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Can you help me make some MAME decisions??

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm going to be picking up a Arch Rivals game this Friday in antipation of creating a MAME machine. From the looks of the picture it seems like its been modified at some point. The Arch Rivals games I remember have only two buttons per side and this one has three.

The reading on this is quite overwhelming and I've been exposed to some of the concepts, I'm having a hard time determining what is the best and most cost effective route to take.

Here's what I have:
A complete set of ROMS and CHD's
A P3 650 computer (former HTPC) with a ATI 7200 video card and a decent sound card with a fresh XP install.
The above referenced cabinet

Here's what I need to decide:
Screen - do I buy something to convert VGA out so this monitor, put in a PC CRT monitor, or buy a TV and use the S-Video out of the ATI

Controls - I want to play Golden Tee and it looks like I could easily mount a trackball right in the middle of this cabinet and use the existing buttons and joysticks for the rest. Do I need more than 3 buttons+joysitck per side? Will I severly limit my gaming choices with this setup?

Coin Slots - it has working coin slots, how do I interface this with the PC?

Front end - I've looked at MAME32, is this the most user friendly front end?

Any other does and dont's from anybody who's been there, done that?

I hope this becomes a very interactive thread that can help me pull this together.

Thanks
LL
post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewerrat View Post

Here's what I need to decide:
Screen - do I buy something to convert VGA out so this monitor, put in a PC CRT monitor, or buy a TV and use the S-Video out of the ATI

From my understanding you need some expensive converter or something to use the existing monitor (actually don't remember the specifics right off hand). For the cabinet I built I was going to use an old T.V. and the s-video from my graphics card, but it looked terrible (It may have just been my graphics card, I'm not sure). I ended up just using a 19 inch monitor, which looks great -- the graphics are perfect!


Quote:
Originally Posted by sewerrat View Post

Controls - I want to play Golden Tee and it looks like I could easily mount a trackball right in the middle of this cabinet and use the existing buttons and joysticks for the rest. Do I need more than 3 buttons+joysitck per side? Will I severly limit my gaming choices with this setup?


I think most games don't use more than 3 buttons. It *should* be sufficient. But there are always gonna be games that do use more than 3 buttons. If you are going put in a trackball, putting in a couple of extra buttons on each side wouldn't be much more trouble. I personally have 6 buttons on each side on mine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sewerrat View Post

Coin Slots - it has working coin slots, how do I interface this with the PC?

To interface the joystick, buttons, coin slots, and trackball with your computer, your gonna need some sort of interface card. Here's the one I have -- It's called the I-PAC: http://www.ultimarc.com/ipac1.html. Not sure if that one supports a trackball or not.... I know they have one that supports a trackball though... They have a lot of goodies on that site. That's where I ordered all my bottons and joysticks from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sewerrat View Post

Front end - I've looked at MAME32, is this the most user friendly front end?

I use MAME32 and am happy with it, I'm sure there's others out there that do a good job too.


Here's a site with some great info about building a MAME cabinet: http://arcadecontrols.com/arcade.htm

Hope this helps and have fun!!

Dan
post #3 of 10
One trick I have found really useful is to acquire a couple of cheap logitech handheld joysticks from anywhere for under $20 or so. Rip them apart, and you have your interface box at a much lesser price than a dedicated interface box.

I have already interfaced a real arcade joystick to one, and am looking for an analog arcade joystick to use for the few games that use it.

As to a trackball, they sell on eBay 3" trackballs that interface to the computer as a mouse using the USB connector. This gives you two advantages.. 1) It controls the software on the PC, so you do not need a seperate mouse or buttons. 2) It does not require a seperate controller. If you are willing, take a commercial trackball, rip it apart, and mount it on your control surface.

As to the cabinet, I would purchase the cheapest cabinet you can find. Use a computer monitor (CRT) as those are real inexpensive, and work very well.

I am still deciding whether to mount the monitor as a landscape (standard position for a computer monitor), or portrait (Which is the way most video games seem to have their monitor). My video card in the computer supports rotation of the monitor.

