Inside the custom pinball machine, “This is Spinal Tap”

In the coming months, in addition to my regular chaotic addition of various repair, gameplay and maintenance videos, I’m going to be undertaking a new creative endeavor: making a custom pinball machine. As part of this process, I took a trip to the Texas Pinball Festival, paying close attention to what other people have done in this area. Here is a video of another enthusiast’s passion: a custom pinball machine themed after the movie, “This is Spinal Tap”. Here’s an impromptu video I shot while having a chat with the developers. I hope you enjoy it.

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Upgrading Gottlieb System 80 MPU board with new battery pack

One of the first things you have to do when you get an original Gottlieb System 80 game is deal with their on-board NiCad battery pack, if it has not already been addressed. Gottlieb installed these batteries on the actual MPU board itself and like on other games, it’s a common cause of serious problems with the game. The batteries begin to leak after awhile, releasing electrolytes that corrode the MPU board and the components on it. This can happen even if you don’t see any obvious leaks. The batteries need to be replaced. There are a few options you have to do this: a remote battery pack (3 AA batteries along with a blocking diode to keep them from being charged if they’re not rechargeable batteries), a 2032 lithium coin cell, or my favorite, a 5.5v 1.5F memory capacitor. The memory cap will last the longest and will not destroy any components on the board. It will keep a charge for at least a month or more without power. Here’s a video of me adding this fix to a Gottlieb System 80B MPU

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Upgrading eddy/proximity sensors on Bally/WMS games (Theater of Magic)

Recently I decided to replace the trunk eddy sensor on Theater of Magic with something more reliable than the original Bally/Williams proximity sensors. They are prone to “drifting” and will need regular adjustment. There’s a company that makes an auto-adjusting board that I wanted to try out, so here is my video showing the installation of that new board. This should make the game a little bit more reliable.

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Dignosing and fixing a dead WPC MPU board (with RAM upgrade)

In this video series, I am working on a client’s “Dr. Who” pinball machine that wouldn’t boot up. It was just dead. None of the diagnostic LED blinks would blink on the WPC-89 MPU board, so I go over the process of how to identify and isolate the problem, then I upgrade the board with NVRAM (non-volatile memory) so that it will never need batteries again.

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Bulletproofing pinball machines for public operation

Here’s a short video I did as I was working on a Fish Tales game about to be put on location. I go over a number of things I’m doing to make the game operate more reliably and some general tricks for reducing wear and tear on the game.

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