Following on from my previous post (see blog post https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/ideas-for-a-diy-mini-mini-mame-arcade-cabinet/ ). I’ve been sketching out a few ideas on how I’m going to put this together and what type fixings I’m going to use to hold my tablet in place. Studying many Google images of various MAME bartop cabinets and the iPade iCade itself, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea how I’m going to do this.
After sketching out a few ideas and measurements on paper, I’ve created this (very rough) mock up using MSpaint. The angles are all wrong but it gives you an impression of the type of mini cab I’m trying to build.
The upwards tilt on the control panel is over exaggerated here and although I’m aiming to add a slight tilt, it won’t be anything at prominent as this.
Likewise, I’ve not decided on button layout yet so I’ve just added a few above just for decoration. I don’t intend to use it for any intense multi button games like Street Fighter II so I’m thinking that two, or three should be quite sufficient for the odd game of Galaga.
The two buttons at the bottom front of the control panel will be the 1up and coin button as well as serving additional function within the Emulator front end.
At one point I thought about making the cabinet a little taller so that my netbook tablet didn’t go all the way up to the top of allowing me to install a marquee sticker but I’ve since decided to keep the cabinet as small as possible and to keep the design similar to the iCade.
To the right illustrates the mounting batons (brown) I’ll use to affix the control panel, bottom, rear and top panels. I’ll also attach support panels (yellow) to each side piece to hold my tablet screen in place and at the right viewing angle. I’ll attach some form of bump stops at the bottom of these supports to stop the tablet from sliding down to the bottom of the cabinet case and I’ll also line both supports with foam padding so as not to scratch my tablet when I insert/remove it from the cab.
Getting the support angles will be critical because unlike my iPad, which you can pretty much see the screen from any angle, my netbook tablet screen isn’t as good. Tilt it too much and the picture is harder to see.
I’m aiming to have the top panel fixed to a hinge so that my netbook can be inserted into the cab from the top instead of trying to drop it into place from the front. I use my netbook everyday so it would be handy to be able to release it from the cab with ease and without fear of damaging it.
Material wise, I’ll be using thin MDF panels for all panels apart from the control panel which I’ll use a thicker piece (unless the thinner piece feels string enough).
The inner support battons will probably be MDF pieces and I’ll affix with panel pins/wood glue.
I’ll be using another 4/8 way Sanwa ball topped stick like the one in my upright Mame cabinet and buttons will be the typical Happs 28mm microswitch type.
The controls will be connected to the Netbook via a USB MiniIpac interface board again, which is the same as my upright Mame cab – See blog post https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/mame-arcade-control-panel-part-4/
There’s lots of choices for emulator frontends so I’ll either stick with my favorite MameWah or go for something different like Maximus Arcade or eye candy rich Hyperspin….or keep things nice and simple with Mame32?
I’ll probably drill out a few air vents in the back panel and maybe a larger hole I can use to carry the cab. I’ll also fit rubber feet to the bottom panel to stop it sliding around on my desktop.
I’m guessing that my netbook speakers will be more than enough for the the sound effects. However, having the netbook keyboard closed behind the screen won’t give me access to the volume controls so I might slot in separate usb speaker(s) somewhere in the back of the cabinet and have the volume control poking out through a hole in the back or side panel.
I haven’t really thought about paint color yet or cabinet art but I’ll probably be going to keep things really simple i.e spray painted and maybe the odd vinyl sticker – maybe PacMan or a Space invader?
The next step is a build a template model to get a feel for how the finished cab will look. I’m making this out of cardboard and have made a start at work during lunch break (and getting some rather funny looks in the office 🙂 My model should be completed tomorrow and if i have time at the weekend (I’m due to help out at the Retro Computer Museum on Saturday) so I’ll head off to the hardware store for supplies and to make a start.
Hopefully I’ll have some model pictures to upload tomorrow.
If you have any suggestions or questions, I’d love to hear from you.