(Topic ID: 232957)

Node Boards- Update- Stern tech fixes issue via email


By shacklersrevenge

6 months ago



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  • Latest reply 38 days ago by russdx
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#201 6 months ago
Quoted from pinballaddicted:

We have a current post about some LED back box lights not working.

I saw a thread where a guys led went out on one of his boards on his kiss machine. This got me re-thinking about that situation again btwn. replacing a whole board or just the LED possibly.

I asked Chas about part numbers, since finding part numbers for SMD's is a little more difficult then through hole devices (at least for me anyway).
He said he would get back with me, that was a while ago.

if anyone knows the part number for their white and RGB led's, please post it.

#202 6 months ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I saw a thread where a guys led went out on one of his boards on his kiss machine. This got me re-thinking about that situation again btwn. replacing a whole board or just the LED possibly.
I asked Chas about part numbers, since finding part numbers for SMD's is a little more difficult then through hole devices (at least for me anyway).
He said he would get back with me, that was a while ago.
if anyone knows the part number for their white and RGB led's, please post it.

If you get the part number for the LED could I please have it too?

We are considering putting in a LED strip to light up the backbox if we cannot replace the LEDS. Silly to replace an entire CPU board just for one faulty LED.

#203 6 months ago
Quoted from pinballaddicted:

If you get the part number for the LED could I please have it too?
We are considering putting in a LED strip to light up the backbox if we cannot replace the LEDS. Silly to replace an entire CPU board just for one faulty LED.

Will do, yeah that CPU board is crazy expensive.

#204 6 months ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

if anyone knows the part number for their white and RGB led's, please post it.

Quoted from pinballaddicted:

If you get the part number for the LED could I please have it too?

Why wait?
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stle-help-rgb-inserts#post-2895427
Ofcourse; we dont' know if it was changed on future titles.

#205 6 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Why wait?
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stle-help-rgb-inserts#post-2895427
Ofcourse; we dont' know if it was changed on future titles.

Thanks very much. That is awesome help.

They deliver to Australia too!

#206 6 months ago
Quoted from pinballaddicted:

If you get the part number for the LED could I please have it too?
We are considering putting in a LED strip to light up the backbox if we cannot replace the LEDS. Silly to replace an entire CPU board just for one faulty LED.

Worst(or best for stern bank account lol) design decision ever mounting bright backbox leds onto the main controller. This would purely be for cost saving (cheaper to build / install) but now like you say one 20p led dies they want you to swap a very expensive board also how much heat are those leds sinking into the pcb? cant be good for it? seperate led boards would of been a far better solution!

#207 6 months ago
Quoted from russdx:

Worst(or best for stern bank account lol) design decision ever mounting bright backbox leds onto the main controller. This would purely be for cost saving (cheaper to build / install) but now like you say one 20p led dies they want you to swap a very expensive board also how much heat are those leds sinking into the pcb? cant be good for it? seperate led boards would of been a far better solution!

Unfortunately we have to work with what all the different manufacturers give us as operating electronics. My wife and I love the hobby and we are not going to stop anywhere in the near future so when they stop, we have to be able to fix them. They all stop at some, new games and old games.

What is awesome is all the great help available from people on this site. I started a different thread about my GBLE backbox LEDs and zitt provided the part number and where to buy them from. That is impressive that someone that lives half a world away can help me fix my pinball machine.

#208 6 months ago

You can turn down the backbox GI brightness. I set Iron Miaden to 50% idle brightness and 75% brightness during game play.

#209 6 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Why wait?
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stle-help-rgb-inserts#post-2895427
Ofcourse; we dont' know if it was changed on future titles.

awesome, thank you.
Guess it's worth a shot for newer titles if they fail.

17
#210 6 months ago

When it comes to Stern SPIKE system games, it's like pissing on a fence to test and see if it's electrified.
(insert Stern nodal board high voltage joke here)

Eventually the odds catch up and the owner is going to get "stream shocked" with multiple replacement costs, if the boards are even still available, which game specific they are often not anymore. The node boards are not reliable and continue to be susceptible to voltage regulation and vibration issues. A single issue can take out multiple boards at one time. The average price of a Stern node board is $150, but can reach to $1000 for a full CPU board. Techs cannot troubleshoot well in the field AT ALL most of these types of issues. Boards are repairable, but only those with identifiable circuit paths and components. The more SPIKE games a person owns the more complicated the issues can be both via generation and components.

I discussed much of this over a year ago here in multiple responses of the thread, "Stern Reliability: SAM versus SPIKE" and "What are your thoughts on the Spike II system?", but let us go even FURTHER back in time.

Operators asked for schematics in 2013 and made various technical recommendations for the system that for the most part have not been fulfilled. They were not complaints, they were observations like "providing an end user diagnosis of specific nodal control based a partial boot failure, because it was not explained in any form of manual". Stern techs could not even answer this type of question at the time. The OP information from Chaz confirmed that from the standpoint of design, things have not changed, but instead are doing manual resets on circuit boards (when applicable). This is nearly SIX YEARS of "coming soon". With the continued increase of cost of NIB games, the only thing which has been maintained in that period is Stern customer service. However, prices are now 1.5x higher for what reason? "Improvements"? How? Screw that, Stern, some remaining operators don't buy that excuse now. The SPIKE II system regressed further with circuit protection. This is another example of a big middle finger to everyone that is involved in the industry. If owners want to be treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark, and fed bullshit, I cannot do anything about this problem, but I will at least speak out for education. Coincidentally, Using "swapatronics" is not a particularly impressive form of significant flattery and technical solution, if a customer service representative is experienced.

