All posts for the month January, 2011

A quick search via Google will give you many MANY hits on people building their own cab. Be it MAME or JAMMA, there are a lot of people who have been there done that and put up some paragraphs and photos to show. The best site I came across for cab plans was Jakobud.

Jakobud has a lot of cab plans, especially for older style arcade machines. They have cab plans for Donkey Kong, Centipede, Q*Bert, Mortal Kombat, Tempest and many more. Each set of plans is in two images, showing side on and front dimensions. They also cover both upright and cocktail cabs. There is also a section for a nice MAME cab if that’s what you are after.

After looking through various plans, I have settled on the Centipede cab. I will be building a slightly modified version of it, as the control panel will be different, and I plan to build a lot of it into the front panel where the coin mech is. With everything built into a front door, it will allow me easy access to everything for maintenance, fixing and upgrading.

Here are the original centipede plans:
Centipede plans

I plan to have a coin mechanism on my cab. It wouldn’t be complete without one. A quick search around some sellers online revealed there was quite a few to choose from. Most are what you would expect, a front panel for the coin and refund, while there are others that are an entire door.

All the coin mechs I came across had good flexibility in setting the accepted coin amount. Some are electronic, while others are mechanically operated. None seemed to come with a counter, these can but purchased separately and are only a couple of dollars.

The coin doors are much more expensive – up to 3 times the price of a single coin mech. These also come in electronic and mechanical operated. I didn’t look at the doors too much as they conflict with the design I am planning for the cab. A single coin mech most cabs just fine. But if you really want one, appear to be easy to come by (I found plenty on eBay and with parts sellers like OzStick / GameDude).

I have decided to go with an electronic operated coin mech – it can be powered from the JAMMA harness and I know will hook up with the coin counter I plan on purchasing. It set me back $30 including postage, which seemed reasonable after shopping around. Depending on the model you want, the price will vary, so you may find yourself paying a bit more just because the face panel is what you are after. These should work fine too with MAME cabs, although you will probably need an additional adaptor to hook it all up.

As a side note, I will be configuring it for 20c per play – the way arcade games should be 🙂

Another express post parcel arrived today, this time with less interesting, but still important parts 🙂

First up is the JAMMA harness:
JAMMA harness

Next up is the joystick, buttons, microswitches, PCB feet and bolts for the joystick. The two white buttons are the 1P and 2P buttons. I went with Red and Blue buttons for the gameplay – there were so many colours available. But I stuck with what I remember playing with over two decades ago.

Control parts

Thanks to the speedy delivery from OzStick for these.

Thanks to some advice on the aussie arcade forums, I ordered some parts from OzStick here in Victoria. I have placed an order for a JAMMA harness, buttons, Sanwa joystick and a few small bits and pieces for mounting the board. OzStick prices are pretty good, so its worth checking them out if you need parts.

My choice in Joystick was after some research on quality between brands. The most common brands I came across were HAPP, Sanwa and Zippy. The Zippy brand seems to be more of a budget joystick, while HAPP and Sanwa get the most praise. I found Sanwa to be slightly cheaper than the HAPP joysticks, but maybe with further shopping around that price difference could be reduced. Feature wise, the joysticks were basically the same – 4 and 8 way direction support, can swap knob colours and shapes and the ability to adjust the springs.

I went with cheap buttons. There are buttons from HAPP and Sanwa, some with built in microswitches, others without. There isn’t that much difference in price. You are looking at between $1.50 to $5 per button, depending on brand. The good thing is the buttons are easy to replace / upgrade so if the cheap option turns out to be bad, I can always get a better quality brand next time. I’m told the most important factor on the buttons is the microswitches. So you may want to consider getting the cheaper buttons, but better quality microswitches. I should also mention that there are a variety of button types too, round, triangle, rectangle, flat, bubble, dimple, and so on. It’s worth taking the time shopping around if you are after something specific.

The JAMMA wiring harness is a MUST if you are building a cab to use JAMMA boards. The wires are all ready to go. Plug it on the board, then plug all the wires into the buttons, coin mech, power, etc. I came across this JAMMA FAQ which was very useful.