(Topic ID: 155023)

my (proto?) HEAVY METAL MELTDOWN adventure


By Drano

4 years ago



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  • 61 posts
  • 21 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Drano
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There are 61 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
14
#1 4 years ago

Hi Guys,
I wanted to share this cool find with an interesting twist.

I've been in love with Bally 6803 games for some time now. I love my Special Force and several others have come and gone over the last couple of years. Motordome, Black Belt and Strange Science. I love how Bally had their back up against the wall competing with Williams in an era where they were kicking butt from a technology and design point of view. Yet, the Bally designers, with one hand seemingly tied behind their backs, still managed to come up with some awesome concepts and unique layouts. To me, these "ugly duckling" games that were poorly made and value engineered to death, are so bad that they're kinda good

One of the grail 6803 machines for me was HEAVY METAL MELTDOWN from 1987. It's a Dan Langlois design with art by Tony Ramuni and code by Rehman Merchant. It bears a lot of similarity to Strange Science in that the player must lock 5 balls to start Heavy Metal Meltdown multi ball. I'll get more into the game play another time but it's really cool how the shots are very interactive and the player is basically creating music and riffs as he/she shoots around the table.

A couple of months ago I was talking with a collector in Montreal and he just happened to have seen one on his recent travels and agreed to help me get the machine. A few weeks later another collector friend was very kind in collecting the machine for his upcoming trip through Toronto... and he even gave it a once over for me before it arrived.
Thanks so much guys!!!

But the fun part is that this was no ordinary HMM... not that they are very common to begin with, but this one was different.
The game had the generic "Bally Midway" cabinet art. This was common with a lot of 6803, but HMM shipped with custom art. I figured that someone must have swapped in a different cab because these pressed board cabinets are almost always trashed.
Then, a photo of the playfield showed a feature not seen in the production games. It had what appeared to be a drop target blocking the main ramp shot. This was a feature used in Motordome but HMM normally does not have it. On this example it looked like a piece of black tape was covering the target so I had no way of knowing what was underneath and I wasn't going to get more photos.

I eventually found a thread here on pinside with another example similar to mine and found a guy out in BC with another. Both had the basic artwork but neither had a functioning drop target AFAIK. This didn't fill me with a lot of hope. I really hoped mine would have a functioning drop target but I had no idea if the mech was even there or even if the feature was supported in the code. These other examples were considered sample or 'test' games that may have gone into bars or arcades for early testing or sent out for regulatory approvals.

Needless to say, I could not wait for this machine to arrive so that I could investigate further.

Here are some of the photos I got from the seller before it arrived:

HMM_right_(resized).jpg

HMM_front_(resized).jpg

HMM_drop_target_(resized).jpg

#2 4 years ago

Once the machine was in my friend's hands he did a little bit of digging as he had some old schematics for this machine (apparently he had his own history with HMM )

He found a mystery coil that was labelled as "German Only" and also an unused switch in the matrix diagram. Bally used photos of the playfield instead of schematic line drawings for their parts lists and he even noticed that the drop target mech had been very crudely scratched off for final release.

IMG_3336_(resized).jpg

IMG_6486_(resized).jpg

I was getting very hopeful that the change was done at such a last minute that the DT feature was still buried in the code and that, with a little bit of work, I could install a suitable drop target mech and wire it up to find out.

Finally the machine arrived last weekend!
As luck would have it, my shop and basement were so full that I had no space to set it up. I had to get these other projects done so that I could fold something and get HMM looked at. With work also taking up a lot of my time, things were just not moving along fast enough.
Last night I just decided to set it up on my dolly, raise the head and take a look.
It was already nearly midnight and I had just finished tuning up my new EK, but I just had to know.

The cabinet wasn't too pretty, but it was very clean inside. Topper was intact and the playfield seemed very good.

IMG-20160316-WA0007_(resized).jpeg

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Then I peeled back the black tape covering the drop target hole. Looks like a real drop target and not a filler like other similar examples. I was cautiously optimistic... then I raised the pf and WOW!!!
A full drop target mech was present. I raised the target and found a VERY rare beast indeed. This was a custom hot stamped HMM target and not some generic target thrown in for testing. This was amazing!
The mech also had a switch that was wired into the game and a coil... but one wire was missing from one of the lugs.
The machine was full of electrical tape and odd fuse holders at every flasher. At first I thought much of this was done by an operator, but it became clear to me that it was a sample and all of this was done at the factory. The Bally Alladin's Castle plate on the side of the cabinet further reinforced the idea that Bally probably put this into one of their controlled locations for testing.

Lastly, I started digging around near the coil and noticed a lot of electrical tape around the harness nearby. On a hunch I started to undo some of it and found a wire!!!

