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Vewlix Clone MAME/Console Project

Discussion in 'MAME / Multi-game Discussion, Projects & Support' started by mwong168, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    I've been playing with emulation since my early days in university back in 1997-2001 and building MAME and PinMAME cab projects since 2008 for myself and friends. I got myself a dedicated Street Fighter II Champion Edition cabinet in 2009 which I cleaned and fixed up before I MAME'd it.

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    This was my grail and this actual style of cab was the one I spent the most time on kicking ass at the local arcades. I had some old friends over who I use to play with so I took it off free play and made it so we all had to coin up to face off against each other like we use to back in the day at the Allen Court Pool Hall across from Bayview Secondary School :cool:

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    As my daughter got older she started to play more with my pins and vids. She really enjoyed playing the beat em' ups like Ninja Turtles or Simpsons. It sucked that we could only play 2 players whenever her cousins and friends would come over. I always envisioned getting a Nintendo red tent and turning it into a 4 player dual screen MAME setup.

    Sure enough in 2015 that vision became a reality because one had popped up on kijiji and was being sold by an old friend. Funny enough this friend was the same person I got my SF2 cab from too and he actually wanted it back. So we worked out a trade and it worked out for everyone in the end.

    I never documented or posted pics of my red tent because I was scared all the Nintendo fanboys or puristswould hang me for not restoring this back to its original boring form. Thankfully it was already butchered and looked like it lived a very rough life. Here is what I started with.

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    I didn't care for the internals which I believe were wired to play JAMMA boards. I sold off the CRTs and whatever else I stripped out of the cab that I didn't need. I replaced all the controls with iL 8 way euro joy sticks with custom hollow shafts so I could light up RGB ball tops. I also used iL translucent buttons and put in RGB led boards in each one. These controls were not cheap and by the time it was all said and done I had spent close to $350usd! I figured this was going to be my forever keeper MAME setup so I didn't spare any expenses.

    I planned to use LED blinky so only the controls would be dynamically lit for whatever game you had selected. I had Player 1 and Player 3 wired to one side and Player 2 and Player 4 on the other side. So if you picked a two player game only the controls for Player 1 and Player 2 would be lit. I even had it setup so the controls would light up in different colour schemes to match the game too, so for Street Fighter II the buttons would be lit up red, white and blue.

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    The wiring was quite a pain in the ass and I went through 2.5 spools of wire (~250') by the time it was all said and done. I probably went a bit overboard with the zip ties but I was trying to keep the wiring tight and neat.

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    Installed the PC after I got the control panels all wired up and lit up. Installed a Lepai mini amp to drive the existing stock speakers.

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    I picked up four Dell 19" LCD monitors off kijiji from a guy who was into stocks and upgraded to a bigger wide screen setup. He originally wanted $80 for all four and I initially offered him $40 for two. Then he said give him $50 and take them all away :lol: These monitors were a perfect fit and I ran the PC with dual screens in a mirrored setup.

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    Not having the CRTs helps out a lot with heat management and accessibility to the components inside.

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    Here is a quick video showing you how it turned out in the end.

     
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  2. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    So for the longest time I've been an admirer of the Taito Vewlix candy cabinet. The lines on this cab are so sleek and modern looking. I wish I had the wood working skills to make my own replica like Donovan Myers and many other who used his plans did back in 2009.

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    http://www.donovanmyers.com/old/2009/04/vewlix-tournament-edition-worklog-04/

    I stumbled across this ad on kijiji earlier this year and turns out they also run http://vewlixshop.com too!

    https://www.kijiji.ca/v-pc-games/ci...me/1293911114?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true

    The price and mostly the distance to see/pickup was a deal breaker for me. I went over to my buddy Steve's from Top Tier Arcade a few months ago and had a closer look at his vewlix clone and was convinced I wanted one now. I was also having a hard time finding a good spot for my red tent in my new place that didn't make things feel so crowded when I had more then 8-10 people over playing.

