UPDATE: 05/01/08. It seems a lot of people have trouble reading my black text on blue background so for this text-heavy page at least its now white on black. I'd hate to have typed all this and no one reads it!
I will normally be quoting metric units on this page.
Update: Is this the worlds first rotating monitor cocktail cabinet? Well no, actually :-( I found an archived page at waybackmachine and I contacted the owner. Here's his machine which features an electric chain drive in a 'cube' type cabinet. He beat me by nearly two years! I think his doesn't have auto-stop switches. So.... Is this the worlds SECOND rotating monitor cocktail cabinet? ;-) Feel free to email me and burst my bubble and i'll put up a link to your site.
IN THE BEGINNING
there was God. And while perfect he was a sentimental ol' bugger. So he decided to create MAME in his own image. And He saw that it was good. Soon however less than perfect mortals also wanted MAME for themselves but did not have the patience or know-how to type a whole bunch of 'command' thingos into the 'run' jigger, for DOS was the language of the ancients. And yet did not mere mortals also deserve the reverie of the days of lore, when young men would lift many shekels from their fathers wallets and then goof off to the arcades? Then it came to pass that a renaissance of interest in MAME occurred with the creation of MAME32. And this is when it became somewhat useful to me...
ENTER THE CRAFTSMAN
You no doubt are aware of the general history of MAME so I won't repeat it here but I will tell you how I came to this point in the world of MAME. The net was indispensable when I needed information for my project. So here I give back a little to the MAME world. Hopefully this is of some use or interest to other arcade freaks (",)
I was given a Gameboy as a present some years ago and soon enough I found a space invaders and missile command cartridge for it. I was amazed how much like the originals they seemed and so it occurred to me that if I bought the Super Gameboy adapter and a SNES console and built a dummy upright cabinet I could make a fair representation of one of them. At that stage it hadn't occurred to me that I could have multiple games in the arcade machine. Also MAME had already been developed although I hadn't heard of it. My forte was, and still is building models and I've never been crash-hot with computers or the internet. I never ended up commencing the project which is just as well in retrospect.
ENTER THE COMPUTER GUY
I was going to type 'geek' but my friend may take offence. Anyway, around 2001 my friend shows me MAME on his computer- somewhere around v50 or so I think? And while I could see that the games were exactly as I remembered, still the significance eluded me. It wasn't until I had another look maybe a couple of years later that it occurred to me how great it would be to build an arcade cabinet. Then when I started looking on the net for resources I realised that I certainly wouldn't be the first. I started to save web pages and links etc to see what others had done. I had first envisaged reverse-engineering an old cabinet but they aren't often come by. Then I found this site and I knew that a rather important part of the research was done since he took measurements of the cocktail cabinet he retro-fitted. In fact, if it weren't for his effort in measuring it up and putting it on the net I might still be thinking about doing it!
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Around this time I was making plans of an altogether different kind, although also historically significant. I was going to Kittyhawk, North Carolina for the centenary celebrations of the Wright Brothers first flights. While I'm very glad I went ("you came from where to see this?" people would ask) it was all in all a rather disappointing holiday not least of all because the Wright Flyer failed to fly! Although I did get to meet some nice people there. Us aussies tend to get the wrong idea about the US, due to Hollywood. But anytime i've been there, people are friendly, and hardly anyone swears! I hung out with a guy from Hamburg named Rene. Met him at the Hostel International in New York City. More than a dozen of us got kicked out before New Years!! Rene went to Quebec while I headed for Toronto. I mention this because I got distracted by someone of the opposite sex (I was being a typical randy backpacker- thinking with the wrong head) and never ended up getting Renes email address. It would be really good to hear from him. He recommended Neuromancer by William Gibson to me. Excellent book! Back to the MAME story. While in the States I had thought I might buy some controls for the machine but before I went on holidays I found an Australian supplier. Just as well because I was absolutely flat broke by the time I came home and couldn't have afforded to buy anything while in the US.
