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xDragonWarrior

How much does it cost to make a Mame machine?

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So I've been trying to pinpoint how much it would cost to make a Mame machine and I've always thought it would only be around $500-600,if that but others have been saving over 1K.So tell me,what all the parts I need for a Mame machine an how much would it all cost to make a simple Mame machine(2 joysticks and 12 buttons,no trackball,no six player action,no Tron joystick etc)?

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It would all depend on a number of things...

 

Do you already have a cabinet?

Do you have a suitable "donor" cabinet?

Do you have a spare computer to run as the base unit?

If you have a spare computer, is it new/fast enough to work?

 

 

All of the above would be a good start point. Then, you need to decide on a few things...

 

1. CRT or LED TV?

2. Will you be buying a control panel that is "pre-fabricated", or will you be building your own control panel? (Control panel consists of the joysticks, fire buttons, track ball, spinner & etc.)

3. Do you plan on buying the games, or will you be downloading them from some sort of a torrent site?

 

All of the above factor into your costs. I would suggest that you look into what kind of a cabinet you are looking for as a final product, and then price out the pieces. All of the items you will need are easy to find on google. Best of luck!

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Ugh. That sounds like a headache. Aren't prefab Mame cabs about a k? Just let someone else do the dirty work.

 

Or better yet, spend the same amount of money on a real cabinet :)

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Ugh. That sounds like a headache. Aren't prefab Mame cabs about a k? Just let someone else do the dirty work.

It's not as bad as it sounds…especially not when you go the route of a pre-fab control panel. All of the rest is fairly basic. Monitor and control panel connect directly to your PC. The PC plugs into the wall. All that is left is setting up the menu options, which can be either integrated into the joystick controls or run separately from a keyboard and mouse. It all comes down to personal choices, most of which are determined by the aesthetic you are trying to achieve.

 

 

Or better yet, spend the same amount of money on a real cabinet :)

I love the real cabs myself, but it does limit you to just one game. It is certainly something to think about when you are giving up that much space in your game room/house.

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It would all depend on a number of things...

 

Do you already have a cabinet?

Do you have a suitable "donor" cabinet?

Do you have a spare computer to run as the base unit?

If you have a spare computer, is it new/fast enough to work?

 

 

All of the above would be a good start point. Then, you need to decide on a few things...

 

1. CRT or LED TV?

2. Will you be buying a control panel that is "pre-fabricated", or will you be building your own control panel? (Control panel consists of the joysticks, fire buttons, track ball, spinner & etc.)

3. Do you plan on buying the games, or will you be downloading them from some sort of a torrent site?

 

All of the above factor into your costs. I would suggest that you look into what kind of a cabinet you are looking for as a final product, and then price out the pieces. All of the items you will need are easy to find on google. Best of luck!

 

 

I already have a empty cabinet and a spare computer.Its a kinda recent computer.I have a CRT monitor.I have a premade controller panel(HotRod control panel).I will be downloading games but only games that are VERY expensive or hard to find(as I collect arcade machines).

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I already have a empty cabinet and a spare computer.Its a kinda recent computer.I have a CRT monitor.I have a premade controller panel(HotRod control panel).I will be downloading games but only games that are VERY expensive or hard to find(as I collect arcade machines).

It sounds like you are pretty much done then. Before installing everything, set up MAME on your PC, and test that your control panel and monitor are communicating with the PC. If all goes to plan, then all you will need to do is put everything in the cabinet and connect the monitor and controller to your PC. I am not sure what additional costs there should be at this point...other than cabinet artwork and a light up marquee.

 

Usually, when folks estimate $1k or more for a MAME cabinet, they are pricing everything out individually...

 

-new cab

-new, pre-fab control panel

-new computer

-software package

-cabinet graphics

-new monitor

-etc...

 

All of the above can quickly get expensive, if you are buying it all "brand new".

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Yeah, the question of “how much does a MAME cabinet cost” is very tricky to answer, because it is dependent on so many factors, such as what types of controls you want, how fancy you want to get, and what stuff you’re able to salvage from odds and ends you have laying around the house.

If you’re building, don’t forget to factor in costs for tools that you don’t own and can’t borrow from friends/family.

When I built my first cabinet, the only thing I already had sitting around were some 2.1 PC speakers for the audio; I had to buy the rest.

- Materials (MDF, glue, fasteners, misc. hardware, plexiglass, t-molding, primer, paint) - $400
- 2 x Happ competition joysticks - $20
- 1 x Happ super 4-way joystick - $10
- Track ball with USB interface - $100
- iPac keyboard encoder - $45
- 16 x buttons - $20
- Wiring kit - $25
- Misc. shipping charges - $25
- Cost of screw-ups and do-overs - $75
- Older PC and 21” CRT monitor from local classifieds - $80
- Marquee light - $15
- Smart power strip - $30
- Tools (router bits, drill bits, clamps, etc.) - $70
- Custom marquee and artwork from GameOnGrafix - $100

I’m going on memory from 3 years ago so these prices are only approximate, but as you can see, it’s right there around $1k for my project.

Granted, there are ways I could have skinnied this down if I absolutely had to. I could have foregone (or cheaped out on) the artwork, skipped the smart power strip (which allows me to power the whole rig up and down with one buton), skipped the 4-way stick, skipped the trackball, used a crappier/cheaper PC, etc.

I decided I wasn’t willing to compromise on any of these items, so I went all out (well, my version of all out, anyway).

I think a good rule of thumb for a nicely rounded end product would be $600 on the low end to $1200 on the high end, depending on scope, features, and extras.

