(Topic ID: 158929)

Atari middle earth repair

By thebman80

3 years ago

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  • 69 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by MT45
  • Topic is favorited by 9 Pinsiders


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There are 69 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 3 years ago

Ok so after reading some back information on this game I have come to see that a lot of people dislike Atari Pinball games. But for the price I got the game at and just the fact that I have never come across a game in this nice of condition I couldn't pass it up. Plus the seller just kept handing me all sorts of arcade extras from a 19" tube to a large stack of marquees that I basically got the game for free and then some (as far as I'm concerned).

I just got the game back from a 2 hour long road trip got it in the workshop and set up. After a quick run to home depot for some head bolts I got the game totally together and got the head and glass off the floor. When I turned the game on I get nothing but an obnoxious sound from the speaker repeating over and over. I went the simple route tonight since I'm tired and pulled the PCB and cleaned all the edge connectors with Brasso then cleaned them again with rubbing alcohol to get the residue off. Lets just say the rag was jet black after cleaning the edge connectors. Put the PCB back in and turned it on still no change so will look at the PCB maybe tomorrow have a few other things I might have to do first.

Picture of the game in question:






#2 3 years ago

I have a friend who had one of these at his house in the late 80s. Of course it didn't work and we never pursued it. That game looks good. Worth trying to repair. You don't see many Atari games around. Good luck.

#3 3 years ago

Yeah, it has to be one of the nicest pins I have come across yet. I didn't have time to do anything on it tonight I have new edge connectors for everything on the PCB except the display hookup. Also going to resocket the Processor chip and ROM chips. One of the issues I have is my manual is missing like 4 pages right in the main schematics section. I downloaded the PDF but I'm still combing through the schematics for the voltages. I want to measure them all but its such a pain in the butt to find the voltages even just for the fuses. Maybe its just on all the missing pages lol. The CPU has some bad repair jobs and jumper wires which is making me think I should start searching for a fresh CPU without hacks.

#4 3 years ago

Update Made some progress I replaced the ROM sockets and the processor socket with fresh sockets. The EPROM's legs were really tarnished black so I took some Brasso and a tooth brush and scrubbed them while on a rag. Then I cleaned them up with rubbing alcohol the legs looked shiny and new. Plugged them back in and turned the game on and all the coils on the game started going insane firing on and off. It was freaking loud, I ended up quickly turning off the game but there are signs of life! Right now I'm in the process of replacing the edge connectors to the main PCB. I noticed that J8 the connector where all the coils connect has wires that go to two pins at once top and bottom. So I bent the pins for both sides of the edge connector (top & bottom) together and will solder the wire between them to copy that.

#5 3 years ago

Check your voltages to make sure they are correct. I worked on an Atari a few months ago that had a weak 5V I think it was and replaced the big capacitor on the power supply and it fired right up.

#6 3 years ago

Any Idea why someone would cut this trace and put this jumper wire in under the processor?


#7 3 years ago
Quoted from thebman80:

Any Idea why someone would cut this trace and put this jumper wire in under the processor?

It's *possible* that it's a factory modification, but not one that I've read about or seen before. I've seen various modifications done to these MPUs depending on the version and the game it's in.

1 week later
#8 3 years ago

Ok, I'm back to work on this game just got a bunch of stuff to do some rebuilding of the entire power supply and power brick. I didn't get a chance to open all that stuff yet was messing with the PCB. I'm getting a nice +5v on the PCB and from what a friend told me my PCB is in reset and that's what is making the coils flip out. He suggested to check the RAM and EPROM's. I socketed both 2111 RAM chips which needed to be done anyways. I tried swaping their spots to see if I got any difference in what the game was doing but nothing changed. I don't have anything to my knowledge that I can test 2111 RAM with if it was 2114 then I have tons of stuff... I started poking around in the RESET counter circuit and noticed that the chip at location 10A was pulsing in tune with the coils and all the rest of the chips seem to be doing their own thing but all the same. The only one that didn't seem right was 10A I pulled it and swapped it with one next to it but still made no difference. Oh if I hold the Reset button down it stops everything all the coils stop until I let go.