FRANKENSTEIN NEEDS A CADAVER
It wasn't until early 2004 that I finally downloaded MAME32 (v78). I came home from holidays to find my computer had died. We have very high humidity here in the wet season and sometimes it effects computers. we also have the honour of having the highest lightning strike rate of any city in the world. I bought a new computer, 2.4 ghz (just a tad more powerful than my old 400mhz!). Not much faster though. Once I had everything back to normal (I really don't trust computers much, so all my info was on a second drive. I just use the c drive for the OS, that way if there's a crash just pull out your second drive and put it in your new computer if the old one's a dud) I could continue on the MAME project. Since I had a dead computer I figured that could be my MAME machine once I fixed it. I already suspected the RAM and so it was. One of the RAM cards had so much mildew on it that after cleaning it with contact cleaner I discovered tiny little pits on the tracks and chips. A friend gave me a spare RAM and my good ol' machine was alive again. It was my first computer so I thought it would be great to retire it in style as a MAME machine. Running win98 and MAME took maybe 400meg of memory. This old 400mhz machine was heaps faster in operation than the new computer! I'm interested in arcade games up to about the year 1991. Sadly I found that Raiden and a few others ran rather slowly on 400mhz. So I tried my hand at overclocking. I got it over 600mhz before I fried it. I was feeling a bit cavalier because I pretty much figured I'd have to get a faster processor for the later games.
YOU SPIN ME RIGHT 'ROUND BABY
In the meantime I was busy fiddling with MAME on my new computer. I was having a rather perplexing problem. I found that no matter what I did I couldn't get the screen orientation to work properly. So I was playing vertical games with the monitor on its side. In the end I found, through a forum, that some on-board graphics cards (and I have one) need to have their hotkeys switched off in 'properties'. I mentioned before that I'm not great with computers so I had come up with a mechanical solution. That is, have the monitor rotate instead of just the screen image. Sure enough, a quick look on the web showed that I wasn't the first to think of that either. Will I ever have an original thought? What I did find was that almost all rotating monitors were in upright cabs, I found only one guy from Brazil who had a cocktail oriented monitor. His machine though was not a cocktail cabinet but rather a modified desk. None the less as far as I'm aware he is the first to do it in this orientation so hats off to him! So even though I had found out how to rotate the screenshot I decided it would still be heaps better to rotate the monitor. That way I could have a full screen for all games.
I needed to get either another CPU for my old computer or else upgrade it. I started looking on ebay. It looked like CPU's around the same speed as my old one were cheap enough (around $20-$50 aus. in 2004) but really it would be better to get something faster. I figured that around 1ghz would be sufficient for the games I was using. When I started to keep an eye on the prices however I found that people were paying up to $100 for a used 1ghz processor. I found that you could buy a new CPU (lowest speed of course) for the same price! What's up with that? Anyway, I bought a 566mhz for $20 to have something to build the cabinet around. Sadly it didn't work. Of course there's the chance that the motherboard was damaged when I overclocked the old one. In the end I bought a new AMD 2000XP (which is 1.67ghz) for $99, motherboard about the same price with onboard graphics and sound, some memory and a cheap set of speakers to butcher for the cab. Raiden runs fine now (",). I did get some use from ebay though. So far I've bought two comic books and four models! It's quite funny, one of the 1/72 scale models I bought could quite conceivably be the only one in Australia and I paid $5.50 for it. But 1gig PIII's of which there are probably thousands around, are more than new processors with twice the speed!!
At this point I was ready to go ahead, having finished varnishing the floor which was the first priority when I got back from my holidays. I had a computer and monitor for the cab, controls and a few bits and pieces I'd been collecting. The next section has pics of the work in progress and a basic rundown of what I did. I'm no cabinet-maker so I can't give you many tips on that, but I can tell you how I went about solving other aspects of the job. For instance, I'm not a bad metal-worker and I used to be an auto-electrician so there are tips on wiring and metal-working. So take a look, there's plenty to see...
updated during a covid lockdown.