Thursday, December 30, 2010

double use of a gun-game

My Midway Captain Kid game doubles as a bicycle rack..

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry christmas

Merry christmas everyone !

I already opened some gifts, got even one for my own.. stuff to polish metal:sandpaper in all types and polishing compound.
Will experiment with it soon..

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nikon D90 CHA error

My Nikon D90 camera started to give problems a few weeks ago.
After taking a few pictures it just blocked, showing CHA and ERR on the top display.

The camera completely froze, the only way to get it working again was taking out the battery. I first thought it was some compatibility problem with my Metz flash (as it started to occer when I used my flash more often), but after taking a series of pictures without flash it was obvious this was not the culprit.

The CHA error means there is a problem with the SD memory card.
I luckily have a spare 4gb card, put that one in, and since then I haven't seen the error come back.

Dont know how my 8gb memory card became bad..
I usually format it in my camera (which does it very quick), have now formatted it too on the computer (which took a bit longer, so maybe it was more thorough).
When I have some time I'll put that memory card back in and see if the error comes back..

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Midway Captain Kid gun game repair

Yesterday evening I finally continued working further on my Midway Captain Kid rifle game. We bought this many months ago, it did start but only half of the features worked.

This summer I had already removed the large bank with targets that's at the bottom of the game. I cleaned everything. You can't imagine how much better the game looks with all dirt wiped off ! Colors are again fresh and bright.
Replaced some wires to the moving pirate assembly as some wires had just completely melted. I had assembled it again but then the gun didn't register anymore for some reason.

Since then the game just sat in a corner, I had too many other things to do that were more important.

Yesterday evening I finally started checking out this game.

What I did first was put the game on its side and remove some damaged wood at the bottom. Along the edge there is some wood, half of it was damaged and missing, which made the game unstable. I removed all the damaged wood so not it stands on its flat bottom. I did put some sticky felt at the bottom to protect the floor.
In our house we have damaged too many floors in the past because of pinball or other arcade games with sharp or damaged feet/leg levellers. Now we've installed new tiles and a new wood floor in our living room and we will take care of it. Any game that comes in now is checked and action is immediately taken so it can not damage our floors anymore..

Next step was putting the targets assembly back in. (I had removed it to make the game lighter when I was going to tip it on its side)
Then I tried to test it.. but the game just didn't do anything ?
Not one light lit up. Weird. Normally when you plug it in at least the lights should come on..
I have a step-down transformer from 220volts to 110v (the machine is old and only works on 110v input, it cannot be jumpered to 220v). So I was careful and checked if the transformer still did its thing and 110v arrived into the game.
(A few months ago I had also replaced the power wire as that was severely damaged and replaced all fuse holders).

Power seemed to arrive into the game but still nothing worked.
Flicked the power switch a few times, no difference.
Weird, as it had worked a few months ago ?

Now I'm getting nervous. I do not like working around transformers - you really have to be careful. Especially when not one light works so it's not obvious if the game has power or not (and what parts). So although nothing lit up, it was very possible that line voltage was present in every part of the game.
I was sure to double check each time if the game was plugged in or not before I touched anything. Traced the wiring going to the fuses, transformer, power switch, ..
Didn't learn a thing, didn't find a problem.
Note on these old games, part of the line voltage is always present at the transformer and fuses once the game is plugged in, no matter if it's switched on or off !

Some parts of this game (like the recoil coil underneath the gun) even need 110v to work. So when working on an old machine like this you always have to be careful what to touch and what wires to measure, even with the wiring deep inside the cabinet.. I'm not comfortable working on games like this.. but I do hope to get it working soon.
Output of the transformer are 6 volts (for lights), 50 volts (for motors/relays) and 110 volts (for some ligthbulbs and coils).

Anyway switching the machine on or off didn't change anything ? In the end I began to doubt if the power switch worked at all. As the switch is located on top of the machine and I would never use it in home-use (I just unplug the game or put it on an extension cord with a switch) I thought the best was to simple remove (override) it.
Cut both wires going to the switch and connected them permanently.
Tested again.. and yes, at least now the game lit up !
So it was a broken power switch after all.

The game still worked half, just like before.
You can start a game, time starts to run, you can fire shots, and it ends the game correct with time is up or you've had enough shots.
So that's already a pretty good situation I found.

What doesn't work are some individual features. Repairing them shouldn't be too hard as they are all controlled by a their specific relays (which are clearly labelled in the backbox).