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    So I gave it some thought and lately it's only been Jade and I enjoying playing the older video games on the red tent so I could go back to a 2 player setup. Besides here was my chance to finally get a vewlix that I have been wanting since 2009. So I sold my red tent to who I thought was a good friend for pretty much what I had into it minus my time for $1200. But it looks like he is currently trying to fish for a buyer off kijiji and make a quick $1k :mad:

    Anyways, I needed the space in my gameroom and the money to put towards my vewlix clone. So on August 9 my red tent was picked up

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    and a week later the vewlix this showed up at my office :D

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    I had it shipped here to save a few $ because there is a loading dock here otherwise the shipping company would have to charge extra to deliver to my house with a truck with lift gate. My asian brother from another mother kvoxx (aka Kev) works up the street from me. He pick this up the next day from my office as it was drawing all sorts of attention from my coworkers and customers. We brought it it home that night and sadly this was about as far as I got once moved in.

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    I was missing a key to open up the control panel. These cabinets ship with 2 keys, one that can open everything like the control panel, service panels and another key that can only open the coin box for the operators. The set of keys that were zip tied inside my cab were both coin box keys. I called Steve to the rescue the next day but told him to keep his 18v drill and titanium bits at home and bring me the keys from his vewlix cab. I was able to open up all access panels and physically mount the control panel to the cab. I left the control panel unlocked so I could begin working on things while the replacement key was mailed to me.

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    I did power up the Pandora Box to make sure the screen worked before I pulled out all the wiring and other components that came installed in it.

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    Now that the slate was clean I started figuring out how and where to mount the computer on the very bottom. I relocated the existing power supply which supplied power to the sound amp, coin mech and fans to the top shelf. I will also be pulling 5v/12v from here to power the lighting for the control panel later on.

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    The LCD was plugged into these outlets which were not North American but cab was set for 110v.

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    Originally I was going to hard wire in a standard power bar but I had an extra 2 outlet receptacle box. I only hard wired the existing power supply, plugged in a standard power bar to supply power for components on the top level and other outlet was used for the computer.

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    There was two existing holes where the coin mech was so I put in a button next to the master power switch to turn the computer on/off.

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    Now onto the control panel... I removed all the knock off Sanwa buttons and replaced with Sanwa OBSF 30mm coloured translucent ones. Staying true to my grail I went with the SF2:CE red, white and blue colour scheme. I also replaced the ball tops with translucent ones and got a button plug to fill in that extra 7th button for each player.

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  3. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    Now onto my favourite part which is wiring up the control panel. Originally I was only going to use this vewlix for MAME but I figure since it had 32" LCD why not make it so I can run modern fight games too like Street Fighter IV or Mortal Kombat X. I already own a XBOX360 and recently picked up a PS3 and PS4 for my sit down racing simulator setup. The problem is in order to interface controls with each system you would need to padhack a controller like this for each individual system and to the arcade controls.

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    The other easier alternative is getting dedicated after market boards like the Toodles MC Cthulhu. These are commonly used in fight sticks to connect up easily with the arcade controls with no soldering required. Some of these boards aren't cheap and only dedicated for certain systems like XBOX or Playstation only. I use to build fight sticks for friends back in the day when SFIV came out and you couldn't find a Madcatz fight stick in stock or pay these ridiculous scalper rates.

    It turns out there is a new universal fighting board available made by Brook that works across all the current and popular platforms. This was not cheap and ran me close to $170usd for two boards but it gives me total flexibility to connect up my control panel to PC or consoles.

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    I didn't want to make any sort of permanent modification or hack that wasn't reversible to my vewlix. To mount these Brook boards in my cab I used a combination of these plastic PCB stand offs, zip ties and these stick on zip tie mounts.

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    Time to start marking connections, I reused the existing JLF joystick harness that came with the cab's wiring harness and also replaced the stock square gate with an octagonal gate.

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    I was going to replace both joysticks but I was told by brad808 that these knock offs are almost identical the real Sanwa JLF sticks. I played a few games with them before on the Pandora Box and they felt pretty good. I'm relatively new to Japanese controls like Sanwa/Seimitsu and on the fence about them still as I find them very noisy and clicky. I prefer the good old american style controls I grew up which were made my iL (not HAPP).

