(Topic ID: 232957)

Node Boards- Update- Stern tech fixes issue via email


By shacklersrevenge

5 months ago



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  • Latest reply 11 days ago by russdx
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There are 744 posts in this topic. You are on page 11 of 15.
#501 4 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Well because Stern, or any company, isn't going to give you that info, that's silly.
The problem with the entire discussion is everything is unknown. If we had the schematics then we'd know how the boards work and if we could get replacement parts to fix them. As of now we don't.

But that's the entire point of the conversation. We don't know how bad it is, but what we DO know is that boards are failing in a small cross section of the community and that those that do know somewhat about how they work say they aren't designed well. We also know that the system to replace them is time consuming and costly. If they were forthcoming, this would be less of an issue. Secrecy/lack of communication breeds more speculation. They don't release sales numbers and we don't have any idea how many boards are failing and they aren't releasing schematics which has always been a staple of pinball. Everyone wants to talk about history, that is a big one. Why keep them private unless there was a reason?

It definitely impacts my decision to throw 5-8k on a newer Stern when I can throw that same money around on something else that won't have those issues.

Long run, let's hope it works itself out for the betterment of the consumers, not just Stern.

#502 4 months ago
Quoted from branlon8:

That’s not true. Carmakers...

CARGUMENT
But seriously, I don;t thik anyone else in this industry has ever given those assurances?

Quoted from Zablon:

If they were forthcoming, this would be less of an issue.

Yes we all agree on that, but they aren't, and they are not going to be.

#503 4 months ago

I am pretty sure, unless you want to replace your $$$$ node board, you will NOT WANT TO TRY THIS AT HOME! SO DON’T! But a fool can try if they want... You have been warned this icould be destructive!

If were to take a node board. Grab it like you hold your smartphone to take a landscape picture, and twist the board corners in opposite directions, and reverse. Reinstall in a game. If the node board works after that, I would be surprised.

That is the extreme test, but it doesnt take that kind of physical manipulation to break a trace, or pop a poorly reflowed SMD joint. A simple “wock” “wock” repetitive shock by a nearby coil can do the same thing. I have seen the quality of their SMD reflow work, and it is questionable. I have worked extensively (12 years) in the aerospace and electronics industry. Take that for what ever you think it is worth. Aircraft windsheild wiper units created repetitive shocks similar to pinball solenoid coils. We had issues with their controller boards (SMD) due to similar reasons. We had to improve our reflow process, double screen our solder paste pass, and changed the board traces to a bigger pitch. I may not know what I am talking about though...

#504 4 months ago
Quoted from branlon8:

Not sure I agree with you here. Why should the burden of proof be with us customers? It’s time for Stern to step up and tell us what we can expect mid to long term with Spike-based games. Sure electronics fail. I want to know how I can deal with such failures 5-10 years from now.

I never said the burden of proof should be on the customer. And I certainly share your sentiment. I'm talking to the guy that's ringing the alarm bell with bold statements that the Spike system is half-baked and dancing around designed obsolesce.

I don't mind accepting the fact it's true... but these are very damning claims. I think the conversation needs more than just statements. Frankly, the source has shown a propensity for bias... makes me want more information beyond "I've been in this hobby for 20 years" before all Spike owners choose to start jumping ship.

#505 4 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

Here's a simple fact: electronics fail. It's a fact of life.

Poorly designed electronics and low quality components fail easily. Well designed electronics and good quality components can last decades. They simply have to be designed for the environment that they are intended for.

Heck, one of the mars rovers operated for 15 years in the most inhospitable environments we can reach. Surely electronics in a pinball machine could last longer than a year.

There's no reason why we should have to accept the early failure of sub-par electronics just because it's the order of the day. These are supposed to be reliable pieces of commercial hardware.

Quoted from TheLaw:

The problem with the entire discussion is everything is unknown

Yep, but by discussing, sharing, researching, investigating, and testing, progress can be made. The large repository of repair guides for vintage games didn't happen overnight. It took time to develop. So will this.

#506 4 months ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Poorly designed electronics and low quality components fail easily.

This is my point - we don't really know the failure rate. Let's say Stern has sold 25,000 spike games. Do 40 Pinside stories represent easy failure?

