(Topic ID: 146949)

**Checking Interest** UNIVERSAL TESTER for Pinball Machines (PIC based)


By acebathound

3 years ago



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    #1 3 years ago

    OK. I wasn't going to post anything about this for a while as it's still very early in prototyping / figuring out what the heck I'm doing with it.. but I posted a picture of this in another thread and had some questions and -- well, might as well gauge interest on this one as well!

    This is what I'm currently calling a UNIVERSAL TESTER -- it's an LCD based tester with PIC microcontroller that I plan to do a number of things with.

    Here's a picture of the first prototype:
    universal_tester.jpg

    POSSIBLE USES

    • Generic LCD Bench Display - Classic Bally/Stern, Classic Williams, Gottlieb Sys80, Gottlieb Sys1, possibly others
    • Signal Generator for lamp data inputs to Lamp Driver Board on Ballys
    • Signal Generator for sdb data inputs to Solenoid Driver Board on Ballys
    • Playfield Switch Tester - ie. reverse playfield switch testing. Plug a playfield into it (via playfield switch interface board) and work through switch issues without the game on.
    • Glorified Switch Matrix Tester - ie. use the lcd and buttons to pick a switch number to activate. Wouldn't be as easy as a dedicated tester with physical buttons though.
    • Playfield Lamp Tester - either lighting lamps (via additional hardware) or just checking for continuity/voltages across a socket
    • Signal generator for some of the more basic pinball sound boards?

    Many many more uses I'm sure.. anything that would fit the input/output design capabilities. Might even be cool at some point to go more open-source with the software/code and allow anyone to expand the capabilities. I'd have to think about that some.. and initially it wouldn't be the case, but something like that would be kind of neat.

    HISTORY OF THIS DESIGN
    Originally I built it for testing the 64 Switch Matrix Testers I was assembling.. along with wire harnesses as it was very time intensive connecting these in machines to test. The other part of it (in terms of testing those boards) was the Playfield Switch Interface Board. I also realized could be used to reverse-test physical playfield switches in games by connecting the playfield switch harness to the Switch Interface Board. Then the Universal Tester could be used to test switches on the playfield without the machine powered up and independent of the MPU board. In other words.. standalone testing of playfield switches using the Universal Tester.

    Then some more ideas came of what it could be used for with various testing on pinball machines -- a universal bench LCD display for games that it could support (ie. Classic Williams, Classic Bally/Stern.. most likely Gottlieb Sys1/Sys80) all in one device. A signal generator for testing some boards and driving signals (like lamp data for Lamp Driver Boards on Bally/Stern machines.. or solenoid data to the SDB.. and showing the lamp or solenoid being activated on the LCD screen).

    I knew the small run of prototype boards I had made up could be assembled and used as dedicated tools for testing all kinds of stuff while I figured out what the possibilities were and how to make it as versatile as possible. So I built one of these for testing the 64 Switch Matrix Tester boards. Picture of that is below. It scans the switch lines and I can lock on all the DIP switches & it'll cycle through every switch closed. I can hold down multiple buttons & it'll tell me what buttons are pressed.

    universal_test2er.jpg

    WHERE I PLAN ON TAKING IT FROM HERE
    Initially I'm thinking of trying to get it useful as a generic bench display for a few manufacturers and reverse playfield switch tester. Obviously the major thing right now is figuring out how to make it as universal as possible, modular as possible.. and nail down a hardware design. Then just start coding some things or building additional hardware for it to support more. But initially -- its capabilities will probably be as a universal bench led display for various manufacturers and a reverse playfield switch tester. I'll be playing around more with the prototype boards I have and attempting to figure out more of where I want to take this project in January 2016.

    If there's much interest here and via the waitlist, that'll certainly help motivate me to continue working with it for more than just my own purposes. Not all these projects are feasible, but when there's interest and reasonable assurance that more than a handful could be sold, it makes it much easier to devote time to projects that have more interest.

