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Monitors are easily the most dangerous thing inside an arcade cabinet whether it is an original cab or a MAME cab and the monitor can hold a charge anywhere up to 30,000 volts. If you want to work on a monitor like this you will have to discharge it. While it can be done it is not something I will cover here as I have never done it. If you are going to do it yourself you must take great care. For example NEVER go into the back of a monitor with both arms because if you were to get a shock the current would cross your heart, and while that is a great commodity to have in a bra, it is not something considered wise when dealing with massive amounts of electricity, especially if your have wire in your bra.

I will be using a CRT monitor in my cab and initially I tried to fit a 19 inch monitor because the more gaming ?real estate? you have the better, especially if you are sitting your monitor horizontally. While a horizontal orientation is great for games like Defender, any games that originally had a vertical monitor setup like Pacman will be re sized and squashed vertically so you want the biggest monitor you can get away with. Unfortunately due to the construction of my cab I was unable to fit a 19 inch monitor into it. Whenever I had the monitor in I couldn?t get the front glass in place over it, even if I completely decased the monitor it still wouldn?t go in.

Look at the difference between these various cabs and you can see how and where the monitor sits in the various constructions.

Upright Cab - Reclined Monitor
Cocktail Cab - Flat Monitor
Solitaire Cab - Upright Monitor
Click to see full size images

You can see that with a cocktail cab or a reclined monitor layout there is much more room to accommodate a larger and deeper monitor, but as it was I just didn?t have the space to fit my 19 inch CRT in there so I had to settle for a 17 inch CRT instead. Even that was a bit of tight squeeze as you can see from my modifications to it. I just had to screw a few little extra pieces of timber to the shelf to prop up the monitor so that it would sit both centrally, and at just the right angle so that it?s front edge sits roughly parallel with the front glass when in place.

The monitor that came with the cab was a beige one with the front fascia painted black so that it looked better in the cab, but luckily mine was a black Dell monitor so I didn?t need to worry about painting or removing the fascia.

Once all the components had been dry fitted I could test the cab to double check that
  • (a) all the cables were the right length.
  • (b) the power button on the cab worked to power the machine both on and off.
Now I could remove everything again and make all those final finishing touches to the cosmetics without getting dust all over the components and without having to lean in and out of the cab too much when the final finish was on there.

The final major part of the build to do was the Control Panel. Without doubt this is what caused me the most problems. Not only because it has to be right, it is after all the part that everyone sees and uses to interact with the cab, it is how you control not only the games but also the Frontend when launching the games. It could be described as what one might refer to as important.

There are two elements to the control panel, there are the actual buttons, trackballs and joysticks themselves and there is the interface which interprets input from these into something that the computer can understand.

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