MAMEing a CNC router

[Ed] is pretty old school. He loves the functionality of old industrial shop tools that have their own dedicated systems. With huge candy-like buttons, who wouldn’t? [Ed] decided to replicate this aesthetic by building a MAME controller for his Mach3 controlled router.

[Ed] had a bunch of MAME buttons and joysticks sitting around from a forgotten project. With his vinyl plotter, it was relatively easy to make a very nice looking control panel. To connect the buttons to the Mach3 computer, a disused I-Pac was brought into the mix. The I-Pac reads the state of the buttons and sends keyboard codes over USB to the computer.

Because the very popular Mach3 CNC software responds to hotkeys, it was very simple to make the buttons do as they say. [Ed] has full control over the X, Y, and Z axes as well as the spindle speed. It seems like this would be interesting to do some ‘free form’ CNC work on [Ed]‘s router.

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MAME cabinet 3D modeled and CNC milled

[Entropia] is just putting the final touches on his bar-top MAME cabinet (translated). The project started out as a 3D model to get the case dimensions just right. An old laptop is being, so the enclosure was designed to fit the bare LCD assembly and hide the rest of the computer. [Entropia] had access to a CNC mill through an education program and used it to cut most of the parts for the case out of MDF.

From there the build proceeds as normal. Mounting holes for the controls were cut with a drill and hole saws. We think it’s a bit easier to lay this design out once you have the control panel itself milled, rather than try to get it right in the 3D model. The image above is part way through the build. Since it was taken the case has been painted and a sound system was added but it looks like it’s still waiting for a bezel over the LCD and a marquee for the masthead.

You can see a demo of the game selection UI after the break.

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Turn your Wireless Keyboard into a MAME Controller!

For those of you that have a wireless keyboard laying around, you might be tempted to turn it into something else, like a wireless MAME controller. For those not familiar with it, MAME stands for “Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator” and is generally used to run older arcade games on a computer.

Encoders are available for this purpose, however, intending to save some money, and having an unused wireless keyboard, I decided to try to make one myself.  As far as I know there are no wireless encoders available for this purpose, so that was part of the motivation for trying this.

In this post I go over my mechanical design for the cabinet as well as the electrical process of going from keyboard to MAME controller. I did eventually get the thing working, but if more than a couple buttons were pressed simultaneously, some presses were omitted. The conclusion I eventually came to was that it was better to use an encoder to control everything. Not wireless, but much more reliable. If I absolutely needed a wireless controller in the future, I would think modding an actual wireless controller (or two) in a similar manner would have worked better for my purposes.

A MAME cabinet fit for a Doctor (Who)


While many people would be satisfied leaving a MAME console on their desk, others take the time to put their MAME creations in a nice, authentic arcade cabinet. Some people like [Simon Jansen] take the craft to a whole new level, crafting a TARDIS from the ground up in order to house a MAME console.

It all started with a computer that had no real purpose. [Simon] decided it would be great to use as a MAME console, so he started brainstorming ideas for an enclosure. As he tells it, he was staring out a window looking for inspiration when his eye caught a giant billboard for [Dr. Who], complete with a TARDIS. The rest was history.

The MAME cabinet is about 3/4 the size of an on-set TARDIS, and crafted mostly from MDF. Plenty of time was spent analyzing the different TARDIS designs featured on the show over the years, paying special attention to even the smallest of details. Once the construction of the TARDIS was complete, [Simon] started work on the MAME portion of the project.

His MAME console was built to completely fit inside the TARDIS when closed, but it also had to take into account the box’s inward folding doors, which take up a good bit of space. The base was also made from MDF, and includes a durable white plastic panel in which the controls are mounted.

The final result is amazing – it does the TARDIS justice, and it looks like plenty of fun to play as well.

Androcade is a controller and stand in one

We remember when retro-gaming required a lot of equipment and a serious time commitment to put together a gaming interface. [Scooter2084] proves that we’ve come a long way with this gaming controller built to complement Android hardware.

It’s not immediately obvious from the image above, but the controller itself looks just like Andy the Android. His head is tilted upward and acts as the tablet stand, while his torso hosts the controls. We don’t the arms and legs have a functional use but they are necessary to complete the look.

Traditionally arcade controls have used a hacked gamepad, or dedicated hardware like the MAME cabinets that use iPac control boards. But this rendition interfaces the joystick and four buttons using an Arduino. A Bluetooth shield lets you control the Android device wirelessly, and opens up the possibility to use this as a controller for laptop-based emulators and the like. Don’t miss the video after the break.

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Cocktail cabinet to be proud of

At a glance you might think it’s the real thing, but if you look closer you’ll see that The Distraction Contraption is an extremely well-executed cocktail cabinet recreation that hosts a MAME setup. [Sam Freeman] took pictures of the entire build process and has posted them, along with captions, as a Flickr collection.

The project started after some inspiration from this diminutive cocktail cabinet. He wanted his own version that was closer in scale to the coin-op versions that would have been found in bars a few decades ago. He designed the case to fit a 17″ LCD screen using Google Sketchup. From there, he cut out the parts and routed the edges. The controls feature buttons and joysticks, as you’d expect, but that red cap on the end works as a spinner. He tried out a few different ideas for this auxiliary control. He found that using LEGO gears to map the spinner’s motion to the axle of a mouse worked best. To give the plastic knob a better feel he loaded it with pennies to increase the mass, bringing momentum into play. The final look was achieved using wood-grain contact paper, and custom printed skins.

Mame cabinet springs to life from Ikea furniture

[Jed] built a MAME cabinet into some flat pack furniture (translated). For the housing he chose an Ikea Ramvik side table. This is a perfect piece of furniture for the project for several reasons; it’s cheap, coming in at under $70, it’s a reasonable height to use while sitting on the sofa, it has a built-in drawer that will hide the guts of the system, and it was designed to use a piece of glass as the table surface.

The electronics are pretty straight forward. A notebook computer runs the MAME frontend, with an auxiliary screen which is framed nicely under the glass. Controls are standard coin-op type buttons soldered to the contacts on the PCB from a USB joystick. The brushed aluminum bezel added to the surface of the table keeps the modern finished look that one would want with a showpiece like this one.

We always like to keep our eyes open for hackable items when visiting Ikea. Make sure to check out their As-Is department (preferably as soon as they open) to find hackable furniture on the cheap.