Winner stays, loser pays. How to set up a console "cabinet" to function like an actual arcade cab


With the the decline of arcades, more and more fighting games are being released without proper arcade versions. This has robbed folks of a proper, offline venue for playing matches against other folks. Now, some of you will point out that some “arcades” have created console setups where people can play console fighting games, however there remains one problem with this. These “cabs” are usually time-based, this takes away from certain aspects of the arcade fighting game experience. The most important part of this is that this format is less open to playing against random opponents at the arcade. It’s harder to just randomly walk up to a setup and challenge the people playing on it, simply because they’re the ones who paid for the setup. For the operators, this also means that there are potentially less people playing on the cab, and therefore, less profit - assuming you have high enough foot traffic, you can earn more from people constantly “quartering up” to play.

Happily, there is a way to properly replicate the arcade setup on a console “cab” and it’s not as hard as you would think it would be. In fact, the technique uses the same timing hardware that you would see in some coin-op console setups.

The parts needed for this are:
[]1 Console of choice
]2 Controller PCBs of choice
[]2 Coin-op timer boards
]1 Arcade “Cabinet” setup (monitor, etc.)
Step 1: Connecting the coin-op timer board

For those not familiar with them, coin-op timer boards are used in numerous applications in certain parts of the world as a simple for of automating time based rental/use of certain utilities or hardware. Most folks would probably be familiar with these through some old, coin-op children’s rides that you could see in some malls. For consoles, there are actually some that are designed specifically for consoles.

The trick to replicating the arcade experience is by only connecting the buttons used for confirming to the timing boards. For XBox 360, these are Start and A, for PS3 these are either Start and Circle or Start and X. This can be done through many ways, depending on the timer board used. The simplest timer boards simply use an automated DPDT switch. You can simply connect the the wiring to the aforementioned buttons to this - usually via ground.

Once the boards are connected, you have to set how long they will have the buttons unlocked. Once again, this depends on the coin-op board used. To find the best time, calculate the average time of a standard match and set it to slightly below that. This will allow enough time for folks to pick their characters and, if necessary, set their buttons.

Step 2: Configuring the layout

Since the confirming (Start, A, X, Circle) are timed to lock, you will have to make some changes to the layout to allow people to play. The confirming buttons will obviously have to be put to the side somewhere, where Start would usually be on a regular arcade cab. What you need to decide then is how to properly layout the remaining buttons for them to be functional for the games you plan to run. For a game like Street Fighter IV, this is simple enough as you can use the Type-B or “last 6” layout. For games like Marvel or Persona or Blazblue, this can be a bit more complicated. The rule of thumb is usually to place the default “deconfirm” button - B on the XBox 360, X or Circle on the PS3 (depending on region and which is used for confirming) - to either the light-kick or mid-kick position. For a more concrete example, I will post the actual layout used at A2G (which pioneered this setup) below.

Finally, be sure to add a guide to indicate the new layout so players don’t get confused.

Step 3: Running the game
Once the console and cab have been set up, all that is left is to run your game of choice. To properly simulate the arcade experience, run the game on Arcade Mode. Do this from Player 1 since most people will gravitate to that side on an empty cab. This ensures that people can simple “quarter up” and start playing the game while waiting for other folks to step up and challenge them.

Best Ultimate Tech Talk Hang Out Loud Edition Season V



This is interesting.

I’m guessing a single player would pay for arcade mode and then someone can walk up and press start to join in. But how do you get the first player to pay? Once he pays he can move the menu? What if he uses his 4-10 seconds to go to options or some other dumb thing?


Remind him this is the arcade.


Hahaha. As funny as that is, people messing with machines is inevitable.


Don’t they use a setup like that at Arcade UFO?


No. Both player 1 and player 2 are connected to separate timing devices. For either player to play, they need to “quarter up” so to speak. Usually, at A2G arcade where they have this kind of setup (on custom, head to head cabs) they just leave it at arcade mode.

Also, he can try going into the menus, but he risks getting locked out and stuck on it when the timer (which is set really fast) runs out.

Haven’t seen the setup there. But isn’t it time based?


You can always go for the low-tech option of having a sign stating that the menu is off limits with arcade employees or staff there to enforce the rules.
With violators being asked to leave the premises.


So you can’t play single player?


You can, but anyone can come in and challenge you, just like in a real arcade cab.

You can, but getting locked out in the menus and not being able to do anything (since Start and A are locked) is usually deterrent enough, since they usually end up having to ask the staff to help.


Updated the first post to make things clearer.

I’ll be posting buttons layouts and, if possible samples of timing boards on the 2nd post.

On related news, all the matches in this post on the front page are played on cabs set up to work like this.

CJ Showstopper was pretty impressed by the cabs and Ryan (Filipino Champ) actually wants to have one built and shipped to the US.


You could easily do something like run the arcade mode for certain games.
I know for some games (mainly arcsys games), you can’t get out of the menu unless you have access to a certain button, (i.e. blazblue and select button)


You can also just lock out the “deconfirm” button as well. But that makes it easy for people to get stuck on menus.


any pictures of the actual cabinets? the videos in the link you posted don’t really show anything…just looks like a bunch of televisions.

I’ve seen sega genesis’ modded for jamma compatibility but even they are freeplay only. I’d be interested to see how your thing works with an arcade monitor, power supply, harness, etc.


Here’s a celphone pic I took last Saturday when Team USA was over (can’t really see the CP over NEO though). It’s basically a custom head to head “cabinet” that just houses a standard LCD monitor and some speakers with the console sitting inside.

There are coin-op timing chips that do link to JAMMA harnesses, however I’m not sure they can do the trick discussed here (and probably lock out the entire CP when the time runs out).


I really dont see how this is legal…Also this totally pointless, there is a reason why arcade is dead, people are too cheap to experience the arcade experience, they perfectly content w/ online play or stick to their gatherings & not pay damn thing.


But do they have to pay to?


Yes they do.

Each controller should have it’s own coin-op chip.


Nice. How does the chip know who won though?


Hax? I’ve seen a pic of a bootleg 3D PC SFIV cabinet.

No idea if these are time-op or if they managed to get pay-per-play working. That would be an impressive hacking feat, at least. Maybe AE has some hooks in it that allow for that natively. I can only hazard uneducated guesses.