Monthly Archives: January 2017

1/29/2017 – Well, Goodbye Dolly!

Many times I write lines like above, and wonder what people who don’t speak English as their native language think about them.  I would say, 60 or 70% of readers are native English speakers.  That means that 30-40% of the people reading the site are probably going through some sort of translation service to read what I’m writing.  The title of this blog post is referring to a Broadway musical called “Hello, Dolly!”  Truth be told, I’ve never seen “Hello, Dolly”, so it probably doesn’t matter and it really has no bearing on pinball, or what I’m going to talk about in this post.  But there it is, so now everyone knows.

I remembered to take before pictures today.  (Usually I simply wish that I had taken before pictures, and then realize that I haven’t taken any.  Luckily, today I remembered).  This will be the last time it looks like a Dolly Parton machine.  I respect Dolly as a person, but really, I dislike her music immensely.  She does a lot of things with helping under privileged kids, such as  sending free books once a month when they are young.  She also donated a lot of money for disaster relief when the fires hit Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Before starting this, I spent an hour trying to find five or six songs that I liked, but I couldn’t find anything.  That means it is time for a retheme.

Let the pictures begin:

Little bit of damage on the cabinet, here and there.  The playfield is down to the bare wood.  I do love the Susan B Anthony dollar coin symbol, so that is staying.

Here are pictures of the backglass and the damage to it.  Lots of flaking especially around the dress area.


Old boards in Backbox

Here are all the old boards.  There is a lot of acid damage on the MPU board.  All four of these boards will be replaced with OPP boards and the Bally interface board.  There is probably going to be a Raspberry Pi to power it all.

So I started the tear down of the Dolly Parton machine this weekend.  I have a new thing that I hate to do in pinball.  It is trying to remove side rails.  What a pain in the butt.  There is simply no good, nor easy way to do it.  The new theme requires me to repaint the whole cabinet.  That means stripping the cabinet down completely.

Removing side rails requires using diagonal cutters to rotate the threaded nails that hold on the side rails, and slowly back them out.  The edge of the nail head is nearly flush with the cabinet, so every single nail takes a long time.  You are also trying to be very careful to not scratch the stainless steel rails because I’m going to reuse them in the final machine.  Because the nails are so flush with the cabinet, it is very difficult.  The diagonal cutters work well because they have tips that allow you to get on the edges, and grip the side of the nail heads.  The whole process takes me anywhere from five minutes to remove a nail, to a half hour if things go poorly.  Lot’s of time.

Right now one side rail is off, the cabinet door has been removed, and there are only six more nails in the other side rail.  The cabinet is in better shape than the Sharpe Shooter cabinet, and I won’t need to modify it to get parts from other manufacturers to work in it.  All of that points to some easier aspects in the retheme.

The retheme is a little incognito but if you search around on the web, Joe posted it somewhere that I won’t mention.  Joe Zenkus is doing the art work for this retheme because he is the busiest guy in pinball.  That’s all I have for today.  Thanks, as always Joe!


1/19/2017 – PwrFilter/Bally Intf boards received

Yesterday the boards came in from ITeadStudio.  Their newest cheap shipping option (SF E-Parcel) is really fast.  So I ordered the boards on 1/5/2017 (yeah, it was late Thursday night).  They shipped the boards on 1/12/2017.  I received the boards on 1/18/2017.  That’s about a two week turn including shipping which is really fast.  The shipping was only about $14 for two sets (10 boards) of 10cm x 10cm boards.  Nice!  Unfortunately my cheap 36V SMPS power supply hasn’t arrived yet, but as soon as that gets here, I can do some quick testing on the power filter board.  It is such a simple board that it should only take a day to verify it is working properly.

I built up a filter board tonight and took a couple pictures.  I’m happy after visually inspecting the boards, and look forward to getting the power supply to test even further.  This should clean up the back box of SS3 and make it quieter (the 4 cheap PC power supplies that I used have very loud fans.  It doesn’t matter when the glass is in the backbox, but when debugging, the fan noise is bothersome.)  I must also say, that I’m really sick of listening to the theme song to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.  When playing, a game, it plays continuously on a loop.  I think that I could sing it in my sleep at this point.

The power filter board can be used to add bulk cap to 2 voltages or to 1 voltage.  (plated through holes are provided to tie the two planes together if the board is only used for a single voltage which is the configuration that I built up).  In that case, you only need one NTC thermistor, and one PChannel FET.  In the two voltage situation, you need two of those parts.  The board should insure that the SMPS will not incorrectly detect a spike when flippers are activated.


Populated power filter board. Shows input connector and NTC thermistor.


Populated power filter board. Shows filtered output connector and interface connector.

The bottom 6 pin connector contains 3 pins for each of the voltage sections.  For each section, one pin is ground, and the other pin enables the PChannel FET if it is grounded.  That can be controlled by a processor, or if you want to always have the voltage on, you can just use a 100 mil jumper between the ground pin and the PChannel FET.  If you want it to act like a normal pinball machine, you can add a normally closed switch on the cabinet door, and when the door is opened it breaks the connection and disables the high power voltage.  The last pin provides a digital output that can be read by a processor to check if the voltage is enabled.  (Just a simple voltage divider to provide the appropriate voltage for your processor).  That allows a message to be printed on an LCD screen or whatever.  Hey, the board even has two indicator LEDs to indicate that the voltage is hot.

