Saturday, August 21, 2010

MAME cabinet bill of materials

With the MAME cabinet controller board here and my plans far more fully developed, it's time to start buying the supplies and materials for my MAME cabinet. I'll be doing a shopping trip today to Big Lots, WalMart, Allen Lumber, Aubuchon Hardware, and Radio Shack, and meanwhile I have a few things on order. Here's my bill of materials.

Computer System

  • Computer (~$200): Asus Eee Box HD 1006 Nettop PC. Includes a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and a mounting bracket, along with integral Wi-Fi and an HDMI output. Compact, quiet, and low on power usage.
  • Monitor ($165): Vizio 22” 720p LCD HDTV. A good size for 80s arcade games with good resolution. Has lots of inputs, in case I later want to hook up a Nintendo, Atari 2600, etc.
  • Controller Board ($500): MAMEroom Classic Controller. Yeah, I could design and build my own for less, but that's pushing my electronics skills and possibly also my carpentry abilities. My chosen configuration: CCBAAAAAAC-BBBAAAAAA-CFFFDDDDD-FFF000HEC-0O (no pinball buttons, yellow T-molding, a very colorful layout but no decoration). Another advantage: it can be set on a desk and used as is, doesn't have to be built into a cabinet.
  • Speakers ($6): I ended up buying a cheap set because they had a flush front face so they could be mounted within the case better than the ones I had lying around. The monitor has speakers built in too, but I want to have more than that.
  • UPS ($30): A basic APC UPS which I'll be setting on the inside floor of the cabinet. Should provide some protection against power flickers while also serving as a "power strip" so I have just one power cable hanging out the back.

Lumber and Trim

  • Melamine ($138): Three sheets of 4'x8' ¾"-wide black satin finish melamine. Getting it in black saves me having to do any painting (which makes assembly a lot simpler since I can mount things in panels before installing the panels) and will provide a shinier finish. (And if I ever get side art, it'll stick better, too.) Technically if I add up all the wood needs of my plans I need only two sheets, but just barely. So I'm getting three because something always goes wrong. (I didn't end up needing it, but it'll end up used in some other project.)
  • Two-By-Four Scraps ($0): A few scraps of lumber I have around the house which will serve as a mounting block for the monitor, and supports for the monitor shelf.
  • T-Molding ($31): ¾" yellow molding to install on the exposed edges of the side panels and along the horizontal joins above the monitor. Bright yellow (matching the T-molding on the edge of the controller panel) has that shockingly bright quality against the black that screams 80s. Routing the groove for it in the edge of the wood is tricky; I might just cut off the stem and hot-glue the molding on. I ended up needing about 30' but it comes in 20' rolls.
  • Marquee ($0): I took a MAME logo I found online, prettied it up a little, and scaled it to the aspect ratio I needed, then got it printed on a high-resolution color plotter (a friend was able to do this at the office at no cost).
  • Marquee Glass ($20): I bought a few cheap poster frames at Wal*Mart and the cut the thin, but nicely transparent, plastic cover material to size. Two sheets at 8½" x 22" will sandwich the marquee and will sit in grooves in the melamine.


  • L Brackets ($15): A couple of dozen L-brackets will be used for holding together lots of parts of the cabinet for additional strength. Two will be affixed to the outside on either side of the shelf on which the controller board (which is much wider than the case around it) will sit.
  • Pegs ($1): I plan to buy a few small pegs that I can screw into the bottom of the controller board which will sit in the holes in those L-brackets. This way I can drop the controller board into place and it'll sit securely, but I can just lift it right out when I want to. Update: turns out sheet metal screws are perfectly sized. Update: this whole plan didn't work, the pegs didn't really fit, so I went with a different approach that didn't need any parts.
  • Hinges ($4): Most of the back of the case will be hinged doors so I can get access to everything inside. No door pulls, though; I want everything flush, so I'll just jigsaw cut out little finger-notches.
  • Door Latches ($4): So that when the doors on the back close, they click closed.
  • Drawer Railings ($9): There will be a drawer under the controller board in front, hopefully mostly concealed, in which the PC keyboard and mouse will sit so I can get to them when I need to do system things, but keep them out of the way the rest of the time. The railings will let it glide in and out.
  • Feet ($3): Not sure if I want wheels or just coasters. This case is going to be heavy and will not move often so it'll probably just be coaster feet with levellers.


  • Case Fan ($27): A 120VAC ventilation fan to mount in the top to help keep the inside of the case cool. Hopefully it'll have a grill or cover, though since it'll be on top, that's not absolutely necessary. An ordinary PC case fan would work except I need to be able to plug it into the UPS instead of installing a whole power supply just to power this.
  • Fluorescent Light ($11): To be mounted behind the marquee. A cheap utility room light should be fine as long as it's short enough to fit and has an ordinary power plug. This just makes the marquee light up.

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