Since you are reading this then you either already know about building your very own arcade and your just looking for examples or you are brand new to the whole idea. If the latter of the two is the case congratulation on stumbling across one of the greatest hobbies EVER!


My Story

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How I Got ADDICTED!

My story starts in the spring of 2004. During this time period I was in my second semester of Graduate School trying to obtain a Masters in Business Management when one afternoon my little brother who was a sophomore in college told me that he was thinking of bidding on a Pac-Man machine on e-bay. We both went to college in the same town that we group up and my little brother still lived at home where he had every luxury a 19 year old can have. He lived in my parent’s basement that was originally a general purpose room. It had a couple of couches, a tv, a dart board, a pool table, and the even a Miami Heat pinball machine. Let’s just say that people were always over at our house to play pool and hang out. One day my little brother had the idea that he wanted to move to the basement for a little more independence. The basement had its own door so he could come and go whenever he wanted. Since the move the house had become and even bigger hangout spot than it was for me. He would have 10 to 20 people there at any given time during the weekend. This was when he decided that it would be cool to have an arcade machine to go with everything else.

Now growing up I was always a gamer. My brother like games but never quite got into them like I did. Between the two of us I think we owned every system that came out over the years, some of which we still have - the original NES being one.

Anyways, it all started with that one little comment he made. As soon as he told me of the idea I thought it was the coolest thing I had heard. I mean think about having your very own arcade inside your apartment or house. The idea struck me as something that I would like to do too. I am the type of person that when I get into something I dive right in. This was no exception.

I immediately started an e-bay search to see what kinds of games were available for sale and how much the games were going for. The Pac-Man my brother wanted ended up selling for almost $500. For the games I would want - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpson's, Revolution X, Gauntlet, or Golden Axe - the price was about the same and then you had to arrange to go pick it up wherever it was or pay the over $100 price tag of having it delivered. After a few hours of searching my hopes had pretty much crumbled for having my own arcade game. But during my searches on Yahoo! and e-bay I kept coming across something called MAME. At first I didn't it much attention - until I saw an item on e-bay that said "MAME kit - make your own arcade." After doing a few more hours of research I learned that MAME stood for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator and there was this entire community of people who had built their own arcade cabinets using the MAME software that could PLAY EVERY ARCADE GAME!

That was it, I was doing it. I was going to build my own... somehow.

That day during work I told some of my friends what I was doing and they all agreed that it would be the coolest thing if I could do it and get it to work. That weekend I went home and talked with my brother about how there was no need to waste the money on one game when we could have them all. My dad agreed but both he and my brother were more than a little skeptical when I told them about MAME and the process of using a computer inside a cabinet to make it a fully working arcade machine. My dad's concern was how was I going to wire it up to the computer and get it to work. I knew I could do that part, but my concern was on how were we going to build a cabinet. Okay, I'm no electrical engineer nor do I clam to be - honestly I don't know much about wiring and that kind of stuff at all, but I had friends who did and knew that if I had problems I would have some help. Now in my Dad's younger days he was quite the carpenter and he knew that he would have no problem building a cabinet as long as he has some plans to go by.

So after a week or two of looking for plans and further discussing whether or not we were actually go through with the whole project, my Dad and I sat down and talked about what kind of materials we would need and then talked about the ultimate deciding factor - $$$. During our discussion we came to the conclusion that building the cabinet would cost more than just buying an empty cabinet or something similar on e-bay.

Luck would have it, on eBay we came across a non working Neo-Geo cabinet about an hour from my home town. We won the cabinet for less than $100.

After picking up the cabinet and bringing it back to my parent's garage we all decided that this cabinet should be my brother's cabinet. I mean he was the one who initially wanted an arcade game. To make my story somewhat shorter I will leave out all the details about this cabinet, but I will say that working on this one was definitely a learning experience as I got a lot of hands on knowledge about how everything works and was supposed to work.

Once my brother's cabinet was finished, I started the search for my very own. Since my first experience buying a cabinet off eBay went so well, I used it again. This time I won a Final Bout cabinet for $150. This cabinet was in Kentucky and once I got there I discovered that the guy who I had bought the cabinet from had 3 warehouses full of working and nonworking cabinets. He owned arcades and used these cabinets in them. When I started inspecting my purchase, to my surprise, I found that the cabinet actually worked! Everything on the cabinet was fully operational. Unfortunately, the cabinet was not what I needed for my project. I really wanted a 4 player cabinet similar to a Simpson's or Blitz cabinet.

After I had purchased the Final Bout cabinet and had it loaded up I asked if he would sell any other empty cabinets. I told him what I was looking for and he took me over to his other warehouse where I got to go through every cabinet in the place.

After looking around for a while I found an empty Simpson's cabinet. It had been converted to another game since the side art had been replaced with a white laminate. The reason I know it was a Simpson's cabinet is because on the back of it is the original sticker with the manufacturer and model number on it. The cabinet was completely "gutted" except for the marquee retainer and marquee glass, control panel w/joysticks and buttons, and the coin doors, coin mechs, and coin buckets. This cabinet was exactly what I wanted. The guy wanted a $100 for the cabinet which I quickly coughed up. Once I had both the cabinets in my parent's garage I started the process of getting Arcade Ramrod up and running. I also put the Final Bout cabinet back on eBay. I cleaned it up and took better pictures of it and ended up selling it for $350, which paid for both of the cabinets I bought and left me with $100 dollar profit to use else where on the cabinet.

I am not going to go into the entire process of working on Arcade Ramrod here as it is all in the cabinet and software sections with pictures. Working on the cabinet is a never ending process and I have many more things that I want to do. As I get them completed I will post everything that I do with pictures. Enjoy!