Monday, 26 June 2017

Setting down my tools...

So I guess this is it.

After three years, four locations, and five (or was it six?) CRT monitors I've finally completed my quest.

I own a working bartop MAME cabinet that was built, in its entirety, for under £50.

And here she is:

First things first, a breakdown of the costs.

£00.00 - MDF: Donated by my boss
£00.00 - Screws and fixings: I do a lot of working with wood so my stocks are usually high
£00.00 - Glass: 'Re-purposed' from an old picture frame
£00.00 - Paint: Leftover from renovating an old chair
£00.00 - PC: Sourced from an old business acquaintance
£00.00 - Monitor: From Freegle
£00.00 - Speakers (Stereo): From Freegle, an added bonus with the monitor
£00.00 - Speaker (Single): A spare I had knocking around that some extra bass
£00.00 - Cooling fans: Recovered from an old laptop tray
£00.00 - LED Power button: Gift from +Dave Whiffin the guy I can blame this whole project on
£00.00 - GTX750 Graphics card: An unexpected, last minute, bonus addition - see below for more
£05.10 - Paint Primer: A necessary expense to get a decent finish when using MDF
£13.18 - Joystick and Buttons: From Ultracabs
£10.18 - USB controller for controls: From Ebay
£04.17 - Amplifier: From Ebay

£05.50 - Total Shipping

£38.13 - Total

I should have said under £40 - just to give it the James Bond finish.

You can see that, with the exception of the primer, all the costs can be attributed to items that are very specific to this kind of project. Everthing else is either more standard or re-purposed from bits and pieces I had lying around.

I should also mention that the listed cost for the amp is for a replacement. The original was £6.99 but I blew it up trying to figure out how to power it from the motherboard.
So although the above is the true value of parts that made it into the final build, you can add the extra seven quid to the cost of making it if you're feeling harsh.

The final push to finish was fairly straightforward. I had the whole thing assembled and finished for a day when a friend mentioned in passing that he'd found a stash of old graphics cards while moving and offered me the best of them - a GTX 750. So everything had to come apart again to fit that - but there was a fortunate bi-product of this.

Previously I had a couple of small conundrums with the fans I fitted to the rear of the cabinet.
Firstly, the usb power cable wasn't long enough. Fortunately a quick rummage in my cables box turned up a short extension lead; problem solved.

Secondly, it turned out the fans stayed on even after the machine was powered down.
After trying different sockets and playing with the power management settings in Windows to no avail I googled the issue.
Apparently this is a standard feature and most people, those that weren't saying something a bout a jumper, suggested a bios update and a tweak to the settings within.
My bios was up to date. I played with the settings I could find: No luck. The fans still purred away when the power was off.

I resolved that I'd just have to power off at the switch whenever possible. A less than ideal solution.

Fitting the graphics card was the first time I'd really looked at the motherboard since first attaching the power button years before. I had to fiddle with the clamp holding the cards in place and in doing so dropped the tiny screw that held it in place. It nestled on the mothered next to tiny jumper. I picked up the screw and the words 'USB 5v' were etched underneath.

So, having moved the jumper from the second and third pins to the first and second I now have cooling fans that power up and down when the rest of the machine does.

The final hurdle was cleared.

The machine was reassembled.

The project was finished!

So what's next?

Well. My father in law gave me a PC steering wheel and peddles a while ago. They're stored away somewhere, never used.

I'm thinking I might - with the budget restriction now lifted - build a pedestal for the unit and build them into it... we'll see.

But for now this last picture is for +Jeremy Riley - the closest thing you'll get to a "big grinning selfie" from me. Cheers for the support along the way!