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Frequently Asked Questions
Be sure to read the FAQ fully, at least once. You might even learn something ;-)
Remember, don't ask me about anything listed here because there's a 99.99% chance your email will just be deleted.

                                            G E N U I N E    Q U E S T I O N S    S E C T I O N

Q001: Who are you and what do you do?
A: I'm known as 'Guru'. I'm a member of Mamedev (aka 'The MAME Team') and I process and reverse-engineer arcade hardware and/or other electronic bits and pieces. Basically I'm one of MAMEDEV's hardware guys.

Q002: What is MAME?
A: Basically, MAME (which stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) is a software program that imitates _exactly_ (otherwise known as 'emulation') the arcade hardware commonly found in arcade machines. The software/game is supplied as binary images (which are held in EPROMs on a real arcade board) to MAME which then allows it to run this software without the need for the old/uncommon/rare/obsolete/dead/faulty arcade board. As you can imagine, many of these arcade boards are uncommon or rare and not easily available. Also, since these arcade boards are electronic and highly complex, they fail eventually and are extremely difficult to repair and sometimes impossible to repair due to the age of the board and components being obsolete. This is where MAME comes into the big picture. MAME is essentially a project to document the history of arcade games. However, in documenting these games, it's necessary to see it running to get a better idea of the games' software design and the hardware that it ran on. Being able to play the games on your PC is considered a nice side-effect which is purely coincidental ;-)
Essentially, MAME is preserving these lost games for future use by allowing you to run them on modern reliable PC's.
The MAME executable and full source code is available for free from the Official MAME web site.

Q003: What is Mamedev?
A: Mamedev is a group of highly skilled people located in many countries around the world who work together on the MAME project. Mamedev is comprised of professional programmers, electronic engineers, technical enthusiasts and support people who each do their part in a team effort to help improve and extend the capabilities of MAME.

Q004: What is dumping?
A: The term 'dumping' is a general description for the process involving removing storage devices containing digital data (i.e. EPROMs, flashROMs etc) from a printed circuit board (aka PCB), reading them into an EPROM programmers' memory, then saving this information as a binary file on to a computer. As you may realise, these files are then used for things like emulation of whatever device or item held the storage devices. There are more complicated ways of dumping things such as microcontrolers where a trojan program is run on the real hardware and the output is fed either to the screen or to an on-board eeprom that can be read after. Another way of dumping protected chips is to decap it. But that is a whole different box of worms that you can google yourself if you want to know more.

Q005: I have a question about MAME, [insert question here].
A: Visit the Official MAME web site or read some MAME related FAQs or post your question on one of the emulation related messageboards.

Q006: Why are you called "The Guru"
A: Actually, I don't know! Erm, well, it probably has something to do with a friend who called me that when I repaired his computer in a few minutes. That and the fact that I have more than 40 years experience with computers, 30 years as an engineer and 20 years experience repairing arcade PCBs resulting in me being able to fix most things quickly is probably another reason. So the name just kind of stuck...

Q007: Why are there bad dumps?
Many EPROMs on arcade boards are in sockets and it's fairly simple to remove them, read, then save the binary info that they contain. However, in some cases, it's not quite so simple with surface mounted ROMs being more common on newer arcade boards and strange types that are unusual or unknown. Sometimes we make an *educated* guess when this occurs and mostly we get it right, but sometimes a misjudgement on the dumpers' behalf results in a bad or incomplete dump, which must then be re-dumped at some point in the future (and hopefully the PCB is still available!)

Q008: I'd like to donate funds towards a PCB purchase. What do I do next?
A: Firstly, make sure you are actually going to go through with it. I get many people *offer* funds, but not too many actually send them! If you don't plan to send the funds, don't contact me.
Next, think about what you want. You can buy some boards that are not dumped yet and send them to me. Or you can send me some cash money so that I can buy them (either locally or overseas), or you can PayPal some funds to me that will go to buying boards that are for sale from various places. Contact me and let me know your choice and I'll give you further details at that time. If you just want to Paypal some funds without questions, visit my donations page for current PAYPAL info.

