photo Okay, so my previous MAME cabinet isn't as small as I wished (and especially not as lightweight as I thought it would be). And I also found some pictures of those old Coleco tabletop arcade machines. So when you mix the two together in my mind, it doesn't take too long for me to come up with a new idea: a micro-sized MAME arcade cabinet!

I call it Micro-MAME since there's already quite a number of people calling their cabinets "Mini-MAME" even though some of them are quite large (even bigger than my previous one).


Epia M-9000 with CompactFlash IDE Adapter (photo) To keep the cabinet small, you have to start with a really small computer. What better use can you find for those nice VIA Epia motherboards? (Okay, plenty of uses). The VIA C3 933MHz isn't the fastest of CPUs, but then again I only want to run 1970-1985 games with this cabinet. And since the CPU and the chipset run really cool, I shouldn't have any problem with the whole thing running inside such a small cabinet.

The photo here shows the motherboard with the CompactFlash IDE adapter mounted to the LPT port (with the help of the port's screws). I had to split the wires of the IDE cable so I could more easily twist it to connect to the adapter. Of course, I could get rid of the adapter and the cable if I used an IDE Flash Module instead, but they're a lot more expensive than CompactFlash cards.


Sharp 6.4" LCD showing Rygar title screen (photo) Since I need to keep things small, I'm using a Sharp 6.4" TFT LCD monitor. I had to make it rotating (to switch between horizontal and vertical games) because with a screen this small, every bit of screen space counts (horizontal games displayed with a vertical setup are way too small).


128MB CompactFlash in IDE adapter (photo) For this MAME cabinet, I'm gonna use the same method I've used for my previous one. Same CompactFlash-to-IDE adapter. But this one will only use a 128MB CompactFlash card. After all, the C3 933MHz isn't powerful enough to run recent games and old games are small. My guess is that 128MB will be plenty.


Micro-MAME's control panel (photo) This cabinet is so small, I only had enough room on the control panel for the joystick and four buttons. I still have no idea where I'm going to put the GUI buttons… Probably under the control panel, just in front of the cabinet. Then again I don't even think I got enough room there, unless I use non-arcade buttons. And where do I put the coin and player 1 buttons? So little space, so many buttons…


The M9000 is not Sound Blaster compatible (I'm using DOS, so I need hardware compatibility), so I had to use a PCI soundcard that was. However, something SB-compatible that fits inside the cabinet was almost impossible to find. I have about 2 mm clearance between the card's top and the inside of the cabinet. Yep, 2mm. That's not a typo.


ATX Power Supply in Micro-MAME (photo) Turns out my cabinet is small, but not too small to use a regular ATX power supply. It does take a lot of space inside though (I'd say about a quarter of the space).


Sheet of laser-printed MAME marquees (photo) I currently have a small MAME marquee (the same graphic as my previous cabinet) that was printed by a friend of mine on his HP LaserJet 2500. The quality is simply incredible.

Marquee Neon

5" Neon (photo) Yes, I found a 5" Neon. In fact it's the same brand/model as the one in my previous cabinet, only smaller. This one is 6V though. I'll have to try and run it on 5V, because I think a 12V-6V regulator would generate too much heat. It should run on 5V with no problems though, as it can also run on batteries and rechargeables are only 1.2V (instead of the usual 1.5V for AA's).


Micro-MAME cabinet (photo) This thing is so small, I really had to plan ahead this time. Even then, I made a mistake about the motherboard location (would've made the thing harder to access), which was corrected by a friend of mine at work (same friend who printed the marquees). The answer was so obvious I didn't see it at first (mount the motherboard directly to the back panel). Anyway the cabinet is almost finished now except for the wiring for the controls, the neon and the audio.


This is a more or less complete list of all the stuff I had to buy to make Micro-MAME. This list will be updated as needed.

Total so far: 483$ CAN.

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