I figured that since I get asked some of the same questions repeatedly, that would qualify them as, y'know, "Frequently Asked Questions". This site generates a fair amount of email for me, and while I really do like corresponding with people about all things cabinet-related, having to answer some of the same questions over and over gets a little tiring. So if you would, kindly take the time to read through this FAQ first to see if your potential question might have already been answered here.
(Last updated 2005 February 04.)
Q: Do you build cabinets or control panels for sale?
A: Easily the most common question I get is this one. Long story short: This is just a fun hobby for me, and for right now, I'd like to keep it that way. I'm very reluctant to turn something that I enjoy doing for fun into "work", so right at this moment, I do not do any "for hire" work of any kind.
Q: How much did it cost you to do your cabinets?
A: This is probably the second-most popular question that I get. :) When I did the Arcade Paradise 2 cabinet, I started to keep an Excel spreadsheet of my running costs, and it's avilable for download here. (I didn't do one for the Arcade Paradise 3 cabinet, since the majority of AP3's parts were scavenged from AP2.)
There are a few things to keep in mind about this spreadsheet, however:
Q: Do you have any regrets, or anything that you'd do differently?
First off, keep in mind that any "regrets" that I had with AP I fixed/changed when I did AP2, and any regrets that I had with AP2 I fixed/changed when I did AP3. But that said, the only real regret that I have with AP3 is the trigger stick on the control panel. I touched on this in the Control Panel: Building page when I said:
My one gripe about it though is that it does feel like a "hack". In other words, it's the one thing on my control panel that's not a genuine "arcade quality" component, and I can feel it.
This still pretty much holds true: it is kind of flimsy-feeling...especially when everything else on the control panel is genuine "arcade quality".
The other thing is that while I loves me some Tron as much as every other red-blooded gamer, the trigger stick is just sitting there for that one game. Yeah, I know there are a few other games that use a trigger stick, but really, the trigger stick exists pretty much because of Tron. It's kind of dopey to have a dedicated joystick for such a specialized reason. So were I to do it all over again, I probably wouldn't include the trigger stick on the CP.
Q: WHERE DA ROMZ AT, D00D?!? GIMMIE R0MZ!
A: Sorry, but for a multitude of reasons, I cannot and do not distribute ROMs for MAME, Daphne, or any other game system. The MAME FAQ actually covers this question very well.
Q: Okay, I just gots me a bunch of ROMs...now how do I play them??
My advice is that if you're brand new to MAME (and assuming that you're a Windows user), you might want to start out with MAME32 - it's a nice Windows menu-driven version of MAME that won't require any typing at the Command Prompt, nor will it require a separate front-end program in order to have a menu interface for playing games on MAME. Once you're comfortable with MAME32 and with how MAME works, you might then wish to move on and experiment with the command-line version of MAME and try out the various front-end programs out there. Or you might want to stick with MAME32. There really aren't any huge advantages of one version over the other, so go with whatever version you like.
Q: Do you have plans and measurements for your cabinets available for download?
A: Sho'nuff. Head over to the Downloads section.
Q: Can I get a copy of the artwork used on the AP3 cabinet? I don't see where I can download it.
A: Yep! It's not sitting on the site for download (for bandwidth reasons), but details on how to obtain the artwork are in the "Arcade Paradise 3" section of the Downloads page.
Q: I want to build my own MAME cabinet, but I've never done anything even remotely close to this before and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Where do I even start?
There is a bit of a learning curve involved in this hobby - especially if you don't have any experience with things like woodworking, electronics, wiring, etc. - and it probably looks near impossible if you're just starting to poke around in this for the first time. Trust me, I know...I was that person. If you're starting completely from nothing, I will tell you right now that you have a lot of reading and research ahead of you. I certainly don't mean that to scare you off, but short of buying a pre-made cabinet, there really isn't any "easy" way to pull this off.
Your first stop should be to the Build Your Own Arcade Controls FAQ website. When it comes to the hobby of arcade cabinet building, BYOAC is the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur'an all rolled into one, so definitely read everything on that site (yes...everything). What I personally found (and still find) helpful is to go to the "Examples" section of BYOAC and go to every site listed there. You'll learn a lot by reading how different people accomplished what they did on their various projects. Next, you'll want to go to the BYOAC forums and read through as many posts as you can. I know it's a lot to absorb, but these three facets of the BYOAC website hold the keys to almost anything that you'll need to know.
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