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noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:23 am
by noiseredux
After brainstorming with Mike and Fast, and then discussing with my wife, I've decided that I'm gonna be building a bartop arcade cab. This will be going in my basement bar, and will actually hopefully be motivation to do some renovations down there as well. As of right now, this thread is basically going to serve as a placeholder, because I haven't actually started building yet. I'm in the planning stages mostly - but I'm also needing to raise a bit of $ in my Paypal so I can order the first batch of materials I need to really get started.

I'm planning to document the whole project here.

So...

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:30 am
by 8bit
I've always wanted a bartop arcade with mame and a cool front end. Best of luck getting this project off the ground!

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:36 am
by noiseredux
thanks man. As nice as MAME is and all, it's not even high priority for me. I'm planning this to be Windows hiding behind a nice front-end. This will be a 2P cab also. So I'm thinking things like Street Fighter IV, Dead Or Alive 5, Jamestown, Metal Slug and so on. There's also plenty of old arcade games on PC.

One concern I have as far as using it to play stuff that's on Steam/etc - stuff like Street Fighter IV where I might want to play against opponents online - is that my internet sucks in my basement. I get a very weak or sometimes no signal at all. So that's something I'll need to address as well.

It would actually be incredible if I could get this project done by December so I could play Raiden for TR on the cab. But, not holding my breath haha.

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:15 am
by Blu
Noise, for addressing the issue of wi-fi, is there a corner of your home where you could run some ethernet cord down from your modem and hook up another router? Is the basement finished, or is it possible to do something like a drop ceiling where you can hide the additional wireless router, etc.

Just a thought. I'm sure the more tech-savvy forum members could chime in.

Seriously cool though. Basement bar and arcade? When can I come visit?

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:30 am
by noiseredux
Blu wrote:Noise, for addressing the issue of wi-fi, is there a corner of your home where you could run some ethernet cord down from your modem and hook up another router? Is the basement finished, or is it possible to do something like a drop ceiling where you can hide the additional wireless router, etc.


Yes, no, maybe? My basement is finished - or at least the room that the bar is in is finished, and already has a drop ceiling. However, my router is on pretty much the opposite end of the house from where the cab will be.

Honestly, plugging up my wifi network is another project that I've been meaning to get to anyway. I've got a couple borderline deadzones in my house. So it's mostly a matter of figuring out how I'm gonna proceed. Probably a combination of range extenders/repeaters, and possibly (POSSIBLY) some in-wall/ceiling wiring.

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:10 pm
by 8bit
Have you considered getting a wifi extender/repeater device for your house? Usually they are pretty simple to setup and really can help a lot based on my experiences. Example

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:15 pm
by Anapan
For Wifi, the best USB adapter I've found is the Wifly-City BDU-10G or IDU-2850UG-G20
It's small, and I believe it's even illegally powerful if paired with a higher-gain antenna.

The price is right, and paired with that big antenna I've made a good quality connection to a standard router over a mile away (line of sight, but still for $32 on DX.com that's pretty impressive). I wish DX still had the old 10G model, I used to buy them in bulk and sell them to my co-workers when we were put in crappy hotels because they can easily get full bars even in the furthest back corners. Also, the drivers for the Realtek RTL8187L are built into Windows 7, and easily available even for windows 98. I use them on WD HD TV media player boxes - drivers even built into tiny modified linux SOC stuff.

Looks like this is the current popular clone, tho some people have reported having the B variant chip instead of the preferred L...

Looking forward to seeing your cab come together.

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:19 pm
by noiseredux
8bit wrote:Have you considered getting a wifi extender/repeater device for your house? Usually they are pretty simple to setup and really can help a lot based on my experiences. Example


I actually have a couple of those that I need to set up. Though I'm thinking of going a bit heavier.

@Anapan: Interesting little adapter. I may look into that as well. Thanks!

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:19 am
by noiseredux
Ok, well, I have no monies to buy the stuff I do need right now. But, I thought I'd organize my thoughts here to start...

Originally I had been considering purchasing a new GPU for this build (had figured a GTX 950) so that I could run Street Fighter V when it hits next year. But... there's also a certain appeal to spending as little money as absolutely possible. And if I use the GT 610 I have sitting in a closet right now, I should still be able to run plenty of good arcade goodness. For instance the Steam releases of Metal Slug 1, X and 3 as well as KOF 98, 2002 and XIII.

