(Topic ID: 212259)

electrics look overwhelming


By just4fn

11 months ago



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    #1 11 months ago

    When I raise my playfield of my Big Shot, the switch's and rotors look overwhelming. How does anybody take all those out to do a restore and get it all back together? I can do stuff one at a time, but I don't think I could ever get it back to where it would work. There are stacked switch's 3 and 5 deep. Scary

    10
    #2 11 months ago

    EM theory - don't touch it if it ain't broke

    Literally people make jobs far worse trying to 'improve' what isn't broke. The games rely on such a small margin of error with the switches that people usually do more harm than good because of the alignments, gapping, etc.

    Sometimes people pull the bottom board out and clean it all... but a reliable EM is far more desirable than a 'clean but broke' one.

    #3 11 months ago

    it IS overwhelming at first: identifying the different items in there separately is a good start.

    http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index1.htm#empartsvideo

    one thing at a time is a great place to start

    #4 11 months ago

    Hey Just4fn, I'm in the same neck of the woods (kinda) - I'm up above Bellingham.

    I'm in the same boat, got my first EM (Argosy) and its pretty daunting, especially when its hard to know what its "supposed" to be like. In my case not much happens when its turned on, but since I don't know what should happen when its turned on it makes it difficult. If you guys get a EM work-party going let me know, I might be able to make the drive down and say hi.

    #5 11 months ago

    Yeah my first question would be why are you wanting to tear everything out of it? If you don't need to don't .

    If it's because you want to do a restore I'd say you need to be comfortable with electronics to even attempt it.

    If it's currently not working and you're looking to fix it... learn by studying the web and a little trial and error . But by no means tear it apart.

    #6 11 months ago

    Yes, you should take it all apart and fill your dishwasher with as much of it as you can. It may take three or four loads depending on the capacity of your dishwasher.

    But before you do make sure to mark each part and where it goes with a sharpie and a piece of masking tape.

    #7 11 months ago
    Quoted from mark532011:

    Hey Just4fn, I'm in the same neck of the woods (kinda) - I'm up above Bellingham.
    I'm in the same boat, got my first EM (Argosy) and its pretty daunting, especially when its hard to know what its "supposed" to be like. In my case not much happens when its turned on, but since I don't know what should happen when its turned on it makes it difficult. If you guys get a EM work-party going let me know, I might be able to make the drive down and say hi.

    Often EMs fail just because they are multiplayer and the other players weren't ever played so the switches for players 2-max oxidize and stop working. ALL the player score positions have to initialize or the game won't start. If the game lights up and partially starts clicking, this is likely the issue and you just need to read up on cleaning contacts and get them cleaned in the head so all the initializations can happen. Once they're working again, just playing a 2 or 4 player (depending on the max for the machine) game every once in a while will keep the switches clean and the game working.

    #8 11 months ago

    Agreed. They can look very overwhelming. No doubt. And the more score reels and special functions of the maqchine the more it can look daunting. The previous advice offered is good advice. Is the game working? If so, then for the most part leave it be. Clean up what you can and get it neat but be careful taking things apart or adjusting things when they may not need it. I once had a Gottlieb that was a four player with animated backglass and it was way over my head. There was an issue with one of the score reels in the second player not working properly. Took a skilled e/m guy five hours to figure it out. Words of wisdom, if it aint broke, dont try and fix it.

    #9 11 months ago
    Quoted from just4fn:

    When I raise my playfield of my Big Shot, the switch's and rotors look overwhelming.

    Isn't it cool?!!! I grew up fascinated with electromechanicals and how they work after seeing the innards of an old crank telephone.

    Quoted from flynnibus:

    EM theory - don't touch it if it ain't broke

    Literally people make jobs far worse trying to 'improve' what isn't broke. The games rely on such a small margin of error with the switches that people usually do more harm than good because of the alignments, gapping, etc.

    Sometimes people pull the bottom board out and clean it all... but a reliable EM is far more desirable than a 'clean but broke' one.

    Well stated. Clayton Harrell of pinrepair.com says you should tighten the switch stack screws first then check the action to be sure the contacts are "wiping" then adjust the switch blades ONLY if the contacts are not wiping. The contacts clean themselves while playing the game if they're wiping correctly.

