Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pinball photography

The article about pinball photography is online..

I hope a lot of people will learn from it.. it's a large article, there's a lot of information in it. Don't know how much everyone knows about photography and how creative they are when taking pictures.. but the article should be informative for everyone. Just read it (a few times), remember some things, take your photo camera and go out to your gameroom and try things.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crane machine in France

Took these pictures on holiday - at least on our way to our holiday destination.
They're taken at a truck stop on the highway (autoroute) between Metz and Strassbough.

This crane machine was just standing outside next to a restaurant ?!?!?!
Why would anyone think it's a good idea to put an electronical vending machine outside, without any cover ??

As you can see it was even still filled with toy animals.
The glass had a lot of moisture on the inside.. I don't want to know how the stuffed toy animals smelled or how unhealthy they must be for children now ??

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pinball photography

Been busy the past evenings taking photographs of my pinball machines.

I bought a serious camera last year with the intention to make nice pictures for my website. Started to learn more about photography, and learn, and learn, and learn, .. and before I knew it I was more interested and invested more time in photography than in my pinball machines.

I always tried new things, but my goal - to make nice pictures of all my games and to upgrade my website with lots of cool, large photos, didn't happen..

I did start to work on a new article for my website about photography.. been thinking about it a long time, started some things in draft a few months ago, but now I'm serious working on it (which means I put a lot of hours every evening into it, writing things, testing it, taking photos until I know what I write is correct and I know what works and what doesn't work when taking pictures, and actually trying to take all the pictures required for the article.

Since a short while I'm also experimenting with 2 strobes, offcamera (yes, full strobist style of shooting) which also is a learning curve.. but it's fun. Only now I start to appreciate the potential of my camera :-)

I guess in about a week or 2 the article will go online.. watch this space :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back from vacation, AFM sound upgrade

Back from vacation.. loved it !
Haven't seen a pinball machine on location.. although in the north of Italy there should be a few at campings, but we were in a fancy hotel in a large town that mostly had an older population.. still had a good time, we had very good weather (the belgian summer has been rainy and cold :(

Haven't worked more on the pinball machines except that I upgraded the speakers in Attack from Mars too.

Here's a picture of the subwoofer in my Twilight Zone..

I did start on a new article about pinball machine photography but as it'll be a very big article, that may still take a while until it gets published on the site.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Medieval Madness sound upgrade finished

Had time to work on my Medieval Madness sound upgrade yesterday evening.

First tested with the new tweeter that had some distortion.. put in the 6.8mfd and 4.7mfd capacitors instead of the default 10mfd, but it didn't make any noticeable difference, the speaker still distorted :(
Even tried adding some resistors. But only when I added 3 resistors of 5ohm it didn't distort anymore, but you hardly heard anything from the tweeter..
So I soldered back in the original tweeter.

Then I tested with a pot on R17, to bring out the bass and get more sound out of the cabinet subwoofer. That really made a nice difference, and I noticed the backbox speakers also lost some of the high notes.
So I put in back the improved tweeter and this time it didn't distort anymore.
Excellent ! Tested a bit and around 8k7 ohm it gives the best setting for my MM with new car speakers..

The cabinet subwoofer still isn't very loud, it doesn't give out a real hard beat you would expect from a car subwoofer.. but it's ok for me. To get a good bass I probably need to add an amplifier, cut out the hole, and remove my spare parts boxes from underneath the game..
but now you hear the game has some added bass compared to the default setup, and you definitely feel it, the cabinet vibrates slightly from the bass.. it's nice :)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Empty gameroom..

..well she's half empty that is.

Just re-read some of my posts here. In januari I posted we were going to sell some pinball machines but I never followed up.
Anyway for those interested, our gameroom is about half empty now. It really was too full, 2 rows of pinball machines with only some space to walk in the middle. Nice to play pins but not a nice room to sit in and relax.

So we sold some games, put the repainted fridge in there, a small coffee table and two comfortable sofas..
When you now enter our gameroom, the left side was like before: a whole row of pinball games. On the right side the only pinball machines are Black Hole and Orbitor One).
The rest of the right side is a family part now - fridge, seats, toys for our daughter she can play with in the garden, .. so the gameroom isn't for daddy alone anymore but to be enjoyed by the whole family.

At the moment I only have 8 working pinball machines in my gameroom.. quite a difference as we always had 14 in our gameroom, and about 5 years ago when I still had an external storage place we once even owned more than 20 pinball machines at the same time..

More updates on old posts: those dvd's I made in 2007 ? Well they're since a long time not for sale anymore.. there just wasn't any interest in them and for a few euros I made on them I didn't want to bother sitting at my computer for half an hour waiting until it was burned, going to the post office, ..
Well if anyone is really interested then you can always mail me about them, but I took down the pages on my website.
First 2 dvds I made are still available in the USA, see the trailers at:

Third dvd is only available from me as I even didn't bother to make an NTSC version and send it to the USA for distribution..

And that Whitewater switch problem I had since last year - I posted about it in december 07: it suddenly disappeared.
I have no idea what caused it and what made it go away ?!?!?!
I still played Whitewater but not very often as I had to wait for the ballsearch to get the pinball out of the lostmine. My daughter wanted to play the machine too last week, and suddenly the game worked fine ! It must be my daughter is some kind of magic-pinball-repairlady as I have no other explenation for it. But I'm happy, another game without any problems :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WPC sound upgrade parts

Went to an electronic parts shop this afternoon..
(another shop I went to earlier this week was closed because of summer holidays.. how am I supposed to get any work done when I can't get the parts I need ?)
Bought new capacitors to try on the MM tweeter, will check if a 4.7 or 6.8 mfd one will block enough low sounds so the tweeter doesn't distort anymore.

Didn't buy l-pads but did get pots to check if I could plug it on R17/R39 like the ones pinball pro sells. Check the CV sound page at btw for more information about this.

I hope to test everything it this weekend, before I leave on holiday.. Italy here we come !

Didn't have time this evening to already test the capacitors as I was home quite late.. went with a friend to an operator. I didn't buy anything (I don't buy or sell games, don't have the room to store them, and even if I wanted to buy a game I couldn't as I crashed my car earlier this week so couldn't transport it back home.. but I went along as I was curious to see what games were left.. I never say no to a warehouse visit). My friend also didn't buy any pinball machines as most of what available was only good for parts (and even then) and he didn't want to fill up his truck with 12 games to part them all out..

He did buy a NOS Bally Monte Carlo backglass for 50 euros. Not a bad score !
Not that he really needed it, but Monte Carlo has nice artwork so it's nice to hang in a gameroom against the wall as decoration.. and a NOS pinball backglass is a rare find..

Don't remember exactly what other backglasses were available;. about 5 other pinball backlasses, mostly of electro-mechanical games (stuff like Capersville, Super Circus,.. ), and a lot (50 or so) bingo backglasses (mostly Bally) and backglasses from other vintage amusement games like bowlers..

Bingo machine backglasses are something I'm really not interested in myself so we left them there in the basement.. there was also another room with a lot of bingo backglasses from parted games.

Just checked and the super circus backglass is already 50 years old.. and has quite nice artwork too.. maybe I should've bought it ? maybe next time..

There were a lot of neogeos (with 4 games) and some mortal combats (ultimate mk and mk2/3 if I'm not mistaken) also available.. not in mint condition, all faded, came off location.. but still interesting for some people as it's a popular game.

Today I also searched a bit on rgp and other sites about the door flasher mod on Twilight Zone that's also I intended to do for a looooong time now.
Last year I parted out a Funhouse, and kept the flashers that are underneath the clock so I could them for this mod.. only have to test on how to connect them exactly..
Did anyone buy the pingizmos door flasher mod (they don't exist anymore ?) and want to tell me how the wiring is exactly ?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

WPC speaker upgrade

Started this week on another project that I planned to do for many years now but just never did: upgrading speakers in all of my pinball machines.

I've read Tony's guide a lot and will follow it.. especially the schematics at the end of his instructions are interesting.

I don't have everything I need yet - I do have one pyramid crossover, and last week I went crazy and bought about a dozen speakers in all sizes.
I don't have l-pads or rheostats yet so I'm waiting for them to complete the upgrade and do all rewiring necessary.

What I already did was replacing the original speakers in my Medieval Madness pinball machine with better ones. According to some posts on rgp, just installing new speakers without rewiring anything may also make a big difference on some games, but the final result depends on the game and speakers used.. one just has to experiment, you don't know in advance how successful you'll be..

In the backbox I replaced the left speaker with a much better quality car speaker of the same size, and the tweeter on the right with an improved one.
Best results you get if you put 2 of the same type of speakers in the backbox, but I just did not want to drill/cut the plastic speakerpanel of my MM.
I did buy speakers with built-in tweeters too that can fit in the backbox, but will use those for another game with wooden speaker panel.

