While perusing the Net on January 5th of 2004 at roughly 2a.m. I was reintroduced to the concept of the M.A.M.E. emulator. I had experimented with a windows based M.A.M.E. emulator a few years back (roughly around 1998) and had throughly enjoyed reliving some of the older arcade games on my computer. However, at the time, I was playing them on my 166 MHz Packard Bell using a 14" display and my keyboard for a joystick. Needless to say the excitement slowly wore off and life moved on (as it tends to do). Fast foward to that night in early January when I stumbled across a M.A.M.E. related website and realized in the years I was out of the loop things had certainly changed. People had begun integrating the M.A.M.E. emulator and entire computers into a home built arcade cabinet, complete with arcade monitors and (here was the kicker for me) real arcade joysticks, pushbuttons, trackballs and even working coin doors. I was amazed and immediately consumed with the notion of my very own actual size vintage arcade cabinet standing in my home; complete with all of the arcade classics I remember from all those summers at the local arcade.
With that and despite the "You think you are going to build a what...?" input from the wife, I was off to build my very own arcade cabinet.
What followed was roughly 3 months of hard work. Many nights of sanding, painting, wiring, sanding, painting, sawing, routing, sanding, painting, drawing, complaining, sanding, painting, lifting, screaming, bleeding, painting, wiring, cursing, sanding, and painting. Also interwoven in there was more than my fair share of questions for the others who so beautifully tackled this project before me. Thanks to all of you guys. Without your help (many times late at night) I would either still be working, have given up, or been committed by now. Many of these kind souls can be found over at the message boards of the must-read site located at Build Your Own Arcade Controls
And then what?
The cabinet has been built for months now and we have played it almost daily. The reaction from visitors when they see it in the corner of our room is fun to say the least. Even more so when they are told we didn't buy it in a store we built it in a garage. Friends my age who remember these old games are amazed at the arcade look of the cabinet, feel of the controls and the fact that these thousands of games can be played (and continued within 10 seconds) over and over sans those damn quarters that were in such short supply when we were young. The coin door is fully operational and the idea of opening this arcade up to the neighborhood kids at a quarter a game to help pay the mortgage has repeatedly crossed my mind. Ha! Ha!
So here is the obligatory site to show the world how the cabinet turned out. Maybe it will inspire someone to undertake this project for themselves. I do wish I had taken more pictures during the construction itself to show the work in progress. I guess I was so caught up in the build, stopping to take a lot of pictures didn't cross my one track mind. I hope the finished pictures and commentary throughout the site might answer some questions, raise new ones, or provide a jumping off point for your own cabinet construction. Thanks for visiting.
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