Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Hole repair part 5

Finally worked a bit further on the Black Hole..
Last time I worked on it was about a month ago, the cpu didn't boot anymore after replacing a lot of corroded parts.

I can solder pretty good (not perfect), was sure I had put all the correct parts in the correct places, so thought it probably were 2 components shorting against each others..
Turns out my idea was correct. Investigated the cpu, measured continuity between every two solder points that were close together, and compared with a spare cpu board I have laying around.
Found two solder points that made continuity, that didn't on the other board. Visibly there wasn't anything wrong so it must have been a very thin trace.. Scratched between the solder points with the tip of the probe of the dmm and continuity was gone. Inspected the rest of the board, didn't find any other problems.

Put the cpu back in the game.. always an exciting moment.. and yes, after about 5 seconds the score displays illuminated !

At least one problem solved, we're making progress again.

The game still doesn't work completely. Popbumpers don't work. At least the fuses don't immeadiately blow anymore, they just don't work at all. Will trace the +5v again on the boards..
Flippers also don't work :-( I'll have to check the Q-replay underneath the playfield.
Some coils do work, like the outhole and drop target reset coils.

For some reason I have problems with this Q-relay. One set of contact points on the game just burns ?!! as if there's too much voltage going over it ?? Last month when troubleshooting it I had already replaced the blade contacts with those from the Q-relay of a game I parted.. they were good..
Now the cpu is fixed, I had started a game, heard a fuzzing noise from the back of the machine.. inspected the Q relay and one set of contactpoints is again a bit burnt ?? :-(

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Badly soldered BR3 caused weak coils

Repaired a WPC pinball machine this week. Fuse F112 on the powerdriver board always blew, because BR3 had shorted.

Replaced BR3 with a new bridge rectifier. Worked quickly in less than ideal conditions (dark environment, above the playfield, ..).
Put the powerdriverboard back into the game, played a game to test everything.
I noticed some coils were weak: the automatic ball launch could barely get the ball onto the playfield, an upkicker also could barely kick the ball high enough so it got onto a ramp, sometimes it fell back down into the kicker..
Weird ?!

What really was strange was that the behavior wasn't consistent. The ball wouldn't get launched onto the playfield (just couldn't make the ramp) and rolled back in the shooter lane.. and a second kick of the coil would kick it hard enough and then it would end up nicely at the back of the playfield. The upkicker would try one or two times and then the pinball did make it correct.

Time to check everything I changed and parts involved.
The bridge rectifier was the correct type. Checked the new fuse I had put into to make sure this was also a good type. Checked all connectors. Measured voltage at the coils, which was also high enough. (I first thought it would be too low.)
And still the coils were weak ??

Double checked the bridge rectifier I had replaced. When I had soldered it in, it was almost touching the heatsink of the transistor that's below BR3. I had pushed BR3 a bit above so there was some more distance between the parts. Pushed BR3 again, and one leg came loose ?  Oops.. Seems it wasn't soldered well enough - one of the metal legs of the bridge rectifier didn't completely go through the board but ended about level with it. Either the connection was too thin for a lot of current to pass, or maybe there was some vibration that caused it.. anyway I resoldered the leg, added a bit more solder to all legs to be sure, and the problem was solved ?!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pinball museum visit

Had a busy pinball weekend - saturday we went on a trip to a pinball museum in Neuwied, Germany.
It was open from 2pm till 6pm.. we had left early enough to be there at opening time but because of a huge traffic jam we only had less than 2 hours there. :-(
Couldn't play as many games as I wanted, so we plan to return again in a few months :-)
Nikky loved Rapid Fire - Peter set a highscore on AFM and was happy to play another Robocop, Michel found the moaning sounds on Hardbody obscene, and I took a lot of pictures :-)

This weekend was also the Rosmalen Rock around the Jukebox show. Usually we go early on saturday morning, but with the pinball museum visit on that day, I visited it only sunday afternoon.
It was interesting, in my opinion there were a little bit more pinball machines and parts for sale.
Met a lot of people. Henk de Jager presented an electro-mechanical bingo machine he totally created himself. He also had his latest book for sale, unfortunately only in dutch at the moment, about how to read schematics from electro-mechanical pinball machines.

