Sunday, September 26, 2010

install remote battery holders

I've posted about it already a few times the past months, but non I experienced it myself - leaked batteries !

My Cirqus Voltaire pinball machine showed a 'factory reset' message a while ago..
A few days later it started up without any problem. Still I was curious what caused it, probably time to replace the batteries I thought.. I don't replace them every year, but as they're all in remote battery holders I'm not afraid. But up to know I never had a problem myself with leaked batteries.

Well, this morning I finally opened up the backbox and I was amazed to see the condition of the battery holder.. the batteries had leaked !
I'm lucky to have remote battery holders installed.. I really do not want this mess over my expensive cpu board !

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Orbitor One repair

At the end of our pinball party this summer, my Orbitor One developed a problem.
Locked balls would not be ejected anymore.
Probably a bad coil or loose wire I thought, I just switched off the game as it was near the end of the day.

Hadn't looked for a while at this game since, because a friend of mine had bought an Indiana Jones and wanted to shop and redecal it but didn't have room to do this on his appartment. So this Indiana Jones came to our gameroom, he took the playfield out to work on it at his place, and do the cabinet at our place.
No problem, he promised it would be done in about a week.

The first week he did come for a day or 2 to remove the existing cabinet decals.. but then the cabinet just stood there. All stripped parts of it were laying on top of Orbitor One's playfield glass.
What was going to be one week became almost 3 months.. 2 weeks ago the cabinet and associated parts finally left my gameroom. Time to look at this Orbitor coil problem !

None of the coils worked, replaced a fuse underneath the playfield. Game worked again but the fuse blew when the upkicker coil was activaed.

The upkicker coil did look a bit burnt, the wrapper was a bit brown.
Coil was bad I thought, so I'll just replace it.

That was easier said than done. Seems it's not a common coil, it's a little bit smaller than regular coils (like used in slingshots and other assemblies).
So while I had coils with the same wiring/turns, they didn't fit physically.
After searching through all my spare parts I finally did find a coil that was identical.

Removing the assembly was also not easy. You see, the Orbitor One playfield is built up in several layers. At the bottom there's a large piece of wood where most assemblies mount on to. Then there's the molded and painted plastic and on top the curved clear plastic. The assembly I needed to remove was mounted onto the wooden part but the top part of it (where the ball rests on, with switch to detect the ball goes all the way through the plastic playfield).
Furthermore, the assembly may be totally at the edge of the playfield (and you can reach it well when the playfield is raised out of the cabinet), the screws are all mounted on the inside. So when you stand on the side of the cabinet it's difficult to reach the screws.

You have to raise the playfield in vertical position and reach it from the bottom side, but then you can't see what you're doing as you're working through a hole in the bottom wood board.. aargh.

After a while I was able to remove the assembly and replace the coil.
Worst thing of all, the old coil looked a bit burnt but when I measured it's resistance, it still turned out to be fine. Weird.

Replaced the fuse under the playfield (as that was blown). Swithed the game on, played some games, suddenly the fuse blew again ?!
Replaced it again, and now I clearly saw what the 'slow' type of fuses do - because when I switched on the game I immediately saw the wire inside the fuse glow, but the fuse didn't blow.
Anyway, continued testing the coils, played a few games, activated a lot of coils together (let the drop target banks reset simultaniously).
The game works fine, the fuse didn't blow anymore.

I have no idea what cause this fuse to blow.. maybe some other part may be at the edge of breaking down, but it wasn't the coil I replaced.
I'll see how this game behaves in the future, if the fuse blows again or if something else breaks..

Friday, September 24, 2010

MM and AFM cpu problems

A few months ago I had a problem with my MM. Suddenly it started to reset, hang, didn't boot, .. all kinds of weird problems :(

I had recently installed a new gamerom (the latest version, ordered from ). But it started correct, to be sure I tried my original gameroom in it too, no difference, same weird behavior.

