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View Full Version : Building my Dreamcast Arcade cab - Advice requested



leathco
31-08-09, 12:54
First up, I LOVE arcade gaming. As a kid, I only got to play in an actual arcade maybe three times a year on trips to the local city, and just fell in love with the hugeness of it all. Music, the unique cabs, the bad food, the entire atmosphere.

I built my first MAME cab about 7 years ago out of an old Pac-Man cab that had been through hell and back. I later had to sell it due to getting married and taking in a wife and children.

Well, I've recently moved into a large house, and I am turning the basement into my personal game/arcade lounge featuring 2 cabinets, a drink vending machine, the wall of cartridges (currently just a bookcase, its growing lol), a foozball table, and a custom jukebox-computer using a touchscreen interface. So, I'm on part one of this massive plan.

I also love the Dreamcast. Sega got it right when they made this system, making up for the problems with the 32X, Sega CD, and Saturn. Unfortunately, by then their name had taken too much damage, and the lack of a DVD drive hurt the system. BUT it's still had some great games and is a homebrewers dream with ports of MAME and tons of emulators, plus Beats of Rage. Not to mention all the arcade shooters and 2d beat-em-ups ported to it.

So...my first cab is going to be a dedication to the Dreamcast. My idea right now is to paint it white, and use the Euro Blue swirl as the logo instead of the orange US swirl. I'll be hooking it to a VGA monitor and using an X-Arcade controller with a Dreamcast adaptor. I'll be painting the X-Arcade white with blue trim, and will probably switch the black buttons out for blue. Where the coin-taker usually is I plan on putting a plexiglass window that will show off the Dreamcast itself, while the entire lower panel will be a door that when opens up gives you access to the dreamcast and stacks of dreamcast games. I also plan on having two light guns hooked up to either side.

As far as a marquee, I'm thinking maybe the blue swirl with the word Dreamcade in the background, and perhaps a small Sega logo in the top left corner. For side art I'd love to have the blue swirl in the foreground with tons of game shots of Dreamcast games on one side, than the other side of early arcade classics, some NES, SNES, and Genesis games as well, since I have Dreamcast emus for thos systems plus a few others. Than the Bezel is a similar idea, blue swirls center top and bottom with screenshots of Dreamcast games on one side and 8-16 bit systems on the other.

The biggest area I need help with is the artwork. I can kinda do it on my own, but if someone is good with Photoshop and can do a lot better than I can, it'd be awesome. Also I'm open to any advice or ideas on construction on the cab. I'm also curious if there is a way to change the flash rom on the dreamcast main menu to something more fitting to the theme of the cab.

I think this will be a fun little project to start up the game room before I build the beast Mame cab I got in mind (next year). Any advice or opinions at all would be appreciated.

PS thanks for the awesome podcast! I just started listening and got all the back episodes so I got plenty to listen to!

GameGavel
31-08-09, 04:27
Sounds like a cool idea for your Dreamcast cab. I am sure Scott can chime in and answer some of your questions. Good luck with that. And congrats on the house. You and I think alike. First thing to consider is where is the arcade going to go :)

Keep us upadated on your progress and post photos as it all comes together.

leathco
31-08-09, 04:53
Sounds like a cool idea for your Dreamcast cab. I am sure Scott can chime in and answer some of your questions. Good luck with that. And congrats on the house. You and I think alike. First thing to consider is where is the arcade going to go :)

Keep us upadated on your progress and post photos as it all comes together.

Thanks, I'd appreciate all the help I can get. My first cab had some flaws, but it all worked out in the end. I'm reading up all over the place and listening to your 3 parter on arcade cabs to try and absorb as much info as I can. I'll prolly get the wood and start prefab in a couple weeks, just doing a basic upright with the slant at close to the halfway point. I've been looking at www.mamemarquees.com to do my printing, as they did my printing for my last cab and it looked good, but I'm open to anything else as well. Like I mentioned, this cab is more or less just a dedication to Dreamcast, and the next will be the mega-cade with a PC powerful enough to do the new MAME titles.

