Monthly Archives: October 2013

Status 10/27/2013

Been busy the last couple of weeks.  All last week/this weekend was spent cleaning the Taxi playfield.  It isn’t sexy, but it was just using a large amount of elbow grease.  Lot’s of time you need to take off some mylars.  Maybe two layers of mylar.  This playfield had three layers of mylar.  The whole bottom of the playfield was completely covered.  Removing the mylar using freeze spray always goes really well.  Removing the adhesive stinks.  Especially the adhesive on inserts is very nasty.  I tried to use flour and IPA (isopropyl alcohol) to remove the adhesive.  I believe it worked better than using just goo gone.  I ended up getting blisters on my fingers from rubbing the adhesive off.  I finally finished it this morning at about noon.  As soon as that was done, did some major cleanup on the rest of the playfield with a magic eraser.  The game now looks better than it probably has for 15 years.  I’m hoping to have it back up and running by Halloween.

So two or three weeks ago, I bought an older populated playfield.  I didn’t even know what game it was, but it doesn’t really matter since I’m just going to use it to prove out the driver and input cards.  Turns out the playfield is an old Camelot EM.  I took a couple pictures of the bottom of the playfield swapping over to the new driver card.  After I finish rewiring it, I’m going do a couple before and after pictures.  It should demonstrate how many less wires a distributed design uses instead of a centralized old school design.  I don’t have enough cards to drive everything, but I should have enough to make it play.

Since it is an old EM, I have to add diodes to all the solenoids.  I’ve already run the high voltage line which is basically a 48V wire to the high side of all the solenoids.  That meant removing all the individually run wires and the relays that were controlling the pop bumpers/slingshots, etc.

I bought a pair of crimpers which should make crimping the wires a lot easier.  It can be done with one of the “universal” crimpers that are 30 or 40 dollars, but they stink and do a poor job.  The molex crimpers are about $250 which is too rich for my blood.  I found another , KF2510 Dupont crimper on ebay which costs about $26 total.  Since each input can take up to 32 crimps, and the solenoid cards can take another 16 crimps, it is well worth it.  (I plan to cut these in half by running a common ground wire so you only need a single signal crimp for each input.)  As soon as Taxi is back together, I will finish up the rewiring.  (Still waiting for my new soldering iron to show up.)

The Disaster Java application has been getting some major work.  Most of the code for the compiler has been removed, and now the application takes the rules file and is generating Java code that can be compiled.  This is about 70% done, and I’m getting very close to the first generating working.  It is currently not checked in, but that will hopefully in the next week or two.  I’m not going to talk to much about that since it isn’t checked in.  It was definitely the right decision as suggested by a couple of different people who commented on this site.  Thanks again for those suggestions.

This week I tried to get in touch with the one graphic designer that I know.  She has mentioned that she is still interested, but is currently moving.  Hopefully she will be able to do some graphic magic.

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Ratchet it back

Gotta get movin’.  Taxi machine is up and running.  Gulf Stream is up and running.  Those projects are right on track.

So I talked to Sarah over at Pinball Wizard arcade in Pelham, NH.  Basically I was begging for some pop bumper assemblies on the cheap.  She said, hey, I have a fully populated playfield.  I took a look at it, and immediately declined.  (This was last Sunday).  It was too expensive for what I was imagining in my mind.  Basically I just wanted two pop bumpers, and for the price I could have almost gotten them for new.  (Not saying the price was too expensive, just saying it was too much if all I was going to do was use the two pop bumpers).  I’ve been freaking lately because I have too much work to do, and getting a CNC machine up and running is going to be expensive or take a month or two to work out.

On Tuesday, I’m sitting at my desk at work and suddenly the idea comes to me.  Throw the Dolly playfield out of the cabinet and toss in the new playfield into Dolly’s cabinet.  I can then use my driver boards to drive the new playfield and I don’t have to route the playfield.  The playfield placement is already done.  Even if the original machine stinks (looks like an EM, so there will need to be some diodes added to the coils), I can still prove out the driver boards, input, and LED driving boards.  While I can’t prove out my playfield stack up idea, everything else can be achieved.