IMG-20160316-WA0000_(resized).jpeg

This was too good to be true. Everything on this machine was left intact... but disconnected for some reason.
This opened up a lot of questions. Was the target working and they just disabled it to be able to test the machine as it would be produced? Was the feature removed before the code was completed for it? It's ahrd to tell but the target does look very new... maybe like it was never hit.

Of course it was now very late and I didn't have time to solder the wire and plug this in.... plus I figured it would be more suspenseful this way
So, the next installment should come tonight. I will plug in the machine, make sure everything else works and then will attach the mystery wire and pray.

I feel a little like Geraldo Rivera digging for Al Capone's vault.... but stay tuned!!!

#3 4 years ago

A W E S O M E !!!!!

Looking forward to the next installment.

I have a good friend that has a proto game which has a wood plug installed at the target hole. Hopefully you can finally unravel the mystery and we can get his set up with the proper mech.

#4 4 years ago

I can't believe it! (I mean the part about you going to bed instead of soldering that wire back on to the coil) Heavy Metal doesn't go to bed early, it rocks and rolls all night AND part of every day.

#5 4 years ago

Exciting stuff for sure!

You may be the first person outside of Bally to ever play it with the DT

#6 4 years ago

Damn
I got some bad news

Plugged the game in and tested it out. Seems to play fine except, for some strange reason, hitting the extra ball target when it's flashing doesn't actually award an extra ball.... but that's not the main issue.

Once I was satisfied the game worked I tested the switch at the drop target mech.... nothing
Then, to be thorough, I soldered up that solenoid wire... again, nothing
Lastly, I tried to find the solenoid in test mode... nada!
In switch test I did get a reading when the DT switch was closed, but it was very odd. The readout was: STROB 1 RETRN 7. I also get this as an error on game boot.
So, obviously the game sees the switch but doesn't do anything about it.

I also found this cheaply made rule-card in the coin box.
It obviously mentions the target feature. Now I know why it was in the coin box.

IMG-20160316-WA0037_(resized).jpeg

The good news is that I'm not entirely beat just yet.
I suspect that the ROMs may have been updated on-site and the wires disconnected and rule card pulled.
Hopefully that means that an earlier version of the code exists. The danger with that, is that any earlier code may come with its own issues and imperfections... but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

So, for now, I'm hunting for some code... if it exists.
If anyone can think of any leads, please share.
If you happen to know how to get a hold of Rehman Merchant, that would be even better

#7 4 years ago

Great find. Keep us posted.

#8 4 years ago
Quoted from Drano:

This was a custom hot stamped HMM target and not some generic target thrown in for testing.

Very, very cool.
How about a pic of the target?

HEAVY METAL MELTDOWN!!!

#9 4 years ago

A great game for sure, hope you get that drop target working!

#10 4 years ago

Good luck finding the proto roms. Sweet find!

#11 4 years ago
Quoted from RCA1:

Very, very cool.
How about a pic of the target?
HEAVY METAL MELTDOWN!!!

It's visible in that playfield pic above.... but here's a close-up

20160315_235200_(resized).jpg

#12 4 years ago

One small thing I noticed--It looks like on production games, they trimmed the ramp flap so it wasn't hanging over that saucer hole to the left of it.

#13 4 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

One small thing I noticed--It looks like on production games, they trimmed the ramp flap so it wasn't hanging over that saucer hole to the left of it.

Good catch.
I ordered a new repro ramp and flap from Freeplay40. Hadn't noticed that

#14 4 years ago

Also,
I have sent out PMs to some of the usual suspects that might have rare and unusual ROMs.
Striking out so far.

I shot a message to Rick at PPS to see if he would be willing to dig around in the archives for me.
However, I noticed his account here on pinside is now showing as "inactive". I sent it via email and hopefully he'll reply.

At the end of the day I'd just like to hear from someone who may have worked on the project and get the straight goods on what happened... if they can even remember

#15 4 years ago

Gosh. Pretty awesome if you get this to work.

Good luck!

#16 4 years ago

TimeBandit got the prem/le cross mech to work in a Met pro. Using his GI theater matrix interceptor board. I know that working on a Sam stern is probably far different than the guts in your HMM, but maybe he could make something that reads the switch matrix of HMM and make the drop reset when needed etc.

#17 4 years ago
Quoted from Drano:

I suspect that the ROMs may have been updated on-site and the wires disconnected and rule card pulled.

What do the ROM labels look like?

#18 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

What do the ROM labels look like?

Bleached white with no legible text left on them

They are oval I think. I can snap a pic tonight

#19 4 years ago

Great find. Makes sense as it seems to easy to start the multi all on hmm. The drop target would be used to make it tougher to do.

