Using arcade monitors with the Raspberry Pi

mame

Along with the growing popularity of the Raspberry Pi, we’ve also seen a related uptick in MAME arcade cabinet builds. Putting this $35 computer in an arcade cabinet makes a lot of sense, but connecting it to one of the monitors found in old arcade cabinets is a bit of a pain. Luckily, [Celso] figured out how to connect a Raspi to one of these 15kHz RGB monitors, making for a much more accurate emulation of old arcade classics.

The Raspi only has two video outputs – an HDMI port and an RCA composite jack. The old arcade CRTs have an RGB input, so directly connecting a Raspi to one of these CRTs is a no-go.

The solution comes from two converters: one to convert the HDMI output to VGA, and another video downscaler that takes the 31kHz VGA signal and translates it into a 15kHz RGB signal. [Celso] settled on the GBS-8100 video converter, a rather uncommon piece of kit that can fortunately be found on a few Chinese eBay auctions.

After connecting the old arcade cabinet power supply to the Pi, hooking up an audio amp, and converting the controls to USB, [Celso] has a very accurate MAME machine.

Tiny MAME cabinet built from Raspberry Pi

It’s been a while since we’ve seen [Sprite_tm] pull a project from thin air, and we haven’t seen him do anything with a Raspberry Pi yet. All things must pass, and finally [Sprite] has unleashed his tiny, pocket-sized MAME machine to the world.

The build uses a Raspi for all the Linux-ey and MAME goodness, but [Sprite_tm] didn’t want to fiddle around with the HDMI or analog video output. Instead, he chose to use an SPI-controlled TFT display that is only 2.4 inches across. This isn’t a new hack for [Sprite] – he figured out how to connect this display over GPIO pins with a Carambola earlier this year.

To make his cabinet portable, [Sprite] opted for using old cell phone batteries with a cleverly designed charging circuit. When the power supply is connected to +5V, the batteries charge. When this power is removed, an ATtiny85 provides 5V of power to the Raspi and display.

No arcade cabinet is complete without a marquee of some sort, so [Sprite] used an extremely tiny 128×32 white OLED to display the logo of the game currently being played. Everything in the Raspi is set up to be completely seamless when switching between games, automatically configuring the controls and marquee for the currently selected game.

You  can check out [Sprite]‘s mini MAME booting straight into Bubble Bobble after the break along with some gameplay footage and finally switching it over to Nemesis. A very awesome build from an exceedingly awesome maker.

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Turning the Raspberry Pi into a cocktail MAME coffee table

Ah, the cocktail arcade cabinet. With the right design, its able to blend right in to any living room decor, much more than any traditional stand-up cabinet, at least. [graham] over on Instructables didn’t tear apart a 30-year-old arcade cabinet for his new coffee table. Instead, he built one from scratch, connected it to a Rasberry Pi, and brought hundreds of arcade classics right in front of his couch.

The build began by cutting up some wood to house the 24″ LCD screen, Raspi, and arcade controls. The LCD screen is supported with a rather clever system of cross braces screwed into the VESA mount, and of course a piece of perspex protects the screen from the inevitable spills and scratches.

The joystick two blue ‘player’ buttons and the player 1 and player two buttons are wired directly to the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi. The Raspi boots up into a selection of MAME games, but there’s also an option for opening up the window manager and browsing the web.

It’s a very neat build that’s a lot smaller (and easier to build) than a traditional cocktail cabinet. As [graham] is using it for a coffee table, it might get more use than a regular MAME build, to boot.

Building the most offensive video game ever

[Autuin] created the most offensive video game ever. Inside a small cocktail arcade cabinet, he installed his own video game that recreates the experiences of the Space Shuttle Challenger and her crew on their last flight.

The build started off by picking up an old cocktail version of Space Zap from The Hackery, a neat little recycling place that turns old computers, monitors, and even old arcade machines into something useful again. After [Autuin] lugged his arcade machine back to his home base at Free Geek Vancouver.