Don't get me wrong - I get the conversation. And I'm not entirely interested in buying any new Sterns out of an abundance of caution. But...

#507 4 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

Don't get me wrong - I get the conversation. And I'm not entirely interested in buying any new Sterns out of an abundance of caution. But...

so what would change your mind?

#508 4 months ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Yep, but by discussing, sharing, researching, investigating, and testing, progress can be made. The large repository of repair guides for vintage games didn't happen overnight. It took time to develop. So will this.

Yes, but in the meantime you just have us bumping heads aboot semantics when we're all saying the exact same thing and agree.

Quoted from ForceFlow:

Poorly designed electronics....

Like we get it...but you're saying the exact same thing he already knows, and what he's saying you also agree with.

#509 4 months ago
Quoted from Zablon:

It definitely impacts my decision to throw 5-8k on a newer Stern when I can throw that same money around on something else that won't have those issues.

Mine as well. I'm the type that likes a lot of stuff in a machine, especially at today's prices. "Fun" and a great theme just aren't enough. Add the potential for expensive, irreparable, electronics failures and it's a no go.

I'll wait until the repair-ability is figured out or reasonably priced aftermarket boards are available.

14
#510 4 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

This is my point - we don't really know the failure rate.

Failure rate isn't the primary issue anyway. Lack of documentation, difficulty of repair, and cost of replacement are the sticking points.

Lots of flipper transistors die on Whitestar and SAM games, but people don't grab torches & pitchforks because it's a $3 part and 10 minute fix. Now try telling them it's a $200 board replacement for the same issue.

#511 4 months ago

Stern isn't going to reveal the failure rates. People complaining on pinside about their failures is only a small slice of the pinball buying public (and you primarily only hear from people when things are going poorly). Large, experienced distributors probably have a decent idea of the failure rate. But I'm sure they're afraid of Stern if they start revealing any meaningful information on how often they have to help their customers with node board replacements. They're the ones who would be most knowledgeable if there has been an uptick in reliability issues since the introduction of Spike.

The fact is we don't know how often node boards are failing, but we do know they are not easy to repair because of a lack of documentation and the relative lack of expertise on working on this style of electrical PCB design. It is entirely valid to be anxious about the long term support Stern will provide because they have failed to act on previous promises of making this information available.

#512 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

It is entirely valid to be anxious about the long term support Stern will provide because they have failed to act on previous promises of making this information available.

I'm surprised they don't just release the information. Then people couldn't complain about that and I think the reality is, 99% of the buyers won't be capable of, or bother with, repairing the boards anyway.

#513 4 months ago
Quoted from Jvspin:

I'm surprised they don't just release the information. Then people couldn't complain about that and I think the reality is, 99% of the buyers won't capable of, or bother with, repairing the boards anyway.

That's where some of the conspiracy theories come from. When it is something that has always(?) been done, and now suddenly it isn't, there's normally an anti-consumer pro-business/profit reason behind it.

#514 4 months ago
Quoted from Jvspin:

I'm surprised they don't just release the information. Then people couldn't complain about that and I think the reality is, 99% of the buyers won't capable of, or bother with, repairing the boards anyway.

If it was so great than they would say so. It would be a huge selling point for all of the home buyers who are not electrically or mechanically inclined. The node system was entirely designed for that kind of customer.

#515 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

It would be a huge selling point for all of the home buyers who are not electrically or mechanically inclined.

Problem is they don't seem to need a huge selling point at the moment.

#516 4 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Problem is they don't seem to need a huge selling point at the moment.

Yep. Stern is selling them as fast as they can make them.

#517 4 months ago

Biggest reason they are not releasing them, I think, is because of IP theft by China. How many node boards will we be buying from Stern if a company in China offers exact reengineered replacements for $30 shipping included. And if it goes bad in 30 days, just email them and they send a replacement for free. This kind of thing is happening in other electronics based hobbies, so Stern is probably smart not putting the schematics out right now... they wait till the demand trickles off, which means the crappy node boards are all weeded out by attrition, then release the schematics.

Don’t like it, but it may actually be whats at play here, not the planned obsolescence argument.

#518 4 months ago

That's what I assumed also. To me it's the only thing that really makes sense.

