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DDR Machine Stepmania Conversion Guide

A DDR arcade machine can be converted to run either of the PC-based DDR simulators: Stepmania and OpenITG. These games replicate the gameplay environment of Dance Dance Revolution and In the Groove, respectively. Converting a cabinet to run these programs yields numerous benefits, such as custom songs, themes, mods, and game modes.


  • What are the benefits of upgrading a machine in this way?

This upgrade allows the machine to interface directly with a PC, which means anything the PC can do, the machine can provide input and output for. This opens the door to customizable DDR/ITG experiences like Stepmania and OpenITG. With this upgrade, you can install as many custom (and official) charts as you wish, and can make use of custom themes, mods, and other user-created content.

  • Can I revert my machine back to its original state after converting it?

Yes. To do this, you must remove the wire you installed in the corner panel of either pad (If the wire is not removed, the official DDR software will not detect input). Once the wire is removed, unplug the JAMMA harness from the JPAC and connect it to your 573 unit. Finally, unplug the audio cable you connected to the amplifier and replace it with the red/white cable that was originally in its place.


Although this guide is written with safety foremost in mind, please be aware of the inherit risk of working on high-power electronics and wiring.

Before beginning a cabinet conversion, please understand that this is being done at your own risk. There is no warranty for a conversion, and it can, if done improperly, potentially ruin the machine.

Please have an understanding of the functions of the machine, electro-static discharge safety, and use caution when handling machine parts, even when shut down.


  • A functioning Dance Dance Revolution arcade machine with an intact JAMMA harness
  • One Ultimarc J-PAC adapter OR one Minimaid adapter
  • Ultimarc's Winipac utility - Available for free at:
  • One monitor cable (VGA or DVI, depending on the graphics card used)
  • A PS/2 port male-to-male cable (newer J-PACs will use either a USB to PS/2 cable or micro USB)
  • Phillips screwdriver (#3 for pad screws, #2 for everything else)
  • A Windows-based desktop PC
  • A red/white to 3.5mm audio cable
  • 2 pieces of 16 gauge copper wire, each at least 2 inches long

You will also need one of the following:

  • Ultimarc Arcade VGA graphics card
  • Nvidia graphics card
  • An ATI Radeon HD series card with VGA or DVI-I output

If using an Nvidia card, your computer must be running Windows XP and have the program Soft15Khz. This software is not compatible in versions later than XP, and is required to convert the arcade machine's monitor to a signal that can be interpreted by the Nvidia graphics card.

If you are using the Ultimarc Arcade VGA, you do not need to use XP or Soft15Khz. This card automatically converts the graphics signal to the appropriate frequency.

For independent displays

If your machine runs a monitor that is not directly connected to the machine through the JAMMA harness, it does NOT need to have a converted signal and therefore you do not need the Arcade VGA or Soft15Khz. A monitor not wired through the JAMMA does not have to be converted to the appropriate frequency and can plug directly into the PC's graphics card. Using an independent display also allows flexibility in the GPU used in the PC (There is no need to troubleshoot compatibility, frequency, etc.).

Machine Conversion Guide

This guide is for installing with a J-PAC. A Minimaid will call for a slightly different process.

Before you start

Test the PC that will be used as the Stepmania/OpenITG machine properly, BEFORE converting your system. This will help avoid issues later in the conversion. Install all necessary software, including video drivers, before proceeding.

Most monitors cannot display at 15khz, so you'll want to make sure everything is configured correctly up to this point before installing soft15khz (if applicable). If worse comes to worst, you may need to boot in to safe mode to uninstall the soft15khz program. If your machine is connected to a network then it is also very helpful to have a VNC server installed, I recommend TightVNC Server

A very useful tool for fixing potential display issues is Powerstrip, available for free at:

This tool allows real-time manipulation of the refresh rate, resolution, and other properties of the display.

Have access to a secondary monitor that you can run at the same time as the converted machine. This will help enormously in any troubleshooting. VNC also counts as a secondary monitor in this case.

Once everything is configured and tested, run Soft15khz and click the 15khz button (again, if not using an ArcadeVGA). If Soft15khz installs correctly, reboot and change to 640×480 resolution via Powerstrip or Quickres. Your monitor may indicate that the frequency is “out of range” at this point, but this is likely an indicator that your PC is outputting 15khz as desired.


Remove the 573 system logic from the cabinet. While not mandatory, it is no longer needed and it is recommended that it be safely put away for future use, as its presence only brings the risk of damaging it.

