If you have been following my blog, you know that I’ve been building a single board supergun device which I named the Minigun. Project page can be found here.
While I’ve been developing this product, I realized that there may be a need for a simplified device, or rather a set of smaller, distinct components that can be easily integrated together to create a supergun like device that is customized to the user’s need.
This became very apparent when I began to build an arcade / JAMMA test rig for my new lab. A test rig may not require fancy features like autofire or button mapping, but may require the ability to output video in several formats, or more than one way to add controls to a game.
The result of this is a set of boards that can be easily connected via inexpensive dupont cables, that create the required functionality. The current set of boards include:
JAMMA to pin headers board – this is the hub of the system. Plenty of 2.54mm dupont headers allow other boards to be connected. Screw in headers for power rails for easy power supply.
RGB to Component board – allows RGB video to be displayed on a 240p capable TV that can accept component video.
RGB to Composite / S-Video board – allows RGB video to be displayed on a TV that can accept Composite and S-Video signals. Due to the difficulty in creating proper chroma signals from non standard arcade RGB video, this may not be viable for all arcade boards and televisions.
DB9 controller board. Allows you to use a DB9 joystick or Sega genesis controllers as inputs.
USB controller board. Allows you to use a USB joystick as your inputs.
Pick and chose the functionality you need and connect the boards together to create a custom test rig or supergun device.
These boards will eventually be sold either as already assembled or low cost DIY kits. More information on this project will be available soon.
As I’ve been building a test rig in my new lab, I recognized the need for JAMMA fingerboards and generic JAMMA adapter boards.
Normally I’m against this type of stuff. I used to build adapters the old fashioned way with fingerboards, an edge connector and some wire, and I hated every minute of it. Not only is it time consuming, but the results end up looking ugly and have a tendency to break over time.
So why do this when I already have an awesome set of universal JAMMA adapters? It turns out that building a JAMMA extension harness is impossible without a decent fingerboard. For quick testing and prototyping, it helps to have a bunch of low cost boards available that can be abused and recycled time after time.
I’m going to make these available as a low cost DIY option for when it’s not practical to use a more expensive matrix style JAMMA adapter.
More to come on these soon. I’m a bit backlogged at the moment and don’t have the cycles to handle any more new orders.
It’s been a lazy summer. Not very motivated to do work. Being addicted to the internet isn’t helping. Stuff that should have been done months ago is still on the back burner.
But… I’ve somehow been able to get a number of things accomplished. There are four new JAMMA adapters that I’m about to release. These are:
Exidy to JAMMA – For games like Mousetrap, Venture, Targ, Spectar, Pepper II and Victory
Space Invaders to JAMMA – For the Midway variant of Space Invaders and Space Invaders Deluxe
8 Liner to JAMMA – for your poker and video slot games.
Nintendo Playchoice 10 to JAMMA – for the dual monitor version of the PlayChoice 10 board. Still looking for the single monitor version of the PCB if anyone has one and wants to sell it.
These adapters are fairly complex and took a few months to develop. I hope you’ll appreciate the quality, functionality and the price of these adapters and support my work by buying a few of them, from my Ebay page here.
Given how I need to perfect my on screen display and video code, and the input and lcd interface that will be used in subsequent JAMMA project like the PJ (Pi to Jamma), Minigun and the JammaMate cards, I decided to concentrate on the JAMMA TestCard to finish this one completely before focusing on the other projects.
I made a separate project page dedicated to the TestCard. You can find it here.
This project is about 80% complete I would say. Not sure how long before I wrap it up but it should be not much more than a month or so. It all depends whether I get distracted with other stuff, and that’s very, very likely.
Since this project isn’t 100% completed yet, the price isn’t final, but I’m aiming to initially price these at around $40USD or $50CAD.
In addition to this, I’ve also been working on a couple of other side projects. I have now assembled and have done some light testing with the Minigun prototype board.
This is a device that is a single PCB supergun that has some neat functionality not found elsewhere. The main features that separate it from the crowd are the ability to use Sega Genesis 6 button controllers, or any other DB9 compatible joystick for that matter, RGB to Component video conversion (requires a TV capable of displaying 240p video) and most importantly, the price.
I’m planning to price is well below any competition, even though I would consider this product to be superior. The price point I’m aiming at is about $70CAD or $60USD without controllers.
As the project continues to move forward I’ll try to update this site with additional information. For now there is very little information on the Minigun page here, but feel free to check it out nonetheless.
I’m about to release a series of universal JAMMA adapters. This is a brand new design, that is intended to make the process of creating custom adapters for your non-JAMMA games, incredibly easy.
I’ve been making prototypes with this design for the last couple of months and found them to be quite awesome.
Not only is the process of creating a conversion super easy, which now takes a fraction of the time , the completed adapter and can be stored neatly together with other similar adapters without the worry of it being damaged.
As with the other adapters these will be available on Ebay for a very reasonable price. Check out the following page for more information.
I’m about to put up various Jamma adapters on Ebay. I spent a lot of effort and time into these. I wanted to produce a fairly extensive set of adapters, that were generally better designed, smaller, more functional and most importantly more affordable than what’s out there today.
I did something similar back in the mid 1990s, but that was before Ebay was useful and other e-commerce sites made it easy to sell them. We ended up selling them at arcade auctions and through newsgroups for very little profit and it was a fairly painful process. Even though we used local fabbing services, the quality had to be kept at the bare minimum. Putting on silkscreen or even solder mask raised the production costs so much that it was impossible to recover the costs.
We started off making adapters for games we had, and tried to sell those to cover production costs of the next batch. Of course, collector tastes vary, and we were always being asked for adapters that we didn’t have, for boards we didn’t own. The demand just wasn’t strong. It was difficult justifying the purchase of an adapter when the board could cost about as much or just a bit more. This was at a time when arcade operators were trying to dump their games for cheap and I was trying to survive off of student loans.
In the end, while we did end up selling a bunch and barely covered costs of production, it just wasn’t worthwhile to continue. Back then production costs were very high compared to what they are today, parts and tools were expensive, and prototyping services virtually non existent. We ended up spending a lot of time etching prototype boards in our bathtubs and drilling and soldering all the vias by hand. Don’t have many good memories of that unfortunately.
So here we are again, 20 years later. I want to finish what I started.
Also, the world is a completely different place. I see an increasing trend with arcade board collecting. Based on the prices at least, the demand seems to be much stronger. An arcade game pcb today may sell for 10 times what it would sell for in the 1990s. Production costs are probably 3-4 times lower depending where you go, prototyping services are cheap and readily available, good design tools can be had for free. It makes much more sense to do this now. I can lower the cost and increase quality. If you’ve ever built an adapter by hand, cut the wires to just the right length, soldered them between the edge connector and the fingerboard, and you did a remotely decent job, you know it can be time consuming. If you value your time at all, have a look at what I’m offering here and I’m sure you’ll agree this is the way to go.
So, I spent the last few weeks designing about 20 different types of JAMMA adapters for the most common games based on VAPS statistics. Some are already available out there, some are completely new designs that no one has done. As far as the existing ones go, I am convinced these are better, and will be a fraction of the cost. I think they are unbeatable quality and price, I doubt anyone can do better for less.