Incidentally, I’m just finishing up a rig for my garage that consists of an X-Arcade tank stick mounted on a MDF pedestal I built. I had the monitor already (27” CRT television), but I had to buy the PC and speakers. Even that project cost me close to $500. This stuff adds up quick!

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Yeah, the question of “how much does a MAME cabinet cost” is very tricky to answer, because it is dependent on so many factors, such as what types of controls you want, how fancy you want to get, and what stuff you’re able to salvage from odds and ends you have laying around the house.

 

If you’re building, don’t forget to factor in costs for tools that you don’t own and can’t borrow from friends/family.

 

When I built my first cabinet, the only thing I already had sitting around were some 2.1 PC speakers for the audio; I had to buy the rest.

 

- Materials (MDF, glue, fasteners, misc. hardware, plexiglass, t-molding, primer, paint) - $400

- 2 x Happ competition joysticks - $20

- 1 x Happ super 4-way joystick - $10

- Track ball with USB interface - $100

- iPac keyboard encoder - $45

- 16 x buttons - $20

- Wiring kit - $25

- Misc. shipping charges - $25

- Cost of screw-ups and do-overs - $75

- Older PC and 21” CRT monitor from local classifieds - $80

- Marquee light - $15

- Smart power strip - $30

- Tools (router bits, drill bits, clamps, etc.) - $70

- Custom marquee and artwork from GameOnGrafix - $100

 

I’m going on memory from 3 years ago so these prices are only approximate, but as you can see, it’s right there around $1k for my project.

 

Granted, there are ways I could have skinnied this down if I absolutely had to. I could have foregone (or cheaped out on) the artwork, skipped the smart power strip (which allows me to power the whole rig up and down with one buton), skipped the 4-way stick, skipped the trackball, used a crappier/cheaper PC, etc.

 

I decided I wasn’t willing to compromise on any of these items, so I went all out (well, my version of all out, anyway).

 

I think a good rule of thumb for a nicely rounded end product would be $600 on the low end to $1200 on the high end, depending on scope, features, and extras.

 

Incidentally, I’m just finishing up a rig for my garage that consists of an X-Arcade tank stick mounted on a MDF pedestal I built. I had the monitor already (27” CRT television), but I had to buy the PC and speakers. Even that project cost me close to $500. This stuff adds up quick!

Thanks,and a thanks to you too Benny.I accidentally wrote above that I have a control panel(HotRod) but I do not at the moment.If and when I get said control panel(or X arcade) can I replace the joysticks and buttons with authentic/better joysticks and buttons(granted there the same size as the ones in the said control panel) and if so, are they easy to replace/which are the best I can get?I see these push buttons(GoldLeaf pushbuttons):http://www.ultimarc.com/goldleaf.htmlgoldleaf.jpg

they look pretty decent and there cheap($1.95)

Edited by xDragonWarrior

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Aesthetics wasn't important to me, so I waited until someone was selling their own Do it Yourself model on craigslist. It came with a custom control panel, a custom built cab (from MDF - very heavy), a computer running MAME 0.99, and a 27" CRT TV that connects with SVideo. It even has some custom "art" that I need to paint over some day, but is fine for now.

 

It only cost me $300 and was a great introduction to MAME and arcade ownership. Unlike you, I owned no other arcade machines and I was looking for a cheap option to start things off.

 

Probably the most important piece of advice you've gotten is to set MAME up on your PC and use it. Figure out how to set the options and get some opinions about the various UI choices and interface decisions. If you are comfortable on the PC then, as Ben suggests, you just have to move it into the cab. Because it was such a natural thing to use the PC as a dedicated MAME machine, I even looked at some mobile deskstations or standing workstations where I could just mount a face-level monitor and place a controller, but in the end the actual cabinet won me over.

 

There are expensive options, but a USB arcade stick is super cheap. My control panel uses an IPac interface that simulates a keyboard. You can connect all your joystick buttons and directions using easy disconnect clips and then screw down the wires into the IPac with no solder. That is if you do it right - mine is soldered everywhere. This means that you press up on a stick and the IPad receives that press, sending a keyboard stroke to the computer (up arrow for instance). It's just like you are playing with a keyboard except it doesn't suck. This also sounds harder than it is. It allows you to configure a set of common keystrokes for any game through MAME and you can use a set of keystrokes for whatever UI you end up using. It also enables you to use other emulators (Stella for example), and you can just map your sticks in the emulator like a regular keyboard.

 

Edit - The iPac is not a USB controller. I re-read the above and it was a little confusing.

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Thanks,and a thanks to you too Benny.I accidentally wrote above that I have a control panel(HotRod) but I do not at the moment.If and when I get said control panel(or X arcade) can I replace the joysticks and buttons with authentic/better joysticks and buttons(granted there the same size as the ones in the said control panel) and if so, are they easy to replace/which are the best I can get?I see these push buttons(GoldLeaf pushbuttons):http://www.ultimarc.com/goldleaf.htmlgoldleaf.jpg

they look pretty decent and there cheap($1.95)

Funny you ask this because just last night I replaced the stock sticks on my X-Arcade tankstick with Happs.

 

I think the stock X sticks would probably be quite acceptable for those who don't have much experience with arcade joysticks and aren't "used to" something different, but I couldn't get into them. I'm not upset about it though, because I knew I was going to replace them before I even bought the stick.

 

I used Happ Competitions as replacements. If you're not bothered by the clicky-ness of microswitches, IMO, the Happ Comp is a fantastic general-purpose stick and, at only about $10 a pop, a fantastic value.

 

The Comps dropped right into the X-arcade and bolted right up. Direct swap with no modifications necessary.

 

As for buttons, the stock X-Arcade ones are fine (again, assuming you're ok with microswitches).

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