    Cleaning and adjusting every switch on a game is more work and causes more problems.

    #10 11 months ago

    It is daunting. It took me 20 years of hands on to get to the point where I'm comfortable inspecting and adjusting, as needed, every single part on a new game of unknown operational condition before I even think about turning it on.

    Depending on the life it lived and how well you want it to play and look it can be a deep dive.

    #11 11 months ago

    If you take one switch and tighten/clean-adjust properly something clicks in your head and you start seeing the logic. Read a late-60's Williams manual and it tells you clearly what each Relay does, and where it is. A Relay is just a set of switches, and each switch is dedicated to one purpose.
    Not to sound pompous but some get it right away, some after much study,others,never.

    #12 11 months ago
    Quoted from just4fn:

    When I raise my playfield of my Big Shot, the switch's and rotors look overwhelming. How does anybody take all those out to do a restore and get it all back together? I can do stuff one at a time, but I don't think I could ever get it back to where it would work. There are stacked switch's 3 and 5 deep. Scary

    lots and lots of pictures... and then more pictures.
    manual can be handy to for mechs.
    I forgot, did I mention pictures.

    #13 11 months ago

    If you know what you're doing, taking them apart and cleaning things up and adjusting them can, in the long run, be a positive.

    But that's if you know what you're doing. If you don't, leave it alone.

    The ones that are truly intimidating are games like Grand Prix. That's one that I really don't want to deal with and have not taken it apart. When I do a full restoration I usually clean up every relay and switch, even the score motors, but that one is one I just am scared to death to deal with. So I just play it.

    #14 11 months ago

    The thing to learning EMs is in learning the basics. The thing about EMs is they typically are the same building blocks... the game start, player advance, game over, tilt, 'how score is added', etc are all the same principles in a generation of game. And even across manufacturers there is a lot of similarity (usually just more about names changing, differences in mechanisms, etc).

    Working on them is about learning these 'building blocks'. The basics of how a switch is scored... or how a feature lamp works.. or the idea of a relay that is held on and then released by another switch break, etc. These basic 'logic blocks' used are virtually the same everywhere. So you start recognizing common patterns, and then will quicken in knowing where to start sniffing for the problem.

    I think its hard to study this just on paper, but with a game to work on, and the online materials from people like clay and pinwiki... you can start building up your knowledge.

    The great thing is... if the parts are there.. you CAN fix it. It may take some detective work to find the culprit.. but its satisfying when the concepts start clicking and you can follow a schematic LOGICALLY and not just tracing.

    #15 11 months ago

    The complexity is what keeps them interesting to me. I'm a year and a half in and still feel like I know a little more than nothing but still a 100x more comfortable than when I started.

    If you're new, first take minimum path to get game working and no more. Always work on just one thing at a time so you know that if something just broke it was the thing that you just worked on. Single players much easier than multi. Try to start with games in good condition or even 100% playing if possible. Once working, rebuild flippers, pops and other simple things one at a time and your confidence will slowly grow. Have fun with it! It's a great hobby.

    #16 11 months ago

    EMs are a lot of fun to work on. "Fun" being relative of course... but I mean they are as fun as anything else mechanical can be.

    The best thing about them is, unlike a solid state+ machine, you can SEE everything going on. With circuit boards you're left in the dark as to whether or not a component is "good" without a whole different set of tools and the knowledge to understand and use them properly. If you think you can't figure out an EM schematic, don't even look at one for a circuit board

    With an EM, you can always follow any given wire from Point A to Point B and see what's going on. You can see the switches that interface with the mechs. With the schematic, and comparisons to known good related parts, the puzzle with gradually come into focus. All the basic mechs on solid-state machines that beginners are encouraged to start with, like flippers, pops, drops and such? Came from EMs virtually unchanged.

    I would caution that the worst part of EMs are the stepper units (ball count, player count, coin count, etc). Those things are amazing in how stupidly crude yet exactingly precise they are. It is often tempting to "fix" a stubborn unit by stretching a spring... but that only serves to pull another link out of whack. Or reshape a worn pawl by filing it a bit... which causes some other function to not move or latch into place, and so on. Steppers require a careful approach. But they are simple overall, if tedious... ultimately they can be still fixed with simple basic tools, attention and willingness to understand HOW they work, and patience.

