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Old 01 January 2003, 00:01   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Connecticut USA
Posts: 500
Re: Building your own MAME cabinet, Part Two - The Hardware

Is the cabinet rigged for stereo? If it is a "modern" cabinet, it probably is. But if you see only one speaker, it isn't. I wired the speakers of my cabinet directly to my Soundblaster card and it sounds great. If your cabinet is mono, it might be worth your while to make it stereo. Just use some 15$ USD speakers... they usually produce a good sound... and mount them in the marquee area. Don't forget to cut some holes (discreetly) so you can actually hear them.
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You will probably need some sort of hardware volume control. If all you plan on running is MAME then you don't need to do anything else about this, since MAME has it's own in-game software adjustable volume control. But 99% of other emulators do NOT let you easily set the volume. If you want to run something else besides MAME, get a set of amplified speakers and run the volume control to somewhere *convenient*.

The best bet is to call a video game distributor and look for people who do this sort of thing on the side. If you are bold enough to try it yourself, prepare for a lot of soldering.
While many monitor problems can be fixed with a simple cap kit, there are many problems which CANNOT be solved with this alone. If you're gonna go this route, take a knowledgable friend along who'll be able to look at the machine and tell you if the picture tube is plain shot. Replacing the tube is way more expensive than a cap kit.

Note: If you are unfamiliar with the way a monitor works, DON'T TOUCH IT AT ALL. The tube stores high voltage even after it has been without power for days. If you mess with it without knowing what you are doing, prepare to take the jolt of your life. While I have often been told that the shock can be fatal, I have not heard of an actual case of this happening... But I STILL don't take the chance and handle monitors with neurotic care. I once took a hit from a monitor I had "discharged" which caused me to drop the monitor and nearly wet myself. No joke, don't play around with a monitor!!
I'll reaffirm this: if you're not familiar with electronics and picture tubes, you could be in for a very unpleasant experience. Remember: 24,000 to 32,000 volts.

A "special" drill bit to cut holes in the panel for buttons and the joystick
If you go down to the hardware store ask for a "hole saw". Measure the outside diameter of the buttons - I think they're 1-1/4" but I can't remember for sure.

About setting up the software: I use removable hard drive bays. These are bays that screw into the 5-1/4" bays on computers, that accept trays with hard disks in them. They cost anywhere from $20-$30 for the IDE versions. I have one in my MAME cabinet computer, and another on my master file server. Just set the drive to be primary master, and make sure each bay is alone on an IDE channel (secondary on the server PC). To update the hard disk (as you'll want to do once in a while), you just unlock the tray, move it to your fileserver, lock it, and power up.

Remove the mainboard and all of the other hardware from the case, including the power supply.
Rather than go through all that trouble, get 2 pairs of J-hooks, drill some holes in the floor of the cab, then screw them in. Place the PC on the floor of the cabinet between the hooks, then use two ratcheting tiedowns or nylon tiedowns to affix the computer to the floor of the cabinet. DO NOT USE BUNGEE CORDS! The object is to stop the computer from flying around during shipment or movement.

Wire the monitor up directly to this line, and use the part you chopped off to plug into the power supply for the computer when you get it mounted.
DANGER! If the monitor was wired directly to a transformer, DO NOT WIRE THE AC POWER DIRECTLY TO THE MONITOR! Wire the AC to the other side of the transformer (as it was before you ripped out the guts of the cabinet). Wiring directly to this type of monitor poses a shock/fire hazard of extreme magnitude.
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