Has anyone built an arcade machine before, (mame)

Discussion in 'Taylor's Tittle-Tattle - General Banter' started by Diamond, May 15, 2017.

  1. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    Since discovering an original space invaders machine in an arcade back at Easter, I've been thinking about putting together an arcade table for my man cave. You can buy these things new for £600 on ebay, but I want something better with more games, features and a bigger screen.

    In theory I need to build the table, install the necessary hardware and software, add joysticks, buttons, maybe a trackball, lob in a flatscreen and cover the top with glass. I reckon £300 max.

    Call it a mid life / close season crisis.

    Has anyone done such a thing?
  2. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    Sorry, just realised this is in the wrong section. Can one of you kindly mods please move it to the general chat bit? Ta.

    (not the greatest start to a project)
  3. Grrwood

    Grrwood Reservist

    Diamond likes this.
  4. wfc78

    wfc78 Academy Graduate

    I keep thinking about doing this myself...

    Instructables.com is worth a look:


    For the hardware and software, if I was going to build one I'd use a Raspberry PI and the RetroPie software (https://retropie.org.uk/).

    RetroPie will run MAME plus loads of other consoles and wrap it all up in a nice front end.

    And there's lots of Instructables for that combination too: http://www.instructables.com/howto/retropie/

    It's always been the woodwork etc that's put me off ever actually doing something like this.
    Diamond likes this.
  5. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

  6. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    Yeah Rasberry PI looks the best route, (plus it's a good excuse to play with one).
    I'm a fan of woodworking so probably the part I'm looking forward to the most, but just wish I had a decent workshop and machines.

    You can buy all the wood as a kit, cut to size if you so desire: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DIY-ARCAD...268794?hash=item2a799278fa:g:oMcAAOSw5UZY-lCz
  7. wfc78

    wfc78 Academy Graduate

    I hadn't seen those before. Might have to look into that.

    Having searched for Raspberry PI related info, it seems you can get the majority of the parts of a kit here:


    Not a table, but probably an interesting project too. Screen may be a bit small for any real use..
  8. wfc78

    wfc78 Academy Graduate

  9. cthulhu

    cthulhu Keyboard Warrior Staff Member

    Will you update on your progress as you go?
  10. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    Yes, why the h*ll not.

    Currently very much in the planning stage. However I really like the look of this beastie...

  11. cthulhu

    cthulhu Keyboard Warrior Staff Member

    What games you going for?

    I'd go for gauntlet, galaga and gradius
  12. Meister

    Meister Better than you Staff Member

    Asteroids surely.
  13. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    All of them.
  14. BigRossLittleRoss

    BigRossLittleRoss Squad Player

    Galaga....greatest game ever
  15. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    So doing a bit of research. The internals are the easy bit, (famous last words), it's the table itself that needs most of the preliminary work, especially the top surface. What I intend to do is get the top made from toughened glass, (looks so much nicer than any plastic/acrylic), and then shape the wood to match the glass rather than the other way around.

    The current issue I have is working out the exact size for the glass top and then finding somewhere to get it made. So far glasstops.co.uk seem to do what I want for about £80, (using rough dimensions). I may have to get a mockup of the top made and decide for myself if I can't find decent plans. Also need to decide on monitor size, 22 inch would be the max, but still looking at ideas.

    I also like this table, (not the colours), due to the trackball, (for missile command obviously), and the extra buttons on the side of the single player seat for pinball.

  16. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    It has begun. Here are my first purchases:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    That's 18mm MDF, lots of it. The dimensions I worked out meant I couldn't quite get away with one big sheet of the stuff at B&Q. I got it cut to size, (it's free), so with the extra bits they cut a few spares in case I mess up, (likely). So 2 large sheets at £19 per sheet, plus my old jigsaw blades are in need of replacement so a few new ones for an additional £15.08. Now I know why the modern arcade tables are so heavy, that MDF is bulky stuff.