And BTW I LOVE chasethechuckwagon.com! I haven't had any probs in any of the auctions I've purchased from, unlike eBay which I usually get scammed ten percent of the time. You're definately my first stop when I start game hunting. And the Podcast is absolutely awesome as well, been listening to it during my lunch breaks at work.

Oh one more thing - space is kind of at a premium in my game room. I'll prolly be taking up the max room putting in 2 cabs, the drink machine, mini fridge, and a futon. In the middle I'm looking at some sort of multi game table. This one looks kinda cool http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001U1L83Q but does anyone have any opinions on something else? There's not enough room for a full pool table, but this thing measures small enough so that it'd fit with enough from for people to play around it. Any thoughts?

miner2049er
31-08-09, 09:51
Scott will chime in here when he has more time, I sent him a link to your post and he has read it so expect feedback soon.

Also, you can look at my own MAME project here (http://www.jamesonline.net/arcade/index.html).

One thing you said worried me a little. Your artwork. It is very easy to go over the top and ruin a cab with bad artwork, particularly things like NES art on a Dreamcast cab so go easy and think about it first. Do some A4 paper printouts and bluetack them on so you can get an idea of how they will look.

Oh, and it's always worth looking at these awesome pages (http://www.jamesonline.net/arcade/crapmame/00.htm) at every opportunity. Avoid the pitfalls.

SubaruBrat
01-09-09, 12:49
I think he has some very good ideas. I would love to see the end result. Foremost I would suggest listening to UKmike's segment coming up on software jukes. I could see a set of wall speakers (to maximize space) and a wall mounted touchscreen software driven juke. A bargain laptop with the screen removed would tuck into a pretty thin and compact frame that the monitor could sit on.

As for your cab. Why not buy and convert? There are tons of who cares cabs out there for much cheaper than you can build. You could still use the guts of the Xarcade and dreamcast adapter, the buttons would just be mounted on an actual control panel. That also simplifies hardware and other selections.

For displaying the DC I would suggest removing the coindoor and making a nice bordered plexi window. You could black out a box behind it and throw in some small neon or LEDs designed for computer case modding to light it. You could still do racks for games and such, just hidden hinge the whole front.

Oh, and also, there are many Sega games out there, there are NOS and repro graphics for them. I am sure you could find a very nice Sega themed selection.

I also love the Dreamcast. I have a Wii and a Dreamcast in my workshop and hangar.

leathco
01-09-09, 01:00
I considered buying and converting but the biggest problem in my area seems to be availability. I checked with local arcade owners and was given some outragous prices....like $2000 for Mortal Kombat 2 was one of them I believe. Craigslist in my area only had an NBA Jam TE for $600...not a hugely bad deal, but still maybe a lil steep. Also, I just hate the idea of modifying a working cabinet. I have no probs with taking a thrashed cab and rebuilding, but I really don't wanna make a nicer one into a Mame cab when I can keep it nice and authentic to the original. If I could find a cab with the PCB stripped out and even a missing monitor for around $100 I'd pick it up and use it, but so far just nothing here (BTW I live in southern Indiana, so if you have any tips on where to find them in this area it'd be awesome). I'm very open to retrofitting an old abused cab that would otherwise end up in the garbage or worse.

As far as accents and whatnot, I had some interesting ideas. Some just as easy as changing the Dreamcast LED from orange to blue, all the way to painting it using blacklight paint and displaying it that way.

I really like the blackout box idea. Originally I was gonna go white on the inside box, but black would probably make the system stand out more.

I like your idea for the juke. I'll be tuning in to his segment for sure.

