Candy Cab MAME/Mister Build Help/Tips

OmegaMan

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Jan 22, 2014
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Hello All,

Just acquired my first candy cabinet -- a Capcom Impress. Got it with a few multi boards, which are OK, but my ultimate goal is to turn it either in to a MAME or Mister(cade) setup. Was hoping to lean on the community to see if anyone had any tips and maybe answer. a couple of my rudimentary questions to help me decide if I should lean towards MAME or Mister.

There's recently been a lot of stir about the Mister, and specifically the Mistercade for a JAMMA cab project like this. I'm not sure when the mistercade will be available to order again, but anyway I still need to decide if that's the route I want to go down. Regarding the Mister, I'm wondering if it's conceivable to have it run through some kind of snazzier front end. Don't need anything as busy as Hyperspin, but something with good lists and maybe game thumbnail images. Second, is it possible to play vertical games letterboxed on a Mister setup if you're running your monitor in horizontal mode. This seems to be doable for a MAME setup.

If I were to go down the MAME route instead, what are people using these days to run MAME on -- a Raspberry Pi or something similar? And can you get an interface board that would reside between your MAME build and the JAMMA connector. Something like the JPAC comes to mind, but would that allow for the joystick inputs without having to rewire them?

I built a MAME cocktail cabinet setup about 15 years ago which runs on a laptop and an IPAC and it works well, but the MAME cab game has changed so much since then, I was hoping to get some insight from folks who have done it recently and maybe lay out the pros/cons of MAME vs Mister, and what the roadblocks of each build might be.

Thanks,

Ω-Man​

 
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lachlan

drunk downunder!, aka. Muff Diver.,
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Why don't you buy a Taito TypeX3 unit and run the Artax ttx3 multi image? It has a full NesicaxLive front end like in the arcades and has neo geo,aw,cps1,2,3,ttx1,2,3,Naomi, Namco ES3 and Lindbergh titles. There's like 400+ titles.

Just image an SSD for the unit and boot, no stuffing around. You can use a JVS I/O for the Impress so you don't even need to bother setting up controls.

edit: it just occurred to me that it's a 1080p image that multi... won't work with an impress :LOL:

Don't mind me...
 
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HornheaDD

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also following.

I have a JAMMA Expander from IrkenLabs, for my MiSTer set up. Works great so far.
 

OmegaMan

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also following.

I have a JAMMA Expander from IrkenLabs, for my MiSTer set up. Works great so far.
From the looks of this, it seems like it's largely equivalent to the MisterCade board. Is that right? Unfortunately like the Mistercade it appears to be out of stock at present.
 

HornheaDD

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From the looks of this, it seems like it's largely equivalent to the MisterCade board. Is that right? Unfortunately like the Mistercade it appears to be out of stock at present.
Indeed. It's basically the same thing. MiSTerCade hasn't even been released publicly yet. It's still in preorder status, but preorders are closed. InvZim (IrkenLabs) realsed his Expander a few weeks ago, and naturally it's sold out, but more are on the way.

I wanted a MiSTerCade, but got tired of waiting for it. If it comes out and blows the Expander out of the water, (and is readily available) I'll buy one and replace the Expander.
 

Gmegbln

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For your asks, if you're not a stickler for accuracy then a Raspberfy Pi + a JAMMA hat of some sort soulds like what you're looking for. I couldn't recommend which JAMMA hat to use but I imagine most work fine and should be pretty plug and play to your cab.

Mister absolutely rules, and if anyone was looking to get into the PCB collecting hobby I'd tell them to save their time and money and just get a Mister if you actually wanted to, you know, play games instead of buy and maintain expensive, fragile relics. That being said, it won't do a couple of the things you want:

  1. The frontend is completely sparse and utilitarian, and in some specific ways (input configuration, game organization) completely blows. It's like the opposite of Hyperspin, text only and ugly. I don't mind because it's nice and quick, but a lot of people really hate how shitty the menus are. While I care more about the game cores themselves, I think this has to be the biggest complaint people have with Mister
  2. If you're running analog video out, then I believe most, if not all arcade cores are recreating the original analog video signal as close as possible, so you can't say rotate a vertical game and squish it onto a horizontal CRT. This usually looks like shit anyway because of the lack of resolution, but if you really wanted to I don't think it'd be possible. MAME will let you do this
People talk about forking Mister and making a nicer frontend all the time but who knows when or if that'll happen, and the arcade library's quality is up there but it can't compete with MAME's quantity at all if ever. I think both are worth having for different reasons and the CPS cores alone make the Mister worth the price, but a Pi sounds more like what you want to accomplish and both would be a million times easier than setting up a CRTEmuDriver MAME PC (which has been a colossal pain in the ass the last two times I've tried)
 

HornheaDD

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Truth. That is one thing I discovered recently. All of the great vert games just won't work unless you have a dedicated vert cab.
 

dzhay

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So much depends on your use case.