    So dimensions. On a scrap of paper I made some scribbles and decided on the following sizes, (based on about 10 table dimensions I found on the web).
    Table top 90cm x 70cm. Height 74cm.
    Cabinet underneath will be 5cm inside each long edge and 10cm inside each short edge.
    (The above is subject to change on a whim or a bad cut)

    This is a very rough idea of what the cabinet build will be like, but I have some stupid ideas of improving it and adding the side controls without wrecking the "aesthetics"....


    Glass top. Well I rang a few places and was eventually pointed towards JP Glass in Eastcote who couldn't have been more helpful and gave me a great quote for toughened glass. I want to put together the frame first and make sure I like the dimensions before ordering the glass though, as that's not changing once ordered.
    cthulhu, Meister, wfc78 and 1 other person like this.
  17. Halfwayline

    Halfwayline Reservist

    Also try Bridgewster glass - right next to the ground

    Hoping to get an invite for a game once it's built
  18. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    I've been to bridgewater glass before for something but they weren't that helpful, (loooong time ago though). I tend not to go back to somewhere that's pee'd me off.

    Yeah of course, open invite and all that, but it'll have to be an evening of fine rum.
    Halfwayline likes this.
  19. Meh!

    Meh! Squad Player

    Good luck Diamond. I'm interested in doing something similar so look forward to seeing your final machine.
  20. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    Had a spare day yesterday, (no football for any of the kids = miraculous), so decided to crack on with the cabinet. I put it together with a few screws just to keep it together and to see what it would look like. it looked like this. This was after cutting the smaller sides down slightly as they were way to wide and looked completely wrong.


    When I sat down next to it using a regular chair it seemed too high, not just to play the games but as a regular table anyway, so I decided to knock the height down by about 6cm from 74cm to 68cm. It made a big difference.


    That's how much I took off.

    I never liked the look of the controller boxes that most home built arcade tables use, so I decided to go for the look of the ones on this table, in fact I really like the whole look of this one:


    So here's the basic table and my "custom designed" controller boxes so far, (before fitting). Once the control boxes are built into the table they should be flush with the top.


    You'll notice the last picture has a gazebo leg in the background, that's because I got fed up doing this every 10 minutes yesterday:


    It really helped putting things together yesterday to see if the dimensions worked, then making adjustments and trying again.
    Meh! likes this.
  21. Halfwayline

    Halfwayline Reservist

    I truly think you're having a mid life crisis but far more interesting than sleeping with an 18 year old or buying a Harley

    Really interested to see how it turns out (before I commission one to be made for me!)
  22. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    If that was an option I wouldn't be building anything for a while!
  23. Diamond

    Diamond Squad Player

    So I thought the internals would be the easy bit? HA! Quite the opposite.

    Monitor: I'm not a complete geek so not worried in the slightest about using an original CRT monitor for authenticity, (way too heavy, expensive and dangerous IMO), so looking for a good LED backlit LCD screen with good viewing angles. Reading about people who've done this, they recommend a 4:3 ratio screen and IPS for viewing angles. These aren't cheap! Having run an arcade emulator at home now for a couple of days on my widescreen PC monitor I'm not too worried about the ratio thing. Still thinking about this.

    Software: Been testing MAME and it's very good and easy to use, the key is the front end on the table itself that runs the emulators and is easy to use with joysticks and buttons. Hyperspin seems to be the old school favorite, but I think I'm heading towards something called Attract Mode. This seems to be something I can work with OK.

    Hardware: Tricky. Can buy a rasberry pi3 and run ubuntu on it, or can use an existing PC that's stripped down to bare bones. Still unsure but leaning towards the rasberry route as I've wanted to play about with one for a while, (also take up less space inside the table).

    It's the monitor that's the issue at the moment.
  24. wfc78

    wfc78 Academy Graduate

    Diamond likes this.
  25. PhilippineOrn

    PhilippineOrn Squad Player

    This is currently my favourite thread on this forum.

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