After drooling over the 30-year-old circuitry, [Autuin] disassembled the old machine and installed a mint condition 19″ VGA monitor where an ancient black and white CRT once resided. The control panels replete with their comically large buttons were refurbished and connected to an Arduino and the whole shebang hooked up to a slightly outdated computer.

The real magic happened when [Autuin] coded his game. He created a few sprites from NASA archival footage and made a game where a shuttle takes off and is controllable by each player. As the most offensive video game ever, the space shuttle blows up shortly after launch, declaring ‘game over’ for both players.

[Autuin] will be showing off his new arcade game with a new bezel and cabinet graphics during Vancouver’s Eastside Culture Crawl this November. The game will probably be updated by then; we suggested editing the ‘time to explosion’ to T+73 seconds, but [Autuin] said he’s thinking of ways to make it even more awful.

A Wireless MAME Coffee Table Controller

MAME coffee table plan

Although we’ve featured quite a few MAME controllers here, we thought we’d feature one more. It’s only a well-drawn mechanical plan at this point, but if the results are anything like the model or detail drawing, we will be quite impressed.

One thing that is of particular interest is the planned parts list. Amongst them are the typical joysticks, buttons, and even a trackball. What may be new to some of our readers is the bluetooth arcade controller by [Wayne and Layne] opensource hardware kits. Although they aren’t cheap at just under $80, and requre an Arduino Mega for use, this is nonetheless an interesting control option. The maximum button presses may be another limiting factor at 6, but it should be a cleaner solution than cannibalizing one or more wireless controllers.

Of course, we’d be negligent if we didn’t at least give you a link to a completed MAME controller. Be sure to feast your eyes on these images if you’d like some finished controller eye candy or check out the pic after the break!

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Diablo 3 is an arcade game, apparently

MAME cabinets are simply awesome. They’re a great way to relive the stained and sticky fluorescent carpets, loud noises, and Neon signs and blacklights of old arcades. If there’s one problem with MAME cabinets, it’s that gaming has moved on from the quarter-eating cabinets of yesteryear. It simply doesn’t make sense to put Starcraft, TF2, or other popular games in an arcade cabinet.

[Dave] grew up playing Gauntlet in the arcade, but the various console ports never lived up to the experience of playing it with a joystick and buttons. When Diablo 3 came out, [Dave] knew what he had to do. He built a Diablo 3 arcade cabinet, fully playable and faithful to the dungeon crawlers of yore.

Thankfully, an old cabinet wasn’t gutted for this build; a month before the game came out, [Dave] picked up a few pieces of plywood and built himself an arcade cabinet. After applying some very nice graphics and installing buttons and a joystick, [Dave] had a fully functional Diablo arcade game that doesn’t even require quarters.

Recently, we’ve seen our share of builds that turn traditional game controls on their head, a trend we hope continues. You can check out [Dave]‘s demo video after the break.

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Micro Star Wars arcade game is a work of art

No, it’s not just another MAME cabinet build. [Le Chuck] over on the arcadecontrols.com forum built a fully functioning 1/6 scale replica of the classic 1983 Atari arcade game Star Wars.

The hardware is a CAANOO Linux-based portable media player running an emulation of the classing 1983 Star Wars video game. When [Le Chuck] turns his cabinet on, MAME4All boots up and goes directly into the game.

Because there are no 1/6 scale arcade parts, [Le Chuck] needed to fabricate most of his build from scratch. The case is basswood, along with the very-accurate light up coin slot doors. The joystick for the game was a bit tricky; the Star Wars game used an X Z joystick modeled after the yoke in the cockpit of an X-wing. To build this joysitck, [Le Chuck] took apart a few pots and crafted the joystick out of thin sheet metal. The controls operate exactly like the original, only in 1/6 scale.

After the break you can see the video of this incredible build in action.

[Read more...]

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