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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Here’s a quick video of a new machine that entered the club today. It’s pretty rare to find this machine especially one in such good condition, so it’s a treat to bring this to you.. check out this early Gottlieb Wedgehead, Domino.
One of the biggest problems with vintage solid-state pinball games is damage to the circuit boards from leaking batteries. Here I show you how to install a remote battery pack so the batteries are away from the sensitive circuit boards, eliminating the possibility of them leaking electrolyte and causing corrosion and other damage to the pinball machine’s electronics.
This type of remote battery pack will work with almost all major pinball systems. The main thing to note is some games by default used rechargeable batteries (many Gottlieb and Bally systems) while others used non-rechargeables (WPC). If you use a remote battery pack on games that by default used rechargeable batteries, install a blocking diode in the path of the battery pack to keep the batteries from having power supplied back to them. Doing this with non-rechargeable batteries can result in bad things like batteries exploding.
In this latest episode I deal with a sound problem on our Mr & Mrs Pac Man pinball machine. The sound and speech is intermittent and low in volume.
When dealing with any game that is 30 or more years old, you can bet that the capacitors are suspect. These electronic components are known to go bad over time, since they have liquid inside that can dry up, or leak out. It’s relatively easy to acquire and replace the components provided you have the right tools, and then you insure your game board will ideally last another 30 years.
In the video one thing to note is you aren’t always limited to having to find the exact same value/model capacitor. You can replace a capacitor with a lower voltage rating with one of a higher voltage rating. (i.e. replace a 25v cap with a 50v) But you want to make sure the capacitance value (in farads or microfarads) remains the same. You can also replace an axial cap (one with the leads coming out of each end) with a radial cap (with both leads coming out from just one end) as long as you get the polarity properly oriented. Make sure you note that markings usually point to the negative lead, while an indentation on one side of a capacitor will mark the positive lead.
After replacing the caps, we still have some flakyness with the speech portion of the board. I’ve got some replacement pots on order – when they come in I will check on the board traces and solder joints and probably replace that pot… stay tuned and thanks for following the saga!
As work continues on the restoration of the Bally Mr. & Mrs. Pac Man machine, I have run into a problem. I got the machine working, but after playing a few games I noticed the ball getting stuck next to the lower left flipper. The problem is, this game used a piece of plastic as part of the rail guide that had one end chipped off, forming a crevice the ball would constantly get stuck on. This is not a printed plastic and this game doesn’t have a whole lot of available spare parts for purchase at various places, so my main option is to fabricate my own lane guide…
After a quick trip to the hardware store to pick up the parts, I show off one of the cool tools in my workshop…
After cutting out the plexi piece, let’s see how it looks…