How to Efficiently Ask for Pinball Repair Help -Vid's Guide

(Topic ID: 134673)

How to Efficiently Ask for Pinball Repair Help -Vid's Guide


By vid1900

3 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 34 posts
  • 23 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 87 days ago by ForceFlow
  • Topic is favorited by 56 Pinsiders

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    49
    #1 3 years ago

    How to Efficiently Ask for Pinball Repair Help

    =========================================

    There are a bunch of Pinsiders who are glad to help others get their games working again.

    To efficiently get your game diagnosed, you need to give these pintechs some solid information about the current state of the game.

    We "Can't see it from here", so you need to be our eyes and ears (and nose) on the ground.

    -

    NAME OF GAME, MANUFACTURER AND YEAR:

    We need to know the EXACT game , the year of production and the Maker.

    Why the maker? A common title like "Time Machine" could be from Data East or Zaccaria. Four different companies made a pin called "Space Shuttle"

    Why the year? Gottlieb "Hot Shots" could be the 1973 version, or it could be the 1989 version (Wow you say, I did not know there was a 1989 version…). Bally Fireball could be the 1972, 1978, or 1985 version.

    -

    DID IT EVER WORK IN YOUR POSSESSION?

    It is important to know if the game was working yesterday, or did you buy it broken?

    -

    DID YOU RUN THE DIAGNOSTICS?

    Every electronic game has built in Diagnostics. Were you able to run any of them?:

    Lamp Test: Flashes all the computer controlled lamps

    Switch Test: You press each switch and it reads it's switch identification number on the displays

    Coil Test: Each game coil fires one by one

    Sound Test: Plays all the sounds and samples

    -

    WHERE DID THE GAME COME FROM?

    Did the game come from a pinball collector, from the side of the road, or from an operator who put every bad board he had into one "it probably needs a fuse" carcass?

    -

    HAVE NEEDED MODIFICATIONS BEEN DONE?

    Certain games need important modifications done to ensure bulletproof operation. So if you KNOW the Bally "Grounding Mods" have been done, or that the connectors have all been repined, please state that fact.

    This will prevent needless advice instructing you to "do the mods", if they have already been done.

    -

    ARE THERE ANY AFTERMARKET BOARDS INSTALLED?

    If your Bally game is not booting for instance, it is important to know if you have the OEM MPU board, or an aftermarket MPU like the Alltek.

    Are your displays stock or aftermarket LED?

    Did you install any under cabinet flashers, LCD Screens, or Strip Lighting?

    -

    LED OR INCANDESCENT LIGHTING?

    LEDs can cause flickering or make nearby Opto switches malfunction. Let us know.

    -

    WHAT WAS THE LAST SERVICE YOU PERFORMED?

    It can be a huge timesaver to know what the last service you (or anyone else) performed on the game.

    If your F14 is blowing the Solenoid fuse, did you recently install additional flashers? If your Slingshot is machinegun firing, did you recently install new rubbers?

    -

    BATTERY CORROSION:

    Leaky batteries have killed more pinball machines than any other cause.

    How does the area around the battery look? Note any blackened, gray, or white areas.

    -

    BLOWN FUSES:

    What fuse? Fuses usually have a designation printed near the socket, something like F2, F8…

    What Location? On the rectifier board, in the backbox, under the playfield?

    What Value? Did someone put a 1A fuse in a 10A socket?

    Burnt or Corroded Fuse Clips? Good Fuse Clips are shiny metal, not black or pitted. How do yours look?

    Although occasionally you see a "burned up fuse", most fuses require a meter to verify they are in proper working order. You have to remove the fuse from the clips to test it.

    -

    SMELL:

    Does the game smell like burnt electronics?

    Literally put your head in the backbox or under the playfield and track down what board/coil/area smells burnt.

    -

    OBVIOUS PAST WORK PERFORMED:

    Are there wires with electrical tape?
    Are there board repairs?
    Do the boards have a bunch of jumper wires soldered on the back?
    Is one pop bumper mech not like the others?
    Are the Bridge Rectifiers remotely mounted?
    Are a bunch of mounting screws missing?

