(Topic ID: 195516)

NODE BOARD FAILURE- How common?


By o-din

1 year ago



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  • 166 posts
  • 72 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 72 days ago by jabdoa
  • Topic is favorited by 11 Pinsiders

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There are 166 posts in this topic. You are on page 3 of 4.
#101 1 year ago

As long as Stern keeps replacing the boards, then failures are just an annoyance for the home owner. For the operator they lose some revenue, but at least they're not paying for replacements. Once they stop covering replacement, however, there's a real issue.

I miss my Ghostbusters, but still feel like it was the right time to sell it. I can pick up another down the road, but I don't have to live with the uncertainty for now.

#102 1 year ago

Has anyone had them fail on Star Wars yet, apart from the one incident listed in this thread?

#103 1 year ago

So few people are ordering from Marco?? My brother got nose 8 from stern then fried it again (his fault technically, didn't fix frozen flipper coil and blew the transistor again) so he ordered from Marco. It's been months and months of waiting -- Marco keeps saying it's back ordered ???!

#104 1 year ago
Quoted from pinballkyle:

Has anyone had them fail on Star Wars yet, apart from the one incident listed in this thread?

Not on mine. Nearing 2000 plays, 14 hours a day and zero issues.

#105 1 year ago
Quoted from pinballkyle:

Has anyone had them fail on Star Wars yet, apart from the one incident listed in this thread?

I have seen a few reports. A couple of Star Wars machines were reported to have arrived DOA, but Stern quickly sent new boards. Can't remember where they were posted, but I'm sure you can find them if you look around.

#106 1 year ago
Quoted from Mbecker:

It's been months and months of waiting -- Marco keeps saying it's back ordered ???!

I imagine as time goes on, we will see a lot more of this. When you need need one of these boards for a five to ten year old machine and you go to order one, you might get responses like back ordered, not in stock, or no longer available.

#107 1 year ago
Quoted from o-din:

I imagine as time goes on, we will see a lot more of this. When you need need one of these boards for a five to ten year old machine and you go to order one, you might get responses like back ordered, not in stock, or no longer available.

This is my concern about the whole Spike system, and with Stern not releasing schematics, I would think that would make it harder for someone to step up and make aftermarket replacement boards. However, we do have some electrical geniuses in this hobby, so maybe not having schematics isn't that big of a deal, but it seems like a bad deal to me.

#108 1 year ago
Quoted from Mbecker:

So few people are ordering from Marco?? My brother got nose 8 from stern then fried it again (his fault technically, didn't fix frozen flipper coil and blew the transistor again) so he ordered from Marco. It's been months and months of waiting -- Marco keeps saying it's back ordered ???!

Replace the failed transistor. Do not need to order a new node board.

#109 1 year ago
Quoted from Chrizg:

Replace the failed transistor. Do not need to order a new node board.

That's always the best thing to do. And for those that have no experience replacing transistors, worst case is they end up needing a new board if they mess it up.

#111 1 year ago

Engineering unique node boards per game seems like a waste of money to me.... yeah you save 15 cents worth of bulk components per board if a game doesn't need those particular drivers but between the electrical engineering and software changes to support that it's like they are spending a dollar to save a penny.... plus pissing everyone off in the process.

I think more likely the reason were seeing different node boards per game is that it was a half-baked system to start with and these things are basically mass produced prototypes with each release getting whatever the latest revision is at the time.

Stern could still down the road release a universal node board and make it backwards compatible through a software update. It's not like these things are controlling anything unique per game... it's all just switches, lights and coils... and sometimes a motor.

I know, wishful thinking. More likely someone else out there will figure out a way and make a killing once stern drops support.

1 month later
#112 1 year ago

SW LE on location, I was told by the operator that node 8 board was bad as he was told by the Stern Tech dept.
He was shipped a new one to replace it.

Upon installing the new board I discovered that 4 lamp boards had gone bad and was then sent 4 revised lamp boards.
Upon installing the lamp boards it was discovered that the trough boards were bad. On the phone with Stern at the location and was told that the failed Node 8 board probably took out the lamp boards and the trough boards. SO now the new trough boards are being sent out and the machine lies dead for going on near 2 weeks with the location owner is wanting it removed and has been complaining to the operator.

