Bartop arcade inspiration

I got chatting with my older brother over the Christmas holidays and he expressed an interest of wanting a full size MAME arcade cabinet like mine but didn’t have a great deal of room for one in his garage. I suggested a bar top cabinet instead and offered to build him one using various PC and arcade parts I have left over from various other projects.

I’m just having a browse around to get some design inspiration and found these posted on Instructables.

SNES arcade machine


Pretty cool aren’t they and could easily be adopted for MAME etc. I particularly like the modification the author has made to the SNES gamepad.

For my brothers Bartop, I’ll be using a Raspberry Pi and the GPIO controller method I used in my lunchbox arcade project (see previous blog post – PiCade Lunchbox Edition ). It should be a fun little project to do over the winter months and I’ll post more when I make a start.

Oh and btw, how sexy is that workspace, just look at that tool board, it’s a work of art! I need pegboard in my garage!


Mini Star Wars Arcade Cabinet at Play:Expo 2012

One of the highlights for me was seeing and getting chance to play on Dave Brown’s miniature replica arcade machines. The Star Wars upright forms part of Dave’s collection which also includes  Donkey Kong and Defender bartop machines as well as a twin joystick emulation centre control type thingie which was connected to a projector and was bags of fun…so much so that I’m seriously thinking about building my own.

However, back to the Star Wars cab. This thing is truly awesome and is completely scratch built by Dave to resemble the original Atari upright cabinet albeit in about half scale.

A a thing of beauty!

The workmanship on the molding around the screen is fantastic and perfectly detailed just like the original. You can see that a lot of work has gone into this.

Inside the mini cabinet houses a PC which is running Mame to play both Star Wars and Empire Strikes roms back on to the 7″ screen.

The decision to include a full size reproduction yoke control was a good move as it ensures that both games play really well. I think I got a few laughs whilst playing this at the weekend as I was wearing my X-Wing Rogue Squadron T-Shirt at the time 🙂

Lock S-Foils into attack position, StiGGy Five standing by…etc etc.

Here’s a quick video of someone playing it on Saturday and then me having a go one handed whilst I filmed and played Empire Strikes back.

If anyone has any more details on Dave’s cabinets and any build photographs I’d love to hear from you.

iMame iCade iLove

O.k so where did yesterday afternoon go? I started playing around with iMame and my iCade one minute, i look up and it’s dark outside!

It’s such a shame that Apple decided to pull iMame from the app store, but i guess you can understand why they did. It’s just a shame that more of these classic games aren’t released for purchase to feed our retro gaming needs. Yes i’m happy to play a new Sonic game but i want to play the original untouched versions. Atari greatest hits was a step in the right direction despite a few dodgy 2600 titles but surely if someone like Sega, Taito, and Capcom came along with a pack for ios that contains some of their classic titles complete (with iCade support of course)they’d make a mint.

Retro gamers are hungry for them and it’s no wonder that iMame was snapped up so quickly by everyone and news of it’s release spread so quickly on the web. Hoping you was one of the lucky ones that managed to get it.

My iPad and iCade setup ready to play.


After transferring a few files via iExplorer.

All of the familiar MAME options are available including screen orientation and graphics options, filtered lists (type, year, clones etc) control sets allowing you to restrict joystick movement for those classic two and four way games as well as setting deadzone and joystick sensitivity.

Control of the games menu is via joystick up/down with left/right quickly scrolling to the first title per alphabet letter.

The usual in game MAME menu’s are available too by pressing the coin and start button together. From here you can play around with the dip switch settings and fine tune your controls for that particular game.


Emulation of the iPad2 is absolutely spot on with no slow down on anything i’ve played so far including some of the later titles like Street Fighter II and The Simpsons. iMame supports an older rom set so later titles like Tekken aren’t possible. However, it still supports well over 2000 roms and all the old favourites are here.

Taking on the mothership from Phoenix is good test of the buttons. They’re very responsive but have quite a lot of travel before the microswitch makes contact. I prefer mine to be a little more sensitive and so I’ll be looking at changing these a bit later on.

