Mame Arcade Machine – Control Panel.

It’s too cold to work out in the garage on the Arcade machine so I’ve detached the Control Panel and brought it inside to do a little bit of work in the warmth.

Top tip – using a suitable old dust cover on the kitchen table means that you keep in favour with the good lady  –  which is always handy if you plan to buy even more crap  retro gaming stuff from eBay 🙂

Here’s the CP ready for stripping and cleaning. The wooden board in the picture is the PCB shelf that  had the original game board on it…soon to be a shelf for the PC.



Here’s the original Jamma wiring harness. I won’t be needing it for his particular project but it may come in handy for another especially as the contacts are all in very nice condition. As I removed the harness though I noticed that some of the buttons and micro switches were broken. More than expected would need swapping out.




The harness is removed and I’ve starting to unscrew the original buttons. Some of them were in a right state and some fell to pieces as I removed them. Once the CP was devoid of all the controls I cleaned it inside and out. I’ll be revisiting the inside of the CP again when the weather is better as the rust on the inside could do with being treated and painted. Under better lighting I also noticed that there were quite a few  specs of white paint on the front side too. Being on a navy background they were quite noticeable but a splash of soapy water and a spot of elbow grease soon shifted them.




Hmm, I wasn’t expecting to be replacing as many buttons/microswitches. I fear I might not have enough…time to raid other spare parts boxes.



In the end I settled for what I could lay my hands on. Ideally I’d like to replicate the original red, white and blue scheme of the original cab but after cleaning up some of the original buttons, they still looked a bit rough and discoloured.

Ready for a bath….or the bin?



So, at the moment I’ve gone for red, red and blue and sadly they’res a mixture of convex and concave buttons. It looks bloody awful to be honest, but a shopping list is being devised and a new order to will be placed later on today.

All switches are cherry microswitches – They aren’t the most silent, but will be buying some more of those leaf switches  I used to replace the originals on my iCade – See previous blog post –

The 1-up and 2-up (acting as Coin 1) use two of the original (very cheap) switches I removed from my iCade. They are nice and stiff, useless for gaming but are perfect for secondary controls like coin/start/select etc………besides, I was running out of Cherry switches!



Next up was to wire the controls to the Mini-iPac wiring looms and connect to the iPac board. First up was the positive connections (middle pin), followed by the daisy chained common wire (top pin). I’ve done this quite a few times now so it becomes almost second nature..having said that, there’s always  mistakes made and today was no different –  I had coin/start wired the wrong way around!



Looking pretty messy but will tie up once tested.

IMG_3286.JPG (2) (Custom)


You can use any text editor to test the controls but I prefer to use this freebie iPac testing program from Ultimarc.


All good to go…once coin and start were rewired 😉



Now the fun bit, game testing time! I’ve got my netbook setup with Mame32, connected the iPac and fingers crossed.

Woot woot, all working perfectly….first game, Rolling Thunder.

IMG_3288.JPG (2) (Custom)

The thing I  like about the Mini-iPac are the shift key functions. By default, pressing the 1-up button and simultaneously pushing one of four directions on the one player joystick  will give access to the Mame main menu, volume controls, exit game etc.  It can also be used with other buttons to perform other emulator functions including credit control if say for example you don’t want to have a dedicated coin button. It’s a great feature and cuts down the need to have ‘non gaming’ buttons on your CP.

Next test, 2-up mode and I even persuaded Curstie to come and clear out the streets of Metro City with me.



That’s the control panel done for now. Like I mentioned above, the buttons aren’t exactly matching but for the time being they’ll suffice.

I just need to finish off setting up the emulation PC….which is proving to be a bit of a nightmare but more on that to follow. For now, it’s twin stick Robotron time!



Mame arcade machine – a poke around inside.

Now with the rear panel lock drilled out and looking a bit worst for wear, I can finally have a looksee inside the arcade cabinet and get an idea of the space available for the PC gear etc.

As a quick fix, to get me up and gaming this weekend I won’t be looking at using the faulty Hantarex monitor but will be swapping this out with a VGA PC monitor instead. I know it’s not  arcade perfect but maybe I’ll look at getting the original fixed soon.

Mounted on the wooded shelf below this is the game board. It appears to be a an SNK Techmo World Soccer 96 in a MVS slot 1 board (thanks for the identification assistance JT).


….and I also found quite a bit of documentation in the bottom section of the cabinet as well as a service record  – last serviced in 1997 apparently!