To either side of the SWLE are Dialed in and the Stern POTC both are working just fine and their bill acceptors are jammed full.

SO with Spike not only is a brand new machine down but the cost of no less then 7 boards are needed to get the machine working.

This plus the cost of a down machine is not in any way helping an operator with a location machine.

Just think cost of boards ,cost of lost revenue and cost for a tech.

Until the Spike system has been bullet proofed I would advise operators to think about purchasing for their business stay away from machines using it.

Not bad mouthing Stern but it is what it is, as they stand, they are not operator cost effective machines.

#113 1 year ago
Quoted from Eddie:

SO with Spike not only is a brand new machine down but the cost of no less then 7 boards are needed to get the machine working. This plus the cost of a down machine is not in any way helping an operator with a location machine.
Just think cost of boards ,cost of lost revenue and cost for a tech.
Until the Spike system has been bullet proofed I would advise operators to think about purchasing for their business stay away from machines using it.

Those boards would have to still be under warranty on a SW LE, right? Doesn't help with being down for two weeks on location, of course, I can see how that's a deal-breaker for an operator regardless. But at least Stern bears the cost of replacing the boards (and hopefully that cost inspires them to better design going forward).

#114 1 year ago

Node board 8 went bad on a kiss LE HUO, no longer under warranty so $200 bucks later waiting for part to arrive to get Kiss up and running again.

#115 1 year ago

Found this on the Internet.

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#116 1 year ago

Interesting insight as to what they may have been trying with Spike.

Unfortunately they missed the mark when deviating from the idea of using universal, mass produced node boards to desigining several new ones custom for each game along with dropping the $25 standard CPU for a custom designed thing that while neat to have your own thing costs a small fortune.

#117 1 year ago

What is the custom design cpu? They surely did not have there own chipset / silicon designed? They must just use an off the shelf arm processor?

#118 1 year ago

This was written in 2010..... whatever happened to the online tournaments idea??!

#119 1 year ago
Quoted from fosaisu:

Those boards would have to still be under warranty on a SW LE, right? Doesn't help with being down for two weeks on location, of course, I can see how that's a deal-breaker for an operator regardless. But at least Stern bears the cost of replacing the boards (and hopefully that cost inspires them to better design going forward).

But Stern should be paying labor cost reimbursement to use a paid tech to do the work for each visit when board is under warranty.

When not under warranty I understand not paying labor and trip time for a tech as board replacement by Stern at N/C would be a goodwill item.

#120 1 year ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

This was written in 2010..... whatever happened to the online tournaments idea??!

This letter was written to Stern (by people not working for Stern) to advise them that there are other alternatives for pinball control architecture. It indicated that there are some interesting things that could be done with off the shelf boards. From what I was told, Stern never responded to this letter, but soon after, Spike was born.

#121 1 year ago

Reads like a sales pitch to me. The fact that we as users cannot easily and quickly repair games means the people who wrote that didn't care about anything except reducing costs. The games may, however, actually be more efficient.

#122 1 year ago

If you read the very end of that document, it was a sales pitch from the NuCore guys to Stern for developing a new system. With Stern's history of system development it's not surprising they took the idea and ran with it on their own.

I'd be interested to know what the failure points are on the dead node board. I wonder if the boards are failing for vibration issues or electro-migration. Those low profile LCC's are notorious for both of those problems and under a playfield is going to expose any marginal solder joints. Boards are too clean, so I doubt they're using a high reliability no-clean based paste, and there's definitely no under-fill or potting to mitigate vibration issues. If they're using organic flux on a board this dense I'm sure there's still some corrosive residues under the low profile parts. Be interesting to see what you'd find if you sent one out for an ion chromatography test.

Looking at the design, most board houses can kick them out the door. But there's a lot going on, bargain and overseas suppliers would struggle building these to be reliable. Particularly if Stern isn't asking for certain build and test requirements, either out of budget or experience reasons. Given the failure rates I'd be running these through either a thermal chamber or hot-room burn-in at least until the failure point are found and addressed.