I hope you get this figured out and someone makes a hmm drop target kit that I could put in mine!

#20 4 years ago

On a side note, does anyone have any ideas why I can't collect Extra Ball on this pin?
I qualify HEAVY or METAL and the extra ball target flashes. I hit the target and it gives me points for doing so... but there is no extra ball on screen, the insert does not light up and I don't get a second ball when I drain.

I checked the settings and there is an option to set how many seconds the extra ball is available. Mine was set to 0. I changed it and it still won't work.

Looks like new ROMs are a necessity one way or another.

#21 4 years ago
Quoted from Rickwh:

TimeBandit got the prem/le cross mech to work in a Met pro. Using his GI theater matrix interceptor board. I know that working on a Sam stern is probably far different than the guts in your HMM, but maybe he could make something that reads the switch matrix of HMM and make the drop reset when needed etc.

I was reading a bit on the GI/Matrix Interceptor and it looks really promising.
HMM is so simple that it wouldn't require much at all.

It would need to trigger the target whenever a ball was kicked into the shooter lane and whenever a ramp shot was made.
That means it would also come up after every jackpot shot, which could be a drag, but still could work.

The only challenge would be in getting it to score.
The target is worth 5000pts. I could always piggyback it to another swicth, but I don't think there is another dedicated switch worth exactly 5000

#22 4 years ago
Quoted from Drano:

On a side note, does anyone have any ideas why I can't collect Extra Ball on this pin?

Is it set to award points, rather than an extra ball?

#23 4 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Is it set to award points, rather than an extra ball?

Hmmm, I assumed it did both. Hadn't considered that

Maybe a factory reset is in order first

#24 4 years ago

Shot some video today of me manually firing the coil from the transitor.
At least we know everything works... sort of

Also, a factory reset got my extra ball feature back to normal!

#25 4 years ago

'grats on getting the EB working. Nice to know even a veteran restore guy like you forgets about things like this.

That drop going up and down gets me excited even though I know it's happening with your assistance.

#26 4 years ago

Just a passing thought: before replacing your ROMs, would it be worth it to dump your current (whatever revision they are) ROMs from the chips just to have for archival purposes? Assuming it's a different rom than what is regularly available.

#27 4 years ago
Quoted from mbaumle:

Just a passing thought: before replacing your ROMs, would it be worth it to dump your current (whatever revision they are) ROMs from the chips just to have for archival purposes? Assuming it's a different rom than what is regularly available.

Yes, that is the plan for sure.

#28 4 years ago

So, it's been a cool couple of days.
I did manage to track down Rehman Merchant.

Seems I dug up quite a few memories from his years at Bally and later with his time at Williams, DE and eventually his recollections of Alvin Gottlieb as he was asked to join him with his new venture. Pretty cool!

He gave me a few directions on how the code could be accessed but most of it is beyond me. He didn't seem to have any specific knowledge regarding any proto code and, after all, it was almost 30 years ago.
He seems to think the target was removed for reasons of mechanical failure but I suspect cost was the ultimate factor.

Anyway, I am going to look into the code with the help of some friends and see what can be done.
Not sure about using that left lower flipper button to hold down the target though. I've read those proto instructions several times and don't quite get that.

I'll be happy to just have it up in-between each locked ball and then maybe leave it down during multiball. I think collecting jackpots would be too hard otherwise.

I'll update soon

#29 4 years ago

Very cool Drano! I was only able to find one Merchant through social media and it wasn't even close to what I thought he would look like.

#30 4 years ago
Quoted from Drano:

On a side note, does anyone have any ideas why I can't collect Extra Ball on this pin?

On the 6803 games, if the replay scores are set to award extra balls, the actual extra ball feature will illuminate but award nothing. My truck stop did this. Factory reset is to award credits, so your extra ball would be enabled aft doing the reset.

#31 4 years ago

update....

20160322064130_(resized).jpg

#32 4 years ago

Very cool! My friend has a HMM with the generic Bally cabinet art and a drop target hole that's been plugged. We found it in someone's barn. Once we cleaned the wasp nests out of her, she fired up great. I hope you can get your drop target working with that new (old) code!

#33 4 years ago

This is preliminary code just to verify things 'can' work.
Testing tonight and, if all goes well, the next step is to apply some parameters and see how it goes in-game.

15
#34 4 years ago

Alright!!!

A few hiccups and still a little bit of polishing required, but I think we may have the first functional proto HMM in nearly 30 years!!!

#35 4 years ago

That is awesome.

#36 4 years ago

Just a little note.
It seems that the artwork is not unique to HMM. It does appear in earlier Bally tombstone targets (not sure for which game?) but it is a white target with red starburst image.