I put a large subwoofer in the cabinet (the biggest size that I could fit in there, the troll assemblies just don't touch it).

Results (without installing an lpad to change the balance):

The cabinet speaker can't be heard at all.. the volume of the backbox speakers is too high in contrast.. so an lpad is really necessary for a new subwoofer to make any noticeable difference.

The tweeter on the right distorts sometimes. It's annoying. Don't know how it comes as it doesn't do it all the time.. I'll have to experiment to lower its output.
It shouldn't do it in theory as it has more than double the watts of the original.
I'll install the tweeter into another pinball machine too and see what it does..
Maybe they're of less quality than I think they are, or maybe it just doesn't go well into the default configuration on Medieval Madness.
I hope it's the second as I intended to buy more of these tweeters as they have a good size.. I want to install them in my Attack from Mars, Cirqus Voltaire and Safecracker pinball machines.

I first replaced the left backbox speaker and tested this setup.
That actually sounded the best ! The speaker was clear enough to let me hears sounds I never heard before (what - there's actually water flowing ?! glass breaking ?!) The result really has to be heard to believe, only now you realize how crappy the default pinball machine speakers sound !
It also had enough power to give out a good bass you could feel and hear, but would not overpower the other sounds.

So I'll install an l-pad and see if I can fine-tune it so the pinball machine will really sound very good. If I can't get it right then maybe I'll just return to the default wiring and only keep the left backbox speaker.
But I'm pretty sure I'll get it working with an l-pad. Last year I heard a friends Medieval Madness with only a new subwoofer in the cabinet and a pinballpro l-pad alligator clip thingy in the backbox and the improved bass also made a huge difference to the feel of the game..

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twilight Zone clock repaired

Last week I finally repaired the clock of my Twilight Zone pinball machine.
Nothing special you say ? Well it is for me !

Believe it or not but I have this game for 7 years now.
Bought it with a broken clock.. shopped it many years ago, even took pictures on how to disassemble the clock.. but at that time I didn't have the correct optos.

Later I ordered the correct optocouplers, but didn't install them as I had work on other games.. just threw the optos in the coin box of TZ and forget about them.
I even found the invoice - paid 600bfr (= 15 euro, 20 us$) for 2 optos at the distributor in Brussels).

Now finally I decided to work on that game. Installed the optos I had, they didn't work - turns out these were for the minute hands of the clock, and the optos for the hours are of a different type.

Desoldered the optos again (woosh, there's $20 down the drain as I had cut the legs already short so those desoldered optos can't be reused for the minutes-board)

I remembered reading on rgp somthing about installing optos backwards to have it work. So I tried another type of opto, didn't solder it yet, just held it in place and connected the board and went into the clock test mode.
Tried it, and yes, when I inserted the opto backwards in the pcb it worked. Nice !

Soldered the optos back in.. assembled the clock, but didn't notice the orientation and put in the board upside down in the clock housing, so the connectors didn't match. Aargh. It really was time to go to bed.. but I wanted to finish it.
Disassembled the clock again.. oops.. the small c-clip that holds the minute hand of the clock fell onto the ground. Aaaaargh.. I really should be sleeping already..

As we have a stonecarpet floor, you can imagine retrieving a small metal c-clip is an impossible task.
It's not the first time I drop a screw or other metal piece, I have a big magnet to sweep over the floor.. a few minutes later I had found it.

Assembled the clock again, and tested it.
The good news was that the repaired optos worked, bad news was that another one was registering all the time because of the vibration of the motor.

Time to go to bed.

Next day I disassembled the clock again (and didn't lose any c-clips this time :)
re-soldered pins that make the connection between the two boards, assembled the clock again for the dozenth time, and finally, my Twilight Zone pinball machine works like it should ! No more credit dot !

Monday, July 14, 2008

Black Hole

Haven't posted a lot the last weeks.

We've been busy redecorating the gameroom.
The walls and ceiling got a new color, even some flashy 70ies wavy wallpaper.

This weekend I finally started on my Black Hole.
About 1,5 year ago I had taken all parts off the playfield, but then put everything in a box.. Other games also had small problems so I worked first on those, and just didn't want to start on the Black Hole.. because this is a large project.
Even shopping the pin, cleaning all parts, assembling everything back together is not something you do very quickly. It takes a lot of time..
I always waited to start this until I would have a few days off so I could work on it without many interruptions, but this just doesn't happen.
So I'll work now every evening a bit on it.. After 3 hours of work the small playfield is about 80% assembled again.
Still need to put on some plastics, new lightbulbs, and check the bottom side.
Then I can reassemble all parts on the main playfield.