If you just want thousands of games with a pretty front end then get a cheap pc with a compatible ATI/AMD gpu and a jpac and get this image or something similar. My setup took me 30 minutes to install from this image.

If you want accuracy, then get a mister but be prepared to wait for a jamma adapter because it seems like all options are sold out at the moment. As stated above, the GUI is not pretty or necessarily that intuitive. I have the JammaExpander and it's great.

I own the RaspberryJamma and I would not buy one in 2021. The overall cost is very similar if not more expensive than a cheap groovymame setup. The setup is every bit as complicated as the groovymame image I linked to above (i.e. resizing images, sourcing roms). More importantly though the games it's capable of running are limited by comparison and run on far ealier versions of mame (read: inaccurate relatively speaking).

Honestly though, if you don't know what you want, then the easiest thing would be to buy a pandora's box of Aliexpress. That will be plug and play.
 

bulbousbeard

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So much depends on your use case.

If you just want thousands of games with a pretty front end then get a cheap pc with a compatible ATI/AMD gpu and a jpac and get this image or something similar. My setup took me 30 minutes to install from this image.

If you want accuracy, then get a mister but be prepared to wait for a jamma adapter because it seems like all options are sold out at the moment. As stated above, the GUI is not pretty or necessarily that intuitive. I have the JammaExpander and it's great.

I own the RaspberryJamma and I would not buy one in 2021. The overall cost is very similar if not more expensive than a cheap groovymame setup. The setup is every bit as complicated as the groovymame image I linked to above (i.e. resizing images, sourcing roms). More importantly though the games it's capable of running are limited by comparison and run on far ealier versions of mame (read: inaccurate relatively speaking).

Honestly though, if you don't know what you want, then the easiest thing would be to buy a pandora's box of Aliexpress. That will be plug and play.

It's not that clean cut. Mister isn't even as accurate as MAME for a lot of systems. Mister's Neo Geo implementation is worse than MAME's. There are a ton of bugs in it that aren't in MAME. People just assume FPGAs are more accurate even though they're just as fallible as anything else.

Also, Mister will never do discrete sound emulation like MAME, so games with analog sound will be better in MAME.

All that combined with the fact that you can run native PC games on a computer, it's overall a worse solution.
 

OmegaMan

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Thanks all for the replies. Tons of info here. Where to start? At a high level I think some kind of MAME setup is what I'm after. I don't care about perfect emulation and all of that, just the expansive game library. I want to play vert games letterboxed with a horizontal CRT. Lastly I would "like" a decent frontend. Personally I think HyperSpin is too manic. When I rebuilt my MAME cocktail cab I put 'Feel' on it -- if anyone can pick of that prehistoric reference. Sort of a bare bones Windows GUI and I'm very happy with it.

All that said, if I'm building a MAME machine instead of a Mister can people recommend what kind of hardware I should get. As I said in the OP, my current cocktail MAME build is running off a Windows 7 laptop. Is the new way forward just to get a cheap lappy with Win10 on it, or do you get some kind of other hardware solution? Been hearing a lot about GroovyMAME in my internet searches. Any recommends on an interface board for a MAME setup? Is the JPAC still the jam?

Sorry, was a lot here, but I'm learning a ton...thanks all

Ω-Man​

 

bulbousbeard

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The best bet might be getting a refurbished PC off Newegg, a GroovyMAME compatible video card, and JPAC. They're not even that expensive.

https://www.newegg.com/p/1VK-001E-0...iption=pc&cm_re=pc-_-1VK-001E-05R08-_-Product

https://www.newegg.com/hp-compaq-pr...iption=pc&cm_re=pc-_-1VK-001E-0AC39-_-Product

You don't even need to pay for Windows, either. If you just use a Windows 10 Enterprise ISO and replace the shell with your frontend, you never have to activate it anyway. Literally no point in paying for Windows for a setup like that.
 

OmegaMan

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The best bet might be getting a refurbished PC off Newegg, a GroovyMAME compatible video card, and JPAC. They're not even that expensive.

https://www.newegg.com/p/1VK-001E-0...iption=pc&cm_re=pc-_-1VK-001E-05R08-_-Product

https://www.newegg.com/hp-compaq-pr...iption=pc&cm_re=pc-_-1VK-001E-0AC39-_-Product

You don't even need to pay for Windows, either. If you just use a Windows 10 Enterprise ISO and replace the shell with your frontend, you never have to activate it anyway. Literally no point in paying for Windows for a setup like that.
I like what I'm hearing. I'm assuming your NewEgg links could be upgraded to a refurb laptop with Win10 for the form factor. Not sure about replacing shells. I'm a programmer by trade but spend my free time away from the desk doing other things so not sure how involved that is. Can you offer any links to the GroovyMAME compatible card you speak of?

