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Project Arcade: Build Your Own Arcade Machine (ExtremeTech) Paperback – 11 May 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; Pap/Cdr edition (11 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764556169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764556166
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,349,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product description


“…breathtaking detail…the passion is infectious…” (Edge, December 2005)

From the Back Cover

You can go back, and here′s howRemember the days—and quarters—you spent pursuing aliens, fleeing ghosts, and gobbling dots in that beloved arcade? They’re hiding in these pages, along with diagrams, directions, plans, and materials lists that will enable you to build your very own arcade game. Construct joysticks, buttons, and trackballs; build the console and cabinet; install and configure the software; crank up the speakers; and wham! Step across the time–space continuum and enjoy all those classic games, plus dozens of new ones, whenever you like.

Start Here

1. Plan for your space and budget
2. Design and build the cabinet
3. Construct the controllers
4. Build the console
5. Pick an old game’s brain
6. Install the emulator
7. Convince a PC it’s a game
8. Connect a monitor and speakers
9. Add a marquee
10. GO PLAY!

Includes diagrams, detailed instructions, essential software, and more

CD–ROM Includes

  • Complete cabinet plans and diagrams
  • MAME32 software
  • Paint Shop Pro® evaluation version
  • Links to hundreds of arcade cabinet projects

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to build my own arcade machine as I have always loved arcades, so I decided to pick up this book as it seemed to be the best one available, and I had no idea what I was doing. So I read this book on how to build a MAME machine cover to cover over a weekend, then ordered the parts to build a JAMMA machine.

After reading the book I realised that I still had no idea what to do, so went with a JAMMA set up as I stood just as much chance with no knowledge. It turns out its very easy to build a JAMMA machine, if you want instructions on how, leave a comment and I'll list the few steps, a couple of hours and you will have a fully functioning system, minus the cabinet.

This book is a great read, its full of useful information, but it lacks one very key detail, how you actually do any of it. It tells you what you will need, what is going to happen with it, and the tools you will need, but never how. For example, you will need speakers, and you will need to connect these to the circuit... And how do I do that? Luckily my dad was able to help with that as he knows about wiring, but I don't, hence why I bought this book. Also, you will need to use a keyboard and completely reassign its functions to the arcade controlls... Not a clue how you would do that, and you're not told.

If you know how to do these things, you will disagree with me. If you know how to do these things, you don't need this book.

Also, JAMMA is actually better as it is the same as realy arcade machines, MAME works off of ROMS, so you will notice a difference. JAMMA however is a lot more expensive as you have to buy boards, not free downloads, so its up to you what to build.

As I said, leave comments if you want help with JAMMA, if you want MAME, you're on your own.
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Format: Paperback
If you like arcade games and are in any way interested in owning a slice of history, this book is a must. Complete with detail guides to interface a PC with an arcade cabinet to get literally 1000's of games running as originally intended.
Relieve the joys of PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaxians, Space invaders and many many more in the privacy of your own home :)
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I wanted to build my own arcade machine. All I can say is it was money well spent. The book includes plans you have to scale up. I have successfully built a fully working machine with very little know how before I started. Ideal if you are a novice to the MAME world with handy links to great websites that are bursting with advice. So in a nutshell if you fancy recreating the 80's arcade experience for your living room here is a great place to start.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.2 out of 5 stars 51 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good reference guide 18 Jan. 2009
By B. Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought the book after seeing it recommended on an series of Systm episodes about building your own MAME cabinet. I read the first few chapters of the book and used the plans off the included CD-ROM to start building.

However, the plans are a bit flawed - something not mentioned in the book. If you build your cabinet based off the recommended plans, your cabinet will be exactly 7'6", which is more than a little too tall. I thought I had simply measured wrong, but after re-measuring a dozen times and comparing my measurements to the plans, I realized the plans were just wrong. This is also the case with the cabinet that was built in the Systm episodes; if you watch the final episodes, you'll realize they have a frankencabinet because they followed the plans to the T, just as I did.