This situation would have been absolutely intolerable, even in the 90s, but because the end user is now a consumer, it seems somehow accepted. There is nothing wrong with advances in technology, if supported with direct repairs, but, Stern fails to offer this option, including ANY FORM of training classes, that were provided by B/W.

SPIKE is NOT that "advanced solution", except in profit margins of the manufacturer. That was never its intended purpose. SPIKE was never designed to ease the burden of any part of Reliability-Serviceability-Durability (RSD) of pinball. It actually was meant as a evolutionary venture of the same kind of lackluster "improvements" that were offered in terms of reduced quality of construction of the game, including cabinets, power, playfields, and hardware. Every single Stern supporter remains completely bushwhacked each time they buy a game with this system. End users are not getting what they are paying for overall, and is partially why B/W games remain so popular, not just with collectors, but operators as well.

Think about these points before gambling with another use of disposable income, new or used SPIKE games. If you play, but don't own or operate, and think it does not matter, it completely does, as it reflects into the cost per game that operators must use to keep these titles running. Also, it really helps to know Stern's titles, as if they are SAM, as it will make a HUGE difference in cost savings in the long run for maintenance regardless of type of location.

#211 6 months ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

When it comes to Stern SPIKE system games, it's like pissing on a fence to test and see if it's electrified.
(insert Stern nodal board high voltage joke here)
Eventually the odds catch up and the owner is going to get "stream shocked" with multiple replacement costs, if the boards are even still available, which game specific they are often not anymore. The node boards are not reliable and continue to be susceptible to voltage regulation and vibration issues. A single issue can take out multiple boards at one time. The average price of a Stern node board is $150, but can reach to $1000 for a full CPU board. Techs cannot troubleshoot well in the field AT ALL most of these types of issues. Boards are repairable, but only those with identifiable circuit paths and components. The more SPIKE games a person owns the more complicated the issues can be both via generation and components.
I discussed much of this over a year ago here in multiple responses of the thread, "Stern Reliability: SAM versus SPIKE" and "What are your thoughts on the Spike II system?", but let us go even FURTHER back in time.
Operators asked for schematics in 2013 and made various technical recommendations for the system that for the most part have not been fulfilled. They were not complaints, they were observations like "providing an end user diagnosis of specific nodal control based a partial boot failure, because it was not explained in any form of manual". Stern techs could not even answer this type of question at the time. The OP information from Chaz confirmed that from the standpoint of design, things have not changed, but instead are doing manual resets on circuit boards (when applicable). This is nearly SIX YEARS of "coming soon". With the continued increase of cost of NIB games, the only thing which has been maintained in that period is Stern customer service. However, prices are now 1.5x higher for what reason? "Improvements"? How? Screw that, Stern, some remaining operators don't buy that excuse now. The SPIKE II system regressed further with circuit protection. This is another example of a big middle finger to everyone that is involved in the industry. If owners want to be treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark, and fed bullshit, I cannot do anything about this problem, but I will at least speak out for education. Coincidentally, Using "swapatronics" is not a particularly impressive form of significant flattery and technical solution, if a customer service representative is experienced.
This situation would have been absolutely intolerable, even in the 90s, but because the end user is now a consumer, it seems somehow accepted. There is nothing wrong with advances in technology, if supported with direct repairs, but, Stern fails to offer this option, including ANY FORM of training classes, that were provided by B/W.
SPIKE is NOT that "advanced solution", except in profit margins of the manufacturer. That was never its intended purpose. SPIKE was never designed to ease the burden of any part of Reliability-Serviceability-Durability (RSD) of pinball. It actually was meant as a evolutionary venture of the same kind of lackluster "improvements" that were offered in terms of reduced quality of construction of the game, including cabinets, power, playfields, and hardware. Every single Stern supporter remains completely bushwhacked each time they buy a game with this system. End users are not getting what they are paying for overall, and is partially why B/W games remain so popular, not just with collectors, but operators as well.
Think about these points before gambling with another use of disposable income, new or used SPIKE games. If you play, but don't own or operate, and think it does not matter, it completely does, as it reflects into the cost per game that operators must use to keep these titles running. Also, it really helps to know Stern's titles, as if they are SAM, as it will make a HUGE difference in cost savings in the long run for maintenance regardless of type of location.

Well said. Spike scares the crap out of me. Every time I turn a game on or update code, I wonder what might fail. Knowing I cannot fix or even diagnose a node board failure is a huge risk I am taking. I own a few spike games and have been lucky as nothing has failed, but it is a big issue always on my mind. It is not just stern, Cgc has moved in the same direction and I have had issues with their boards, covered under warranty.

If i were an operator, I’d be even more upset, but what can you do? Makes no sense that you have to wait a week or more for a new board, pay whatever it costs and lose earnings while it’s down. But People want to play the newest games so ops need them on route.

