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Are you’re looking to build a new arcade cabinet, or perhaps upgrade a used one?

It’s important to understand how your cabinet is set up as this will determine what game boards are suitable.

Purchasing the wrong game board for your machine will likely be a waste of money and a quick read of this page will help to avoid errors.

If after reading this you are still unsure, then please contact us for assistance. We’re happy to help!


Monitor Resolution

Monitor Resolution is about what signal your monitor is capable of displaying. Feeding your monitor the wrong signal means it won’t be able to display a proper image, and in many cases won’t be able to display anything at all.

As a rough indicator if you have a LED/LCD monitor the chances are it will only be able to display a VGA signal. Whilst there are LED/LCD monitors that can display a CGA signal it’s quite rare.

To determine this properly look for VGA plug (or similar) that connects to your monitor. It will look something like this


VGA Connector


Many older arcade cabinets have a CGA monitor. If your machine has a big CRT tube (something like an old TV from the 90’s and earlier) and you can’t find a VGA connector attached to it then it’s likely to be CGA.

CGA monitors are more complicated to deal with than VGA so if you’re building a new machine for the first time we highly recommend getting a VGA monitor.

We have converters are available which can be used to convert a signal between the different modes.


Monitor Orientation

This is the way in which the monitor is mounted into the machine. They can either be mounted horizontally (landscape) or vertically (portrait).

Horizontal vertical

If you are unable to rotate your monitor between horizontal and vertical it means you are limited to what game board you can use.
There are no converters for this, and getting the wrong game board here means you just can’t use it. If you do so your image will come up 90 degrees sideways and be unplayable.

Having a stand up cabinet or table cabinet does not give you an indication of monitor orientation. Both cabinet types can come with horizontal or vertical monitor positions.


Joystick Configuration

This refers to where your joysticks are positioned in relation to the machine. Joysticks are typically Side by Side (Upright) or Opposite (Cocktail). They can also be a combination depending on the machine you have.

Here are some diagrams which will help to identify what you have.

Controls Cocktail

Controls Upright

Controls Both

If you get this one wrong, it’s not too bad. The games will still be playable but you may miss out on playing 2 players for some games.


Button Configuration

A machine can be made with 1, 2, 3 or 4 players. If you’ve got a used machine, just count how many joysticks there are. Easy!

The same applies with buttons. 6 button layout is the best because it means you’ll have full functionality on all games.

If you purchase a 6 button game board, but you only have 2 buttons on your machine then some games will not be completely playable.


Control Class

Most arcade machines contain in them a JAMMA harness which is the wiring loom for all the buttons and joysticks.

This is a 28 pin harness which looks something like this

Jamma Harness

JAMMA Harness

The JAMMA harness then connects to your gameboard making installation super easy! If you’re building or buying a machine it’s always recommended to make it JAMMA compatible.

Here things get a little tricky.

Most old arcade machines use a JAMMA harness whilst many new ones will use JAMMA+

They are 95% identical except for the last several pins. Most new boards use JAMMA+

If you put a JAMMA+ game into a JAMMA machine then you’ll be missing the last 3 buttons for both Player 1 and 2.

A simple way you can tell is by looking at the last 5 wires on your harness (in the above photo, it’s the first 5 wires since it’s flipped around)
If your last 2 wires are joined together, and you’re missing some wires then it’s likely you have JAMMA (our photo above is JAMMA)

JAMMA+ will have individual wires for each of the last 5 pins.

Of course if you’re unsure, just take a photo of the harness and send it to us. We can help identify what you have.



All game boards require power for them to run. Most commonly 5VDC and 12VDC.

If a game board can be powered with an external power source then it’s quite simple. Some game boards even come with their own power supply which makes things very easy.

If the game board gets power through the JAMMA harness then your machine must have a power supply inside. Look for something inside your machine similar to this

Min Dong

It’s important to note that powering an arcade machine with the above power supply can be dangerous if you’ve never done it before. I would suggest contacting us first for any information which may help.

If you’re not confident with powering a machine it’s best to purchase a game board with an inbuilt power supply, or one that comes with it

Need some expert advice on selecting the right product or service?

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