-Hans

#123 1 year ago
Quoted from HHaase:

Given the failure rates I'd be running these through either a thermal chamber or hot-room burn-in at least until the failure point are found and addressed.

What’s the failure rate?

#124 1 year ago
Quoted from sepins:

But Stern should be paying labor cost reimbursement to use a paid tech to do the work for each visit when board is under warranty.
When not under warranty I understand not paying labor and trip time for a tech as board replacement by Stern at N/C would be a goodwill item.

Agreed - are there reports of people requesting and being denied technician assistance under warranty? I had just assumed people were swapping these themselves because it’s a straightforward process.

#125 1 year ago
Quoted from fosaisu:

What’s the failure rate?

I don't know if we'll ever know for sure, as Stern isn't going to release any data that might make people uncomfortable with the reliability of the Spike system. All we know for sure is the quantity of node board issues with the Pinsiders that report it. I assume that the amount of reported node board failures within the Pinside community could be applied to the entire Stern Spike system purchasing base as a whole, but how big is that "whole" base group? And again, I'm just assuming, and you know how assuming goes, LOL.

#126 1 year ago
Quoted from fosaisu:

What’s the failure rate?

I don't know exact or even general numbers. Just going by the anecdotal evidence here. But let me put it another way, one failure per thousand boards is considered unacceptably high by the automotive customers at my full time job.

#127 1 year ago

I'm really curious and concerned about this node board deal. I'm strongly considering a SW premium, but I keep seeing guys post fried node boards. These are still under warranty, but after the short warranty is up, then what? How often are these failing? How much are replacements? Is it worth the risk, or is it all just blown out of proportion? I would really be interested in how many SW owners have had an issue.

#128 1 year ago
Quoted from konghusker:

I'm really curious and concerned about this node board deal. I'm strongly considering a SW premium, but I keep seeing guys post fried node boards. These are still under warranty, but after the short warranty is up, then what? How often are these failing? How much are replacements? Is it worth the risk, or is it all just blown out of proportion? I would really be interested in how many SW owners have had an issue.

Nobody knows the full stats except stern. What we do know is that pinball machines break. Pinball machines with node boards break. Pinball machines without node boards are realtively easy, quick and inexpensive to fix. Pinball machines with node boards are difficult, time consuming and expensive to fix out of warranty.

#129 1 year ago

Due to the implementation of node boards, many of which are custom per game, I think it's even more critical to wait at least 6 months after a games release before purchasing to see if hardware such as node boards are updated.

At these prices it's no longer worth the future headaches to get one of the first games off the line.

#131 1 year ago
Quoted from HHaase:

it was a sales pitch from the NuCore guys to Stern for developing a new system. With Stern's history of system development it's not surprising they took the idea and ran with it on their own.
-Hans

Why is it if one manufacturer "borrows" a system, (thunderbirds). Pinside goes ape shit but if another does the same thing all is good?

#132 1 year ago

I don't know the rates, but they're high enough that I sold my GBLE out of fear. It was already a maintenance nightmare, but I just didn't want what seems to be a literal ticking time bomb in my lineup right now. Even code updates are blowing node boards, so Stern themselves are still struggling to keep this system reliable. It wasn't worth the risk for me right now to own a SPIKE game.

I'll re-buy Ghostbusters in the future when I can be confident that it won't have issues.

#133 1 year ago

My only experience is with a GB Pro that had failed communications with the other node boards, effectively keeping the game from booting. This is a route game; so no revenue for about 3 weeks. The node board failed under ownership of the second operator at about 11 months after it was initially put on route by the first operator. Luckily, in both cases, I knew both operators and the distributor. When I initially called Stern I was told they only replace the boards for about 6 months, so basically SOL. I then contacted the distributor and had a replacement in the mail. But if this board fails again, I'm not sure, but I think it'll be time to pony up.

Seems like Stern is stepping up and replacing the node boards when they fail, which is a good thing. I doubt this will continue to happen indefinitely, which makes me wonder, how many people have had a replacement node board fail? Was it still replaced under warranty the second time around?

#134 1 year ago

How the tides have changed from WOZ. WOZ was a operator's nightmare while other sterns of that era (pre-spike) were bomb proof, like TWD and Star Trek.

Even with the incredible complexity of DI, it's rock solid on route compared to most spike games. My DI has been great.

Quoted from Eddie:

SW LE on location, I was told by the operator that node 8 board was bad as he was told by the Stern Tech dept.
He was shipped a new one to replace it.
Upon installing the new board I discovered that 4 lamp boards had gone bad and was then sent 4 revised lamp boards.
Upon installing the lamp boards it was discovered that the trough boards were bad. On the phone with Stern at the location and was told that the failed Node 8 board probably took out the lamp boards and the trough boards. SO now the new trough boards are being sent out and the machine lies dead for going on near 2 weeks with the location owner is wanting it removed and has been complaining to the operator.
To either side of the SWLE are Dialed in and the Stern POTC both are working just fine and their bill acceptors are jammed full.
SO with Spike not only is a brand new machine down but the cost of no less then 7 boards are needed to get the machine working.
This plus the cost of a down machine is not in any way helping an operator with a location machine.
Just think cost of boards ,cost of lost revenue and cost for a tech.
Until the Spike system has been bullet proofed I would advise operators to think about purchasing for their business stay away from machines using it.
Not bad mouthing Stern but it is what it is, as they stand, they are not operator cost effective machines.

#135 1 year ago
Quoted from pinballkyle:

How the tides have changed from WOZ. WOZ was a operator's nightmare while other sterns of that era (pre-spike) were bomb proof, like TWD and Star Trek.
Even with the incredible complexity of DI, it's rock solid on route compared to most spike games. My DI has been great.

I think JJP’s node technology is now mature which is why its so solid. Also they only used nodes for lighting and stuck to a traditional power driver board for coils. I’m sure Spike will get there but since they also put coil drivers on their nodes it’s probably a bit more of an effort.

The other nice thing about JJP’s system is the CPU board is an off the shelf unit that can be bought in amazon for like 40 bucks vs paying whatever it is (600-800?) for a replacement Spike board. Fortunately those don’t seem to be having any issues.

Edit: I will add that while it is a concern (and I think a valid concern) I’m not personally worried enough to sell my Spike2 game (AS). I see it as probably a greater concern for operators as the stories above indicate. If my home game ends up down for a bit due to a node issue (so far no issues) it won’t cost me in lost revenue or upset location.

If nodes were made to be inexpensive ($50ish) and universal across games I don’t think anyone would have anything to worry about. Hopefully that’s what they are shooting for.

#136 1 year ago
Quoted from PanzerFreak:

Due to the implementation of node boards, many of which are custom per game, I think it's even more critical to wait at least 6 months after a games release before purchasing to see if hardware such as node boards are updated.
At these prices it's no longer worth the future headaches to get one of the first games off the line.

Are node boards custom per game?

I was under the impression they have dip switches to easily adapt and be interchangeable between games.

I don’t have any newer Sterns.

#137 1 year ago
Quoted from Pdxmonkey:

Are node boards custom per game?
I was under the impression they have dip switches to easily adapt and be interchangeable between games.
I don’t have any newer Sterns.

It varies. SPIKE is still in progress, and different revisions don't play well together, so swapping is limited to certain games.

#138 1 year ago

https://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/conservation/why-we-must-fight-for-the-right-to-repair-our-electronics.amp.html

Interesting article on the "right to repair" movement. Has anyone directly asked Stern for node board schematics?

#139 1 year ago

I've looked pretty hard for them. So far I'm not seeing anything published. I get the concept of wanting to sell/control replacements, though I feel it may be to prohibit "after-market" alternatives or additions.

#140 1 year ago
Quoted from jsa:

I've looked pretty hard for them. So far I'm not seeing anything published. I get the concept of wanting to sell/control replacements, though I feel it may be to prohibit "after-market" alternatives or additions.

Their communication protocol is mostly known now, someone could reasonably sit down at this point and make an after market node board of their own design.

I don't know if there is any payoff to that though.

#141 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

Their communication protocol is mostly known now, someone could reasonably sit down at this point and make an after market node board of their own design.
I don't know if there is any payoff to that though.

Is it though? I haven't seen anything out there that gets into detail about the protocol. Even some debate if it was CAN bus vs. RS-485.

