(Topic ID: 252715)

Jack in the Box Stepper/Reset Problem

By calla76759

1 year ago

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  • 44 posts
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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by calla76759
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#1 1 year ago

JITB was working properly until this past weekend. I bought a 2001 and moved JITB over in the basement to make room. That's when the problems started.

Here's the problem: at the end of a ball (or during the reset cycle), the bonus stepper unit on the bottom of the playfield cycles endlessly. If there are drop targets knocked down, it will first score them correctly, and then keep re-scoring them endlessly (despite that its runout switch is working; more on that below). Somehow the machine never goes from the "bonus count" cycle to the "reset the drops and kick the ball to the shooter lane" cycle.

While the bonus stepper is endlessly rotating, if I reach down and remove the ball from the outhole, the bonus stepper unit will complete its cycle (honoring its runout switch, which is gapped correctly), the drops will reset, and the outhole kicker will kick. I can start a ball and play properly (until it's time for the drops to reset, either mid-ball or end-of-ball; then the problem manifests itself again).

I have been struggling with whether this is a bonus stepper problem, an outhole problem, a relay problem, or a score motor problem. Here's what I know about each:

BONUS UNIT: I know that it is stepping properly, i.e. its snowshoes make clean contact, because it accurately scores downed drop targets. I know that its runout switch is working, because it stops correctly when the ball is removed from the outhole. The bonus unit is a bit mysterious to me as it's scattered through the schematic. I've included several snippets where it appears.

OUTHOLE: I know the outhole switch works, because when I remove the ball from the outhole, the bonus unit stops cycling and I get a clean reset. I looked at the switch and confirmed that both of its contacts are operating correctly (i.e. it's not half-working). Furthermore, I know that the kicker is working because when I remove the ball from the outhole, I get a clean reset which includes an outhole kick. The kicker has scraped my hand more times than I'd care to admit while I've been manually actuating the outhole switch during all this futzing.

RELAYS: I have confirmed the gaps and action on relays E (ADD BONUS UNIT RELAY), F ("E" RELAY DELAY RELAY), Q (BONUS SCORE RELAY), and QB (GAME OVER RELAY).

SCORE MOTOR: I have confirmed gaps and action on 1C, which fires the outhole kicker. And, dang it, the outhole kicker *fires* as part of the reset sequence, once I remove the ball from the outhole.

Any advice is appreciated.

Here is the circuit that fires the lockout coil (resized).pngbonus scoring (resized).png
#5 1 year ago

Thank you, leckmeck and HowardR. I made a video of the problem last night that indirectly addresses your questions, although I didn't get close enough to the C-cam to definitively answer leckmeck's question about wear. The video is here:

The video shows that relays E and F are firing in close syncopation. I agree that a slight lag in one of their activations could cause the machine to "miss" the end of the bonus stepper cycle, causing it to simply plow back into another cycle. But watch how, when I release the outhole switch, the bonus stepper completes its cycle correctly and stops on its runout switch, and the machine resets the drop targets and activates the outhole kicker and starts the next ball. Everything turns on the outhole switch (really the "Ball Return Switch" - see attached schematic showing that "Ball Return Switch" helps latch the E relay through the NOT side of the F relay). Of course, the bonus stepper should be able to resolve its cycle and stop whether or not there is a ball in the outhole. But the timing functions properly when the Ball Return Switch is released.

Another interesting tidbit: while the video doesn't show this, the bonus stepper also goes forever when, mid-ball, I knock down all the drop targets, which triggers a bonus tally. You can see in the schematic that the Ball Return Switch and the Drop Target Series Switch are in parallel, so either of them can pull in Relay E and trigger a bonus tally. Somehow, once Relay E is pulled in and starts latching itself back-and-forth with Relay F, whatever mechanism is intended to gracefully unlatch those relays is failing. I am close to answering my own question here because the schematic shows that Relay F should release Relay E when either the Ball Return Switch or the Drop Target Series Switch triggers the cycle. But I keep checking every switch in series with both relay coils, and nothing seems out of place. The one thing I don't know how to check is the cryptic piece of the schematic where the "Bonus Scoring Unit" *itself* helps to pull in Relay O (the outhole relay). I don't follow the notation that Gottlieb is using there (I put a circle around it). Maybe that's where the issue lies.

I will look more closely for wear at the C-level cam of the score motor. But unencumbered by the facts (I'm at work) it seems unlikely to me that metal fatigue brought this on. This problem developed immediately after I moved the machine over by a few feet. At first, the bonus stepper would cycle several times and then finally stop, with the ball kicking out. But in the space of a day or so, circumstances deteriorated to their current state, where the stepper goes forever until I take the ball out of the outhole.