Biggest issue then will be the electronics.. but I now have spare boards out of a Gottlieb Spring Break pinball machine I parted out so I should be covered..
(does anyone need plastics or playfield parts from a Spring Break ?)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Orbitor 1 speaks

My Orbitor 1 speaks !

Sterns Orbitor One pinball machine was designed to have a speech board, but not every game had this one installed.. like my machine. It only had a soundboard.

Last year I had already bought a speech board from a Flight 2000 but I had only the board itself, and not the flatcables to connect it to the lamp driver board. And I had once read on from someone who also wanted to upgrade his machine, that there was an additional connector needed in the wiring loom which wasn't present.
So it wasn't a matter of just plugging it in, therefor I never put any time in it.

Last week however I acquired a Stern Freefall. This game also had the sound and speech board installed and had the complete wiring in the backbox. Its condition is too bad to repair (very worn playfield, ..) so I was going to use it for spare parts.
Now I had a full set of board and the complete wiring.. so this week I worked every evening on retrofitting the speech board in my Orbitor One.

I'll make detailed pictures and write an article for my website in a few days..
but the good news is that it was much easier to connect the soundboard than I thought it would be, as the missing connector actually was present in the wiring !!
It was just very well hidden :)

Update: here is the article on about adding a speech board into a Stern pinball machine.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Space Station pictures

Testing with photography, made some HDR processed Space Station pinball pictures..

Space Station will be leaving soon btw, not enough room in the gameroom and it wasn't quite what we expected from it. But that's a total different story :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

I found Rudy from Funhouse pinball

Funhouse RUDY

A picture I made yesterday at the Open Air Jukebox show in Rosmalen..
I'm sure this is Rudy from the Funhouse pinball machine..

Sure he looks a bit older and clearly had a bad hair day.. but it's really him !

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Space Station pinball

New pinball machine in the gameroom, a Williams Space Station.

Monday, May 5, 2008

repair melted plastic

How to repair melted plastic parts - when flamepolishing goes wrong.

New article how to fix melted plastic ramps.. they won't look like new but at least you'll be able to play the game again and don't have to spend over $100 to get a new ramp (if it's available.. or part out the game because ramps cannot be found).

Btw about the HUO Harley Davidson from my previous post, the owner doesn't want to sell. And I'm not that interested in the game to make him an offer he can't refuse :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

HUO Harley Davidson pinball machine found

I found a home use only Harley Davidson pinball machine !

Was talking to an operator last week and asked if he had any pinball machines left..
He didn't have anything in his warehouses as he didn't operate them for a while.

But he mentioned he still had one at home, a Harley Davidson.
Said it never had been operated, it was taken out of the box when pins didn't earn well, so he had set it in his house, it was played only very little. He even couldn't tell me if it was the Bally Harley Davidson or the Sega machine ?! He was going to check and let me know..

I'm curious. Hope it's not faded or has leaked batteries..

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How to repaint a fridge

Another article added to the website yesterday, how to paint a fridge.

A few months ago we bought an old fridge. Cosmetically it wasn't very well, so we repainted it, put some custom-made decals on it, so it now really fits well in the pinball gameroom and has a nice retro look..

Rally-Test mechanical skill game

New game review posted: Rally-Test skillgame

I bought and restored this already last summer. It's fun to play, a vintage mechanical skillgame, made in Italy in the 1970ies. Drop a coin in it, try to get it through the bottom of the track so you can win it back.. and try not let it roll away at the side of the playfield. Very addictive and difficult to play !

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

RFM third saucer mod

And another new article posted.. this time a modification for Revenge From Mars: add a third saucer with flasher and leds to back of the playfield.

I had some articles submitted by people, just didn't have time the last weeks to translate them all.. so the next days/weeks I'll do some updates to the site, it's been too long..

Monday, March 10, 2008

PInball Suicide Bunny !

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to meet Andy Riley.
Who's Andy Riley you'll ask ?? Well he's the author of the suicide bunnies cartoons.

Of course I had to ask him if he wanted to make a pinball related cartoon for me..
Click here to see the suicide bunny cartoon.

Monday, February 4, 2008

new Tommy blinders repro board developed !

