MAME Project: Knievel Klone / Knievel Klone Refresh

The Original NEON MAME Cabinet by Knievel

Knievel Klone


As a kid I was obsessed with playing video games.  When we would go to a mall or amusement park I always hunted down the arcade to see the newest games in action.  There was an arcade down the street from my house so I would steal quarters from my brothers 1976 bi-centennial quarter collection to play play games like Dig-Dug, Joust, Pac-Man, Ikari Warriors and Donkey Kong. It never occurred to me that I might build my own arcade cabinet.  I first thought about doing it in 1998 but never got around to it.  With some new inspiration a friend of mine and I decided we were going to not build just one, but two MAME cabinets.  This Google page documents the project progress and problems. Similar pages were a huge help to me on the initial build and others might find this useful as well.

I'll include as many images as possible to help people with their builds.  Most images you should be able to click on to get the larger versions. I'll post images at the bottom of each entry used in the planning and construction of the cabinet to get it in full working order.  The completed cabinet above is the original NEON MAME cabinet done by Knievel.  This was my inspiration for the cabinet and I was lucky enough to be able to purchase the control panel template and graphics from him.  I constructed a Green/Black while my friend chose Red/Black.


Where to start... I contacted Knievel about his cabinet and he was kind enough to provide me with some great information.  He sent me a parts list for the control panel and some dimensions on the cabinet which is modeled from the DYNAMO cabinet of the 80's.  I decided to work this up in Visio to have a visual referance of the cabinet.  As I change it I'll just keep reuploading the image so whatever image is up there is the most current.


Visio drawing showing the cabinet side panel dimensions. 


Kicking off the weekend I wanted to hammer out more of my planning. I got some good feedback on my Visio drawing from Knievel so I modified it a bit.  So far I’m happy with it and it gives me a good idea of the cabinet profile and looks similar to the NEON original. 

I had no clue how many 4x8 sheets of material it would take for all the parts so I did a quick layout in Visio.  Apparently it will take less than 3 sheets for each cabinet with plenty to spare for accidents, redos and extra parts for the inside ect...  Before anyone asks I will be getting the control panel from no other than Knievel . 

With any luck I should have a completed parts list finished by the end of the weekend.  Then maybe we’ll start the cabinet construction this weekend or next.  


Visio drawing of cabinet cut layout.  

12/17/2006.Wood Purchase

Today I made my first purchase.  With after reading a number of posts on Build Your Own Arcade Controls forums I decided that MDF might not be the best for me.  We went up to Lowes with the intent of special ordering MDO and ending up buying a cabinet grade plywood,  specifically it was called ' blondewood ' . It just looked like a better product and is supposed to be more durible and lighter than MDF.  We're going to cover it with some form of laminate anyhow so not really worried about the wood grain and the t-molding should cover any gaps in the plys.

Once we got the materials back to my garage we took the drawing that I made and the dimensions that Knievel sent me and plotted out the side panel.  We didn't do any of the cuts and tomorrow we should at least be able to cut out all four panels.  I would post some pictures but it would just be of six sheets of plywood which isn't very exciting.

Update: Looking back since I decided to paint the end product I could of used MDF.  However the plywood has lasted the test of time and was worth it in the end.

12/18/2006.First Cut

I got anxious and I happen to have Monday's off so I decided to do some cuts.  I don't have a lot of tools at my disposal so I borrowed a jig-saw and we cut out all the side panels.  I threw a picture up of one set.  We also split a 4x8 to 2 2x8's which we're going to use for the back, back angled piece and very top piece.  Once we borrow someone's power sander we'll be able to sand each side piece to get them to the dimensions planned. 

Sides and back being held together. 

12/25/2006.More Construction

Happy Holidays.  I put some time in this weekend on the cabinet.  I'm to the point now that I'm pretty much just going with the flow and planning as I build.  I got the sides down to the relative same size.  It's not perfect but hey I don't have a CNC machine so it's good enough for me.

I built the base and attached the sides as well as the shelf for the monitor.  To my surprise everything is level or off at the most a 1/16th of an inch.  Nothing I'm going to notice.  I added some pictures of where I'm at now.  I didn't do the monitor shelf level and actually put a pretty step slope on it.  My thought is I'll use some metal brackets once I size up the monitor to hold it in place and have it at a large enough angle that it feels like a real arcade machine.