    It's normal for an old pinball game to have been serviced, but we need to know what has been done.

    -

    DO YOU HAVE A VOLT METER:

    Some very simple tests with a $15 Volt Meter can quickly diagnose a game problem.

    Do you have one? What kind? Do you know how to use it, or do you need detailed instructions?

    -

    CAN YOU SOLDER?

    Many pinball repairs require soldering. We need to know if you are able to do it.

    -

    YOUR LOCATION?

    Many times a local Pinsider can fix a game in minutes that would take many days of online posting.
    If your profile does not list your location - list it in your post!

    -

    PICTURES:

    I'm typing this in 2015.

    Every phone takes good pictures. Everyone owns some kind of digital camera. Post good pictures.

    Good pictures means:

    1. Well lit: bring an extra lamp into the room and light the game up. You can't work on a game in the dark, and you can't take pictures of a game in the dark either.

    2. Focus: if you took a picture, and it's out of focus -TAKE ANOTHER PICTURE! It does not cost anything to do it until you get it right. Don't try to hold the camera at arms length, lock your elbows close to you body and steady yourself.

    3. Lift the playfield all the way up: Many nubies don't know that instead of using the Prop Rod, you can pull the playfield forward and lean it against the backbox. THAT'S how you take a good under playfield picture.

    -

    PROPER TITLE FOR HELP:

    If you don't post a good descriptive title, don't expect that any of the good techs on Pinside will ever read it.

    BAD TITLES:
    "Game Broken"
    "Can't Figure Out Problem"
    "Smoke"
    "Help a Nube Out"
    "Question"

    GOOD TITLES:
    "Weak Flippers on Comet After Rebuild"
    "No DMD Display on BSD"
    "I Keep Getting Shocked When I Touch Both my games"
    "Bally Fireball EM Not Resetting"
    "No Lamps on Genie after Move"

    -

    Generally, DON'T PM or EMAIL TECHS DIRECTLY !

    If you get help in the forum, the dialog and answers help EVERYONE in the future.

    Don't be selfish, post your problems.

    Once you fix the game, BE SURE to update your post with the resolution, even if the solution was to send a board out for professional repair or calling in the local pintech.

    #2 3 years ago

    Pinball Service Request Checklist (copy and paste into your post):

    ===================================================

    Name of game, manufacturer and year:

    Did it ever work in your Possession?:

    Did You Run the Diagnostics?:

    Where did the game come from?:

    Have needed MODS been done?:

    Are any aftermarket boards installed?:

    What was the last service you performed?:

    Battery Corrosion:

    LED or Incandescent lighting?:

    Blown fuses:

    Smell:

    Obvious Past Work Performed:

    Do you have a Volt Meter?:

    Can you solder?:

    Location:

    Pictures (make sure you have good pictures)

    Proper Title for Help (make sure you have a descriptive title)

    #3 3 years ago

    Very nice vid. I really like the second post. Im going to favorite this thread and use that post when asking for help.

    #4 3 years ago

    Beezleboob get on it bud!

    #5 3 years ago

    Already done. If I was still in Pinburgh there would have been a delay...

    #6 3 years ago

    When describing solenoid/lamp/switch problems use the number for the item in addition to the description (i.e. - switch 17, lower left ramp). For those of us not familiar with the game this is extremely helpful. Once you've done this once you can then just list the number. For switch and lamp problems post an image of the switch or lamp matrix so the person helping you doesn't have to go look it up.

    I would add after-market mods to the list (specifically those that draw power).

    Take the time to thank anyone who helps.
    Don't bump your post after 2 hours.
    Post the final resolution for the benefit of others.
    Mark the post as resolved.

    As always thanks Vid!

    #7 3 years ago

    As always, awesome guide Vid!

    13
    #8 3 years ago

    Hey I'm a noobie hear and i just bought my fisrt machine. When i push buttun on front it won't always go. can u tell me wut part I need and where i can get it?

