Building/Buying a JAMMA Supergun

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Written by Rob Hazelby, with contributions from Zeprom and RLLMUK


What is a Supergun?

A Supergun, (sometimes referred to as a JAMMA test rig) enables you to run a wide selection of arcade PCB's with the aid of a SCART enabled television and a couple of gamepads or joysticks, in the comfort of your own home.

The great thing about a Supergun is that it enable you to test out your arcade boards before you lock them away at the back of your arcade cabinet. Also, as they're roughly the same size as your standard run-of-the-mill games console they take up much less room than a full-size cabinet!
Roughly the same size as your standard run-of-the-mill games console, they take up much less room than a full-size cabinet!
The other half will be pleased!

Can I Run ALL Arcade Games on a Supergun?

With a Supergun you can play any boards conforming to the JAMMA (Japanese Arcade Machine Manufacturers Association) standard, or any board capable of being converted to JAMMA by means of an adapter loom. This covers you for a good 70% of all available games.

Examples of JAMMA boards include Rastan, Newzealand Story and Rainbow Islands. Boards that can be easily converted to the JAMMA standard include Galaga, Phoenix and Bombjack.

Of course, there are some boards that cannot be converted to JAMMA easily. Games like Defender and Pacman require extra circuitry to perform sync, video conversion, or modification to the PCB (Pacman needs this for power supply). It's not impossible, but this is definitely NOT recommended for beginners.

Lastly, there are VECTOR games that run on a different type of monitor to the normal games you're used to. These include Battlezone, Asteroids and Tempest. It is impossible to convert these to JAMMA due to the monitor requirements.

As JAMMA is pretty much the defacto standard nowadays, you can be sure that any decent PCB stockist will have an excellent selection of JAMMA board's for sale. Many collectors (and some dealers) offer a JAMMA adaptor-building service to enable boards like Galaga and Phoenix to be run on a JAMMA rig.

I'm Brave Enough to Build a Supergun...

If you've got the technical ability and a slight electrical knowledge, you should be able to put together a Supergun from scratch for somewhere between £40 - £50 UKP. There are hundreds of others who have already designed and built their machines and are only too willing to show you how to do it.

One of the most popular resources detailing the building of a Supergun was the long closed web site by Chad Gray. I have, however, managed to track down the pages via a number of internet archives, (thanks to a massive help from the guys over on RLLMUK, and have put it together in one easy to read Word document.

The instructions include not only details of how to build the Supergun, but include diagrams and photos to make the task as easy as possible. If you've got even a basic knowledge of electronics and soldering then you'll be able to do this with ease.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE DOC (building_a_jamma_test_rig.doc) [434k]

A site well worth a visit is the "CPS2 Shock" website, home of Capcom's Play System 2 Decryption Team, which again features step-by-step instructions to building your own Supergun, but also has the design plans for building the case and joysticks for your own Supergun System.

I Think I'd Rather Buy a Supergun...

This is exactly what I did back in the late 90s. Maybe I was a little lazy, but I wanted to start putting together a collection of JAMMA boards and start playing them with the minimum amount of fuss. I'm certainly not new to gaming, but I was a novice when it came to arcade board collecting.

If you're in the same position, you'll have enough on your hands trying to track down dipswitch settings and manuals for your new game as well as building some type of casing to house each of your boards as you don't really want your pride and joy killed by some stray foot within the first ten minutes of you getting it home!

After some research I ended up getting my Supergun from Raven Games, based in Kent. They were willing to sell me a Supergun with one 3-button joypad for £175.00. Whilst this may seem a little steep I was willing to part with my readies as it was a darn sight smaller than an arcade unit and it gave me the opportunity to ease myself into PCB collecting. Next day delivery was an extra £10.00, which I went for as I was keen to start playing.

These days you can find JAMMA Supergun systems for sale on Ebay. Take a look!