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April 29, 2004

MAME'd Marble Madness: First Working Gallery

The new monitor is here and I've begun generating modelines. Check out the new cabinet blog for the details and tonight's pictures.

The new arcade monitor on the workbench being tested.
(click to enlarge)

MAME'd Marble Madness: Monitor Work

The new Wells-Gardner K7200A horizontal monitor arrived today. Not bad... ground shipping only took from Monday to Wednesday.

I made a captioned gallery of tonight's pictures and provided a narrative below.

I love a new arcade monitor. After collecting so many classics and dealing with old, burned, finicky and dirty monitors, a fresh new monitor with protective plastic yet to be peeled from the tube is a marvel.

I built my last VGA to arcade monitor cable by hacking the end off a heavy-duty VGA cable and wiring on an existing plug from a discarded classic wiring harness. This time around I ordered Ultimarc's mostly pre-made cable sans the arcade plug to save time. It is nicely labeled and ready to be mated with whatever kind of end you need for your particular arcade monitor.

Tonight I cut a compatible connector for the monitor side off some piece of arcade junk in my attic, removed the pins, trimmed the wires and soldered them cleanly to the pre-tinned wires in the pre-made cable. I then heatshrink tubed each individual solder splice.

The arcade monitor end of my VGA adapter cable.
(click to enlarge)

Continue reading "MAME'd Marble Madness: Monitor Work" »

April 26, 2004

MAME'd Marble Madness: Workspace

I thought I'd toss in a picture of where I spend a lot of my time (including where I sit as I write these updates to the site). This is my personal office at home where I work and play (there is a thin line between the two in my life).

My personal office at home. This is where I spend a great deal of both work and play time.
(click to enlarge)

I recently cleaned out the small room off this room and made it into a pretty decent work area. For the first time, I have all my tools sorted out within easy reach and the shelves (not visible) are full of neatly labeled containers with tons of parts and other stuff collected over the years. I'm getting so organized that I'm scaring myself. I know my wife is both pleased and slightly stunned. :)

I think getting this workspace functional is part of what got me jazzed about starting on a new MAME cabinet. Things were pretty disorganized when I built my first one, so the improvements are already speeding me along.

Birth of a New Box

I've added this new page to begin covering the development of my second cabinet. The basics are described on the news page.

When I left off, my corny new cheap case had arrived from NewEgg and I was about to build the machine. Quite a bit has happened since then, so I'll hit the highlights (such as they are) here.

System Build

I downloaded the ISO images for Fedora Core 2 Test 2 and burned the four CDs. That release had a few minor issues with booting properly from the CDs on certain Athlon systems, but I tracked down some workarounds. After that, I was having some odd lockups during the install process but eventually determined I had a bad stick of RAM. After a few hours of diddling around and thoroughly annoying myself, I was relieved to get the box built.

The new system on my workbench getting exhaustive RAM tests.
(click to enlarge)

Continue reading "Birth of a New Box" »

April 19, 2004

Seeds of a new MAMEbox

Yes, it has been ages since I did an update to the website. I am also very behind on responding to e-mail from folks, so please bear with me.

Life has been pretty busy lately and I have much to add to the website in the coming days. The primary thing I want to mention, though, is that I am starting to lay the groundwork for my second MAME cabinet.

I will definitely document the process in detail, but I figured I would mention the basics right now and use the site to document the progress.

A lot has happened in the AdvanceMAME and Linux world since I built my first system. In order to experiment with these changes, I am building a new system that is not based on the Dell I used in the first project. I recently updated the guts of my main desktop machine, so the previous motherboard, RAM, and processor are free for other use. With the recent purchase of a cheap case, I am now able to reassemble the parts and make a stand-alone test system.

This new MAME system is an Epox 8KHA+ motherboard with an AMD Athlon XP 1800+ and 512 Megs of RAM. This is substantially more powerful than my current MAME system. I also purchased a used dual-head Matrox G400 card on eBay last week since that card is getting quite a bit of praise in the AdvanceMAME groups. The case arrived today, so I'm building the test machine using Fedora Core 2 Test 2 so that I can make use of a system built from the ground up on the Linux 2.6.x kernel tree.

The goal for the immediate future is to get this sytem built, install AdvanceMAME 0.81, and start testing the kernel framebuffer with the G400 (as opposed to the svgalib-based system in my current cabinet).

I can plop this system down right next to my existing MAME'd Millipede cabinet for initial testing of the 15 kHz video, etc. This gives me a rapid way to test the software side of things first and possibly employ some of the upgrades in my existing cabinet.

In the coming weeks, though, I would like to start on the new cabinet. This system will be a horizontal orientation to complement my existing veritcal cabinet. I have a Marble Madness system (Atari System 1) at my office that will be the basis of the new project.

As with my existing MAME'd Millipede, no harm will come to this classic cabinet. My goal is always to make modular additions that will allow the classic cabinet to be restored to its original condition without compromise. You can read more about this philosophy in the Background section of this site.

I will begin updating this site soon, both to document the creation of this second cabinet and to discuss a few minor changes to my current system. Much of this site to date covers my journey from collecting original arcades to building a MAME cabinet. This includes both the philosophy and the technology behind the first project.

With the new cabinet in the works, I hope to enhance the website by focusing on documenting the advances in the technology and the improvements I would like to make in a second system after a year of hands-on play.

As always, comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. :)