Cabinet Builders Wiki
Arcade and MAME Cabinet
Only used in a few games like Sinistar and
Blaster. Much like the analog joystick but with only a limited
amount of directions. In a MAME cabinet it would make more sense
to use a analog joystick with more game support.
AIM-Trak - Ultimarc
The Ultimarc AimTrak Light Gun Module is a
tiny PCB containing a camera and tracking logic which can be
mounted inside any available gaming gun body including arcade
guns and console guns such as Guncon. Some DIY assembly and
creativity is needed for the PCB mounting.
Joystick without microswitches and with a
unlimited amount of directions. Often used in simulation games
and often looks like a flight stick. Analog joysticks also
discern how far the handle is pushed from center position. Games
like Afterburner and Star Wars Trilogy use analog joysticks.
Modified windows video card that supports the
15Khz signal for arcade monitors. This is the right choice if
you are using a real arcade monitor. Some more recent games use
higher resolutions and cannot be used with ArcadeVGA without a
modification in the software.
Artwork is pictures/art on the marquee,
bezel, kickplate and marquee. Often this is printet on
self-adhensive paper or vinyl and can be difficult to mount if
you have no experience. Some people design their artwork
themselves and some uses reproductions of old original artwork.
On Project MAME I have custom made my own artwork. You have to
decide what is right for you to do.
Joystick with a colourful ball as handle.
Often used in japaneese arcade cabinets. Sanwa and Seimitsu is
known for quality ball-top joysticks. This is also the type of
joystick that gives you a "claw-hand" as seen in the sitcom
Friends. My hand was claw-like even before playing arcade games
Like the upright cabinet, but shorter. This
makes it possible to place it on a table. This is the right
solution if you are short on space for the upright cabinet.
Personally I think bartop cabinets are half the fun and people
will ask you why you cut your cabinet in half all the time.
The glass and/or artwork around and in front
of your monitor. Makes the arcade cabinet a happy place ;)
Plug to cover a pushbutton hole not in use.
Not used much in MAME cabinets as more pushbuttons is better.
The best Sega Dreamcast emulater. It's still
Cheap-ass product. Very good for T-moulding
and laminate, but poor for milling machines and paintwork. Use
MDF Board if you are going to paint your arcade cabinet.
The tabletop cabinet. The arcade parts is
mounted in a table where players can play on each side of the
table. This cabinet is a floor-space-eater :D
This can be added as decoration or it can
be connected to your encoder. I don't consider a coin door to be
essential, but it is a very nice touch none the less.
Panel in metal or wood
for mounting your controls. You will get an excelent result if
you place a picture between your control panel and a piece of
plexi or lexan, you will probably need to use a metal panel to
keep it thin though.
Your controlpanel should be atleast yay high... Ohh, you can't
see my hand. Try somewhere between 92 and 105 cm high, depending
on your own height.
Also known as glue blocks. Wooden blocks glued to increase
the strength of a corner joint or add support to a Arcade
cabinet. Added by Bob Shott
Lasergame emulator. Dragon's Lair and Space
Ace is probably the most famous of these games.
An emulator duplicates the functions of one
system to another. You use an emulator to play Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
ect. on a PC. Or playing arcade games on a PC. An
Emulator needs ROMS to work. See Roms. Some of the best
emulators to consider for a MAME cabinet is:
Chankast - Best Dreamcast emulator, still a bit buggy
Dolphin - Wii and
ePSXe - Best Playstation emulator
MAME - For
Fusion - For Sega Master System, Sega Genesis / Megadrive and
Future Pinball -
Advanced pinball emulator that benefits from shaders and Direct
Nestopia - For Nintendo Entertainment System
PCSX2 - Great PS2 emulator
- Nintendo 64 emulator
SNES9X - For super Nintendo
Visual Pinball - Arcade
ZinC - Playstation based arcade games
Zsnes - For
These PCB boards will encode your arcade
joystick and pushbuttons to keyboard inputs, to make them PC
compatible. You can choose from a wide range of Ultimarc's I-PAC, J-PAC,
KeyWiz models. The best choice at the moment probably is the
Mini-Pac / Opti-pac. The Mini-Pac features optional complete wiring harness
and support for optical input (trackball). This makes it a good
choice for beginners as well as advanced users.