Once I have this cabinet put together I'm going to take it all apart.  Paint and sand the pieces then put it back together with screws and wood glue.  Oh and I'll be adding the holes in the side for the neon lights.  I have some research to do as well.  I need two 4'x8' sheets of laminate per cabinet.  Not sure what type or where to get it or how much it's going to be.  I would like not to spend $50 per sheet so we'll see.

A couple quick shots of the cabinet.

1/2/2007.Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!! I took some more pictures but they're kind of boring and are basically showing the top and front door on the cabinet, so not posting them.  We also worked this weekend and got my buddy's cabinet up to where mine was last week.  I'm ready to disassemble mine.  Going to run up to home depot today and buy the laminate and some bondo and other odds and ins. I plan to work this weekend on the cabinet and I'll throw up some pictures of where I'm at on it.



Had a long and productive weekend with the cabinet.  I was able to disassemble the dry fit and striaghten up the edges with a flush cut bit.  I then did the cutout for the neon ring and then matched up both sides.  After that I put it all back together except for the front door and drawer.  Did the detail work like filling in the screw holes and sanding out the control panel box and sides.  Routed everything for tmolding and then threw on 3 coats of primer and 3 coats of black paint. 

Why paint do you ask instead of laminate?  I put half-inch rounding on several of the parts (CP box, front door, keyboard drawer, admin panel) and the only laminate I was told would work is Formica Grade 20 Postforming.  Sounds nice except that it's $90 US for a 4x8 sheet.  Needing two sheets each cabinet is roughly twice as much as we paid for the wood itself. So throw down $40 in paint made more sense.. and I have enough paint left over to repaint the thing about 10 times.

As it stands now I'm pretty much done with it until I get some more parts.  Knievel is kicking out the control panel top and maybe all the graphics.  I need to order the rest of the controls and get the computer I'm putting in it in order.  Enjoy the new pics.

Placement of the NEON ring.

I could of centered it better.

Painted inside showing control base and keyboard drawer.



Added a number of pictures today of where I am at on progress. Friday I added the T-Molding to the sides and circle cutout area. I also spent a lot of time lining up the keyboard drawer.  It probably took me at least 3 attempts to get it right.  I measured and cut the plexiglas.  I'm using some version of 1/4" stuff I picked up at Lowes.  I'm leaving the blue protective tape on it until the cabinet is completed.   I also have two 12"x12" pieces for the side art but I won't mount those until I get the graphics and Neon speaker lights.

The admin panel is the piece that's still in nice primer color.  I was going to recreate the piece but I was able to salvage it.  I had to put some woodfiller on the top and I went ahead and drilled the 1 1/8" holes for the buttons.  I'll have to sand, reprimer and then paint this piece but that will be one of the last things I do.  I only want to break the paint out once more for the touchups I need to do.

The tape looking stuff around the control panel box is velcro.  That's what I'm going to use to mount Knievel's CP top to and then apply matching tmolding.  I think it will end up being sturdy enough to keep us from pulling the top off.  If not I'll just add some sort of latching to it.

The front door is something else I spent a lot of time on.  It just took some attention to get it to fit in there well.  I mounted it a little different and instead of it opening like a door it opens down like a drawbridge.  It seems to work well and I only had to use a couple of latches to hold it up.  The cutout in the middle is for a happs coin door that's on order.

Tomorrow I get a barebones desktop that I'm using for the MAME computer.  I have some old ram and a processor and picked up a drive fairly cheap so overall I'm not spending much for a nice computer.  I probably have at least 2 weeks if not closer to 3 weeks before I get the rest of my parts (ie CP top, buttons, joystick, ect..) so I'm going to spend that time getting the computer together and everything loaded.

Oh I also have to research something to cover those speakers.  The slots are about 4.5" x 10".  I may end up having to make something on my own.  Please email me if you have an idea or know of a product.


It's inside and almost complete.  Now just needs all the details.

2/5/2007.Neon Lights

This weekend I did a bit of work on the cabinet details.  I installed the neon light rings as well as the grapics.  I also installed the marquee light and marquee graphic.  Put the coin door on and wired up the lights for that.


I had a heck of a time trying to use the posterboard as a bezel.  I finally gave up and had a new idea.  I decided to put the plexiglass on the front and get it positioned in front of the monitor.  I then taped the outside of the glass around the monitor edges.  When I pulled the glass off I flipped it over and then taped the inside covering the area I didn't want darkened.  I used the same paint as I painted the cabinet with and painted the plexiglass.  Put about 4 coats on over a period of 4 hours and then let it sit for 24 hours.  I think used a plastic scraper and removed any excess or misplaced paint.  Cleaned it up and put it back on.  I think it turned out fantastic.