SubaruBrat
02-09-09, 02:51
I would get on KLOV @ klov.com and BYOAC (Build Your Own Arcade Controls) and post that you are looking for a cab. I would not go over $100 unless it is super nice.

leathco
12-10-09, 12:49
Sorry for the lack of updates. The profect has really slowed down due to lack of room in the house, my best friends girlfriend was evicted from her house and moved in with him, and I took in her furniture and stuff in my basement til they get everything taken care of. After having no luck finding a decent cab in my area, I've begun fabricating my own. So far all I've done is cut the side panels and back. I'm still slowly going about how I'm mounting everything in the front for best looks. I'm also considering adding an internal X-Box to the cabinet as well, heavily modded due to its extra horsepower running MAME and some emulators. Already got the X-Box, as well as the X-Arcade adaptors for both Dreamcast and X-Box. Right now I'm looking into hooking up both systems at once by splicing the connector, and having a toggle switch between the two systems so up selects the dreamcast and down selects the x-box.

SubaruBrat
12-10-09, 01:21
There are MANY multi console switches available at Target and other retailers. You just plug in and flip between them, no cutting or splicing needed.

CinemaslaveJoe
25-10-09, 01:24
My dream of building a MAME cabinet was rekindled after discovering this podcast. I've been looking for an affordable cabinet for a few weeks, and today I won this on eBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=350266445134

It's not gorgeous, but not bad for $9.99! I pick it up next week. (It's about two hours away from me.) I look forward to building my dream machine.

-CSJ

GameGavel
25-10-09, 04:03
My dream of building a MAME cabinet was rekindled after discovering this podcast. I've been looking for an affordable cabinet for a few weeks, and today I won this on eBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=350266445134

It's not gorgeous, but not bad for $9.99! I pick it up next week. (It's about two hours away from me.) I look forward to building my dream machine.

-CSJ

Great for $9.99. It's a great start!

SubaruBrat
25-10-09, 04:04
My opinion, and just that, order up a Centipede side art set, a centipede CPO and set it up as a track ball dream game.

GameGavel
25-10-09, 04:08
My opinion, and just that, order up a Centipede side art set, a centipede CPO and set it up as a track ball dream game.

I wish I had a trackball in my Mame cab. Yes, I know I can add one, but I am not good at that stuff :(

CinemaslaveJoe
26-10-09, 11:00
Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, the only way I could talk my wife into letting me build this cabinet is if she can eventually play Ms. Pac-Man on it. Ha ha! So although I hope to add a trackball to the control panel, it probably won't be a dedicated trackball machine.

Do you think the cabinet was once a Centipede then? By the shape, this certainly seems possible. But the auction lists it as a 1982 cabinet, and Centipede (I believe) was earlier than that. I thought maybe it was a Gravitar. Maybe after I pick up the cab and start poking around inside it (or stripping off that horrid brown paint), I'll be able to tell what she used to be for sure.

-CSJ

CinemaslaveJoe
08-11-09, 10:54
After a delay of two weeks, I went down and picked up the $10 arcade cabinet I posted about earlier. But I had a happy surprise waiting for me when I got there: the seller had about 50 cabinets on hand, and told me I could take whichever one I wanted. I ended up leaving the ugly brown machine I posted earlier, and bringing home a really sweet black JAMMA cabinet with room for a 27" monitor. (There is some peeling X-MEN art on the side of the cab, so I guess we know what boardset used to be inside.) This will, in my opinion, make for a better MAME cab. And I do love a nice big monitor.

The seller, Dave, told me he's looking to get rid of these cabinets fairly quickly, and asked me to spread the word. So if anybody's looking for a gutted cabinet and doesn't mind driving to the Lancaster, PA area, I've got your source. Send me a PM and I'll pass along Dave's info to you.

He had some great classic cabinets there too, if restoration rather than MAME-ification is your thing. I remember seeing gutted cabinets for Burgertime, Bump and Jump, Amidar, Joust, Stargate, Gyruss, Crazy Climber, Defender, and many more, along with several (working) pinball machines, including a sweet Charlie's Angels.

I ended up having a really nice chat with the guy. (He's got a Haunted House pinball in his personal collection, which of course makes me drool with envy.) And he even told me that if I'd brought a larger vehicle (I drove my minivan), he would've let me take more than one cabinet. D'oh! Almost worth a second drive to Lancaster.

-CSJ

miner2049er
09-11-09, 12:22
Somebody grab the Burgertime cab. It was voted one of our top ten arcade cabs.