Another choice is to mod a keyboard, this is the right solution
for the cheapo solder-freak, short of cash. Check for the
Ultimarc homepage under links for more
Cheap USB encoders has begun to surface on Ebay (2013), and they
seem to work fine and they are very cheap. This may be worth
trying if on a budget.
The best of the free Playstation emulators.
Visual interface made to make it easy to
choose games and run multiple emulators and multimedia functions
from the same interface. The front-end also helps with the MAME
settings. Personally I prefer GameEX, because of the easy
configuration and advanced features. GameEX supports all
emulators I know and helps you download the newest version.
Highly recommended for both noobs and advanced users. Right now
I am trying Maximus Arcade, because it has a much nicer look to
it. Here is
some other interesting and good front-ends:
||Popular choice for
Linux, OS X, Windows and DOS
||Good if you are using
an arcademonitor and good old
||Can be configured to
any emulator and application
||Open source front-end
||One of the most
advanced frontends. It is also at very good HTPC
frontend for music and video. You have to pay to avoid
disclaimers all the time :(.
||More or less what is
says, both PC and Linux. Works with any emulator.
||Variant of Hyperspin
FE for virtual pinball cabinets.
||Very nice looking and
very graphical front-end for various emulators. Not for
older PC's and only for
||Advanced open source
||Nice looking new
windows interface, very refreshing.
|| Popular freeware
front-end. One of the best. Very advanced features.
||Very popular and
simplistic front-end for Linux / Ubuntu
||Very nice looking
front-end, but it's not free and it is based on Flash
and that makes is super demanding on your hardware.
||Simple and sleek
interface for Windows
||Probably the best Apple
front-end. It's free.
||Only MAME, maybe a tad outdated
MAME frontends - The
complete list for more info
Superb emulator for Sega Master System, Sega
Genesis / Megadrive, 32X and MegaCD. Most front-ends supports
Advanced pinball simulator. Extremely nice
graphics, but need a pretty powerfull pc to run it.
Don't use glass for your cabinet, it is dangerous and it is very
hard to process. It is cleaning friendly though and you can use
any chemical products on it. It will not get any scratches
during normal use. Please use Lexan or Plexi instead, it much
safer and easier to process.
Iron or plastic cover for speakers or
ventilation holes. Almost the same as a grill, but the guard is
stronger and more authentic for arcade cabinets.
Gun bundled with different versions of the
Playstation game Time Crisis.
Manufacturer of quality
control parts. Very good standard pushbuttons. Excelent
joysticks for Streetfighter or other fighters. Often mounts well
in wooden panels.
Instant Sheller or
Basically the same as
X-arcade, but it's purple! See X-arcade.
An encoder from Ultimarc. See encoders.
Used to hide Windows and
boot directly into front-end. Works with Windows XP
service pack 2 and above and Windows 7. Needs .Net framework.
You can find it
An encoder from Ultimarc. See encoders.
There af 2, 4 and 8-ways joysticks. Most
joystick can be configured to bout 4 and 8 ways. Some games are
almost impossible to play with a 8-ways joystick, like Pac-Man
and Donkey Kong. Ultimarc makes some models that changes between
4 and 8-way on the fly (while playing).
A little program that
converts your joystick inputs to keyboard inputs. Some older
emulators only recognizes keyboard input and not joystick input,
this makes JoyToKey very usefull. You could also try Xpadder. Go
JoyToKey official homepage.
You can modify a keyboard to use as an
encoder. See encoders.
The kickplate is the wooden board under the
controlpanel. It is often covered in artwork. The kickplate also
houses your coindoor.
Same as normal microswitch, but wit a short
metal arm pushing the switch. Often used in joysticks and even i
Always use fluorescent light to save eskimos
and whales! A fluorescent light strip will make an even and
consistent lighting behind your marquee. It will also use less
power than light bulbs, and produce less heat. On most arcade
cabinets, the only place to consider light, is behind the
marquee. Lighting pushbuttons is another way to pimp your
cabinet, but they can be distracting.
4 or 8 way joystick witch can be shiftet from
the top. This makes it perfect for both 4 way and 8 way games.
The MagStik is centered by a magnet instead of a spring.
4 or 8 way joystick witch can be shiftet from
the top. This makes it perfect for both 4 way and 8 way games.
The MagStik is centered by a magnet instead of a spring.
Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. MAME is an
emulator designed to recreate the hardware of arcade game
systems in software, with the intent of preserving gaming
history and preventing games from being lost or forgotten. Some
MAME roms are free to use but most are illegal to copy. Official
MAME homepage here.
A cabinet featuring a PC running MAME and other emulators.
The cabinet often looks like a real original arcade cabinet, but
can also be a totally custom design like Project MAME on this
homepage. Many people use a original arcade cabinet to modify to
a MAME cabinet. Personally I don't think it is the best
solution, but often it is easier.
The banner in the top of
the machine, often used with light on the back of the marquee
art. Usually the picture/art is printed on high quality
photopaper and is placed between 2 pieces of 3mm polycarbonate
Better than chipboard if you are going to
paint rather than using T-moulding and laminate for your
cabinet. Very easy to process and excelent for milling machines.
Use atleast 16mm for cabinet sides. For backpanels 4mm - 12mm is
enough, but it would be cheaper to use a chipboard for
backpanel. So many choices to make...
A switch used in pushbuttons and most
joysticks. They have this clicking noise you are most likely to
have heard at some point in your life. Industrial grade
microswithes can last for atleast 10.000.000 annoying clicks. By
the way, Sanwa makes some switches that have a silent click. But
your wife will find some other things to complaint about I
I recommend the Cherry switches.
Basically there is 4 options for your cabinet screen. Number
one being the best solution, number 4 being the worst. BUT this
is not always the case!
1. Real Arcade Monitor
2. TFT monitor
4. CRT PC monitor
1: Arcade Monitor.
A real arcade monitor has just the right look and picture. You
can choose from a wide range of sizes. But is takes alot of room
in your cabinet and is pretty expensive. I also require a
special arcade graphic adaptor and often is only runs low
2: TFT/LCD monitor.
This doesn't take up much space. This means you can be very
creative when designing the cabinet, not being bound to
designing the cabinet based on the huge arcade monitor or TV. If
the monitor runs in other resolutions than the native
resolution, it has a soft look to it, almost like a real arcade
monitor. You will need atleast a 8ms response time. A TFT
monitor uses less power than other monitors and TV, and it can
show a wide range of resolutions.
Unfortunately a LCD monitor isn't as easy to mount and it's
rather expensive. Also 20" is the largest size in 4:3 LCD
3. TV. Cheap
solution. You can get a wide range of sizes from 14" to 32" or
more. Almost has the samme look as a arcade monitor. You will
need to have a SVHS out on your graphics adaptor and/or you will
alto need to modify a scart cable to make the TV turn on when
you start the machine. The TV has a max resolutions of 640x480
and this makes it a pain to use your operating system. This is
not the easiest solution by any means.
4. CRT monitor.
This is very easy to connect to your computer. You can find them
in many sizes almost for free on ebay or local garage sales. But
it has some downsides. The tube of a CRT monitor is extremely
deep comparet to the size of the screen. This makes it a pain to
fit it into a cabinet, the result being a small monitor and a
large cabinet. We wan't it the other way.
The monitor is also dead sharp in any resolutions and this is
not a good thing in this case, the games WILL look terrible.
Often you can adjust the sharpness on the PCB inside the
monitor, but this is not for everyone to do, I can be quite
One of the best Nintendo Entertainment System
OS - Operating System
for Mame cabinet
There are a few choices to make. I think the
time has run out for DOS. But here is a small list with pro's
DOS - Ultra fast boot-time, runs on Stone age hardware.
Drivers and front-end support is weak spot and getting worse.
Personally I think it's too out-dated, but is boots like a
Linux - Average to fast boot-time, free, runs on old hardware. Drivers
and front-end support is medium to good. I only recommend it only
because it's free and user created.
OS X - The Apple OS. Pretty fast boot-time, usually runs
on older hardware. Poor front-end and emulator support.
OS/2 Warp - Are you kidding me???
Ubuntu - Same as Linux
Windows 98 - Fast boot-time, runs on older hardware. XP has
better support for more front-ends. I recommend 98 for the
fastest possible boot.
- Much like Windows 98.
Windows XP - Average
boot-time, runs on older hardware. EXCELLENT front-end support.
Probably the best choice all-round. But again, average boot-time.
