(Topic ID: 150865)

Chase rope repair in Data East ST and Hook

By Patofnaud

4 years ago

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  • 28 posts
  • 9 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by Torre
  • Topic is favorited by 19 Pinsiders


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#1 4 years ago

Data East made 2 machines that used chase rope light, Start Trek and Hook. Both can be trouble to repair and both have a fairly high failure rate. You know its a pain when in machine for sale ads they specifically list "Rope light works".

I've spent some time fixing my DEST lights, and I also own a Hook so I've spent some time working on chase lights and wanted to put it all down for posterity.

Basic Theory:

o DE uses 12VDC incandescent rope light containing 3 strands of lights and 1 common 12VDC power in both games.
o To supply power to the rope they take 12VDC off of the power supply CN6 pin 3 and feed the common line
o Then they 'ground' the other side of the bulbs through a unique 'chaser module' mounted in the head.
o The chaser is a simple bit of logic that grounds one side on the lamp chain as dictated by the CPU.
o The feed for these 3 'grounds' off the CPU are basically repurposed drive signals to the 'alpha-numeric display'.

Even though both machines are DMD, the CPU still has the logic and capability to drive an old plasma alpha-numeric display and DE took advantage of this unused logic.

All the CPU does to create the illusion of a 'chase' is to start repeating 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,etc,,,,,

My crappy drawing skillz...


#2 4 years ago


The physical rope light is made up of a plastic tube with all 3 strands of lamps and the common 12VDC supply shoved in and siliconed shut. This wire is the same wire used in making coils and is simply enamel coated to insulate it.

The 3 strands of bulbs are joined to their own wire and to their common 12VDC wire by crimps.

The problem is with time and vibration these crimps can wear through the insulation of the adjacent strand of wire and short them out.

Once shorted the Chaser Module can no longer handle the load and it blows.

Here is a pic of the wire and the crimps.


#3 4 years ago

The wire fix..

Using my DEST as an example. You do not have to pull the playfield or disconnect anything. You cut all the tiewraps except for the far end one (it will be loose enough to slide back into it after).

You take the free rope and you slide it away from the backboard a few inches.

You then carefully use an X-acto blade and split about 1 inch of the end of the rope so you can free the silicone holding it in.


#4 4 years ago

You then slide the wires out of the tube.


#5 4 years ago

Once you have all the wires out, you carefully separate the strands. You can then coat the un-insulated crimps with nail polish.


For Star Trek you have to repeat for other side, for Hook just the one long one.

After the nail polish is good and dry, reinsert into tube(s) and re-tiewrap back on the ramp(s).

#6 4 years ago

At this point your rope light is probably ok but the short would have wiped out your chase board.

To test your rope you can use a 9VDC battery and by removing the Z connectors that directly feed the ropes you can manually feed it.

You hook one side of the battery to the common, and the other pole of the battery to one of the rope feeds.

For DEST there is a Y connection to a pairs of small Z connectors behind the backboard. Just below where the Y ramp enters the backboard.

One for each strand. Almost impossible to take a pic and a real pain to reach. You need to raise the playfield and use the prop rod to hold it at a 45deg and fish for it.

For Hook this connector is a LOT easier and just below the 3D buildings on the left side under the playfield.


The 3 orange wires on the right size are the 3 lamp strings, the grey is the 12VDC.

Unplug this connector, hook one side of the fresh 9vdc battery to the grey, hook the other to an orange and you should only see every 3rd lamp on. If you have two adjacent lamps on you still have a short.

#7 4 years ago

Now that both sets of strings as showing proper operation with the 9vdc battery. You can hook everything back up and test the string.

With the Up/Down switch DOWN you press the Audit/Adjust switch inside the coin door. The last test in adjustments is the rope test. Each press of the "Start" button increments the test Off,1,2,3,Off,1,2,3,Off,1,2,3,Off,1,2,3,etc....

Assuming the you had a short, and you blew your Chase Module you will see either nothing or you will see Off,Off,2,3,Off,Off,2,3,etc,,,.

DEST was the original machine to use a Chase Board. It was made up of 2 chips. One was a simple 74xxx series to take the CPU input and the other was the driver that would sink current for the 3 strings. This chip was only capable of 500ma and if you shorted multiple lamp treads together you would blown the chip. Sometimes so bad it popped and burned the board.

It looked like this:

When Hook came out they removed that chip and installed 3 discrete driver transistors. Much beefier and robust.

It looked like this:

Both boards are interchangeable, but the Hook one is much perfered.

If you board is missing and or unrepairable due to more carbon that fiberglass on the board,,, there is an aftermarket replacement.


Although if you have the original blown board, the parts are much cheaper. For DEST the parts are:

My last Great Plains order...
ULN2003A IC, Transistor Array $0.50 3 $1.50
74HCT04 IC, Hex Inverter $0.30 3 $0.90

$1.50 for the driver, $.90 for the 74xxx series (usually not blown) so $2.40 and a socket for the driver for next time and about 20 mins on the bench.

1 month later
#12 3 years ago
Quoted from Bos98:

Ok I "Chased" down the short and that is fine now. Tested the lights at the Z connectors and each pin triggers a different every 3rd light so no more shorts. I tried to run the diagnostic but I get nothing, so I am assuming my board is Kaput! Before I drop $60 on one is there anything else to check?

Sorry to not reply sooner.

Yes, the board is very fragile. The chip on the original version in the DE:ST only had a max of 250ma. One string with a short will not exceed that, but as they tie the two strings together behind the playfield a short in one string lights both strings and blammo, dead chip.

Don't spend the $60, spend a few dollars and replace the chips and socket them. Buy a few of them. One for now, one for the next time and one for good measure. Can fix you board under $3 in parts and $5 or 6 in shipping.

Unless you have the newer version that came out with Hook, then the ULN chip will be 3 transistors instead. However on the newer board you tend to not lose all 3 drives.

#14 3 years ago

Ahh then you will want the;

74HCT04 IC, Hex Inverter $0.30 3 $0.90

And 3x of the transistors.

However where as the old style, the ULN chip was the 'fuse' prior to getting back into the MPU, I do not know if the 74 series chip would be that weak spot. YMMV.

3 weeks later
#16 3 years ago

Its not a bad idea. I had that thought that myself and got lazy and stopped short.

The UDN chip is rated at 250mv. If I recall. I would have to look at the datasheet again to see if that was per driver or total. I would assume per driver. So a 1/4 fast blow should cover it.

You could also do the 12vdc source but then UDN would still be the weak point.

1 year later
#27 1 year ago

Hey Zitt! Sorry, I'm really busy with work/life and not on Pinside as much lately. PM I do see in my mail so poke me next time. Barely have time to turn on my machines never mind play them.

I did not have to replace my blue tubing, I surgically just removed the silicone end caps by putting a small slit in the blue tube, then slid all the rice bulbs out.

You cant use standard led as they are all in a row and you do need them wired every third in a row. I have heard of someone who took the rice bulbs out and swapped each one with a very small LED (old fashioned 2 lead type, not the SMD type). But to me that is wayyyy to much work.

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