Neo Geo Arcade Gets Second Life With A Raspberry Pi


An old Neo Geo Arcade, a Raspberry Pi, and some time were all [Matthew] needed to build this Pi Powered Arcade Emulator Cabinet.

Neo Geo was originally marketed by SNK as a very expensive home video console system. Much like the Nintendo Play Choice 10, SNK also marketed an arcade system, the MVS. The Neo Geo MVS allowed arcade operators to run up to six titles in a single cabinet. The MVS also allowed players to save games on memory cards.

[Matthew’s] cabinet had seen better days. Most of the electronics were gone, the CRT monitor was dead, and the power supply was blown. Aside from a bit of wear, the cabinet frame was solid and the controls were in good shape. He decided it would be a good candidate for an emulator conversion.

We’ve seen some pretty awesome arcade conversions in the past, such as this Halloween rendition of Splatterhouse. For his conversion, [Matthew] stuck to the electronics, leaving most of the old arcade patina intact. The CRT did fire up after some components were replaced. [Matthew] ran into some refresh rate issues with the Raspberry Pi, so he opted to swap it out with a modern LCD monitor. Controls were wired up with the help of an I-PAC board.

[Matthew] had to write a driver to handle the I-PAC, but he says it was a good learning experience. Aside from the LCD screen, the result looks like it could be found in the back of an old bowling alley, or a smokey bar next to Golden Tee. Nice work, [Matthew]!

9 thoughts on “Neo Geo Arcade Gets Second Life With A Raspberry Pi

  1. I love me a good MAME cab, but they’re so old hat these days that I’d hardly consider them a hack. (…hmm, seems I’ve become That Guy…)

    Here’s my from-scratch cocktail cabinet, largely based on Pac-Man plans but with my own suboptimal design choices: Just replaced the 10G hdd with a compactflash card this weekend, which helped boot times a bit.

      1. In my case, it’s way better on random access reads, anyway. I still needed to use lbacache to help out, the MAME executable is huge.

        Remember, I was replacing a 10gb hdd, which they probably haven’t made since what… 13 years ago?

    1. I had about 50 of the stand up cabinets when I collected them. They were all one game each.

      I hate everything about them now. They’re heavy, difficult to move, aesthetically ugly, take up too much room and have no other use but to be an arcade machine.

      My latest build is a cocktail machine that is the height of a coffee table and is a long rectangle with square edging. It has 2 joysticks (1x 4way and 1x 8way) at each end with buttons that are close to the edge to the table is also useful as a coffee table or for playing cards or even plonking down dinner or a laptop. Anything you would use a normal table for.

      I made it with wood and it has a very large glass inset in the top. I spent a lot of time on the cabinet so it looks like a nice piece of furniture. The wood is stained / varnished and all screws are hidden.

      I used an iCade 60 in one Jamma game board, Modified PC power supply, 19″ LCD monitor (aspect 4×5). All the buttons / joysticks are proper arcade types.

      The problem with PC’s is that they use a lot of power which means a lot of air movement, which means lots of fans and heat sinks, which means too much maintenance cleaning out the fans and heat sinks, dust in connectors etc. The only fan in my build if the PSU fan which runs very slowly because of the very small power demand. It’s main purpose it to push air past the back of the LCD monitor as that heats a little.

      So compared to an upright cabinet my build is – Low maintenance, lite, easy to move (on wheels), aesthetically pleasant, takes up some room but is useful as a table so it’s not lost room.

      My next build will be with MAME but I will be using a Raspberry Pi for the reasons mentioned above.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how hideous those ‘gold’ cabs were. Wood paneling? Really? Of course the marketing materials would have you believe that made it more attractive for non-arcade locations. Probably true, but still…BLEGH!

    I’ve got the control panel off one of them and the overlay is still ~90% (Lost some of the paint prying it up, sucker was glued on with a decade’s worth of spilled soda or something…frickin’ kids.) I’ve acquired quite the stock of NEO-GEO parts trying to build my own MVS cab, but then ended up buying a real beauty of a cab in top condition, for about what it would’ve cost to finish the build.

    He should hold on to that monitor if it’s in any kind of good shape, arcade CRTs don’t grow on trees, and they’re a bitch to ship. (Or just plain hard on the wallet.) Supplying voltage and controls to a real arcade PCB is the easy part, getting video out of it is often the difference between Nostalgia Nirvana and Ponderous Paperweight. Having a spare arcade CRT around lets you build an awesome test-bench. Just plug in any JAMMA-compatible PCB and play! (Also, at the risk of being ‘That Guy’, I have to say you just can’t recreate the feel of playing on a real CRT.)

    1. I agree, lcd screens look terrible for old arcade games. HLSL settings help but at the cost of a softer less detailed image and even then, they look blocky and don’t move right. CRT tv’s are easy to find and being given away free. They are also relatively easy to hook up to a PC or raspberry but people are more likely to have a pc available. A PC is also easier to hook up to 2 screens so you can use an lcd monitor to set it up (as text is hard to read on a CRT tv).

      It is very simple. To play real jamma arcade boards on a CRT tv, buy a supergun – an inexpensive device designed to do just that. They have been available for over 20 years and they can even be used inside an arcade cabinet if you want to use a CRT tv as the monitor.

      To play emulated arcade games, use a pc and an old crt tv. To connect the pc to the tv, you need either a graphics card with an s-video out (around $5 on ebay) or, for better results, an extron scan converter – this is a broadcast quality device that converts a vga input of various resolutions to a 15khz NTSC or pal output through s-video which works with an old crt tv. I got an extron SRC 200 for $50 off ebay and it works very well.
      An alternative is to use a Nintendo wii with virtual console. With the right connection, these can output the original 240p resolutions which can be more difficult to achieve for less advanced users on a PC (but it is possible).

      A raspberry is just a mini pc and using it to play emulated games is neither a hack, or the best or easiest option. It is smaller than most pc’s but a CRT tv or arcade cab is so big that any space savings become irrelevant.

      Any arcade project that uses an lcd display is going to be disappointing as games just don’t look like we remember them or even close.

      I would like to see a hack that allows me to get 240p / double strike output from my pc without using hard to find and expensive scan converters, arcade vga cards or soft 15hz software. I don’t understand what mechanism was used to manipulate the timings of a 15khz 480i signal to create a non interlaced image but I would like to recreate it. Throwing out half of the lines from a 480p signal doesn’t seem right to me…
      If this instruction wasn’t in the game code then maybe there is some hardware on a pcb that hasn’t been properly emulated.

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