    Some more information over at my website:
    http://www.pinitech.com/lab/universal_tester.php

    INTERESTED? WANT TO SEE THIS PROJECT HAPPEN?
    Get on the waitlist if this project sounds interesting to you and you'd like to see it happen! This is going to require a good amount of effort compared to some of the other diagnostic equipment I've designed, so will need to see at least close to 50x people interested. I'm using the waitlists to gauge interest now, so even if you comment that you're interested in this project here -- also sign up on the waitlist at the link below since those are the hard numbers I'm using.

    Waitlist @ http://www.pinitech.com/lab.php

    Definitely interested in hearing some discussion on this here. So if you have some ideas.. or just think it's cool -- let me know via this thread too!

    ---
    http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
    Kits, upgrades and test equipment for pinball machines

    #2 3 years ago

    I like it

    Like I said in one of the other threads, this would be another step forwarding to replacing some of the functions of those big, bulky, expensive, and rare OEM testers.

    #3 3 years ago

    Thanks! Honestly if this one doesn't get 20 sign-ups in a reasonable amount of time, I don't know what diagnostic tool would! 30k Pinside users and less than a few dozen people interested in something when TONS of people are fixing up games is just mind-boggling.

    Even if just a Universal Bench LCD Display out-of-the-box with initial capability of using it as connecting it as a bench display to Classic Bally/Stern and Classic Williams (Sys3-9) -- show all 4x players and credit/match.. that should be appealing to enough people. Giving it some stand-alone playfield switch testing functionality on top of that should make it more desirable. A design that could potentially be *much more* than that.. yeah, I think people should be signing up for this! But, I've been surprised before... many, many times.. so who knows. It's also surprising to me there's 3x people that entered the contest I'm running for $130 or maybe up to $240 in FREE STUFF! Pinside is a unique animal.

    #4 3 years ago

    Sounds like it could be quite useful - I'd be keen on seeing the various System 11 displays supported too. Probably too much I/O required for that though. I might build something for it myself. Also still keen on that AS-2518 SCR board tester, if you can figure out how to get it to me.

    #5 3 years ago
    Quoted from falco:

    Sounds like it could be quite useful - I'd be keen on seeing the various System 11 displays supported too. Probably too much I/O required for that though. I might build something for it myself. Also still keen on that AS-2518 SCR board tester, if you can figure out how to get it to me.

    I'm kinda thinking I could get there with bringing in full data on the Sys11 displays. Ed Cheung had the ability to test half of the displays by swapping out wire harnesses.. had to do that because of limitations of inputs on the PIC. I have a thought on how to get around that (below). Also on Ed's displays some of the segment data was garbled. I bet there's a way to convert that stuff to custom characters defined for the lcd too.. and not get garbled characters fairly often. First tho.. just getting to the point it's displaying something from those MPUs will be great Garbled characters or not.

    Anyway, as far as reading in the full displays from Sys11 alphanumeric displays.. I haven't tried it yet, but I figure I can serialize the data and bring it all in that way. Maybe even for the later 16 digit alphanumeric games. Then make sense of it in the PIC code. Would require some extra hardware -- which is why I'm thinking more modular with the design. Throw some parallel-to-serial hardware on a separate board that plugs into the Universal Tester .. give it a CLOCK input based off the PIC and then just read off the serial data coming into the I/O lines on the Universal Tester board. Seems to me like it might be crazy enough to work!

    No one steal my idea before I get a chance to try it .. lol

    #6 3 years ago

    Yep, absolutely - that's how the design I have for a DMD Extender replacement works, but that's simpler - only one bitstream which drives a single 16-bit shift register. You might need to get more creative than that, to handle all the parallelness going on!

    #7 3 years ago
    Quoted from falco:

    You might need to get more creative than that, to handle all the parallelness going on!

    Well.. I do need to find a use for about 10,000 tip122fp transistors I bought in bulk a few years ago! I'll create my own IC with a footprint the size of a room!

    #8 3 years ago

    Looks dope. How much?

    #9 3 years ago

    I'm in depending on cost... Nice concept..

    #11 3 years ago

    i hate you.. lol more money gone on *must have* test equipment.

    #12 3 years ago
    Quoted from wiredoug:

    i hate you.. lol more money gone on *must have* test equipment.