Bluetooth connection is spot on and i’ve not once experienced a button press or control movement that’s been missed. I think i’ve mentioned before how loud the microswitches are and although perfectly acceptable, gaming could be vastly improved via cherry microswitches or the new leaf switch switches i’m currently investigating.



One of the best bits about the iPad is it’s auto orientation which means you can switch between arcade games originally played out on vertical or horizontally mounted monitors. Of course, you can play horizontal games in portrait mode if you wish and iMame will scale the screen size accordingly.

Scramble in it’s native vertical mode.


Flipping to horizontal mode for a couple of Sega classics.



Games that require analogue controls are best played directly on the iPad using the virtual (analogue) joystick – games like, Star Wars and Missile Command spring to mind. I was quite surprised though on how well Outrun, Thunderblade, Afterburner and Space Harrier played with the iCade stick therefore it’s worthwhile checking out both methods to see which you’d refer.

Tweaked in the MAME menu, Star Wars analogue controls can be mapped perfectly. Flipping the Y axis really helped.


A-ha, that’s what happened to my afternoon – TNMT!


Even without iMame, the iCade still a great device and support for ios games is on the increase. Without iMame i was tempted not to bother with it but as the price of the iCade is on the way down and games like the retro pixel blaster Velocispider and Space Immersion playing very well on the iCade it’s might be worth giving it a look.

I think i’ll take my setup down to the next RCM meet and see what the other fella’s think.

Vectrex vs. Vectrex

Taking a (short) break from all those Commodore shenanigans I had an idea to run the most excellent Vectrex emulator (ParaJVE) on my vertical mini Mame cab side by side with my actual MB Vectrex console.


As you can see, I’ve still not got around to painting my mini Mame cab yet due to having way too much fun actually playing with it. Work will recommence shortly!

ParaJVE is by far the best Vectrex emulator out there and includes such great features.

– Customisable graphics options including vector glow, anti aliasing, Vectrex console chassis and persistence settings to recreate that famous Vectrex phosphorous glow.

– Accurate reproduction of the coloured overlays for all the commercial, demo and home brew games.

– Like for like sound emulation including that authentic Vectrex buzz.

If you’ve not tried it before, or in fact have never played on a Vectrex console before, it’s well worth checking out ParaJVE.

Emulated – Minestorm


Actual – Minestorm game with transparent overlay.


Scramble is one game I’d really like for my Vectrex because I really like the colourful overlay. I don’t have the original game cartridge/overlay yet, but I’m still able to play the original rom via my 72-1 Vectrex Cartridge. Of course, the emulated version is complete with reproduced overlay.


After Scramble, Berzerk is another of my favorite games on the Vectrex, indeed any port of this game gets a thumbs up from me, but on the actual console with the analogue controls, it plays really really well. The minimalist graphic overlay is produced perfectly on the emulator.


Side by side Vectrex Berzerk – ‘Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert’….etc etc 🙂


Pole Position may look pretty good on the emulator, but it’s a bugger to play without analog controls. On the Vectrex, it’s much better…I so wish I had the colourful overlay though 😦


ParaJVE not only contains all the original Vectrex games, but also has got quite a few homebrew titles like Defender clone ‘Protector’ and a great conversion of ‘Thrust’ complete with custom overlay. Many of the homebrew titles are also present on my 72-1 multi cart but sadly these two are missing. There are other Flash carts out for the Vectrex that will enable me to transfer Trust so maybe I’ll take a look at these in the near future.


As you can see from the screenshots above, I don’t really own many overlays for my Vectrex. In fact, the only one I have is for Minestorm. Occasionally the odd one will pop up on eBay but usually ends up sold for quite a hefty price.

I came across a site providing instructions on how to create your own DIY overlays and although they’re tricky to reproduce and results may vary, it’s something I’m going to be trying over the next few weeks.


Here’s a quick video of me loading Minestorm on both my fake and real Vectrex.