(Topic ID: 295219)

Gottlieb Solar City/Target Alpha bonus stepper accuracy.

By blibb

3 months ago


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  • 31 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 11 days ago by Peruman
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 3 months ago

Hi Pinside!

I have a Solar City bonus stepper that doesn't want to be 100% accurate. Some of the things it occasionally does. It misses counting the first bonus. It misses counting the last bonus. It gives random 2000 bonus instead of 1000. It gives a 5000 bonus burst for the last bonus.

I've re-adjusted the stepper position 20 times, and never found the sweet spot that will get it to perform 100% every ball. Eventually I settled on around 90% accuracy and left it alone.

None of the issues are constant. Some games they happen. Some games they don't. This leads me to believe that no matter how many times I add or remove a millimeter to the steppers position, it's more a reliability issue, than a misaligned contact disk.

I've rebuilt a Williams stepper recently. When I did that, every instructional video I watched on the process included a greasing of the contacts and contact springs. The couple of videos I've seen working on Gottlieb steppers didn't include that step.

I'm looking for any advice in general or specific on this issue. I've seen questions asked about these steppers before, but they're usually more specific. Mine probably needs a tear down and rebuild, and as of yet I haven't been able to find a good video on that. Thanks if you can help.

#3 3 months ago

Thank you. There are some things for me to check from that thread.

#4 3 months ago

That is a pretty violent mechanism with lots of action. I found it helpful to take some slow motion video with a phone of the wiper and rivets to help determine if it is misbehaving mechanically when it fails to give accurate bonus.

#5 3 months ago

I’m working on a Solar City right now. All the steppers and score reels are seized up from sitting unused for 30 years.

I started with the Bonus stepper. I have all the parts cleaned and the stepper is reassembled and stepping smoothly.

I do have one question. Now that it’s rebuilt, the Bonus stepper only counts to 10. With the game having 15 drop targets, shouldn’t this count to 15?

Thanks,

Alberto

#6 3 months ago
Quoted from Peruman:

I’m working on a Solar City right now. All the steppers and score reels are seized up from sitting unused for 30 years.
I started with the Bonus stepper. I have all the parts cleaned and the stepper is reassembled and stepping smoothly.
I do have one question. Now that it’s rebuilt, the Bonus stepper only counts to 10. With the game having 15 drop targets, shouldn’t this count to 15?
Thanks,
Alberto

It definitely counts to 15.

#8 3 months ago

Thank you very much. My double bonus is also mysteriously not working. This might be it.

#9 3 months ago

I was hoping maybe some lube on the rivets. lol Oh man!

2 months later
#10 36 days ago

Hi again, Pinside.

I'm still trying to get my Solar City to count it's bonus correctly. I saw a video where someone pointed out that the Bonus 15 position switch has to be exactly right in order for this unit to work correctly. My game seemed to be counting at the same slow speed as the machine he was debugging. I tried to adjust the switches and now my game doesn't count bonus at all. So far I've mangaged to.

Get the game to endlessly eject balls to the plunger.
Endlessly run the score motor.
or endlessly score 1000 pts, very rapidly.

I notice that when the game is endlessly scoring 1000 pts rapidly, the bonus stepper has stopped on the first rivet that corresponds to the first dropped target, but doesn't proceed.

I will try to get a picture later, of what I've done to the switches.

Thanks if you can help or give advice.

Evan

EDIT : Nevermind. The faq someone previously uploaded has pictures of what I need to get the switches to look like. I should be okay. thanks again kangourou

#11 36 days ago

I think I might need help after all. I'm pretty sure I got the switches correct on the 15 th bonus switches. Closed, Open, Closed then Open, Closed, Open on the 15th position. The bonus seems to count to whatever is the first target down and then fires 1k points till I kill the power. Not sure if I've done something wrong, or someone had previously messed with something that now doesn't jive with factory settings. I'll try again tomorrow, but if this rings a bell with anyone, please speak up.