Q009: I want to dump some ROMs from my PCB, but I have no idea how it's done. What do I need and how do I do it?
A: Take a look at the 'My Equipment and Other Stuff' page and/or 'How To Dump ROMs' page (both linked on the main page of this web site) and you'll see all the equipment that is required. You'll need LOTS of money too, this stuff is very expensive. You also need lots of time and dedication. And to top it off, some skills with PCB component identification. Maybe some knowledge of digital electronics wouldn't hurt either.
A better idea is to just send your board to me and I'll dump it for you, or you could get someone who is capable and local to you to do it for you.

Q010: I know how to dump ROMs and I have the equipment to do the job. But I need some help with identifying the type of ROMs or PROMs. Can you help me?
A: Sure. Scan the PCB's (in pieces if necessary) or take some digital camera pics of the PCB so I can read the chips on the PCB and send them to me. Then I can tell you exactly what needs to be dumped. Don't ask without sending me pics because I can't help you. Unfortunately holding your phone line or internet connection cable next to your PCB won't help as I haven't yet honed my telepathic skills, and my crystal ball is broken atm.

Q011: I want to help you out by buying [insert ultra-rare board name here]. Can you find it for me and dump it if I send you some money to buy it?
A: First of all, let me state many games have been added to arcade emulators or improved because of the efforts of people who have donated towards 'archiving' arcade PCBs. I'm 100% dedicated to this task.
However, 'rare' means mostly 'unavailable' or hellishly expensive. If you look around, you can easily find out if one is available or not, and if yes, just buy it yourself and send it to me. If you're interested to buy something more common, you can ask me and I *may* know where one is for sale. No guarantees though. If you donate money, please remember you agree to the following....
  • The donation can have no strings attached to it and we must be allowed to use the money to purchase and ship any arcade-game PCB we want to, regardless of what type of game it is, who made it, how old it is, how easy or hard it is to emulate, etc., etc. Please remember many PCBs are not common, we can't conjure them up from thin air. That is, if you send us insufficient funds and request a game board that is not available for purchase somewhere, your request will be impossible to fulfill. In such case, your money can be kept until such time that your requested PCB is available somewhere, or we will pool it with the rest of our funds and use that for general purchases of undumped PCBs. There is one exception to this rule. We will allow you to select which game you desire if you send us the full amount of money to buy that item, either wholly from you or from multiple donations that you send us (from a collection of people or sources) AND the item you request us to buy is actually available for purchase somewhere.

  • We can make no guarantees that any PCBs we buy will be in working order, that they won't
    get lost or damaged in transit, that they will be dumpable, that they will be emulatable, or that
    they will be emulatable soon.

  • There can be no time limits on how long we can hold the money before it is spent.

  • We can't be held responsible if anything goes wrong, if the board is damaged during the dumping process, or dies for some unknown reason afterwards, or even if funds or boards are irretrievably lost. This also applies to loaned PCBs.

  • All donations once received are non-refundable. If you are unsure about making a donation, then just don't do it. Please don't come crying to us afterwards if you accidentally send us a donation that was not meant to reach us.
Q012: I'd like to donate or loan you some unemulated PCB's for dumping. What do I do next?
A: Firstly, make sure you are actually going to go through with it. I get many people *offer* stuff, but not too many actually send them! If you don't plan to send the board(s), don't contact me because it just wastes my time. When you are ready, contact me and I'll give you some postal details.

Q013: I'm wondering if [insert ultra-rare and undumped board name here] is going to be dumped (soon / one day / sometime)?
A: Probably not unless you or someone else sends it to me. If you see it on my site I have it. Everything that I have is listed. You may be able to track down someone else who has dumped it, but it's likely if it's new and attracts pokeROMs and games kiddies or is ultra-rare or expensive it will be hoarded. Here's a classic example. And here's another. Both the same person. Unfortunately there will always be these kind of leaches around that hide stuff trying to sell it first or make some money somehow by using it to promote their site and image by feeding it slowly to the emulation authors. Quite sad really.