#212 6 months ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

When it comes to Stern SPIKE system games, it's like pissing on a fence to test and see if it's electrified.
(insert Stern nodal board high voltage joke here)
Eventually the odds catch up and the owner is going to get "stream shocked" with multiple replacement costs, if the boards are even still available, which game specific they are often not anymore. The node boards are not reliable and continue to be susceptible to voltage regulation and vibration issues. A single issue can take out multiple boards at one time. The average price of a Stern node board is $150, but can reach to $1000 for a full CPU board. Techs cannot troubleshoot well in the field AT ALL most of these types of issues. Boards are repairable, but only those with identifiable circuit paths and components. The more SPIKE games a person owns the more complicated the issues can be both via generation and components.
I discussed much of this over a year ago here in multiple responses of the thread, "Stern Reliability: SAM versus SPIKE" and "What are your thoughts on the Spike II system?", but let us go even FURTHER back in time.
Operators asked for schematics in 2013 and made various technical recommendations for the system that for the most part have not been fulfilled. They were not complaints, they were observations like "providing an end user diagnosis of specific nodal control based a partial boot failure, because it was not explained in any form of manual". Stern techs could not even answer this type of question at the time. The OP information from Chaz confirmed that from the standpoint of design, things have not changed, but instead are doing manual resets on circuit boards (when applicable). This is nearly SIX YEARS of "coming soon". With the continued increase of cost of NIB games, the only thing which has been maintained in that period is Stern customer service. However, prices are now 1.5x higher for what reason? "Improvements"? How? Screw that, Stern, some remaining operators don't buy that excuse now. The SPIKE II system regressed further with circuit protection. This is another example of a big middle finger to everyone that is involved in the industry. If owners want to be treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark, and fed bullshit, I cannot do anything about this problem, but I will at least speak out for education. Coincidentally, Using "swapatronics" is not a particularly impressive form of significant flattery and technical solution, if a customer service representative is experienced.
This situation would have been absolutely intolerable, even in the 90s, but because the end user is now a consumer, it seems somehow accepted. There is nothing wrong with advances in technology, if supported with direct repairs, but, Stern fails to offer this option, including ANY FORM of training classes, that were provided by B/W.
SPIKE is NOT that "advanced solution", except in profit margins of the manufacturer. That was never its intended purpose. SPIKE was never designed to ease the burden of any part of Reliability-Serviceability-Durability (RSD) of pinball. It actually was meant as a evolutionary venture of the same kind of lackluster "improvements" that were offered in terms of reduced quality of construction of the game, including cabinets, power, playfields, and hardware. Every single Stern supporter remains completely bushwhacked each time they buy a game with this system. End users are not getting what they are paying for overall, and is partially why B/W games remain so popular, not just with collectors, but operators as well.
Think about these points before gambling with another use of disposable income, new or used SPIKE games. If you play, but don't own or operate, and think it does not matter, it completely does, as it reflects into the cost per game that operators must use to keep these titles running. Also, it really helps to know Stern's titles, as if they are SAM, as it will make a HUGE difference in cost savings in the long run for maintenance regardless of type of location.

I think the majority of people who do board repair realize this. If you go around the community this surprisingly doesn't bother a lot of people. My only guess as to why - most people would probably prefer to replace a 200 dollar board then spend 200 dollars on a tech to replace a .20 cent part. Also they think someone else will fix the issue when parts dry up. (I hope their right, but with the info. we have right now it doesn't seem likely)

After having issues with another arcade game that is eluding me, I am grateful that stern at least has really good & in house tech support.

#213 6 months ago

I posted this in another node board thread a while back.
Made it in excel, did the best with the info given.
Node board compatibility chart.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SH1Fyrm1apWfMjDiQMC9IcbQSIi1r710/view?usp=sharing

#214 6 months ago

This is one reason Im glad not to be in the retail pinball business anymore. ( the other is moving them

An example: I just had a Buck Rogers service call. I sold the game in 1988 when in high school. Cpu board was bad and some connectors etc. The call was about 450.00 parts and labor ( drops, rubber etc) People were very happy as 3 generations have enjoyed the game and more will continue in the future.
Fast forward to now. Look at the new Kiss , seems boards are already tough/ very expensive to come by after only a few years. At least when I sold anything pre spike I was able to look people in the eye and assure them that I could always fix their game 2,3 or 10 years in the future. I would hate to sell someone a current title and fast forward 5 years and come to their house and be like a dear in the headlights trying to get their game working which they spent 8K+ on previously. Imagine looking at the total plays and the counter says 500 and its unfixable. Multiply that possible scenario by 30,40, or 50 customers and its a nightmare for a retail business that provides after sale service. Its a good feeling to be able to answer the phone and when a previous customer has an issue with a game I sold them Im able to help them- Always. JR

#215 6 months ago
Quoted from barakandl:

You can turn down the backbox GI brightness. I set Iron Miaden to 50% idle brightness and 75% brightness during game play.

I have mine reversed from that, 85% attract mode and 35% during gameplay (less reflecting off the playfield).

#216 6 months ago
Quoted from Fytr:

I have mine reversed from that, 85% attract mode and 35% during gameplay (less reflecting off the playfield).

I played around with these settings. On Iron Maiden I have inserts at 80%, backbox at 60% during attract mode and 8% during gameplay. Sure helps keep the reflection off the glass when playing. When I head to my location, I'll do the same with Deadpool.

32
#217 6 months ago
Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

It begs the question, why? You're giving us less and less and you want more and more?

I totally get why you're peeved, so don't take this response as flippant or disrespectful. The answer to this question is super simple: because buyers are willing to pay more and more while accepting less and less.

The proof is in the pudding.

There was a time that Stern could say their market was coin-op and home collectors were a fringe benefit. In other words, Stern could say: "Tough, collectors. You're buying coin-op games, you'd better know what you're getting into."

But they know, just like the rest of the industry, that they are now predominantly servicing a home collector market. Gorge Gomez explained (and admitted) it perfectly in very plain words on a Coast 2 Coast podcast several years ago. At the time, he claimed that Stern was adjusting materials and workmanship to meet the home collector's expectations. From an art perspective (and code), that might be true and they are delivering what people want. But from a build perspective, Stern isn't cutting it... in fact, we all know they are literally "cutting it" by cheapening build quality. Look at the last several years... cheap cabinet issues, decals peeling off, insert issues, and poorly applied clear chipping off the playfield. They've removed rather standard mechanisms, like the traditional lockdown bar, they've moved the on/off button (obviously to save on material), the backbox (which is a nightmare if you need to take it apart) is made out of cheap/thin metal. The list goes on and on... including node board issues.