When I pushed in the connector at the right side (delivering +5v power) it had some effect. Sometimes the game didn't boot at all, when I played with that connector it did start. Weird..
Played a bit more with it, switched the cpuboard with that of my Attack from Mars.
Suddenly the problem was gone ? MM booted correct, AFM also.
I was happy as it was just a few days before I had a pinball party, so I really wanted these two games to be working and didn't have time to investigate (or order parts).

It's a good thing I write down here some repairs I do, as I had forgotten that I had problems with these cpus one year ago. But here in my blog I found a post about it, AFM then had weird problems and I finally switched the cpu board with that of MM and the problems were solved ?

So now the boards are in their original games again.

I've been testing a bit more with the cpu board and I think somewhere there's a bad connection on the board. It's not the connector itself as I first suspected, but it's somewhere on the middle right side of the board, because if I tighten the screws a bit more or less the cpu also gets problems.

I didn't have a tool to extract an asic so I couldn't rule that out as a solution.

Now I've finally ordered one from
dealextreme, but I haven't used it yet. (as the cpu works fine in AFM and I go by the 'don't fix it if it ain't broken' motto..)
When I have some time I'll extract the asic from the board, put it back in, and play a bit with the board to see if it always boots..

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cyclone sound repair

We moved some games around in the gameroom the last days. The room now looks a bit bigger (all games with wide heads are on one side, and some WPC games and Safecracker are on the other side next to the diner booth).
The diner booth and table are now in the middle of the room instead of in a corner where it alway was. It definitely is an improvement.

Finally I was able to set up a Cyclone. I have it since 2 months already, got it especially for my daughter as I think she will like the theme very well, but it was all this time in the living room of our house as I didn't have space to set it up on its legs.

Cyclone starts a game and plays, needs to be shopped. Only technical problem is that game had speech but no music.
Yesterday I finally had a look at it. guides don't have a lot to say about repairing system11 sound/speech boards :-(

Don't have schematics so I couldn't investigate it deeply (and start measuring signals at specific components). Unplugged the socketed ICs, put them back in. No change.
Finally I reseated the ribbon cables. Bingo ! Cyclone suddenly does have sound !
I'm happy :) The game is so much more fun to play now.

Cleaning this game will be another big task. It has a mylar on the playfield but it's bubbling, and removing mylar from non-diamondplayed games is always dangerous to do..

I'm not in a hurry though to shop it.. although I had bought this game especially for my daughter, since then we have bought a Cactus Canyon (and that was set up immediately in the gameroom). She just loooooves CC ! She has played it every day since we bought it, knows all the sounds, just loves it when she is able to start gold mine multibal (the neighbours hear her yell along with the game).
I'm afraid she won't like Cyclone much when I finish 'her' game and still prefer CC.. but how would you be, if you could chose between Cactus Canyon or Cyclone ? :-)

Gottlieb Majorettes gone for repair

2 weeks ago we brought our Gottlieb Majorettes (I have posted about this game before) to Henk de Jager in the Netherlands.
He's a very skilled pinball repairman who even creates his own custom e-m pinball machines !
Henk will repair the Majorettes, cut away all the added/hacked wiring and bring it back into original and working condition. I can't wait to see how it turns out and play this game !

We also had the opportunity to see his personal collection (he has some very nice and rare games), it was fun meeting and talking to him again (usually we only see him once a year at the rock-around-the-clock jukebox show).

With their company, Henk and Ramon can repair electro-mechanical games for a very reasonable fee, so if you are in Belgium or the Netherlands and have an e-m game you cannot restore or repair yourself, he may be a solution. Let me know if you want his contact information.

Sinbad repair

Will post some more info about repairs so other people can learn about them (as advises).
Repaired a Sinbad. Gottlieb System 1, I had never worked on this type of game before.
Prepared myself by reading the guide for this type of game, and checking my spare parts boxes to see what I had laying around for this type of games (coils, a driver board, ..).

The pinball machine was in quite good condition. It had only been on location for about 3 years and then always in home use. Needed a good cleaning, new rubbers, some lamps.