    Good test equipment saves time -- time is money -- so time saved is money saved (or made). Test equipment pays for itself in very little time and from that point on it is actually making you money by saving you money. There is nothing better than finding quicker ways of doing things that are more accurate and most test equipment does that for you.

    With over 40 years experience in the repair industry (not pinball related) I have spent thousands on test fixtures & equipment and I can honestly say it has always been a great investment. Why guess or try to isolate an issue the hard way when a fairly small investment give you a quick easy way to be sure?

    #13 3 years ago
    Quoted from maddog14:

    Looks dope. How much?

    Haven't a clue on pricing -- more than $1 and less than $1 million Too many unknowns at this point, but will finally have some time to dig deeper into this over the winter. Time had been limited up until about a week ago with putting a deck on my house. Over the winter.. time frees up tremendously. So I'll be working on these "waitlisted" projects and also knee-deep in fixing up project machines where these kinds of tools are needed, which should then flush more of the details out on what the initial capabilities will be.. design.. pricing.

    I know it's kind of asking a lot for people to sign up on a waitlist for things they don't know a price of, but there's no commitment. I do mention on the waitlists to only sign up if you think it's something you'd buy... but on this one, hey -- if price becomes a factor then not a big deal if you don't buy it because of that. Would rather get an idea of how many people are interested than someone not sign up because they aren't seeing a price. It's going to be much cheaper if 50-100x people want it versus 10x people.

    I'm going to update the "minimum" on this project to 50x. I'm not saying it *needs* to hit that, but compared to the other projects it definitely needs to be a bit higher due to the effort involved (lots of design, testing, documentation and coding). This waitlist stuff is all new, I'm hoping it gives me a better gauge of things and allows me to be somewhat confident the time devoted to bigger projects will work out for everyone... or to keep myself from getting too crazy devoting time to a project that only a handful of people are interested in (ie. Gottlieb Sys1 nvram adapters hehe). Don't worry *too much* about the minimums, other than figuring if there's 1 out of 20.... or 5 out of 50 people signed up, a project probably isn't going to happen for a bit or at all if interest remains that low.

    #14 3 years ago

    put me on the interested list.

    #15 3 years ago

    I'm interested but will depend on price.. not something I'd use often so for me it's more a nice to have if it's not too expensive..

    #16 3 years ago

    +1 interest on this.

    #17 3 years ago

    I would be interested in one of these. especially if it is available in kit form.

    your products are awesome but for some reason, it's more satisfying to build them yourself

    #18 3 years ago
    Quoted from j_m_:

    I would be interested in one of these. especially if it is available in kit form.
    your products are awesome but for some reason, it's more satisfying to build them yourself

    Hey I totally get that! Exactly why I have offered kits from the beginning on as much as I could.. helps people get something at the price they want, or build it the way they want.. or get that feeling of having built something cool themselves!

    Kits would definitely be offered on this if it happens.

    #19 3 years ago

    How much are these things? I don't want to join the wait list if I don't know the estimated price range that I am signing up for.

    #20 3 years ago
    Quoted from pantherpinball:

    I don't want to join the wait list if I don't know the estimated price range that I am signing up for.

    Well...

    Quoted from acebathound:

    hey -- if price becomes a factor then not a big deal if you don't buy it because of that.

    #21 3 years ago

    Interested.

    #22 3 years ago

    Finally had a chance to test a dead pinball lamp (blown filament) and good lamp using the switch matrix tester code. I was pretty sure I could test lamps this way.. just need to see a voltage come down the other side, but just hadn't tried it out until now.

    Alligator clips with a diode.. connect to row/column lines on the tester.. and then across the lamp. The same matrix scanning I did for the switches looks like it'll tell me what lamps are blown in a playfield -- or no continuity across lamp matrix wires (ie. wire issue, socket issue, etc).

    Imagine plugging this thing into a machine's playfield lamp wire harness and it telling you that Lamp #10, #25, #50 and #52 don't have any continuity. That'd be pretty cool I think! Kind of like Pinball 2000 diagnostics telling you which lamps that are out.