I will burn a fresh set of EPROM's tomorrow and see if that changes anything.

#9 3 years ago

Also forgot to mention that I did a lot of repair work on the PCB well it was more correcting repair work done by someone else. There were a bunch of jumped traces and even sockets put on wrong that I had to pull and redo with the correct jumper wire. I even found a cut trace under the socket that was missed by whoever tried to fix this. It was under chip 9F in the lower left corner 3 pads up in the picture, there was also messed up traces under chip 13F that I had to repair as well. So far I think I fixed all the messed up wiring on the main PCB. I still have to pull 12F in the picture next to 13F since that was someone else's work and I have to check for busted traces under it as well.

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Today I started with the power supply PCB and replaced the caps except 2 because I somehow ordered the wrong caps... I was able to make headway though I pulled the transistor at Q5 which whoever did it before me decided that a mica insulator wasn't necessary. They used washers to elevate the transistor off the heatsink and shorted the transistor directly to the heatsink. So after replacing that part and adding a mica insulator and heatsink compound I now have playfield lights! But they like to pulse to whatever reset problem I'm currently having at the moment. So I made some progress but I'm going to have to start going through everything now with a fine tooth comb and hope I can get a game that eventually boots and no longer pulses.

#10 3 years ago

OH also forgot again I burned two new fresh ROM's hoping that might fix the issues I was having but nope still hit another wall. I'm going to finish rebuilding the power supply and putting edge connectors on before I start messing with the PCB again.


#11 3 years ago

Ugh, that board looks like it was a mess.

Don't forget to re-tin the edge connectors if they are worn or have exposed copper.

#12 3 years ago

Ok I saw something today that's starting to bug the hell out of me it's the label on the top two connectors. You can clearly see that it is labeled as J2 but plugged into J1 and I replaced the lower one but that was clearly labeled J1 and is plugged into J2.


Here is the lower one I took off Clearly labeled J1


On every picture on the internet I have looked at the wire harness with lots of wires is on top and the one with a few is on the bottom (check out the one on the internet pinball database). Another issue I have seen in some of the Pictures is the connector on the other side of the PCB at J7. In some of the pictures I have see that connector is on J6 SO I'm not Sure WTF is going on with the labeling on this game. I guess I have it correct but who knows at this point.


#13 3 years ago

I wish you the best of luck. My first pin purchase was a non-working ME, and I never got it to work. Even bought a board set for it from a working one, and no luck. Then when I started it up later, it kept blowing a fuse. Eventually I gave it to a friend.

#14 3 years ago

Check this out this was a Middle earth for sale on pinside looks like it was some what working and the edge connector at J7 was plugged into J6. If J1 and J2 were mislabeled is it possible J7 was also mislabeled? But if you look again at the one on IPDB that one is plugged into J7. http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=1590

For sale post



#15 3 years ago

Be careful about swapping connectors around. You can damage the MPU, especially if you mix up J7 (switches) and J8 (soldenoids).

Be sure to review the wiring schematics. On page 36/37 of the manual, J2 has much fewer connections than J1.

#16 3 years ago

I'm fairly sure everything is in the right spot now but it's amazing to see a goof like that straight from the factory. This constant reset issue is driving me nuts not sure were to look next after the ROM and RAM. Yeah I know J8 stays were it is I just have to leave it unplugged because all the coils constantly firing at the same time is really loud. Problem is I also don't have the Fuse PCB for J8 so until I find one I'm going to ave to leave it disconnected.