#519 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

Biggest reason they are not releasing them, I think is because of IP theft by China. How many node boards will we be buying from Stern if a company in China offers exact reengineered replacements for $30 shipping included. And if it goes bad in 30 days, just email them and they send a replacement for free. This kind of thing is happening in other electronics based hobbies, so Stern is probably smart not putting the schematics out right now... they wait till the demand trickles off, which means the crappy node boards are all weeded out by attrition, then release the schematics.
Don’t like it, but it may actually be whats at play here, not the planned obsolecense argument.

They probably make the boards in China. It's surprising their plans haven't been leaked or stolen yet. Probably no one over there realizing the profits to be had (yet).

#520 4 months ago

I figured it had more to do with not letting their (new) competitors easily have their proprietary designs being the most likely scenario. Not that it would stop them for long.

#521 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

Probably no one over there realizing the profits to be had (yet).

Because they/we don't actually know if theres a big profit margin, because we don't know how often they actually need to be paid for and replaced, because we don't have any real data, because we don't know their sales numbers and service numbers etc etc.

#522 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

They probably make the boards in China. It's surprising their plans haven't been leaked or stolen yet. Probably no one over there realizing the profits to be had (yet).

Yep, thats how it happens, You give your schematics to one company in China to build it for you, and you sort of give it to the rest of them by proxy.

#523 4 months ago
Quoted from Zablon:

I figured it had more to do with not letting their (new) competitors easily have their proprietary designs being the most likely scenario. Not that it would stop them for long.

Only if they were not in the USA or not covered by international patents and trademarks... any company would be a fool to try that without fear of retribution. If their design is proprietary but not pattented or trademarked, then yes, but these things are in the wild and not that complex to reverse engineer. But handing out the designs on a silver platter to China is something else entirely.

#524 4 months ago
Quoted from Zablon:

I figured it had more to do with not letting their (new) competitors easily have their proprietary designs being the most likely scenario. Not that it would stop them for long.

Interesting theory, but most companies already developed their own stuff or are on P-ROC. Maybe Homepin would steal the design

Plus I think Stern just laughs whenever they see anyone else trying to get off the ground. They gotta figure out the manufacturing part. The electrical system design is the least of their worries.

#525 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

...home buyers who are not electrically or mechanically inclined. The node system was entirely designed for that kind of customer.

That claim sounds like BS. Source?

#526 4 months ago
Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

That claim sounds like BS. Source?

The Spike system was developed for the home games, Transformers The Pin and Avengers The Pin, in 2012. Those didn't pan out and then it was retooled and became the standard architecture for the commercial games in 2015.

#527 4 months ago

All I know is the Iron Maiden at my league location has no backbox lights because the integrated lamps on the CPU board failed.

#528 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

Biggest reason they are not releasing them, I think, is because of IP theft by China.

Nope.

China does not need schematics, in a single day they can clone any board and send you the schematics and BOM.

#529 4 months ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Nope.
China does not need schematics, in a single day they can clone any board and send you the schematics and BOM.

Has anyone tried that and at what cost?

#530 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

Has anyone tried that and at what cost?

We have done it with servo controller boards ~$200

#531 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

Biggest reason they are not releasing them, I think, is because of IP theft by China. How many node boards will we be buying from Stern if a company in China offers exact reengineered replacements for $30 shipping included. And if it goes bad in 30 days, just email them and they send a replacement for free. This kind of thing is happening in other electronics based hobbies, so Stern is probably smart not putting the schematics out right now... they wait till the demand trickles off, which means the crappy node boards are all weeded out by attrition, then release the schematics.
Don’t like it, but it may actually be whats at play here, not the planned obsolescence argument.

or they are in the apple line of thinking. Repair info is IN HOUSE ONLY. Some car manufacturers + john deere are doing some of the same stuff.

#532 4 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Dumb dumb dumb. This is so ignorant it's almost amusing.

Dayum... You guys are touchy. Guess I will take my ignorant, dumb ass out of here. My only point was the node board thing is nothing new yet a lot of you are still buying Spike pins. If I was to buy a Spike pin, I would already consider expensive repairs as part of the decision to do so. Guess that makes me an idiot.

#533 4 months ago
Quoted from jawjaw:

Dayum... You guys are touchy. ...I would already consider expensive repairs as part of the decision to do so. Guess that makes me an idiot.