    It's very rewarding to get an EM going and/or troubleshoot the problems that crop up. I'm amazed at how intimidated folks are by them... it's certainly a dying art.

    #17 11 months ago

    I am also very interested in this topic, but I am having a difficult time figuring out how to teach myself the needed skills. I really appreciate all the posts which elaborate a bit and offer some good insight, such as that of goingincirclez.

    I had gained some reasonable electronics proficiency long before I dove into the pinball hobby, and was able to apply those fundamentals to learning about SS machines without too much difficulty; in fact, I had enough basic knowledge to correctly deduce the basic design and function of a lot of the circuits before ever even looking at a schematic or the innards of a game. There were then and are now ample and easily accessible resources of all types for self-teaching in a logical and linear way virtually every aspect of electronics from the most basic principles onward, and I felt confident and mostly “in control” when I took my first stab at troubleshooting and servicing a game (successful diagnosis of a dead logic supply in a BF, fixed with a new voltage regulator, capacitor, and trace repair).

    On the other hand, the reason many of us find EMs so intimidating is because the some of the fundamental principles of their design involves concepts (analog logic) which are either obsolete or well outside the mainstream, and therefore have minimal available materials for learning the basic theory or even vocabulary (took me forever to realize that what I called the “main drive motor” was actually the “scoring motor”, and that was mostly dumb luck). While much can be learned by observing the machine in operation, it’s very difficult for some of us “basic principles first” textbook learners to learn in reverse, and if there are deficiencies in our fund of basic knowledge our deductive reasoning could be faulty without us even realizing it, potentially leading to that hopeless feeling of “I know something is wrong, but I don’t know what I don’t know, so I don’t know where to start.”

    #18 11 months ago

    Understand the basics of the "oil drop follow test" as it applies to electrical circuit theory. This theory is not obsolete, and remains the backbone of electronics today. The logic is easier not harder to see, just different components are used to present the functional operation.

    The means owning the full schematic, know how to read it, and understand designed components. All electromechanical pinball machines and devices work under the same premise of startup and operation (with a few minor differences based on manufacturer). If a person does not have a schematic it's like fumbling in the dark without a flashlight, and very common error.

    This means get paper copy that can be read without scrolling on an Ipad. More harm can be done by adjusting parts than not at all. Inspect first, function check second, clean third, if needed. Assume nothing. Adjustments are made last.

    A person will learn more in 30 minutes with a seasoned tech, than a month by themselves. Search them out, we are around.

    #19 11 months ago

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/em-pinball-circuits-basics-to-not-so-basic

    If you haven't come across Steve Fury's excellent post, it's one of the best.

    #20 11 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Yes, you should take it all apart and fill your dishwasher with as much of it as you can. It may take three or four loads depending on the capacity of your dishwasher.
    But before you do make sure to mark each part and where it goes with a sharpie and a piece of masking tape.

    O-din that is funny but terrible advice.

    #21 11 months ago
    Quoted from Thermionic:

    I am also very interested in this topic, but I am having a difficult time figuring out how to teach myself the needed skills. I really appreciate all the posts which elaborate a bit and offer some good insight, such as that of goingincirclez.
    I had gained some reasonable electronics proficiency long before I dove into the pinball hobby, and was able to apply those fundamentals to learning about SS machines without too much difficulty; in fact, I had enough basic knowledge to correctly deduce the basic design and function of a lot of the circuits before ever even looking at a schematic or the innards of a game. There were then and are now ample and easily accessible resources of all types for self-teaching in a logical and linear way virtually every aspect of electronics from the most basic principles onward, and I felt confident and mostly “in control” when I took my first stab at troubleshooting and servicing a game (successful diagnosis of a dead logic supply in a BF, fixed with a new voltage regulator, capacitor, and trace repair).
    On the other hand, the reason many of us find EMs so intimidating is because the some of the fundamental principles of their design involves concepts (analog logic) which are either obsolete or well outside the mainstream, and therefore have minimal available materials for learning the basic theory or even vocabulary (took me forever to realize that what I called the “main drive motor” was actually the “scoring motor”, and that was mostly dumb luck). While much can be learned by observing the machine in operation, it’s very difficult for some of us “basic principles first” textbook learners to learn in reverse, and if there are deficiencies in our fund of basic knowledge our deductive reasoning could be faulty without us even realizing it, potentially leading to that hopeless feeling of “I know something is wrong, but I don’t know what I don’t know, so I don’t know where to start.”