As to the PC. I would seriously recommend a faster computer for some of the games. I ran Sega Sonic The Hedgehog on a PIII-1ghz computer, and it still stuttered for me. Some of the other games also seem to not perform up to their capacity.

Reedl
post #4 of 10
Another way to get around control is to build a detachable control panel. I was going to design an Ipac clone with a DB-25 port on instead of the screw terminals for swapping and never got around to it...but you could do it with the Ipac... Just cut a male/female DB-25 cable in half.. wire the wires on one side to the Ipac terminals...but keep track of what terminal to what pin on connector... then when you wire the other end of the db-25 to your controls, you can keep the pinout to where it needs to be.
The result of this is you can build control panels with specific layouts for games that had unique configurations, like Stargate..etc. 2 cheap folding clamps could hold down the panel and you can swap in and out in seconds. Each panel would have its own db-25 wired and hanging off underneath.
post #5 of 10
Mame32 certainly works but I went with GameEx -- http://tomspeirs.com/gameex/ which sits on top of Mame32 and is really snazzy.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewerrat View Post

The Arch Rivals games I remember have only two buttons per side and this one has three.

It could be an operator conversion, but it doesn't really matter.....you're going to MAME it anyhow right?

Quote:


A P3 650 computer (former HTPC) with a ATI 7200 video card and a decent sound

This isn't going to cut it for alot of games, anything made in the early 90's or beyond is going to drop frames like crazy. For my mame cab I run a 1.4Ghz Athlon and that runs most games just fine. The only time I have a problem is on some of the super modern ones, and frankly no machine will play them well.

If you go with this computer setup, I have a feeling you're going to be disappointed. Heck, I just threw out an entire P3 800Mhz machine that I ran at 900Mhz because it was too slow for just about anything.

Quote:


Here's what I need to decide:
Screen - do I buy something to convert VGA out so this monitor, put in a PC CRT monitor, or buy a TV and use the S-Video out of the ATI

If you want the old-school real arcade look, you can go with a TV that has svideo input...it'll look sufficiently low-rez (read: Authentic) for most mame games and should be able to handle vector games (asteroids, Tempest, etc) convincingly in that "this machine has been around the block a few times" kinda way . You can even play PC games on it if you dont mind the resolution hit. I've played Counterstrike on my LAN from my mamecab on a 20" flatscreen TV and it was perfectly fine...hardly as good as a pc monitor but definately fine for me to play on.

Quote:


Controls - I want to play Golden Tee and it looks like I could easily mount a trackball right in the middle of this cabinet and use the existing buttons and joysticks for the rest. Do I need more than 3 buttons+joysitck per side? Will I severly limit my gaming choices with this setup?

Depends on what games you want to play. I have a 4 player control panel.
Two of the sticks have six buttons each..this covers all your fighting games.
I also have a spinner for Tempest, Tron, some of the driving games, etc. Oh yeah, and a short stubby 4 way ball-top joystick just for playing the old school 4 way games like Pacman, Donkey Kong, etc, where an 8 way joystick just screws you up.

The two other sticks (say players 3 and 4) are towards the edges of control panel, and these sticks have fire-button tops with 4 other buttons near them. Why this way? Two reasons.

1) If you want to play dual-joystick games like Smash TV or Total Carnage 2 player, you need 4 sticks.

2) If you want to play a game like TRON or a game like ASSAULT, or any game that requires your hand be on a "trigger stick" while still using some other control or buttons, the button-top joysticks work for this.

I plug in a USB trackball if I want to play Golden Tee (PS: Dont bother with the MAME versions, they look awful....get the PC version of Golden Tee Golf). Its not a real substitute for an installed arcade-quality trackball, but I really dont play many trackball games so I didn't miss it.

The only controls I really dont have on my board are spinner joysticks, for games like Ikari Warriors or...time soldiers...hmmm i'm sure there are others. I actually have the joysticks but never installed them (didn't want six sticks either).

