitor profile utility on my Virtual Pinball Machine, as I needed a slightly different logical monitor layout for my backglass, DMD and playfield  depending on whether I was running visual pinball,  future pinball, or pinball fx2.  It's an opensource utility.  Here's the link:  https://sourceforge.net/projects/monitorswitcher/

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 08:16:47 pm »
Is that a 32 inch tv or computer monitor in your build?  The whole thing looks awesome.  What are you thinking for artwork once you do the sides?

It's an LG 1440p Freesync LCD monitor.  I went with Freesync and an AMD GPU so that I could eliminate tearing and other artifacts for those MAME ROMs that want to run at odd frame rates that aren't quite 60Hz.

Haven't quite decided what to do with the side art and control panel.  I also have a visual pinball table across the room that needs some side art as well, so maybe something with a common theme between them.

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2019, 05:24:14 am »
wow! Thanks for that link mate! Whas exactly what I was looking for but didn't found previously!  :applaud: :applaud:
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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2019, 07:49:14 am »
Looks good sir! Care to shore how you did the RGB LEDs at the base of the joysticks? I’d love me to do something similar and any suggestions are greatly appreciated


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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2019, 07:48:55 pm »
Looks good sir! Care to shore how you did the RGB LEDs at the base of the joysticks? I’d love me to do something similar and any suggestions are greatly appreciated

Wish i had taken some pictures along the way, but I was able to diagram the basic idea using my sketch-up model.  The attached image shows what it looks like from the bottom side of the control panel.  The basic idea is to use a 1/4" acrylic rod as a fiber-optic channel.  I used a heat gun to bend the rod to 90 degrees and a hack saw to cut to length...then sanded and polished the ends.  In reality, the rod does not stick up as much as it does in my diagram.  The RGB LED module is actually flush with the bottom side of the control panel (held in place using hot glue).  There is also an acrylic ring inside the joystick hole to help disperse the light and the hole was lined with 1/4" aluminum foil before I inserted the acrylic ring.  Finally I cut dust dust washers from a 1/16" clear Plexiglas sheet (not pictured).

Here are links to the actual parts I used:

Acrylic Rings
Acrylic Rods
RGB LED Module.  These are intended for use on buttons, but they worked great for this.



« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 08:50:22 pm by byancey »

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2019, 07:53:44 am »
Great description and picture! Appreciate the info


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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2019, 01:32:18 pm »
Is that kerfing on your CP?

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2019, 05:44:38 pm »

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2019, 07:04:40 pm »
What monitor/ screen did you use for your dynamic marquee?  I really want to add one when I upgrade my cab.

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2019, 07:07:47 pm »
What monitor/ screen did you use for your dynamic marquee?  I really want to add one when I upgrade my cab.

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Nevermind.  I see it's in your YouTube vid.

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2019, 07:12:17 pm »
Really nice looking setup.. Hope you get to enjoy it..

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2019, 11:30:34 am »

Marquee Server

I also wanted to mention a little snaffu I ran into toward the end of the build with respect the the Ultimarc AimTrak guns, and the approach I took to address the issue.  Apparently the AimTrak guns aren't compatible with a dual monitor configuration on Windows 10.   Dual Monitor on Windows 7 is OK, and single Monitor on Windows 10 is fine.  However, due to the way windows reports mouse coordinates in Windows 10, it is currently not possible to correctly calibrate the guns for a single monitor in a dual monitor setup.  Instead, the calibration process will place some of the calibration points on the marquee monitor, which is physically above the sensor bar.  This pretty much makes it impossible to use the guns.  I played around with using an AHK script to disable my marquee display when playing light gun games, and re-enable it otherwise, but this did not play nicely with LaunchBox, and I'd lose my marquee functionality after launching any light gun game until I exited and restarted LaunchBox.  I worked a bit with Andy over at Ultimarc, and he confirmed the issue and indicated that at present, there is no known solution for this problem on Windows 10.  This left me with the prospect of either giving up my dynamic marquee display, or giving up the light guns, neither of which was a very appealing option.

