MAME Arcade Cabinet – BLACKHOLE

Imagine you could have a machine you spent most of your pocket money when you were a kid, for free, with any game you ever wished to play, standing in your hangout space. That’s right. A dream of everyone of us. Be able to finish Contra without spending a single coin…

It was in SCUB in 2009 when our friend brought us an arcade cabinet. Nothing besides the wooden cabinet wasn’t working. So not thinking too much we proceed to fix it. The idea was simple although it took us almost TWO years to realise it.
Inside of the arcade cabinet we installed desktop pc (some Ppentuim4 with 1GB RAM and some old Nvidia card) we recycled previously from a pile of garbage on the street. We put in the biggest CRT monitor we could find, and computer speakers.As for controller. Hmmm… it took us few attempts.
In the beginning we wanted to keep it as much DIY and FREEGAN as we could. Plus all of us wanted to play really badly. So the first idea was to use the keyboard. We traced the paths of the keys to the chip, to then solder joystick and buttons to it, reconfiguring keymapping…. This option even though possible, appeared to be too complicated. Especially in the crazy environment of SCUB. We realised that isn’t time and place to fuck around with million cables and it’s time for investment. So, we rushed into computer-store to get two cheapest, crappiest Playstation like game controllers.

We figured it will be the easiest way to fix the arcade and start playing finally. Well, the fate decided otherwise. Simple task to connect buttons and joystick from arcade cabinet directly to PS joypads pcb seemed impossible. We seemed to have all kind of issues with it. Cables were ripping of, getting de-attached or mixed up. Every time someone would get to work their way out of the mess and fix it, someone else would resolder all the cables as he would see should be the right way. Simple task but yeah… One could ask ‘How many squatters does it take to solder a cable?’ and the answer would be ‘way too many’. At some point we gave up. Specially after getting evicted, we were more focused on having a storage space where we could dump all the stuff. And as it goes in squatters life, stuff you saved somewhere will stay there forever. Or until finally someone will remember about it.

In 2011 we decided to give it a try once again. This time in “The Basement”. We got new pair of controllers and started from zero. After few sessions the game cabinet was finished, up and running. Due to lack of space and the “Basement” project not really working out, we moved BLACKHOLE to another squatted social center “DeHallen” in Amsterdam West. And yes! There is nothing better then a beer and finishing next levels in Contra, Metal Slug, Bobble Bobbles, Pacman, Mario bros, Frogger, Paperboy…

We are still using the same P4 machine with 1GB RAM and some gfx card.
Software wise we run sdlmame,uae,snes9x-gtk,dosbox for emulation of various platforms, and wahcade as a front-end. The system is powered by Archlinux.