software can I use?
The units were designed around MAME and normally you would use a
front-end menu for selecting games. But of course, as the I-PAC
emulates a real keyboard (without all the drawbacks) you can use any PC
application which uses keyboard input.
Can I use
Yes. You can use the fully programmable code sets of I-PAC to customise
for any emulator or other application. Several popular front-end menus
even have integrated support for downloading I-PAC codesets on-the-fly.
Do I have a
lot of setting up to do before playing?
NO. Using the key-code programming is entirely optional. When the board
is shipped, all codes are automatically assigned to MAME standard keys.
As many people have found, this makes installation very quick and easy.
What are the
One method is to hack a keyboard, i.e. connect all the controls to the
keyswitches so each button appears as a key. This is pretty
unsatisfactory for several reasons: It takes ages to wire up as 2 wires
need to be run to each switch.
Most arcade cabs have one side of all switches commoned so you have to
Key Ghosting: This happens because of the matrix nature of keyboard
Extra buttons: With this solution, with some emulators you have to have
extra buttons on the cabinet for functions such as "escape", "insert
coin" etc. Nobody likes drilling extra holes in their nice original
Speed: Keyboard encoders use a scanning method. So each key is checked
in sequence for a press or release. I-PAC does not use a matrix or
What is the
Shifted function keys will do various functions ie press "1 player
start" and "fire" and you will insert a coin. Press "1 player start"
and "2 player start" and you will jump back to the menu. You can also
use the MAME game config menus with shift buttons, ie tab and enter are
shift joystick right and left. The 1 player start button is always the
shift button if you are using the standard MAME codes. In programmable
mode you can assign any input to be the shift button and you can
program all of the buttons to have shifted codes. The unique feature of
the shift function is that it requires no
dedicated extra button.
programmable keycodes work?
When the board is shipped it contains all standard MAME codes including
the shift codes mentioned above. If you only ever use MAME and want a
quick and easy install this will probably do for you. But if you need
to, you can re-program as required, including "on the fly", and the
board will remember your new settings.
Why would I
need to program the board?
You may find you need to change the assignment of keys for other
emulators or maybe you don't want to have the shift functions of the
MAME code set. The code set can be changed using the WinIPAC utility.
Normally you would install and test the board before getting into
Do I need to
use a normal keyboard as well? You can use a normal keyboard connected
to the pass-thru connector or direct to the PC as usual. But
if everything is set up properly with the PC booting into an emulation
front-end menu, and each game is configured correctly, you can do
everything with the standard controls on the cabinet.
In USB mode key repeat is supported as on a normal keyboard and is
handled by the PC.
Inputs enough or do I need the I-PAC4 56-input board?
The answer is almost certainly yes for a 2-player cabinet. Remember
that an 8-way joystick uses only 4 inputs (the diagonals hit 2 switches
at once). So with two sticks you can also have 20 buttons. A normal
sized 2-player control panel would get very cluttered with this number.
Most people go for 6 per player which gives plenty of spare inputs for
1 player start, 2 player start and coin. A 4-player cabinet would need
the I-PAC4 board (and a large panel!).
Will it work on a MAC?
Yes the I-PAC will work on a MAC with USB. There is even a Mac version
of the programming utility.
What is the size of the board?
Dimensions shown below. Height is approx 17mm.