The large disk with targets goes around and registers shots correctly (which is pretty neat, a small coil retracts each target as you hit it).
At first the game is completely lit, and after 5 or 10 shots (don't remember exactly, I think 5) the game goes dark and you shoot with only the blacklight on.
This is a pretty cool effect as all targets are decorated with special luminous paint.

Shoot enough targets and the flags on both sides should become active. A motor pulls them up pretty fast and they drop down when you can't shoot them before they reach the top.
This feature doesn't work correctly on my machine - only 1 flag moves up and it doesn't register shots :-(

Finally there's a pirate at the bottom which also should move around (that's the assembly that had completely melted wires). It also doesn't move at all during gameplay.
Have to check this too. I already manually activated some relays in the backbox and that let the assembly turn in one direction. Another relay that controls the direction seemed to stick a bit (they're actually 2 small relay coils mounted against each other, when one moves down the other just has enough space to move up).

I looked at all these relays in the backbox. One has a broken metal contact point. Have to be creative to repair it as I don't have replacement parts for Midway..
A few others didn't move very well, I will disassemble and clean them. I think the best will be to clean them all one by one and measure them with my dmm, as I checked a few and not all gave good contact..
Once that is all done I hope a few features work more..

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Funhouse is back

Sunday evening I finally was able to buy a Funhouse pinball machine again !
It's my Christmas gift for my wife :-)

This is already the third Funhouse game we have since we started with pinball machines.. the first one we had bought back in 2001 I think.. sold it after about a year to make room for more games. We were new to pinball machines and bought and sold a lot of different titles as we didn't know yet which ones we would enjoy more.

Then we missed it (it's one of the only games we really missed after having sold it), looked around for a nice example (most are played to death, have major playfield damage, inserts that raise above the playfield wood, ..).
As that machine was going to be a keeper we looked around for about a year until we found one that I really liked and was in good condition. I wanted it to have a reasonable good cabinet (this was before new cabinet decals were available) and a good playfield. If I remember correct it had a bit of playfield wear but not much (only the traditional wear below the kickout on the right and a bit between the bumpers). It did not have a playfield mylar on it, so the blue paint had not been discolored.
I think we kept that machine for 3 years. About 3 years ago we had a dip in collecting pinball machines and sold off a few games, we let this one go.

Last month my wife said she really missed her Funhouse. About a week later I found this machine for sale.. what a coincidence ! and a good excuse to buy a Funhouse pinball again (as it really is a great game) ! The price was reasonable (certainly not a steal, but its condition was good enough to consider it.
Now the gameroom is really full again.

The machine is in quite good condition. Cabinet is faded (maybe I'll ever buy new cabinet decals for it) but has no scratches, .. There are some technical issues, but I'm able to fix them. It needs a new battery holder and a new gear for Rudys jaw. Some teeth are broken off, his jaw does not stay open so you cannot start multiball (making the game no fun to play at all).
One coil also didn't work well but I already fixed it, maybe I'll need to replace the coil later if the problem comes back.
Finally the eyes don't work well. The eyelids don't close completely, and the eyes don't move left or right at all. I already peeked in his head and noticed some parts are completely missing (like the metal wire that connects both eyes) :-(
Hope I'll be able to find the missing parts as not all are common..
But that's for later, when I ever shop the game completely then I'll disassemble Rudys head.
The metal lampsign near the diverter that illuminates the trapdoor is also completely missing :(

The playfield itself is in rather good condition. This game probably has less games on it than most average Funhouse machines you find..
The playfield has mylar installed, which is still in good condition. The clock inserts are still level, the mylar only has a few small bubbles above them.

Amazingly there is no wear at the right kickout or between the bumpers ?!
There is only some wear in the clear red color at the very left side of the game, where the pinball drops out of the steps ramp onto the playfield.
That's something I can touch up later.

Finally the ramps are also in good condition, a few have a small crack at the entrance but no pieces have broken off. After cleaning, flamepolishing and installing Cliffy protectors, they will probably look brand new.

That goes for the whole machine.. it looks already good enough as it is now, and should I ever decide (and find time) to do a complete restoration of it, it will probably look very good.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Majorettes is ready

Our Gottlieb Majorettes wedgehead pinball machine is restored and in our house !

Henk De Jager had completed it already a few weeks ago (just before the Rosmalen jukebox show), but we didn't have room in our house as we were renovating the living room.. then our car broke down just the day before Nikky had planned to pick up the game. :-( (luckily the car was fixed a day later, but our meeting with Henk was delayed for a week)

Last week Nikky was finally able to drive all the way to Amsterdam to meet Henk and pick up the game. Nothing was going to stop her, even not a snow storm !
A few days before it had started to snow in Belgium and the Netherlands, road were blocked, traffic jams everywhere,.. but Nikky was going to retrieve that game and not delay it for another week. She drove over 5 hours in total.

