Phase I: Computer & Controller Configuration
I have a spare computer that has been set aside to become the brains of my arcade machine. It's going to take some effort to get all the emulators set up, because ROMs aren't terribly easy to come by. I dug up a torrent that supposedly contains the complete set of ROMs, CHDs and extras for the current version of MAME, but the file is 28 gigs. Currently that file is downloading at around 20 KB/s, which means the download will take between two and three weeks to complete. But here's a list of the games that ought to be in these files, so it seems worth the wait.
(If you have a faster Internet connection than me, a BitTorrent client, a DVD burner, and some time to waste, the file is broken into these seven DVD images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)
Of course, the computer I'm going to use only has a 20 GB hard drive, which is woefully inadequate. I found a nice 120 GB Maxtor at Fry's for only $60 (on sale for Labor Day).
Hopefully I'll get the computer set up just in time for the control panel to arrive. SlikStik says it will ship 3 or 3½ weeks from now, then I'll be able to connect it to the brain and start tweaking the control settings in each of the emulators.
Phase II: Cabinet Construction
This phase will likely be the most expensive, but also the easiest. Despite Mike's objections, I'm probably going to order a SlikStik Arcade. While it is a little pricey, there's no way Mike or I could ever construct something this nice from the raw materials.
Phase III: Display Installation
I had pretty much settled on getting a Wells Gardner 27" D9200, which has become the "standard" for MAME cabinet displays. It's a "hybrid" montitor: it's VGA compatible, but also can display almost any arcade mode (much lower resolutions & scan frequencies).
However, I've read a little about a company called Betson Imperial that sells a 27" Arcade/VGA display that may be superior to the WG D9200. The display is manufactured by some company called Kortek. Product info is a little hard to find, so I'm still doing some research on this one.
Phase IV: Finishing Touches
This basically invoves designing and applying graphics to the cabinet, installing lights behind the marquee and coin slots and under the trackball, as well as installing speakers. Tom says he can help me with getting the graphics printed, but a panel that covers the 36" x 72" side panel would cost around $300. I've also considered just keeping the cabinet black, but it will be a long time before I have to make any of those sort of decisions.
I'm also trying to figure out what to name the machine. Most of the cabinets I see online just read MAME in the marquee, others come up with cute names like MAMEFRAME, MAMESTATION or something like that. I know I don't want it to say MAME on the cabinet, but I haven't yet thought of anything better.
Of course I'm open to suggestions regarding any phase of the plan.