Thanks again.
 

bulbousbeard

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I like what I'm hearing. I'm assuming your NewEgg links could be upgraded to a refurb laptop with Win10 for the form factor. Not sure about replacing shells. I'm a programmer by trade but spend my free time away from the desk doing other things so not sure how involved that is. Can you offer any links to the GroovyMAME compatible card you speak of?

Thanks again.

I don't think a laptop is a good idea. The problem with it is that you don't have control over which graphics hardware you have, and you're paying for a display that you're basically not going to use.

The GroovyMAME forum is here, but you basically want some kind of AMD GPU with an analog VGA connector on it.
https://geedorah.com/eiusdemmodi/forum/viewforum.php?id=2
 

OmegaMan

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I don't think a laptop is a good idea. The problem with it is that you don't have control over which graphics hardware you have, and you're paying for a display that you're basically not going to use.

The GroovyMAME forum is here, but you basically want some kind of AMD GPU with an analog VGA connector on it.
https://geedorah.com/eiusdemmodi/forum/viewforum.php?id=2
Should have seen that coming, yes...being able to put cards into your own PC is big. My only concern was trying to fit it into the candy cab. But frankly if I can have a dope setup I'd gladly have a desktop unit sitting on the side. Any more detail on getting use of a copy of windows 10?
 

bulbousbeard

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Should have seen that coming, yes...being able to put cards into your own PC is big. My only concern was trying to fit it into the candy cab. But frankly if I can have a dope setup I'd gladly have a desktop unit sitting on the side. Any more detail on getting use of a copy of windows 10?

Like I said, you don't need to buy Windows. You can just download an Enterprise ISO and never activate it.
 

bulbousbeard

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And there are PC form factors that'll fit in a candy cab. You can always just pull the parts out of the case and mount them in there.
 

FredyFired

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I'd use Windows just for the ability to play SF4 on it, etc. without having to deal with Proton bullcrap.

Linux is always an extra pain in the ass.
Guess so, it all comes down to what games you wanna play, if you mostly want to go retro, Linux is perfect. Windows is truly easier to setup for more modern games, but if you're gonna use a CRT then idk if you'll play that many modern games.
 

OmegaMan

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So other than the machine and the GroovyMAME compatible card, and something like a JPAC, there's not too much that needed? I keep hearing about CRT emuDriver, but I'm guessing those are just a different set of drivers you can download to run your (groovyMAME compatible) video card at the different resolutions and refresh rates, correct?

Is there anything I would need to bear in mind when it comes to the exact CRT that I have in my Impress. I don't know which one it is offhand, but I assume it's whatever they came with standard. Would my specific CRT affect which video card I should buy for my setup? Any recommendations?

Thanks for the advice.
 

thegreathopper

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Impress was my 1st Candy too, lovely cab. Save your money and just get 3rd strike, it goes so well with the Impress, like peas and carrots.
 

bulbousbeard

Hardened Shock Trooper
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So other than the machine and the GroovyMAME compatible card, and something like a JPAC, there's not too much that needed? I keep hearing about CRT emuDriver, but I'm guessing those are just a different set of drivers you can download to run your (groovyMAME compatible) video card at the different resolutions and refresh rates, correct?

Is there anything I would need to bear in mind when it comes to the exact CRT that I have in my Impress. I don't know which one it is offhand, but I assume it's whatever they came with standard. Would my specific CRT affect which video card I should buy for my setup? Any recommendations?

Thanks for the advice.

Yeah all crtmudriver is is a hacked AMD driver that lets programs dynamically set the refresh rates of video modes in programs like GroovyMAME. There's the concept of "super resolutions." You basically create a few resolutions like 2560x224, 2560x240, 2560x254, 2560x256, etc. where the horizontal resolution is 2560 and the vertical resolution covers the different hardware's variations. That prevents you from having to create hundreds of custom resolutions for every piece of hardware. Because of the way CRTs work, the horizontal resolution just gets stretched and ends up being a 1:1 match anyway.

Say you run Street Fighter 2 in GroovyMAME. It finds the closest matching super resolution (2560x224), and the hacked driver allows GroovyMAME to set the 2560x224's mode to 59.637405hz, which is the exact refresh rate that the original hardware ran at. This makes the games run silky smooth with no stuttering at their native resolution.