    Here's a cheesy shaky blurry 18sec Youtube video of it -- I need to start using a tripod -- and probably get a Go-Pro at some point

    #23 3 years ago

    For right now.. I'm going to try and get some Bally/Stern Bench Display capability going with another proto board and have some fun in seeing what I can push a design concept like this to do and what hardware changes need to be modularized to make it easy to swap around into different functionality of the tester. If I can get Bally/Stern Bench Display code going quick enough, I'll do code for a Williams Sys3-7 bench display.. take it from there.

    The closer we get to 50x sign-ups over @ http://www.pinitech.com/lab.php the more likely this project can happen I'll keep updating as I get some other cool things going and will try to get closer to some kind of estimate of price as the hardware design gets figured out a bit more.

    #24 3 years ago

    Count me in.

    #25 3 years ago

    I could be interested. I focus on repairing two board sets Bally/Stern and WMS 3-7. So being able to boot up a board with displays on the bench would be useful instead of using a dedicated test game.

    Does it have a zero cross generator for bally? I don't think you will get any displays with no zero crossing even if you fake it for the 7th POST. Most people will not have a 43v input on the bench power supply for zero cross.

    #26 3 years ago
    Quoted from barakandl:

    I would be interested maybe. I focus on repairing two board sets Bally/Stern and WMS 3-7. So being able to boot up a board with displays on the bench would be useful instead of using a dedicated test game would be useful.
    Does it have a zero cross generator for bally? I don't think you will get any displays with no zero crossing even if you fake it for the 7th POST. Most people will not have a 43v input on the bench power supply for zero cross.

    Hey Andrew!

    Actually I already have this one working with just 12v at TP2 and 5v at TP5 at the bench:
    http://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_bench_display.php

    Seems to work fine enough without a proper zero crossing. Once in a while a small hiccup with numbers scrambling *very* briefly when updating scores, but I've seen that happen with a Rottendog LED display connected too so it's not just my display. Had to make sure of course I attribute the small hiccups to not having a proper zero cross there (as you mentioned). I think there are some other very small things like when it cycles in attract mode it doesn't cycle quite the same.. but in all honesty it works extremely well at the bench and you can simulate games that way.

    From Clay's old guide..

    Faking the 7th Flash.
    If you are diagnosing a Bally MPU on the bench and don't have a 43 volt power supply, there is a way to fake the MPU board into doing the 7th flash. This may also be useful if all other things have been tried and there's still no seventh flash.

    To fake out the MPU board, use an alligator jumper wire and connect the top of resistor R23 (leg closest to U12) and the top of resistor R17 (leg closest to TP3). This makes the MPU think the 43 volts is present, and will allow the board to fully boot (7 flashes). This happens because the 43 volts is reduced to 5 volts and then converted into an "impulses train". This signal comes from pin U10 pin 18 and then the MPU monitors this impulse train signal. If the signal is present the MPU thinks the 43 volts must be Ok. By making the connection between the tops of R17 and R23 we simulate the presence of the 43 volt impulses train.

    I know Lindsey was doing some work on a proper zero cross circuit for bench testing. Not sure where he's at with it.

    Anyway, I don't see an issue pulling the data for the LCD display setup.

    #27 3 years ago
    Quoted from barakandl:

    I don't think you will get any displays with no zero crossing

    I thought it only used that for the lamp drivers, to re-lock the SCRs? I thought the on-board 555 timer was used for display refresh. Am I having a brain fart?

    #28 3 years ago

    Ahh ok, that is good you can get displays with out zero crossing. I just assumed the software would refuse to run without it.

    Still would need zero crossing to do any switch, lamp, solenoid testing tho right? The zero crossing triggers the interrupt to run the switch, lamp, solenoid sub routines. SHoulndt be too hard to come up with a 120hz pulse to attach to the PIA input if needed.

    #29 3 years ago
    Quoted from falco:

    I thought it only used that for the lamp drivers, to re-lock the SCRs? I thought the on-board 555 timer was used for display refresh. Am I having a brain fart?