Good news for owners of a Data East Tommy pinball machine !

I can already announce that someone has developed a repro pcb board that drives the blinders. A lot of Tommy owners have problems with this board, and the game is just only half the fun if you cannot play it with the blinders closed.

A good friend of us has developed this repro pcb (it's a total new design using smd components), this weekend we have tested his prototype in our own Tommy (he was just in time as our game is sold and picked up later this week).
It worked perfect, like the original board it has 2 adjustment pots to set how far the blinders open/close, it worked fine in the self-tests of the game, ..

Anyway the prototype is ready, production will start soon (is a matter of days/weeks), so very soon it'll become available ! Watch this space (or other forums) as I'm sure there will be enough public announcements for it..

UPDATE 2011: as I got some emails about these. It seems they are not available anymore. The person who designed them does not work at that company anymore, and the company that produced them seems not to reply to emails or isn't interested in selling pinball parts anymore.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little Pro manikin game works

The Southland Little Pro manikin golf game is restored :)

Just noticed I hadn't posted anything about it here the last weeks.
This was my christmas holiday project - it took me a few days to disassemble and clean everything. It wasn't too bad to get working (it's very simple technically).
Most things were working, it was more a matter of cleaning switches and adjusting, ..
It's a fun game, pretty easy once you get used to it, but still fun.

The TOP dvd about manikin games was a help. The resistor/varistor (whatever it's called) was also bad on mine, and another resistor too. Once these were replaced the golfer has enough power in his swing again to get the little metal balls to the end of the playfield.

Haven't had time to write something about it on the website, will do this once the gameroom is reorganised (now everything is too close together to make decent pictures).

some changes

It's been a while since I posted. As always I was busy with a lot of things..

We made some important decisions and changes.. as we put too much time in pinball and everything related we're stopping with some of these things.

Don't worry though - our pinball website will remain.
New articles will still be posted, especially in the newbie / technical / modification sections. (feel free to email me if you want to submit an article, ie if you made an interesting mod to one of your pinball machines).

Articles about new shows may be less updated.. Even from shows in 2007 I haven't put a lot of pictures online as some shows always have the same exhibitors as the past year. Not a lot of use me posting pictures of exhibitors at a show that were there too the year before and the year before and the year before.. you really should know what to expect now at a show..

What is stopped however is technical support by email. In the past I often got emails from people with a problem, and we tried to help them by email. We don't have time for this anymore. Only email me if you do have some pinball repair skills and need help troubleshooting something. But don't expect me to learn you how to use a dmm, how to solder and how to fix your pin by email..

I also had on my website that people in Belgium could email me to get contact information of someone in their neighbourhood that could maybe help them with a repair. Again no more time to answer all these emails - I put some links to official repair people in Belgium on my site that you can contact direct. Only if you're in my area (Antwerp) I may be able to help you.

Finally we won't have any 'open days' at our house anymore.
Our gameroom and collection is now private.. the past years there have been an immense growth of pinball collectors in Belgium. That's a good thing of course, but the disadvantage is that everyone wanted to come. If we announced that people could come for an afternoon of pinball, a few hours later we had already reached out maximum amount of people.. so 2/3rd of the people that asked we had to turn down, which sometimes also made us feel bad as there were good friends that couldn't come..
we just know too many people ? :( So as to not disappoint anyone anymore or have people think that we prefer person X over person Y, it's easier for us not to invite anyone over anymore, instead of worrying if someone is going to be mad at us because he wasn't welcome..

We're also selling part of our pinball collection. Maybe I will regret this, maybe I won't.. we'll see. We have for instance a beautiful Twilight Zone (it almost looks as new, is in our personal collection for +7 years now) but my wife or I haven't played it in years. We both have our favorite games, and some other games are just standing there, only to be played by guests. The gameroom is full, games are crammed against each other (I know it's only 2 months since we rearranged everything), so we decided to only keep those games that we really love and play often, and rearrange the interior. Some people don't understand this (most collectors want as many games as possible and always try to fit an extra game in their house) but that's their problem. We always bought games because we wanted them, for ourselves. Not because a game was a 'must have in a collection'.

Our promo plastics collection is for sale on right now, and many spare parts I have collected in the past years will follow. If you need anything, feel free to email me, as I have a lot of spare parts, NOS and from parted games.

I'm also parting out a Funhouse. If you need pcbs (displays, sound board, ..) or playfield parts (plastics, assemblies) then let me know..