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My DUMB MAME cab related questions...


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Hi All

 

I thought I'd pick all your brains, and get some answers to the dumb questions I've been asking myself...

So, at the risk of looking pretty stupid-Here goes:

 

For start off here's what I'm planning innards-wise:

ex-office Dell Pentium4 (1.8-2Ghz?) desktop with 512 RAM, 40HDD, and XP. Planning on using existing LCD monitor too.

 

 

1. Hardware specific queries first:

*PC being used is an ex-office model as above. As an ex-business machine I'm guessing it'll have no GFX card or any built-in GFX capabilities..? Is it worth buying something? Pretty sure it'll run MAME OK-But how about say DAPHNE? or-at a push M2 for later Sega games?*

*Oh, without a graphics card is it possible to:

1. Flip games in Cocktail mode.

2. Use settings to tweak scanlines, etc? As I'll be using LCD monitor.

If the answer to above re. Flip and Scanlines-What (cheap) GFX card would cut it? How much? Easy to fit? (Sorry I'm a laptop person).

 

*What's the best way to shut down an (XP-based) cab?*

Is it to Hibernate? (With a full Restart periodically?).

*Ive heard you can get a PC to Hibernate *on power loss?-No idea how this works.*

Also heard about Smart Power Strips...but seem available from US only-and not cheap when shipping factored in-But heard they're not necessary.

So any ideas powerwise?

 

*Is running Speakers, Marquee/Button or any other lights,etc off USB *a good idea/solution? From a neatness on power on/off standpoint?

 

On speakers-I'm not needing great volume-So would PC/Monitors built-in suffice (it's a an ex-office Dell desktop).

 

*How easy to extend a headphone extension socket-but not have it mute the audio? Is it just a case of hacking into the PC/Speaker hardware and adding in an extra length or wire(s) and remounting the socket?

 

*Has anyone hacked a Dell SK 8110 keyboard-and got the matrix?

 

 

2. Emu/Frontend (FE) stuff:

*Is there a way to get an FE to boot to a preselected list (or lists-ie. all Drivers or all Vertical Shooters) of games in MAME-But retain option of going into full list without restarting? Guess I'm wanting to know if there's a way to have lists you can access from FE without exposing MAME UI-but at same time being able to streamline your selection options.

 

Oh, and can you get FEs that auto-boot into one selected game-then have the option to get back to games menu?

 

*Do any FEs have facility for displaying the MAME HISTORY FILES(S) info when cycling through? (or as an option?). I find this useful (especially the cheats ;) LOL) when playing games I've no knowledge of.

 

3. To be continued....

 

Many thanks in advance :)

 

Andy

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Ok I will try my best here for you mate....

 

The PC you are planning on using is going to struggle with those specs.....will run OLD old school arcade games no worries but likely to struggle with anything from mid to late 90s onwards in mame and I seriously doubt it will run M2 in any playable fashion. However if you were to upgrade the RAM to 2GB and whack a half decent graphics card in the old girl then she will run pretty much whatever you will throw at her. Being as its an old P4 Im guessing it will have an AGP graphics slot and not PCI-E so keep that in mind if you intend to purchase a card! These upgrade are very easy to install.....a quick youtube search will give you all the instructional advice you will need to doing this.

With an older machine like that I would recommend installing a stripped down version of XP (such as 'Tiny XP' or similar) as it will greatly improve its performance....Im sure one of us here can help out with that if you dont already have one.

Screen flipping, scanlines etc should all work regardless of whether you upgrade your system.

As far as shutting down a mame pc in a cab all I do just tap into the wiring from the original pc power button, put in splitters and run extra wiring to a push button on the cab somewhere....I usually put mine on the top or back of the cab somewhere so less likely to be accidentally pushed during the furious bouts of gameplay!

Smart power strips should not be necessary as most people only use these when using an old TV or similar instead of a monitor so it will fire the TV up as soon as the PC is turned on....If you are using a monitor it will already do this automagically!

Using the USB to power lighting is probably the easiest option if you dont want to tap into the pc power supply (which is what i do). USB will only give you 5v and for running button led's this will suffice, they will look a little dull, but it will work. USB strip lights are available that could probably illuminate a marquee quite nicely, but i use 12V cold cathode tubes from my local auto place and run them off the PC power supply.

PC/Desktop speakers will be fine...its all i ever use! They are small, easy to mount inside Marquee's and elsewhere, they usually have an external volume control/headphone jack that can be mounted somewhere out of sight but still within easy reach....I usually use the Logitech LS21 2.1 units, perfect for the job and cheap at around $20.

Dont bother with Hacking a keyboard to get the matrix. I have done it a few times in the past and you will just do your head in! Much easier and quicker to buy an I-PAC keyboard encoder or something similar.

The FE I use (Maximus Arcade) allows you to build multiple game lists, access and modify them, access the history files, jump back and forth from one list to another...etc, etc. Just about all FEs will (should) be able to do all this.