    If you, or anyone reading this thread, feels intimidated or confused by EMs, it’s understandable, but PLEASE take the time to sit down with a cup of coffee over a few evenings and read (and re-read) Clay’s guide to repairing and restoring EMs. Seriously it’s a treasure of information that’s useful and has tons of photos to help make sense of it. He also has some good videos.

    You’ll start to figure it out. It will happen over time and, if you’re like me, you’ll learn by doing too.

    http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index.htm

    Then ask for help here on Pinside. And lastly, if you’re able to find someone (a “mentor”, if you will) in your area who can take you under his wing and help show you the way, that’s invaluable.

    #22 11 months ago

    I write a lot of technical documentation for non-technical people and I find that people who are accomplished and experts in a field tend to forget just how daunting it can be to understand and make the connections. For example:

    From Pinrepair.com:

    The Score Reel EOS Switch.
    Each score reel will have an end-of-stroke (EOS) switch for its coil. This normally closed switch will open as the coil plunger reaches its end of stroke when advancing the score reel.
    The EOS switch's purpose in life is to break the power going to the score relay. If this switch never opens, a score relay can stay energized (stuck on). This can lock on the score reel coil on (energized) and any feature (such as a bell or chime) wired to the score relay. This EOS switch should be cleaned and adjusted properly. If a score reel EOS switch does not open, it will cause problems (particularly on Bally and Williams games), keeping the score relay (and score reel coil/chime coils) energized. However a broken, permanently open, or missing score reel EOS switch causes far less problems.

    This is the kind of help that is available and its good, but it assumes so much prior knowledge. For example, I can easily picture novice people being pretty confused by this and asking:
    How can a wheel have a stroke?
    Why would its "purpose in life" be to break power to a relay when it says the switch is for the coil: "Each score reel will have an end-of-stroke (EOS) switch for its coil."
    Why doesn't it break power to the plunger since that's what advances the score reel.
    If its "normally closed" why is being permanently closed such a bad thing and permanently open "causes far less problems"

    #23 11 months ago

    When i first started I bought Bernard Kamoroff's book "Pinball Machine Care and Maintenance". It's a nice stepping stone before Clay's site. It's pretty rudimentary which is perfect for someone with no prior experience.

    #24 11 months ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    O-din that is funny but terrible advice.

    Well, when you've tried everything else to help a guy get a game as old as you are working, say a Coquette, you need to explore all options.

    #25 11 months ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    Pinball Machine Car and Maintenance

    Pinball Machine CARE and Maintenance Will order this book.

    #26 11 months ago
    Quoted from PinballFever:

    Pinball Machine CARE and Maintenance Will order this book.

    Whoops, yeah you know what I meant. Fixed.

    #27 11 months ago

    Too late now, but multi-player 70s EMs are the most complicated EMs out there. When you start on one of these, expect a steep learning curve. A better choice for a noob who wants to do the whole "tear down and rebuild" process - which I think is NOT a problem for noobs, contrary to many - would be to start with a single player game from an earlier era.

    BUT! When you do get done with a complicated EM as your first game, you're further ahead than people who listen to me. lol

    Sean

    #28 11 months ago

    Are multi-player games really THAT much more complex though? I mean they have the same features as a single-player version. Now add a stepper and a cam I guess, to count and switch to the next player: all other functions are still essentially unchanged from the single player version. You just have another stepper (similar to others) and extra swiches. And of course there are additional score reels to deal with, but again using the same principles and same functions, just more. It's not really more complex logic or wiring per se... Just more of a potential PITA total number of parts. The game can be just as broke for p1 as p2-4. Fix it for p1, it will work for the others so long as the player count works properly too.

    #29 11 months ago

    The initial shop job is a lot more work and then there are just a lot more potential places to troubleshoot if a problem occurs.

    #30 11 months ago

    I would say the shop job (as it relates to the pf) is the same since the feature sets don't change. No doubt there are more "possible" failure points in the additional mechs. Maybe I'm oversimplifying since all I've ever worked on are 4-player EMs, right from the first one I ever touched and overhauled, which was project Sonic Prospector. From there to an Old Chicago (which admittedly didn't need much), then working on a Wizard and Capt. Fantastic... then a WMS Expo as my first "less than 4player" EM resurrect experience. Bringing a Grand Prix home this weekend to overhaul for a client. Oddly enough, the El Dorado is the only single-player EM I have, but it's still waiting for shop space for overhaul. I did rebuild most of its wiring and mechs to prove it could still be made to work (was a true rats nest as found) though.

    #31 11 months ago

    Open up a Pop-A-Card and then look inside Grand Prix . The difference in the amount of mechanical elements is almost comical. Both fun though.

    GPvsPAC (resized).jpg

    #32 11 months ago

    GP has a lot, but it's really no different than any other machine. It was the first EM I ever really worked on.

    EM complexity is linear. Just because there is a lot of stuff in it, it isn't any more complicated than other machines because the features are physically seperated. Once you get the basics down, they are pretty similar. I learned a lot from looking over my tech's shoulder.

    The biggest difference between machines is the startup sequence, each manufacturer's is different. This is also the most complex part to figure out, and I'm not that good at it yet.

    Everything else is pretty simple. There are score relays, ball units, player units (2 & 4 players), credit units, bonus units (GP has two of these). If a feature isn't working right, you can usually trace it through and figure it out. I'm good at this part.

    #33 11 months ago
    Quoted from goingincirclez:

    Are multi-player games really THAT much more complex though? I mean they have the same features as a single-player version. Now add a stepper and a cam I guess, to count and switch to the next player: all other functions are still essentially unchanged from the single player version. You just have another stepper (similar to others) and extra swiches. And of course there are additional score reels to deal with, but again using the same principles and same functions, just more. It's not really more complex logic or wiring per se... Just more of a potential PITA total number of parts. The game can be just as broke for p1 as p2-4. Fix it for p1, it will work for the others so long as the player count works properly too.

    I agree, but we are both experienced EM dudes. The extra steppers, and the theory behind that, is all new to someone new, and that added complexity makes it even more daunting. Like the OP's title, this is the reaction you'll get from anybody who has never looked inside one before. And the more jam packed it is, the more intimidating it seems. So that little bit of added complexity to us, is a bigger hill for someone still trying to figure out a relay.

    Like I said...you can certainly start on any game, but it would definitely be less intimidating on a simpler design. But overall the important thing is new people getting interested in EMs...the noobs drive this hobby, or at least the image of it on this forum and others before it. So if you're thinking of getting an EM, just do it! So much cool...

    Sean

    #34 11 months ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    "Pinball Machine Car and Maintenance"

    Two door or four door, sedan or convertible, fully loaded or not, turn them over and they all look like sisters to me.

    #35 11 months ago
    Quoted from Stoomer:

    the more jam packed it is, the more intimidating it seems. So that little bit of added complexity to us, is a bigger hill for someone still trying to figure out a relay.

    Oh sure, I agree.... but I'm trying to break it down to its more baser elements, to lessen the intimidation factor.

    Put another way: is a 4-player EM head more jam-packed than a 1-player? Definitely! But it's not really more complex... just a bit more redundant. 16 reels instead of 4... but they all work the same way. More chances to fail? Yes. Same fix? Yes. It's not more "exotic", it's just "more". Same in the lower cab: are there more steppers and relays and switches? Of course! But they all work the same way. If you can break the failure symptom down to its component level, and "if X then Y" - which is the crux of what needs to be learned - you will eventually learn to "tune out" all that extra stuff.

    So often when one of my EMs fail, I can get right to the suspect relay and/or "hold that switch to fix the issue" in just a couple minutes. The root cause might still evade for a while since I will never be an expert, but it just takes a systematic approach: "Hold that contact to fix it".... well, what else relates to that contact? Ankle bone to knee bone to...

    Again, it amazes me that anyone who has no problem whipping out logic probes and o-scopes and checking meter ranges and signal traces and swapping chips and such on solid state boards can look at an EM and balk for even half a second. An EM is just a mechanical computer; a circuit board made entirely visible with wires and metal in place of silicon. The digital and operative concepts are still the same.

    EM schematics can be a different language, though. It's taken me a while to get comfortable with them and even still it takes me a while to puzzle them out sometimes.

    #36 11 months ago

    I think the simple fact is that the first time you open a game your gonna freak out a bit, maybe a LOT if you not someone who has traditionally liked to tinker with stuff. The truth is that EM games are, as stated, really simple. If you go slow, work carefully and ask questions you will figure a lot out fairly quickly. I also agree that start up sequences are the most difficult but only because multiple things happen in 1 second and typically the same symptom can be caused by more than one issue... so it’s just a little more complex, but even then, not super hard. Not saying I got it figured out, but I have come a long way in some years and had only pinside and other web resources to learn from... it can be done.. would LOVE to know an old hand or experienced tech, I bet I would learn a ton quickly!

    #37 11 months ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    Quoted from PinballFever:
    Pinball Machine CARE and Maintenance Will order this book.

    Whoops, yeah you know what I meant. Fixed.

    Do they have two or three different sizes? I'm seeing "manual size" and paperback but not seeing the dimensions of the book. Would the paperback be too small to read? Manual size here seems pretty large but might be easier to read on the side while working on a pinball.

    ebay.com link » Pinball Machine Care And Maintenance Manual Book Guide 3rd Edition Brand New

    #38 11 months ago

    The one I have is manual size and bound in that ring binder style. Paperback may just mean it's not a hard cover? Not sure really. The one linked looks more professional than my old one. Like a real book.

    #39 11 months ago

    My first reference book was Russ Jensen's Pinball Troubleshooting Guide. I think he published it around 10 years before Bernard's book.

    #40 11 months ago

    I'm an EM noob, and my first EM is a 4 player Target Alpha. Looking at the side-by-side above, if you were to ask me which one I would be more comfortable working on, I would definitely say the Pop-a-Card vs the Grand Prix. You have to remember that I am coming into the EM world with very little understanding of the "base" function of these machines, as some of you more seasoned experts say. The difference between the 2 machines above, is that layers and layers of relays and switches. For a noob, it is much easier to see and understand when there is LESS to keep track of, especially for someone with very little understanding.

    My first problem with Target Alpha cropped up just a few weeks ago. Played perfectly the night before, then the 4th player score reel was getting slow, then the game wouldn't "end." I observed the machine and thought initially that there was something wrong with the score motor. I didn't know what or why, but I thought the problem was there. I started a thread, detailing my problem, and a couple of very helpful Pinsiders chimed in, and took me through several troubleshooting steps. This, in turn, took me further and further away from the source, until one of them, with the urging of myself, took a step back to see what was going on.

    Turns out there was a NC switch that was opened, just right there, staring me in the face. Dont get me wrong, it was an incredible learning experience, for sure.

    I guess my point is that, I think people with more knowledge and experience take that for granted, and sometimes offer a new person something more complicated than he/she understands. Every time I get overwhelmed with something, I always try my best to go back to the KISS method. Keep It Simple Stupid. So for all of the experienced techs out there, especially for noobs like me, we appreciate the laymans terms and the simplest method to understand. I like things spelled out for me, and when I give advice, I try to keep it simple too. Not in an offensive way, just in a way that doesn't make assumptions.

    #41 11 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Yes, you should take it all apart and fill your dishwasher with as much of it as you can. It may take three or four loads depending on the capacity of your dishwasher.
    But before you do make sure to mark each part and where it goes with a sharpie and a piece of masking tape.

    Hey, I put a motorcycle engine in the dishwasher once.

    It worked really well.

    I never told my wife, though.....

    E

    #42 11 months ago
    Quoted from FrankJ:

    Russ Jensen's Pinball Troubleshooting Guide

    I bought that book when it was available in the 90's and it got lost in the moves over time so I printed a copy of it from online.