It played very slow, that was mainly because the playfield wasn't raised enough.
I raised the back legs, adjusted the gaps of the popbumper switches, and the game came alive.
One of the right flippers was too weak, eos needed to be cleaned and adjusted.

One problem was that the chimes did not work when you scored points. The game was very boring without this instant feedback when you're playing well. Most of the charm of playing these old games is the constant ringing of a bell or chimes when you score points.
Only at startup of a new game the chimes did make a little sound.. So the fuses and coils were good. It had to be something on the cpu, couldn't be anything else..
Took out the manual, sure, there's a dipswitch to select if you want chimes when you score points or not (dipswitch 20 if I remember correct). Weird enough it was already set to 'on'.
Set the dipswitch to the 'off' position. Still no chimes. Turned it back in the 'on' position. Bingo ! There it was, working chimes during gameplay.
Seems the dipswitch didn't make good contact anymore, moving it had solved the problem again..

Another problem was there were no playfield lights. Had measured all fuses, they seemed ok. Read the part about the playfield-relays (Q and R if I remember well). Operated them by hand, still the lamps didn't turn on. Measured voltages, didn't have any. No broken wires so it had to be something with the fuses.
After a while I removed the fuse from the fuseholder, measured it again.. and it was broken afterall !
Replaced it with a new fuse and the playfield lights came on nicely :-)
Now I know why you should always remove one end of a fuse out of the holder and not test them still in position.. there's 20 minutes of my life wasted :-(

Monday, September 20, 2010

where to store your keys

I learned today not to store my pinball keys in the coin return box of a coindoor..

Usually I just leave the keys on the game in the lock. This works for all my games.
But on my Cactus Canyon, there's a lock installed with a round key. The problem is that the key pops out when the lock is in the locked position. So I had to search for another place to store that key.
My first idea was to put it in the coin return box of a coindoor. Behind the metal plate it's hidden out of view, and you can easily reach it when you need it.
I'd seen some other collectors also store their keys in that place.

When I wanted to lower the volume on Cactus Canyon earlier this evening, I discovered my idea to store the key in the coinreturn wasn't that good..
I have a big box of tokens, and my daughter likes to drop coins in the games.. even when they're switched off. So I had a coinreturn that was filled with jammed coins.
Had to remove them one by one until the metal plate could be moved back enough to remove the key and the rest of the tokens..

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

did Stern become Gottlieb ?

I have to admit I don't often play new Stern pinball machine. Wait, make 'almost never'. Lost interest a few years ago in them, and even while I can visit the local Stern distributor when a new game has arrived, I almost never do. Last time I went there to write a review of a game was for the Stern Grand Prix pinball machine.. so that's many years ago..

I did visit this dealer later when Wheel of Fortune and BDK where new, but didn't bother to write a review (as other sites like pinballnews are faster and write a more in-depth review that I could do after playing two or three games on a brand new machine). A while ago I also played a few games on a brand new Iron Man machine, but I was always more checking out things on the playfield (what to shoot for, how's the artwork, ..) than ie looking at the display.

Anyway, this weekend for the first time in many years I went to a local pinball competition. It was organised in a very impressive looking gameroom, with a sweet setup of games. I hadn't entered the competition so was playing for fun on a few of the latest Stern games (there was Iron Men, Batman Dark Knight and Spiderman next to eachother).
After playing IM and busy playing BDK, my brain finally started to work.
Wait.. all these games have a red display and not the regular orange dmd displays as we're used from Williams/Bally.. and those fuzzy animations, movie clips that have been captured and playback very badly on a red dmd.. I've seen this before !!

I've had a game like this many years ago, a Gottlieb World Challenge Soccer ! During gameplay it would show movie clips (of a soccer player passing a football, scoring a goal, ..) in a really crappy digitised format.. WCS isn't the only game, other Gottlieb games with dmd's had this too..

Stern has been doing this for a few years already, don't know how it comes I only really noticed last weekend how similar it is to what Gottlieb had been doing all time.