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    I ran two pairs of wires up to the control panel from the power supply for 5v and 12v to a barrier strip so I can tap into for power. I was thinking of doing dynamic RGB lighting for the controls like on my red tent but in the end I decided to just go with a fixed translucent colour instead. There was just so much wiring involved to each button and with the translucent coloured buttons all I needed was a really bright light source like these USB warm white led bars I had lying around.

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    I was going to use the same LED bars to light up the instruction card area for the moves list.

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    I didn't like how uneven the back lighting looked as you can see above. I had a few extra rolls of warm/cool white LED strips I used for mods on my pinball machines. You can see the back lighting is not only more evenly distributed but brighter too!

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    To light up the ball tops I got these small 3mm leds and a custom made hollow shaft from Paradise Arcade for the JLF stick. They forgot to drill out the ball top so I had to use a 3/16" drill bit so the led could shine through.

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  4. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    Now onto the last part of the controls which are the blank panels you see here.

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    I was sort of torn on putting additional buttons and/or controls here because I am not a fan of these cluttered or frankenpanels you see on other MAME cabs. You can get away without needing additional buttons for admin functions by using shifted keys or just having a wireless keyboard/mouse around. At the very least I will need 4 additional buttons for the home buttons for each console system as well as the select button. I had an extra Turbo Twist Spinner that I bought from GroovyGameGear a very long time ago. The installation of this is as simple as installing a button.

    So I created a template to drill some pilot holes also to ensure things were centred and spaced evenly on the panel. This piece was made of ABS plastic so I went very slow with the forsner bits and put down a few layers of painters tape to protect the top surface from scratches while drilling through.

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    Since I had two extra unused inputs from each player I put in some extra buttons on each side of the spinning so that way it could accommodate left or right handed play. It also makes it easier to hit the buttons for the games that require button input as well like the laser power up in Arkanoid or gas pedal in Super Sprint. Speaking of which GroovyGameGear sells mini steering wheel attachments for their spinner so I can use this to sorta recreate the arcade experience. I always wanted a Super Sprint but given how little play it would get and space being a premium that always stopped me. Plus I know it can be a pain to keep up and running because Drano has a really nice one and every time he moves it or even looks at it the wrong way it breaks :)

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    Now to wire up the rest of the buttons to the Brook Universal Fight board, install the special OptiWiz controller board for the spinner and light it up!

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  5. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    All the controls worked on the first boot up of the PC and just had to tweak a few settings in MAME to enable mouse controls for certain games like Arkanoid.

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    Now since these Brook Universal Fight boards are recognized as a joypad and not a keyboard encoder like an IPAC which I used all most of my past MAME builds. So I had to use a piece of software called Antimicro because my older version of Hyperspin doesn't seem to want to recognize the joypad inputs. Another thing I also found weird and didn't look to deeply into was that MAME was still recognizing the joypad inputs even though Antimicro was running in the tray. No big deal so I just remapped all the controls and functions universally. All you have to do is load any rom and then hit the TAB key to bring up this menu.

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    From here you will want to select Input (general) to this menu

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    Then select User Interface

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    I only mapped the following functions:

    Config Menu - P1 Joypad Up and lower left button next to spinner
    Pause - P1 Joypad Right and lower left button next to spinner
    Reset - P1 Joypad Left and lower left button next to spinner

    Be careful when you are remapping the UI Cancel or Select functions because if you accidentally hit the delete key and assign None to it you will not be able to navigate back to the previous menu and have to force quit MAME. If you do this by accident all you have to do is go to your MAME folder and there should be a subfolder called cfg, delete the default.cfg and start all over again.

    UI Cancel - P1 Joypad Down and lower left button next to spinner
    UI Select - P1 Joypad Button #1

    You don't really need this but you will need this to bypass the initial nag screen just once when you load up a rom for the very first time.

    UI Up - P1 Joypad Up
    UI Down - P1 Joypad Down
    UI Left - P1 Joypad Left
    UI Right - P1 Joypad Right

    Some other functions you might want to consider are the Save and Load states but that would be cheating :)

    Now go back to the previous menu and start mapping out each Player's controls. Whatever you set here will be the defaults used upon first launch of a rom.