    Yes, but i know the software will refuse to run with out the display interrupt or a display interrupt out of time was what made me think the software wouldnt run with out the zerocross timer.

    #30 3 years ago

    Any plans for Williams WPC and WPC-95?

    #32 3 years ago

    Zero cross is definitely needed for the Lamp Driver Board to actually turn the SCR off. I already wrote some code to have the Universal Tester send the binary data to turn individual SCRs on and display which ones are being turned on. Connected the Lamp Driver Board Tester (with bar graph leds) to it.. and it lights each one on.. in sequence. Thing is, it won't turn them off.. because once they're latched on they only go off when voltage across them drops to near 0v.

    Thinking an unfiltered DC power supply would work for stand-alone testing of the LDB. Looks like all that's happening on the rectifier board (unfiltered 6.5vdc).. haven't tried that yet.

    Switch testing is fine at the bench. You can actually simulate a full game, all the players, score points.. watch ball count go up.. and things like self-test mode, change settings.. see that memory / nvram holds correctly, run display tests, etc.

    #33 3 years ago
    Quoted from terryb:

    Any plans for Williams WPC and WPC-95?

    Sure, there should be some testing capabilities there and I'm going to try and make it as universal as possible.. I think testing playfield lamps and switches to some extent is a definite possibility -- just not sure yet on optical switches.

    Won't be able to do a WPC bench display with this.. that I know But there looked like plenty of projects people had going on, lcd replacements for the DMD.. that could fit that bill.

    #34 3 years ago
    Quoted from acebathound:

    But there looked like plenty of projects people had going on, lcd replacements for the DMD.. that could fit that bill.

    Exactly what I did since I didn't want to mess with a transformer for the high voltages.

    As you plan on making it as universal as possible I'm in.

    #35 3 years ago

    I just saw the posting. I added my name to the waitlist.

    #36 3 years ago

    I'd be interested, especially if it can do everything. That would be awesome. Would need a shitload of custom connectors.

    #37 3 years ago
    Quoted from CaptainNeo:

    I'd be interested, especially if it can do everything. That would be awesome. Would need a shitload of custom connectors.

    Yeah I'm going to try and figure out some ways to cut down on bulk of wire harnesses -- will see what I can come up with It may come down to smaller harnesses at the end of a longer universal wire harness and some mating connectors.

    I could offer the "el cheapo" version (low cycle rated terminals) or a "pro" version (high cycle rated terminals). The downside is.. it's like $0.50 per terminal for the high rated cycle stuff!! So.. may not be worth it!

    But yeah.. something like this & bulk of wires for many types of wire harnesses is definitely something on my radar. Of course, I'm perfectly happy if people want to build their own harnesses too haha. The wiring guides will make it easy enough either way.

    #38 3 years ago

    I'll take one for sure. So if your Making a commit list sign me up.

    #39 3 years ago
    Quoted from kporter946286:

    I'll take one for sure. So if your Making a commit list sign me up.

    Cool! Get yourself added to the waitlist @ http://www.pinitech.com/lab.php

    #40 3 years ago
    Quoted from terryb:

    Any plans for Williams WPC and WPC-95?

    Would a little DMD-stand-in bench display unit be useful? Something that just shows the display on a little LCD? I could probably build something like that. Hmm. I hadn't really thought about it, because I'm not sure I'd use it much.

    #41 3 years ago

    I'm on the list

    I too would like to see a WPC tester.

    #42 3 years ago
    Quoted from falco:

    Would a little DMD-stand-in bench display unit be useful? Something that just shows the display on a little LCD? I could probably build something like that. Hmm. I hadn't really thought about it, because I'm not sure I'd use it much.

    Yeah there's a few projects out there that I think could be tweaked and made into a bench display for WPC, so it sure seems possible & something I'd love to offer at some point as a stand-alone item. If you or someone else does that, I'm interested.

    I kind of have the okay through someone that did some experimental code to display DMD on a small LCD to adopt it into a new project. I'd try and give the guy some kind of kick-back if that happened. I don't see myself writing that kind of code just yet Plenty to learn. But having a small dmd display would help with development even in this Universal Tester, so I think I'll contact him again and see if I can mimic his setup to start off.