Thanks

Evan

#12 35 days ago

the G relay should power and stay powered the entire time the bonus unit is stepping, and the stepping is very fast except when double bonus is scoring.

if the G relay is unpowering/repowering, the switch on the bonus unit with the OR+WH and BR+WH wires is probably opening and needs more blade tension to keep it closed.

the ball should not get sent to the shooter until bonus scoring is done ... is it?

there really isn't a relationship between the bonus unit stepping and 1000 pts being added by the L relay that affects the bonus unit. If the score motor is running and the G relay is powered (it should be, since a G relay switch does that), the bonus unit should step.

got pictures of your bonus unit switches at reset and top step?

#13 35 days ago
Quoted from baldtwit:

the G relay should power and stay powered the entire time the bonus unit is stepping, and the stepping is very fast except when double bonus is scoring.
if the G relay is unpowering/repowering, the switch on the bonus unit with the OR+WH and BR+WH wires is probably opening and needs more blade tension to keep it closed.
the ball should not get sent to the shooter until bonus scoring is done ... is it?
there really isn't a relationship between the bonus unit stepping and 1000 pts being added by the L relay. If the score motor is running and the G relay is powered (it should be, since a G relay switch does that), the bonus unit should step.
got pictures of your bonus unit switches at reset and top step?

Good morning baldtwit

Really glad to get your help on this. This Solar City is my first machine, and also my favorite. The bonus unit was a mess when I first got it. Scoring was all over the place. I pretty much got it scoring once for every target down accurately, but never had the double bonus working at all and the length of time to process each bonus seemed unusually long. Eventually saw a video that showed the issue with the 15th position switch and G relay relationship. I haven't really watched what the G relay was doing, I was just trying to duplicate what I saw for the 15th position switch setup. That's when my game stopped counting bonus at all.

Here is the current state of the 15th position switches.

I'll go have a look at what the G relay is doing now.

Thanks again!

IMG_0113 (resized).JPGIMG_0117 (resized).JPG
#14 35 days ago

Hi baldtwit,

Right now, I have the G relay and score motor working, but the bonus stepper doesn't seem to be advancing. It was as recently as last night, but my messing with everything seems to have affected that. Not sure what I've done.

I guess at this point, the 15th position is irrelevant, since it isn't advancing.

I'll keep looking.

Evan

#15 35 days ago

you have lots of switch gap at the top step, so I'd probably make the gap a little smaller by adjusting the short blades.

you may need to bend the long blades also to apply more tension against the short ones. The goal is to see the short blades deflect a little when the long blades push against them.

in this case, you can just reset the unit and push the switch stack with your finger enough to open the outside switches and release while watching.

the main issue is if the closed contacts are barely closed, the vibration from the step-up coil slamming into the stop can bump open the contacts and the G relay will unpower and you have to wait for score motor switches to repower G ... that turns the machine-gun bonus count into an irregular stutter.

once you have G staying powered, if you are getting a regular cadence bonus count that is too slow, that's probably not an issue with the bonus unit switches and either score motor 4D or 4A isn't working reliably.

tmi:
-----

the circuit is interesting. Score motor 4A is a switch producing 5 pulses in 1/3 rotation of the score motor. Score motor 4D makes one pulse, and it overlaps the first pulse from 4A, so net result is 5 pulses per score motor 1/3 turn.

if 4A isn't working, you only get one pulse from 4D and a really slow bonus count.

in double bonus mode, the score reels aren't fast enough to increment 10 times in 1/3 rotation of the score motor, so the K relay switch opens and adds score motor 2D and 3B switches (in parallel) into the pulse path 4A is generating, effectively squelching a couple of the pulses.

end result in double bonus scoring is you get one pulse from 4D and two pulses from 4A more-or-less evenly spread out in the score motor 1/3 cycle, which is slow enough to hear the difference and for the score reels to be able to double pulse to add 2000 for each target down.