It's crazy to think Stern's Spike games, if I'm not mistaken, all have unique node boards. And there's no schematics!! But, let's be honest. If there were schematics, practically 0% of the collecting community has the tools or skills to repair micro-SMD. Hell, I had sound board issue on a Star Trek Pro with one of those chips... I had to send that board to a professional. Cost $125 to have one little its-bitsy chip changed. No way I could have pulled it off.

All the while, Stern has been kicking prices up. $200 here... $300 there... they just keep climbing, far outpacing inflation. Just 3 or 4 years ago, you could score a Pro model for about $4K NIB if you knew what you were doing. You can't even get close to that today. Why? Because buyers are lining up and throwing cash down despite the issues of the last few years... and despite the fact that Spike is known not to be serviceable on the spot.

Look at what happened last week. They sold 500 Munster LEs in a matter of days and it's safe bet that only a small percentage of those buyers had played the game in Vegas. Practically blind sales were so good that Stern turns around and ups the number to 600.

There is zero incentive for Stern not to conduct business as they have. Collectors are the problem.

I can guarantee 1000% that Stern would quickly... VERY quickly... change practices if sales slowed. If Munsters' sales were 75% below expected because customers didn't want to pay $225 for a node board... you better believe Stern would be announcing that node board schematics were being released and that replacement boards would be supplied for significantly less money. Pick your issue, they'd make it go away.

But, under the current buying climate, absolutely zero is going change. In fact, they're probably actively looking for more ways to make the gettin' good while the gettin' is good. Because this uber-expensive pinball gravy train is riding on a very thin line that's dependent on a healthy national economy.

All I can say: buyer beware. We all know exactly what we're getting into when buying a Spike Stern game. Is the risk worth it? From a player's perspective it might be... but it could certainly be ri$ky as an owner. This is an issue that extends from the NIB buyer right to the secondhand buyer... each one reinforces the other.

#218 6 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

I totally get why you're peeved, so don't take this response as flippant or disrespectful. The answer to this question is super simple: because buyers are willing to pay more and more while accepting less and less.
The proof is in the pudding.

Well said. It's like Gary is the opposite of the Onion's Gillette CEO. https://www.theonion.com/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades-1819584036

Change five drops to standups? F it, we're going with ONE GIANT STANDUP and Pinside will still call the Pro "loaded"!

#219 6 months ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I posted this in another node board thread a while back.
Made it in excel, did the best with the info given.
Node board compatibility chart.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SH1Fyrm1apWfMjDiQMC9IcbQSIi1r710/view?usp=sharing

That is really good, thanks very much for sharing.

#220 6 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

There was a time that Stern could say their market was coin-op and home collectors were a fringe benefit. In other words, Stern could say: "Tough, collectors. You're buying coin-op games, you'd better know what you're getting into."

But they know, just like the rest of the industry, that they are now predominantly servicing a home collector market. Gorge Gomez explained (and admitted) it perfectly in very plain words on a Coast 2 Coast podcast several years ago. At the time, he claimed that Stern was adjusting materials and workmanship to meet the home collector's expectations. From an art perspective (and code), that might be true and they are delivering what people want. But from a build perspective, Stern isn't cutting it... in fact, we all know they are literally "cutting it" by cheapening build quality. Look at the last several years... cheap cabinet issues, decals peeling off, insert issues, and poorly applied clear chipping off the playfield. They've removed rather standard mechanisms, like the traditional lockdown bar, they've moved the on/off button (obviously to save on material), the backbox (which is a nightmare if you need to take it apart) is made out of cheap/thin metal. The list goes on and on... including node board issues.

It's crazy to think Stern's Spike games, if I'm not mistaken, all have unique node boards. And there's no schematics!! But, let's be honest. If there were schematics, practically 0% of the collecting community has the tools or skills to repair micro-SMD. Hell, I had sound board issue on a Star Trek Pro with one of those chips... I had to send that board to a professional. Cost $125 to have one little its-bitsy chip changed. No way I could have pulled it off.

All the while, Stern has been kicking prices up. $200 here... $300 there... they just keep climbing, far outpacing inflation. Just 3 or 4 years ago, you could score a Pro model for about $4K NIB if you knew what you were doing. You can't even get close to that today. Why? Because buyers are lining up and throwing cash down despite the issues of the last few years... and despite the fact that Spike is known not to be serviceable on the spot.

Look at what happened last week. They sold 500 Munster LEs in a matter of days and it's safe bet that only a small percentage of those buyers had played the game in Vegas. Practically blind sales were so good that Stern turns around and ups the number to 600.

There is zero incentive for Stern not to conduct business as they have. Collectors are the problem.

I can guarantee 1000% that Stern would quickly... VERY quickly... change practices if sales slowed. If Munsters' sales were 75% below expected because customers didn't want to pay $225 for a node board... you better believe Stern would be announcing that node board schematics were being released and that replacement boards would be supplied for significantly less money. Pick your issue, they'd make it go away.

But, under the current buying climate, absolutely zero is going change. In fact, they're probably actively looking for more ways to make the gettin' good while the gettin' is good. Because this uber-expensive pinball gravy train is riding on a very thin line that's dependent on a healthy national economy.