Q014: I want to add [insert unemulated game name here] to MAME, can you tell me how to do it, or give me some help with adding it to MAME?
A: No. I have limited experience with coding MAME drivers. And if you have to ask how it's done, you won't succeed, since it's fairly obvious you don't have the required skills (such as hardware de-engineering, and ROM dissasembly knowledge, and/or coding experience with the type of CPU that the game uses). So forget it, and just play the games. Alternatively, look at the source code of MAME and you'll see a wealth of information in it, which may help you to decide whether you really want to code a driver or not.

Q015: I want to link you on my web site, OK?
A: If you wish to give a URL link to my site, or credit me with something (or whatever) that's fine.

Q016: I'm interested in buying one of your PCBs for sale. What do I do next?
A: Check my news pages and Global Dump Status page for the list of games I have. Then contact me and tell me what you want. I'm open to reasonable offers too....

Q017: I'm thinking of setting up a site to help collect money to buy [insert undumped arcade board here] then getting it dumped either by myself, or a friend. Can you give me your blessing on my page?
A: No. We have already set up a professional dumping team for that specific purpose. We have all the required equipment and have taken a considerable amount of time to ensure everything is done correctly. We have proven ourselves again and again that we are very capable of handling the dumping tasks in a professional manner and we don't squander or keep any donated money (unlike some other collection sites in the past). So don't bother, just get your donators to directly Paypal some funds to me and I'll take care of it. If you wish, you can collect money/donations for us, then send it to my Paypal address, but please consult me before you begin.

Q018: I really liked your "Unemulated ROMs database". Can you put your database back online and keep it updated?
A: No. I don't have time for it anymore. If you want to take over and do it yourself on your web site, contact me and I'll send you my last version. But don't ask me about how to use it (it's written entirely in Perl), update it or if game [insert name here] is dumped, or available, or what type of hardware it is, because I just don't have time for that.

Q019: I remember seeing a game in your database that I'm curious about. Did that game have [insert question about some games' hardware].
A: No idea. I already told you in Q016, I don't have time for that.

Q020: What's this database you're talking about?
A: It was a searchable dynamic database written entirely in Perl listing all known arcade games with some brief information of hardware, and/or screenshots etc. But I don't have time for that anymore so I removed it. It was roughly based on a DBASE3 database written by Jan Axhell called "The Coin-Ops", but I updated it to give more info, and added many newer games. You can get that original listing from his official site here, along with MANY other game lists. I mirrored the file locally here. If you search any popular search-engine for "DBASE viewer" or "DBASE converter" you can find plenty of free programs that can be used to view/convert the DBASE file. Alternatively, you can open it with MS Excel or even MS Word!

Q021: I'm wondering about the status of [insert unemulated game here]?
A: If you are curious about the status of an unemulated game, try checking Bobby Tribble's page of unemulated arcade games. If it's not listed there, try asking on one of the popular emulation messageboards.

Q022: I tried to contact you at your email address, but I got [insert fatal error or no response here].
A: That address died when I changed ISP's. I have no idea why. Check my old news from previous years for some updated info on that.

Q023: I live in the same state as you, maybe even near you (or) I'm coming to your country on holiday soon. Can we meet, I'd like to talk to you about arcade games and stuff and I have some PCBs for you to dump while I wait and maybe you can give me some advice about dumping and stuff :-)
A: No. Dumping PCBs takes a lot of time, especially surface-mounted stuff. I don't recall that you are privileged enough to meet me. Sorry. And anyway, that would be a serious breach of security. I'd have to kill you if we meet because no one knows what I look like except my parents and they think I'm a greeting card salesman.
For info on dumping, read my tutorials in the main menu 'Guru Misc'

Q024: I've been looking for you on the mamegen board and IRC and a few other places, but I keep missing you. Can you tell me when you'll be there?
A: I don't go there anymore. Contact me via email. Details are on my contact page available from the main page menu.

Q025: How long will you keep doing what you do?
A: I'm not going anywhere so probably forever.