I've got an AMD gaming mobo that I'm pretty sure is just not going to fit in a bartop. So that said, I'll probably have to use the mini-ATX I've got, which is MSI H61M-P31/W8 mini ATX 1155 socket with a Pentium G2020 CPU. I've got 8GB of Corsair RAM to throw in there (overkill for what I'm doing, I'd say). A modular Corsair PSU. I haven't decided if I'm gonna throw in a smaller SSD or a bigger HDD yet.

One unique feature that I'd like to work on is incorporating an optical drive. What I'm thinking is hiding it inside the marquee. This would be useful for installing older Win/DOS games from disc.

My brother donated a spare 19" Dell monitor to me that should work well.

So I guess step one is I'll be assembling these pieces outside of a case, installing the OS (I've got Win XP, 7 and 8 keys right now... I'm prob gonna go with 7.) That way I can confirm how well these various games are gonna run on this build before deciding for sure not to buy a new GPU.

Then I'll need to demo some front-ends. I mean, of course I could just go with Steam Big Picture Mode. It's a consideration anyway. But there was some discussion about frontends from before I started this thread, here: viewtopic.php?p=1006137#p1006137


EDIT: I just realized that the GT 610 running Dead Or Alive 5 will pretty much be the deciding factor here, as that's pretty much the go-to fighting game for me and my wife. Although the system requirements are pretty high, they seem to be BS. I actually got that game running just fine on a Win8 tablet by lowering the graphical settings.

Re: noiseredux bartop arcade project

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:10 am
by Anapan
Always great to discuss the fine details. I've actually never finished any mame/cab project (I've heard that people have, but from reading discussions, most people never fully complete them to their satisfaction). I've started three, and have three other suitable PCs sitting in their original housings.

That mobo should be more than sufficient.

My incomplete bartop's GA-H61N MiniATX is way overpowered for what I needed. I've got 16GB ram sitting in it and I could have easily gone for faster 4GB from stress test results.
I bought a 32GB ReadyCache drive expecting MAME's full library of pictures and data to use it at least use it a little. In fact, I should've just run the OS off of that. I am running a USB3 external for the game collection. No problems, but I suspect even USB2 would not cause any problems for the games I'm running. I'm sure the SATA off your mobo would easily make everything run snappy if your OS drive is a small SSD.

I tried both XP and Windows 7, and since i'm not multitasking, or using any large amount of ram, as long as unnecessary services and programs aren't running, and all drivers are running well there really wasn't any difference. I ended up reverting to XP for simplicity.

The optical is a neat idea. Having done this a few times, I really wish I hadn't half-transformed them into presentation pieces before forgoing the comfort of having them as desktop computers. It's fairly important to make the bartop easy to access as a computer, because even on my third attempt to make a simple arcade machine I've yet to have everything run exactly as I'd like. I constantly jump out of a game, and start tweaking settings with the controls, visuals, sound, etc. My friends say it's perfect, but sound lag or screen tearing is not acceptable.

I haven't yet found the frontend I really want. They all seem to want to play videos, scale the fonts, preconfigure the emulators, or cause screen artefacts behind certain games. I'm meddling with the finer points of several of their scripting languages. and have resorted to making batch-file loaders with side-loading support programs that self terminate after the executable closes for some games - painful to enhance and debug. Every frontend is very nice in certain ways, so it's tough to pick one of the bunch to stick with - especially since none of them are easy to make everything run well on. What I find most strange is how hard it is to make the flashy ones just display a large-font text list of the proper names of a directory list of games. I'm most happy with maximus arcade right now. Hyperspin is really cool and all, but it was so hard to remove all the bells and whistles, and then at the revision I was playing with last year, there were still some unresolvable issues with some of the emulators I wanted to use. Forum posts ended with "it'll be fixed next revision" but beta builds were unstable, and the interface programming language I'd just learned had completely changed.

I wonder if RetroArch could be made to do mostly everything if configured right to interface with SD progressive video modes?

From what I've read, you can make Big Picture do mostly everything with less trouble than I had trying to make obscure emulators run in Hyperspin. There's a lot of utilities that will make all your games show up in it automagically in a wizard interface. The support is growing rapidly, so changes happen quick. If it weren't for the sub-par computer I'm working on for my latest cab project, I'd love to install steam and give that interface a whirl.

With Dosbox games, see if you can get them in a GOG release. They're really friendly even if they use more system resources. The GOG guys did some great under-the-hood tweaks in most cases (modifying the games themselves as well as the Dosbox binaries). A couple of them were over-tweaked (screen enhancement) and I chose self-configuration with trial-and-error for my nostalgia.