All I can say: buyer beware. We all know exactly what we're getting into when buying a Spike Stern game. Is the risk worth it? From a player's perspective it might be... but it could certainly be ri$ky as an owner. This is an issue that extends from the NIB buyer right to the secondhand buyer... each one reinforces the other.

Well said. We are definitely our own worst enemy. Unfortunately, I think the main problem is one of ignorance. It's hard to imagine anyone could read this entire thread and still feel comfortable shelling out so much money for a Spike game. Heck, I absolutely love my Ghostbusters, yet I consider putting it up for sale every time I read this thread. But the fact of the matter is that most people who buy Spike games probably aren't aware of these issues. So I guess the question is, how do we educate those people?

#221 6 months ago
Quoted from gweempose:

Well said. We are definitely our own worst enemy. Unfortunately, I think the main problem is one of ignorance. It's hard to imagine anyone could read this entire thread and still feel comfortable shelling out so much money for a Spike game. Heck, I absolutely love my Ghostbusters, yet I consider putting it up for sale every time I read this thread. But the fact of the matter is that most people who buy Spike games probably aren't aware of these issues. So I guess the question is, how do we educate those people?

I’m not sure you can. I think a lot collectors allow desire to trump common sense (that’s how we ended up here). Or, folks don’t actually feel cheated or concerned (which is the most likely scenario).

You know that concept of a tipping point? We haven’t found it.

#222 6 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

You know that concept of a tipping point? We haven’t found it.

There have been node board failures but there doesn't seem to be a wide spread problem at the moment, more like a potential problem to be addressed at a later time.

It will be interesting to see how the games age. I wouldn't mind paying a couple hundred bucks to replace a board after a few years of ownership. But if a game becomes unreliable and multiple boards start failing, that would be a problem.

I haven't been tempted enough by the recent offerings to overcome my concerns with the Spike system, cheapening quality and cost.

#223 6 months ago

I had no idea till recently that this node board stuff was first implemented on transformers the pin (home edition).

#224 6 months ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I had no idea till recently that this node board stuff was first implemented on transformers the pin (home edition).

Which is where it should have stayed. A SAM2 system, capable of running video, would have been the better direction IMHO. I don't think SAM had any flaws that I'm aware of. Oh well...

#225 6 months ago

Sam was great. Ive talked with techs that won't work on spike games even for simple stuff as they dont want the liability associated with a unrelated failure thats expensive to fix. Techs want schematics!

#226 6 months ago

SPIKE is the Son of SAM. It's a serial game killer.

#227 6 months ago

I'm not a Stern or Spike owner but might be someday. I love playing modern Sterns but I'm hardly a rote fanboy.

We know technology advances relentlessly; not to excuse design faults but folks haven't been able to service their own TV's, radios, or phones for quite a long time. So I have a question to find perspective: Are Spike / Node Board issues truly endemic? Or, phrased another way, how do they really compare to board failures in the B/W/DE era - and is the modern "unapproachability" of electronics more to blame?

I mean we all know the B/W/DE boards were far from perfect. System 3-7 boards were "disposable" (Williams would simply exchange), the Bally 6803 platform could be buggy, and even up to through the late 90's design flaws (maxxed out 5V on WPC) and unobtanium parts (WPC sound boards, etc) are common. Point being, no system was ever perfect: to the point where finding an old game running all-matching original boards is a rarity, let alone a set that was never serviced.

Now of course the older ones were end-user serviceable with proper knowledge and tools but again, that was almost a by-product of the scale and size of components of their era: big fat components that were easy to see, handle, and trace out. Whereas thanks to miniaturization, almost NO consumer electronic device is E-U-S these days. And have you ever tried to find a schematic to fix a car stereo or TV or ___ yourself? Most of those don't exist either.

And even old EUS boards are becoming less and less so, as parts become obsolete and unobtanium - we're already seeing this. One might consider vacuum tubes the height of EUS design (the ICs of their day) - and good luck finding some of the more archaic ones. Yesterday's obsolete tube is today's obsolete IC... so even today's surface mount components won't be made forever.

So is Spike really a deliberate play to a nefarious plot, or just collateral damage of modern component availability and design philosophy? Williams stuck with their stupid "special solenoids" and troublesome interconnects for years before finally working those bugs out. Seems like Spike is just another "seemed like a good idea at the time... and now we're vested in it..." idea.

#228 6 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

So is Spike really a deliberate play to a nefarious plot, or just collateral damage of modern component availability and design philosophy?

Schematics are not available. That's a Stern decision and directly impacts people trying to fix boards. I still wouldn't call it a nefarious plot to sell more boards, probably more a business decision to minimize the likelihood of cheap counterfeits infesting the supply chain.

Cheap counterfeits of stuff you wouldn't think would be worth copying are out there. When I used to work for 3M Telecom we would get stuff for failure analysis that were parts we sold for pennies. Obvious to us it was a copy but the end user had no way to tell, it was copied right down to the embossed 3M logo.

#229 6 months ago

Let me put this way for potential skeptics of Stern's directives of use towards the SPIKE system and it's true reality of "planned technology obsolescence". It is not exclusive to profit margins of spare boards. This is not speculation.

No pinball system in the history of solid state games since 1976 has EVER went six years without released schematics, and additional instructions to operators. Even SAM additional schematics were made available up to 2012.

Stern does not want the boards to be easily repaired, as they don't want their present games completing against future releases in the short space of the next 5-10 years. These are lessons learned from Stern's own history from the Whitestar period.

The problem is NOW, not the future.