Markup (resized).png
#8 1 year ago

Thanks Leckmeck - I'm intrigued by it too. And conveniently for me, I just added a 2001 to my collection, so at least I have something new to play while I troubleshoot JITB.

Interesting that the O relay can only be pulled in when the bonus unit is at its zero position. I wonder what actually makes that "zero-position" closure on the bonus unit- is it a dedicated extra pair of copper points on the wheel? I need to figure out what circuit is actually supposed to be making that zero-position connection, and test it. Theoretically, the zero-position closure could be the broken piece, right? Perhaps the intended operation is: the bonus stepper reaches its zero position, forces a closure of the O relay (which kicks out the ball and resets the target bank) and then the bonus stepper stops as a result of the outhole switch opening.

But, how could the zero-position closure possibly be broken, given that I'm able to make the outhole kicker kick, which can only happen when O closes, which can only happen when the zero-position closure is made?

I'll check tonight and get an answer to your question "Is the O relay doing anything when you close the outhole switch and the bonus unit is cycling endlessly?"

#11 1 year ago

Thanks Leckmeck. I checked the zero position with an ohm meter on the wires you specified. When the bonus stepper is in zero position, there is continuity between the orange and green-white wires. The zero Position appears to be coextensive with when the runout switch triggers.

As to the O relay, it is toggling for every cycle of the bonus stepper, while the bonus stepper is endlessly cycling. So it’s not stuck.

Oddly, I had a friend over and showed her the JITB- it worked properly for a few balls, and then went back to endless cycling. So there’s still some marginality in whatever failure is happening. Maybe it’s temperature-related as you suggested.

#16 1 year ago

I think my snow shoes are aligned- as noted previously, the stepper does tally and score bonus from downed drop targets (although it does so endlessly) and the “zero position” ohms out correctly when the snow shoes are in the zero position. Plus, I have manually stepped the bonus stepper and looked at the shoes in each position, and they look aligned.

My JITB runs an endless cycle of the bonus stepper unit at the end of a ball, whether drop targets are down or not. While the endless cycling is a problem, I actually think the bonus stepper is supposed to scan the targets after each ball, irrespective of whether any targets have been knocked down. If I am wrong, please correct me on that. But here is my basis for that understanding:

1. Watch this video of a JITB, but fast forward to 2:05. The player doesn’t hit any drop targets. But after the ball drains, you can still hear the unmistakable machine-gun noise of the bonus stepper unit going through a cycle.

2. I’ve stared at the schematic for a long time, and I do not see any circuit that would allow the machine to detect that an individual drop targets is down, *except* for the bonus stepper itself. Indeed, that is the purpose of the bonus stepper. Now, there is a switch called “Drop Target Series Switch” that is triggered when ALL the drop targets are down. But that’s a special case and only occurs when a dedicated bar within the drop target unit descends after the last drop target is downed.

Again, if I am all wet, please tell me. My goal is to understand the correct functionality of the bonus count and iterate toward achieving it. Right now the big issue is that the bonus stepper cycles endlessly.

#18 1 year ago

Thanks leckmeck. I will try that. Here is a video of the O relay during the stepping.

#19 1 year ago

I just discovered some sketchy-looking rework to the F relay! Here is what it looks like. Curious if others with JITB/JJ can look at their F relays to see what this should look like.

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#21 1 year ago

Interesting- thanks. It does sort of look like your F relay has a shunt between the peach-colored and purple-colored wires. In theory that could map to my ugly orange rework wire. But the rework wire is the only thing on the contact it’s soldered to.

The schematic is not great for verifying the contacts on the relay- at best the F relay appears in several different places with wire color labels, but those are just clues to the actual wiring of the relay.

#24 1 year ago

Just an update - no 'Eureka' yet. Bonus stepper is still running infinitely, although I've seen some glimmers of marginality where it stops and kicks out a ball a few times...then on a later ball returns to running infinitely.

Last night I set out to thoroughly check the E, F, and O relays, as leckmeck suggested. I didn't remove the nylon switch armatures. I chickened out because I haven't done it before and don’t want to screw things up more. I'll do my research on removing the armatures and then follow through with that. Anyway, I puttered around ohming out various connections that all looked fine. For the E relay, I confirmed that Motor 3B is switching properly (although its timing could be off). I also tried to gently tap/nudge different suspicious components (E, F, O, bonus stepper, score motor) during the cycling, to try to narrow down the marginality. No luck.