    Regardless.. this Universal Tester won't have DMD bench display capability. I think it's possibly it'll be able to work as a bench display for a number of the older manufacturers though. I haven't looked at the Gottlieb hardware in a while.. I know there'll be some challenges there.. but I'm just going to take it easy and go with Classic Bally/Stern and Classic Williams first. Bally because I already did some kind of display for it -- and have a clue what's going on. Then Classic Williams, since that should be straight-forward enough too.

    I'm actually thinking about doing more of a "live feed" on this project.. with regard to updating status on the project page fairly often. Just do a ton more updates than I've normally done on projects in the past.. because this one kind of warrants it. Plus I'm trying to hit a higher number of sign-ups than other projects, so it'll serve as proof that things are happening & encouragement for more people to get signed up and show their interest. We'll see.. but I'm excited at what I think this could turn into for sure -- and get more excited every time some other hair-brain idea of something I could test works out and seems completely feasible It's really a fun feeling to take something that's complicated or a PITA and make it easier if you can -- and know you'll be helping a lot of people if you can pull it off.

    #43 3 years ago
    Quoted from falco:

    Would a little DMD-stand-in bench display unit be useful? Something that just shows the display on a little LCD? I could probably build something like that. Hmm. I hadn't really thought about it, because I'm not sure I'd use it much.

    I use an LCD (as in DMD replacement type) on the bench. I'm not sure a mini-LCD would be of great advantage, but people who are working more in the field might be interested in something like that. Now that I think about it though if I could eliminate the need for the DMD controller I might be interested.

    What I'm most interested in is being able to control the driver board w/o having to use a cpu board. This may be a unique need for my process and not of general use, but I figured I would bring it up. Once I'm at the bench I know which board is bad and would rather not have to connect up multiple boards, but for someone still deciding if the issue is the cpu or the driver board it might also be helpful.

    #44 3 years ago

    I'm in! I love your stuff! AWESOME. Awwww yeah.

    #45 3 years ago
    Quoted from terryb:

    I use an LCD (as in DMD replacement type) on the bench. I'm not sure a mini-LCD would be of great advantage, but people who are working more in the field might be interested in something like that. Now that I think about it though if I could eliminate the need for the DMD controller I might be interested.
    What I'm most interested in is being able to control the driver board w/o having to use a cpu board. This may be a unique need for my process and not of general use, but I figured I would bring it up. Once I'm at the bench I know which board is bad and would rather not have to connect up multiple boards, but for someone still deciding if the issue is the cpu or the driver board it might be helpful.

    Yup, I could make use of tools that cycle through tests for driver boards and lamp boards. I'm not too keen on throwing an untested board in a working game and risk something going haywire. With a bench tester, I could at least get an indication of whether or not something catastrophic would happen. I'd rather fry a small, easily replaceable tester than damage something in-game.

    I remember seeing a System 1 driver board tester that Leon put together: http://pinwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Leon_Borre_Gottlieb_System_1_Driver_Board_Repair

    I've been wanting to give that a try when I can find the time.

    A bench tester would also be much smaller and easier to store than assembling the guts of a game for each system type. Right now I must have about 15 distict system types and building that many test rigs for each one would sure take up a lot of space--certainly more than I have room for.

    #46 3 years ago
    Quoted from acebathound:

    Yeah there's a few projects out there that I think could be tweaked and made into a bench display for WPC, so it sure seems possible & something I'd love to offer at some point as a stand-alone item. If you or someone else does that, I'm interested.
    I kind of have the okay through someone that did some experimental code to display DMD on a small LCD to adopt it into a new project. I'd try and give the guy some kind of kick-back if that happened. I don't see myself writing that kind of code just yet Plenty to learn. But having a small dmd display would help with development even in this Universal Tester, so I think I'll contact him again and see if I can mimic his setup to start off.
    Regardless.. this Universal Tester won't have DMD bench display capability. I think it's possibly it'll be able to work as a bench display for a number of the older manufacturers though. I haven't looked at the Gottlieb hardware in a while.. I know there'll be some challenges there.. but I'm just going to take it easy and go with Classic Bally/Stern and Classic Williams first. Bally because I already did some kind of display for it -- and have a clue what's going on. Then Classic Williams, since that should be straight-forward enough too.
    I'm actually thinking about doing more of a "live feed" on this project.. with regard to updating status on the project page fairly often. Just do a ton more updates than I've normally done on projects in the past.. because this one kind of warrants it. Plus I'm trying to hit a higher number of sign-ups than other projects, so it'll serve as proof that things are happening & encouragement for more people to get signed up and show their interest. We'll see.. but I'm excited at what I think this could turn into for sure -- and get more excited every time some other hair-brain idea of something I could test works out and seems completely feasible It's really a fun feeling to take something that's complicated or a PITA and make it easier if you can -- and know you'll be helping a lot of people if you can pull it off.

    I just think it's really cool you will make these as kits! I'm in for the fun of putting it together myself. I will find use for this specific tester regardless.

    #47 3 years ago
    Quoted from acebathound:

    I know Lindsey was doing some work on a proper zero cross circuit for bench testing. Not sure where he's at with it.

    I did end up building a solution for this, but I won't derail this thread with the finer details.

    Good luck with the project! One piece of advice would be to make the firmware easy to update in the field. With something universal there's always room for more features (or fixes)!

    #48 3 years ago
    Quoted from barakandl:

    Ahh ok, that is good you can get displays with out zero crossing. I just assumed the software would refuse to run without it.

    It would refuse to run without it, but I assume we're talking about "faking" it with the output of the display interrupt generator. When you pipe the display interrupt generator output over to the zero cross detector input you're not exactly running without a zero cross as far as the software knows, you're just running the zero cross detector faster than it would be in the game, thus "faking" the zero cross. Approx. 120Hz vs. 300-400Hz.

    Quoted from barakandl:

    Still would need zero crossing to do any switch, lamp, solenoid testing tho right?

    This stuff will work too on the bench with the zero cross "faked". The only issue would be driving a lamp driver board as already mentioned. Using the MPU isn't really the best solution for bench testing lamp driver boards anyway.

    Quoted from barakandl:

    The zero crossing triggers the interrupt to run the switch, lamp, solenoid sub routines. Shoulndt be too hard to come up with a 120hz pulse to attach to the PIA input if needed.

    The easiest solution is to find a transformer that puts out approx. 20V and run the output through a rectification bridge and connect to TP3. Clay described this in his old guides. It's also pretty easy to use a ~$1 microcontroller to pulse the PIA input at the right frequency, as you mentioned. That will solve the issue of the game code acting weird with the faster zero cross, but it doesn't really gain much for bench testing because the test code will generally run fine at the higher zero cross speed. If you want to test attract mode or game play, that can be flaky at best with the faster zero cross. Display,lamp, and solenoid tests work fine, but will run faster. The display test is a little annoying running on an MPU-200 with faked zero cross. Connect a bright LED display and you might have a seizure.

    #49 3 years ago

    I'm interested

    #50 3 years ago
    Quoted from Lindsey:

    One piece of advice would be to make the firmware easy to update in the field. With something universal there's always room for more features (or fixes)!

    Been thinking about this for sure -- having a look into usb bootloaders with the PIC18F series. Most people won't have PICkits and the only other thought was sending a chip back to be programmed with a new version, but that would be a pain. Better to just design a way for firmware to be updated via USB. I have a ton to think about.. want to make it modular.. not sure what kind of memory limitations I'll hit.. separate PICs on the modules kind of like David did with his blades. I just have to play around and see what's possible with it first -- then start seeing the problem of duplication of circuits or running out of memory and then work on getting the hardware design to be more efficient and elegant. I'm all about usability with stuff -- so whatever I come up with, I want it to "make sense" immediately.

    This should be kind of fun/interesting getting into PICs heavier. Might throw a few questions your way at some point You're welcome to get involved if you want..lol. I just figured you're knee-deep in your own projects. But I'm sure I'll have extra proto runs of boards for a good while as I'm developing.

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