Once you have everything set up, configured, and running how you want it then you will want to set it up so when you turn it on it will autoboot straight into your front end program thus hiding the fact there is actually a pc hiding in there.....for this i use a program called 'instantsheller'. It will allow you to remove or replace the bootscreen with your own custom one and will automatically boot into whichever exe. you point it to.....never have to look at windows again!

 

Good luck with it Andy....its a lot of fun once you get going with it!

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And here is my go.

 

1) As Retro said your specs will be fine for the old school stuff, but will struggle or not be able to play daphne and especially M2 etc. The problem here will be the overall PC, not your graphics card.

 

* Screen flip will work for the games that support it, and that you can run. I imagine most games with screen flip would be the older classics anyway.

 

*Shutting down PC, I assume the best wat to shut it down would be to actually shut it down correctly, the way I do it is just flick the power off at the point.

 

*Speakers, Lights etc from USB. If that works for your situation and your happy with the result then that would be cool. All turns off when computer is shut down. As for whether PC monitors speakers would suffice that is up to your ears to decide. I like my games to have a nice sound to them so go with separate powered speakers for my setup.

 

* As Retro said, I would not worry about hacking for matrix etc, just get an i-pac.

 

2) The FE I use is Mala. Hyperspin is the current popular choice and I have no idea about that, no whether your rig could run hyperspin. For Mala, the FE tends to boot in to the last list you were in if memory serves. And you can then move left and right on joystick to swap between lists, all games, driving etc. You have to set the lists up yourself though.

 

Not sure if it can be set to auto boot in to the game.

 

Again, not sure on the ability to scroll through history files and cheats when scrolling games. Mala is fairly customisable so it my well be possible.

 

Hope any of this helps.

 

Edit> Oh, and don't worry about asking questions, everyone had questions at some point.

 

Edit> Just checked Mala on my driving cab. It can be set up to boot straight in to a game. Then exit as normal to the list.

Edited by knight76
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I'm a fan of MameWah and it does all that you ask. It's designed for use from arcade controls so suits use in cabs very well. Boots to last selected list and has pretty good list management methods, can also access the History file. It's a bit painful to setup.

 

I have XP shutdown cleanly (after exiting MameWah) on pushing the motherboard start button and then have a single power switch for the rest, which is just the monitor and amp.

 

Good luck and post some pics as you progress.

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My 2c,

 

>>>For start off here's what I'm planning innards-wise:

>>>ex-office Dell Pentium4 (1.8-2Ghz?) desktop with 512 RAM, 40HDD, and XP. Planning on >>>using existing LCD monitor too.

The 1.8-2 ghz Pentium 4 will be enough to run 90% of the stuff worth playing on MAME - won't run things like SF IV, but I'm guessing you already know that or don't care.

 

Chuck 2gb+ of RAM in it and track down a video card and you'd be laughing though

 

>>>1. Flip games in Cocktail mode.

>>>2. Use settings to tweak scanlines, etc? As I'll be using LCD monitor.

>>>If the answer to above re. Flip and Scanlines-What (cheap) GFX card would cut it? How >>>much? Easy to fit? (Sorry I'm a laptop person).

 

The flip games and scanline are settings in most versions of MAME and are controlled from there - nothing to do with the video card.

 

>>>*What's the best way to shut down an (XP-based) cab?*

 

Best way to shut down a MAME cab is with a button! :p

Just find the wiring for the PC on/off button in the PC case, extend/replace wiring to new small button somewhere - job done.

 

>>>*Is running Speakers, Marquee/Button or any other lights,etc off USB *a good

>>>idea/solution? From a neatness on power on/off standpoint?

Use USB for your buttons, power everthing else from a power board in the bottom of the cab - just be wary of the difference between 110v and 240v!

 

>>>On speakers-I'm not needing great volume-So would PC/Monitors built-in suffice (it's a >>>an ex-office Dell desktop).

As long as you're happy with them they'll be fine - wouldn't you want to use the original speakers in the cab though?

 

>>>*How easy to extend a headphone extension socket-but not have it mute the audio? Is it just a case of hacking into the PC/Speaker hardware and adding in an >>>extra length or wire(s) and remounting the socket?

I'd go the hack ;)

 

>>>*Has anyone hacked a Dell SK 8110 keyboard-and got the matrix?

Just buy an IPAC/JPAC IMHO

 

 

>>>2. Emu/Frontend (FE) stuff:

You can get some front ends to do pretty much anything, including everyhing in your list. Some FEs are much easier to set up than others, though the more complicated ones will give you the most customisation options. I use groovymame64 with a mamewah FE. Bit of a PITA to set up, but once done is fabulous.

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One thing you might like to add would be - most systems have a power on after ac loss or the like - this is set in the bios (press del or f2 mostly).

 

Then when you turn it on @ the wall it will turn on automagically. I have found this works for the family as rather than having to find a button they just turn it on @ the wall (no training needed).

 

Then bind a key combo to http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/shutdown.mspx?mfr=true when you want to turn it off (like that would ever happen).

 

Good luck with it.

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Do not use TinyXP or similar builds they cause more troubles than they are worth.

 

Install XP and read up on tweaks (some are built into the control panel) , turn off services you dont need .

 

The system will be stable and will serve you better in the long run.

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