While searching the web I found many sites offering Arcade ROMS. These are the original arcade game ROMS. There are several arcade game emulation software available. I chose to use MAME32. MAME32 is a windows based program with an easy to use interface. Soon I was tired of running the games on the computer. I found several web pages talking about building an entire arcade cabinet to house the computer and monitor. They even built control panels. Some of these MAME arcade machines where pretty cheesy and looked like they where held together by rubber bands. BUT. There are lots of awesome looking MAME arcade machines. Check out this great site for examples.
Tomb Raider is my MAME Arcade Machine. I will add more detail as time permits.
The cabinet was made out of 5/8 thick MDF (medium density fiber) board. I used three sheets of 4'x8' and they cost about $14.00 each. I cut the MDF with a circular saw that had a plywood blade. The blade was under $10.00. The MDF was easy to cut but all screw holes had to be pre-drilled to keep the board from splitting. I measured a Mortal Kombat II arcade cabinet at a Super K-Mart in San Antonio. I thought that it looked really good and had a control panel big enough for all of the buttons and joysticks that I wanted to use. I also took pictures to help with the details of how the cabinet went together. I bought a table saw to cut the 4' x 8' sheets but it was to small to use most of the time. I used two clamps and a long 1"x2" board to guide the circular saw. AutoCAD was the drafting tool I chose to draw up the plans. I simply measured and marked the outline of the cabinet on the sheets, clamped the guide board down and cut. Some of the front edges were cut with a router to make it look like it had T-molding. I painted the cabinet with black spray paint from Wal-Mart. Each can was $.88 and it took about 14 cans. What a pain. Next time I will try a roller.
The control panel was tuff to layout. I kept changing my mind how the buttons and joysticks would be placed. I used left over 5/8 thick MDF board from the cabinet. I bought shelf rails so that I could make a keyboard tray. The keyboard had to be out of the way since it would rarely be used. I did not want it clumsily laid in the control panel. It had to be easy to use. I used AutoCAD to layout the controls. I ordered more buttons than I needed yet I did not have enough $ at the time to order a real track ball from Happ Controls. I left the center of the control panel open so that I could later add a track ball, spinner, or third joystick with buttons and or rotational control. I used a HagStrom KE72-T keyboard encoder. What is a keyboard encoder. It is a circuit board that allows the keyboard, mouse and track ball to be connected to the PC along with arcade buttons and joysticks. The KE72-T cost .....TBD