Q026: I'm doing some homebrew coding on [insert hardware name/ type here] and I was wondering if you could spare some time to talk about some hardware specific things in regards to how it bootstraps and executes code, as well as the protection mechanisms employed?
A: No sorry. I dump ROMs and document hardware, I have no idea about coding/protection routines/bootstrapping etc.

I have here some bad EPROMs on [insert game here] PCB. I sent the PCB to a repair centre, but they didn't repair it. I've personally checked it myself and it just has some bad EPROMs (42pins DIP). Do you provide an EPROM burning service? Or do you have for sale a [insert game here] PCB?
A: I have many PCBs for sale. If you see it listed on my web page, I have it, or at least 'had' it. I can supply any EPROM you need pre-programmed with any code for any game, for a small fee/donation. Exactly which one do you need?

If I donate to you, does that money go to Mamedev?
A: No. Well maybe indirectly. Donated money has nothing to do with MAME. We collect it and use it to buy various PCBs and arcade games and I dump them. They might eventually end up in MAME, but there's no guarantee. I have absolutely no control over what Mamedev does. I do what I can, when I can and I often make some suggestions and put things 'out-there', but I can't create miracles from thin air. I do thank you for your support though. Remember, if it's not 'out-there' it will never be emulated, and very few things are free.....

I saw a little mistake on your site and I thought I'd just email you about it [insert nitpicked mistake here]
A:Unless you happen to be an expert on the 'whole' subject I'm talking about AND it's something that could be catastrophic if left unattended, it's best that you remain silent. You may inadvertently cause the Sun to simultaneously go supernova and take out the first 3 planets and then NASA wouldn't be happy, I'm sure. You wouldn't want the total destruction of all known life on Mercury and Venus on your conscience now would you? So keep quiet and world peace will prevail.

I'm not sure if I should donate to you or some guy that just popped up saying he can do everything you can do and more!?
A: Please remember, while there may be other people out there asking for funds, there's only 1 person with 15+ years experience and ALL of the required **professional** equipment to do the job right, first time! I personally spent over $20000 on equipment so that the job will be successful. Don't make the mistake of donating to amateurs who use crap like hacky Willem programmers and other backyard junk. Donate to a professional dumper with a proven track record of 3000+ dumps and years of dealing with complicated arcade electronics. Also note I have the contacts and support to be able to obtain rare and wanted items so the money is used for it's intended purpose. I have also received probably over $50000 in donations over the time I have been dumping PCBs and all of that has gone straight back into MAME. The donations are still coming after 15+ years and so are the dumps. Who else can say that? The answer is of course, no one except The Guru :-)

I know you sell some PCBs to generate more money so you can buy more PCBs to dump but if the boards are not re-sold, why not? And, where do they end up?
A: Selling low-value boards on places like eBay costs money. That is money that could be used to buy more stuff. Some are almost worthless once emulated so those will probably never be sold and those are usually used for spare parts to fix other stuff. So where do they end up? They are all stored on several racks. If you want to help us consider buying one of the PCB's I have listed on my For-Sale Page. But don't wait too long if you are interested in something as I have already sold several hundred PCBs and when they are gone, they are gone forever.

What is 'hoarding'?
A: It means non-MAMEDev dumpers are trying to have a pissing contest with MAMEDev dumpers and/or MAME-friendly dumpers and are losing. So they make up stuff to make their piss look like it's going further. But really the MAME 'whatsnew.txt' tells the true story. Their name is somehow missing for mysteriously unknown reasons. They believe their name should be up in lights purely because they are the pissing king and they get even more upset when we dump and emulate the stuff they are hoarding causing them to quit the skene. Then a few months after they come back again because no one missed them anyway and try it on again. It's a vicious circle like a dog chasing it's own tail.

Why are you doing repairs now instead of dumping arcade games?
A: I still dump things but only when something undumped becomes available. If you look at MAME you will see over 50000 games have been added over the last 20 years and the vast majority of them are working. If something undumped becomes available and funds are also available it can be purchased and dumped. But the number of undumped PCBs out there is quite low and some undumped PCBs are priced out of reality so will likely never be dumped. Then of course there are some games that are secured but hoarded, and will also likely never be dumped, or payment will be required before the dump is released (yes they are already dumped but not released). Dumping undumped stuff requires lots of money and since most of the time money is not available and undumped PCBs are difficult to find, the number of games being dumped now is quite low. This results in me doing other things like repairs and when I find something interesting to show, I put the repair log on my web site.