My solution to this problem was to drive the marquee display without actually attaching it as a monitor to my main PC.  I basically setup a Raspberry Pi as a marquee server, mirrored all my marquee images to the Raspberry Pi, and configured it to listen on a UDP port for a string indicating which image to load.  I then implemented a simple plugin for Launchbox which acts as a client and sends a string out over the UDP port each time the game selection changes.  The marquee monitor is attached to the Raspberry Pi via HDMI and the Raspberry Pi is attached to the Windows box via USB in Ethernet Gadget mode. The Windows box only has a single monitor attached, so the light guns can be calibrated normally.

I wasn't sure how well this would work when I started working on it, but it actually worked better than I expected.  With a Raspberry Pi 3 A+, the marquee loads pretty much instantaneously when a new game is selected via the Launchbox front-end.  I also tested this with the cheaper Raspberry Pi 3 Zero W (a $10 board) and while there is about a half-second delay, the marquee image is still loaded and ready to go before the Launchbox transition animation completes.  Those are pretty impressive little boards.  I know a lot of folks actually use them to drive their emulators, but in my case they ended up being the perfect solution to drive my marquee display.

Not sure if there are that many folks who actually use a marquee display with light guns on Windows 10, but I'd be happy to share more information on this if anyone is interested.

This would be AMAZING if you could share the code/instructions for how you did this specifically. I'm going to have almost the same problem (even a bit more complicated) in my new build and I was so thrilled to see you found a solution. I have a couple RaspPi sitting around so this would be perfect. Please do share if that's ok.

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Re: The MAME Monster
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2019, 10:39:07 pm »

Marquee Server

I also wanted to mention a little snaffu I ran into toward the end of the build with respect the the Ultimarc AimTrak guns, and the approach I took to address the issue.  Apparently the AimTrak guns aren't compatible with a dual monitor configuration on Windows 10.   Dual Monitor on Windows 7 is OK, and single Monitor on Windows 10 is fine.  However, due to the way windows reports mouse coordinates in Windows 10, it is currently not possible to correctly calibrate the guns for a single monitor in a dual monitor setup.  Instead, the calibration process will place some of the calibration points on the marquee monitor, which is physically above the sensor bar.  This pretty much makes it impossible to use the guns.  I played around with using an AHK script to disable my marquee display when playing light gun games, and re-enable it otherwise, but this did not play nicely with LaunchBox, and I'd lose my marquee functionality after launching any light gun game until I exited and restarted LaunchBox.  I worked a bit with Andy over at Ultimarc, and he confirmed the issue and indicated that at present, there is no known solution for this problem on Windows 10.  This left me with the prospect of either giving up my dynamic marquee display, or giving up the light guns, neither of which was a very appealing option.

My solution to this problem was to drive the marquee display without actually attaching it as a monitor to my main PC.  I basically setup a Raspberry Pi as a marquee server, mirrored all my marquee images to the Raspberry Pi, and configured it to listen on a UDP port for a string indicating which image to load.  I then implemented a simple plugin for Launchbox which acts as a client and sends a string out over the UDP port each time the game selection changes.  The marquee monitor is attached to the Raspberry Pi via HDMI and the Raspberry Pi is attached to the Windows box via USB in Ethernet Gadget mode. The Windows box only has a single monitor attached, so the light guns can be calibrated normally.

I wasn't sure how well this would work when I started working on it, but it actually worked better than I expected.  With a Raspberry Pi 3 A+, the marquee loads pretty much instantaneously when a new game is selected via the Launchbox front-end.  I also tested this with the cheaper Raspberry Pi 3 Zero W (a $10 board) and while there is about a half-second delay, the marquee image is still loaded and ready to go before the Launchbox transition animation completes.  Those are pretty impressive little boards.  I know a lot of folks actually use them to drive their emulators, but in my case they ended up being the perfect solution to drive my marquee display.

Not sure if there are that many folks who actually use a marquee display with light guns on Windows 10, but I'd be happy to share more information on this if anyone is interested.

This would be AMAZING if you could share the code/instructions for how you did this specifically. I'm going to have almost the same problem (even a bit more complicated) in my new build and I was so thrilled to see you found a solution. I have a couple RaspPi sitting around so this would be perfect. Please do share if that's ok.

Sorry, guess it's been a while since I checked the post for new comments.  PM me when you get a bit closer, and I can share more details on the client and server.