I recommend XP for the best hardware, emulator and front-end
Windows Vista - Slow boot-time,
needs newest hardware. Good front-end support, but should be
excellent at some point. Prefer 32-bit at this moment.
Windows 7 - Fast boot-time, needs
new hardware. Good front-end support, but soon to be excellent
at some point. Prefer 32-bit at this moment, but many emulators
are already appearing in 64-bit version.
Windows 8 -
This could be the new best choice due to the fast start-up
and shut-down times. Less demanding than Windows 7.
OS - Hide OS
There are several ways to hide the OS. The
Windows experience will destroy the illusion of the arcade
cabinet. Instant Sheller is a application for hiding the
OS while using GameEX, but it works with other frond-ends too.
You could also try Quick Sheller. Find them here:
Instant Sheller and
Quick Sheller. You can also hide the OS by configurating
your reg. database in Windows XP. Here is a good guide to hide
the OS, it's made for the Maximus Arcade front-end, but
will adapt to any front-end. Find it
New Android based console, that is very good
for emulation purposes and this could be something to be
considered for a mame cabinet.
Paddles look like spinners, but their
rotation is limited, where it's free on a spinner. Paddles are
usually used for breakout style games like Arkanoid. Today most
people use spinners for paddle games. See spinners.
Paint - Painting your arcade cabinet
Acrylic paint is fast drying and has
no smell to it. This is the way to go to avoid brain damage. But
it is not as strong as oil-based paint and will dry too fast
leaving you with a poor finish.
Oil-based paint is not very healthy and smells for a long
time. It is much stronger than acrylic paint and gives a much
much better finish. This is definately the way to go unless you
wan't kids at some point in your life :D
Superb Sony Playstation
2 emulator. Works with most games.
This is excelent for
bezel, marquee, controlpanel overlay ect. but not as forgiving
as polycarbonate/Lexan. Cracks easy but is cheaper.
This materiel is so much
easier to use than Plexi or glass. It is also known as Lexan,
but it is one and same thing. YOU will NOT get cracks when
drilling or cutting. This is excelent for bezel, marquee,
controlpanel overlay ect. It can also be bend like metal without
heating it with butan torch like plexiglass. This is more
expensive than Plexiglass though.
One of the best Nintendo 64 emulators around.
Very good front-end support. This is the emulator to get.
A time consuming project started by me. I
wanted to make a MAME arcade cabinet from scratch and did it. I
suggest you do the same to justify the hundreds of hours I have
use on this project. Just kidding, I was alot of fun, alot more
fun than writing this WIKI :D
PSP - Sony PSP
This is absolutely the number one choice for
handheld MAME emulation. This could be interesting to mod into a
micro MAME cabinet.
Colourful Arcade cabinet buttons. Normally
pushbottons have microswitches or leaf microswithes. The normal
hole-size for a standard pushbutton is 28mm. Some japaneese
pushbuttons like Sanwa or Seimitsu are mounted in 24mm holes
though, so be aware.
Pushbottons comes in a wide range of colours and even some
Also remember to get the 1 & 2 player pushbuttons. The
amount of pushbuttons needed for MAME is six buttons + player
buttons for the most button demanding games.
Consider having extra buttons for: Pause, volume and exit game.
Used to hide OS, just like Instant Sheller,
but doesn't need .NET Framework. Download it
A copy of the data in the original game
microchips. YOU WON'T FIND ANY ROMS HERE AND DON'T ASK ABOUT
THEM AS MOST ROMS ARE ILLEGAL. That said, some roms are made
legal by authors and some are actually homebrew and freeware.
joysticks and buttons. Often made to be mounted on a metal
controlpanel. To me, Sanwa balltop joysticks is legendary for
games like Pacman, Galaga and other non fighting games. For
fighting games I recommed Happ competition or others like Happ.
Japaneese manufacturer of joystick and
pushbuttons amongst other things. Very similar to Sanwa. Quality
fairly high but maybe a bit lower than Sanwa.
Artwork on the side of
the cabinet. You can paint it, but you will probably get a
better result by buying it or getting it printed on foil. I have
used posters and wallpaper adhensive, cheap solution.
Manufacturer of controlparts, controlpanels
and arcade cabinets. Some say they are bankrupt.
