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February 25, 2006

SpiffMAME: now on mameblog.com

This entry is my first post to mameblog.com.

SpiffMAME cabinet

To sum up the story of how I ended up writing stuff here, Aaron was kind enough to contact me after we had both posted replies to some questions about using matrox cards on the AdvanceMAME mailing list. At this point (november 2005), we realized that we had a lot in common, both in terms of our MAME cabinets, but also in various other respects.

I think the concept of a blog will be an excellent way to get a little more information about my cabinet written, and especially the ability for people to post comments is one I am looking forward to checking out.

So this category is dedicated to my cabinet SpiffMAME. Hope you find it useful. Drop me a note if you want to know more about it.

Continue reading "SpiffMAME: now on mameblog.com" »

February 24, 2006

Quick & Dirty MAME'd Marble Madness Video

I'm in the process of putting together a full write-up and photo gallery of my latest MAME'd arcade. This one is based on a classic Marble Madness Atari System 1 cabinet. I have the original Marble Madness, Road Runner and Peter Packrat boards and control panels for this system in full working order and have enjoyed them off and on for several years. Since the System 1 was designed by Atari to be highly modular and convertable, it was an especially appropriate candidate for "conversion" to MAME.


NOTE: I worked with the same goal in mind on this project as I did with my MAME'd Millipede: extend the functionality of the cabinet without making permanent modifications. Both of my MAME'd classics are designed in such a way that I mate the new control panel with the existing framework. The CP can easily be removed and the original control panel returned to restore either to its classic form. So, for those of you initially horrified by a modified classic arcade: your worries are misplaced. ;)

On a whim tonight I decided to do a quick and dirty video of the machine in action to give people an idea of how it works. The lighting is lousy, I have no means of syncing the arcade monitor with the video camera (resulting in the usual image roll on the monitor), and the sound isn't going to win any awards. It was an experiment, though, and I've already got some ideas of how I'll do a video that won't suck later. Stay tuned for that...

Having stated my disclaimer regarding the video's general crapiness, feel free to download it. It's formatted for Quicktime using the H.264 codec and also plays fine on my Mac using VLC as well as on my Linux workstation with MPlayer.

You'll see the control panel, title selection via the main menu (with game previews), the working quarter and token slots, one of the two LED backlit trackballs, and a little gameplay on Marble Madness, Joust, and Discs of Tron which uses the push/pull spinner and my DIY flightstick.

Enjoy... better stuff on the way soon.
- Aaron

February 23, 2006

MAME'd Millipede in Chinese

Links from the 2003 Scientific American article on my MAME'd Millipede keep cropping up in my server logs. I find this one especially amusing since it's translated into Chinese with little sprinkles of English and western characters where required.

Also, this site still has a larger copy of the great mad scientist illustration SA did for the piece with a very accurate rendition of the machine right down to the side art. A friend of mine from here in Sweet Briar who now lives in Beijing got a great kick out of reading this some time ago and assures me it's an accurate translation. :)

I'd love to know how active the emulation and MAME community is in China and if many people there are inclined or have the resources to build MAME arcades. I'll try to get my friend, Wiley, to put this copy of the article in context by looking at the larger site (which is obviously emu related to some extent based on the western words I can pick out).


- Aaron

February 21, 2006

Welcome to the New Site

The time has finally come for http://sparhawk.sbc.edu/MAME - the original website documenting my MAME'd Millipede - to finally get a complete overhaul. This new blog represents the beginning of that process as well as laying the groundwork for adding a significant amount of new content on lots of classic gaming and emulation topics.

First off, I've migrated virtually all of the articles and images from the original site and woven them into the more dynamic structure of a blog. This preserves all of the original information both for historical and reference purposes. I can now expand on that information with new entries that document changes to the original machine and illustrate its evolution.


Since the old site had a more static sidebar that allowed for quick, topical navigation, I've attempted to re-establish that by making a MAME'd Millipede Project Index that links to all of the same articles as before within the new site. The categories on the right sidebar will also take you to any sub-section of the project.

The last entries on the old site - almost two years old - alluded to the beginnings of a second MAME arcade based on a Marble Madness. I've finished that system in recent months but haven't documented the project yet. I wanted to get this new blog in place before doing the new write-up, so I'm pleased to say that will be coming over the next few days now that I've migrated all the old writing. The advances I made in that system led to some fundamental changes to my original machine, so I'll add follow-up pieces to show that upgrade process.

I'll be adding a lot of content to the site as time goes on and probably changing around a few things as I get settled with the new structure. I think the blog format will make adding content a far more fluid process compared to the monolithic, static nature of the previous site. The presence of a comment system also starts to open the door to more reader interaction. Depending on traffic, I might also add a forum system in the near future (though this is somewhat unlikely since there are so many good quality MAME forums already well established).

Finally, I hope to have some co-authors joining me here soon starting with a good friend of mine that lives nearby. Adding his project(s) will make the site more dynamic since we have two very different approaches to cabinet design, button layout and gaming preferences. Hopefully the site can gain some momentum and possibly pick up other authors with various viewpoints over time...

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and I hope you find what's here useful. If you have any suggestions, spot problems or just have general feedback, don't hesitate to leave a comment or drop me an email.

February 20, 2006

Building out content... gonna be messy for a bit...


I just started hammering this blog together yesterday afternoon and evening, so I'm currently in the process of altering templates, fiddling with the structure and trying to find the most sensible way to migrate the old MAME'd Millipede content into a compatible and sensible blog structure. I think I might have come up with a good method, but until I have time to get it all in here and massage the dates to establish the order, the main page is going to be filling up with "old" articles.

Just ignore it all for the moment... it'll all make more sense once I'm doing futzing around. :)

- Aaron

MAME'd Marble Madness: Project Index

Coming soon...

MAME'd Millipede: Project Index

Background

  • Introduction
    The background story on my first MAME box and being a child of the 80's.
  • MAME vs. Real
    Why a MAME box? A comparison between MAME and the real thing. A tad philosphical... :)
  • Skills Needed
    The various skills you'll need to build a MAME box.

Control Panel

  • Design
    The process of coming up with a CP design and mocking up the template.
  • Mounting
    Attaching the CP to the classic cabinet without harm.
  • Layout
    Determining the button layout and preparing the surface.
  • Surfacing
    Applying the laminate to the CP surface.
  • Wiring
    Zillions of feet of wires and connectors.
  • Final Touches
    T-molding and other details for the completed CP.

Electronics

  • The Computer
    Technical details behind the system driving the MAME'd Millipede.
  • Video - 15 kHz
    Driving the arcade monitor at 15 kHz from a modern PC.
  • Interfacing
    Devices used to interface the controls and their configuration.
  • Integration
    Bringing it all together into a working system.

Software

  • Linux OS
    Focusing on the use of Linux in the MAME'd Millipede.
  • AdvanceMAME
    The engine that drives the machine with various configuration details.
  • AdvanceMenu
    The interface to AdvanceMAME that binds it all together.
  • Video Config
    Details on the configuration of SVGALib and the software side of 15 kHz.
  • Daphne
    The emulation software for driving laser disc games - Dragon's Lair in this case.

Parts & Sources

  • Controls
    Controls used on the project and the vendors that provide them.
  • Video
    Wells-Garnder and the K7200.
  • Interfacing
    Interface devices and the vendors that provide them.
  • Cabinet Parts
    Miscellaneous parts including laminate and T-molding.