Failure rates of node boards is VERY common for most operators who have large volumes of titles regardless of age.
Many boards are already NLA, so owners are already out of luck, and these boards were UNDER the standard of 5 years of Stern stocked parts. However, there is not one specific board that can be identified as worse than another. The whole SPIKE system is an undercooked, undeveloped mess when it comes to both diagnostics and repairs.

Essentially, owners of used SPIKE games are already taking huge risks to acquire 250 lb paperweights. You can't fix what either cannot be fixed, or no parts exist. This is much riskier than even the present challenges of certain B/W games.

21
#230 6 months ago

Here's the real rub...
Stern couldn't have designed the board's pcb w/o schematics. Schematics are a prerequisite before layout.

So, Sterns ONLY reason is because they WANT to keep it a secret.

#231 6 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

We know technology advances relentlessly; not to excuse design faults but folks haven't been able to service their own TV's, radios, or phones for quite a long time.

I’ve never thought this to be a fair argument. Other home electronic appliances last so many years, break down and you buy a new one. Compared to pinball they are inexpensive and you are happy to buy a new one because the technology has moved on dramatically. The technological advances in pinball are much less noticible and maybe don’t even make the experience of playing better.

In my view, for the money a new game costs, it is quite reasonable to expect repairability to be an important feature.

#232 6 months ago
Quoted from underlord:

...
I say these things in jest, I’ve bought many nib Sterns, never had an issue except Tron LE cpu went dead and due to ‘special LE coding’, had to pay $450 direct exchange boards only.

warranty was over ?

also had a prob with the CPU board on TRON LE (game not booting correctly every time), for what i remember it was 1 or 2 monthes old, and i had a switch board under warranty (wait was less than a week by airmail to Belgium)

and to reply Luckydogg420 i had to send my defect board to the distro

...

as said already on this topic, Pat & Chaz were always great with me

#233 6 months ago
Quoted from RipleYYY:

warranty was over ?

Warranty is like 90 days

#234 6 months ago

Anyone that accepts lack of repair ability of a TV / phone to this same aspect to being relevant to a pinball machine clearly has already been brainwashed this is not a need of development, reliability, sustainability, or durability of this form of entertainment.

This is especially problematic when pinball machines are already been sold at the price of new and used cars.

People need know that this type of thinking unchecked could continue until every aspect of pinball is disposable. Stern has been testing these waters since 2010 with success with every single piece of hardware or device they remove from their games to both save money, reduce manufacturing and increase profits. Pinball that is disposable means it WILL disappear from culture.

Stop letting Stern make those look like a lemmings. Help educate. Otherwise, it's embarrassing.

#235 6 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

I’m not sure you can. I think a lot collectors allow desire to trump common sense (that’s how we ended up here). Or, folks don’t actually feel cheated or concerned (which is the most likely scenario).
You know that concept of a tipping point? We haven’t found it.

It's a shift in mentality. There is so much anti-consumerism and 'it's my money don't tell me how to spend it' mentality in the last 10 years. People don't care about quality. They don't care about prices. They don't care about ethics, or anything other than 'getting it now!'. The only time they really get mad is if they can't immediately get it. Marketing and corporations have succeeded in making us constant consumers of things we don't need and instant gratification. Social media has made us even more keep up with the jones' type people. I have no problems paying high dollars for quality products. The problem however is everyone wants quality prices for crap products. "Hey we cut costs here, we cut costs here, our product won't last as long, and we aren't going to pass the savings to our customers, but we can make a bigger profit margin and show growth!". It's a losing battle, because greed has trumped everything else and we the consumers continue to buy into it.

You can see it even more with these forums that there is a genuine fear that holding Stern to any kind of standard or accountability in direction is going to 'destroy pinball' and put them out of business. That is a completely insane way to look at it. People are defending things that shouldn't be defended. Yet, some artwork that offended some people with overactive imaginations was a huge spectacle. The world has lost its mind.

#236 6 months ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I had no idea till recently that this node board stuff was first implemented on transformers the pin (home edition).

Yes and the overall improvements to the SPIKE system since 2012 has been marginal except in expanded control of solenoids, lights, power control, and base logic (program adaptability). The inital SPIKE system was NEVER designed to be run as a system for operators, ie heavy duty extended use. Several changes had to be implemented in order or to have sufficient reliability, but durability was not a primary development concern.

#237 6 months ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Anyone that tries to compare lack of repair ability of a TV / phone to this same aspect to being required to a pinball machine, clearly has already been brainwashed and accepted this is not a need of development, reliability, sustainability, or reliability of this form of entertainment.

You don't have to be so condescending. I'm not brainwashed. Probably 75% of everything I own and use is something I have resurrected and fixed myself: be it curbside trash or discount junk, or something I fixed to extend its life rather than replace outright. Everything from furniture to appliances to cars to 10 of my 11 pinball machines (and other pins I sold). I won't buy something I can't realistically fix... with the exceptions I mentioned (aka "consumer electronics") because there literally is NO CHOICE. (And even then, I've recapped inkjet printers and TVs so it's not like I'm a blind trend aw shucks consumer).

But to that lack of choice: someone else said

Quoted from branlon8:Other home electronic appliances last so many years, break down and you buy a new one. Compared to pinball they are inexpensive and you are happy to buy a new one because the technology has moved on dramatically.

In that I disagree. Washers, Dryers, Refrigerators are all not so different from how they were 20 years ago, yet the "tech for tech's sake" adds little new or truly worthwhile, breaks all the time, is unrepairable, and adds significant $$$ to repair and replacement. I am not happy about that. TVs... sure, every 5 or 6 years you're supposed to buy in to the latest definition / dick-size fad but at the end of the day they do the same dumb thing. You can add ports and such to older TVs for far less but "that's stupid... don't add a $40 converter or fix it, buy the latest thing for 'more' "... OK sure.

