SpiffMAME Control Panel

The control panel

The control panel on the machine I bought only had one joystick and two buttons (of which only one was being used) apart from the one and two player start buttons. Since I wanted a versatile MAME cabinet, I quickly decided that I would have to build a new control panel. The original panel was made from metal and had already been used in two different configurations (with another piece of metal mounted over the top to cover some holes).

I decided to make a new panel from plywood. The monitor in this particular cabinet is mounted in a way so you almost look down at it. This means there was very little space for expanding the control panel, so I would have to build something that would give as many controls as possible in a very limited space. I ordered a bunch of buttons and three Super 4/8-way joysticks from Happ Controls. When I got the controllers, I started laying out the control panel by mounting the switches and joysticks in a piece of cardboard. After creating a design I was satisfied with, I meassured the area for the control panel on the cabinet, and came up with a solution that would allow me to make the control panel exchangeable. In this way, if I ever get arround to creating a new control panel with a spinner or a 4-way joystick, switching between the two is a matter of opening the coin door and releasing four brackets/locks on the inside. After that the panel slides right out (also releasing the tinted plexiglass that is mounted in front of the monitor.

The control panel

The above image shows the control panel consisting of two Happ Controls Super 8-way joysticks and 6 buttons for each of the two players. On the front of the panel the 1UP and 2UP buttons as well as an exit (ESC) button (for quitting MAME and going back to the menu, or for shutting down the machine).

The panel is made from 12mm plywood. The design on the backdrop of the panel was created in Adobe PageMaker and printed on an ink-jet printer (on 3 sheets). They are sandwitched between the plywood and a piece of clear plexiglass that I bent by heating it while it was fixed on the wooden panel. You can find a more detailed description of how I constructed the panel in my Arcade diary, but the pictures are here :-)

The control panel - back

On the above image you can see the back of the control panel. The wiring ends in a DB-50 connector that connects to the keyboard encoder mounted in the cabinet. I put a similar DB-50 connector on my original Gyruss ROM-board, so I can plug in the original board and use my new control panel (not that I would ever do this, since Gyruss is emulated perfectly in MAME anyways).

On the side of the panel, you can just make out two of the brackets used for locking the control panel in place. Also notice the aluminium frame on top of the control panel. This holds the tinted plexiglass in front of the monitor in place when the control panel is strapped in.

As you can see there is not room for any more buttons or controllers. This is one of the limitations of the old Space Panic cabinet, that I have had to put up with during the construction. Luckily my design allows me to switch the control panel easily, so some day maybe I will get arround to building another control panel with a spinner and a trackball. And perhaps I also need one with a 4-way joystick for that authentic pac-man and frogger session. But for now, this is what I got.

Front view of SpiffMAME

The last picture shows the control panel mounted in the cabinet. The screen displays AdvanceMENU, and above that you can see some of the original artwork from the space panic cabinet. This piece of artwork was I fairly good condition and not too specific for one particular game, so I decided to leave it there (but I removed the other artwork).

Last updated: 2005.05.29