This project officially begin some time in 2004 but the planning and ideas started in the years prior. I have always hacking and modding my consoles, PCs and just about everything else. I have to admit that I never played arcade games much or even gone to the arcade to often, I was born just a little too late. Despite that, I have always wanted a basement full of them. Once I discovered MAME and emulation in the 90’s I realized and all in one device would be a much more practical approach. I was in the need for a big project and with all the goodwebsites out there I couldn’t help my self to get inspired to build my own.
My goal was to have every arcade, pinball and all out of production USA console and handheld game playable on one device. I used MAME32 and MESS in the begging before I knew what a frontend was. I ended up converting it over to a Hackintosh during one of the computer upgrades. I have always been a fan not having any Windows machines and I liked the idea of using OSX’s Dock as the frontend. It looked nice and worked great but I have since upgraded the computer 2 more times. Now I am back to XP and I love theGameEX frontend!
I bought the case from a rental company in 2003. It was left outside during winter and had some cracks and damaged. I believe it only cost me $45 and for that price there is no way I couldn’t have built one cheaper. All it took was some wood putty, a lot sanding a few coat of oil based black paint. I had to add a shelf for the monitor to rest as well as some supports to hold a in place.
I want my system support light guns in the future so I was forced (at the time) to buy a CRT. I found a used 21” CRT monitor on eBay that I was able to pick up locally. It cost me no more the $50. When I got It home it would not fit in the arcade so I had to remove it from its case. I have to say I have been very happy with it, It was cheap, I saved it from ending up in a landfill and its has worked for over 6 years. It has recently started to make a loud winking noise when the screen is booting or in DOS. With the invention of IR light guns I might have to buy a larger LCD.
I wanted my arcade to have custom art and display an array of characters and company names. I am lucky enough to have a large format printer at work to print custom monitor bezels. I take the printed bezel cut out the whole for the screen and sandwich it between tho sheets of plexiglass. As for the marquee I had MameMarquees.com print my design. The print had adhesive backing and was easy to attach to a thick piece of plexiglass.