I also now have all the parts for the Dolly retheme.  It is going to take a couple days for me to build up the OPP boards, but since I just received the Bally interface boards, nothing is stopping me from starting on that machine.  I’m currently moving faster on that machine than I was expecting.  Below is the blurriest picture ever to be added as part of a blog.  (Sorry).  I didn’t realize it was so blurry until after I took it off the camera, and I was too lazy to take another picture.


Bally interface board to OPP board

The large slashes through the connectors done in silkscreen note the pins on the connectors that are keyed.  That should make it easier to plug and unplug connectors because you can scan the key in the connector and line it right up.  That board hasn’t been populated yet.

01/14/2017 – New video of SS3 game play

Just a quick note that a new video was posted on the youtube channel.  SS3 is now playable.  Yes!  I’ll continue to work on it for the next few months so that it is much more polished than the last time that it was seen at Pintastic 2015.

Besides that, just received the parts for populating the filter power boards, and for redoing the Dolly machine.  I received a note from ITeadStudio that my boards shipped, so I should receive those in the next one or two weeks.  The new single power supply has been ordered to make SS3 run on a 36V SMPS and a single PC power supply instead of the 5 PC power supplies that it currently runs on.

Have a great weekend.

1/5/2017 – Filter and Bally Intf PCBs ordered

So the Power Supply filter boards, and Bally Interface boards got ordered today.  I was holding off on the order to save a little bit of money on the shipping from IteadStudio.  (Hey, a buck is a buck, right?)  I wanted to get them out this week, because Chinese New Year starts on 1/22/2016 and that closes the factories down for about 2 weeks.  By ordering this week it should give them plenty of time to ship the boards before that holiday hits.

So what the heck is the Bally Interface board alluded too by the title?  As you may recall, I have a Dolly Parton machine that I’ve been meaning to do a retheme.  The MPU board in it has massive amounts of acid damage, so that needs to be replaced.  (I actually bought a replacement board in Allentown about 5 years ago, but never bothered installing it.)  In the end, if I simply replace the MPU, I will have a working Dolly Parton with a completely destroyed playfield, and a backglass that is falling apart.  Sounds like a perfect machine to do a retheme so I can sand the playfield down to bare wood, replace the backglass with an LCD, and add some more rules to give a little more depth to the game.

Problem is that I don’t want to rewire the machine.  I had it up and running a bunch of years ago, and it was working at that point.  It booted and played, two of the five displays worked, etc.  Replacing the two displays would cost about as much as just throwing in an LCD monitor, so that is a no brainer.  Adding new rules requires a new MPU, so I might as well update it to use OPP boards to drive the machine.  That requires converting from the backbox boards in the cabinet to OPP boards.

The backbox of Dolly Parton has a transformer board.  (I’m not going to change anything on that board, and use it as is).  Then there is a lamp driver which was a simple low side driver for the lamps.  (I was actually expecting it to be a lamp matrix, but it turns out there is a wire for each controlled lamp).  Those two connectors will go to the interface board, and I will use six incandescent wing boards to give me the same functionality.  Next up are the two switch matrices (one for the cabinet and one for the playfield).  I was very surprised there were actually two separate switch matrices, but each his own.  For that, I’m going to add switch matrix support to the OPP firmware, so that will take up another four wing positions.  (The firmware will support up to 8×8 switch matrices.)  In Dolly, the cabinet is a 2×8 matrix, and the playfield is a 5×8 switch matrix.  Next is the solenoid driver board.   The board supports 20 solenoids, but the flippers are simply enabled using a relay.  The Bally interface board will support enabling and disabling flippers instead of grounding the flippers through the flipper buttons.  While Dolly only uses about 12 of the solenoids, I added the extra connectors, so the board could be used for other Bally machines with more solenoids such as Xenon.  The solenoid board also creates the regulated 12V and 5V for the processor.  Instead of generating those, I’m going to use a PC power supply.  A connector was added so the P4 motherboard connector could be plugged into the Bally interface board to tie the grounds of the PC power supply and the old transformer together.  I will end up adding a Raspberry Pi to drive the LCD monitor, and that should be all I need.

Here is a quick view of the PCB layout.  It was a pain to go through the old Bally schematics, but I needed to understand how all that of it was connected together to minimize the chances of needing to rewire stuff.  The schematics are very understandable after you figure out the notations that they were using at the time.  Some things were not as clear as I hoped, but on the whole, they were very good schematics.


Bally Interface Board

So since this is the first post of the new year, we can talk about numbers from last year.  We were pretty close to hitting 10,000 page views for last year, but alas, we fell 100 hits short.  In the end, there were 9,900 views.  Pretty amazing to me.  I could have added another post right before the end of the year, but that just seemed to me that I was trying to gin up the numbers.  There is really no point to that.

That being said, I’m pretty sure this is going to be the last major year for the OPP blog.  I’m running out of things to discuss, and if I get everything done that I’m planning, there really won’t be any other hardware that needs to be done.  I’ll still be around, but I doubt if I will keep updating the blog as frequently.  As I come up with pinball related stuff, I will blog about it, but beyond that it is going to slow down significantly.  But this year, 2017, the blog entries will come fast and furious.

That’s all for now.