Obviously this didn’t include the latest edition of Retro Gaming Magazine (thanks hon!) but am loving the cover of this months edition as I enjoy a coffee, I had to include it in the picture…..Hmm, that gives me an idea, I wonder if I can get Daphne/Dragons Lair running  on the PC bound for this cabinet?


The original monitor is housed in a mounting cage which also has a wooden front fascia  With the bezel glass and release pins removed, the entire monitor assembly can be lifted out, rotated and slid back in again thus changing the monitor to suit vertical oriented games. A feature I don’t have on my other cabinet and something I’ve longed to have.

Now in vertical mode…it sure it heavy though but the hand slots either side make the job so much easier.


I’ve also released the two clips that hold the control panel assembly in place and can now get access to the joystick, buttons and wiring loom. I’ll need to strip this and attach the iPac and new wiring. I’ll be reusing the gear from the Mini bartop I started to build – see previous blog post –


Sweet, I found a few coins in the coin box and now another 20p in the CP. – I’ll soon have enough for a chocolate bar 🙂

The interior looks a little rusty though, I’ll add that to my list of todos.


I’ve now spent the morning gutting the insides of the cabinet. I’ve carefully removed the main power supply, monitor, wiring, and light fitting behind the marquee. It’s pretty much an empty shell now ready for a bit of a clean before fitting with PC bits n bobs.

I’ve got a couple things I need to thing about as well as I get out the cleaning gear.

1) I’m a huge fan of the Mame frontends called MameWah and Mala and have used these on many cabs and emulation PC’s before. Do I stick to what I know and have a simple game list or go for something with a bit more eye candy…say HyperSpin for example. I don’t intend to have 1000’s of games in this particular cab so all that graphical gloss might not be to distracting.

2) I’d love to have access to the PC speaker volume from the front exterior of the cabinet as volumes can drastically change from game to game and I really don’t want the hassle of opening up the cab every time I want to change volumes. Ideally I’d like to fit an external dial or something similar, or maybe use the Mame software volume controls?…I need to research this a bit more.

3)I want to keep the button layout  as is  (three per player) but I need to think about which button options to use with the iPac For example, a shift button to give access to emulation settings etc. Also, although I intend to use the coin door for credits for that authentic arcade vibe I’d like to promote one of the buttons (via shift key) to act as a secondary coin button….cos you never know when you’ll run out out actual coins 🙂

4)The coin mechanism. This one seems to be a fully electronic model rather than the mechanical type I have in  my Phoenix cab. As a result, I’m not sure how I’m going to interface this with the iPac. Maybe I can retrofit a switch in a similar place to the Phoenix coin mech. Again…I need to have a play around with this first…unless someone out there knows how to interface a ‘MARS’ coin mech to Mame?

5) Compared to the nice side art on my other cab, this V-BAS jamma cab certainly looks a bit sparse. I think I’ll have a word with the chaps at Turnarcades when i see them at Revival next month as they really know all about the arcade customisation stuff.


Arcade Machine arrives home.

I took the drive up north the other day to pickup that ‘Vbas’ Jamma Arcade machine I won on eBay last weekend. Thankfully my measurements were just about right as with a bit of manoeuvring and taking a few back seat out of the MPV there was just enough room….for the plug and that’s about it 🙂

Getting back late and after dark,  I dragged it into the garage (yay, finally I’ve got an arcade machine with  wheels on the back) I reluctantly left it there until today and with four days off for the Easter break and a little more free time (and light) , I couldn’t wait to get out there for a  looksee this afternoon.

Here it is.


Overall the  woodwork is in really nice condition. Sure there’s a few bit scuffs here and there but there doesn’t appear to be anything that looks like it’s about to drop off. It could do with a good cleaning though. The rear panels are present and the the T-Molding on both sides is complete with no chipped or loose bits.

I’m also really happy with the bezel glass too, there’s not a mark on it and all the paint on the reverse side is intact and has not flaked. Likewise, (boring though it is – it will be swapped out soon) the ‘V-BAS’marquee is unmarked and complete with both retaining clips


A bit rough down at the bottom side but still sound and the metal work will probably get a fresh coat of paint.



The control panel exterior is in really nice condition with no major scuff, rips or unsightly cigarette burns. Both joysticks seem to be o.k, centred and have a microswitch audible click on all directions. Most of the buttons seem to be good too although there’s a couple on the right hand side that might need  replacing or have new switches fitted.  Either way, I’ve got plenty of spares so no major problems there.  The joystick mount bolts  are looking a bit rough  and rusty though so I’ll treat them to some new chromed ones.


Clean me!


