Classic cabinet restoration versus conversion to Mame.
No arcade cabinets were harmed in the writing of this article.
Please read this article and consider what I have to say before flame mailing me for destroying classic arcade cabs or before you do a cabinet conversion.
If your reading this then you've been to my web site and you have seen the arcade projects that I have completed or am working on. I do believe in restoring an arcade cabinet to its origanel game with as much authenticity as possible if it makes sense to do so. I have not yet tackled this task myself. If you are looking to build a cabinet to house a PC running Mame then head over to the Build your own arcade controls website. I can often be found on the message board or the chat room under the screen name "eightbit". This is the definitive site on the internet for this task. Their manifesto addresses this issue very well and is a very good read if your thinking about converting an arcade cabinet.
It would be great if everyone built their Mame cabinets from scratch without destroying any restorable classics. This isn't as easy, as fast, as inexpensive or quite as authentic as taking an actual arcade cabinet and putting a PC in it. How can you get more authentic feeling then to use an actual old arcade cabinet? Your easily going to have a $100 in the wood and fasteners to build a cab from the ground up. When you compare this to the potential of being able to score a free or cheap cab thats complete and often includes extra goodies like coin doors and glass, its very tempting to go the conversion route. Before you decide to do a cabinet conversion you should ask yourself some questions. Is the cabinet a rare one. If it is rare you should not convert it to mame. If you don't do the restoration leave it for someone that will. Ok so the cabinet is not rare but its in good condition. This is another candidate for restoration. Typically your not going to find either of those situations for free or cheap. Now that was easy, next comes the hard part at what point does the cabinet become a candidate for conversion. I know a guy who believes very strongly that a cabinet should never be converted. His feeling is that if its in good enough condition to convert then its in good enough condition to restore. I don't agree with him but I respect his position.
Some of things that make good conversion to mame canidates are-
If you decide to do a conversion don't destroy parts that are still good. Their are collectors and restoreres everywhere looking for marquees, control panels and other odd or unique parts on that old cab you have. Your cabinet might not be restoreable but there are many out there that are that just need that one peice that you may have. This is also a good way to make money to pay for those parts that your going to need to do your conversion.
I've converted a few arcade to cabinets and I'm pretty sure I'll eventually do more. I've been poked at a time or two for my Mortal Kombat cab conversion but in my opinion this cab was not a restoration candidate. When I received it there was nothing left of the origanel game and the origanel artwork was painted over. The cabinet is in very good physicall condition but that was it. There are also a lot of this style of cabinet out there with a lot of better potential restorations. I've avoided doing anthing to this cabinet that would make a future restoration more difficult so that will always remain an option. My other 2 cabinets (only 1 of which is done) were potential landfill rescues. They had been stripped of anything that could restore another one of its kind, they are not rare, and their artwork was beyound restoration it would need to be replaced. You'll notice that when I re-painted the rally-x cabinet that I didn't paint over the decals. They look a lot better in those pictures than they actually are.
In summary I believe in restoring a arcade cabinet if it is restorable and you should make at least make an informed decision before you decide to destroy a peice of history. There are a few classics I would love to restore if I had the money and the time.
My asertions are my own opinions. They have the value that the reader gives them. My opinion of my opinion varies between foolish and brilliant and these opinions often change with new information.
Written by Eightbit, January 30, 2003
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