Alternatives to using a real Arcade Monitor
This project is meant to provide a (cheap) solution to the problem of putting a PC into an arcade cabinet. I approached it like the other arcade projects on this site - with the idea of making a harness to sit between the PC and the cabinet, without alteration to either.
It was also meant to provide a solution which was as accurate as possible - There are other solutions to the 'monitor' question, I've outlined 4 of them below
.Replace the arcade monitor with a PC Monitor
This is the route most MAME cabinet projects take, and although it has its advantages (you can run anything inside your cabinet) It tends to lessen the 'arcade experience' and makes the project look like what it is - a PC sat inside an arcade Cabinet.
It also means that you'll probably have to run all your vertical games horizontally, so they'll look squashed and have large black borders down each side of the screen.
This is because most PC monitors are not designed to be rotated, and it can be dangerous to do so.
It's also expensive - you'll have to spend a fair amount of money to get a PC monitor the same size as a standard arcade monitor. Even then, the extra 'bulk' of the monitor's casing will mean you'll probably have to settle on a smaller screen than the cabinet's original monitor.
.Use a VGA2TV card or external convertor
Note:The RGB signal produced will not be as clean as the one 'straight' out of the video card (using MAME's arcade monitor modes)
.Use software VGA2TV drivers which support your video card in
You'll also have to only use 'real' VGA modes and SVGA modes, no 'tweaked modes'.
This is because VGA2TV drivers work by hooking into BIOS and trapping video mode change requests. When a video mode change is requested, the VGA2TV driver may call the original BIOS (to avoid having to setup all the registers) or simply setup all the registers 'manually' itself. In either case it will set the CRTC timing registers to values which will generate a TV compatible video output.
However, this is pretty much what 'tweaked modes' do as well. So if MAME wants to setup a VGA tweaked mode it will call BIOS to set the mode to 320x200 at 256 colours, the VGA2TV driver will trap the request then reprogram the registers for TV output. Then MAME will reprogram the registers again for the tweaked mode - effectively losing the VGA2TV driver's changes.
This will still really just be a PC monitor - but it won't have bulky casing and should be the right size. It'll allow you to run pretty much whatever you like in your cabinet.
You can check out a Wells Gardner Monitor that does the job here
The only downsides are that the display still looks like a PC
monitor and the cost.
There are other solutions to the ones listed, like using a MAC or Amiga instead of a PC etc.