Now yes, all of those are much cheaper than Pinball. No argument there. But unlike appliances which "everyone needs", pinball is too niche to drive its own supply chain. Can pinball companies dictate to their electronics subcontractors to use Thru-hole components? Or use larger 2-layer boards? Doubtful.

Schematics - or lack thereof - are a problem... but then again is that's a Stern decision or a subcontractor one? You don't find many "photofacts" of schematics of anything electronic from the last 20-30 years. No for-profit company shares its recipes anymore. And we just had someone else comment:

Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

I used to work for 3M Telecom we would get stuff for failure analysis that were parts we sold for pennies. Obvious to us it was a copy but the end user had no way to tell, it was copied right down to the embossed 3M logo.

Holy hell: a company with the might of 3M had problems with counterfeit boards and warranty claims - do you think Stern wants that hassle?! Would B/W have enjoyed dealing with folks griping about problems when by-the-way, your replacement was too much so I'm using a Rottendog board?

Hell freaking no.

I do agree the lack of schematics is troublesome. I've only been able to enjoy pinball and expand my collection directly BECAUSE of their availability. But I am not Stern's target consumer: I can't easily afford NIB and probably wouldn't spend that money on NIB either. Yet as somone else pointed out: lots of folks trip over themselves telling Stern "STFU and take my money" anyway... so Stern doesn't need me. Or you, if you're complaining.

Still, I won't be buying secondhand until schematics become available. Maybe once the platform is EOL, Stern will release them and tell the community "OK, have fun and good luck!" But wven then a lot of folks (myself included) will be facing a learning curve of SM component handling. And as for re-engineering based on schematic: if those boards truly are multi-layer, it would be a challenge to fit all that into a "commodity" thru-hole footprint...

There are more considerations to this issue, is all I'm trying to point out: Yay, you have your schematic. Now find someone who can use it and has the equipment to fix your fragile node board. That will take time, and there is no magic solution to this problem.

#238 6 months ago

I want to dispel some myths here.

Pinball companies absolutely can dictate the specifications of their board composition and components to ease repairability. This can be exampled by JJP, AP, and Spooky. Most every pinball company did it starting from the 1970s. Even Data East (Stern)!

In the case of SPIKE, it was a conscious development decision that started all the way back in 2010. Stern were trying to find a lower cost SAM alternative with enhanced video and sound capability. There was no concern for operators.

Full schematics of JJP games were provided after repeated requests by owners and operators, just recently in fact as another example. They are not a relic of the past.

Most devices used for commercial and industrial purposes have schematics today, so I am not sure where that is being referred. The area is NOT provided more often is consumer goods, which is exactly another reason why Stern would much rather "not go through the hassle".

Once again my point, if owners wish to accept pinball as a pure consumer electronic device, be prepared for terrible long term consequences.

Personally, I believe SPIKE only has less than 3-5 years remaining in its lifespan before Stern moves onto a new system anyway based on board advancements. This is not good news for present SPIKE owners based on weaknesses of explained system operation, reliability, durability, and parts availability.

#239 6 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Here's the real rub...
Stern couldn't have designed the board's pcb w/o schematics. Schematics are a prerequisite before layout.
So, Sterns ONLY reason is because they WANT to keep it a secret.

If people really wanted to bootleg a current stern board it could be done without the schematics.

Take a dead board.

Note all the components with good pictures and etc.

Shave the board clean top and back.

Scan both sides (if its 4 layer the internal ones are probably power).

Trace all the tracks and recreate the board layout.

from there you can reverse engineer and rebuild the schematics.

#240 6 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Stern couldn't have designed the board's pcb w/o schematics. Schematics are a prerequisite before layout.

There are tons of PCB reverse engineering firms in China & Canada.

You send the PCB, and the company generates the full Schematics & Component List within a week.

Get the Schematics, design a new board (or let them design your board), and mass produce them @$13 each.

All the CNC service companies have been making aftermarket boards like this for years.

Figure-13-Scanning-PCB (resized).png
#241 6 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

In that I disagree. Washers, Dryers, Refrigerators are all not so different from how they were 20 years ago,

Energy efficiency and water conservation have gotten significantly better in recent years on things like washing machines or fridges - this cannot be ignored. But point taken, the wow effect is much larger with bigger screens and higher resolution.

#242 6 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Warranty is like 90 days

again, in case of big prob, not sure how it will go here in europe with our 2 years warranty (and fact that we have importators & distros, also under the european law) ... !?

#243 6 months ago

The big unknown here is the wholesale cost of replacement node boards for Stern. How much profit are they making on each unrepairable node board?

#244 6 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

Holy hell: a company with the might of 3M had problems with counterfeit boards and warranty claims - do you think Stern wants that hassle?! Would B/W have enjoyed dealing with folks griping about problems when by-the-way, your replacement was too much so I'm using a Rottendog board?
Hell freaking no.

Maybe I'm being a bit simple but didn't B/W pins all come with schematics? The reason B/W wouldn't have had to deal with Rottendog et al back in the day would surely have been quite simply because they would've been cost effective for operators, especially within maintenance contracts or whatever. Rottendog filled a void after B/W had long since stopped supporting their products (or even really existed).