Ha, I'm not touchy, I just think you're missing a big point here. I usually try not to explain things because it doesn't help much, but you've always seemed like a level headed guy so I'll give it a quick shot.

Node boards are small things that replace simple tasks like controlling 12 lights let's say (or 12 lights and 4 switches). So if it dies for some unknown reason, you'll have to pay a hundred or 2 (or more I don't know prices) to fix 12 lights. That's a problem.
You can replace 12 bulbs in your Met in 2 minutes, or fix the board 15 minutes. You just can't with Spike, that's the issue. It's taking away very simple tasks and replacing them with some weirdo boards that no one can figure out (yet).
So you may be seeing it as a "$400 vs. a machine that costs $8K" issue, but a lot of us are seeing it as a "$400 vs. $5" issue.

Now, take all that and add up all the $5 fixes we've done to our games over the years and you start to see that's a big ass amount of $$$

#534 4 months ago
Quoted from vid1900:

We have done it with servo controller boards ~$200

If I can get a schematic and BOM for that, I could be in for one node board reversed engineered. Wonder what the legal ramifications are to releasing it to the wild if you were to do that? I am not sure how Stern would feel if someone started posting a generic schematic and BOM for thier boards... probably get a CAD letter from their lawyers right off the bat...

#535 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

... I am not sure how Stern would feel if someone started posting a generic schematic and BOM for thier boards... probably get a CAD letter from their lawyers right off the bat...

Well if you could keep your mouth shut for a second they'd never know

#536 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

home buyers who are not electrically or mechanically inclined. The node system was entirely designed for that kind of customer.

Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

That claim sounds like BS. Source?

Quoted from TreyBo69:

The Spike system was developed for the home games

If you want your claim to be believed support it with evidence. You're trying to support it with more conjecture. The fact it was first used on those games doesn't mean it was developed for the audience you claim it was. Lyman Sheats (one of the developers) has discussed this publicly. One recent discussion was in episode 73 of the Head2Head podcast https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/head2head-pinball-podcast-new-australian-podcast/page/12#post-4727453

Edit: I was wrong, Lyman doesn't talk about Spike in that podcast. I'll keep looking for what I thought I remembered.

#537 4 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Well if you could keep your mouth shut for a second they'd never know

Shutting up. lol Honestly made me shoot my drink out my nose.... lol

#538 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

If I can get a schematic and BOM for that, I could be in for one node board reversed engineered. Wonder what the legal ramifications are to releasing it to the wild if you were to do that? I am not sure how Stern would feel if someone started posting a generic schematic and BOM for thier boards... probably get a CAD letter from their lawyers right off the bat...

The software is where the protection is. You can reverse engineer hardware protected by trade secrets. Just leave Stern's trademarks off of it and don't preload it with any of their proprietary software. Unless I'm mistaken, they didn't patent any of the node boards.

edit: Hell, lets not forget this is Stern. They have a long history of reverse engineering their competitions designs.

#539 4 months ago
Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

If you want your claim to be believed support it with evidence. You're trying to support it with more conjecture. The fact it was first used on those games doesn't mean it was developed for the audience you claim it was. Lyman Sheats (one of the developers) has discussed this publicly. One recent discussion was in episode 73 of the Head2Head podcast https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/head2head-pinball-podcast-new-australian-podcast/page/12#post-4727453

Can you please provide a timestamp in that 2.5 hr interview? I'm happy to listen to what he has to say.

Yes I'm putting it forth as a theory. I think it's true for other reasons I've outlined in this thread and elsewhere. I'm not going to be able to provide hard evidence on it because I am not privy to the discussions of Stern upper level management and their R&D process. I think the theory makes sense to me though.

#540 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

I think the theory makes sense to me though.

THat's all any of us have needed.

#541 4 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

THat's all any of us have needed.

