(Topic ID: 290719)

EM to SS

By Gotemwill

7 months ago

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Topic Stats

  • 13 posts
  • 13 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 months ago by EJS
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    Topic poll

    “Which transition is more difficult for a first timer?”

    • EM to SS 4 votes
    • SS to EM 12 votes

    (16 votes)

    #1 7 months ago

    Every once in a while we see a post from someone who has a collection of SS games and has bought their first EM. Their intrepidation over how to troubleshoot the game has always been puzzling to me since you can physically see the “logic” in a EM game and all the individual components are accessible. It seems like this would be a natural progression but apparently not.

    Since I don’t participate in the other forums on this site, I always wondered if there were similar posts from EM guys who bought their first SS game and if the transition is any easier. I have no experience with SS games, but when I see the inside I wouldn’t even no where to start other than the playfield switches. I suppose this is the same reaction of someone looking at an EM game for the first time.

    Would be interested in hearing from others and comparing the experience between their first EM and first SS games.

    #2 7 months ago

    I think once you get accustomed to troubleshooting one or the other the transition is intimidating. I'm an EM guy and do enjoy some SS games. They always scare the crap out of me though. And the few I've had have been sold before they crapped out on me. It's scary to me that the potential issues are hidden in a component that may not show any defect. Like you say I like that I can physically see the logic in an EM.

    #3 7 months ago

    I find SS a lot easier to work with and troubleshoot. Pretty much everything is based upon on/off logic and mostly direct inputs/outputs.

    With EMs, I find following the mechanical, conditional, and chain logic a little difficult. So not only are you dealing with just the operational logic, but also physical problems with the mechanisms that might or might not be obvious enough to track down. Then on top of that, some the wiring can only be identified based on color, rather than pin positions. With games that are decades old, the wire colors are not always easy to determine, and that adds yet another layer of complexity.

    I can certainly appreciate the ingenuity it took to design EM games, but I find SS games much easier to work on.

    #4 7 months ago

    I know a number of "EM guys" who've had lots of trouble learning SS stuff. 99% of the time (unless it's timing related) I think EMs are simpler to work on, assuming a similar knowledge of each, but they are much more likely to be "partially" working (eg, some specific feature doesn't work quite right), while SS are all or nothing

    #5 7 months ago

    I started out on EMs and figured them out pretty good ( which I enjoyed). I then got one early SS and it didn't seem too bad but when I look at all of the SS troubleshooting stuff the thing that intimidates me the most is having to deal with those connectors. It just seems like such a pain to have to change out the pins on all those connectors because they get burnt. Kind of a tedious crimping or soldering job that I don't particularly look forward to doing.Working with the boards and troubleshooting it doesn't seem to be too bad. I can figure out the logic by reading the manual and asking questions at pinside. Of course working on the play field and adjusting things like rollover switches etc is just basically the same.

    #6 7 months ago

    I started with EM games and came to appreciate the ladder logic, also I like mechanical things so fixing broken mechanisms came easy to me. Em's were nice to the fact that most of the time it was just relay adjustments and contact closures to get you back up and running. Solid State on the other hand ...if you really get into it you better have some electronics knowledge , I feel just the playfield switch matrix is odd to learn ...I have Gottlieb system 80B's and early Stern and a game plan and the switch matrix is basically the same. You have Strobe lines and you have return lines and the computer (MPU) determines the switch that was activated by which strobe it received on which return line and that way it knows how many points to register, which sound to energize and whether it needs to activate a solenoid or a light circuit. It's all timing and it happens in milliseconds. Sound cards and driver cards are pretty easy if you know that 1111 =15 and 11111= 31 and how to determine that. Most ppl that get into Solid State without electronics knowledge have problems and spend a lot of money on swap tronics (changing boards on educated guesses to try and fix a
    problem. The good thing is there are a lot of guys willing to help on this forum. I helped a guy who was an accountant by trade get his machine running again, so it can be done but you have to be willing to learn some electronics and do some component level soldering.

    #7 7 months ago

    I'm better with EMs since I can see everything and I always just go thru the whole machine, check/adjust/clean all the switches, clean and lube all units as necessary and things usually work out okay. SS games were a lot spookier to me years ago but now I can change a transistor or chip or fix a connector here and there. All of the new circuit boards available now and internet help like Pinside takes a lot of the scare out of buying an SS game that is 'dead'.

    #8 7 months ago

    Last year, I bought a totally non working EM (Bank Shot) as a project. It took a while and was a little intimidating at first to get the hang on the logic and what is what inside the cabinet. Unlike the SS and later games there was no manual to reference only the schematic to use to figure out the logic/component purpose.

    It took some figuring on what each component was in the game. Took more research on line. However , also needed more skills in learning the technique to adjust contact gaps.

    EM games are really cool and I enjoy playing them. They feel at times more like a game then a “Odyssey” type experience in the new pins.
    Just picked up a Gottlieb Lucky Hand. Really impressed with the execution of the rules in that title.

    #9 7 months ago

    I think EMs are easier to work on and understand in general. The problem is staring you in the face, just find it. SS isn’t that much harder to learn, but can be more frustrating until stuff starts to click.

    #10 7 months ago

    I can fix EMs all day. I hate working (troubleshooting) SS pins. However, I much prefer DMD and newer pins.

    #11 7 months ago

    I'm proficient at repairing both by this point, started out with EMs. Had experience with auto electronics so it helped.

    #12 7 months ago

    I have a theory on this, partly because it is apart of my pinball journey............

    The appearance of SS or even DMD games being easier to troubleshoot than EM games is based on the eye test. When you think about it the 'mechanics' are related to the playfield. Flippers, pops, kickers, etc. become basic repairs to anyone who is actively involved in maintaining a machine. The caveat are the boards. Maybe you know basic board repair, but if not these can be replaced, or sent out to repair with no sweat. So as long as you have some money to spend, a resetting WPC game or cooked transistors can been seen as passé to the naked eye. Everything else, is basic mechanics..........

    When you open a EM its intimidating. It takes a little bit of effort to become familiar with the banks of steppers, reels, and wiper assemblies and how they all work together. I was one of these people, incredibly intimidated. Now I have 6 EM's and seeking out more after I took the plunge so to speak. The playfield mechanics are basically the same with the exception of cleaning the aforementioned cabinet EM parts above. The other learning curve is the ladder diagram. Some don't use it at all, others do. I enjoy having one on hand, they are useful especially with games that have some complicated scoring and light features. But for those who don't use it(as a newbie) nor know HOW to use it, a EM that isn't working can be an absolute mystery to most and quickly avoid buying one or get rid of it.

    Anyway, thats my personal experience from transitioning from SS/DMD to being a huge EM fan. Just took some time to realize that no matter what isn't working on one.....the answer is solvable.

    #13 7 months ago

    I work on both. Usually takes me a bit longer to get to that “ah-ha” moment with an EM. But I have more confidence in knowing I’ll be able to fix what I need to on the spot with an EM since it’s usually a cold contact or mech got jammed up etc

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