The final part is putting together the control panel and making my speaker covers.  I'll do the CP as soon as I get it delivered and I'll do the speaker covers probably about the same time.  Then outside of some final configurations I'm going to be done for awhile and actually just play the thing.

Later I might decide to buy a few lightguns but I really can't find a set I actually like.

So close to being done.

2/17/2007.Control Panel

It’s ALIVE!!!  I finally had a block of time that I was able to sit down and complete the wiring.  With the wiring complete I was able to do some minor tweaks to my Mame and MameWah installation and get it up and playing.  All I can say is the thing is fun as hell to play on.  I’m throwing up some more pictures to look at.  Here’s a quick punch list of what I have left to do.

  • Make the custom speaker grill cover.
  • Minor configuration tweaks to MameWah.  Also get Daphne working and configured.
  • Clean up the wiring.
  • Get stick on button graphics.
  • Not priority but get a pair of Lightguns.

Overall I'm happy with the results of the project.  While I still have the above details to hammer out I have a feeling some of those will be a work in progress.  Looking back now there are some things I would of changed. 

I would of used MDF over plywood.  My initial thought was that the plywood would yield a better product but working with plywood compared to working with MDF is night and day.  Since I relied 100% on hand tools, the MDF ease of use would of helped.  I would have ordered the bulk of my items about a month in advance.  I spent a good month waiting on everything because I thought that the cabinet building would of taken me longer than it did.  I would of made the side art hole higher up by about 3 inches.  In a passing thought of creativity I thought I was going to change up the side art... but honestly I can't improve on what Knievel did.  Last but not least I would of bought, borrowed, stolen a table saw.  A table saw would have made this project 10 times easier than it was for me.

I also put together a parts/price list that I used to track my costs. I would say in a ball park figure I have spent $1200 US on making this.  That's including the computer parts I had to buy.  The cabinet itself maybe around $1000 US.  Just email me if you want a copy of the list.

It doesn't look like it but yes that trackball lights up

4/8/2007.Final Touches

It took me awhile but today I'm posting the pictures showing my custom made speaker cover. I made this with some really small square molding and some glue.  I then wrapped it with some speaker fabric and doublesided taped it in place.  We'll see how that works I might try velcro or something else if it doesn't work out.

I also put a picture in of the great decals I got from Pongo on the BYOAC board.  They work much better then the tape labels I have on some of the older pics.  Plus my kid can't peal them off.

Lastly I included a picture of my friends cabinet which is a Red and Black version of the NEON build.  He still has some details to hammer out but all in all it's a good cabinet.  Once he 'completes' it I'll make him take some new pictures and I'll post them.

All the final pictures and a picture of my friends Red and Black cabinet.

9/18/2012.Requested Files

Since building these cabinets almost 6 years ago I have had hundreds of inquiries about the project.  Most are questions about the graphics and unfortunately I can't help with that the ones I bought were brokered through Knievel. It is my understanding that he is busy with other things and not playing middle man that.  I feel extremely lucky to this day that I was able to get the graphics and control panel from him. The other two most requested files is the supply list and the cabinet dimensions. With the advent of Googledocs I'm finally able to post them to the site.

Supply List
Cabinet Dimensions

Knievel Klone Refresh

9/18/2012.History Part II

Sad to say It's been over 2 years since the cabinet was in functioning order.  In the summer of 2010 in preparation of selling my house I dismantled the cabinet and moved it into storage.  There it sat for close to a year before moving into a rent house garage where it sat for another year while the new house was being built.  The good news is I no longer have to shove it into the corner of my office, instead it can go into a large game room like a proper Arcade Cabinet.  The bad news is for the 4 years prior to being moved out of the old house the cabinet was utterly abused from excessive playing.  Then the two years sitting around in the dust wasn't so great for it either.

Now it's time to clean it up and get it back in original working order. I'm going to change a few things around but for the most part it will be the same cabinet.  Since my kids are older maybe it won't get torn up so fast.  For a project punch list I have the following:

  • Deep clean and repaint external surfaces of cabinet.
  • Fix broken NEON light.
  • Figure out a way to have an external switch to power up/down cabinet and lights.
  • Solder all CP connections and replace broken button and joystick switches.
  • Replace old 21" CRT with a newer LCD mounted inside.
  • Rewire coin door lights.
  • Install newest MAME version and images.
I'm sure as I work through this I'll find more items that need to be fixed and determine different way to do things.  My hope is to have this done in the next month. Not a very aggressive timeline but I think a majority of my time will be spent waiting on parts.