1 month later
#17 3 years ago

Ok, I have all but given up on the CPU PCB after checking almost every chip by either testing it with my logic comparator or pulling it and testing it. I have not been able to figure out what the issue is with it and it's just no longer worth perusing at this point. I was able to find someone selling another ME main PCB plus an extra board and the fuse PCB I was missing. The new CPU boots and had some minimal issues so far. A few coils locked up at startup so I quickly turned it off and went through all the transistors and replaced the bad ones. Now it turns on and the coils are good but some still don't work the lower left sling shot the top drop target bank the lower pop bumper and all the flippers.

I looked at the fuse PCB and a few of them are blown probably when I bought it because I didn't check them. One fuse is also missing weather that's an active spot or not I'm not sure yet. My main problem is that I need a list of the fuses on the fuse PCB I don't see one anywhere in the manual anyone have one? I want to make sure all the values are correct before replacing anything.

#18 3 years ago

Ok, after doing a bunch of research I found the answers to my fuse problem. They are all 2amp slow blow on the fuse PCB. I found which spots were suppose to be populated with fuses and took off the extras. All the playfield coils now work with the exception of all the flippers. It's been a long day so that will have to wait. Figures that the most important coils don't work lol. I also have to order 2 amp slow blow fuses since I'm out right now they all had 1 1/2 amp fast blow fuses so that should be safe enough until I get the correct ones.

SO, the flippers don't work and the displays are not working and I have a bunch of bulbs to replace so things are coming a long. I will test all the coils tomorrow and see if the coils are bad. I will have to test the transistor on the main PCB again but I believe it was fine. The fuse was good so I still need to narrow down the flipper issues.

I labeled all the fuses, thought I would share a few pictures. I pulled each fuse out one by one and tested the coils they are all correctly labeled.


#19 3 years ago

Jesus, that's a lot of fuses. I get they were trying to careful but that's like equivalent to using a condom on a solo act so you don't catch something. Makes you wish for the good ol' single solenoid fuse I bet.

All those edge connectors look like a pain too, one bad connection somewhere and you've probably got a big problem. I thought the 40-pin Williams interconnect was picky-hell, but I don't think it compares to that!

#21 3 years ago

Those jumpers near the top are moving address lines around. Probably to mod it to take 2716 EPROMs

If you make the board traces factory, middle earth will take 2532 EPROMs on the main board(require doubling up the images).

#22 3 years ago

I thought I made a post but I guess I just hit preview and forgot to send it... So I went looking for the issue with the flippers and still haven't come up with the answer yet I need to test the 3 prong flipper coils but I don't have any information on what good coils are suppose to read. I have my doubts that all 4 flipper coils are bad I tested the transistor and fuse both were fine. Even traced the power back through a relay on the power brick but that relay kicks on when the game is coined up and started. Is there any way this could be a logic issue? I'm just not sure what else to check other than the coils and their diodes.

Here's the coil how do I go about testing this thing and does anyone have readings off a known good coil?


#23 3 years ago

Set the meter to 200 ohm and this is what I got for each flipper coil.

Left bottom: left and middle 5.5, right and middle 152.2, two outside prongs 160.6

Right bottom: left and middle 5.4, right and middle (no reading), two outside prongs (no reading)

Top left: left and middle 6.0, right and middle 160.9, two outside prongs 166.9

Top right: left and middle 5.2, right and middle 154.4, two outside prongs 159.3

#24 3 years ago

Those readings seem fine for flipper coil.

I think John's jukes has a couple working boards always in stock that he exchanges for about 350$.

1 week later
#25 3 years ago

OK, so I turn on the game today and the flippers work.... The bottom right flipper is machine gunning if you hold down the flipper button. I replaced both diodes but it didn't do anything to fix the problem. I also held the leaf switch closed that's on the coil and the coil wouldn't fire so the switch on it is good. The top left coil isn't put together but the coil makes noise when I hit the flipper button. It's actually loud so I think I just need to replace it. Any idea what would be making the lower right coil fire like a machine gun when the flipper button is held down? Is it just bad and needs to be replaced?

