Building my cocktail MAME arcade cabinet on the cheap! Part 2

By Andrew Davidson
on April 12, 2010

Parts Acquisition Continues!

After perusing the offerings of online retailers, buying arcade parts piecemeal is tedious. There are so many options that don't matter to me, and upselling on features is common with arcade parts. You can find the same button again and again in a thousand variations in color, whether they light up, what switch they use. Honestly, it's probably important to avid gamers, but not me.

I'm also making a tiny effort to try and buy parts from nearby distributors, half for shorter shipping times, and half for national pride. Even though most parts are ultimately manufactured in China, then re-distributed by other businesses, I find keeping it local is always a nice thing to do. I ended up using eBay for most purchases (I love Buy It Now!), and so far, most purchases are going to Canada.

Joysticks & Arcade Buttons

I solved my joystick/button problem in one swoop with this eBay Auction which includes nearly everything I'd need for a mere $35 shipped. I might be a few buttons shy, but I have some extra arcade buttons on hand from other projects. I couldn't find a cheaper package that had this much stuff in it. Including the (required) micro-switches seems like common sense, but many arcade button auctions don't include the switches!

The exact design of each player position is still to be determined. I'm figuring a minimum of a joystick and 6 buttons in a street-fighter layout for the 2 main players. The third player would get a trackball and 4 buttons in a dual-sided layout where buttons would act as 'left' and 'right' mouse buttons. This way you can also configure and do mouse actions with the third position.

Quarter Coin Acceptor

The fourth side of my cocktail MAME cabinet is the area for the coin acceptor and the Player Buttons. The previous auction has a Player 1 and Player 2 buttons included, but it's back to eBay for my 25ยข Coin Acceptor, which I found from this supplier for $21 shipped. This was the best price for an all-metal assembly that's brand new. I'll have more pictures of this during the install. It has a micro switch in it to verify a coin has passed the internal verification. There's a ton of anti-counterfeit technologies built into this small metal package. I noted a small magnet (to catch slugs), a metal pointy thing to catch washers, plus 3 individual adjustable guides to force it to accept only one type of coin. Very neat!

USB Button Controller/Keyboard Encoder

Figuring eBay was the source of all things, I did a search for 'keyboard encoder' and was pleasantly surprised to find a 30 input USB keyboard encoder from a tiny developer in Canada (3TRonics). At only $40 shipped, I picked it up without a moment's thought. I'd given up on my initial idea of buying an Ultimarc encoder, mostly because it ships from Australia.

This handles all the button and joystick inputs and converts them to keyboard inputs on the computer. Below is the standard keymap for MAME, as default programmed on this encoder.

P1 RIGHT R arrow P15 RIGHT G P23 SW5 Esc
P2 LEFT L arrow P16 LEFT D P24 SW6 Enter
P2 UP U arrow P17 UP R P25 SW7 Tab
P4 DOWN D arrow P18 DOWN F P26 SW8 OK
P5 SW1 L-ctrl P19 SW1 A P27 COIN1 5
P6 SW2 L-alt P20 SW2 S P28 COIN2 6
P7 SW3 space P21 RIGHT Q P29 START1 1
P8 SW4 L-shift P22 LEFT W P30 START2 2
P9 SW5 Z
P10 SW6 X
P11 SW7 C
P12 SW8 V
P13 SW9 B
P14 SW10 N

Total Spent Thus Far: $106

I'm awaiting the parts to arrive before I start doing cutting any wood to make the frame for my cocktail cabinet. Click here for part three of this developing build. Here is part one if you want to start at the beginning.