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:
- 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.
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:
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