Joel’s “SillyCar Arcade”
MAME Hobby Project!

 

Most Recent Machine Update:
02/2009 – Painted Keyboard Cover Door Red.

Welcome! This page is intended to showcase my arcade machine that I created myself. The picture to the right is of the most recent iteration of the SillyCar Arcade. I started this project in 2003 when I purchased a Neo Geo System 4 game arcade machine from Funtown USA in Ballston Spa, New York. I had been going to Funtown since it opened when I was a kid and in 2003, the owner decided to retire and he was auctioning off all of his game machines before he left for Florida. So I decided to put bids in on two of the machines. One was a pretty beat up Centipede game and the other was the Neo Geo MVS System. The Neo Geo had a bad monitor, but the cabinet was in great shape. Anyway, I won the Neo Geo and Mike Miller and my brother Dave helped me get it home. Unfortunately, I’m an idiot and I didn’t take any pictures of the original machine, but it originally looked a lot like the one below. Click to enlarge the photos.

 

 

 

 

Mine had the following 4 games in it when I bought it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mother board had four slots in it and you could change the games out with any MVS cartride. It was a pretty cool system, and I thought about fixing it and using it as an MVS system, but by gutting it and putting a computer in it, I could run all the MVS games as well as tons of other games, so that seemed the best way to go. I ended up selling the motherboard and game cartridges as well as many of the other parts including the system manual, additional stickers and paperwork. This helped me fund the project.

The first thing I did to it was to gut the cabinet and spend a Lot of time cleaning it because it was pretty dirty.Then I re-painted it and removed the metal control panel.

Then I came up with a system of threaded rods, wingnuts and plates to install a new X-Arcade Control Panel purchased from X-Arcade.com. I put a piece of plexi-glass to cover where the keyboard from a beige PowerMac G3 All-In-One computer I picked up on e-bay would go.

The X-Arcade panel would sit on the white bumpers and then the wingnuts would tighten metal plates wrapped in electrical tape to hold the panel in place. This was a crude system, I know. I am not a professional… yet!

 

However, this system allowed me an easy way to remove the panel to get at the computer inside the cabinet, so it served a useful purpose. I also used a Kensington trac ball instead of a mouse so that I could use it for games like Centipede™, and I connected a Gravis game pad which could be used for old school console games.

 

 

Next, I designed some graphics for the monitor bezel. This first iteration was done on my ink jet printer using 8.5×11 sheets of paper. I taped the graphics to the glass very carefully and was able to remove the glass and bezel together when I needed access to the computer inside. I originally liked the idea of being able to see the whole computer inside. The graphics on this first version were all taken from old arcade game flyers of games that I really liked as a kid.

It was functional with the system I had come up with, but it wasn’t very pretty. Additionally, I had issues with the X-Arcade control panel where it would freeze up during a game and you would have to shake the stick in all different directions to release the freeze. This was not a defect in the X-Arcade, I think it had more to do with the after market usb card I had installed in that old Mac G3. The plexi-glass wasn’t the best idea either. It was cool being able to see the keyboard and mouse, but seeing the unfinished edges of the cabinet was not…

Next, I made the graphics for the marquee at the top. I used a silk screen ink jet paper from www.hyaz.com. They have an awesome selection of inkjet media. I found the silk screen to be too thin when I first tried it, so I then left the backing on it and it worked perfect. It has a cool texture and still lets the light through. I put a flourescent light behind it and it looked awesome! The photo to the left shows my daughter Grace and her cousin Whytne playing Ladybug™ on an early version of the SillyCar Arcade. At this point (circa 2005) the machine was pretty playable, but I wanted to fix a lot of stuff. It still needed side graphics and I wanted to add new T-moulding. I also was not completely happy with the control glitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I still wanted to make my arcade machine look cooler, so I made a new monitor bezel that covered everything but the actual monitor screen. My boss let me do it at work on our large format ink jet proofer. This new bezel had a little more flair than the first design and it also included a SillyCar Arcade logo and a disclaimer about the games in the machine which reads as follows: ©2005 SillyCar Arcade. All characters, logos and images are the property of their respective owners. SillyCar Arcade is not affiliated in any way with any of these companies. this machine is for amusement and the preservation of history only. It is not under any circumstances to be used to make a profit.

The photo on the right shows the before and after of the monitor bezels. Not a huge difference, I know and the black border around the monitor opening was not balanced well either. I think I always knew that I would be putting a bigger monitor in at some point, so I just let it go…

I wanted to make the coin slots functional, or at least have them light up. I tried hooking them up to a 9-volt battery with a button that would turn them on, but they sucked the battery dry in about two minutes. Keep checking back for a solution to that issue (or send me an email if you know how to hook them up to the circuit board of the Slik Stik – keep reading to find out what that is…) I’m still working on it…

Well, you’ve come this far… Keep reading to see what came next!

I wonder what the heck is in the box?…
Mother of Pearl!, is that what I think it is?!?

Yes!, it is a new, custom built, control panel for the SillyCar Arcade!

WoooooooHoooooo! Grace likes it too! I had this panel built in September, 2005 by SlikStik.com. Unfortunately, they are no longer in business. They were awesome too! It is a shame they couldn’t stay around. This panel has 5 joysticks, an aluminum spinner, a trackball with blue led, and tons of buttons, including side buttons for pinball games. It has an i-pac controller board (http://www.ultimarc.com/ipac1.html) inside to make things work. I’m told I can hook the coin slots from my cabinet into this controller board and have them work, but I’m not sure how to do it. If you know how, please email me using the contact link on this page!

The next thing was to figure out how to fit this massive controller to my cabinet! So, I thought and thought about how and what to do to get this bad boy on there and looking good too…

 

 

I decided to call in some help. My brother Shawn answered the call and came over and made some cuts in the cabinet for me (saws are not my thing!). Then I came up with a neat system of j-hooks and turnbuckles to hold the control panel on there and still be able to remove it easily to access the monitor area when I needed to. And I didn’t have to drill any holes in my new SlikStik controller either! Thanks for the help and for doing such a great job with the cutting Shawn! I really appreciate it!

Here is the Slik Stik installed! You can see in these pictures that I had started to play with side graphic ideas at that point. They are not actually stuck on in those pics. They are just taped on so that I could see how I might want them to be. Keep reading to see the final graphics.

Next, since I had the T-moulding off, I decided to add some yellow to give the machine some pop. I also installed a new Power Mac G3 (blue and white) into the arcade machine. It is a 400mhz machine that I installed a Power Logix G3 Zif 1.0Ghz Processor Upgrade into to speed it up a bit. Since the All-In-One Beige G3 I was replacing had a built in monitor, I replaced it with a bigger Silicon Graphics monitor.

This monitor was big bucks when new, but I got it cheap off of Al Gore’s internets…. I’m writing this in 2014, and I don’t have any records of the monitor purchase, but I believe I paid around $60 for it and it is a 20″ CRT monitor. It is starting to get a little fuzzy now, but that’s kind of cool and makes games feel very retro. I’m reluctant to put an LCD monitor in the machine, but I know that at some point, I will have to. Anyway, the installation of a new different sized monitor required a new monitor bezel and I think this one is my best yet!

Here are the most current pictures as of 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will add more story as I make changes. Right now I’m planning on putting a Power Mac G4 in there with a Cinema Display that I will turn sideways so that it will be in a tall orientation so that games like Donkey Kong can be larger. How long will it take me? I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading! If you made it this far, use the contact link to send me a note that you read this. I’d love to hear what you think…