Finishing the Arcade
Now that the majority of your cabinet is done its time to make it look pretty and finish it up entirely. These last few steps will most likely be somewhat different for everyone, depending on the project, for the majority though it will at least involve adding some sort of artwork.
Artwork for arcade machines generally consists of three different forms:
- Marquee – A marquee is the top artwork that is lit up from behind and is one of the most noticeable features of your arcade machine. Unless it is already printed on plexi glass or a similar surface you will need to sandwich the print out between two pieces of plexi glass and then use a marquee retainer to mount the marquee in place. The retainer is attached to the cabinet using screws (you can hide the screw heads with electrical tape or a sharpie).
MameMarquees.com – Where I bought mine from, option to buy plexi glass as well
EMDKAY – Another very popular place for MAME marquees
- Side Art – The side art goes on the side of the cabinet and can be simple graphic in the center or can cover the whole entire side. MameMarquees.com also sells side art. Another place to check out is the Arcade Art Library, however you will need to get the artwork printed on your own.
- Control Panel Overlay – Overlays are cut around the controls in the same fashion the control panel and the plexi glass were cut. They can be used to label buttons or simply enhance the look of the control panel. You can find overlays at the same two locations mentioned above for side art, however overlays are usually put on during the control panel construction.
If you would like to create your own artwork check it out in the BYOAC Wiki.
Another component that is usually added at this stage is a coin door. Coin doors, although generally used for aesthetics in home arcade machines, are a very nice touch to make your arcade machine feel authentic. Many people choose to wire them so that they are functional and are able to accept coins. To use a coin door with your arcade machine you need to:
- Get a coin door – You can get a coin door off e-bay or from Happ Controls, make sure it will fit the base of your cabinet (won’t be too big).
- Mount it to the cabinet – This may differ depending on the coin door you purchased but basically you cut a hole and then fit the coin door to it. Next use the mounting brackets that came with your coin door to secure it to the cabinet.
- Wire the lights and switches – Check the voltage of your lights (5 or 12 volts can be powered up by the PC, otherwise you need to use a separate power source. If you want an inserted quarter to actually add credits then wire the micro switch to your interface card the same way you hooked up the other micro switches.
As talked about earlier in the choosing a display section a bezel for the monitor is another component that’s added to give your arcade machine a nice finished look. If you would like to create your own bezel here are a few good guides to help you:
Lusid’s Arcade Flashback – Bezel out of foam and cabinet laminate – click on monitor
If you would like to buy a monitor bezel, Happ Controls sells both foam and plastic bezels.
After playing around on your arcade for a little while you may find that you’d like to change something. Maybe for convenience, better organization –whatever, now is a good time to go ahead and make that change before you become too wrapped up in playing your newly built MAME arcade machine. Some examples of these touches include:
- Mounting a USB hub (using double back tape) to your keyboard drawer
- Putting a knob on your keyboard drawer
- Sanding or filing down sharp edges (such as on the plexi glass) Creating a 1 button power up solution
- Using plastic tie wraps to keep wires neat and organized
If anything comes up later down the road that you feel you should address, go right ahead and do it. Just remember that you built the arcade machine so modifying it or adding on shouldn’t be hard at all. Good luck and congratulations on making it this far, now its time to share you project with the community!