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.