I decided to go the easiest route that still gave me control over the components so I ordered pre-cut pieces. The cabinet arrived in multiple boxes and were of good quality. All the parts were labeled with lettered stickers and the build instructions were easy to follow. There were a couple pieces they forgot to send and a few were duplicates. I question their QA process, however, they were really good about it and immediately shipped new pieces.
I ordered the Classic Unit panel and added the midnight blue overlay. I highly recommend an overlay as it makes the controls look like a real arcade system. The painful thing is it took almost 5 weeks from when I ordered to the day it was delivered. The construction and overall quality is superb and definitely worth the wait. The Classic Unit has has a trackball, spinner, and 2 main joysticks. They have other models available with 4 player controls too. One cable is keyboard output which maps the joysticks and most buttons to regular keys, and two mouse cables for trackball and spinner knob.
It means if power goes out, it will turn itself back on and to the correct channel. All the classic games look great on it.
I tried using a newer nVidia GeForce 4 card but the S-Video on it was horrible and after reading that other people had similar issues I would suggest sticking with ATI if your buying a new card. The marquee was bought from Mame Marquee and featuring an awesome blue lightning effect. I think it really looks sharp and matches the midnight blue overlay on the control panel. Finally I bought two pieces of clear Plexiglas cut to fit from my local hardware store, sandwiched the Marquee in between the two pieces, and installed the light fixture behind it.
The lightning bolts coming out of the Mame logo look awesome when lighted.
This hides everything on the TV except the screen. I got lucky in that it fit perfectly against the screen and the T-molding held it in place without Velcro or tape.
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I used a sub-woofer I already had and bought Cyber Acoustic Speakers to mount above the pre-cut speaker holes. Keep in mind that your arcade can also double as a jukebox, so make sure you get something that sounds decent. I removed the screens from these speakers which revealed 6 empty holes. I took a couple screws and put them halfway into the cabinet and then slide the speakers onto the screws. It held pretty good by itself, but I also reinforced it with some good old duct tape.
This is a really slick power strip that allows you to have one device be the control power for numerous other devices. For example, my PC is the control so if I power it up then the strip powers on the other devices which include the TV, marquee lights, and sound. If I shutdown the PC then all the other devices will also shutdown.
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The coin door was the last touch to the arcade which is just for looks and has no real function. The arcade games do require a coin to be inserted prior to playing. However, the control panel has coin buttons to trigger this event. The door was ordered from Happ Controls and came with yellow coin reject buttons.
You can save money by not ordering the entire coin door system as the UAII plans state, but instead just get what you see from the outside. I took an old power supply and wired up the included 14V light bulbs. It was a nice final touch to the arcade. Emulators are needed to drive your arcade games which are called ROMs. Your PC is way more powerful than the original hardware that ran all those classic games and there is a whole community dedicated towards writing emulators to play them.
There are many emulators out there and what follows are my favorites:. The MAME Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator software is probably the best known emulator in the world and plays the majority of your classic arcade games. Super Mario Brothers and Zelda are games you just have to play. Kega Fusion Sega Emulator — Free!
The Sega Genesis has a great emulator called Fusion. The fast paced Sonic the Hedgehog makes it a requirement to download.
Stella Atari Emulator — Free! The Atari can be played using the Stella emulator. This console was introduced in and the games were very simple. If you remember Combat, Pitfall, and Kaboom! Daphne is an emulator that plays those classic arcade laser disc games. Now you can play as much as you like without a bankroll of quarters. Daphne Emulator — Free! You can buy them online or use bittorrent to download the MPEG files. I wanted my arcade system to look like a real arcade system and not a Windows PC.
This requires removing the Windows boot-up screen, login screen, mouse cursors, and background colors. It is actually possible to customize it so there is no trace of Windows. Front loaders provide an easy way to select an emulator and game to play without ever seeing Windows Explorer. There are many front loaders out there, some free, some cost a few bucks, and after trying almost 20 different ones I decided on Maximus Arcade.
It is very easy to configure and navigate games with a joystick or trackball. It also includes a MP3 player jukebox which is a nice feature. The best free front loader I found was AtomicFE. Another good front loader to check out is GameEx which is far more extensive than all others but looked too much like Windows Media Center for my taste.
I have over 7, different games available on my arcade system. I use the favorites menu to keep track of the ones my friends and I play the most. If I had to create a most played list it would include:. Golden Tee 2k 2. Berzerk 3.
Track and Field 4. Hyper Sports 5. Missile Commander 6. Galaga 7.
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Asteroids 9. Defender Super Mario Brothers 1 and 3 Zelda Joust Q-Bert Pac Man Centipede Street Fighter 2 Mortal Kombat 3 Dig Dug NBA Jam. I highly recommend building your own arcade system.