A few weeks back, my wife found one of those Arcade1Up cabinets in a thrift store, which had Pacman and Pacman Plus on it. They were asking $60 for it, and tried to tell her it just needed a new power cord, even though it powered up and got sound, just no video. She called them on that, so they offered it to her for $30. So, I got a Pacman cabinet that is the perfect size for the girls, with a dead screen. Investigation showed that the vertical screen is actually a standard 17″ 4:3 aspect ratio horizontal lcd, but the sides are covered by artwork. Since I was sure the monitor needed replaced, I picked one up at a thrift store for about $6 and stripped it out of its case. I 3d-printed some mounting brackets for it, as it wouldn’t mount quite the same way as the original one, and installed MAME on a notebook and connected it to the monitor, using a USB controller board for the joystick and buttons. It worked great, and the Pacman games I loaded on it automatically centered vertically on the screen, so all was good. But I didn’t want to waste the notebook on it, and you had to reach inside to power everything up, so I found an old Raspberry Pi, along with a PiCade hat for it, and installed RetroPie on it. The Pacman games stretched to full screen. The solution was to rotate the Pi screen on boot, then set the emulators (and Emulation Station) to rotate the screen again for the games. Amazingly, it worked. Now I discover that there is an image specifically for vertical games in MAME, and I’m guessing it boots properly with the horizontal monitor, as someone posted a video of the same model of cabinet running that image. So, here comes some more work 😉
Also, since the photo was taken, I’ve modified the power and volume switches. The power switch is now a button which powers the Pi on and off, and the Volume switch is now a button which selects which game. Once I load that other image, I’m probably going to add buttons to the front panel which will allow me to get out of a game and back to the menu to select a new one. Or, I’m considering building a new control panel with those buttons, plus 6 buttons for a single player.