Monday, June 27, 2016

Stars: lighting update

I got in a bag of light sockets, so it was time to start tackling the light bulb issues on Stars.

First up was the task of figuring out what sockets do not make a good connection, and therefore should be replaced.
Open the game door and press the test button and all of the controlled lights will start flashing.  With the playfield up, for each one that doesn't blink, I use an alligator clip to jump from the connection of a working light to a non-working one.

If the light does not light then, you know you have to replace it.  I replaced about 5 of them.  
There are also a handful of lights where the light is rather dim, due to dirty sockets, and I'll probably replace those as well.  
Stars uses a single lamp driver to drive both Stars on the playfield:  the one at the target, and the same colour at the spinner.  Problem is, if one lamp socket is dirty and intermittent and goes out temporarily, the other other will as well.  So doubly best be sure the lights are OK.

But now that the bad sockets are located, time to move up the chain to the connectors and the transistors on the light board.

Lord Of The Rings: oh to play it again one day...

My LOTR's DMD was crisp and clear, no lines missing. One day when playing, the DMD just went blank. No glow, no lines, no single pixels.
I turned the game off. Next day, it played fine and bright and clear.
Happened again a week later (I was playing sparingly,) was displaying fine, then the DMD turned off mid-game. Turned the game off, then tested it the next day, and the DMD turns on fine.
Then it happened a third time, and now the DMD won't come back on at all.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Seems like odd behaviour.
5V LED light on the DMD back is on.
I tried reseating all of the cables, then tried jostling them a bit, didn't help.
I unplugged the cable from the power and tested the power supply outputs. Got all good readings, except the 12V was reading as 0, but I don't didn't see that the 12V did anything in the schematics. Then found an old RGP post saying that 12V wasn't used, so not that?

soooo that 12V goes nowhere?

Also there have been a few other stuck ball issues, like the ball getting stuck at the bottom of the Legolas ramp, or in the Gimli VUK, wedged between the post and the wire ramp, sometimes with the help of the Balrog toy.
These issues are addressed in this post, and I will look to follow their fixes.

I really wish I could be playing this classic game!  It's spent far too long out for service, considering how long I had to wait for that darn switch switch to arrive.
I guess I could play it without the DMD?  But mehhhhh

Jurassic Park: plastics + rubbers

Sometimes a few small changes can really be a sea change for a game.  Minor prior annoyances that perhaps dulled your enthusiasm are melted away with the blistering gameplay that feels so NEW and vital.  But what has happened?  Nothing but changing a few rubbers, and voila.

feels so good

I was weaning off of JP, there was just something missing, so I decided to try the Super Rubbers.  Ordered 3 orange ones, and oh my, this feel like the way JP was always meant to be played.
The bounces, the control, the colours, it all seems SO APPROPRIATE.
The game is just more fun now.

In fact, a new problem arose:  The shots up the ramp happened with such bliss and accuracy, that I might need to modify the rails to prevent the ball from sometimes hopping off.
We already had a similar issue near the VUK where sometimes the ball would hop off to the outlane, so perhaps we can research both and tackle that problem.

I'll call you Orange Upper Flippy

But another big improvement was getting lexan plastics cut in the shape of the chipped ones.  A friend with a JP wanted to trace mine, so I got copies at the same time.
The lexan was thin enough so that the cracked plastic can sit on top.
This is most noticeable of an improve in the upper right, as this is what it looked like before when the plastic was cracked and the portion where the rivets would be are not there.

Yeah, not pretty.  I had switched this to a ziptie, but still not optimal.

fresh cut lexan piece

old broken plastic sits on top of the lexan piece, allowing the lights to be attached properly.
And also above the center scoop:

old plastic was busted in upper right

At this point the main thing to do is work on the standup tarrgets, reinforce them with a stabilizer from Mezel Mods, and perhaps slice away part of the edging to prevent them from getting and no longer registering.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

quick updates: LOTR & Stars

Hey all!  Summer's been going great.  We had a mini pinball flea market / convention / tournament out in Hawkesbury, Pinball Women Ottawa has been going strong, and the weather has been wonderful.

I installed a proper sized lock.  It took forever to get the old drilled-out lock mech out for whatever reason, then the first lock I installed was a bit too long.  That means the door has wiggle room to move out, and when you move it back in, you can trigger a tilt/slam switch.  There are actually like THREE different standard replacement lock sizes, so I will start to stock them all.

The metal inlane rail also popped out again, but a friend who was playing at the time glued it back down.  Just in case it happens again?  I noticed over the the PBResource Specials page they actually have NOS Stars inlane guides!  WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
Steve Young is a precious treasure to pinball.  He has been sitting on these damn things for probably 38 years waiting for me to start work on an old Stars with bent-to-shit metal rails.

Another great thing from Hawkesbury:  a friend brought me 2 old Stern/Bally displays.  One had a sticky that the 10s and 10000s were out.  The other had no sticky.  And at the flea market I bought one that was degassing for $5.  One of these would do the trick!
I  popped in the one with no sticky and it works!

Now, if we look closely, we can see that it is not perfect:
note the damage to some digit segments

But hey it's readable, bright, and better than no score.  And only $5 was spent!

I took a look at the display that had the 10s and 10000s out.  Do you think you can spot where the problem might be?

I think I am going to also order some replacement fuses.
Check the fuse chart in the machine.  Most pinball machines use slow-blow fuses, but the early Sterns are one of my first odd-duck examples.   the slow-blow fuses are marked, so the rest of the fuses here are fast blow.

Lord Of The Rings:
LOTR was down for want of the gollum hole.
Or, as a friend exclaimed "GOLLUM'S HOLE IS BROKEN!" as she laughed to herself.
Well, Mr. Gollum, I will RESPECT your hole, and I ordered a replacement switch.  At first I thought it was just out of shape and I could bend the wire to register properly, but no.  With my multimeter in continuity mode, I checked the switch and there was no continuity when pressed.
The switches are kind of cool that they have their center connector, then you can connected to one node for NO (Normally Open) behaviour, or the other node for NC (Normally Closed).  The NC terminals registered as expected, the NO one not at all.
Part got delivered to me in Hawkesbury the other weekend, and I was stymied by not being able to unscrew the darn switch screws:

I remembered something my tech friend Andrew taught me:  when in doubt, tear the whole damn thing down.
So I disassembled the entire VUK assembly and removed it from the playfield.  Only then, with a clear 90 degree angle on the plate, could I impact the nuts in any meaningful way.
Removed switch, desoldered, soldered in a new one, and reassembled.  Then played my first game of LOTR in maybe a month.  JOY!