Well things have changed :)

It’s been a while – and I don’t know that this blog has ever been much more than a vanity project for me.  But, I did want to update whoever may stumble across this.

With our move from Atlanta I had to find new homes for most of my games.  As of January 2, 2017 the only games in my physical possession are the Pacman and the Dolly pin.  We did also bring the Madonna virtual pin cabinet. I need to get that documented and information uploaded here.

Life is good, but less full of pins.


Southern Fried Gameroom Expo and Virtual Pinball

I had a great time with friends at the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo 2016 this last weekend. The new hotel worked well and still leaves room for future growth.

Over the course of the weekend, and the week before I was able to gather a few more things to get some games working.

I was able to get a few “super rings” flipper rubber replacements which I really like. I know others are purist and want traditional rubber on the flippers, but I’m a fan of the elasticized PET. They are much more durable, and add a nice pop of color. And I personally like the ball feel when using them.

I was also able to secure a ARII rebuild kit for my Missile Command that was tragically murdered by a vacuum cleaner induced power spike . [Showing again the dangers of house cleaning…]  But after talking with the vendor selling these nice sets – and no longer allowing myself to be overwhelmed at the prospect of obtaining 20 odd individual capacitors and transistors – I’m fairly confident that this will be what I need to finally fix Missile Command and bring it back to the land of the living.

It’s been a few weeks now, but I was able to get a very affordable pack of LEDs from CometPinball. 200 hundred for a bit more than half of retail. From a price/performance point of view (as of this writing) you just can’t beat Comet.

I got both the LED’s and the super rings for Dolly primarily. With the rectifier board I’m installing tonight, and these new additions – my fingers are crossed that this will be everything needed to bring the game fully to life.

Back to SFGE — I had gone into the show thinking I might build myself a standard width style virtual pinball machine. And go all out adding solenoids to replicate the physical feel of playing a pin. As expected there were a few of these on the floor during the event. And I just couldn’t get over what a comparatively unsatisfying experience it is versus a real pin.

One vendor had a more vertical virtual pin – which the first time I saw it I had just ignored. I mean – pinball is flat, right? So, I just ignored it in favor of the standard layout tables. But the standard tables – the perspective was off and heavy. Often though the screen is level and flat, it ‘feels’ like it is tipping away from you.

I finally went up to the vertical game and gave it a shot. And to my intense surprise the very same virtual pins that were so unsatisfying were engaging and immersive. The virtual tables “feel” right when they are at a slight angle away from the player.

Madonna Future Pin table

Madonna Future Pin table

Coincidentally – Jeremy found Madonna Future Pinball table while I was at the show. He asked about what it would take to make it. Armed with my recent great experience with the new format virtual cabinet we’ll have to see where this goes – as I’ve already mocked up the design for the cabinet along with dimensions… I have a good idea :).

Dolly – rectifier board part deux

I’d mentioned in the previous post on this subject about maybe bugging my friend Kevin. Well Kevin responded to being bugged, and had on hand 3 boards or solutions for me. He actually had an extra board that I now have at the house. I hope that this week I’ll have time to pull the old board – and be able to give it to Kevin as a resource if nothing else.

I’ll post pics and details when I get to actually installing it.

Dolly – rectifier board

So, those waiting along with me with baited breath for Dolly to come to life will have to wait a few more days.

I replaced the verified boards in the machine, and everything continued to work as it had previously.  I looked at the rectifier board – and tried to swap out the F1 fuse. No joy.

as-2518-18aI tested all the test points (TP1~TP5) on the board, and of course the first one is dead – and it of course links directly to feature controlled lights – which is the problem.

Now I’m faced with removing the board – which is itself soldered directly to the power supply. What a stupid decision – why didn’t they just add one more connector?  Well, they did on later machines. But not this one.

Looking at the image there is one big black square, and three smaller squares with circles within them.  One of these small squares is the bridge rectifier that is dead.

I’m thinking I’ll have to do one of 3 things

  1. Remove the board, and replace the three small  bridge rectifiers. The problem is they are undersized for the task and fail. So, I’ll need to use larger parts, and mount them to the front of the board, and re-solder the wired connections when done.
  2. Remove the board and steal a working one from my friend Kevin –
  3. Remove and replace the board with a solid state option for $65 bucks from someone like www.pin-logic.com.