Leckmeck, I think you were correct when you said "The O relay is probably engaging only momentarily while the zero-position circuit is complete..." Based on my videos, the O relay only closes for a very short time at the end of a full 10-pulse cycle of the bonus stepper. In contrast, the game manual says in the startup procedure that O "locks in thru its own switch and a switch on motor 2B…" and then "Motor 4C actuates the ball return coil...thru a switch on 'O'." I don’t think "O" is closing for long enough to allow a 4C pulse to kick out the ball. Seems like O should be pulled in for almost an entire 120 degrees of the score motor.

I'll do my research on tearing removing the nylon switch armatures. I feel like I've done all the continuity/leaf switch checking I can do, and everything is solid. Now it's time to really dive into testing the subtle timing aspects of this circuit. I might also take the motor diagram and try to make a timing chart showing all the relevant switching in the bonus stepper cycle.

Dogman - I would like to do some testing with the playfield out, but I am not sure how to do a functional test relevant to my problem without the bonus stepper and the Ball Return Switch in-circuit. Both of those are on the playfield. What do you suggest beyond a straght startup test? (the machine resets its reels and starts a game OK.)

#29 1 year ago

OK, massive progress update. Thanks to all of you for your advice to get me to this point.

I synthesized everyone’s concerns (including my own) about dissecting the E and F relays to the extent shown in the @newmantj video. Instead of fully removing the armatures, I just removed the relay coils so I could quickly observe the backplates of the armatures.

Indeed, the E and F relay armatures had distinct, filthy half-moons on their backplates. They were a gritty nightmare. I cleaned them off with alcohol, as well as the coils, and really scrubbed them. I didn’t sand them (yet) or use a dremel, since they were still down in the cabinet. It seemed ill-advised to start blasting metal shavings around. So, everything that follows here is with the knowledge that I can do more to remove the impressions from the backplates of the armatures.

I reassembled the E and F relays and there was (finally!) a notable improvement. At the end of a ball, the bonus stepper cycled from 1 to 5 times and then stopped unassisted, and the outhole kicker served the ball! So the dam is broken— relays E and F were clearly a root cause (and likely THE root cause) of the issue.

I was glad to finally be making progress. I got into a groove of examining E and F’s switches and fine-adjusting them to get clean, uniform gaps. The gaps all looked ok to me already (scrubbing on contact; clean; etc) but my micro-adjustments were definitely impacting the E/F timing interaction with the bonus stepper. Touchy freaking thing.

I got the switches to the point that the bonus stepper often performs just one cycle (correctly). But it sometimes cycles twice, and occasionally more times. The E/F timing cycle is not robust - it’s still standing on the edge of a cliff that I’m coaxing it away from.

I think the next step in that coaxing is to fully carry out leckmeck’s advice about removing and dremel-smoothing the E and F relay armatures. It’s amazing how much that tiny thing affects game function in this case. While I was experimenting with gapping the switches, I also experimented with tightening the springs on the E and F relay armatures (Sorry- I know you are shouting at me as you read this!) On the E relay, the tighter spring actually seemed to help a little. But I restored it to stock because I knew was on a wicked path of garbage unprincipled hacking. Plus, it caused a nasty buzzing that had me almost ready to retreat to SS games.

A few codas: (1) Once I started getting control of the stepper’s endless cycling, I noticed to my dismay that my “game” was lasting forever because the machine wasn’t incrementing past Ball 1. But I got ahold of myself and quickly traced the problem to the trough switch. Somehow during this now 10 or 14-day odyssey, the trough switch got over-gapped and wasn’t sensing the ball kicking out. So that’s solved.

(2) Just as I was going to play a few games to reward myself for all this progress, something else went to hell. I started a new game, and the score reels all reset to zero. (I cleaned and debugged them a year ago when I got the game.) But the score motor kept turning. I don’t hear any score relays struggling, and the bonus stepper is (thankfully) quiet and uninvolved. I turned off the game and manually put some scores on all the reels. Upon power-up, the machine correctly zeroed out the reels, but the motor continued to cycle. I wondered if I screwed something else up on the play field, so I removed the jones plugs and tried again with the play field completely removed. Still, the score motor endlessly cycles. So I played a few games of 2001 and went to bed. I don’t think the E and F relays are the issue with this new startup problem. They are not cycling during the score motor turning.

#32 1 year ago

Thanks @leckmeck - yes I'll take out the E armature first, resurface it, clean it, and potentially de-magnetize it. (a hammer blow??)

