Secret Santa

30 December, 2008 (08:07) | Arcade | By: admin

This year our family decided to do a secret Santa draw and pick names from a hat. The one rule was that you had to make the present. I drew my brother-in-law’s name and decided to build him an arcade machine running MAME. I’ve built a few MAME machines over the years but I always seemed to have crappy computers to use so I would build them to run DOS with ArcadeOS as the MAME frontend. This is a good configuration but somewhat limited in flexability. This time I had a fairly decent computer so I decided to run Windows. I tried a few of the Windows front-ends and settled on MameWah.

This is what the finished product looked like. I started with a gutted cabinet with no monitor, chipped sides and messed up control panel. The new owner of the game is a street fighter 2 fan so I built it with that theme in mind. Basically I built a Street Fighter 2 machine the way I would have if I were using a dedicated board and installed a computer instead using the Ultimarc ArcadeVGA card and Jpac interface.

For this project I used a new Happ VisionPro monitor. This monitor is a standard resolution 19″ arcade monitor. Using an arcade monitor in a MAME machine complicates things more than using a computer monitor but it’s impossible for a computer monitor to display resolutions as low as an arcade monitor so there’s no way to achieve a true emulation. Using a standard resolution arcade monitor I’m able to achieve true pixel for pixel emulation. To me the extra expemse and complexity is well worth it. I chose to use the ArcadeVGA card to interface the computer to the monitor in this case. I’ve used this card a lot in the past and found it to be easy to work with and delivers exactly what I wanted. True emulation of the original resolutions of the games. In the future I plan to try Soft15khz with a compatible video card rather than the ArcadeVGA card to save on cost.

For the control interface I used the Jpac JAMMA interface. This is a very nice product that I’ve been using for years. It’s a JAMMA to keyboard interface as well as a video amplifier.

I started by building the guts of the machine with the components all exposed on a shelf. This is an easy way to get everything connected and tested. I also spent quite a bit of time testing software and tweaking things to the way I wanted them. Once the operating system was installed I did most of my work using VNC so I could work anywhere in the house.

I bought these speakers for about $15. All I really needed was the amplifier but there were already setup for exactly what I needed. I just had to remove the existing speakers and wire the amplifier to the speakers in the machine. Fortunately the machine had 2 speakers in the front so I was able to achieve stereo sound. For $15 the whole setup actually sounds really good.

There is nothing quite like bringing home a brand new product and busting it open. These speakers were glued at the seams but they came apart pretty easily with a couple of screwdrivers.

This is the quick and dirty method of mounting the sound amp and volume control. I just ran some screws through the plastc housing into an area inside the coin door. The volume control is easy to reach and I didn’t have time to be more fancy.

I had to scrape the monitor bezel and apply a new coat of paint. The original paint was peeling badly and looked terrible. This picture shows the beginning of the process. It turned out well and didn’t take too long.

I decided to use original 8-way ball top leaf switch style joysticks for the machine. The ones I chose were kind of rusty and beat up but they cleaned up nicely. I spin the shaft in a drill and use 1000 grit sandpaper to polish the shafts. I’ve also used various polishes but in this case I just wanted to shine them up in a hurry. I did the same basic process with all of the carriage bolts on the control panel.

This picture shows one shaft after cleaning and one before.

The monitor tube and chassis had to be removed from their original frame and mounted in the machine.

I removed the chassis first.

The space for the monitor is really tight. This was the first configuration I tried but it didn’t work as well as I would have liked. I don’t think the tube liked having the flyback so close to it.

I like the Happ monitors. I ordered a bunch a couple of years ago and still have a few left.

These were a lot of things that were done to the machine that were not covered in this article. I had a tight timeline to complete the machine.