Archive for the ‘maintenance’ Category

The Star Wars update I don’t want to make

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Obviously, I haven’t posted the update on the repairs to Atari Star Wars’ monitor I promised.  After a few attempts to track down the problem, I had to throw in the towel.  The monitor has been sent out for repair.  With any luck, it will come back sometime in August, and Star Wars will be playable again.

Star Wars updates

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Quick updates, because it’s later at night than I planned.  Will post more Monday/Tuesday, but for now:

First, the picture of the test rig for Star Wars Trilogy I promised.  The video is running to a monitor that isn’t really capable of running it, but if I’m wrong about what caused the monitor to fail this monitor needs repairs anyway, and it’s easier and cheaper to repair than the one that will be going into Trilogy.

So far, so good.  Nothing on the monitor has failed, so hope to have it back in the arcade sooner rather than later.

And, second, Atari Star Wars is out of order.  Again.  Haven’t had time to test it yet to determine exactly what’s wrong, but we have narrowed it down:

First step (after discharging the monitor for safety), will be to check under the burned area and make sure the circuit board doesn’t need repairs.  Then replace the burned resistor (the white thing over the burned area) and blown capacitor (the orange thing to the right, under the wires), and test all the other parts to make sure nothing else is damaged.  I also just realized looking at the picture that I need to check and make sure the power cable isn’t damaged.  I also need to dig up my troubleshooting guides and make sure that there isn’t something else that could be wrong with the game.  Should have a better idea of how long it’ll take tomorrow.

On the plus side, the current problems seem to be completely unrelated to what put it out of order last time, so at least I can be happy about that.

Thanks for reading, and please check back in the next day or two for updates.

Hitting the wall

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Been working on Marvel vs. Capcom 2.  Game had stopped working, so ran a few tests.  Monitor is only displaying a line across the screen, and the game doesn’t boot.  Recapped the monitor, checked it over, everything looks fine.  Had a part on the game board that was corroded, waited several days for the part I needed to arrive in the mail (I miss the days when electronics stores stocked more than just the basic parts and cell phones…), installed it, fired the game up…

Screen is a warped line across the screen.  (insert colorful metaphor here)!  However, the game booted, so I figure I must have done something right.  Try to coin the game up, and no sound.  I did exactly nothing that in any way should have been able to affect the sound system.  With no picture beyond the thin line, I can’t tell if it took the credit without sound.

So my brain starts chewing on the latest problems.  Need to pull the monitor for further testing, and jump the game board to an external monitor and see what I get on the screen.  No problem.

Except that my fist won’t unclench.  This is what is called ‘hitting the wall.’  I was actually getting angry at the game for not working.  I’ve got several difficult projects going currently (needing to learn playfield repair for Addams Family, among other things.  I didn’t post about the small fire in one of the pins I’m working on, did I?  Hmm, next post, then) and really thought Marvel vs. Capcom 2 would be easy.

So to make a long story short, I’m taking a break.  I love arcade games and pinball.  I LOVE working on them.  I spend a heck of a lot of time reading about arcade repair and restoration.  In a few days, I’ll go back to work on the game, and post an update.

Lord of the Rings pinball post-mortem

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Now that the game is back in the arcade (and I have no idea where the screw that jammed the Gollum/Gimli upkicker came from…sigh…), I wanted to make a post about the changes that have been made to the game.

First, LED lighting has been installed, and for the most part I like it.  The general illumination lighting is noticeably ‘colder’ than with incandescent lights (which is why we kept incandescent lights on the back arch of the game), but I don’t think it looks bad.  I LOVE the bright colors produced by putting colored LEDs under the playfield inserts, and am looking forward to rarely having to change a bulb (there are a couple lights out right now, which is caused by the new bulbs not being an exact fit.  This should be easy to correct).

Second, as was done on the Simpsons pinball machine, we switched the side rails to the newer kind that covers the flipper area, which both looks and feels better.  Sadly, the newest pinball machine, Big Buck Hunter Pro, is shipping with the older side rails.  I understand the need to keep production cost down, but personally don’t believe this is the place to do it.

lotr flipper wearlotr pin with shield installed

(sorry the after picture is so dark)

Third, we installed Pinbits plastic protectors to help prevent the playfield plastics from becoming broken.  I love the protectors, having had to replace plastics on Lord of the Rings and Spiderman that would never have broken if I’d installed these first.  Given that the replacement parts are more expensive than the protectors, I consider them money VERY well spent.

And forth, the new product that will be installed in all of the pinball machines at the shop.  A DMD glare filter.  The before and after picture should say everything for me (or looking at the pin in person, then looking at the pin next to it).  Glare on the upper playfield from the DMD is something that I, as a player, hate, and this product is easy to install and eliminates the problem.

lotr pin dmd glarelotr pin with dmd glare filer

And now I can FINALLY get back to work on the Addams Family, figure out what is wrong with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and get to work on our not-so-secret project (hint, it includes the letter x, the word box, and the abbreviation LAN.  And that’s all the clues I’m giving…)

Lord of the Rings, part 2

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Haven’t really gotten to work yet due to a headache, but here’s the picture of the current lighting:

Pre-light replacement while doing maintenance on Lord of the Rings pinball

As you can see, I forgot to rotate the image.  Also, almost all the general illumination lights are burned out (surprisingly, not a single under-playfield light is burned out), which makes the game harder to see, and thus less fun.  Although replacing light bulbs can be a bit of a pain, sometimes requiring removing a great deal of the playfield parts to get to one light, it’s also very important.  So I’m trying something new with this cleaning:


I’m going to be replacing all the lights (almost all, there are a few bulbs that need to be able to fade in and out, which LED bulbs can not do) with LED bulbs, in this case ordered from (different styles of LED bulbs can also be ordered from other suppliers, including  The bulb life on LEDs means I should rarely need to replace one, and they also run much cooler, meaning they don’t damage the plastic in the game and consume less power.  If they look good, I will probably replace the lights in the other machines too.