Because I’m terribly frugal – it will most likely be option 1 or 2.  I do have some bridge rectifiers in a box of parts – so, I think I’ll most likely do option 1.  If I destroy the board then 2 or 3 ;).

Fingers crossed, but hopefully not the wires.



Dolly – she’s coming to life

The continuing saga of the Dolly Parton pinball machine…

I bought an Alltek MPU which arrived last week.  Immediately I swapped the old MPU out, and with fingers crossed I turned on the power… (baited breath inserted here)

The game scores, and plays – but the feature lights aren’t working… darn it! (something else inserted here).

After reaching out to GAPAS (http://www.gapas.org) with requests for ideas, my friend Kenny came over to help with some testing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t quickly determine where the problem was. So, we took the boards (MPU and Lamp driver) over to his house and dropped them into his Six Million Dollar Man (painfully held breath) and  EVERYTHING worked!

This is great news!  I was afraid something was wrong with the Lamp driver board and I’d be having to purchase something new, or the new MPU itself was faulty.  But as they worked fine on his machines – I’m back to looking at the Dolly game itself.

Unfortunately, I left Wednesday for a vacation, and just returned home Sunday night [Well, not really unfortunately – it was a great time in Cancun].  I hope to have time tonight to put the boards back into the machine, and check the leads that Kenny sent me over the week and weekend.

I’m very excited to hopefully add Dolly back to the land of the living – she’s never been a good zombie and this half life living dead isn’t what I hope for her.

What a great weekend – SFGE

What an exciting event and fun time the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo was this past weekend.

The herculean effort involved in putting on a 3 day game centric expo is staggering.  Space for hundreds of pinball machines and video games, as well as the con-current IFPA pinball tournament. Break out rooms for special guests like Richie Knucklez, Billy Mitchel (who was actually a great person despite how he was portrayed in a recent documentary), and Walter Day; as well as some pinball designer legends like Barry Oursler, and John Trudeau, and the singer/songwriters Buckner and Garcia of Pacman Fever fame.

I love how the enjoyment pinball and arcade games crosses cultural, and socio-economic lines.

I talked with Preston (His minimalist game room posters are amazing) about my Missile Command game one afternoon, and what had brought it to death. He is both an arcade and pinball collector, and he gave me some direction on what to look for, and ideas on what to look at actually needs to be fixed to hopefully bring it to life. This weekend I’ll be off shopping for parts to try to give that a go.

I am looking forward to next year, and participating on a larger scale than I did this time around.

Great pictures of the event here.

*Barry Oursler designed (alone and on teams) pinball machines: Jackbot, Gorgar, Pinbot, Doctor Who, Comet, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and many many more.

Mentally There… and my ongoing Arcade Repair

I’m now terribly happy I put together this blog.

After trying so hard with the Dolly MPU board and being so annoyed at the dramatic failure my efforts returned I found I was not in the mood to work on my machines for a few days.

Then I got distracted and a few days became a few months.  And this is where my happiness starts – I have an exact record of what I identified on each arcade game and pinball machine, and happily I don’t have to re-discover the issues on each one.  THIS is huge on projects with potentially so many pieces to manage.

And now that I’m about over my pride and annoyance at the failure with Dolly; I find myself ready to start thinking about doing more to bring things to life again.

So, HOPEFULLY in the next week or two after these next guests come through I’ll be ready to get back into the swing of things.


Find instructions for my arcade game Missile Command CPU board – or how-to troubleshoot it.  I’m thinking it is the power section that I should start with anyway and go through it logically.  It would be ohhhhh so much easier if I actually understood electronics somewhat…  😉 But I’m a dynamo at following instructions. If I could find a diagram that breaks down the sections of the board perhaps.  A picture with grouped items outlined – Power, Ram, Video, IO, etc – this would make it easier for me to discuss what I’m looking at on any given day.

A friend told me there was a ‘bullet proofing’ guide for ATARI games of this era (1979ish) regarding the power systems.  I wonder if that would provide me the guidance I need – any readers familiar with this?

Thanks those of you who have been patient and still are tracking at all what I’ve been trying to do.


Funky Town and more great songs

Friends of ours were in town for a wedding that we all went to this last weekend.  I wanted to thank Matt and Kate.  They brought down a number of 45’s for use in the Jukebox.

Now that I have found that the component that is dead in mine has an aftermarket replacement available I can get to work on it again, and hope to make some forward progress very soon.

Thanks so much guys 🙂