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    Even though you map Start and Coin for each individual player's control it won't take as default. The reason for this is because you need to set it somewhere else. Go back to the previous menu and select Other Controls to set them there.

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    That's basically it for MAME setup and I would go into step by step detail on how I setup my Hyperspin front end but it has been a work in progress and something I have been tweaking since I got into MAME. My version of Hyperspin is v0.8.0.1 and very old. I think they are on v1.4 now but I believe if it ain't broke why fix it. I know my setup very well because I configured everything from pretty much scratch because I wanted to understand the ins and out of the software. It's a very tedious process because the files used in these pretty themes such as backgrounds, artwork, wheel logos and xml files have to match the database as well as your rom filenames too. If something isn't exactly matching your game won't load or your theme might cause the front end to hang requiring a force quit in Windows.

    I could have easily just paid the $200-250 for a pre-configured Hyperspin setup you see on kijiji. It would probably be just as much work to tweak this setup because I would have to figure out how to disable the 30+ versions of Mahjong or the other 10,000+ games I will never play. That and I know some stuff isn't tested and doesn't work. I know all my games work 100% because I actually tested each one to make sure the theme and game loads from Hyperspin.

    Anyways, now onto the last part of this build which is connect up modern consoles such as the Xbox360, XboxOne, PS3 and PS4. This vewlix came with a 32" LCD screen but only had VGA and DVI inputs. Since there was only a single DVI input I bought this 3 port HDMI switcher from Prime Cables along with a DVI to HDMI cable.

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    At first I thought this 32" LCD that came in the cab was only capable of going up to 720p. But I noticed when I connected up the PC it just defaulted to 1920x1080 which is 1080p. So this was great because 720p doesn't look as crisp on the consoles.

    This was only half the battle because the LCD didn't have speakers and my only source for audio was through the mini amp. I did a bit of research and turns out you can get an HDMI audio converter/extractor for around $20 like this:

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    So I plug my PC and Consoles into the 3 port HDMI switcher and then into the HDMI in on this extractor box. Then on the other end I had the DVI to DVI cable going to the LCD screen along with a pair of RCA audio cables that went into the back of the mini amp. Unfortunately I am limited to 2 channel stereo which is fine.

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    I tidied up all the wiring and was happy to be able to put back on all the access panels in the back of the cabinet on.

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    I put the top shelf back and debated putting in another shelf for another consoles but then figured I probably won't be jumping back and forth too much between systems. I would still need to open the front panel to swap the USB cables around for the control panel. Besides the consoles will also be used on the other side of my gameroom here.

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    I am looking forward to is getting into the Shootem' Up (aka SHUMPS) genre of games. It's a good thing the Xbox360 has a very well established collection of them thanks to their exclusivity deal with Cave.

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    I've been slowly collecting as many region free Cave and other games over the past few weeks off ebay and amazon. I might have to look into buying a Japanese Xbox360 down the road if I want to get all them.

    I'm very happy with how this all turned out and went a different route then Steve from Top Tier Arcade who "restored" his to be a dedicated Street Fighter IV cabinet. I think emulation is great and only getting better. Sure it might not be 100% as some purists will complain that there is lag or doesn't look/feel right but for me it is a great way to relive my childhood even if it is just for a few minutes.

    If anyone has any questions or needs help with their build feel free to ask me any questions.
     
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  6. brad808

    brad808 Member

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    Nice cab and nice writeup. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  7. TopTierArcade

    TopTierArcade Active Member

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    Amazing, Mike! Very informative and clean build. Congrats!! Can't wait to see it up close and see if I can tell the difference between MAME and a true arcade PCB. Prepare yourself...there is fighting game matches to be played
     
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  8. SuperPinball

    SuperPinball Active Member

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    Absolutely amazing work Mike. Bravo!!
     
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  9. hassanchop

    hassanchop Member

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    Just awesome!
     
