The first obvious solution was to go with Retropie. Pros: everything is there, from ZX Spectrum to Arcade and 80’s and 90’s consoles emulation, PC/DOS emulation and you can also add Kodi and connect it to your room TV for absolute fun for all the family. Cons: too much stuff… for this project all I need is MAME emulation, and I want to keep it simple for the user to navigate through the games with arcade joystick and buttons.
You’ll find lot’s of walkthroughs on Youtube that explain step by step how to configure everything. If you want to update Retropie, be patient that updating everything (core modules, drivers, etc.) will take more that an hour. The distribution looks great!
But, since the scope is MAME emulation only, I found a well detailed DIY at “The Developer’s Tidbits“, that uses a minimal OS (Moebius) and AdvanceMAME, with the option of AdvanceMenu – exactly what I was looking for. I’m choosing this path.
Here are some pictures of the hardware parts testing with Retropie: