(Topic ID: 212241)

Customizing a Stern Nugent


By Cheddar

1 year ago



Topic Stats

  • 10 posts
  • 5 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Cheddar
  • Topic is favorited by 20 Pinsiders

You

Linked Games

  • Nugent Stern Electronics, 1978

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#1 1 year ago

I've got a Stern Nugent and even though it's a fun game, it's not a great game. I spent some time getting it playing and getting the sound to work and that was the nail in the coffin for me. The bleeps just weren't cutting it.

Before I could get it sold I got a deal on a set of MyPinballs Custom Pinball Controller boards for early Bally/Stern. I like to tinker around so I decided to rewrite the ruleset and add real music and sound effects. You can check these out here: https://mypinballs.com/electronics/store.jsp

The MyPinballs boards seem well suited to this as it comes with a Controller/Driver Board board combo that does everything but power supply.

The controller board does game rules, switches, displays (plasma or led) and sound via onboard amp or line out. There are 3 Arduinos that come on this board they handle the operation of the game.

Arduino 1 is a Mega that controls game rules and the switch matrix. This is where you'll spend 99% of the time if you try this yourself.

Arduino 2 is another Mega and this one is the sound processor. The system is setup to handle Wav files and can do 2 channels of audio. If you have the stones for it you can pull the Mega and put in a Teensy board. This upgrade will give you a lot more horsepower in the audio engine but is a lot more technically daunting.

Arduino 3 is a Nano that drives the displays. This tiny little board has plenty of juice to handle the 32 digits you'd need on a 7 digit machine. I can already see how you could use this nano to drive a Raspberry Pi or other type of computer to serve a full lcd screen via serial, bluetooth or wireless. That's way in the future if I try and tackle it at all.

The second board in the set is the driver board, This board controls the lamps, solenoids and flippers.

In addition there is support for an audio line out, rgb lamps, aux lamps, solenoid expander, flashers, and expansion pins.

One interesting feature is the ability to treat the flippers like fliptronic flippers. I'll cover this in a future post.

Here are the topics I'll post in the next couple days:
1. Installing the boards
2. Running the sample app
3. A switch tester application for mapping out the matrix (can't find one for Nugent so I have one on order)
4. Getting the flippers to work

I'll be at Arcade Expo this weekend so anything that doesn't get posted tomorrow will have to wait until next week. If you're going to AE4 please stop by and say hi.

#2 1 year ago

OMG this guy reproduces Bally S&T boards too? That's awesome! So glad I just stumbled on this.

Sounds like a cool little project with lots of potential. I'll be watching for sure

#3 1 year ago

Installing the boardset.

The new boards installed

First take out the existing MPU, Lamp Driver Board and Sound Board. Yank out and replace the standoffs for the mpu and driver with the ones provided. Install the MPU and driver in these spaces. MPU to the bottom of the old MPU space and driver to the top of the old lamp driver space. Make sure to put in the grounding screws.

NOTE BEFORE INSTALLING: there is no universal solution to audio in these games. Each sound board had a different connector so you have to homebrew a little here. I'll cover making the connector in a later thread but if you are going to use the built in amp populate header 4 on the controller board. If you are going to use an external amp populate header 5.

Connect the Connector that was connected to J1 on the old MPU to J1 on the new controller. There may be an extra pin left over on the bottom of the connector. Make sure you match up the key pin
Connect MPU J4 to Controller J2
MPU J2 to Controller J7
MPU J3 to Controller J6

These 4 line up to the positions they had on the old mpu so it's pretty straightforward.

There is a 2 pin cable included in the kit. This connects to J12 pins 1 and 3. Place the black wire on the bottom right pin of the pins and the red wire on the pin above it. This is the expansion connector so there may be more things connected there in the future. Connect the other end to J2 on the driver board. This one wasn't marked for me (or very hard to see). It is a 2 pin connector near the bottom left corner. Make sure to put the black wire on the bottom pin. Without this cable your flippers wont work.

There is a 40 pin connector and cable that goes between the MPU and driver board. Align this with the red strip on the right and connect the 2 boards.

Finally take the other provided cable and connect it to J8 on the MPU. Attach the other end to J3 on the driver board. This moves power from the MPU to the driver board. You'll notice the other end of this cable has a loose black wire with a forked connector on it. Attach this to the thumbscrew where the cabinet ground meets the backbox ground wire.

Now hook up the driver board connections. You may have to cut some of the harness zip ties to make enough slack in the harness.

Connect SDB J1 to Driver JD1
SDB J2 to Driver JD2
SDB J5 to Driver JD3

The other 2 connectors stay on the old SDB to provide the power to the controller.
The 3 lamp connectors map
J1 to JL1
J2 to JL3
J3 to JL2

All of these connectors are keyed and you should trust the keys.

These are the connectors for most early games. If you have aux drivers please consult the pinout guides that were provided when you register your boards. If your boards were new you can power on at this point. The demo high voltage software comes preloaded and you should be close to a flipping, although weird, game. Stay close to make sure nothing locks on. By default the software is not set to free play so you will need to coin it up before you press the credit button.

If anything locks on turn the machine off and check your connections.

#4 1 year ago

Alot of older games could be upgraded with better sounds thanks to this board, will be following this thread.

#5 1 year ago

This post will be brief. To run the demo game you need to do this:
Download the high voltage game demo and documentation. You can get this from MyPinballs when you register your boards.

Download and install the Arduino editor.

In the MyPinballs source is an libraries folder. The contents of this folder need to be copied to the Arduino libraries folder. On Windows this can be found in My Documents\Arduino\libraries

Open the Arduino editor find the library manager to refresh the libraries. Open Sketch\Include Library\Manage Libraries

Connect the Arduino #1 to the computer via the supplied USB cable. This will install the driver and allow you to access the Mega via a com port.

Open the Arduino editor and load the high voltage game demo.

In the Tools menu set the board to mega and select the com port the mega is attached to.

Now you can compile and upload the project to the controller board.

Be prepared for it to not act right as it was setup for a future spa and modified. Watch for locked in coils and turn the machine off if it happens.

This is how to compile and deploy the demo app. In my next post I will sample app that reports switch hits for testing the switch matrix

#6 1 year ago

Working on setting up the switch matrix I noticed I don't have a good listing of the Nugent setup. I was able to find some that are close but not close enough for me to insure I got every switch. I set up a switch matrix test to be sure. The file can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/njizltqpsjihpse/SwitchMatrixTest.ino?dl=0

The test uses the Keypad library. This is a default library and should be included with the Arduino IDE.
Load this file into the IDE, hook up the mega and upload. Open the serial monitor to see what is going on. You can use the menu or the icon in the upper right corner of the IDE to do this.

The serial monitor will report the number of the switch as it is pressed. You should see 3 lines for each switch as it shows the Pressed, Held, and Released state for each switch.

If you have drop targets or spinners make sure they are not down or rotated otherwise you will see repeated switch events.

Here's what is going on in the tester code:
// Bring in the Keypad library
#include "Keypad.h"

// We are using a 8X8 matrix so define it
const byte sw_rows = 8;
const byte sw_cols = 8;

// Number the individual switches
const char switches[sw_rows][sw_cols] = {
{11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18},
{21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28},
{31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38},
{41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48},
{51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58},
{61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68},
{71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78},
{81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88}
};

byte switch_num = 1;

// These are the physical pins on the Arduino for each row and column
byte row_pins[sw_rows] = {22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36}; //connect to the row pinouts of the switch matrix
byte col_pins[sw_cols] = {23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37}; //connect to the column pinouts of the switch matrix

//Finally create the matrix
Keypad switch_matrix = Keypad( makeKeymap(switches), row_pins, col_pins, sw_rows, sw_cols );

// this function always runs when the Arduino turns on
void setup() {
// Start the serial bus. W/O this you won't see anything in the monitor
Serial.begin(115200);

// Setup for the matrix
switch_matrix.setDebounceTime(35);
switch_matrix.addEventListener(switchEvent);
Serial.println(F("Switch Matrix Setup"));
}

void loop() {
// put your main code here, to run repeatedly:

// We have to scan the matrix to look for changes, this happens very fast
char key = switch_matrix.getKeys();
}

// This gets called every time a switch event occurs
void switchEvent(KeypadEvent key)
{
// get the switch id
byte key_id = switch_matrix.findInList (key); //find the key in the list and get the id

// get the switch state
byte switch_state = switch_matrix.key[key_id].kstate;//switch_matrix.getState();

// get the number of the switch
byte row = (key / 10) - 1;
byte col = (key % 10) - 1;

// output the info so we know it happened
Serial.print(F("Key Pressed:"));
Serial.print(F("ID: S")); Serial.print(key, DEC);
Serial.print(F(" "));
Serial.print(F("State:")); Serial.println(switch_state);
}

This is way more code than I normally see on Pinside. This program was very helpful to me in mapping out the switches. While you're using it don't forget the Credit, Coin, Tilt and Slam switches.

#7 1 year ago
Quoted from Cheddar:

I've got a Stern Nugent and even though it's a fun game, it's not a great game. I spent some time getting it playing and getting the sound to work and that was the nail in the coffin for me. The bleeps just weren't cutting it.
Before I could get it sold I got a deal on a set of MyPinballs Custom Pinball Controller boards for early Bally/Stern. I like to tinker around so I decided to rewrite the ruleset and add real music and sound effects. You can check these out here: https://mypinballs.com/electronics/store.jsp
The MyPinballs boards seem well suited to this as it comes with a Controller/Driver Board board combo that does everything but power supply.
The controller board does game rules, switches, displays (plasma or led) and sound via onboard amp or line out. There are 3 Arduinos that come on this board they handle the operation of the game.
Arduino 1 is a Mega that controls game rules and the switch matrix. This is where you'll spend 99% of the time if you try this yourself.
Arduino 2 is another Mega and this one is the sound processor. The system is setup to handle Wav files and can do 2 channels of audio. If you have the stones for it you can pull the Mega and put in a Teensy board. This upgrade will give you a lot more horsepower in the audio engine but is a lot more technically daunting.
Arduino 3 is a Nano that drives the displays. This tiny little board has plenty of juice to handle the 32 digits you'd need on a 7 digit machine. I can already see how you could use this nano to drive a Raspberry Pi or other type of computer to serve a full lcd screen via serial, bluetooth or wireless. That's way in the future if I try and tackle it at all.
The second board in the set is the driver board, This board controls the lamps, solenoids and flippers.
In addition there is support for an audio line out, rgb lamps, aux lamps, solenoid expander, flashers, and expansion pins.
One interesting feature is the ability to treat the flippers like fliptronic flippers. I'll cover this in a future post.
Here are the topics I'll post in the next couple days:
1. Installing the boards
2. Running the sample app
3. A switch tester application for mapping out the matrix (can't find one for Nugent so I have one on order)
4. Getting the flippers to work
I'll be at Arcade Expo this weekend so anything that doesn't get posted tomorrow will have to wait until next week. If you're going to AE4 please stop by and say hi.

Nice write up and summary. Thanks for creating this I will keep following along and offer help where i can. The board set was a big project to get into the world. I also welcome feedback on improvements and fine tuning, both on hardware and the software framework. Noted on your suggestion for a key on the J12 aux controller connection. Can't guarantee the length of time when changes will be made though, as i have a lot of projects and products, but its something i want to keep improving. There are many different games that can be used with this boards so we find all sorts of nuances as we delve into things.

#8 1 year ago
Quoted from HoakyPoaky:

OMG this guy reproduces Bally S&T boards too? That's awesome! So glad I just stumbled on this.
Sounds like a cool little project with lots of potential. I'll be watching for sure

Yes i have been making s&t sound boards for a few years now. Around 80 boards in the wild now.

#9 1 year ago

wow, good stuff, will be following your progress here on this very interesting topic

#10 1 year ago

I'm at arcade expo for the weekend. Monday morning I'll do the flippers

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