I was going to post pictures of an area of the game I need to repair, but I forgot to charge the battery in my camera, and it’s the type that must be removed to recharge.  I really need to buy a second battery.  So, more later, probably tomorrow.

Back, with Lord of the Rings news

Friday, March 5th, 2010

As you may have noticed, the Lord of the Rings pinball machine has left the building.  Fear not, it will return in a few days (assuming a box can get from the postal hub in Federal Way in two days…), after some very much needed TLC.

More will be posted in the afternoon, after I have a chance to fire it up.  A LOT more.  I plan on fully documenting the cleaning and repair, so you can see just what goes in to maintaining a pinball machine (and so you can see what happens if an operator, sadly me in this case, fails to do routine maintenance).  For now, a few pictures:

First, before.  Again, a pin should be cleaned BEFORE it gets like this.

LotR pinball dirty

And second, a picture after a few passes with some Novus no. 2 plastic polish.  This is only the beginning, but already much better.

Same LotR pinball after a few passes with Novus

Next, I’ll fire it up and check the lights (most of the general illumination lights are burned out, which will be posted about in detail later) before I take anything apart.  Which will happen after I get some sleep.

Donkey Kong 3

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Donkey Kong 3 is back in the arcade following extensive repairs to the monitor.

Road Blasters has also returned, again following monitor repairs.  The foot pedal has also been repaired, so the game should be one heck of a lot more fun now!

Chase H.Q., meanwhile, has been removed, to be auctioned for charity in October.  Details will be posted as soon as I can look the game over to make sure it’s ready.

Simpsons looks like it will be an easy repair, so expect it back up and running in the next couple days.  If it is an easy fix, I can FINALLY go back to work on Addams Family.

And finally, a note on Guitar Hero.  We will be looking at the earnings reports for the machine, and figuring out if we can drop the price on the premium games.  Best way to vote for a price drop?  Play the normal songs and let Dan know, politely, that you would like the price to drop on the others.

Thanks for playing!

Error exists between keyboard and chair!

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Couple quick updates.

First, problem solved with images.  Subject of post is about all I’ll say about what was going on…

And on that note, assuming it isn’t raining, Mario Brothers should return to the arcade on Friday.  Monitor isn’t perfect (need to replace several transistors before it’ll be perfect, so that’ll happen later).  It turned into a mini-restoration, with new t-molding being installed, and a few parts of the cabinet getting some touch up paint.  Which would have been done in time to take the game back Wednesday, had somebody (that would be me) remembered to make sure he had a paint brush before starting…

new t-moldingafter t-mlding, before painting

Pictures above show the old t-molding, followed by a picture of the new t-molding, and a control panel shot showing the wear around the panel (may have to zoom to see it), and the old stickers below.

Haven’t played this game in years, and after working on it for a while,  remember why.  This is an amazingly fun game, especially with two players.  I absolutely, positively STINK at this game!  I’m doing good if I get to the first bonus round.  For those who aren’t at my level of incompetence at this game, I hope you enjoy it when it returns!


Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I’m having problems with images, so probably not starting the pinball articles until tomorrow, but figured I’d pop in with a quick update on the projects in the arcade.

First order of business is to repair the monitors for Mario Brothers and Roadblasters.  I have also gone back to work on restoring the Addams Family pinball machine.  No clue how long that will take, as I’m actually taking the time to repair the artwork on the playfield.  When Addams Family is done I will pull the Lord of the Rings pinball and fix it up, as well as install flipper protectors like the ones I put on the Simpsons.

Not sure what will be tackled after that, but it’s the nature of arcade games that something will be broken and need fixing, probably before I’m ready for it!


Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

It is slightly bizarre to realise that I last posted in October.  I’m not the best at regular updates to begin with (cue Wall of Voodoo singing ‘Let’s Do It Tomorrow’), even at the best of times, and the last half year has seen:

A quick pinball restoration (Star Wars Trilogy, which will get it’s own post soon) turn out to be anything BUT quick.

Snow bad enough that we couldn’t actually get into our workshop followed by the shop flooding (with the water pooling and flowing everywhere EXCEPT where it would damage anything important, so it could have been MUCH worse, just took a long time to dry).

Me type up a large post about adding the Global Arcade Classics machine, Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and not realise I hadn’t hit post until MONTHS later.

And then a medical issue came up that ground everything to a screaching halt for a few months.  Carrie is all better now, and we’re back to full speed.

In the last few weeks, I have been tackling the much-neglected pinball machines, which will each get it’s own post soon, and today we added a new game to the arcade, GUITAR HERO ARCADE!

More updates to come after I’ve slept, starting with a better writeup on Guitar Hero.