First Official Hack

Though many hacks have been undertaken by dijit, this is the first official hack being billed exclusively to hacklocal. What’s the hack?? Take an old, discarded arcade machine and turn it into a MAME box for free use by all hacklocal members and visitors. We shall call this, “freeMAME” and it will be a focal point at our new, yet to be announced, location. There are many motivations for this hack, but I will summarize: it’s cool, it involves re-using thrown out technology, and it will benefit our members and visitors.GT2004

 

Click below for the full write-up of this hack…..

Because this arcade machine was put out to the curb by a next-door neighbor, this is about as local as ‘hacklocal’ gets! The sign said “FREE” and we didn’t ask any questions. Upon getting the huge wooden cabinet to our work area we were delighted to find nearly all of the internals intact. Everything from the huge CRT monitor, the motherboard (or ‘green board’ as it is known by Golden Tee aficionados), the coin and bill acceptors, etc. A tired ATX power supply was also present, and much to our surprise was in working order. Before hacking everything up to get started on our MAME, we plugged it in, stepped back, and enjoyed the show. Again we were surprised to find what someone else threw out: a perfectly functioning Golden Tee arcade game circa 2004. Its only offense? A missing trackball. Granted this is the single most important piece of a Golden Tee arcade game, but that problem was easily remedied with $12 dollars and a lucky bid on eBay. We now have a fully functioning Golden Tee arcade game. I can only imagine the conversation between husband and wife that prompted the prized possession of some guy’s man-cave to be put out to the curb for free……

Now it was decision time. Keep the game in working condition and find a new freeMAME candidate, or continue on-course full speed ahead? After all, this was now a perfectly operational Golden Tee arcade game, which is a whole bunch of fun all by itself.  A repair isn’t exactly a hack, so we decided instead to do both: keep the Golden Tee game functional, but add the option to switch over to a piMAME box with separate controls. piMAME is a wonderful application of the now popular Raspberry Pi that runs MAME inside Raspbian (debian linux ported and customized for the Raspberry Pi architecture). Thousands of classic game ROMs can be had online from various websites and repositories, and all can be run from a tiny Raspberry Pi tucked somewhere inside the huge arcade cabinet.

Hacking the Display

The Golden Tee game uses a big, bulky, ugly CRT monitor (upgraded in later versions of this game to an LCD monitor). The monitor is driven by a video card that occupies the sole PCI slot on the custom “green board”. This was an obvious first modification, as we had several LCD’s at our disposal. We chose an LCD with both DVI and VGA in so we could keep both the original and the new setups connected simultaneously. The Raspberry Pi’s HDMI out would be converted to DVI and the Golden Tee would be connected via VGA. The LCD’s input switch would be relocated to the controller area for switching back and forth.

Hacking the Cabinet

Two difficult cabinet modifications were necessary: the monitor mount and the controller panel. The stock CRT was removed (perhaps a future homebrew o-scope candidate?) and replaced with an LCD with a much smaller footprint. To accommodate this, we had to design a new mount that would maintain the original viewing angle.

The next modification to the cabinet was adding controls for the piMAME while maintaining the original Golden Tee buttons and trackball. The replacement trackball was not the exact model, and therefore did not fit our controller panel. This prompted an entirely new panel to be fabricated, relocating the trackball and Golden Tee Buttons to one side, while adding 2 new joysticks and several buttons for the piMAME box. We decided to keep the coin and bill acceptors for possible donations or other future use.

Mounting the Pi was easy, as it is a compact size and weight. Routing the cables was equally as painless, thanks in part to the

Other modifications to the cabinet include: adding power buttons for each machine, both the Pi (through GPIO pins) and the GT, replacing original signage, etc.

 

Future Plans:

We really want to make this a cool focal piece for hacklocal, as we begin our journey. We want it to invite visitors in to see what we are working on, and hopefully to inspire them to ‘hack local’. Some proposed future modifications include network-connected social media additions (i.e. a tweet button that will post high scores or simply “hello world” messages to our twitter account), coin and dollar bill donation collection, and more.