Raspberry Pi B+ Tabletop Upgrade

 Still a work in progress...

Still a work in progress...

It's been nearly two years since I started on my Raspberry Pi powered arcade tabletop. I got it to the point where it was just about working and promptly lost interest. For a considerable while the poor thing has been languishing in my office. I even took the drastic step of removing the monitor in the hope that the sight of the empty hole might motivate me to actually finish it off. 

Anyhoo, this week I've decided to actually get the project finished. I've made an arrangement with Robert that if I've not got the table finished by the time he comes back from his travels I'll give him fifty quid. I figured that this would force the issue nicely. So far it is working....

Another reason for finishing it off is that I needed a solid reason to play with the new Raspberry Pi B+ device. This has lots of advantages for this project. It has four USB ports so I don't need a USB hub or separate power supply. I now just need two power cables to the device. One for the monitor and the other for the Pi. 

My B+ arrived today and I spent a little while getting it going. There is actually an operating system image specially for emulating games machines now, it is called PiPlay and it is rather nice. You just download the image and it has emulators for lots of devices. It hooks into Mame4All, which is the latest incarnation of Mame for the Raspberry Pi. 

However, I found that Mame4All is not quite what I want for all the games I want to play. It is based on a slightly older version of Mame which is good because it performs better, but bad because it is missing one or two crucial features. The biggest omission is the lack of the "cocktail table" button.

One of the things I want to be able to do is have a player at each end of the table so that they can get proper Player 1 vs Player 2 action. This means that I need to be able to invert the screen when each player takes their turn. Mame4All doesn't do this, but AdvMame does.  But then Mame4All works with some games that AdvMame doesn't like...

So it looks like I'm going to have to have several different Mame installations installed and then write a script that fires up the appropriate version depending on which game we want to play. Which shouldn't be too much of a stretch.

As for the Pi B+, it works very well. The only problem that I've found is that if you connect a USB device that wants a fair amount of current, for example a USB hub or speaker, it causes the Pi to reset. I think there are some settings that you can adjust to allow more current from these ports. I'll have find out more about this. 

I've also ordered some glass from Jack's Glass for the top. I just hope that Robert will be impressed when he gets back....