On many pinball machines like early solid state Bally and Stern games, you’ll often see little capacitors on most of the playfield switches. Sometimes they’re there but a leg is cut off. Why are they there? What do they do? And are they important? We’ll talk about that.
After getting my Trident operational, I installed the BSOS system and have been working on fine-tuning the custom code and sounds. Here’s a short demo of what the new Arduino-based controller does to a standard Bally 18/35/Stern early solid state game.
Resources (courtesy Dick Hamill):
The code is all available on GitHub. It’s broken down into a base library and then machine-specific implementations. Rewriting other games requires a moderate knowledge of C/C++. https://github.com/BallySternOS
Here’s a suggested parts list. If you bought all these things, you could create 6 of these boards. If you don’t need that many boards, you might find cheaper ways to source smaller quantities. I haven’t done any work to figure out if this is the cheapest way to source any of this stuff.
Cheap Arduino knockoff x6 ($20.99) – needs CH340 driver for programming / has to be ATmega328P https://www.amazon.com/ATmega328P-Controller-Module-CH340G-Arduino/dp/B08NJNJCTX/
0.1″ 40-pin connector (40 pieces for $7.99) https://www.amazon.com/Honbay-Single-Female-Connector-Arduino/dp/B06Y4S6G29/
32-pin Prototype PCB (2 pack for $9.99) – this won’t work for Alltek or MPU-200 because they have a 34-pin connector https://www.amazon.com/Prototype-Snappable-Arduino-Electronics-Gold-Plated/dp/B081QYPHHP/
Wire ($7.99) – tons of wire https://www.amazon.com/REXQualis-Breadboard-Assorted-Prototyping-Circuits/dp/B081H2JQRV/
Boot switch – x2 ($8.99) this switch will work for activating the Arduino board and toggling the speaker (see the writeup here to find out why: https://ballysternos.github.io/install.html) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XMH174C/
I found this old video the other day and realized I didn’t have a post on my main site showcasing this video so I wanted to add it (also, this was before I learned the proper pronunciation of “Bally” LOL…. bah-lee).
This is a short video going over the steps to repair/rebuilt/refurbish early solid state pinball flipper assemblies, such as those on Stern and Bally games (but this also basically applies to most pinball machines). I go over the process specifically on a Stern Trident and show the specific style of plunger and assembly they’re using, but most games use similar parts. You can use these techniques to rebuild/refurbish pinball flippers on most games.
Also, there’s another thing I don’t cover on the video that may also be a cause for stuck/sticky flippers, and that’s crud around the flipper button. Sometimes the flipper button assembly can be dirty and the button may stick – that can also cause the flippers to not behave properly, so be sure to check and clean the flipper button regularly too!
I’ve run into this problem at least 3-4 times in the last month with different early Bally/Stern solid state games: The game boots and appears to work but you can’t start a game and/or many switches/buttons don’t seem to work? Before you dive deep, try this simple, easy trick.
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I’ve been working on a new project that I’m very excited about. There’s been a movement to create an inexpensive, non-destructive and simple way to mod early Bally/Stern solid state games and add more features. In this video, I demonstrate an early prototype of the system used to modify a Bally Mata Hari pinball machine to include new features such as a skill shot, modes and even a wizard mode.