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  10. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    Thanks guys and hopefully this MAME will be my keeper even though I keep saying that about my last one :p
     
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  11. brad808

    brad808 Member

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    There will be a few things "wrong" with a setup like this when compared directly to a PCB. I say "wrong" because they aren't really wrong and many people don't care simply want to play thousand games, but they will not allow for convincing PCB replacement. I'm not saying any of this to knock mwong's system, simply to share information. With the way the system pictured is currently setup there will be a few short comings against PCB. One of my annoyances is people saying emulation sucks when they are playing and comparing system which is guaranteed to have certain problems or things like pandoras, 60-1, old mame, etc which are filled with issues. Here are couple off my head about the current system:

    Audio lag
    Around mame .0180-.0183 area mame introduced port audio into mame which in turn drastically lowered audio lag. Before that there were a few tester versions of asio mame floating around, anything before that will have substantial audible lag. I believe default mame setting is something crazy like 2! By using hyperspin you cannot take advantage of the lowest available apis. Lowest you can get using hyperspin that I can get working is MME, which is still lower than default. If running outside hyperspin you can take exclusing control of audio apis and run WASAPI or WDM-KS both of which have much lower audio lag than MME. By using those you can get down to 10s of ms lag.

    vid output
    By using an LCD you run into other problems. Some of them have been taken care of with very specific LCDs but for the most part still a big problem. There is more lag added with an LCD vs CRT. Most LCD are not variable in sync (starting to be with freesync and gsync mons). You will likely be running fixed refresh rate, fixed resolution,etc. All that is guaranteed to introduce screen tearing, foldover, stretching, etc. Unfortunately there are 1000s of arcade games that used slightly different video outputs. If your system can't adjust to that then very few if any of the games will run "properly" beside a pcb. 60 is not 59.637 and it makes a big difference. The system has to account for this. Using fixed refresh and resolution is not going to cut it. This can be helped by using groovymame and compatible vid card to adjust output for each game individually to exact refresh rate, resolution, sync frequency etc. You can then get essentially pixel perfect vid output.

    more lag
    by using something like groovymame you have some additional settings which help lower your "lag" more. Frame_delay is a setting in groovymame ini file which you can adjust to delay your emulation of a frame. It is percentage based 1=10%, 2=20% etc. Some quick example, you are creating 1 frame each 16ms approx, you use ipac and poll windows at 2ms. If your input is polled at 16ms until next frame your input won't be as accurate as if it is polled 6ms before your next frame. By delaying the emulation frame you will receive a more accurate input. In order to hold off emulation and be able to create a frame in a much smaller time frame you need substantial power. Before your processor had 16ms now it has 50% less time using frame_delay 5. Even high end i7 and overclocked systems will start to choke on many games using frame_delay 8. It is something that needs to be set on a per game basis due to differences in emulation speed requirements. It used to remove an added delay inhrent with using d3d systems but now with special patched versions which can use d3dex it is no longer an issue.

    There are few sketchy tests indicating joy input is also slower but I don't know enough of the details to conclude myself. From what I read it may be the case. Believe it had to do with direct input being slower and joys needing to use direct input?

    Truth is emulation when setup and tweaked properly can be near indistinguishable from PCB. PCB will remain supreme from technical nitty gritty but I feel emulation in most cases has the power to be indistinguishable to 99 percent of people. With baseline mame and a standard lcd I think there will still be shortcomings. If you have high end OC i7, groovymame, tri sync arcade Mon, j-pac, super resolutions, frame delay 8, Port Audio with WDM-KS...I think you will get a very very convincing setup. So much that I recently sold most of my boards over the last few months. I can't justify a $500 board with its own quirks when I have a system that is now good enough for me.

    Anyone can correct me it is all off my head and not worded well but general point will likely come through.
     
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  12. mwong168

    mwong168 Administrator
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    Thanks for the insight Brad and will consider tweaking my setup down the road to address some of these issues with mentioned above.

    My vewlix got a good workout today along with my pins from around 1pm till 11pm now that guests and family are slowly leaving. I didn't notice any lag as I beat Donpachi with my niece's boyfriend. Maybe it is one of these things that need to be pointed out to me and once seen it can't be unseen :p
     
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  13. Bigbossfan

    Bigbossfan Active Member

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    Nice buddy. DIBS!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  14. CJBob

    CJBob Active Member

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