#16 35 days ago
Quoted from baldtwit:

you have lots of switch gap at the top step, so I'd probably make the gap a little smaller by adjusting the short blades.
you may need to bend the long blades also to apply more tension against the short ones. The goal is to see the short blades deflect a little when the long blades push against them.
in this case, you can just reset the unit and push the switch stack with your finger enough to open the outside switches and release while watching.
the main issue is if the closed contacts are barely closed, the vibration from the step-up coil slamming into the stop can bump open the contacts and the G relay will unpower and you have to wait for score motor switches to repower G ... that turns the machine-gun bonus count into an irregular stutter.
once you have G staying powered, if you are getting a regular cadence bonus count that is too slow, that's probably not an issue with the bonus unit switches and either score motor 4D or 4A isn't working reliably.
tmi:
-----
the circuit is interesting. Score motor 4A is a switch producing 5 pulses in 1/3 rotation of the score motor. Score motor 4D makes one pulse, and it overlaps the first pulse from 4A, so net result is 5 pulses per score motor 1/3 turn.
if 4A isn't working, you only get one pulse from 4D and a really slow bonus count.
in double bonus mode, the score reels aren't fast enough to increment 10 times in 1/3 rotation of the score motor, so the K relay switch opens and adds score motor 2D and 3B switches (in parallel) into the pulse path 4A is generating, effectively squelching a couple of the pulses.
end result in double bonus scoring is you get one pulse from 4D and two pulses from 4A more-or-less evenly spread out in the score motor 1/3 cycle, which is slow enough to hear the difference and for the score reels to be able to double pulse to add 2000 for each target down.

By top step, do you mean 15th position, or 1st position. Whatever I'm suffering at the moment, is stopping the bonus unit from advancing at all. Seems to stay motionless when the ball drains. Sorry if I'm misunderstanding. I'll look again.

#17 35 days ago

Hi Again,

I just went down to see exactly what the bonus stepper was doing not doing, and tried to adjust and clean the switches to make sure the closed switches were tight. I feel the switches are probably working as intended. The two closed switches seem tight and there is a noticeable gap for the make/break switch. What is happening when the ball drains atm is the score motor turns on and the G relay fires and the coil to advance the stepper sucks in, but then hangs and the score motor just spins. When I shut the power, the G relay relaxes, the solenoid releases and the stepper steps up, but in reality it's hanging at the 1/2 position. If the first target is in the down position, the game fires 1000k like a machine gun until I cut the power. Hope this helps track down the problem.

#18 34 days ago
Quoted from baldtwit:

you have lots of switch gap at the top step, so I'd probably make the gap a little smaller by adjusting the short blades.
you may need to bend the long blades also to apply more tension against the short ones. The goal is to see the short blades deflect a little when the long blades push against them.
in this case, you can just reset the unit and push the switch stack with your finger enough to open the outside switches and release while watching.
the main issue is if the closed contacts are barely closed, the vibration from the step-up coil slamming into the stop can bump open the contacts and the G relay will unpower and you have to wait for score motor switches to repower G ... that turns the machine-gun bonus count into an irregular stutter.
once you have G staying powered, if you are getting a regular cadence bonus count that is too slow, that's probably not an issue with the bonus unit switches and either score motor 4D or 4A isn't working reliably.
tmi:
-----
the circuit is interesting. Score motor 4A is a switch producing 5 pulses in 1/3 rotation of the score motor. Score motor 4D makes one pulse, and it overlaps the first pulse from 4A, so net result is 5 pulses per score motor 1/3 turn.
if 4A isn't working, you only get one pulse from 4D and a really slow bonus count.
in double bonus mode, the score reels aren't fast enough to increment 10 times in 1/3 rotation of the score motor, so the K relay switch opens and adds score motor 2D and 3B switches (in parallel) into the pulse path 4A is generating, effectively squelching a couple of the pulses.
end result in double bonus scoring is you get one pulse from 4D and two pulses from 4A more-or-less evenly spread out in the score motor 1/3 cycle, which is slow enough to hear the difference and for the score reels to be able to double pulse to add 2000 for each target down.

Not sure what it's worth, but I've always suspected that my Solar City was hacked by someone who didn't really know what they're doing. I know that since getting it, the Double Bonus has never worked and it's always had that slow bonus count. I wonder if something else on the machine became an issue, and the person working on it found they could at least get it counting again by opening the 15 bonus switch permanently. Now that I've got the switches pretty close to factory, it's acting like I've broke something, but honestly. I feel that I've been pretty careful not to disturb other parts of the mechanism. Not sure I'm understanding why the coil that advances the stepper is locking. Is there some kind of EOS switch involved in this process?