That said, the book is a great reference if you have other plans to follow. Construction tips and suggestions and innumerable references and hacks make the book well worthwhile. I find myself going back to the book for things like t-molding vendors, trackball hacks and the like. Of course, all this information (and more) can be located on the internet, but it's helpful to have it in one place to flip through. If you are actually going to build a MAME cab, you'll have more than enough time to go through the book *and* all the internet sites detailing this process. This isn't your one-weekend project. Count on several weekends as well as several trips to Home Depot or Lowes.

Definitely get the book, but don't follow it word-for-word. Use it as a reference guide. Don't be afraid to go off the reservation with your cabinet build if you have a good idea (I built a keyboard drawer in mine, for example) - sandpaper and wood putty will fix some pretty major mistakes. :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A invaluable reference for your Arcade Project 16 July 2007
By kingspud - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was tossing around the idea of building a Home stand-up Arcade unit but never found the right reference material to get me started. When I saw the review of this book I thought to myself, "Why not give it a try, it can't hurt!" Oh man was this was the best choice to make!
Project Arcade: Build Your Own Arcade Machine by John St. Clair is a great book!
I love this book!
It was full of detailed information on everything about arcades! Controllers, arcade construction, monitors or TV or CRT that are just for Arcades, Arcade applications and software, such as MAME and jukebox.
It had web addresses to search for arcade parts and manufacturers.
The section on hooking things up was probably the most valuable part of the book. Without this information I would have been lost and trying to connect all the buttons, controllers, spinner, and trackball would have been near impossible! It took the fear and uncertainty out of the entire process!
You don't even have to follow the book to the letter; you can make modifications or take bits and pieces and use what you need!
Ii provided all the necessary up-front information I needed to get started with my Arcade Project. I know that I wanted to make a MAME Arcade console and I wanted it to be a stand-up! This was perfect because the book walks you through the building of a stand-up arcade unit!
I have to admit that I did make some structural enhancements to my arcade unit but that was it. I used the book to get ideas on the controls... such as joysticks, trackballs, buttons, and interfaces for all the controls.
This book truly is incredible! I want to personally thank the author for writing this book because without it I would not have finished the beautiful Stand-up Home Arcade Unit I have in my house right now.
Thank you so much!
If you want to build your own Arcade Unit then buy this book! Go right now and pick it up! Stop reading and go already....
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit dated, but just what I needed! 6 July 2009
By Scott Ryan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always wanted to build my own arcade game, and this book helped me through it. Granted, I didn't follow it page for page, but it guided me through each step to get me to my ultimate goal.

Most helpful: Schematics of a 'typical' arcade cabinet. This made it easier to draw out and eventually cut the pieces I needed. Also, checklists of items you will need and may need to successfully create your own cabinet.

Least helpful: Listed websites. Most of the online help listed is defunct and useless at this point. Also, the CD it came with was cracked and useless (make sure that doesn't happen to you!)

What would have helped: More on the electrical side of the cabinet. Needed my father-in-law to teach me about the wiring mecahnics of my machine.

Overall: If you've got the initative to build an arcade game, but have minimal knowledge of where to start, this book is PERFECT! The best section by far is BUILDING your cabinet. It takes even the beginner carpenter through step-by-step, so it's do-able for anyone!
3.0 out of 5 stars When I purchased it, it was slightly outdated and ... 2 Sept. 2015
By drummindog - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I purchased it, it was slightly outdated and some of the links referenced in the book were no longer active websites. Not the author's fault. It was an older publication when I bought it. The internet more than makes up for the links and with the right amount of research, you can find all you need to at least try a project.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very, very thorough product 3 July 2007
By Ken Hanson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It covers everything you need to do, from start to finish. I especially like the in-depth reviews of the different controllers and how to tweak or hack them. Very informative. I think the highest praise I can give this book is that I was very motivated to build a machine until I read this book. This book very clearly and explicitly laid out what I would be doing, and it convinced me that I did not really want to undertake this project. It sounds like backwards compliments, but seriously, what could be more valuable than convincing the reader that they are out of their depth PRIOR to spending the money on the materials, the computers, the controllers etc.
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