Quote:


Coin Slots - it has working coin slots, how do I interface this with the PC?

Unless you want to charge people, don't bother....its a pain for very little benefit. You can, however, if you want to. get a good MAME interface board designed for PC's and just wire up the coin slot microswitches to MAME and then map the controls to the "add coin Player 1, Add Coin Player 2" interfaces on the layout.

Quote:


Any other does and dont's from anybody who's been there, done that?

Yeah, start simple. This can become a huge pain in the ass if you aren't careful.

Buy arcade quality joysticks and buy a quality arcade/pc interface (I used one from Ultimarc, good for tons of controls...including the spinner unit), otherwise you'll be hacking **** together for years unless you are really dedicated. Take your time, dont rush it together just so you can play Pac Man.

Step one for you will be to install the roms and see whats unplayable on it.
Then think about a display...Svideo into an analog CRT tv will look authentic.
You can buy an actual arcade monitor that lets you plug VGA right into it, but they aren't super cheap..and they are also dangerous as snot if you aren't used to working around exposed CRT's. There's enough juice in an exposed CRT to kill you 10 times over if you aren't careful, so most people dont mess with them, but you may be bolder than I was
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well, its been a month since my post and a lot more research and some long nights and I've made some progress

I got my hands on a P4 2.4GHz
Got all the ROMs, etc loaded and configured with Mala and some custom screens
Got the cabinet gutted, painted, etc
Got a 21" CRT mounted in there.
Got the speakers and subwoofer mounted.
Got some Graylite 14 glass for in front of the monitor (easily the biggest "impact" item of this whole project, completely changes the look of the cab for the better-and only $25)
Installed new TMolding.
Printed and mounted custom artwork for the sides.
Mounted the PC power button on the top of the cabinet.
I'm using a smart strip which powers everything else (Marquee light, coin door lights, monitor, speakers, etc) when it senses the computer drawing a load.

Whats left:
Get my buttons, joysticks, and trackball. I placed an order on Jan 4th and haven't gotten it yet. Supposed to be here Tuesday. Decided to go with the IPAC to interface with the PC.

Then build the control panel, mount, and play!!

Thanks for all the help
post #8 of 10
Quote:


Whats left:
Get my buttons, joysticks, and trackball. I placed an order on Jan 4th and haven't gotten it yet. Supposed to be here Tuesday. Decided to go with the IPAC to interface with the PC.

Then build the control panel, mount, and play!!

Thanks for all the help

Suggestion: Mount your cabinet on Casters if they aren't there already....believe me, it helps...big time.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadRusch View Post

Suggestion: Mount your cabinet on Casters if they aren't there already....believe me, it helps...big time.

Good suggestion . . I've already done that.

Another good suggestion for anybody venturing down this road is to visit the BYOAC forums. A wealth of info there.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewerrat View Post

Well, its been a month since my post and a lot more research and some long nights and I've made some progress

I got my hands on a P4 2.4GHz
Got all the ROMs, etc loaded and configured with Mala and some custom screens
Got the cabinet gutted, painted, etc
Got a 21" CRT mounted in there.
Got the speakers and subwoofer mounted.
Got some Graylite 14 glass for in front of the monitor (easily the biggest "impact" item of this whole project, completely changes the look of the cab for the better-and only $25)
Installed new TMolding.
Printed and mounted custom artwork for the sides.
Mounted the PC power button on the top of the cabinet.
I'm using a smart strip which powers everything else (Marquee light, coin door lights, monitor, speakers, etc) when it senses the computer drawing a load.

Whats left:
Get my buttons, joysticks, and trackball. I placed an order on Jan 4th and haven't gotten it yet. Supposed to be here Tuesday. Decided to go with the IPAC to interface with the PC.

Then build the control panel, mount, and play!!

Thanks for all the help


A lot like mine. A few differences:

I have the X-Arcade controllers
No coin door
Used tinted plexiglass


Not a very good picture
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