MAME cab reviews or a roundup?

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MAME cab reviews or a roundup?

Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:08 pm

I stumbled onto this site:
http://www.redrocketretro.co.uk/
as it was in a Google ad on the League forum.

I had a look, its all very nice, but things seem a little pricey. Then I wondered: maybe not. Maybe these things are real works of craftmanship using only the finest quality components.

It struck me that I don't recall ever having seen a decent comparative review of off the shelf MAME cabs and components considering things like price, build quality, authenticity, after care, alternatives etc.

We've had a few reviews of sticks like the X-Arcade and some renovation projects (more of those too please), but not this middle ground.

I'm not even sure how many companies do these things...

Perhaps run a compo to win the test machines?

Surely that's got to be worth a couple of pages at least, given its a current business that potentially holds ad revenue.
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Post by Utini » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:40 pm

I did a bit of poking around at work, and those look like pretty standard retail prices for arcade cabinets. You can get better deals if you go via amusement machine suppliers / distributors; I've dealt with Cosmic Video before ( www.cosmicvideo.co.uk ) who were pretty helpful.
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Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:46 pm

But how does that compare with buying a used/refurbished JAMMA cab? I've seen those go for as little as £100. Add a couple of hundred for a PC and you have a MAME cab.
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Post by Opa-Opa » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:39 am

rip off site..
£300.00 for a chipboard desktop machine....??? Only if you got more money than sense.

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Re:

Post by Antiriad2097 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:11 am

Opa-Opa wrote:a chipboard desktop machine
But is it?

I'm guessing yes, but for all we know its made from mahogany.

That's what I mean - none of these things are cheap but we've got no consumer guidance to steer us clear of the crap.
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Post by FatTrucker » Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:56 am

RetroBlast have been reviewing arcade controls and vendors for a long time.

Generally speaking RedRocketRetro seem to sit around the same price points as most other arcade vendors. (arcade building is not a cheap hobby).
Ultimarc are probably the best UK vendor based on price, quality and customer support if you are going to do your own woodwork. Their interface boards like the Ipac are also the best and most widely supported throughout the mame community.

Pre-built control panels like X-Arcade and HotRod are cheaper because they are mass produced and use their own joys and buttons.

Vendors that supply custom control panels like SlikStik are quite a bit more expensive, but they tend to use good quality parts particularly if you are looking for unusual, customised or designer controls.

Overall its good to see another UK vendor in the market (most of it is over in the US) and hopefully their products and prices will develop as their business moves along. And for the most part their actual cabinet kits are cheaper than I have seen them anywhere else.
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Post by psj3809 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:14 am

At the end of the day its an old PC inside a wooden box with some arcade controls. I dont have the time nor even any basic woodwork skills to make one myself.

I bought a bartop machine for 350 quid about 18 months ago, happy as hell with it. If i had the basic woodwork skills/time/patience i could probably make one but i dont have many weekends free etc

This site looks quite cheap considering i looked at a lot of these machines previously. Some people on ebay are selling these for 1500 quid, i went into a department store the other day and they had a bartop for 1200 quid !

Do wish he would fix his site though, 'add to basket' buttons all over the place. If i had the dosh i wouldnt mind one of these

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Post by FatTrucker » Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:35 am

Yup, if you want to do a self build on a basic cabinet or bartop you are looking at around £100 for wood and fittings, another £100 - £200 (minimum) for controls and interfaces. You also need to consider the purchase of any new tools (T-Moulding in particular needs a special slot cutter for the grooves - not cheap). Then you need to source or buy a PC and monitor to put inside it all, add some speakers, lighting, artwork, cabling, T-moulding, and any other electrical bits and bobs, etc.

A basic cab build to reasonable spec and quality is going to set you back £500 minimum if you do it yourself and already have a reasonable PC to put in it, plus all the time and effort involved so it puts the prices into perspective a little bit.

I built my first mame cab from an old Electrocoin Xenon jamma cab, which cost me £100 (which I now have to sell if anyone is interested), and the final build still came out at over £900 total, plus around three months of weekends to set up (but then it is an all singing, all dancing one with lightgun, trackball, light up buttons and custom art etc).

Overall RRR don't look at all bad, the prices are competitive.
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Re:

Post by Opa-Opa » Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:41 am

FatTrucker wrote:
A basic cab build to reasonable spec and quality is going to set you back £500 minimum if you do it yourself and already have a reasonable PC to put in it, plus all the time and effort involved so it puts the prices into perspective a little bit.
Poppycock..!!!

