Oooooh! Something, unlike speakers, I actually know a little about! Many moons ago, I built a four-player cocktail setup, back just as it was transitioning to "doable" from "it's possible... but good luck."
Now, from the links here and a little refreshing, it looks almost easy!
Originally Posted by Al Toid
Have you considered x-arcade
? They make two player controls with the roller ball in it that plugs straight into USB. It makes the building process much easier and are worth the price.
Seconded. I'm *all* about being cheap and DIYing, but the X-Arcade solutions are as no-brainer as an off-the-shelf solution can be.
Unless you're aiming for a replica of a game particularly important to you, get the X-Arcade stuff. VERY well made (like, I am comfortable saying, "no, don't worry, there's no way your two year old can hurt it. It's seen worse."), and easily configurable. I have two two-players, one custom-mapped so four players can spend hours on Gauntlet. I feel like a cocktail table is an under-loved / under-doc'd project, so it wasn't the easiest, and doesn't work flawlessly, but well enough. Prepare to spend some time doing some finicky re-mapping of the ROMs you have (though if you only get one set up, it'll work out of the box with most), but it's not difficult.
I bought mine when they were new, and before they had the ball... kinda jealous of what's available now!
Unless you enjoy assembling button, soldering, basic woodwork, etc, get something from X-Arcade. It's not going to cost much more, even if you consider your time free.
Originally Posted by SteveTheGeek
I've done a couple of cabinet repurposing on my side. I have an horizontal and vertical cab + a bartop dedicated to gun games and a virtual pinball cabinet.
If you have questions, I'll be happy to help !
Any chance you have a pointer to a FAQ or some build threads on the "virtual pinball cabinet"? I've never even thought of such a thing, but suddenly wonder if that'd be a better solution than "finding a cheap, old rig on Craigslist for kicks...."
A few random thoughts:
- Figure out what you're shooting for: Accurate, exact duplicate of a favorite arcade experience? Able to play only classic games, but feel like Back In The Day? Play anything and everything? As with the audio world, arcade cabs have a rabbit hole that goes deep... how long do you want to fall? Coin boxes, arcade-accurate vintage monitors, custom-clone button layouts, vinyl graphics, etc, etc, are all nice... but if I had been hung up on that, I'd still have plans and scraps and sketches. An old PC, monitor, a couple X-Arcade 'sticks and a day or two of tweaking... and I haven't changed the resulting rig since.
- Consider your use case: Respectful, adult, supervised play? Kids? Drunken parties? Just like there are some on here with audio systems with volume knobs that must be closely guarded to prevent damage (gear, hearing, house foundation, or otherwise), you could wind up with a fancy, fragile system... or an anvil-reliable one. I built mine on an -old- version of a basic Linux distro, and spent time building scripts / auto-runs, so all anyone sees is the game-selecting front end, and if someone should happen to rage-quit and yank the plug, it's only a re-plugging away from being back in business. The plexi-glass top is velcro'ed securely in place, and the keyboard/pc are hidden. Good luck screwing it up, unless you -really- try.
BUT, it only does joystick/buttons-MAME... and the older games, at that.
- Gear: I am running on an ollllld Pentium (P4, I think? Bet it'd be harder to find one being given away than it's actually worth these days) dusted off from the garage, a $20 21" CRT (and I think the guy was surprised _I_ was paying _him_), and a freebie pair of speakers. Works -great-. But I can't/don't have NES/PS/XBox/Etc. Again, consider your desired scope and what you really want before you set off following in someone else's footsteps!
- From a quick look around, it looks a -lot- easier than it used to be. I may have to consider building another system with a low-draw Atom mini-pc or something, but, hey, don't fix what ain't broke.
- Just like audio, consider WAF and long-term appeal: I built a custom (though farrrr from fancy) cocktail table, clad in the wainscotting of the room, and it'll look right at home for a long time, with no appeal fatigue. I think I long ago would have tired of some big, neon-y, stand-up, but YMMV, of course! To each their own, but the point is make sure to think a bit about the long term before committing to a design.
- If I could change anything, I'd add a spinner and a trackball. It's never too late, but I wish they were an easy add when I threw everything together. Also, an exterior-accessible volume knob for the speakers, but that could also just add a way for someone to mess with it being set up the way I want... just need to remember to set the dial for "kids coming over; silent" or "drunken friends coming over; recreate college arcade; LOUD" *before* anyone arrives! : )
- Brace yourself for late nights! It feels like every time we have a house guest, the MAME cab gets fired up and an "Oh! Man! You have...." is shouted... and suddenly it's 3am and we're chasing levels we never had enough quarters to reach back in the day. This, note, is not a complaint. ; )
I feel like this is long and vague, but it's meant to be encouraging and give ya' something to start thinking about / planning. I'll be on-and-off the webbernets for the next few days, but will try to answer questions. If I'm not busy trying to beat my last guest's high score on something.
Do it. For -way- less money than most of the speaker projects on here and probably less work, you can have your own personal time machine to your favorite era of arcade games!