Anyway, enough things to write a few new articles so keep your eyes on the site in the next weeks..

Article about our visit to the pinball musem.
Article about the Rosmalen jukebox show.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fixed a CSS bug - text-decoration does not cascade.

A new visitor of my site emailed me with some comments, which I appreciate.
I always try to improve my site, but it became too large (over 350 pages) to review every page manually.. and sometimes changes on one page have an effect on other pages.

The remark was that links were difficult to see in articles as they looked the same as the regular text.

That wasn't correct - I know that in my CSS I define links to be dark blue and underlined.
Checked it with different browsers, different versions, and yes the remark was correct; It seems there's a bug in Firefox and also in some IE versions, depending on compatibility mode.

For the layout of my website I use CSS (cascading style sheets). This is a file that is referenced from every page on my site, that describes how html elements that make up the website look like.
If I want to change the red, white and yellow/orange background on my site into other colors, this is one change I have to do in this file and it's immediately changed for all pages.
Style sheets are cascading - you can put html elements inside others and they will inherit all settings from their parent element unless it's overruled at a lower level.

Now it seems there's a bug with this inheritance/cascading for the text-decoration property of links.
I set text-decoration:none;  on links at high level in the page layout.
This is to prevent the language links, footer links and others to not show up in blue and underlined, like links look like by default. Also on the homepage all large titles are links, but they don't look that way - as I want them to look like large titles.

On a lower level in the html layout, there's a box that contains the actual text of the article (the yellow looking background, which is inside the large white box). There I overrule with text-decoration:underline on links. And that did not work.
Seems there's a bug and once you set text-decoration on a div, nested divs will keep this layout, even if you overrule it.

I fixed it by not setting the text-decoration:none at the highest level anymore. Luckily when I made the layout for this site I put enough containers around each part (language select, footer, topper, main content, menu linsk, ..) so I can set the properties for each div and span tag individually. With a few changes in the css (and none in the html pages of each article) it should look fine now.
Header/footer and main page do not show links as underlined, but within text of articles they should be dark blue and underlined.
The css file is cached on your browser, so if you have visited my site a few days ago you have to refresh once on a page with Ctrl-F5 to see the change.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Check your batteries !

Not the first time I blog about this, I have a warning on my site also to make sure people check for leaked batteries in their pinball machines and regulary replace them.. but still, even I get affected by them :-(

I know it's my own fault, should have listened to my own warnings; but every time I think I should check the batteries in all my games I just postpone it and then forget about it..

A week ago I switched on my Attack from Mars pinball machine and got the Factory settings restored warning message. Oops ?!

Opened the backbox, checked the remote battery holder, and saw that one of the batteries had leaked.
It had already happened a while ago, I just threw the whole battery holder away. They're cheap and I'm not bothering with cleaning it up and taking a risk the damage is still there.
The batteries were old, probably over 5 year.. same type as those in my CV that leaked last year. Can't remember when I bought and installed them.

Installed new batteries tonight (finally spent some time in the gameroom), made some adjustments (free play, 5 balls, ..)  and started to play. After winter I really have to shop this machine. One rollover switch doesn't work, one popbumper doesn't work, ..  not much fun to play anymore. Still need to install less powerful flippercoils (they're brutal now) and I also have new cabinet decals.
Played a few games, best result was just over 7,5 billion, just enough to put a GC score.

I should not have played but inspected all my machines to check their batteries.. but I didn't. Maybe next time I have some spare time in my gameroom. Or maybe not, they're all in remote battery holders.
Maybe I'll just wait until the next factory settings restored message;.