There's also an Atom15khz BIOS that can be loaded on certain video cards. What this does is force the graphics card to ALWAYS output a 15khz signal because some motherboards actually force 640x480 progressive in their BIOS setups, and that shit can damage your monitor or at least make the signal fail. The JPAC has signal protection built into it, though, so 31khz etc. signals can't damage your monitor.

There's a tool called vmmaker that allows you to create custom modes for different monitor presets. Since you have a standard resolution 15khz arcade monitor, you'd pick that preset, run it, create the super resolutions, and then you're ready to use GroovyMAME, Retroarch, or whatever else can take advantage of it.

The last time I looked into it, the advice was basically "buy the most expensive AMD card you can afford that's a good tradeoff between performance and heat/noisiness." I think even some of the newer AMD cards work fine. It really depends on whether you want to run some of the newer PC games on the setup like Street Fighter 4 or whether you want to run Super Model or other emulators that can take advantage of 3D hardware.
 

OmegaMan

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Yeah all crtmudriver is is a hacked AMD driver that lets programs dynamically set the refresh rates of video modes in programs like GroovyMAME. There's the concept of "super resolutions." You basically create a few resolutions like 2560x224, 2560x240, 2560x254, 2560x256, etc. where the horizontal resolution is 2560 and the vertical resolution covers the different hardware's variations. That prevents you from having to create hundreds of custom resolutions for every piece of hardware. Because of the way CRTs work, the horizontal resolution just gets stretched and ends up being a 1:1 match anyway.

Say you run Street Fighter 2 in GroovyMAME. It finds the closest matching super resolution (2560x224), and the hacked driver allows GroovyMAME to set the 2560x224's mode to 59.637405hz, which is the exact refresh rate that the original hardware ran at. This makes the games run silky smooth with no stuttering at their native resolution.

There's also an Atom15khz BIOS that can be loaded on certain video cards. What this does is force the graphics card to ALWAYS output a 15khz signal because some motherboards actually force 640x480 progressive in their BIOS setups, and that shit can damage your monitor or at least make the signal fail. The JPAC has signal protection built into it, though, so 31khz etc. signals can't damage your monitor.

There's a tool called vmmaker that allows you to create custom modes for different monitor presets. Since you have a standard resolution 15khz arcade monitor, you'd pick that preset, run it, create the super resolutions, and then you're ready to use GroovyMAME, Retroarch, or whatever else can take advantage of it.

The last time I looked into it, the advice was basically "buy the most expensive AMD card you can afford that's a good tradeoff between performance and heat/noisiness." I think even some of the newer AMD cards work fine. It really depends on whether you want to run some of the newer PC games on the setup like Street Fighter 4 or whether you want to run Super Model or other emulators that can take advantage of 3D hardware.
Thanks BB for the helpful info. Been looking at a couple video cards on NewEgg:

https://www.newegg.com/p/27N-0001-000A7?Item=9SIB1PGFBX3636
https://www.newegg.com/p/27N-0001-00065?Item=9SIAM4SETN2627

Although both of those have HDMI and DVI output. If I were to get something like a JPAC that only accepts a VGA connector to my knowledge. The other issue with the JPAC is it only supports up to (I think) 4 buttons through the JAMMA harness and doesn't have a plug to plug the kick harness in. I read that you can simply wire buttons 5 and 6 from the cabs existing kick harness to the pins on the JPAC. All that said, is the JPAC the best way to go, as I saw some other similar hardware boards touted that serve as an adapter from your PC to the JAMMA edge -- one of which I think allowed the kick harness to be plugged right into it.

Thanks again.
 

bulbousbeard

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Thanks BB for the helpful info. Been looking at a couple video cards on NewEgg:

https://www.newegg.com/p/27N-0001-000A7?Item=9SIB1PGFBX3636
https://www.newegg.com/p/27N-0001-00065?Item=9SIAM4SETN2627

Although both of those have HDMI and DVI output. If I were to get something like a JPAC that only accepts a VGA connector to my knowledge. The other issue with the JPAC is it only supports up to (I think) 4 buttons through the JAMMA harness and doesn't have a plug to plug the kick harness in. I read that you can simply wire buttons 5 and 6 from the cabs existing kick harness to the pins on the JPAC. All that said, is the JPAC the best way to go, as I saw some other similar hardware boards touted that serve as an adapter from your PC to the JAMMA edge -- one of which I think allowed the kick harness to be plugged right into it.

Thanks again.

The card does need to support analog over DVI (some cards do, some don't) or have an analog VGA output. And yup, JAMMA blows. If the card supports analog over DVI any DVI -> VGA converter will work.
 
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