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Looking for advice on an arcade cabinet


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Hi guys,


So I joined up a few days ago as I come in search of knowledge on arcade cabinets (upright and table top). From what I've been told (and now seen), I have come to the right place. I decided to hunt around the forums first before posting to see what I could find out initially. I am VERY impressed with a lot of the machines you guys have. Either purchased, refurbished or built from scratch. There seems to be a number of ways to do it (getting an arcade cabinet into your house), so I take my hat off to you all. There are some really talented people here (and excellent taste! :))


What I am wanting to do is get an arcade cabinet into my home (something I've wanted to do for a long time). I want to be able to play games like Wonderboy, Galaga, Bubble Bobble,

Gyrus and many more on an arcade machine - like I used to do so many years ago. I want to have an authentic feel when playing - I'm the sort of person who would rather play an Atari 2600 game on my old CRT screen with a sometimes dodgy video reception and original controller in hand, than sit at my desk in front of a PC screen playing an emulator. So I'm looking for some advice / opinions. Sorry if this is posted in the wrong section (Mods please move this if it's in the wrong section).


Keeping in mind some of the games I wish to play, some things I am trying to decide:


1) Upright or tabletop - Ideally I would get an upright, but could settle for a table top if required. Is there much price difference between the two? Building or purchasing? Is one better than the other for extended play? (comfort wise)


2) Original or MAME. Until I went looking through the MAME forums here, I was against purchasing / building a MAME cabinet as I didn't feel it would offer the authentic feel. But looking at some of the work people have done, and the results achieved, I find myself questioning my first thoughts. For those with MAME cabinets - how do you find playing them? does it 'feel' authentic? Or for those lucky sods with both - which do you prefer? How hard is it to purchase an original Galaga or Wonderboy machine these days? And if I could get one, is it easy to swap the boards to play different games?


3) Build or purchase - It seems pretty clear to me that building is a cheaper option. But does that lock me into MAME? Are there big savings to be have by building?


The above points are the starting point for me - I think once I have settled on those, I can research further. At the end of the day, I really want to own an arcade cabinet. I want that enjoyment I had many many years ago playing Wonderboy and Galaga at the local arcade. I now really looking for advice from the experts. Any input you guys can give would be appreciated! If i'm being too general and you need more detailed info to be able to offere advice, please ask.





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Hi Andrew, welcome to the site.


If you are experienced with wood, building a cabinet from scratch is certainly an option and there's a number of good cabinet plans on here.


From a comfort point of view an upright is far better than a cocktail as your neck can get sore from looking down at the screen after a long time.


Original or MAME - that's a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. Emulation simply is never the same as the real thing. If you're anything like me playing the games in MAME would do nothing but frustrate you.


Purchasing an original Wonderboy or Galaga macihne might prove to be difficult unless you are prepared for a huge restoration job. However the boards are very easy to come by, and extremely easy to swap over. Usually all that is required is your harness is unplugged from one board and plugged into another.

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well, seems like you have a coupla options. roughly speaking:


- multiple dedicated arcade cabs, one for each wanted game. no compomise on art, cpo or js/buttons layout. original games, harder to source. prob need to import. allow about $1000-2500 per item depending on acquisition approach.


- one or more dedicated arcade cabs (say 1x horizontal, 1 x vertical) with a 2 way or 6 way JAMMA switcher to select between dedicated boards. compromise on button and joystick layout and cpo choice. still able to swap out boards for diff. games. could buy or build. allow about $200-500 per cab and about $50-250 per board depending on acquisition approach. and $ for switcher


- one or more dedicated JAMM arcade cabs (say 1x horizontal, 1 x vertical) and exchange dedicated boards to the one you want to play. still able to swap out boards for diff games. compromise on button and joystick layout and cpo choice. could buy or build. allow about $200-500 per cab and about $50-250 per board depending on acquisition approach.


- one or more dedicated JAMM arcade cabs (say 1x horizontal, 1 x vertical) and multigame jamma boards. allow about $200-500 per cab , and $100-400 for a multigame board/system and allow some $50-200 to mod the CP to suit


- one or more dedicated JAMMA arcade cabs (say 1x horizontal, 1 x vertical) and MAME/other emulator pc. Allow say $80-200 for PC to JAMMA interface, depending on type of course and $50-200 to mod the CP to suit.


- build from scratch - allow $200-600 for timberwork, paint, artwork and related assembly parts. allow 200-400 for an arcade monitor or vga monitor, prob about $100 or so for jamma harness and switcher psu, then whatever arcade solution you choose for game playing.


you will prob find that no matter what approach you take, (a) you could be lucky and pick one up for a song, (b) it could become a money pit (but a fun one at that)


and, find that recent "modern take on..." thread and see how you could do a modern style build!


me i am into dedicated mostly, and mame/multiboard for those i cant get dedicated cabs for. yet.


good luck!

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I went the 'easy' route with a 60in1 board - most of the classics I am happy with and fairly inexpensive to build. The woodwork side is pretty straightforward if you choose a simple design.


There is a build log of my cabinet with a rough guide to pricing here:




Good luck with it which ever way you decide to go.

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when it comes to arcade andykmv and visy are gospel. even god asks these guys what to do when it comes to arcade. as for my opinion, i dont even know the difference between jamma and mame. for the record i have a 1230 in 1, 4 player cab and its all good but i would take it from ron jeremy for a dedicated mortal kombat.
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Hey guys!


Thanks for the replys! Just the sort of posts I was looking for. andykmv - you managed to increase my options while i'm trying to narrow them down ;) But you raised some good points and a few things I had not considered.


I've done some additional research after this post with the information you guys have given me. I'm really surprised at some of the info I manage to dig up deep within threads on this forum. I haven't found the search tool to be all that effective, but that could be my fault with poor search criteria. But I have enjoyed digging into posts and threads from the past - so much to learn and see.


The good news (for me at least) is that I now have a clear direction of where I want to head. Since this will be my first cab, I'm going to build and keep it on the simpler side. (I find it funny that I'm already considering 2 or 3 already :D - The AA banner "one is never enough" rings true). I was really impressed with Homepins project. I've come across some neat cab plans I would like to use, so it's going to be a 60 in 1 upright, with a number of the features from that project. I've also got a few other ideas I'd like to try and use too to give it some personal touch. I plan to detail the build, so be expecting pics along the way.


So I am now on the hunt for 60 in 1 board :D

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  • Super Moderator

Good stuff..


Consideration should be given to space, and an upright takes up a lot less space than an cocktail table.. Regarding your 60 in 1, GAMEDUDE on the forum here sells them in Brisbane for $89.00 - AA member special. I think they are about the cheapest out there.


Happy cab building.. ;)

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Thanks WOKA - I will fire off a message to GAMEDUDE tonight for some info on the board. My plan is to actually just get the board and the wood for the cab first. I will start assembling the cab, then buy all the other bits.


My main concern is the monitor and making sure what ever one I get - it actually fits properly with the cab. Maybe I'm worrying over nothing?


Edit: Thanks for the link andy - will follow that up now!

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  • Super Moderator
Dorian at GAMEDUDE sometimes is a little slow to reply to PM's and Email. If you have no luck, I work just around the corner from his shop and am happy to pickup and post the board to you.
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the multiway boards should allow the use of VGA screen or CGA screen, so you need to work out what type of screen as well - LCD or CRT.


if you plan on going CRT , find a suitable working 48-51cm colour tv, jomac can supply a chassis for it.


monitor bezels (the shaped black plastic surround) can be had from a variety of places to suit 19" CRT , screens no probs and lcd ones are available too .

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