Was it worth it ? Definitely !
Henk did a beautiful job restoring the wiring on the game back to original condition. Everything now works like it should.
Majorettes got a nice place in our new living room, it's the center piece of attention and I often play it..

Henk put in a 5 cents coin mechanism (the game isn't on free play) so I'm saving up all my small change :-) This week at the bakery I deliberately paid with coins so I would get a 5 euro cent piece in return (which I used to play a game with).

A friend came over yesterday and also had to play a few games..
The first days when I set the game up, I had put black rubber cups underneath the leg levellers, so it wouldn't scratch our tile floor. However this makes the game really stick in position, it's difficult to nudge. And nudging is really necessary when you want to play an electro-mechanical pinball machine like this ! Most of the skill involved when playing these old games is less about aiming with flippers, but controlling the ball and nudging it.
So therefor I now put some sticky felt patches underneath the rubber cups. That way it's a bit easier to nudge and move the game around.

On Majorettes nudging the game is even more required than with other electro-mechanical pinball machines. To earn an extra ball (the game is add-a-ball: you start with 5 pinballs but can earn more) you need to hit each of the 5 yellow or red popbumpers in sequence. The 5th bumper on each side however is positioned below the flippers ! So either you lose the pinball when trying to light it, but the 'outlanes' (not really outlanes like on a modern pinball machine as there's no metal divider) are really big with a large rubber ring at the bottom, and there's a hole between the flippers which will kick the pinball back onto the playfield.
Part of the gameplay is to try and get the pinball below the flippers, have it hit the 5th popbumper, and shake it back into the game by either bouncing the pinball off the rubber bands above the flipper bats, or into the hole.

I love it.

Gameplay and rules are pretty simple. I'll describe the whole rules/layout:
at the top of the playfield there are 3 rollovers at each side. The outer lanes score 50 points, the two others put out a letter (ABCD) and only 10 points. But get all letters and you earn an extra ball. Decisions, decisions..

At the top of the playfield there's a target that scores 100 points, and may be lit for extra balls by each row of popbumpers. Great ! So if you're good you can light both rows of popbumpers, hit this target and not only score 100 points but add 2 extra balls at the same time !

Below this target there's a hole that scores 50 points, and will kickout the ball against the 100 points target above it. Wow !! 150 points in one go - and if you're lucky the pinball will bounce back into the hole and this will repeat one or two times..
but if you're unlucky the pinball will miss the hole, come down roll down the playfield with a lot of speed, go between the flippers and jump right over the hole between the flippers and drain....

At the left and right are 5 bumpers in a straight line below each other, you have to light them in sequence. On the sides is a little lane which scores 30 points, and can be lit for an extra ball when you've lit all popbumpers of the opposite side.
As said, the 5th bumper is positioned below the flippers, and between the flippers there's another hole that will kick the pinball back onto the playfield.
That's it. No other mechanisms, no bonus to earn, ...
Just a plain add-a-ball pinball machine.

Playing this game does require some strategy - do you go for high points ? Then you're better off trying to get the ball through the outer lanes when it enters the playfield (getting 50 points instead of 10, but not getting a letter for an extra ball). And you try to get the pinball into the hole and hit the target for 100 points.
Or do you want to play for extra balls and play a long time ? Then you mainly try to get the popbumpers lit in sequence and earn letters, and concentrate less on the high scoring target..
This strategy can be dangerous however - it happened to me a few times that on my first pinball played I was able to light both yellow and red bumpers up to number 4.
But with the next pinball played you have to let it roll down quickly towards the bottom of the playfield trying to light popbumpers number 5.. with a high risk of draining - and either all of the next pinballs drained without lighting the 5th bumper, or I could light it but was not being able to earn the lit extra ball higher on the playfield.. so what looks like a simple and easy playfield layout is actually deceiving.

Next Stern game is Rolling Stones

Usually I don't announce every new Stern game here, but to follow up a previous post
(where it was rumored to be Mortal Kombat) - it's been semi-officially confirmed the next Stern game is Rolling Stones.

(semi-officially announce: not by Stern themselves on their site or anything, that they'll do only when the game is starting in production, but through distributors of them)

It's over a year there were rumours going around about a music/rock band theme.
This is one title I'm interested in.. Avatar or Iron Man didn't interest me at all, but Rolling Stones ? Not that I'd buy one but I am curious on how the theme is implemented, what songs, the artwork, game rules, ... so when one is available in Belgium I want to check it out!