Cabinet, in sad shape.

9/20/2012.Cleaning and Lights

My first task was getting the machine cleaned up.  I disassembled the machine and removed the T-molding.  I was then able to clean it up removing all the dirt and dust from it's rough life of the last 2 years.  After looking at it I decided to go ahead and repaint it, surprisingly the paint I used in 2006 was still good and I was able to roll it on with a single coat and waited about 30 for it to dry before putting back on the T-molding.


I ran into an issue trying to find the original Pyle 12" Neon speaker kit rings I had originally used.  Seems those are outdated and everyone is using LEDs.  Not knowing much about LEDs I did some fast research and ordered the parts.  I decided to use my original rings as a guide and just applied the LEDs to the inside.  I don't think it will look as good but I really had issues finding someone with them in stock.  So I guess I'll change the name from NEON MAME to LED MAME. Here's pictures of the new light rings.

Just drilled a hole on the back end to run the wire through.  If I could of gotten the rings apart I would of just ran the LED strip inside the ring.

Showing all the parts.  I like the LED lights so much I'm going to use them in a few other places.

My next challenge was to figure out how to mount this LCD in there.  I brainstormed with a number of options but figured the easiest would be to make a chair of sorts for the monitor and Velcro it in.  Works for the control panel so why not.  Here's what I came up with.

I got antsy and wanted to make sure the PC still worked.

9/23/2012.Punch List

Apologize no pictures this update.  The ones I took on my iPhone came out looking blurry so I didn't want to use them.

This weekend I reattached the control panel and had to figure out how I had it wired.  I think the "1 player start" connection on my Ipac broke so I'm now using "p2 switch 8" for this.  My admin buttons are "P1 sw7-8" and "P2 sw7" so using the last remaining switch worked.

I updated the OS (Win XP) and Video Drivers (GeForce 6100) since it's been two years since I've used this.  BIG MISTAKE on my part.  Win XP patched up and then said I had an invalid copy.  I used 3 other Valid keys from versions I've purchased over the years.  Not sure why it was doing this but I decided since I really don't need Windows update since I don't always have this connected that I would just disable it.  Using a program called "Autoruns" I disabled both the Genuine Windows message and the Windows auto update feature.  With the video drivers updating apparently that would cause MAME to crash on running.  So I updated to version .147 still had the problem and ended up rolling the Nvidia drivers back to 258.96 to fix that.

So the monitor works, the Control Panel works, the OS works, MAME works and the cabinet is clean.  Have two items left:

  • Because I have to replace my previously painted acrylic monitor cover I'm going to use a foam board bezel instead of painting it this go around.
  • Single button to power on and off the cabinet.  Here's a good resource on that
I'm going the route of a smart power strip but it seems even with the machine off it still draws enough current to keep the lights on.  If I can't get the adjustment down then I'm going to figure out how to get the machine to stop drawing power without shutting off the PS switch.  Next update will be my last and I'll put up the final pics.

9/26/2012.Refresh Complete

Bought some black foam poster board to finish the bezel which was fairly easy to cut and get installed.  I just put the new acrylic piece over it and from a distance looks great, however you can see imperfections with it up close.  Like the original build I also used foam tape to keep light from bleeding out the edges.  So with that the refresh is complete and while it's nice there's some things I don't like.

  • Neon vs LED - I guess LEDs are the way of the future but I did like the Neon rings better.  It gave a softer glow and more 80's feel than these bright LEDs.  From the front they seem to have the same effect though.
  • CRT vs LCD - I played a few games and once you get going to don't really notice but my first impression of an LCD is that it felt like I was playing the game on a computer.
Overall I'm quite happy with the refresh and glad it's up and working again.  Since my kids are older maybe they won't beat it up as bad as they did a few years ago.  Cost wise the monitor, new acrylic and random parts might have been around $250. The biggest cost obviously being the monitor.  I was able to fix the power strip item through very minor tweaks to a dial on the strip.  I still plan to put an external push button maybe behind the control panel to power it up.  There's apparently a way to do a key combo to boot it so I'm going to try that first.  Either way will exclude that from this.  Hope this helps people on their build especially when it comes to the LED and change in monitor from my original build.

Apologize for reflections. Any questions or comments feel free to email me.