Author Topic: Form Factor For Your Consideration  (Read 1722 times)


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Form Factor For Your Consideration
« on: September 10, 2020, 02:05:48 PM »
I built a cabinet I'd been imagining in my head for a long time, it worked out well, and I just wanted to throw it out there as a proof of concept in case anyone else was interested.

Link To Pic
(Still some touch-up to do, and no bezel yet, but that actually helps illustrate how this is built.)

I had a full size CRT 4-player cabinet. It was awesome. But it was huge and it lived in my garage. Also, I love CRTs, but I couldn't help dreading the day the CRT would fail and I'd have a 300+ lbs monstrosity to either fix or sell. So I sold it while it worked.

I learned: (1) I like CRTs but I can live with good shaders; (2) I rarely get 4 people to play at once; (3) I like horizontal, vertical and vector games; (4) I need something space-efficient.

So I built a wall-mounted 2 player "cabinet" with a cheap 4K 60Hz TCL flatpanel. The central trick here is that it is a 43" screen, which is the smallest size you can use and still get a square 1:1 2160x2160 section of screen large enough to simulate a 25" screen oriented horizontally or vertically.

There really was no other front-end I could use for a 2160x2160 display. I considered LaunchBox/BigBox and Big Blue but came back to AM. I ended up using a modified Reflect layout scaled to the size of the display. So it has a borderless window 2160x2160 centered on the panel, and there is an Autohotkey script running to make sure it stays put.

The 4K monitor is great because the shaders look really nice (I use CRT Royale generally) and vector games also look excellent (obviously using different vector-specific shaders). It really is a great compromise even though you aren't getting the true CRT experience -- for me being able to go horizontal and vertical and do vector games was worth the loss of "authenticity". Plus if it dies I can pick up another one easy.

The space savings are huge. I have this mounted on the wall behind me in my office. It doesn't get in the way at all.

Anyhow... if anyone if considering a build like this, feel free to shoot me questions, maybe I can help you avoid pitfalls I experienced.

Other lessons learned:

- Retroarch is great... use FinalBurn Neo core wherever you can and take advantage of run-ahead latency reduction. The improved responsiveness really elevates the arcade experience.

- The MAME 2000 Plus core is also cool and is probably the BEST for vector games. The downside is it doesn't do run-ahead latency reduction (or if it does, it's buggy). For me the appearance of the vector games was good enough to sacrifice that feature.

- If you can, spring for what you might call "non-clicky" controls. This is a matter of taste, but I went from clicky-switch joysticks and buttons to UltraStik 360s (magnetic) and leaf-switch buttons and couldn't be more happy. It just feels 80s. The configurability of the UltraStiks and the AM plugin are also a big help. Setting up twin stick games can be tricky with them, but I managed to get it working using MAME cores for those games and Joy2Key translating the right stick into key presses.

- Vinyl wrap on MDF is (for me) easier and better looking than paint. And no more expensive. The faux wood grain really adds something. Mine is black but the reddish wood grain looks good too, I almost went with it but it clashed with some artwork I had already completed. One tip: I did paint wood panel edges because I didn't want light colored MDF peeking through the wrap or the t-molding anywhere.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 02:13:20 PM by YellowBirdAZ »


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Re: Form Factor For Your Consideration
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2020, 05:53:19 AM »
Nice idea, I always fantasize of building a MAME cabinet with Eizo square LCD EV2730Q, but your idea is way less expensive :D I agree that with a very high resolution CRT shaders look fantastic and you don't have the hassle of managing a real CRT with all the related issues.
As far as frontend is concerned... I like Attract Mode because it lets you do realy lots of stuff with layouts. I don't know if you ever checked it out, maybe you don't like it, but my Arcadeflow layout for AM works both in quare displays and vertical displays :) Just a suggestion ;)


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Re: Form Factor For Your Consideration
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 08:00:58 AM »
I looked at those Eizo's too! Expensive.

Like I said, I used a TCL that was actually a Wal-Mart refurb, it was just over $200. When I initially tested it at 4K 60Hz I really couldn't see much difference between the TCL and my 4K monitor.

I downloaded Arcadeflow, it is awesome and I've used it before. If I recall I ended up customizing Reflect instead because I had an idea of matching the interface to the artwork (which I'd already created by that point). Sometimes the order you do things dictates other choices. I had a 80s theme really heavy on the neon purples and magentas and I wanted them to mesh as best I could. Ironically, I used Reflect but removed the reflection effect entirely.