Arcade Game

On June 19, 2013 by jw

This is a standard arcade cabinet restoration/conversion to MAME emulator. However, in addition to an arcade emulator, multiple pre 2001 console emulators will also run on a mega drive built by TiptonWare. Here is a demo by TiptonWare explaining how the rig works:

First step in creating a MAME, find a donor cabinet. This all started when I found some dude on craigslist selling cabinets for 50 bucks. So my bud Dan and I jumped in his truck and headed out to pick up Steel Gunner.

Pro Tip #1: These cabinets are SO heavy. Bring a dolly and also measure all your doorways to make sure it will fit where ever you’re planning on taking it.


001_arcade_game 002_arcade_game 003_arcade_game 004_arcade_game

Pro Tip #2: Secure cabinet with more than one tie-down strap.


This cabinet is going to live in the office game area. Here it is sitting next to Street Fighter.


Here is a big part of the weight problem. Giant CRT monitor.007_arcade_game 008_arcade_game

These are “tamper proof” torx screws. A simple purchase on lets the tampering begin.  009_arcade_game

This didn’t work, so we’re going to replace it with an LCD.


012_arcade_game 013_arcade_game

I’m going to install an X-Arcade tank stick that my good friend Justin donated to this project.


This is the inside of the tankstick.015_arcade_game 016_arcade_game 017_arcade_game 018_arcade_game 019_arcade_game

I threw in a 24 inch LCD to test out the mirrored display setup. It worked really well, but I couldn’t find anywhere on the internet how to reverse the display (or output) of Windows. To my knowledge, the only option is to rotate the output, not reverse it. There wasn’t enough room to do a double mirror set up, so I just ended up ditching the whole mirror rig.  020_arcade_game

Replaced all the Plexiglas.



Some quick measurements.

022_arcade_game 023_arcade_game

New LEDs!024_arcade_game 025_arcade_game

New speakers!026_arcade_game 027_arcade_game 028_arcade_game 029_arcade_game 030_arcade_game

The tankstick came with buttons mounted on the side and back of its box. So I drilled holes for those buttons to be mounted on the top surface above the main controls.

New t-molding for all the edges.032_arcade_game 033_arcade_game 034_arcade_game

New marquee print. We used a special paper designed for back lighting.
035_arcade_game 036_arcade_game

The donated tankstick was one of the original set of controls that X-Arcade released. The PCB board used PS2 to connect as a keyboard. I ordered a newer version that was equipped with USB. The computer running the emulator does not have PS2 ports.

Here the new 32 inch LCD monitor is getting installed. Like I said above, I had to ditch the mirror setup for the lamest reason. 038_arcade_game 039_arcade_game

Testing out some games. Here is Dan workin’ on Tony Hawk Pro Skater for N64.040_arcade_game 041_arcade_game 042_arcade_game

I added a new latch for the access panel on the back. 043_arcade_game 044_arcade_game

The computer started to overheat, so I added a few fans and a air-duct.


Here are two mounts to hold the computer in place during transport. Also, I wanted to new control surface to be flush and snug with the original game surface. So I cut a thin piece of MDF to cover the whole control surface.


Here the surface is painted.


Here the computer mounts and air duct is installed.


Testing the new surface fit.


Drilling out the holes for the controls. I used the original X-Arcade top as a guide to ensure perfect placement of each button.


Here is the new surface. Flush with the new controls.


Here it is pretty much done. 052_arcade_game 054_arcade_game 055_arcade_game 056_arcade_game 057_arcade_game

I re-routed the computer’s power switch to the top of the game. This is the same location of the power switch on Street Fighter. This is a simple way to shut down the system without a keyboard and mouse. Windows is set to power down with one press of the power button. This is also great for resetting the game. If anything goes wrong, press once to power down, then once more to start back up. The arcade software is set to launch on boot. There are also buttons mapped to restart the arcade software.  058_arcade_game 059_arcade_game 060_arcade_game

I also moved the MB LEDs to the back of the box. Easy to see if the machine is on while the monitor is off. 061_arcade_game 062_arcade_game 063_arcade_game

This little red light signals that the tankstick has power and is not in program mode.



Here are the buttons inside the cabinet. I was dreading re-installing all these buttons to the new control surface. I figured I would have to stick my head inside the coin door and try to install each button one by one in the right order. But then, I realize that the way I designed the new surface made it easily installable and removable. I was able to install all the buttons on the new surface while sitting comfortably at a desk. Then install the new surface containing all the buttons and wires already to go.



This project was way more involved than I thought it was going to be. Almost every step required re-engineering of the original ideas. Then, new solutions required re-thinking completed steps. Almost everything had to be replaced on this cabinet, monitor, computer, Plexiglas, LEDs, speakers, controls, and fans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *