By eweek  |  Posted 2004-06-14 Print this article Print

/48"> The Multiple Arcade Machine Interface (MAMI) line of products is the creation of 3Tronics Technical Services, another relative newcomer to the arcade cabinet community. They have two products available with 24 and 48 direct input models available, respectively. The 24-input model ranges in price from $53 to $60, and the 48-input model ranges from $86 to $90, both depending on which variation of the model you purchase. You can purchase three different variations of each model: one with solder points to connect to, one with ribbon-cable connectors similar to traditional IDE ribbon cables (but of a different size), or standard screw-terminals. With the small price difference between the low end and high end of each model, it is probably worth purchasing the screw-terminal variations. The MAMI products are not programmable, but can be ordered with customized key mappings. By default, they ship with a fairly standard MAME-compatible configuration. They are designed to support one joystick and up to eight buttons per player, with the MAMI 24 geared for two players and the MAMI 48 meant for four-player panels.
Wiring the MAMI encoder will depend on which variation you purchase. Either the ribbon cable or screw-terminal models will be easy to wire with material available from any electronics store. Wiring to the entry-level models will require some skill with soldering. All versions of the MAMI come with a keyboard pass-thru standard.
The MAMI is a relatively recent line of products in the arcade cabinet community, and their impact on the community remains to be seen. The developer behind the MAMI has 15 years of experience developing miniature electronics devices. You may wish to visit their Web site to determine the latest pricing and feature sets of their products, as these may have changed from the time this book was written. MK64 The MK64 is another vendor who came from the arcade cabinet-building community. The encoder (see Figure 8-18) is priced between $63 and $108, depending on the accessories (various cable kits) purchased with it. As you may gather from the name, it supports 64 direct mode inputs. The MK64 has a couple of interesting features. Similar to a few of the other encoder options, it includes a shift key function that allows seven keystrokes to serve dual purposes. It also supports assigning up to 16 macros to different keystrokes, with up to 63 steps per macro. Perhaps its most unique feature is built-in support for rotary joysticks. You may recall that rotary joysticks have handles that rotate to 12 different positions, designed for aiming in certain games. The MK64 is the only keyboard encoder product with native support for the rotary joysticks, although a separate stand-alone device is available as an after-market add-on for other encoders. The MK64 also supports enabling/disabling keyboard repeat. Programming the MK64 is a manual process involving script files. Although they are a bit involved to create initially, doing so is not difficult, and sample scripts are included with the encoder to get you started. Because the programming is performed via command line reading of the script files, the MK64 can be reprogrammed on the fly with batch files. Thus, while more involved to configure initially, it allows for automatic reprogramming based on the needs of any particular game you might play. The MK64 can be programmed in both DOS and Windows. One very unique feature is the ability of the MK64 to identify which control panel is connected if you have swappable control panels. You accomplish this by dedicating one or more of the input pins as ID pins. Each panel you build gets a unique ID. Through use of a batch file, by recognizing that a new panel has been installed, you can configure the encoder to take any number of actions, such as reprogramming the encoder to match the panel or listing only games that work with that particular panel. Wiring the MK64 is straight forward. The ribbon cable connectors can be used with cabling kits available from the vendor, or with standard IDE and floppy cables or parts available from electronics stores. The encoder includes pins for hooking up LEDs, but you will have to add the required resistors (see Chapter 15, "Buttoning Up the Odds and Ends," for details) yourself. The MK64 is a solid encoder for the price. By adding support for rotary joysticks, the MK64 has distinguished itself in the market. The high number of inputs makes the unit suitable for both two-and four-player panels, and the extra features of the encoder are an added bonus. Ultimate Arcade Controls Ultimate Arcade Controls (hereafter Ultimarc) is probably the first of the cottage industries to spring up over the past few years in response to the needs of the arcade cabinet building community. Ultimarc is extremely well regarded, providing top notch customer support, and has probably sold more encoders to the community than any other vendor. Following are two of their keyboard encoder products. A few of their other products appear in the next few chapters.


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