In the first part of this series I went over what was involved with the planning of our new arcade machine. Namely that we went through building a MAME capable PC to run all of the software and selecting a cabinet that was cost-effective and flexible. Having settled on the 32″ Pro Upright Xtension Arcade Cabinet, we got to work pretty quickly once all of the parts arrived. Speaking of which, the finished weight of the Xtension Arcade Cabinet is 198 lbs. not including whatever PC and monitor you settle on. It arrives in 4 separate boxes. 1 of which contains the two player control board and the remaining have all of the parts needed to build the cabinet. The control board is somewhat heavy but the other three are very heavy so make sure you’ve got a friend to help you carry the pieces to where construction will begin.
Construction Overview and Pitfalls
Getting the cabinet built, mounting the monitor, and wiring everything to the PC that runs MAME took about 3 hours give or take. It’s definitely recommended to do the build in the location where you’re going to set up the arcade machine. It’s heavy in pieces but positively beastly if you aim to move it after construction; Especially if moving it aftwards involves climbing any stairs.
In a nutshell the construction involves:
-Building the bottom half sideways and sandwiching the cabinet sides on top of the shelves as you build them vertically
-Buildiing the top half sideways and mounting the monitor followed by sandwiching the right side on top of the monitor mount vertically
-Bolting the top half to the bottom half
-Setting the Xtension Two Player Control Board “Emulator Edition” into the cabinet and bolting it down
-Finishing remaining wiring for powering the marquee light, coin door (if applicable, PC, and monitor
We only hit a couple of snags during construction which was our own fault. For starters you have to put in a sort of cambolt into a variety of holes in the cabinet, making sure that the they’re inserted with the flat-head facing up so you can turn the bolt if needed before putting in the stabilizing screws. We accidentally put one in upside-down and having no other choice had to use a small drill bit to drill through the opposite side of the cabinet and push it out to re-insert it. Oops.
Beyond that small mishap we also ran into some trouble mounting the fluorescent bulb that lights the marquee. There aren’t pre-defined screw holes for where the light gets mounted so you’ll have to do a bit of measuring to make sure that the final mounting point for the light leaves enough room for you to mount whatever speakers you’ll be using in the upper portion that points down at the players. For now we used a fairly cheap set of 2.1 Logitech speakers with a subwoofer to give the game audio a bit of kick. However, some speakers are too deep to fit comfortably in this portion. So make sure you leave enough room in the top portion of the arcade machine cabinet to fit whatever speakers you decide to use. Also, be aware that the speaker grills in this section are generous and you’ll get some light bleeding through them unless you have speakers large enough to cover the holes entirely. But even if you don’t, it shouldn’t be difficult to lay some black cloth around the speaker to block the light from bleeding through but if it’s no bother then you shouldn’t need to worry about it.
Other Purchases That Will Make Life Easier
Putting everything together was pretty effortless. However, there are a few niggling little things that you may want to have ready in advance that will make things a little bit easier after construction. Full disclsclosure; The below are Amazon Affiliate links so you can get what you need and support us by ordering through them. Some of those things include:
You can get these just about anywhere online but I liked these colored ones. This way you can know at a glance if you ever have to do any maintenance after the fact that cables tied with red are related to the PC and those in blue are from the monitor for example. You can also use zip ties for cable management, of course, but don’t pull them too snug because if you have to remove them later you won’t want to risk severing any wires with scissors as you try to release from the death grip of the zip ties.
This is a fairly cheap speaker system that runs between $25-$40. They fit very well into the arcade cabinet but the real draw for my choosing these is the wired that allows you to control the volume, turn the speakers off, and an easily-accessible headphone port. You can use some double-sided tape to keep the remote in place on the hidden keyboard tray for quick access to adjusting the volume and to plug in some headphones if you don’t want to disturb people around you. Well, beyond your furious button presses anyways.
If you got a monitor/tv with dowward facing HDMI ports it’ll make it easier to connect the HDMI cable during the mounting process. However, if you didn’t buy a monitor and were using an existing TV for the 32″ Pro Upright Xtension Arcade Cabinet that has horizontal HDMI ports, no worries; You can buy one of these right angle adapters that will allow you to plug it in vertically. Plus you can get these for a couple bucks on Amazon usually.
You probably already planned on using one of these anyways but I wanted to point out an extra advantage to having one handy and accessible via the hidden keyboard tray. The marquee light is always on and to access it you need to remove the top piece of the cabinet which involves removing for screws. It’s far easier to keep the light running to an easily accessible power strip so you can just unplug it if you don’t want the light on for some reason.
Overall the construction process for the machine is straightforward and manageable. You could do it solo but it’s always best to have a friend (or two) around to help out. If you’ve ever built a piece of furniture from IKEA you’re not going to have much trouble here and the instructions provided are much easier to follow. If you have any questions about what the build process is like beyond what’s listed here, feel free to leave it in the comments below or hit us up on twitter or Facebook and we’ll do what we can to help!
Stay tuned for part 3 where we’ll give an in-depth review on the 32″ Pro Upright Xtension Arcade Cabinet!