The eBay seller mentioned that the coin mechanism is fully working  but the coin box door at the bottom will need a new lock.

As you can see here, the bottom coin box door is looking a bit rough compared to the coin mech door. I’ll give it a good rub down and a fresh coat of hammerite and hopefully it’ll look much better. It seems to shut o.k though so at least there’s no dents beat out etc.




The seller also  mentioned that the monitor was dead but the game board was working. I thought I’d check it out myself and true enough, no picture on screen but the coin  and  marquee lights up  and the familiar SNK startup sound could be  heard through the speakers.

My next job is to have a looksee inside and get a feel for where the PC, Monitor and various components will go……it’s here that I hit a snag. When i collected the cab, we were far too busy nattering about good old games, I completely forgot to ask for the keys to the rear panel door 😦 I could ask him to mail them down to me but with the holidays etc, there would be no chance of getting these anytime soon and I’m itching to make a start on the Mame conversion.

It’s a cheap tubular lock on the back anywasy and easily replaced and so I broke out the power tools :-)….and watched a few lock picking Youtube videos.

Bwah ha ha.



More photos to follow.

Mini Arcade?

Well I wasn’t expecting to own another arcade machine when I woke up this morning but after practically being snowed in today and a carefree session on eBay – pop, got myself another one!

It was a bit of a bargain really and was quite surprised to win it at a very low price without many bids. It’s a standard Jamma cab rather than a specific game (the board included is some sort of soccer game) and despite everything looking in really good condition, the monitor appears to be faulty. That’s no problem though as I intend to swap it out for something slightly bigger anyway.

Its more than likely that I’ll use this as a basis for a quick Mame conversion especially as i have everything i need in my spares box to complete this straight away. The cabinet has two sticks fitted (wooho – Robotron twin stick funtastic-times ahead) with three buttons per stick. I could drill through for more, the control panel certainly has room for them but I think I’ll keep this as is and mainly use it for playing classic games.

A couple of features that attracted me to the cab in the first place was that the monitor can be easily be rotated, by lifting out the front glass bezel, rotate the screen and pop the glass back. It’s also slightly taller than my other arcade cabinet and a bonus being quite a tall fella.

All I need to do now is arrange to go pick it up…come on snow melt already!

I’ll be back with more and pictures as soon as I’ve got it and will blog about the conversion as I progress.

Out of curiosity, how many cabs do you have to own to count yourself as having your own arcade hall 🙂

Prepping another MAME cabinet PC

A busy week at work so I’ve not had chance to post a lot since coming back from Play:Expo but one thing I have been working on is building up a suitable PC for a MAME arcade cabinet at the Retro Computer Museum.

We started this a few weeks ago (see previous post

and it’s pretty much ready for installation in to the cab, configure the ipac/controls and give it play test (lots!). I’m heading down to the museum this morning with all the relevant bits so hopefully myself and Jim should have this completed today.

Also, I’ve been given a rather nice HP TFT monitor from my work collegue, which has got a really nice pivoting stand allowing the screen to rotate almost 360 degrees including all the way back so it practically lies flat (great for Visual Pinball). As the Mame cab will feature a vertical mounted monitor, this particular TFT has been a great help this week as I’ve been able to setup and test the MAME frontend in the correct orientation at home. My thanks to Savi for this great monitor!

A quick test at work soon turned into a lunchtime competition 🙂


Back home, the PC is built and although is of modest specification (P4 2ghz/1Gb) its more than enough to play all vertical games including newer stuff like Do Don Pachi schmups. I’m using an older version of Mame, one i usually use because its good for compatibility and had speed because its prior to all that 3d accelerated changes.The version I’m using is 0.89

For the MAME frontend, I’m using MALA. I’ve always been a fan of MameWAH which is usually my weapon of choice for a simple menu/snapshot/marque frontend. However, it can be a bit if a pain to setup if you haven’t used it for a while as you forget the config file format. MALA is almost similar but has a nice setup GUI as well as command line and I find that setting up custom graphical layouts and game lists are much easier as MALA is equipped with tools to help with this.

The PC is pretty much done and ready for installation into to the cabinet today. I’ve still got a few duplicate/clone roms to remove from the game list and there’s a few that have either missing snapshots and/or marque pictures but that can be sorted out whilst I’m at the museum. I’m not sure if Jim has used the standard Mame controls for the iPac interface for the joystick/buttons but again, I can always adjust them to suit the frontend when I get there.

One final play test last night.


Right, I better get cracking and load up the car and head down to the museum. I’ll be back with more photos soon.