.: Class of '81 cocktail MAME
July 15th, 2003


This cocktail cabinet started life in December of 2000 as a Ms. Pac-Man / Galaga Class of '81 Reunion cabinet.

However, it was damaged at a distributor's warehouse before it ever saw the showroom.  As chance would have it, I happened to stop by the shop just as they were getting ready to throw it in the dumpster.  While it isn't exactly a classic cab since it is so new, I had to rescue it.  The distributor had totally stripped the cabinet, leaving nothing but the wood and t-molding.  Every piece of hardware, bracket, plexi, glass, etc. was saved by the distributor for their parts department.  The damage occurred at the warehouse when a forktruck knocked out the monitor side of the cabinet, breaking it into several pieces.  This is the condition of the cabinet when I saved it:

View of missing side panel

Empty control panels!

Broken side pieced together.

Cabinet nameplate


The Cabinet

The first thing I did was make a new side panel out of 3/4" plywood using the broken side as a template.  I found some cherry self-adhesive vinyl from Parts Express that was a pretty close match to the color of the cabinet’s melamine finish.  A few cuts with my router results in:

New side cut and vinyl applied.

Vent cuts made with router.

New side panel resting against cabinet.


I had a 19" Wells-Gardner K7901 monitor (1988) from a previous cabinet that would be perfect for this cocktail.  I have seen speculation that these Class of '81 cocktails use a 25" monitor.  As far as I can tell, this is not true unless there is a 25" cocktail with a completely different construction than this particular one.  The hinged monitor panel (see cutout in above left photo) is only about 1/4" wider than a standard 19" monitor frame.  It would be physically impossible for a monitor larger than a 19" to fit on the hinged panel and still be able to open the cabinet.  After taking a few measurements, I made a monitor shelf to accommodate the monitor that centers it in the top opening.  It turns out that the overall height of the shelf had to 4 5/8" above the hinged panel.

Monitor Shelf


Next I purchased a new Entropy Triple Door coindoor from Wico for $95.  This is the same coindoor that ships with the Class of '81 cocktail cabinet.  This coindoor from Wico comes standard without the mechs.  I had a couple spare mechs laying around that I installed.  This cabinet will be a "quarters only" MAME cabinet, so the mechs are essential.

This coindoor is deep!  The VGA cable hack is visible.

Coin door looks huge!


I opted to make the control panels out of 3/8” plywood instead of having new ones fabricated from sheet metal.  The Class of ’81 cabinet has wider control panels (14 1/2") than the classic Pac cocktails, or else I would have just ordered them from someplace like www.arcadeshop.com.  Since I will be using the Ms.Pac/Galaga reunion joysticks which are designed for a metal control panel, I recessed a mounting plate into the wood top panel.  The control panels were finished off with the Parts Express black self adhesive vinyl.

The top glass is an odd-sized 27 1/4" x 37” piece with 1” radius corners.  After calling all the local glass shops, the best price I could get for 1/4" clear, tempered glass with polished edges was $92.

Joystick mounting plate installed.

Vinyl applied.

Short stick!



Scrounging around in my parts bins, I located an old I-PAC.  It must be pretty old, because it is an AT keyboard style and lacks some of the jumpers that are found on the newer I-PAC’s.  No matter, this cabinet will only play MAME and have two joysticks and 2 buttons per player, so this old I-PAC will be more than sufficient.

The video is powered by an Ultimarc ArcadeVGA video card.  The ArcadeVGA coupled with the old W-G 19" monitor gives a beautiful picture; arcade perfect!

In keeping with the Midway style cocktails, I purchased a sheet of white Plexiglas and cut pieces out to go behind the control panels.  Small 12V incandescent lamps are mounted to some flat stock I had and placed right behind the plexi to light up the control panels.  I like to keep the wiring neat, so I use a lot of connectors & nylon wire ties!

Coindoor, I-PAC, lightbar, & white plexi

Lightbar & control panel

Another lightbar & control panel view

Monitor shelf & isolation transformer

The AC line filter goes to the outlet box.  Speaker amp mounted above right speaker.

Motherboard installed under coindoor for access.  2" angle braces work great for mounting the floppy & hard drive.

Cabinet power button concealed behind side coindoor panel.

Power supply and motherboard mounting.

Inside view of Player 2 controls.


The 4” shielded speakers were purchased from Bob Roberts, and the speaker grilles came from Wico.  A separate write-up on the speaker installation can be found here:  http://mirrors.arcadecontrols.com/OscarControls/speaker.


Finished Cabinet 

Showing off the cabinet lighting.

And again...

Just one more...

Screenshot of Ms. Pac-Man showing the perfect screen display of the ArcadeVGA.


Things to do?

Perhaps the only thing I may do is install some brighter lamps in the future.  The ones I have installed now are sufficient, but I think the cocktails I play in the bars seem a bit brighter.  The white plastic does a pretty good job of diffusing the light, however the camera picks up the lights as "hot spots" more than they really appear to the eye.


Project Costs

Even a "free" cabinet can seem to be a bit expensive by the time you are done with it. I already had the monitor, cabinet, & computer for this project, yet the total cost still ended up being about $500 by the time you figure in all the nut, bolts, screws, brackets, wire, etc. Below is a partial listing of the major components I purchased for the project.

Part Source
ArcadeVGA www.ultimarc.com


I-PAC www.ultimarc.com
4' x 4' x 3/4" plywood Home Depot
2' x 4' x 3/8" plywood Home Depot
Vinyl Laminate (2 rolls) www.partsexpress.com
Entropy triple coin door www.wicothesource.com
Ms. Pac/Galaga reunion joysticks www.therealbobroberts.com
4" shielded speakers www.therealbobroberts.com
4" speaker grilles www.wicothesource.com
Cocktail glass clips www.arcadeshop.com
19" monitor bezel www.happcontrols.com
Player 1 & 2 start buttons www.mouser.com
Horizontal pushbuttons www.wicothesource.com
Glass top (tempered & polished edges) Local glass shop
Lamps & bases for cp lighting RadioShack
White Plexiglas www.mcmaster.com
Total Costs (approx)  




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