First let me start by saying three things I always wanted are:
- A pool table
- An arcade machine (or several)
- A projector system for a Home Theater
I have the Home Theater setup- a 106" diagonal screen with the Panasonic ax200u projector, and I am working on my arcade. (Every 'Theater needs at least one arcade machine right?
) and when I finish that I'll be getting a pool table... so life is grand!
I'm pretty savvy with the internet, and I am a network engineer by profession, so I know my way around computers and electronics. I found that everytime I start a new hobby I always find sites like this after I get started. It's mainly because when you first start you don't know what to look for or sometimes sites are buried in search engines and you may not find them right away.
For my first arcade cab I went with the Ultimate Arcade II. As much as many will cringe, I went with their kit. I assessed my wood working skills and tools and knew I would make some major mistakes, and for my first cab I really am more concerned with actual game setup and functionality right now. Eventually I will build my own, especially after finding this site!
Okay enough of the introductions. I have to upload my pictures, which I will do this weekend. Here are my comments on their kit.
I did a search and read through several pages on the Ultimate Arcade II but mainly saw people building from the plans and not many on the pre-made kit.
The kit is expensive compared to buying the plans, but everything is pre-cut and all the parts are there (with the exception of T-molding, more on that later though).
My son was up on vacation for two weeks and he was very interested in doing this project with me. In that respect, the UAII kit is a breeze. Assembly is straight forward and very easy. We did it in two evenings, but if you start Saturday morning, you'll be finished by suppertime with no problem at all.
Fit and finish is good, all panels go together easily and overall it is sturdy, but not 'rock solid'. That is probably the biggest thing to consider. Since it will primarily be my wife and I that use it, we won't be shaking it to death, but if you are an aggressive player, or if you know a bunch of kids will be using it, I would add extra supports.
The problem is it uses LPL press board. I have lots of MDF laying around that I have used for other projects and this definitely isn't MDF from what I see on the edges. That doesn't mean this is bad, but there are some potential problems that I'll mention.
The biggest problem I see and already mentioned is it needs some extra bracing and support. EVERYTHING is secured together with Sauder style fasteners. That a lot of weight depending on just a few cam fasteners. The bottom isn't a problem unless you want to mount wheels, and if you ever want to move this after it's finished and has a 27" monitor, cp, speakers, PC and full electronics you'll wish you put wheels on!
Here's where one of the biggest structural problems comes into play. The entire cab is supported by the lower assembly side panels. The bottom panel is actually slightly recessed and isn't flush with the side panels. This is actually nice if you want to put low profile appliance casters on the cab like I did. You won't even see the wheels! The problem is that now all
the weight is supported by eight cams and eight cam pins. It is easy enough to add a bracing frame inside to prevent the cam pins from ripping out of the press board under the stress and weight. The other way they could have constructed this was to have the bottom panel go the entire width of the cabinet and then the sides would sit on the bottom and you could attach wheels to it without any worries.
The monitor shelf area could use a little extra bracing in my opinion too, but it's not as much of a problem as the bottom panel and adding wheels.
Now for the back. I personally think this is a cool looking cab for something so easy to make, but for all the fit and finish the rest of the UAII has, the back is lacking a professional look. I will concede that there are some tough angles that they had to contend with, but the back panels have gaps that are clearly visible and then when you throw in that the edges of the press board show in these areas... it looks pretty bad. I saw one person comment that the back panels connect from the inside, and for all but the main back panel that's true. They really aren't hard to get to and screw in though. I would have liked to have had a door on the back rather than a panel I have to screw and unscrew anytime I want access. It's not only just the added PITA aspect, but over time I can see the pressboard rounding out in the screw areas and then the screws will be loose or not hold at all.
The Keyboard drawer is simplistic and functional, but if you plan on doing any lengthy configurations that require the keyboard, it can be awkward to use for lengthy periods. My knee was blown out at the time and I had to sit in a chair and accessing the keyboard was absolutely miserable. This is where a hinged front on the drawer would have really been nice. All in all though, it's only a minor issue since we won't be using a keyboard all that often.
I am not knocking Mameroom at all. Overall I am very happy with the UAII kit, but it isn't perfect. (Is anything?) It could however be improved... but one thing that was lacking for a kit that costs $500 is T-molding! At a minimum they should have supplied at least the standard black and then sold the other colors as an option (although I see no reason why a person couldn't specify a different color if they wanted it). Their pricing on T-molding is extremely reasonable and competitive. In fact it was the least expensive of anyplace I checked. They have all the basic colors, but if you want something fancy you'll have to look elsewhere.
All the T-Molding slots were clean and centered perfectly. There was only on spot that had some minor debris that I had to use a screw driver to remove. It took me all of twenty minutes (probably less actually) to put the T-Molding on, and this was after the cabinet was fully assembled.
The reason why I put it on after assembly... For whatever reason, I assumed black T-molding was included and it was not. Since this was a father/son project and we had limited time to do this, we went ahead and put the cabinet together and I ordered the T-molding. It wasn't the worse shipping I ever dealt with, but it wasn't the fastest either. I ordered early in the week hoping to get it by the weekend, but even though the order was processed, it wasn't shipped for a couple of days, which threw the delivery off until the following week.
Other than that, this is a very nice cabinet that is super easy to construct and reasonably solid. Anyone with basic tools can assemble this with ease. From start to game play... two evenings! Now I already had my MAME PC setup, and to ensure we would be able to play before my son had to go home to PA, I also ordered a TankStick. Once the cabinet was together, we just put everything inside and fired it up!
As I said, I will be adding pictures this weekend. I still have to do the extra frame bracing that I mentioned but it's up and my wife and I play it all the time while I am designing the final CP and I add the artwork.
Oh, one last thing to mention, Marquee retainers and plexi...
Save yourself some money on the retainers. I used some clear plastic corner trim that was something like $2 at Home Depot. I sprayed it black and screwed it down and it works perfectly. As far as the marquee plexi, Mameroom charges $10 for it pre-cut to the right size. If you're worried about cutting plexi without cracking it, the $10 isn't bad. Otherwise I just used some thin plexi I had and cut it myself.