My Mame Cab


Check out my progress so far


I had downloaded a copy of mame in about 2001 and became instantly hooked on the old arcade memories that came flooding back.

I had always wanted my own arcade machine since I was 14 but never thought I would ever be able to get one. Then one day I stumbled across which made me realise my dream was not so far away.

Anyway, between moving job house and getting a girlfriend I never seemed to get round to it. Until now that is.



I amassed a collection of old PCís and hardware whilst working at an ISP that was upgrading a lot of their kit. To add to this, my brother gave me his old PC when the on-board video failed and my girlfriend brought an old 486 back from University with her too.

I decided to use one of the PCís I was given whilst at work to form the computer portion of my mame cabinet.


This was a P3 dual processor motherboard allowing for a bit of expansion for not much cost. The board was in a rack mountable pro-liant case and came with a P3 600 processor but no video or sound.

Out of my girlfriends old PC I salvaged a SoundBlaster 16 which would do for the sound. I also managed to blag a Rage 128 Pro with TV out for the Video card after a couple of hours of scrounging at work. (Thanks Chris if you read this)

I then took the 20 gb drive from my brothers PC. This proved a problem as there was some damage to the disk. After running F-Disk and partitioning the drive until it formatted it came out at 16 gb. Not as big as I would have liked but it will store the romís I would use regularly.

I had 256 mb of SDRAM lying around the house so stuffed that in to the box also.

I then added 2 NIC cards, one for accessing it over my home network and the second card setup as default in case I re-configure my home LAN at some point and forget to do my cab.

Already included in the PC were a floppy and a CD rom so that worked out ok too.

There is no monitor for me to use with this setup at the moment. I am trying to find myself a 19Ē plus monitor for the final cabinet. A quick look round cash converters should sort that out.


On to the box I loaded Windows 2000. I then installed Tight VNC so I can access the server remotely. Comes in very handy when you aint got a monitor or keyboard for it

I then transferred over a copy of MAME32 and my Romís over to the box ready to go.



I ordered the control parts from

I ordered the following Items:


1 x IPac 2

2 x T-Stik Plus Ball-Top

12 x Red push buttons

3 x Yellow Push buttons

1 x player 1 start button

1 x player 2 start button


After receiving the parcel of goodies, I decided I needed to setup a test control panel to make sure that my button placement was ok. I only setup a single player control.

I used a shelf out of my old TV unit as it was made of particle board and was about the right thickness.

I cut 8 holes in to it for the buttons and cut out a square for the joystick position. I will need to make sure that on the actual control panel that I route out a recess for the joystick mounting plates to slip in to.


I hooked up the controls to the IPac. I found it easier for me to daisy chain the common/ground wire across the controls rather than an individual wire from each common to the IPac. This will probably haunt me later if one of those wires fails as it will stop all of the buttons working making it hard to track down the fault. Oh Well. Iím hoping to not have any problems.


After connecting the IPac to the PS/2 port on my PC and connecting the keyboard to the pass through, I booted up mame32 and loaded Street fighter 2.

The coin and 1p start buttons worked fine as did all of the kick and punch buttons. Unfortunately I wired up the joystick wrong so up was down and down was up and the same with left and right. How embarrassing.

Anyway, the spade connectors used made it easy to sort that out and I was soon on my way to fireball and dragon punch heaven.

I tested the control deck for a couple of hours to make sure the button spacing was comfortable for other games too.

I am not quite happy with the button positioning and I intend tweaking it a little for the final CP. It will of course be a 2 player control panel once I am finished.



This is the complicated part as I will need to build my cabinet from scratch as sourcing an old Jamma cab for a decent price proved harder than I thought. I wasnít very good at wood work when I was at high school but Iíve done quite a bit of DIY since buying my house and am quite confident that I will finish it to a half decent standard at least.

Research is always a good place to start on this type of project so another trip back to to look at what others have done before me and to try and find some plans or dimensions of a good shaped cabinet.

After much searching around I managed to find the dimensions to a centipede cabinet. Looking at the picture of the cabinet, I decided that this was the shape I wanted. Obviously the controls would be different so I may need to adjust the control panel section of the cabinet to accommodate the 2 player street fighter configuration I have in mind. I also intend making the cabinet so that the control panel is removable so that I can hook up a different set of controls for use with other games.


Apart from deciding that the cabinet is going to be painted black with red T-moulding strips along the edges of the particle board, I havenít really done a lot so far.

This will all change the first weekend after pay day when I go out to get the particle board I need and mark it all up for cutting.

Luckily a friend of mine has a large collection of tools and a work mate of mine works restoring antiques on a weekend and has said he would help with the routing and large cuts that require a table saw.


Hopefully I will be able to get this project finished without losing any limbs and I will be able to update this site with some pictures of the finished product.



Check out my progress so far