Quoted from barakandl:

If people really wanted to bootleg a current stern board it could be done without the schematics.
Take a dead board.
Note all the components with good pictures and etc.
Shave the board clean top and back.
Scan both sides (if its 4 layer the internal ones are probably power).
Trace all the tracks and recreate the board layout.
from there you can reverse engineer and rebuild the schematics.

What about the proprietary closed-source code programmed into the chips? Without that you're manufacturing a paperweight surely?

#245 6 months ago
Quoted from Durzel:

Maybe I'm being a bit simple but didn't B/W pins all come with schematics? The reason B/W wouldn't have had to deal with Rottendog et al back in the day would surely have been quite simply because they would've been cost effective for operators, especially within maintenance contracts or whatever. Rottendog filled a void after B/W had long since stopped supporting their products (or even really existed).

You're absolutely right. But as others have pointed out the market was different back then. Commercial operators were expected to have the knowledge or resources to use the schematics and fix machines on their own to earn revenue. The few private owners were supported through distros. It was all very controlled access to warranty support. Also don't forget, the components most widely (cheaply!) available and used back then, across ALL electronics industries, were easily handled thru-hole components, commodity ICs, etc. Not the microscopic stuff of today.

Rottendog (and others) stepped in only after B/W support ended, True! But the outsourcing options (from China, like Vid pointed out) didn't exist then either. I have to wonder how Spooky or JJP will feel if/when their systems were cloned... and how they would react if those aftermarket systems started causing other problems. They've not been around long enough for us to find out... and B/W were already out of the market. So this question has only been answered by one player: Stern. They clearly do not want the risk.

Because Stern is now in the collector-sumer commodity space: a completely different arena with different rules of engagement. And the technology has changed too: even the most competent schematics tech will have more of a struggle with SM components... partly because all the new video and LED driver and other gee-whiz tech demanded isn't available "legacy sized"... yet how many home users are even competent enough to read them?

So pretend you're Stern. You're no longer selling to competent operators, but every noveau-riche guy with money to brag and the ego to match. One of them buys your machine. Eventually mods or pops a counterfeit board in because reasons... something blows up... they put the original one back in and claim ignorance while begging for assistance. It would most certainly happen: Sony, Nintendo, Apple, and MS all employ labels and other tamper-voiding to quell those kinds of shenanigans.

(Curiously, in that regard Stern remains VERY supportive of its customers, what with all the potential for disaster from aftermarket speakers, lights, displays, toy mods, etc etc etc.)

Or Stern supplies the schematics for all this fancy new tech. Joe Homey watches the first youtube clip he sees, thinks he's figured it out, and fries his board. You KNOW that would happen because Pinside is littered with aftermath newbie threads. Difference is unlike cheaper project pins from defunct companies, Stern's on the hook "because the game is new and they provided this schematic so what was I supposed to do..."

Folks say new pins cost as much as cars and should therefore be EUS. I don't necessarily disagree, but when's the last time Ford or Toyota included a wiring diagram and teardown manual with the purchase of a car? Their end consumers have to go to dealers for assistance, and that's only gotten worse for "creeping tech" over the years.

I'm not saying what Stern is doing now is RIGHT, per se. They should at least up the warranty while they fix the bugs. Gatekeep schematics maybe (but then they would leak so...) But I am saying there are multiple considerations as to how we got here, and Stern can never do right either way. I sort of understand why Stern did what they have... but my view remains, I won't buy a SPIKE game (new or used) while Stern's support stance remains as it is.

Many buyers feel otherwise. You're at least free to make the purchase decision either way.

( Geez, I've typed more words on this thread in one day, than I have on the forum in months. I should see myself out...)

#246 6 months ago
Quoted from vid1900:

There are tons of PCB reverse engineering firms in China & Canada.

You send the PCB, and the company generates the full Schematics & Component List within a week.

Get the Schematics, design a new board (or let them design your board), and mass produce them @$13 each.

All the CNC service companies have been making aftermarket boards like this for years.

That wasn't the point I was trying to make.
What I'm pointing out is Stern has the schematics... All they need to do is "print" to PDF and done.
Stern has a business reason for withholding the schematics. Weither it's to keep people buying spare parts; or to "obstructe" the functionality of the design thru "hidden" schematics so competitors can't "learn" something they want hidden.

#247 6 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

That wasn't the point I was trying to make.
What I'm pointing out is Stern has the schematics... All they need to do is "print" to PDF and done.
Stern has a business reason for withholding the schematics. Weither it's to keep people buying spare parts; or to "obstructe" the functionality of the design thru "hidden" schematics so competitors can't "learn" something they want hidden.

Most likely it is the 2nd reason. That isn't anything out of the ordinary.

#248 6 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

That wasn't the point I was trying to make.
What I'm pointing out is Stern has the schematics... All they need to do is "print" to PDF and done.

I hear ya.

If you want revenge, reverse the boards and make them yourself.

They probably have a BOM of $12 .

#249 6 months ago
Quoted from Durzel:

Maybe I'm being a bit simple but didn't B/W pins all come with schematics?

They sure did.

If they did not (because the game had been rushed out the door i.e. F14), they included a card to mail in, and the schematics were mailed to you in a few weeks.

If you attended Ballys tech school, they mailed you all the service bulletins every few months too.

#250 6 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Did you have to pay $450 and exchange your broken board? If I’m paying $450 for a new board then they’re not getting my damaged board back for free; it may be fixable. If the board HAS to be returned to stern, then the replacement should not be so expensive.

I could’ve sent the board out but I was running an in home competition in two weeks and time was an issue. Distro tried to get the board not taken but since the Tron LE had LE specific code, Stern would not replace without an exchange. I was pissed.

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