I immediately sent a note back to Sarah saying that I will take the playfield.  I will be picking it up on Sunday.  This week I bought a crimper (new work doesn’t have a crimper I can borrow), and I just need to get a bunch of crimps, some housings, etc.  Then I should be ready to roll.

One issue may be that I can only drive eight solenoids without building another driver card.  I can also only accept 16 inputs (excluding the solenoid fast inputs).  I don’t remember what was on the playfield because I immediately rejected it.  Worst case, I can either choose the solenoids to drive, or simply build a second card or two.

Status 10/6/2013

So there are a couple of machines that I’m task to get running by Thanksgiving.  While that probably doesn’t seem like that much of a push, but I have three machines that none of them are currently in running shape.  Let’s go through the list:

Taxi.  Mark and I fixed three pinball machines for Ed in Vermont, and at the end, I get a “working” Taxi machine that is in sad shape.  We fixed a POTC, Addams Family and High Speed II up like new.  Of the three, I think I enjoyed playing HSII the most.  One reason was that we had the machine for over six months.  (We tried to get a new beacon motor from Marco, but it turns out that their motors had issues.  It took them a long time to fix the issue, but they ended up needing to send all of their motors back to the manufacturer and getting new ones.  The nice part is that Marco listened to Mark and found the root cause of the error and fixed it.  Most dealers would not have spent the time).  I got to play a lot of games while waiting for the motor.  Well the “working” Taxi machine showed up a couple weeks ago, and it wouldn’t even boot.  Traced the issue down to a small fire that occurred in the backbox from a coil that was shorted.  Fixed that issue, and it seems to have killed the 5V supply.  I got the parts to fix the 5V supply on Thursday and fixed it on Friday.  That machine is now booting and playing, but there are many issues.

Gulf Stream.  Mark and I touched up and clearcoated the playfield.  The only thing that was still missing were the rails at the bottom of the playfield which were rusted beyond reuse.  I tried to buy rails to fabricate them from scratch but finally got in touch with Sarah from the Pinball Wizard Arcade, and she sold me some (for a great price).  She took me into the bowels of the back room and there is just a treasure trove of stuff back there.  She had a couple of old penny arcade style shooting games that she promises one of them are going out on the floor to play.  The only thing that doesn’t work on the Gulf Stream is that the letters aren’t staying lit.  It could just be that I don’t understand the rules of the machine, but I have to do some research.  This is the machine that I’m eventually hoping to make into a multiball.  (It will be my first “programming” of an EM machine).

Dolly Parton.  Major battery acid damage, and it hasn’t booted for about a year.  The playfield is in sad shape.  Stretch goal is to get it working by Thanksgiving.  I believe that it boots enough to run diagnostics, but I don’t know enough about Bally machines yet to run them.

Puck bowler.  Boots, but needs a lot of wood working to make it stay together.  I bought it and all the advance units were seized in the head.  They are now working, but each one still needs to be taken apart to cleaned properly.

The last thing that I’m working on is the small play field to verify the Disaster driver cards.  I started trying to get all the parts together.  I’m only missing two pop bumpers at this point and a couple of switches.  Since I don’t have the pop bumpers, I think that I will just go forward without them.  Next weekend is the York show, but I just can’t justify the 8 hour drive to try and pick up a couple of pop bumpers.  I even have free lodging for it, but the show is Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and I can’t take the time off work.  It would be easier just to grab them off Dolly for the short term.  If I had something to show, I would make the drive, but my goal is to have something to show next year.

To get the mini playfield working I need to do a lot of routing.  If I had access to a CNC router, it would make it a lot easier and more accurate.  Since I’m really only proving out the drivers, it isn’t that essential, but will be more essential if I need to make a run of machines.  The CNC router would probably take me a month or two to get up and running, which is time that I don’t want to spend right now.

As soon as the mini-playfield is running, I can begin the programming.  That is a month or two of work just to get a simple rule set running.  If I do it right, it should be easy to leverage that code later.