Jump to photos of the building of my arcade, or to the upgrade to an I-PAC controller board.

Here is a guide I wrote for building your own arcade cabinet. I have changed mine a ton from when it was written. I have added to the control panel, added the I-PAC control board, and several of the websites listed no longer exist. Take a look at the document here.

Arcade Machine Features.

This is a list of the features of my arcade machine. I am always adding things to it, and as I do, I will add them here.
  1. Custom made marquee. I made it in Photoshop, and sent it to a guy to print it out. It is sandwiched between two sheets of Lexan and lit up by two, two foot long lights, each 40 watts! And yes its bright! The image background contains stars from a photo taken via the Hubble, and yanked from NASAs website. The logos, game charaters, and other stuff is from other places on the web; and so are the two fonts used. The end file was 33.5 megabytes in size, 7860x2310 pixals at 300 DPI. You can see a copy of the marquee here (83K).

  2. Lighted Joysticks. I added a white LED light in the hole where the joystick knob passes through the control panel top. Also I made Lexan round huge washers to replace the opaque black ones that come with the joysticks, so the light shines though. Also the insides of the hole where the light is placed, they are painted red and blue for each joystick. Quite cool for playing in the dark!

  3. Keyboard and Mouse pull out drawer. Features a lighted handle, that turns off when pulled out, and then turns on some white LEDs under the control panel to lite up the keyboard. They go out when the drawer is closed, and the handle comes back on.

  4. Lighted up player I & II buttons. These are lighted via the num lock and caps lock lights on the keyboard. MAME can use these to flash the player I & II buttons after coins are put in, and you need to select one or two players. Note: This work only in a few games, but it is cool none the less, and I can also manually turn them on and off.

  5. Six buttons per player, and more. In addition to the joysticks for both players, there are six buttons. I chose six because most games use six or less, except for some that use seven or eight. Also above these on each side is player I & II buttons, a green button to insert a coin, and two red buttons, programmable to user assigned tasks. I really dont have them set up for much right now, but when I use an Atari emmulator, I use them as the TV Type, Left and right Difficulty, and game select buttons.

  6. Middle buttons and paddle controls. A few buttons inbetween the player one and two controls do the following: Pause game, Take a Screenshot, Hit ESC to exit the game or menus, Reset game, and MAME menu for volume, CPU overclock, and other stuff. Below that is a chopped up serial mouse, with knobs on top, used as paddles.

  7. Control Panel Background. Also bought from the same guy who printed my marquee. It has a lightning effect. Much better that just being painted black, as how it started out!

  8. Two pairs of speakers. A hacked apart pair of computer speakers are mounted above the monitor, below the marquee. Also the stereo speakers in the monitor (TV) are used. Even though the speakers are small, they sound quite good, and you get the "Wall of sound" from both sets at different heights. I also yanked out the speaker amp that was built in the computer speakers, and mounted it inside. Both the monitor and computer speakers are connected to the sound card via a "Y" cable.

  9. Toshiba 27" TV/Monitor. I use the S-Video (S-VHS) out from the computer video card to get video to the monitor. A 1/8 inch headphone to dual stero RCA (Phone) plug connects audio to the tv from the pc.

  10. Two Stelladaptors. A Stelladaptor is an Atari 2600 joystick to USB adaptor. You can find out more about them, or find out where to buy them here. The two joysticks and the first button on each connect directly to a standard Atari 2600 plug, then connect to the Stelladaptor, then to a USB cable, then to the computer. I did this for a few reasons, one: So I can connect the control panel to a real Atari 2600, or a Commodore computer if I wish to. Two: This allows less chance for "Ghosting" as the other buttons are wired into a keyboard controller, and one would not want the wrong keys to be pressed, i.e. ghosting of keypresses. Three: The Stelladaptors are seen by the computer as standard joysticks, so they can be used with just about any game that supports a joystick. Four: The Atari 2600 emmulator, StellaX supports them also. Five: If I wanted to, I could plug in a real pair of Atari joysticks or paddle controllers and use them.

  11. Ultimarc I-PAC. Replacing the above Stelladaptors and a hacked up keyboard, I added an I-PAC. This is a USB interface that has inputs for many buttons, joysticks, etc, and very easy to hookup. Really I dont know why I did not do this the first time around. It was easy, works well, no ghosting, and easy to setup.
  12. Computer. An AMD 2.2 GHz proc, 2 gigs of memory, NVidia 512 meg AGP video card using video output, two hard drives both 200 gigs, one dvd drive, all in one case. This is all in the base of the arcade machine.

  13. Arcade Case. Built by me, for me, out of three sheets of 4x8 foot, 3/4 inch thick plywood, and several 2X4s. All on top of four ball bearing castors. In the top of the machine, there is about an inch gap in the plywood, for three fans. These are connected to a thermastat, and turn on and off with heat buildup. Because heat rises out of the computer in the bottom, the monitor, and the marquee lights, this is a needed feature. And with auto turn on and off, it sure works well without a user needing to manually do anything.