D U M B - A S S   Q U E S T I O N S   S E C T I O N

Q001: I downloaded DBZ2/ Dragon Ball Z 2 [or insert any other WIP game here], I wanna play it [because no doubt you're a gamez kiddie], but how?
A: It's just a crappy fighting game. How many goddamned fighting games do you need? There's a pile in MAME already, just play one of those, I'm sure one of them is better. If you must play it, just use Mame, once it's released with that game included. Currently as of version 0.61, it's not included and is "work in progress". Wait, and you will be rewarded. Update: It's now included in Mame 0.62.

Q002: I don't like you, I'm going to spam you with some crap and/or a virus.
A: Don't bother, your spam will be detected and auto-deleted directly from the mail server by my spam filter. Your IP and email address will then be blacklisted for future lookup reference.

Q003: You are a [insert multiple 4-letter expletives here], I'm going to give you a piece of my mind.
A: I am a battle-hardened warrior so your words will be repelled just like water running off a duck's back.

Q004: I have this great offer for you. [insert make-a-million-deal here]
A: I couldn't give a rats arse about credit card deals, special "make money" offers, profit deals, free porn, free web sites, free god-damned printer cartridges! or free ANY-DAMN-THING. To the spammers I say... Why don't you idiots get a real job instead of spamming everyone and wasting bandwidth. You're not going to make any money by pissing people off. In fact you are too dumb to do anything useful. Just don't bother, your IP and email address will be blacklisted for future lookup reference at several spam-monitoring sites such as those listed here. OK, I changed my mind, please send your crap so your IP and email address can be blacklisted. Thanks.

Q005: I just emailed you, but it bounced back to me with an unknown user message.
A: Poor old you, your IP and email address got blacklisted by my spam filter, sorry about that. Goodbye. (or try to email me again from a different IP address if your email was legitimate)

Q006: You need some Viagra, or a penis enlargement, or some pics of naked women, or a credit card to consolidate and pay off your debts or [insert some other useless snake-oil crap here]
A: No. Also see Q004. Oh BTW, you just got yourself blacklisted too. Hasta-la-vista, baby.

Q007: Send me ROMs.
A: Did you hear that click? It's the sound of your email being auto-deleted.....

Q008: I am interested in buying the [insert PCB name here] PCB on your site but it is listed with a strike-through on your global status page which I believe means it's sold?
A: Please read the status legend on that page for the details. If it's GREY and with strike-through, it's no longer available.

B O R D E R L I N E   D U M B A S S / G E N U I N E    Q U E S T I O N S    S E C T I O N

Q001: I once played this arcade game back when I was 10, it had a little man that went sideways, and you picked up some things, and some other crap. Can you tell me the name of it?
A: I have no idea bud, there are messageboards around on the net for that type of question.

Q002: There's no email link on your comments page.
A: DUH! I *do* know that. It's not there on purpose so that dickheads and moronic imbeciles (really people, get a life will you) who scour the internet with a spidering program to capture text email addresses and send futile advertising spams, won't latch onto my address. So if you want to contact me, use the links on the contact page. I'm very busy though, so make sure your message is emulation related.

Q003: I don't like your popups and banners. Can you kill that crap off your site?
A: Sadly, NO. This site and web space is provided to me free of charge. For that privelage it's necessary to allow the server owners to run ads or other fund raising events to help cover costs. Popups and banners are just part of it. So either use popup/banner blocking software or put up with it ;-)

Q004: Hey since you added the menu to your front page all your other pages don't have any links at the top to go to other pages?
A: You don't need more links. There is a big 'return to homepage' link at the top of EVERY page. Just click the big 'The Guru's ROM Dumping News' banner. From the home page you can go anywhere, even to the moon and back.

Q: [Your questions here....]