I have been building MAME machines for a while now and a good cabinet will cost no-where near £500.00. Lets Break it down: (in an MC HAMMER style)

Empty Cabinet £50.00, E-Bay. Most come with joysticks and buttons as well.
P4 computer with 512MB ram again around £50.00 2nd hand
(you will not need DVD recorders or 19"TFT screens, just the tower unit.!)
I-Pac from Ultimarc £35.00. The ONLY way to connect your controlls to your PC with no fuss.
If you spent another £65.00 on bits and bobs and put £50.00 aside for the collection of the cabinet the overall bill is still only £250...

Half the joy of having a MAME cabinet is building it yourself, this makes maintaining the cabinet easy as well as you know it inside out.
If the tower unit you get has a TV out then use that with a 2nd hand large screen TV which can be bought at a boot fair cheap.
MAME cabinets do NOT have to be expensive.

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Post by yakmag » Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:54 am

I agree,

Bought a cab from e-bay for £76 that included a 21 inch tv AND an x-arcade 2 player joystick! :shock:

Have an old pc at home which i've shoved into it, i've bought a trackball and the roms (hem) for grand total of £30.

All in, i'd say my cab has cost roughly £150.

Bargain!! :D :D :D

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:09 pm

So there's two sides here.

We all agree it can be done on a budget I think.

Are the profit margins too high for the cab builders then?

Or is the couple of hundred extra just breaking even for them, allowing for the fact this may be their main income?

Or is it just that there are enough people with enough spare cash that they can afford to make someone else do all the hard work?

But £76 for a cab :shock:
Bargain. Can't even find any cabs round my way, never mind buy one :(
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Post by FatTrucker » Fri Jul 14, 2006 2:16 pm

If you already have a PC and simply want to transplant it into an old jamma cab and use the controls it came with, then it can be done on the cheap but it looks and sounds like what it is, an old (and usually scarred and beaten up) generic arcade machine with a PC plugged into it.

Anyone with an old PC sitting about can buy an old Jamma cab and a J-Pac for about £150 simply plug it all in and be playing mame within the hour, but the illusion isn't really complete because it feels like what it is....playing MAME on your PC with a really, really large controller. Although in all honesty thats probably all that most people want it to do.

I'm far more into the aesthetics of it all so probably have a different point of view to most people in terms of what is and isn't a decent MAME cab.
The point I was trying to make, is if you want to build a decent looking, dedicated mame/emulation cab to a reasonable spec (decent speakers, extra controls, new artwork, T-moulding, etc) then it costs money. Same as anything really.
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Post by Antiriad2097 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 2:50 pm

Which circuitously brings me back to the start - we've currently not much in the way of info on who does the business and gives us great repro cabs that feel right and who gives us cobbled together old cabs.

To begin with, I'd be happy with a generic cheapo just to get up and running.

In the longer term, I have ideas for multiple dedicated MAME cabs, for different control types - analogue stick, wheel, twin stick, spinner... you get the gist.
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Re:

Post by Opa-Opa » Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:35 am

Antiriad2097 wrote:
In the longer term, I have ideas for multiple dedicated MAME cabs, for different control types - analogue stick, wheel, twin stick, spinner... you get the gist.
You just need to build different control panels for the same cab.. ;)

As for cheap arcade machines looking poop and playing like a PC in a wooden box.. POPPYCOCK AGAIN...!!! :D

As long as you set the software up right from start up to shut down no one need know there is a PC inside the cabinet.
I picked up a Mortal Kombat arcade machine, empty (no game or monitor) for £70. It came with great red joysticks, all the buttons, coin door and mech etc etc... It had fantastic artwork down bothsides and looked the bollox..

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Post by FatTrucker » Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:00 am

That was a good buy. I had been looking for a cheap MKII for an absolute age but couldn't find one anywhere for under £100. Prob one of the best cabs for doing a mame conversion because of the nice big square CP. Smart looking cabs too.

Antiriad, again Retroblast is a good place for reviews of products and suppliers, and if you want to start with a cheapo then your best bet would be to buy a cheap but complete Jamma cab from ebay. Get yourself a J-Pac (which plugs straight into the Jamma harness), from Ultimarc, plug your PC into the J-Pac and you are away.

You can use AdvanceMame to make your PC video signal work directly with an arcade monitor or alternatively shell out a little extra for an ArcadeVGA graphics card also from Ultimarc which will display properly straight out of the box. Its all very straight forward and plug and play.

If you already have a PC you should be able to do the lot with change from £200.

Hope that helps.
In the longer term, I have ideas for multiple dedicated MAME cabs, for different control types - analogue stick, wheel, twin stick, spinner... you get the gist.
Spincade an absolute steal at just $5499. :shock:
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