My life is now complete

#542 4 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Ha, I'm not touchy, I just think you're missing a big point here. I usually try not to explain things because it doesn't help much, but you've always seemed like a level headed guy so I'll give it a quick shot.
Node boards are small things that replace simple tasks like controlling 12 lights let's say (or 12 lights and 4 switches). So if it dies for some unknown reason, you'll have to pay a hundred or 2 (or more I don't know prices) to fix 12 lights. That's a problem.
You can replace 12 bulbs in your Met in 2 minutes, or fix the board 15 minutes. You just can't with Spike, that's the issue. It's taking away very simple tasks and replacing them with some weirdo boards that no one can figure out (yet).
So you may be seeing it as a "$400 vs. a machine that costs $8K" issue, but a lot of us are seeing it as a "$400 vs. $5" issue.
Now, take all that and add up all the $5 fixes we've done to our games over the years and you start to see that's a big ass amount of $$$

Yeah, I get that. It's expensive to repair Spike pins. Stupid expensive. I've been reading about it for years and every post in this thread is about that. It should be cheaper to get these boards and Stern should help out with specs. But that's not reality. Reality is that one simple thing can blow out expensive boards. Comparing repairs to other pins seems irrelevant to me. It's like saying all cars should cost the same to repair. Cargument!

If people have a problem with this they need to stop buying Spike games and sell the ones they have. I just don't get expecting things to change after buying these pins. It reminds me of those that buy pins with incomplete code that don't play well and expect Stern to turn it into a great game with code updates. I just don't get it. I feel bad for those that are unaware of these expensive repairs and get stuck replacing multiple boards. If that was me, I would fix the game, dump it, and never buy another pin designed like that. I don't see much motivation on Stern's part if sales keep going up even when they raise prices.

#543 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

Biggest reason they are not releasing them, I think, is because of IP theft by China. How many node boards will we be buying from Stern if a company in China offers exact reengineered replacements for $30 shipping included.

Failed node boards may be a big deal to us but do you think there is enough volume to even be the shadow of a blip on China's radar?

#544 4 months ago
Quoted from jawjaw:

If people have a problem with this they need to stop buying Spike games and sell the ones they have.

Exactly! That might actually get Stern's attention and cause them to do something about it.

#545 4 months ago
Quoted from TreyBo69:

Let me get this straight. You think "global warming" is some kinda conspiracy involving millions of players (because you're being flip about it in this thread). You do that while simultaneously saying that people are crazy to think that the few people that run Stern would purposely make an inferior product to help with future sales...
It's like the people who think the government could organize the massive hoax of landing on the moon, but were also too incompetent to handle covering up a simple B&E at a hotel.
Bravo on your gold medal in mental gymnastics. One less event for Tokyo to worry about next year.

Maybe you missed the polar vortex we are currently experiencing and wasn't able to understand the irony of the situation.

Lighten up Francis!

#546 4 months ago

Still whining about NOTHING that is ever going to change

1) . Stern sells pins as fast as they can make them

2) . They are married to the Spike system. Like it or not.

Thus, just a lot of hot air crybaby whining on here. All of you need to get on the phone and call Stern. What do you think will happen?

About the same thing as bitching about node boards on here.

And IF the failure rate is such that its outside of what Stern allowed for then THEY will have to step up and fix it because it hurts their bottom line.

Speculating about what may or may not be in the future does no good right now! Although bitching and whining is our favorite Pinside pastime so i get it!

#547 4 months ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Maybe you missed the polar vortex we are currently experiencing and wasn't able to understand the irony of the situation.
Lighten up Francis!

lol, u salty

#548 4 months ago
Quoted from jawjaw:

If people have a problem with this they need to stop buying Spike games and sell the ones they have. I just don't get expecting things to change after buying these pins. It reminds me of those that buy pins with incomplete code that don't play well and expect Stern to turn it into a great game with code updates. I just don't get it.

I can see that point too, and in a way I agree with you (2nd part very much so). The problem is it would be a fundamental change in the serviceability of the machines for 40+ years. Of course that's not a lifetime and it happens with other things all the time, but Stern has said specifically that they will release the schematics and haven't.
Tough, they are the industry leader by far, but people here are addicts.

#549 4 months ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Speculating about what may or may not be in the future does no good right now! Although bitching and whining is our favorite Pinside pastime so i get it!

As is bitching and whining about the bitching and whining.

#550 4 months ago
Quoted from Jvspin:

Failed node boards may be a big deal to us but do you think there is enough volume to even be the shadow of a blip on China's radar?

It depends on what company has what resources sitting idle. If someone can do a one time buy of a couple hundred boards, it might be worth it. Worth some pocket change and beer money if nothing else, and if your board is better than OEM, who knows what could happen.

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