Thank you

Evan

#19 34 days ago

I wonder if a shorted Motor 4D switch could explain some of his symptoms.

SC bonus circuit (resized).JPG
#20 34 days ago
Quoted from paulace:

I wonder if a shorted Motor 4D switch could explain some of his symptoms.
[quoted image]

Thanks for helping out paulace

Speaking of Motor switches. I noticed this switch in my initial scan of the game many months ago. I gap'd it and the score motor just endlessly spun. Put it back and stopped touching things. To my thinking that switch should be open and then get closed by the arm when the score motor comes around. No?
IMG_0118 (resized).JPG

#21 34 days ago

yesterday was my pinball museum day ... I'm working on a solar city that will wind up for sale and pretty much every unit that turns in the game is gunked up.

anyway, top step = 15th step in this case. Whatever the last step-up is.

per paul's post, either 4D or 4A being stuck closed will stick the bonus unit step-up coil on. If you manually close the K relay while the bonus is stuck, that'll tell you if it's 4A (step-up coil releases) or 4D

the switch you circled looks stuck closed, so readjust it open so it does something and deal with any side effects.

it's best to take the pics from further back at a high resolution so the wire colors and context can be seen. In this case, the entire score motor in the pic would be helpful as I'm not sure which switch that is.

#22 34 days ago

OMG!! When I fixed that switch (this time) the game counted down the bonus. Sounded different than I've ever heard it before. I think faster. When I fixed that switch last time the score motor just ran endlessly. I'm pretty delighted at the moment. I'm going to go do some more testing now, but we're on to something! Hopefully it's accurate, and then on to the double bonus issue. Wow!

EDIT : It fixed the double bonus too!!

On the double bonus ball though, the score motor kept running after the bonus was counted and the game didn't end. Seemed to end okay for ball 1-4. Could that be the switch gap you were talking about? I'll check that again.

Here is a better pic of those motor switches. If the game is north to south it would be in the SE or bottom right position.

One thing I did notice. The Non scores on the bonus countdown take significantly longer than the scores. The scores are now like a machine gun, but the non scores seem to take as long as before. Maybe slightly less. I'll have to test it some more.

IMG_0121 (resized).JPG

#23 34 days ago

I would say the sound of my bonus unit at the moment is creative drummer. That is, it's faster than before to be sure, but the pace is not a constant rhythm, more of a jazz drum solo. Is this why people say this 15 position switch has to be perfect? I'll have another go at them.

#24 34 days ago

Thank you everybody who helped me with this. baldtwit paulace kangourou John_I.

Thank you all!

I finally know what machine gun bonus is supposed to sound like. As a side bonus, double bonus started working as well. I think the blades can still be dialed in more. The bonus still breaks rhythm occasionally. The game is now ending correctly as well. That might simply be a glitch. Think the ball count unit might need to be adjusted cleaned. Another day. Thank you again!!

#25 31 days ago

blibb

Do you think you can post a couple photos of your Bonus Unit from the side where the switches are? I still can’t figure out why mine only counts to 9, not 15.

If you can post a photo of the No Bonus position and the 15-bonus position, it will help my debug.

Thanks

Alberto

#26 30 days ago
Quoted from Peruman:

blibb
Do you think you can post a couple photos of your Bonus Unit from the side where the switches are? I still can’t figure out why mine only counts to 9, not 15.
If you can post a photo of the No Bonus position and the 15-bonus position, it will help my debug.
Thanks
Alberto

Hi Alberto,

If you look at the 13th post in this thread you'll see position 1 and position (14) of my bonus unit. My bonus unit was only counting to 14, because the make/break switch that ejects the ball was being triggered at the 14th position. I adjusted both switches to allow for a 15th count and it's working great now. Your bonus unit should be starting on the 2nd rivet on the outer track and it should count 15 times until it triggers the 15th position switches which should correspond to your bonus unit being over NO rivet. That's what was confusing me a lot. The cycle ends on the position after the last rivet, not the last rivet as I thought.

