My Cocktail MAME Arcade Project


One of the things I always promised I would not talk about is emulation. I know many people are iffy on the subject, and what I am truly interested in is real, genuine gaming artifacts…not simlations on a computer.

However, this project of mine is significant because I am taking a real, 1978 Asteroids Cocktail Table and saving it from a junk yard by fitting it with modern guts. This machine was given to me without any working innards whatsoever. I think it sat in a basement somewhere for years and years. So, I’ve decided to take it and breathe some new life into it. The easiest way I know how is by using MAME.

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Anyway, Here’s where I am at now: I have a nice Viewsonic 17″ LCD mounted in the table, and I have replaced the centermost button on the top panel with an 8-way joystick.


I am waiting (very impatiently) for an i-PAC VE board from Ultimarc to use as the control interface to the computer.

Originally, I was going to use DOS to make operation easy and quick, but the trouble ended up being drivers for audio, video, and the fact that MAME is no longer supported by native DOS.

Now, my only question is: do I use Windows 98 or Windows XP as the OS? My biggest concern is start up and shutdown. I want two things: quickness with both, and the ability to initiate both with one button press. I’m thinking Hibernation is a good way to do it, since (I think) Hibernating is a pretty quick startup, and you can totally kill the power afterwards. I’ll likely use a Smart Strip with relays to power this, since when the computer is shut down, all other peripherals will shut down, too (amplifier, monitor, etc)

Any suggestions? Stay tuned for progress…


9 Responses to My Cocktail MAME Arcade Project

  1. Donovan says:


    Looks awesome! I’ve always wanted a Miss Pac-Man cocktail for myself. I’ll have to check around my area for some junked ones.

    When I had a SlikStik arcade cabinet, I used a Smart Strip to power everything. I can’t recommend it enough.

    I used Windows XP with Maximus Arcade for my MAME (and many other EMUs) frontend. It’s very intuitive and you can set which buttons do what. You can even set a key combo to shut down the computer. Combine that with having Maximus Arcade load on startup and you’ll never even see Windows.

    Also, iPAC was a great way to go. Andy is a great guy and offers amazing service.

    Can’t wait to see a running shot,

    • jasoncirillo says:

      Thanks, Donovan! Your compliments mean a lot considering the beautiful cabinet you now have! The cabinet looks a bit “dirty” and disheveled in the shots, I still have to clean it all up, and it will certainly look much more regal in my office than in my dingy garage. Will post updates soon!

  2. Chris says:

    Looks like a sick setup! If you want to get down and dirty, MAME is also available on Linux, which can be stripped down to boot quite fast. However, you made need a programmer to guide you into that Abyss of Code.

    • jasoncirillo says:

      Linux crossed my mind, but I think XP (as much as I hate to say it) might be the way to go after doing a lot of research. Hibernating with a single button press seems like it might be exactly the thing I need. Will keep you posted…

  3. Always good to see someone else building their own MAME cab, especially as the excitement around them seems to have waned a little bit in recent years. I recently finished mine – here’s a little bit of a writeup on my blog (and all round awesome gaming news site if you don’t mind the shameless plug):

    Finally, and really sorry to keep asking, but when are you gonna get around to making a new Peek Poke or Bit Museum!!?

  4. jasoncirillo says:

    Yes, I’ve gotten that a lot lately from people wanting new eps of Bit Museum especially. As a matter of fact, Bit Museum is a finalist in the NATPE NextTV contest and will be screened in the LATV festival soon, so we’ve been so occupied with that.

    I actually had dinner with the editor of Bit Museum last night and we’re underway editing episodes 4 and 5. We’re hoping to deliver them in the next few weeks. I appreciate the enthusiasm!

    I’ll check out your blog…always love to see a good cab project.

  5. jasoncirillo says:

    Sure, if you return the favor! Consider it done.

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