    Quoted from AlexF:

    The one I have is manual size and bound in that ring binder style. Paperback may just mean it's not a hard cover? Not sure really. The one linked looks more professional than my old one. Like a real book.

    Agreed. I like the manual size. I'm going to order that one, thanks.

    #43 11 months ago
    Quoted from goingincirclez:

    Again, it amazes me that anyone who has no problem whipping out logic probes and o-scopes and checking meter ranges and signal traces and swapping chips and such on solid state boards can look at an EM and balk for even half a second. An EM is just a mechanical computer; a circuit board made entirely visible with wires and metal in place of silicon. The digital and operative concepts are still the same.
    EM schematics can be a different language, though. It's taken me a while to get comfortable with them and even still it takes me a while to puzzle them out sometimes.

    <nodding enthusiastically> I recently went the other way when I started restoring a GTB Totem - I'd never "done" a SS game before, except for a failed attempt at a another GTB Sys1 game CE3K - back before Clay even wrote a System 1 guide and there were no replacement boards available yet. I traded it to a SS guy for an EM he couldn't get working(best trade EVER! lol). But anyways - I felt that same intimidation, although probably to a lesser degree, that a SS to EM person most likely feels. But then you realize you're making too big a deal over it, and you find that the thought process and troubleshooting are the same, and it gets better.

    As far as reading schematics...yeah, that is a slow burning wick. When you're new, whatever you happen to understand about them stays the same for a long time, then slowly but surely, over years and what seems like hours at each sitting pouring over them, little things dawn on you..."OH! Now I see what they're saying" moments occur periodically, and that feeling is one of the greatest feelings in pinball for me... )

    Sean

    #44 11 months ago

    In my view, anything that you aren't familiar with can be daunting. With an EM, particularly multi-players, yes, they will likely make you back away in fear But, first things first. Buy a schematic diagram for it if you dont have one. Read it, in conjunction with Clay's Pinrepair guide a few times and then look at your machine. Try to understand what the schematic symbols mean in relation to your machine so that they make sense. Then, and take into account **IMPORTANT** that there could be line voltage present where you are looking, turn the, a game on and start a game. Press say a 10 point switch and watch what is happening. Compare that action to the relevant section in your schematic, and progress from there. You will soon then have an idea of what is going on [I'm assuming your game sort of works]

    And then try cleaning say, a playfield switch. Observe what happens before and after you clean it, and so on, and on. Again, read Clay's guide about cleaning, etc and stick to the rules. Dont, what ever you do, be tempted to blitz the machine and 'adjust' everything, aka as the 'Shotgun' Approach. You will very likely be putting more faults on the machine that you are trying to solve. Golden rule, for me anyway, 1 bit at a time, do it, test it, and move on. As you do this, you will likely be fixing odd faults that were present, as you go along. Yes, it might seem very slow and time consuming but its better that than ending up with a machine with many faults where you end up either paying somebody to fix it, or sell it, or worse, scrap it!

    #45 11 months ago

    Actually that raises a great point: assuming you have an EM that works, open it it up and carefully poke around! Lift the playfield, start a game, and watch what happens. Trigger different pf objectives and watch what happens. Drain the ball and watch what happens. Mock-play a full-game to over, and see what happens. Do the same for multiplayer. Repeat a few times to become familiar with the sequence and patterns. Pay attention to the labels on or near the relays and steppers.

    Once things seem less mysterious, try (carefully!) poking some of the relay tabs with a pencil, and watch what happens. See if you can mimic a game without a ball.

    Having even a vague visual idea of what things do when they're working, is an invaluable reference point when they're not.

    #46 11 months ago

    I guess i’m lucky. Growing up, when a pin malfunctioned you called a phone number and the repair guy would be there soon. I could play the other games, then watch him troubleshoot and fix the broken game.

    My dad was an electrical engineer in the Air Force, he was always tinkering with something around the house.

    Watching/helping them was a great education for fixing (or trying to fix) anything. By the time I got around to buying pinball machines, I just went to work. For me, there’s still nothing more satisfying than bringing a long-dead machine back to life.

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