4269932746_c017e080f0.jpg This can be done by unscrewing the panel on the back of the cabinet. In the center-bottom of the cabinet interior is the 573 logic. It is mounted on a removable wooden panel that should slide out of the cabinet. Some cabinets use thumbscrews to tighten the mounting. If present, loosen these and proceed to gently pull the logic out of the cabinet. Be sure to unplug the JAMMA harness and all other connectors from the logic before removing it. The DVD reader remains in the cabinet and is separate from the logic. Some cabinets make it difficult to remove this part, do not worry if you are unable to remove it.

Step 1

After acquiring all necessary materials to perform the conversion, you are now ready to begin.

Power off the machine entirely. This means flipping the power switch OFF and unplugging it from any power source. The machine may have multiple power switches–One on the back of the machine next to the power cable, and one in the coin-op mechanism compartment located in the front of the machine.

On the back of the cabinet, where the machine logic is (or previously was, if you chose to remove it) there is the JAMMA harness. This is a wide ribbon of wires of various colors, ending in a black connector. Take your J-PAC adapter and connect the harness to it. Be careful that you do not insert it reversed. The JAMMA harness should have a white pin near one end of its connector that prevents it from being inserted improperly.

Be very careful when plugging in a JAMMA harness without a key as inserting it in reverse will damage an arcade PCB. However this should not harm a J-PAC and you will just be left without video until the connector is inserted properly.

Step 2

With your J-PAC connected to the JAMMA harness, you must now connect it to your PC. This is done using the monitor cable and PS/2 cable. The J-PAC should come with a female-to-male VGA cable. Connect the female end of the VGA cable to your J-PAC, and the male end to your computer's graphics card. Connect the PS/2 cable to the port on the J-PAC, and the other end to the PC. The J-PAC is now wired to the JAMMA and interfaced to the PC.

As sound functions independently of the JAMMA harness, you must connect the machine's amplifier to your computer. This is easily done by locating the amplifier (A metal box usually on the bottom-left side of the cabinet's interior) and unplugging the red and white cables from the box. On the #2 audio connection (the lower one) connect the red and white ends of the audio cable earlier mentioned in Requirements. Plug the 3.5mm end into the green audio port of the PC (Located on the motherboard I/O panel on the back of the computer). The PC is now receiving sound from the machine.

Step 3

You must now install the jumper to the DDR pads. This is done as the computer can not properly interpret their input in their current state. This jumper will set the pads to reset mode, and allow them to function properly with the computer.

For reference, the Player 1 side will be called “Left”, and Player 2 will be “Right”. On the left pad, unscrew the blank metal panel that is in the top-right corner of the left pad. Opening this will reveal a second panel. Note that its screws are very easy to strip. Very carefully unscrew them, and then reach under the panel and lift up to remove it. The I/O board is now visible.

With the I/O board accessible, there are several ports with wires feeding into them. On the bottom-right of the board is a wide ribbon of cables of various colors. Take one of your pieces of 16 gauge copper wire. Make sure that each end has a few centimeters of bare wire exposed. From the left-most end of the ribbon, find the first and third wires, counting from the left. One should be black, and the other should be white. Take one end of the copper wire and push it down into the black wire's port as deep as possible (without applying excess pressure or damaging hardware). Now put the opposite end into the white wire's port. This is jumping the two wires and putting the pad in reset mode.

Now jump the right pad. Its I/O panel can be accessed by removing the blank metal panel that is in the top-left corner of the right pad. Carefully unscrew its secondary panel (Again, these screws strip very easily) and you will see a board identical to the left side. It will also have black and white wires in the first and third positions. Bridge these the same way the left side was bridged.

The pads are now in reset mode, ready for the J-PAC.

Helpful Tip!
Try using a small-fat handled Phillips screwdriver with a large set of pliers to give leverage. Simply keep one hand on the top of the screwdriver's butt while the other grasps the pliers to turn. This prevents stripping a lot.

Step 4

Plug in the machine and power it on. Before powering on the PC, take a moment to make sure that everything on the machine is still intact and functioning. The marquee lights and screen should both turn on, and subwoofer lights may flash briefly. While unlikely, be aware of any strange characteristics that may be present from the machine, such as a scent of something burning, or static sounds that do not stop after within a few moments of starting the machine. Even though it is incredibly unlikely that something would be damaged after doing only these steps, it is important to be aware that it is an unavoidable possibility with high-power electronics that something like this can occur. If the machine is free of these abnormalities, you may now turn on the PC.

There are several things that may happen upon powering on the machine while connected via J-PAC:

  • The computer's BIOS splash appears, and startup begins. This is ideal.
  • No image appears on the screen
  • A distorted or corrupted image appears on the screen.