You will need to adjust your unit so your 15th position switches are triggered at that point. If you take pictures of your first and last position I might be able to give you better advice, but you haven't really given any indication of why your machine is doing it. Is it starting too early? Are your switches somehow bent and getting triggered too early? Is your mechanism out of sync and resetting to the wrong spot?

Good luck

Evan

2 weeks later
#27 13 days ago

Evan

Finally got back to fixing up my Solar City. The first photo is the initial position. The second photo is of the final (ninth) position. It can’t go any further because there is a metal stop on the Bonus Unit that does not let it move any further.

When I compare it to the photos you posted on #13 above, my bonus unit is not even close.

Thanks for the help,

Alberto

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#28 12 days ago

you're missing the white tubular switch lifter on the switch blade and your ratchet is installed incorrectly.

the length of the switch lifter is critical for reliable operation ... too short and you won't be able to adjust the switches correctly (don't ask how I know that).

when the ratchet is installed right, the peg on the bottom side is against the reset stop bracket screwed to the frame. If the reset stop is not positioned correctly, you won't get the 15 steps needed on the unit ... but the stop bracket position is NOT your problem. Your ratchet stop peg is on the wrong side of the stop bracket.

if you remove the switches (or the front screw and tilt the stack up so the pin can go underneath the blades), the ratchet will reset to the correct place. If the torsion spring is then too loose to reset the wipers, you either have to remove the wipers so you can pull out the ratchet far enough to add a turn to it (spin it and pull it out far enough to get over the stop bracket), or disconnect the torsion spring and add a turn to that.

in other words, you should be able to hold in the reset coil plunger, spin the ratchet counter-clockwise and when you let go, it whizzes back to the position shown in post 13 and stops. The pin on the ratchet only pushes the switch blades when the unit is stepped up to the top step.

if ya get a chance, can you post a picture of the score motor? Either the timing diagram on the schematic for switch 4D is wrong or I have an odd score motor configuration on a solar city.

#29 11 days ago
Quoted from baldtwit:

you're missing the white tubular switch lifter on the switch blade and your ratchet is installed incorrectly.
the length of the switch lifter is critical for reliable operation ... too short and you won't be able to adjust the switches correctly (don't ask how I know that).
when the ratchet is installed right, the peg on the bottom side is against the reset stop bracket screwed to the frame. If the reset stop is not positioned correctly, you won't get the 15 steps needed on the unit ... but the stop bracket position is NOT your problem. Your ratchet stop peg is on the wrong side of the stop bracket.
if you remove the switches (or the front screw and tilt the stack up so the pin can go underneath the blades), the ratchet will reset to the correct place. If the torsion spring is then too loose to reset the wipers, you either have to remove the wipers so you can pull out the ratchet far enough to add a turn to it (spin it and pull it out far enough to get over the stop bracket), or disconnect the torsion spring and add a turn to that.
in other words, you should be able to hold in the reset coil plunger, spin the ratchet counter-clockwise and when you let go, it whizzes back to the position shown in post 13 and stops. The pin on the ratchet only pushes the switch blades when the unit is stepped up to the top step.
if ya get a chance, can you post a picture of the score motor? Either the timing diagram on the schematic for switch 4D is wrong or I have an odd score motor configuration on a solar city.

Let me know if you need a close up of a particular region.
kangourou 's faq mentions the 4D switch schematic error. Should be near the beginning.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/the-scan-bonus-unit-of-canada-dry-target-alpha-solar-city-
IMG_0146 (resized).JPG

#30 11 days ago

Is this lever broken? I had that on my TA.

0e8b68f317d64e1fe21518516d9ca62e2bbdf614 edit (resized).jpg

#31 11 days ago

Late to the party, looks like the photo you needed has been posted.

Thanks for the help on the stepper. I’m going to rebuild it tonight. I also found the missing spacer at the bottom of the cabinet.

This EM board never ceases to amaze me. There is no problem that can’t be resolved!

alberto

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