#142 1 year ago
Quoted from jsa:

Is it though? I haven't seen anything out there that gets into detail about the protocol. Even some debate if it was CAN bus vs. RS-485.

It is.

http://docs.missionpinball.org/en/latest/hardware/spike/

#143 1 year ago

Ok, fair enough, but none of the detail is published there (especially the transceiver type). Unless I'm missing it?

#144 1 year ago
Quoted from jsa:

Ok, fair enough, but none of the detail is published there (especially the transceiver type). Unless I'm missing it?

Yeah, not everything is published in an easy to consume format for a random John Doe to try and make his own, but the details are known to people.

#145 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

Yeah, not everything is published in an easy to consume format for a random John Doe to try and make his own, but the details are known to people.

Let me put it another way: MPF uses the Spike's CPU node to control the bus. You connect your controller to the machine's CPU and how that CPU speaks to the node bus elements isn't clear. I was hoping somewhere in the MPF documentation it would talk about HOW the CPU talks to the nodes (i.e. CAN bus or RS-485, though I am pretty sure there are RS-485 transievers on the nodes).

Because I can't find anything, I'm going to have to find out the hard way! If you know any sources of info, please let me know.

#146 1 year ago

I guess I'd be surprised if no one has even posed this question to Stern, be it in a Q&A at a show, on email or over the phone when dealing with a node board support issue, etc. Do they flat out say they won't release schematics?

#147 1 year ago
Quoted from jsa:

Let me put it another way: MPF uses the Spike's CPU node to control the bus. You connect your controller to the machine's CPU and how that CPU speaks to the node bus elements isn't clear. I was hoping somewhere in the MPF documentation it would talk about HOW the CPU talks to the nodes (i.e. CAN bus or RS-485, though I am pretty sure there are RS-485 transievers on the nodes).
Because I can't find anything, I'm going to have to find out the hard way! If you know any sources of info, please let me know.

We basically run software on the CPU (https://github.com/missionpinball/mpf-spike-bridge) and use the serial port on the CPU like the normal SPIKE game does it. The cpu is connected to an Atmel atiny which probably handles some flow control and level shifting. It is connected to a RS485 transceiver which then speaks to the bus. The bus protocol is implemented in MPF itself (https://github.com/missionpinball/mpf/tree/dev/mpf/platforms/spike). Documentation is here: http://docs.missionpinball.org/en/latest/hardware/spike/index.html.

#148 1 year ago
Quoted from jar155:

It varies. SPIKE is still in progress, and different revisions don't play well together, so swapping is limited to certain games.

Technically all nodes types work together. I played with different types. They do work. Even the original game seems not to notice in most cases. Every node supports up to 64 inputs, 64 lights and an unknown number of coils (unknown to me). No matter many inputs really exist they all look the same on the bus. They can have some aux port stuff though (maybe determined by firmware).

Those nodes run Cortex M0 CPUs which are really inexpensive. An open source flasher exists and the firmware is includes in the spike binary. So repairing the CPU is a matter of SMD soldering mostly. I guess that most spike node problems actually occur during updates and those can also be fixed that way. Even rebuilding a node board would be possible with some effort. Besides the game specific boards there are usually 3 very similar boards which are probably exchangeable between games.

1 year later
#149 6 months ago

Home collection with 6 spikes - Batman 66, GB, SW, IM, Aerosmith, GOTG:
All bought NIB, very low play

1-)GB node board error after 1 year or so - cable issues
2-)SW- node 8 error - after 1 month play, bad board (dec 2018).
3-)IM - node 8 error - after 1 month play, bad board. (oct 2018)
4-)Aerosmith - node board error after 1 year - bad connector on node 8 (changed and solved)

4 out of 6 with node 8 erros, 2 with bad boards end two with other issues causing the node 8 error.

#150 6 months ago
Quoted from westofrome:

I guess I'd be surprised if no one has even posed this question to Stern, be it in a Q&A at a show, on email or over the phone when dealing with a node board support issue, etc. Do they flat out say they won't release schematics?

In effect - yes. PROC won't either. Both aim to release documentation for support, but not straight up gerber or full schematics.

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