Mame Arcade Cabinet. part 3

Only now have I considered that I may not have any where to put this thing when it's completed.

Now that the pc and software is done we are at the point of no return. The Cabinet build!

All the plans I had looked at on the internet so far pretty much were designed around 3 sheets of 6'x 4' mdf and I had my plan all laid out. This is where the plan fell apart. No where sells 6x4 any more! The only mdf sheets I could get big enough where 8x4. This was a bit of a dilemna as I was hopeing to fit them in the back of the zafira but not now. I would also have to rethink my plans.

Having redrawn the plan I think I 'might' get away with just 2 sheets of 8x4 mdf, Its borderline wether I might fit it all in and It doesnt allow for any 'mistakes' so I'm going to play safe and get an extra 6x2 to be sure. 

The top 2 feet of each sheet plus the 6x2 will be used for the back, top and front panels, also there will be bits left over after the side panels are cutout for the rest of the panels and the monitor stand. 38x25mm battons for the frame and some handy 4"x4" fence posts I found in the garage will make a sturdy bottom and middle section. The plexi glass for the screen and marquee and also to cover the control panel I will source later.

I also had 2 peices of good fortune this week. One was chancing by a free delivery offer from wickes and the other was finding a complete roll of electrical wire in the garage (not sure where I aquired that from 'ahem') that will more than do for the electronics wireup.

This done, I have placed my order for the following and await delivery! No turning back now.

From wickes

MDF Board 12x1220x2440mm x 2

MDF Board 12x606x1829mm x 1


From Gremlin Solutions

Ball Top Arcade Joystick colour: Red x 2

Classic 1 Player Start Button

Classic 2 Player Start Button

Classic Arcade Button - Concave colour: red x 12

Classic Arcade Button - Concave colour: white x 2

Classic Arcade Button - Concave colour: black x 3

Classic Arcade Button - Concave colour: blue x 4


Total cost so far (including the PSU I bought earlier)


Time to start work

More goodies arrived in the post the next day, my arcade controls and I must say I am well pleased with this lot. The joysticks alone are superb and I can't wait to get them installed.

Look at these beauties

At time of writing, it rains everyday in the UK! but I managed to get a dry one and started to map the plans to the boards. The top 2 feet were cut off to be used for the various panels and I jigsawed out the 2 sides. I must admit this took no time at all and soon had the main components of the build, the side panels.

one side panel

Next up was to make use of some old fence posts I had in the garage which would give some stability to the structure (and save a few quid on materials). At this point I will add that Im actually amazed at how far I have gotten with stuff I already have lying about the place).

With the 2 sides screwed togther using the 4 70mm posts it was already quite stable. Adding some frame work the rest of the build was a matter of cutting and screwing the front, top and back panels to the frame.

The rear panel is split into 2 parts to allow access to either the monitor or PC section

I spent about a week on this, a bit at a time and I must admit its becoming a lot of work. With all the panels added I still have to smooth it all down and get a coat of primer on. I want to get it to a stage where the main carcass is built and I can start on the control panel and adding the monitor stand and front screen. This weekend is going to be significant stage of the project construction!

The Highs and the Lows

Well, the cabinet is mostly build except for the control panel and the monitor stand. But 1st I needed to get an undercoat of paint on it.

To be honest this is the ****est part of the project so far. MDF really roughs up once its painted so you need to give it an undercoat and sand it down. It took over an hour to just to apply the undercoat and wait all day for it to dry. Tommorrow will be spent sanding and smoothing down ready for the 2nd undercoat. This will be the last coat prior to the finishing coat and the design work.

During all this I've realised how heavy the thing is and this is without the monitor.

Whilst its drying I've started to plan out the control panel. My plan was to have a 2 player control panel and as I was mapping it all out my heart sank. It was a struggle to squeeze it all in but I think I have the layout done but it really is going to be tight. No matter, its going to be cool, I keep telling myself..

What have I become.

Today as a break from sanding down the undercoat I nipped out and spotted a set of speakers in Wilkinsons. £8.50, not bad I thought, just right for the cab. However, I had some reservations and I was right. They were too weedy. So I promptly swapped them with the family PC's set which were a lot more basey and sound pretty good. The missus and the kids think they have a nice new set of speakers and I have a pretty decent set for the cab, everyone a winner.

Of course no sooner had I tried them out for size, I had the backs off and removed the innards from the cases. I'm taking a screwdriver to anything that moves at the moment and there isn't anything that hasn't got it's original casing still attached and I havent ruled out doing the same with the monitor If I can't squeeze it in.

Note to self, a project like this needs a good sound system.

Cost so far:

timber framing




Finishing off..

The final part of the cabinet build has been tiring and all consuming. The 1st undercoat is on and sanded smooth and I spent pretty much all weekend applying the 2nd undercoat and cutting the control panel.

Yes, it's purple

Right now Its purple, making the most of some paint I had lying around but its lovely and smooth ready for the final paint job. During the process of draging the cabinet about, the bottom side corners were getting damaged so I made a modification and added 2 wooden feet to the back and cut out some cooling vents.

Usefull for draging this thing around

Something I never planned for

I had 2 options with the coin door. Find one in the garage or make one myself! Well there wasn't one in the garage and I quite fancy making one of these. This will be quite a challenge, especially the coin slots themselves but should enjoy it hopefully. So, I jigsawed out the panel which for now I will fix back in with 2 push buttons for slots. One good thing about this project is I can modify bits later on. The PC, monitor, controls, coin door will all be removable and modifyable at any point.

My home made coin door

With the cab reassembled it was time to get on with the control panel. I had been putting this off to be honest as it's got to be bang on. Any gaps or mis fitting will just look really bad so accuracy was the key here. A circular saw table would have been really handy but with no such item I had to jigsaw this part. It took 2 attempts got it in the end largely by cutting everything oversize and sanding and planing down gradually. Then added some cross pieces to rest on and its looking pretty solid.

Cross frame, designed to be strong enough for those times when you only get 18,045 at Galaxians

The control panel almost finished

Finally, marking out the buttons and drilling the holes. Without a drill big enough, 28mm, I had to jigsaw these and I think they came out ok.

No fingers were lost in the making of this.

This out of the way I can start on the wiring up of the panels which Im looking forward to. Still lots to do, the monitor stand, the speakers, marquee light, front screen, paint job and more.

on to part 4