Adding digital game indicators to a Neo Geo arcade cabinet

neogeo

[George] is a Neo Geo aficionado, and among his collection of paraphernalia, he has a MVS-Mini game console. His mini “Multi Video System” is a 2-slot model, meaning that it can hold two game cartridges at a time, which are indicated by plastic cards inserted in the cabinet’s face plate. Instead of swapping those cards out each time he changed cartridges, he thought it would be far cooler to install digital displays instead.

He scoured just about every retail store he could before finding a handful of small 5” digital picture frames that looked to fit the bill. After some careful cabinet modifications he had them wired up and ready for display. The frames don’t hold a ton of pictures, but they do support the use of SD cards. [George] says that he’ll likely just buy a ton of small SD cards, swapping them out whenever he changes games, though over time that might become as tedious as swapping out the plastic cards.

We would love to see [George] take his new digital display up a level, so be sure to share your ideas in the comments. Perhaps we can persuade him to automate things a bit.

Comments

  1. DanAdamKOF says:

    Yaay, Neo-Geo related hacks are always appreciated :)

  2. Jebson says:

    How about pre-loading all the images onto one card, and using the picture frame navigation buttons to select the appropriate display? Better than an SD card per game, surely?

  3. Scytheon3 says:

    I wonder whether it would be possible to emulate an SD card using a micro-controller?

    • Scytheon3 says:

      Here is a very similar idea: here that was used to turn a digital photo frame into a weather station display.

    • Mikey says:

      Of course, but for most hobby level stuff you wouldn’t see very good speeds — and of course, you’d need to also connect something to the microcontroller to store the data anyway… like say a rom chip — or perhaps an sd card…

      But why? — The games aren’t stored on SD card — just the pictures… and surely, as already pointed out — he could put all the pictures on one SD card anyway… no?

  4. fartface says:

    Better yet, put a series of black marks on the carts, I’m betting he has less than 16 of them. 4 black dots read by a duino to select the right image from the SD card on the frame.

    Automatic image change based on the cart installed in each slot.

    • DanAdamKOF says:

      Probably not, most people in the NeoGeo scene have a good chunk of cartridges (I have around 20 myself). With a library of around 160 it’s not like there’s only a few games for the system.

      (Clicked “Report” on accident, bleh.)

  5. Simon Inns says:

    Since SD Cards are SPI you could always use a microcontroller as a SPI slave device and emulate the SD card. Then you could change the pictures by just changing the available files…

  6. Flavor says:

    Nice work. Now all it needs is this on top of each one.

  7. kerobaros says:

    I’ve been wondering how to do this for ages! Small digital picture frames. I used to sell those every day, and the idea never occurred to me. Kudos to you, sir.

    Now, step two: I am forced to wonder if it’s possible to gut one of those picture frames, and wire it up to an Arduino or Propeller, which would display the correct game’s minimarquee. Maybe put an RFID tag on each cartridge, so the uC can recognize it?

    These are the same ideas as everyone else in the thread here, but man. Keep us updated.

  8. hospadar says:

    I’m thinking a couple things:
    A) This would be great for a mame cabinet, you could display title images/screenshots/whatever on the secondary displays, as well as displaying control layouts.

    B) in terms of automation, probably the easiest thing to do would be to just hook up the SD card to a bank of transistors you control so you can quickly ‘unplug’ it from the frame and ‘plug’ it into the computer, load a new image and switch it back. An ugly way to do it for sure, but probably a lot easier than somehow feeding the images directly to the frame.

    Of course emulating an SD card could certainly work too, but I’d be loath to do it unless there are already some libraries to make it happen

  9. Rick says:

    if he is using digital photo frames — dont most of them come with remotes? Just load up all the images for his games — put the remote on the side of the machine — and hit next until he finds the photo of the game.. OR — hack the remote and add a button on the machine to just switch the images..

  10. Theranthrope [George] says:

    Hello, I’m [George] and I’m the creator. I want to thank everyone for the very kind comments here on Hackaday.

    As they are now; I have the screens cycling through scans of marquee cards for my 19 game carts, as a “Now Featuring” kind of thing. The screens hold eleven images internally, plus whatever images happen to be in the root directory of an attached SD-card or USB-stick (the firmware ignores sub-directories).
    Side note: I haven’t actually tried doing it, but I assume that if you attach the screens to PC via USB, it will pull any images that it sees in the “/” or “C:\” directory, without having to hack the firmware, which would lead to interesting… possibilities.

    I originally envisioned adding game-specific things like: character bios, move lists, and custom artwork for the screens to cycle through, but I’ve been too lazy to make then in the Gimp…

  11. Hey cool. I’m actually in the process of making an LED-based replacement for the original EL-panel backlights for the mini-marquees. :D

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