#26 3 years ago
Quoted from thebman80:

OK, so I turn on the game today and the flippers work.... The bottom right flipper is machine gunning if you hold down the flipper button. I replaced both diodes but it didn't do anything to fix the problem. I also held the leaf switch closed that's on the coil and the coil wouldn't fire so the switch on it is good. The top left coil isn't put together but the coil makes noise when I hit the flipper button. It's actually loud so I think I just need to replace it. Any idea what would be making the lower right coil fire like a machine gun when the flipper button is held down? Is it just bad and needs to be replaced?

Usually, it's EOS switch, bad diode, poor continuity to the coil somewhere, or a broken wire on the solder tabs or somewhere inside the coil.

#27 3 years ago

I'm thinking it might be something internal I tested the switch and shotgunned the diodes so replacing the coil is all that's left. Looks like I need to order 2 coils and see where I'm at after that.

#28 3 years ago

Machine gunning is usually caused by an open thin winding on the flipper coil. Its basically there to put some resistance in between the main winding once the flipper hits end of travel. The EOS is wired to short across it. When the flipper goes up, the EOS opens and the thin winding is supposed to take over. If one of the wires is broken, there is no power, flipper begins to fall, closes EOS again, and process repeats.

See if both of the thin wires is connected to the solder lug (pull up on them with a fine sharp tool to see if they are broken in the hole). If you are lucky, its the outside wire and you can undo one turn, scrape the enamel off the wire and resolder. If its the inside one, its usually new coil time.

#29 3 years ago

OK I'm still waiting on the flippers so I'm trying to track down the problem with the displays. There was absolutely no 90v coming in to them so I traced it back to the power block and both 1/2 amp fuses were bad. They looked perfect appearance wise but no voltage was coming through them at all. Replaced them both and now I'm getting 90v at J11 pins 1 and 4 so yeah one problem fixed. So I measure the voltages off of J14 and nothing is coming out of the Auxiliary PCB.

I also noticed something about J14 that I'm unsure of the schematics say the white wire is pin 1 and is gnd the red wire middle pin 2 is red +90v and the blue wire pin 3 -90v. It looks like the wires are reversed like someone swapped the blue and white wires top and bottom can someone confirm this?


I have replaced a lot of the 90v section everything that I had on hand but still got nothing out. Everything marked yellow drives the displays everything checked off was replaced.


#30 3 years ago

So no one has one of these that can snap a quick picture of the J14 connector on the power PCB?

#31 3 years ago



#32 3 years ago

Thanks I appreciate it, looks like the blue or grayish blue wire is on the bottom then.

1 month later
#33 3 years ago

Good news/bad news time. Good news I replaced every component in the display circuit on the power supply and the displays now work. Bad news every single segment is on all the time at the same time.

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#34 3 years ago

I started a game and all the displays went out except for the 1st player. The first player however still keeps every digit lit and doesn't keep score. The coin display wasn't working you can see in the pic above. I tried a different cable that didn't do it then tried a spare score display to test with the wire and that worked. After I plugged it back into the original display the coin display started working. I'm going to scrub the hell out of the contacts first and see where that gets me.

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#35 3 years ago

Double check the polarity of the caps.

Double check that the ICs are correct and oriented correctly.

Test all the transistors with a multimeter.

The problem with a shotgun repair is that there is the potential to introduce new problems.

#36 3 years ago

Well the only thing I did a shotgun with was the HV section on the power PCB. This is looking like it might be a logic signal problem from the main PCB something wrong in the score keeping circuit. The only thing that the Main power PCB does as far as I know is just supply voltages and it seems like that's what its doing. The voltages are around 93V positive and negative to turn on the score displays now so I don't think there is anything wrong there. Only 3 wires come off the Power PCB to the score display and that's the +90v,-90v and GND.

The ball counter and coin displays work and after I coin up a game the 2nd through 4th players shut off. That all seems to be doing what it should. What its not doing is displaying the score when targets are hit and I read its suppose to blink the 1st though 4th player displays on one at a time at start up and its not doing that either.