    #9 3 years ago

    Probably a fuse

    #10 3 years ago

    Wow, I just looked through my EM Gottlieb and couldn't find a battery at all?
    How ever there is a big black square-ish looking thingy in the back, maybe that's it.

    #11 3 years ago

    Adding a "please" or two should help as well

    #12 3 years ago

    Another brilliant vid post/recommendation.
    I'm also an advocate for throwing some "thank you money" at the Pinside fund after getting helpful advice from all you guys.

    #13 3 years ago

    Dear Mr. Vid - I have a hole between the flippers that the ball keeps going through. Is there any way to fix that?

    Your Pal,
    The Boob

    #14 3 years ago

    Is there such a thing as a pinside Saint?

    #15 3 years ago
    Quoted from beelzeboob:

    Dear Mr. Vid - I have a hole between the flippers that the ball keeps going through. Is there any way to fix that?

    Learn to nudge

    #16 3 years ago

    And MAKE SURE YOU GO BACK AND POST YOUR RESOLUTION! Say what fixed it so others can learn and look it up in the future when they have the same problem. Even if no one ended up giving you the advice and you figured it out on your own.

    If someone suggests something, try it. Just because its above your skill level dont skip it, that might have been the solution and you are wasting others time by ignoring the advice, just ask more questions.

    Tell people thank you, especially when they give good advice that points you in the right direction.

    Nothing fixed it? come back and say its unresolved and you will work on it in the future. If you start a new thread later down the road, link the new one to your old one.

    EDIT-- I see know the Vid already mentioned posting the resolution, how did I miss that?

    #17 3 years ago
    Quoted from practicalsteve:

    EDIT-- I see know the Vid already mentioned posting the resolution, how did I miss that?

    Secret editing on my part, lol.

    #18 3 years ago

    Now, how in the world do we make it easy for newbs to see this thread?
    I wish there was a way... It's all about getting targeted messages to the right group.
    -mof

    #19 3 years ago
    Quoted from mof:

    Now, how in the world do we make it easy for newbs to see this thread?
    I wish there was a way... It's all about getting targeted messages to the right group.
    -mof

    Have Robin add it to the Sticky Topics on top of the Forum's page...

    #20 3 years ago

    The Vid has spoken.....the godfather of pinside!

    #21 3 years ago

    Thank you vid1900 !

    LTG : )

    #22 3 years ago

    I know how to nudge. At Pinburgh this week, I concurrently learned how to tilt.

    #23 3 years ago

    I thought of one thing to add.

    If you are going to post for help in multiple places like KLOV, Facebook, Rec Games Pinball, Pinside, etc. etc. Please post the same thing. Don't water it down as you go along.

    KLOV - I was working on my game with a big screw driver and saw sparks and now my game won't work.
    Facebook - While working on my game I saw sparks and now it doesn't work.
    Rec Games Pinball - After I worked on my game it now doesn't work.
    Pinside - I turned my game on and it doesn't work.

    Keep the problem clear. Even if you caused it. So you don't get lots of answers that will vary and not help you fix your game.

    Not to mention if some people see all of your posts, they will be less inclined to assist you.

    LTG : )

    #24 3 years ago

    Another tip: Give a thread at least 24 hours. Some folks only visit the forums once a day. "Bumping" a thread after only a few hours can annoy some folks.

    Quoted from LTG:

    Keep the problem clear. Even if you caused it. So you don't get lots of answers that will vary and not help you fix your game.

    Another good point--we don't care if you caused the problem or not. It happens. Plenty of techs will tell you about all the stupid stuff they did when they were learning how to repair games. Sometimes they were expensive lessons. Either way, don't be coy about anything you think you may have done to cause the issue. It may lead to an important clue that will quickly help find where the actual problem is.

    #25 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Once you fix the game, BE SURE to update your post with the resolution

    This can be extremely helpful for others experiencing the same problem.