If the screen appears functional and the computer is starting up normally, with the arcade monitor as the display, then scroll down to the next section for further instructions. Here is what to do if you do NOT have a stable (or any) image.

Fixing the Screen

It is possible when initially installing a J-PAC that the screen does not always function exactly as it should. Do not be alarmed, this is very common and easy to fix.

This problem is virtually exclusive to machines that are running an authentic arcade monitor that is wired via the JAMMA harness. This should never happen if you are using a display independent of the JAMMA (Such as an LCD or LED screen).

If NO image:

  • Make sure the graphics card is receiving sufficient power, and is properly and fully seated in the motherboard's PCI slot. Additionally, check the BIOS to make sure that the graphics card is set as the primary video output device (as opposed to the integrated graphics device on the motherboard, if present).
  • Check the connection between the graphics card and the J-PAC. A stable signal will not appear unless both the VGA as well as the PS/2 connector are properly connected on each end.
  • Check the J-PAC's refresh rate jumpers. These are visible on the face of the J-PAC board as red overlays. On the J-PAC there are three offsets: 15Khz, 25Khz, and 31Khz. Depending on the make of the machine's display, different configurations are needed. The display that natively comes with a Japanese DDR cabinet (NOT including X, X2, or X3) is a Toshiba D29-CR55. This requires a configuration with the 15Khz frequency covered by the red overlay. Using a monitor that is not a D29-CR55 may require you to change this configuration.

If distorted/shaky/broken image: Connect a second monitor to your graphics card. Check if it gets an image. If it does, it is most likely an unsupported resolution being forced on the machine's display stopping it from displaying an image. When in Windows, right-click the desktop and go to Screen Resolution. Once there, set the resolution to the lowest possible setting. Also, check to see if the arcade display is detected by the computer at all.

If the display is detected, but there is no signal, apply the new lower resolution. If the arcade display is not detected, check for any connections between the J-PAC and JAMMA harness (there may be a “click” when the harness fully connects).

If the problem persists, use Soft15Khz to force the 15Khz horizontal refresh rate to the arcade display. Finally, in the screen resolution settings, select “Advanced Settings” and then click “List all modes”. The native resolution for a D9800 is 640×480 @ 30Hz. Find this option in the list of resolutions, and apply it. This will push a 640×480 image @ 30Hz vertical and 15KHz horizontal refresh. This is exactly what the display is designed to run.

Step 5

With your display functioning, J-PAC connected, and pads jumped, the conversion is almost finished. Install and run Winipac. This is where you can test the functionality of your machine's input. Before proceeding, disable Shift Keys from the options menu. Go to Settings, and configure them to your J-PAC. These are settings such as what model your J-PAC is, and whether you are connected by USB or PS/2. After making sure these are accurate, click Ok.

Pressing any button or arrow on the machine should result in one of the rectangles illuminating on the Winipac window. Make sure every input is detected. Do not focus on what key is highlighted when the rectangle illuminates, Winipac is used for other MAME tools, but those are not part of this conversion.

Step 6

Run Stepmania or OpenITG. Make sure you have access to a keyboard, as you will not be able to navigate menus with the machine until you've mapped the controls. If you are running a custom theme for the game, return to the default theme for now. Navigate to the Options menu and then to “Config Key/Joy Mappings”. Note: The Key Mappings menu is not accessible in all themes. Divert to the default theme of the software to ensure the option is available. You are free to return to your preferred theme once setup is complete.

Use the keyboard to highlight the input you're mapping. The left column is for Player 1, and the right for Player 2. Highlight an input, press Enter, and then press the button or arrow on the machine or pads that it corresponds to. Do this for every button on the cabinet. Save your changes and exit this menu.

With all buttons mapped, the conversion is complete and you may begin tinkering with settings of the monitor/sound/input to find settings that are ideal to you. If mapped properly, each button should allow the cabinet to perform just as it would in an arcade, but running through the PC. The Stepmania/OpenITG installation on this computer can be customized with songs, themes, mods etc. just as it would on any other computer. You can now navigate and play the game without the need for a keyboard, using only the machine's arrows and buttons.

Sound should come through the marquee and subwoofers on the machine. Volume levels can be changed either by turning the dial inside the machine's coin-op compartment, or by manipulating the sound levels within Windows.

This concludes the conversion tutorial. More extensive troubleshooting, as well as FAQ's, will be added to this article in the near future.

Originally written by zeth, rewritten and edited by cpukun

custom_setups/input/ddr_to_oitgstepmania_conversion.txt · Last modified: 2019/04/23 03:20 by cpukun