#37 3 years ago

The ICs and transistors have something to do with displaying the segments on the displays. I would look at those first.

#38 3 years ago

Plugged in my spare display boards with the display glass pictured above since I only have one and now it works. Well almost it counts the score but it doesn't cycle through the 1st through 4th players and there is a lot of shimmering. I think I may have to recap the power caps for the displays. I may just figure out what IC is bad and use my original displays since it runs a lot more stable.

Fun fact as soon as I got the displays working and played a few games the out hole started to lock on (face palm). I will check the transistor for it a little later just cant catch a break here lol.

#39 3 years ago

These are fun games to work on, eh?

#40 3 years ago

Oh yeah it's an adventure to say the least its turning me from an novice into an expert fairly quickly to say the least. I had a realization that if the kicker coil is bad it was going to be a pain to find so I bought 2 NOS ones off eBay only ones the guy had. That way I can cover my all my bases for the future. I'm fairly confident the transistor went bad but I don't want to be caught with my pants down lol.

#41 3 years ago

Ok I found the problem seems that only the first player score was effected once I started up all 4 players 2 through 4 scored fine. This basically narrowed it to only one possible chip that could have been bad location C5 under the main display.

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After replacing that chip from the one display PCB that flickered this one now operates fairly solid. I believe the capacitors are probably shot on that flickering display they are 2 years shy of 40 years old. I Plan to replace all the Capacitors on both displays just for routine maintenance. Hopefully they will last another 40 years then it wont be my problem lol.

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Now I have to order a rubber kit, clean all the contacts and take apart and clean everything on the playfield and wax it.

#42 3 years ago

Damn! You have put a ton of work into this. Glad you have made progress. Looking good........

1 week later
#43 3 years ago

Been adjusting switches and fixing sunken inserts. I'm having the hardest time getting the star roll over switches to work right. I have been adjusting and messing with the things for what seems like forever now.

All these inserts have sunk, I have been pulling them out one by one and making them perfectly flat. Had a few problems with some of the star inserts which were also pulled and reglued. Seems that after like 40 years the glue just quit working so far I only got 4 of the inserts in the long chain done that goes up the T-rex's leg.

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#44 3 years ago

Any one have the metal stop wire for the end of the launch lane? It's basically the last piece I'm missing.

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1 week later
#45 3 years ago

Easily made out of Piano Wire or Music wire, available at better hobby stores. Look for the plastics and metal display. The music wire is sold out of those long tubes at the bottom rack. They are cheap so you can buy a few diameters so you will have the right one.

1 week later
#46 3 years ago

A buddy just found one of these pins in an old closed up bar ... I may grab it but this thread has got me nervous now ... LOL

1 month later
#47 3 years ago

Hi...I have a Middle Earth pinball machine. we have played it for years but now it is need of repair. I can looking for some help. I have the manual and after reading this, I'm thinking my connecting cable is bad. I'll have to get my guys to check it out. Maybe it just needs a good cleaning. Thanks for the pictures....did you ever get your manual pages you were missing?

3 months later
#48 3 years ago

I believe I found a PDF of the manual on the internet and printed the pages out. Right now the game works except for one of the poppers on the left top of the playfield, I believe the stupid transistor kicked it again (oh and a star rollover). It's just really hard to motivate myself to pull the glass off prop the playfield up take the piece of plexiglass I installed to protect the cpu off just to get the cpu out of the game just to fix one transistor. Now that it's fixed I'm grappling with what to do with the game keep it for a while, sell it or trade it...

2 weeks later
#49 2 years ago

I am having sound issues with mine ... both boards have been looked at and are good.
could it be the little board next to the volume pod? ... If so who fixes these?

#50 2 years ago
Quoted from jasonp:

I am having sound issues with mine ... both boards have been looked at and are good.
could it be the little board next to the volume pod? ... If so who fixes these?

What little board? Do you have a photo?

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