    #26 3 years ago

    Don't worry about asking for help -even if you KNOW you caused the problem (been there- done that)- in fact- that helps everyone figure out whats potentially wrong.

    AND YES- you can cause plenty of problems cleaning a game- so mention that!

    Every single person who can actually help you diagnose the problem has learned how to do so by working on these over years and breaking plenty along the way.

    #27 3 years ago

    This is good Vid! Some times i think i give too much help and escalate over basic ideas because i assume that stuff is a given. I also at times have trouble putting the thoughts and ideas in my head into logical text.

    #28 3 years ago
    Quoted from barakandl:

    Some times i think i give too much help and escalate over basic ideas because i assume that stuff is a given.

    I agree, you don't want to insult someone by asking the basic questions, yet a large percentage of the time that is exactly the issue. Just had one today where a coil was locked on and it was because a switch was stuck closed. The OP had been shotgunning components in the coil circuitry and everyone else was headed in the same direction.

    I try to guess based on the wording of the post if I'm dealing with someone semi-knowledgeable or someone completely new to pinball repair, but I don't always guess correctly. I guess I've decided it's best just to ask the basic questions and if I get a snarky response I just move on to helping someone else.

    #29 3 years ago

    Well, you recently helped me! So thanks for that, Terry...

    (And I'm still watching and rewatching your switch matrix video, but can't find a short because an opto is involved in the rectangle/square, so since that's always a closed circuit, it's messing with my head.)

    And people should always assume I'm an idiot when asking me basic questions about what I've done. They won't be far off target in that assumption.

    #30 3 years ago

    It should be a requirement to read Vid & Clay's guide(s) BEFORE posting a help plea. At least then they would (maybe) have a clue as to what people were talking about when they try to help the noob.
    We were all there at one time, but it drives me nuts when you go out of your way to try & help them & they argue about it.

    #31 3 years ago
    Quoted from dasvis:

    It should be a requirement to read Vid & Clay's guide(s) BEFORE posting a help plea. At least then they would (maybe) have a clue as to what people were talking about when they try to help the noob.
    We were all there at one time, but it drives me nuts when you go out of your way to try & help them & they argue about it.

    Pinwiki is also a good resource that is constantly being updated and added to.

    2 months later
    #32 3 years ago
    Quoted from dasvis:

    It should be a requirement to read Vid & Clay's guide(s) BEFORE posting a help plea.

    Hopefully, Clay will put them back up again.

    2 years later
    #33 87 days ago

    SILVERBALL MANIA 1980 BALLY

    "SILVE" inserts on playfield are not working or lighting at all. However when you Boot game they all flash for a quick second like all the other inserts. I'ved it down to the MPU.

    Why MPU: I originally thought the bulbs we're just burnt out like many. After shopping and LEDing it I found problem.
    Replaced with a rectifier board that I knew was 100%
    Tested Lamp Driver
    Repined connectors

    When I swapped out the MPU with the MPU out of my Flash Gordon the lights worked.

    No visible damage to the current mpu.

    Can anyone tell me what components on the mpu I need to check / replace?

    I have good continuity to all pins on the mpu board.

    Thank you in advance!

    #34 87 days ago
    Quoted from McPin54:

    SILVERBALL MANIA 1980 BALLY
    "SILVE" inserts on playfield are not working or lighting at all. However when you Boot game they all flash for a quick second like all the other inserts. I'ved it down to the MPU.
    Why MPU: I originally thought the bulbs we're just burnt out like many. After shopping and LEDing it I found problem.
    Replaced with a rectifier board that I knew was 100%
    Tested Lamp Driver
    Repined connectors
    When I swapped out the MPU with the MPU out of my Flash Gordon the lights worked.
    No visible damage to the current mpu.
    Can anyone tell me what components on the mpu I need to check / replace?
    I have good continuity to all pins on the mpu board.
    Thank you in advance!

    You should probably start your own troubleshooting thread in the tech forum. You'll probably get more help there than in this unrelated thread.

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