Jarrett (jarrett) wrote,

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The Diet and The Arcade Console

You might remember a month ago I announced I was going to change my diet. I didn't have much of a plan aside from giving up soda (and sugar in general), giving up fast food, watching my portions, and eating much less fat. Well, I'm happy to announce that I've been able to stick with it, and I'm currently on schedule to meet my goal by the end of the year. In fact, I've already lost ten pounds.

In order to track my progress, I made a chart in Photoshop. I weigh myself first thing every morning, and I mark it on the chart. I just love numbers, and I love seeing my progress so plainly illustrated.

I also made a deal with myself. If I can meet my goal on the first of each month, I will reward myself by buying something I don't need. I know what you're thinking: "Jarrett, you buy crap you don't need all the time." True, but most toys I buy can at least be written off as a business expense, or justified in some other way. I actually have a whole 'nother wishlist in my head of purchases that are hard to reconcile, even with standards as low as mine.

So, having met my goal for the first month, I get to buy myself something. And I did.

For many years, I have pondered building a MAME cabinet. What the hell is a MAME cabinet, you ask? Well, MAME is the name of a very special piece of software. It stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. You see, people have been stealing the software off of video arcade machine ROM chips. MAME usues a PC to emulate the arcade machine hardware and run the original game software. So, with a plain ol' PC running MAME, you can play practically any classic arcade game from Pac-Man to Mortal Kombat.

Well, not long after MAME hit the streets, someone had a neat idea. Let's take an arcade console, rip out the guts, and put a MAME PC inside. It's like having an entire arcade in one console. Having spent most of my childhood in arcades, this idea has been very appealing to me. However, used arcade consoles aren't real easy to come by, and I don't really have the tools, space, or knowledge to refurbish one, much less rig the control panel and display.

But lately, a new industry has been born. Companies are building brand new arcade cabinets, control panels and displays designed for this sort of project. However, the parts are expensive. So, I'm going to build a brand new arcade cabinet... one piece at a time. If I keep meeting my weightloss goals, I can keep buying new parts for the machine. It's very motivational, and I'm very excited about the project!

Today I ordered the first and most important piece: The control panel.

After exhaustive research, I settled on the SlikStik classic, with some slight modifications. It's basically the biggest, most expensive panel out there, but I really want to do this thing right. I customized mine with an additional top-fire joystick next to the spinner, so I can play TRON (my favorite classic arcade game) with an authentic feel. Check out the pic:

So, thus begins phase 1 of my MAME arcade cabinet project. While my control panel is being built, I'm going to convert one of my extra computers for use as the MAME-brain. Peddling ROMs is slightly illegal, so collecting all the ones I want is a little challenging and time-consuming as well. Also, I might try to get the machine to run a couple other emulators, like the 8-bit NES for starters.

If I stick to my new diet, hopefully I'll be able to start phase 2 of the project on October 1st.

Now, tell me... what is your favorite classic arcade game?
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