Small PNG or JPG pictures used in emulators
such as MAME to show the gameplay in games. You can find whole
collections of snapshots on the internet. For MAME the files is
often mamed snap.zip. Remember to place it in your /snap/
Superb Super Nintendo emulator witch is also
widely available for many many platforms, including ports for
Nintendo Wii, Macintosh, Unix, Linux etc. Truly recommended.
Official homepage: SNES9X
Sound System for MAME cabinet
Most people use 2.1 speakers for PC. They
connect car speakers to the subwoofer instead of the original
sattlites. They are easier to mount and often produce much
A good and cheap choice
is to use a PC subwoofer and a set of car-speakers. Car speakers
is easy to mount and sounds way better than the PC sattelites.
They are also easy to replace.
Used to shift between high and low speed in
racing arcade games such as Sega's Out Run or in the classic
Rotary Control part used for games like Arkanoid and
Pong. Very precise control. It more or less looks like an old
volume control. Ultimarc makes excelent spinners for USB and
Some people have modified a PC mouse to be a
Spinners rotates an unlimited time around it's own axis, just
like a mouse wheel. Paddles looks like spinners, but they are
limited to go around 360 degrees or less. These are used for
paddle games like Arkanoid, but you can use a spinner too.
Excellent USB spinner from Ultimarc. Fit's in
a standard 28mm hole.
Moulding that protects and hide the rough
chipboard edges. T-moulding can be found in many colours. You
need a milling machine to cut furrows in the chipboard to mount
the moulding. If you use a MDF board, you can sand and paint the
egdes instead. This requires less tools.
Small pictures of the title screen of a game
used in most emulators such as MAME. It makes is much easier to
navigate your games. "Snaps" is pictures of the actual gameplay
Just like it's PC counterpart, it's a mouse
replacement with a much larger trackball. Often used for golf,
minigolf and games like Missile Command, Centipede and Rampart.
A classic trackball gold game is Golden Tee Golf.
Ultrastik 360 (Ultimarc)
Probably the most advanced joystick to be
used in your cabinet. This joystick automatically emulates
various types of joysticks including 2-way, 4-way, 8-way, 49-way
and analog. This is the ultimate choice for your MAME cabinet if
you plan to play many different kinds of games / genres. It is a
bit expensive though, but totally worth the dough. Check
homepage for info.
The traditional upright cabinet type, where
you have to stand up or use bar chairs to play.
Adobe Illustrator is vector graphics and
fonts are vector too. Vector can be scaled as much as you like,
without loosing detail. This makes it excelent for artwork.
Remember to use vector and not bitmap for the best result.
Vector also keeps the file size smaller than TIFF or other
bitmap formats. But vector can't be used for photos.
Visual Pinball / PinMAME. This is the MAME of
pinball emulation. Some people have used a lot of time to
recreate classic pinball tables in 3D. Together with the
original ROMS from the pinball machines, you will get almost
perfect emulation of the pinball experience. The
VP forums is the best
ressource for more info.
Expect your cabinet to be heavy. Somewhere
between 120 to 200 pounds or 50 to 100 KG, depending on your
monitor and design. Project MAME is 132 pounds or 61 KG.
Remember to mount wheels under your arcade
cabinet. It is almost impossible to move around a cabinet
without wheels. Also makes the cabinet higher and thats good,
because most people makes their first cabinet too low.
Wii - Nintendo Wii
The Nintendo Wii is becoming one of our
favorite gaming consoles for emulations because it is so easy to
mod and install applications on via the Homebrew channel. Could
be the new hardware to use in your future MAME cabinet if you
are mostly interested in older games. Also interesting because
of Virtual Console, one of the only places to legally buy games
for older systems.
Ultimate Amiga Emulator for windows. The best
Amiga emulator. It can be very tricky to use and even more
tricky to work with your Front-end. This emulator often makes
beginners throw in the tovel.
Arcade controls for PC and numerous consoles like X-box,
Playstation etc. Build quality is pretty high, but not as high
as many Happ and Sanwa parts. This is a okay solutions for
beginners, but I recommend building your own controls using mini
pac or I-pac.
A little program that converts your joystick inputs to keyboard
inputs. Some older emulators only recognizes keyboard input and
not joystick input, this make Xpadder very usefull. Go to
The best Super Nintendo emulator and maybe the one of the best
emulators made. Most front-ends support Zsnes.