Regarding the new problem: since the machine resets the score reels and then fails to proceed, I'm guessing the problem is that the machine isn't dropping out of its score-reset:

5. When 'SB' relay is tripped, the reset relays 'Z1', 'Z2', and 'Z3' are energized in sequence to reset the score units and the 'player' unit. 'Z3' opens the circuit to 'Z2' and 'Z1' until all the 4th player score units and the 1,000's and 10,000's score units of the 3rd player are reset through motor switches. When these units are at zero 'Z3' falls out and through a normally closed switch on 'Z3' reset relay 'Z2' is energized. 'Z2' opens the circuit to 'Z1' until all the 2nd player score units and the 10's and 100's score units of the 3rd player are reset through motor switches. When these units are at zero 'Z2' falls out and through a normally closed switch on 'Z2' reset relay 'Z1>' is energized. 'Z1' stays energized until all the 1st player score units are reset through motor switches. At the same time the player unit steps up to its zero position through a motor 1A switch in series with a switch on 'SB' and a run-off switch on the 'player' unit (P5B).

I'm away from the machine now, but will have to tackle this startup issue before getting back to the armatures. Probably tonight, but my weekdays are long and I can't get to pinball until 9pm or so.

#35 1 year ago

I removed the E relay’s armature and Sanded it down with 400/600/1000 to get rid of the cool impression. Then thoroughly polished and cleaned it so it’s backside is smooth. Unfortunately I forgot to hit it with a hammer. Reassembled and I’m getting the same endless bonus stepper cycling.

If I augment the tension of the E relay spring with my finger, the problem clearly diminishes. In other words, the E relay seems to disengage sooner, which mitigates the timing problem. The F relay doesn’t seem to have the same marginality.

I might just order a new relay armature instead of trying to demagnetize the existing one. Seems like I need as much oomph on that E relay release as I can get.

There are also several score motor switches that are critical to this release. The score motor wheel looks ok, but I wonder if the wheel itself could be torqued so that I’m not getting robust timing between the A and B and C levels??

My other startup issue went away on its own after a few days of cooling weather here...odd.

#39 1 year ago

I tried to make a timing diagram based on the motor timing chart. I am hoping to figure out the correct interactions between the various relay signals, so I can isolate the timing interdependency that is fouling up my machine.

At this point, the timing of the "O" relay doesn't make sense to me. O is triggered by a combination of at least 4 conditions: NOT 1C AND NOT 2B AND F AND Bonus Stepper at Zero. I don’t think that combination occurs until the tenth pulse of 1A, which I think is the zero position of the bonus stepper. Once that occurs, "O" latches itself through NOT 2B. But then, just a few degrees later, 2B closes, which UNLATCHES "O". So, "O" only pulls in for a brief moment (which is the behavior shown with my machine, in my video above).

How can this be? Shouldn't "O" be pulled in for a full 120 degrees or so, until the 4C pulse in the third frame of the motor diagram? (If you watch a video of a correctly-functioning JITB/JJ, the ball clearly kicks out during the third frame, after the 10 steps of the bonus stepper, and after a long pause.)

What am I missing here? Is there something else that re-latches O?

Color markup of triple timing diagram (resized).jpgIMG_1517 - Copy (resized).JPG
#41 1 year ago

Hilarious. What the heck are the chances of that? We both posted 360-degree timing diagrams within 4 minutes of each other.

#43 1 year ago

Leckmeck, you son of a GUN. I am standing here watching the bonus stepper correctly cycle and kick out. No more endless stepping. I cleaned the 1B inside switch thoroughly and that was it- game over. You sir are a scholar and a gentleman.

#44 1 year ago

Thanks to leckmeck, rolf_martin_062, woz, alveolus, Classicpinballs, dogman, edednedy, and HowardR for all your help on this epic thread.

This was a massive learning experience I am fortunate to have had. Pinballs can be as satisfying to debug as they are to play. Going forward, I will be much more zealous about thoroughly cleaning every switch in the relevant path (although I had already spent a lot of time doing that in this instance). I recently replaced the playfield in this JITB with a Wade Krause reproduction, so it's really a beauty now that this issue is fixed.

leckmeck, I am not surprised that the timing margins are wide. Good old Gottlieb engineers. Thank you for plotting out the timing and answering my questions about when and how O should unlatch. To be fair, you suggested doing a full timing diagram back in post #6. I should have dropped everything and plotted it out- it would have been quicker than the many hours I spent with my head in the game. But someday I'll look at a game with a sticky armature and I'll know what to do.

Thank you, thank you. I will do my best to pay it forward.

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