Guess they just re-used it

#37 4 years ago

One more video that my friend took.
There was a small error in the code (the wrong transistor was assigned.. my fault). We had to do a little temporary rewiring to get it to work last night until the code can be corrected... but this is the first time we saw the target move in a solenoid test.

#38 4 years ago

this is awesome!!!

#39 4 years ago

I lust noticed your apron is different also. mine has artwork over the outhole/ball mag

#40 4 years ago
Quoted from Drewscruis:

I lust noticed your apron is different also. mine has artwork over the outhole/ball mag

I'm guessing you just have some art or possibly instructions stuck under the clear window?
Mine had this. It was obviously removed because these were the original (proto) rules.

20160318_194013_(resized).jpg

#41 4 years ago

This is everything that's great about pinball in a single thread!! Huge props to Drano!!

#42 4 years ago
Quoted from MapleSyrup:

This is everything that's great about pinball in a single thread!! Huge props to Drano!!

Thanks! Man, I wish I could tell the whole story and the entire cast of characters behind this one. It's too funny and too unlikely to believe.

I know we are talking about a basic drop target mech, in a game that most people wouldn't even give a second look, but it has no bearing whatsoever on how much fun and anticipation there has been in finding, researching and now being on the cusp of returning this machine to its originally designed state.

It's a shame Dan Langlois isn't with us anymore. I think he'd have gotten a good chuckle out of this one.

#44 4 years ago
Quoted from Drano:

I'm guessing you just have some art or possibly instructions stuck under the clear window?
Mine had this. It was obviously removed because these were the original (proto) rules.
20160318_194013_(resized).jpg

The instructions are screen printed on my apron, and the one that I replaced is the same also.

#45 4 years ago

Drano >> looking forward to a full write up of this and what needs to be done if you will.

My buddy is back from Las Vegas so I can get you his info if you still need it.

#46 4 years ago
Quoted from Drewscruis:

The instructions are screen printed on my apron, and the one that I replaced is the same also.

Interesting, I assumed the clear window was standard on all HMM. This is the first one I've owned.

Another VERY strange aspect of this machine is that it seems like it never had any sort of on/off switch.
The cabinet has been hacked a little from the inside and some sort of switch has been added (very crudely I might add). The wires have been snipped from the service outlet (which is in the head) and spliced with some speaker wire and run all the way down to this switch.
It's like the game was powered on simply by plugging it in. I can see that, once someone decided to actually route this pin, they decided to make some modifications to it.

#47 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Drano >> looking forward to a full write up of this and what needs to be done if you will.
My buddy is back from Las Vegas so I can get you his info if you still need it.

I was originally just curious to know if his ROMs were any different from mine and whether he still had any mechs or wiring intact for this feature?

Right now all we are doing is trying to determine the best way to implement the dt and see if we can figure out that rule card.

For now we have been able to do the following:

-rename and read the switch
-activate the re-set coil in test
-assign 5000pt scoring to the switch
-activate the coil after locked balls 2 through 5

The speculation on why the target would not re-set after the first ball is locked is that he game fires the up-posts to trap the first ball and Bally 6803 system had difficulty firing 2 coils at once.

Apparently, there was no code in this first test to suppress the DT during multiball... that seems to have just been a fluke.

I now have a revision for the ROM at U2 and it's being burned today.
I should have it by Friday night and will test further then.

This revision should add the following functionality:

-correct the driver error from Q38 to Q18 so I can revert to the stock wiring/pinout on J9
-hopefully assign a sound to the DT dropping (fingers crossed)
-activate DT on ball start
-add a slight delay so that the DT re-sets on every ball lock
-allow the DT to re-set after ramp shots in multi-ball as well

This last one was originally not in the plan. I was hoping to suppress the target during mb... but I am told that this "appears to be" how Bally originally intended it. I suppose that is why the lower left button below the flipper may have been used to hold the target down.
We still have not discussed when/if to add that option back in. I just want to get it working reliably and consistently first.

The programmer is unable to test this virtually in pinmame so we have to follow this process for now.

#48 4 years ago

awesome stuff.

You can reach directly out to Tim "itsonlypinball" is his Pinside handle if you need it

#49 4 years ago

Drano:
Sorry for the delay in responding.. turns out my HMM does have a hole for the drop target, currently plugged, attached a pic for top and bottom. Along with codes from inside the case.. I have the exact same bally midway design on the side of the cabinet..Cool that more than one of the originals survived! Let me know if you need any more info off mine.

IMG_1298_(resized).JPG

IMG_1299_(resized).JPG

IMG_1300_(resized).JPG

IMG_1301_(resized).JPG

#50 4 years ago

That "hold" label is interesting. Haven't seen one of those before.

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