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Author Topic: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet  (Read 3501 times)

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rworne

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Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« on: November 15, 2009, 03:21:50 pm »
I'm working on a really, really small MAME cabinet.  Probably the smallest one attempted aside from NanoMAME - but unlike NanoMAME, mine will be running a standard version of MAME and will also be capable of running hundreds, if not thousands of ROMS.  Add Daphne to the mix and the possibility of running console emulators as well.  For now, I'm sticking to MAME and Daphne. 

I've gone pretty far in the R&D and actually have nearly all the design complete.  Most importantly, I already have a computer and storage that will fit in a scaled down Pacman cabinet about 10.5" high. All the components will fit in a  4"Lx3"Wx5"H cavity under the screen. There's room to spare for a monitor, power supply and iPac interface.  Add a lighted marquee and a speaker in the top.  The only external connectors will be for a 12VDC input, and a USB controller port for optional use of an external joystick.

The computer itself is done and working, at least it's running MAME and Daphne hooked up to a standard LCD monitor, keyboard and joystick.

My issue surprisingly, it the controls.  I thought the other components would present the biggest challenge, but it's the controls that are a real PITA.  I'm looking for scaled down controls for the cabinet.  The idea is to make it playable stand-alone, and I'd need a joystick that would fit in a rather small space.  Same goes for the buttons.  I've found analog joysticks that might fit the bill, but they are rather complex for my needs - I don't need analog, a 4-way (with diagonals) would do just fine.  The other problem is the buttons. 

Any ideas for a control panel 3" wide and about 1/2" to 3/4" deep?  The panel ideally would support one joystick and 4 buttons.  The buttons seem doable, there's surface mount buttons that are just small enough.  Note that the goal is that it's playable, comfort is also desired, but secondary to playable.  If the user wan't comfort, they can plug in a USB gamepad or my tankstick (wouldn't that be funny).

I also lucked out yesterday and obtained a second computer.  So I'll be eventually building two cabinets - a horizontal and a vertical.

The cabinet will have a USB port for an external controller so a more comfortable controller can be used.

What I've done:
1. created mock-up of cabinet
2. obtained computer, storage, power supply to fit mock-up
3. Test run MAME and Daphne on computer. Daphne runs just fine, MAME plays most anything from the 80's.
4. Identify screen needed for cabinet

What needs to be done:
1. Order screen (the most expensive part of the build)
2. Design and obtain parts for controls
3. Draw cabinet in CAD
4. Send out CAD drawings and have cabinet parts made
5. Select and configure front end
6. Build and test.

I'm estimating that the first unit will be completed by the end of the year, and the second to follow a few weeks later provided there are no problems with the first one.  The driving item is the cost.  These things aren't cheap to build - I'm estimating $600 each, and that's of nothing goes wrong.  When I'm done, I plan on releasing a list of components and the cabinet plans so others can build one themselves.

If there is interest in this project here, I'll start posting links to the photos and videos of what I have so far.


Aspirant

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Re: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2009, 11:08:03 am »
I'm definitely interested in hearing how this goes.  I have been considering making a mini-cab as a gift for a friend.  What are you using for pc components?

rworne

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Re: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2009, 12:12:04 am »
I'm definitely interested in hearing how this goes.  I have been considering making a mini-cab as a gift for a friend.  What are you using for pc components?
You have perfect timing, I just uploaded (an admittedly crappy) video of the system spread out showing all the components.  There's a lot more work to do - trim down the ROM count to a reasonable level and get a decent front end.  The cabinet is being built in the garage now, and I'm almost finished selecting the controller components.
MVI_3257.mov


The components so far:
Cabinet:
Hobby Plywood
Lexan "glass"

Computer:
VIA Pico-ITX (1GHz, 1GB RAM) <- runs similar in speed to a Pentium II or PIII.
40GB SATA HD
PicoPSU - power supply

Monitor:
3.5" 640x480 VGA screen

OS:
Windows 2000

Software:
MAMEUI <- will change to command line version soon
Daphne
Frontend <- still looking into these.

I'm building two of them right now. Unfortunately, the first one will likely be a vertical screen.  I say unfortunately because Daphne is just spectacular on this screen, the video simply does not do it justice.  My other dilemma is that I can make a really nice Pacman cabinet mockup, but the control panel will have to be different and support not only a joystick, but two buttons as well as a player one and player two button.  The power switch will be on the top, just like on a regular cabinet and the marquee will be lit.  I'm considering having the marquee do the startup flicker as well.  The speaker will be below the marquee, firing down to the screen.  The speaker is freaking LOUD, I might have to tone it down a bit.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2009, 12:48:56 am by rworne »

Erik

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Re: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2009, 10:48:52 am »
Very interested to see what you do for controls!  I have a similar project that is pretty much resigned to using full sized controls even though it throws off the scale.  I haven't found any small controls that are arcade quality.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 10:54:25 am by Peab0dy »

BobA

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Re: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2009, 01:53:19 pm »
Link to build your own mini joystick.  This one even has a fire button.

DIY Mini Joystick

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Re: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 03:48:39 pm »
Thanks for the details - I'm looking forward to seeing how this progresses!

Corbo

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Re: Working on ultra-small MAME cabinet
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2011, 10:58:52 am »
Sorry to drag up such an old post, but I am working on an ultra small arcade, and I have the same problem.  I want to keep it proportional but functional.

I need to source the smallest usable arcade buttons (not service switches as these are too stiff) and a nice small joystick.  Can anyone help?
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