(Topic ID: 232957)

Node Boards- Update- Stern tech fixes issue via email


By shacklersrevenge

5 months ago



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  • 148 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 10 days ago by russdx
  • Topic is favorited by 25 Pinsiders

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There are 744 posts in this topic. You are on page 6 of 15.
#251 5 months ago
Quoted from vid1900:

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

I wonder if there are any local to me, after all they call Kitchener-Waterloo the Silicon Valley of the North. If they don’t need to destroy the board to reverse engineer it, I’d consider donating to get myself schematics. Might be worth it, even if it’s a couple hundred bucks.

#252 5 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

I wonder if there are any local to me, after all they call Kitchener-Waterloo the Silicon Valley of the North. If they don’t need to destroy the board to reverse engineer it, I’d consider donating to get myself schematics. Might be worth it, even if it’s a couple hundred bucks.

ENA is in Hamilton ON

Because they are not China, remember: OEM no longer in business, board no longer supported .

#253 5 months ago
Quoted from Durzel:

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

if there is a will there is a way. the node boards get "programmed" by the main cpu board. If you need some kind of boot software for the node board perhaps you could pull a still good chip and read it back and then program that to the new chip.

Quoted from Luckydogg420:

I wonder if there are any local to me, after all they call Kitchener-Waterloo the Silicon Valley of the North. If they don’t need to destroy the board to reverse engineer it, I’d consider donating to get myself schematics. Might be worth it, even if it’s a couple hundred bucks.

Pretty sure the board gets destroyed. They would have to remove all the parts to see the tracks under chips. Shave / sand it flat and then there is probably automated tools to help convert a scan of that board the scan to pcb layout computer file. Then from that the schematic can be recreated.

so in 10-20 years from now when all these boards are NLA perhaps aftermarkets could be created much like circuit boards for games from the 70-90s.

#254 5 months ago
Quoted from barakandl:

if there is a will there is a way. the node boards get "programmed" by the main cpu board. If you need some kind of boot software for the node board perhaps you could pull a still good chip and read it back and then program that to the new chip.

Pretty sure the board gets destroyed. They would have to remove all the parts to see the tracks under chips. Shave / sand it flat and then there is probably automated tools to help convert a scan of that board the scan to pcb layout computer file. Then from that the schematic can be recreated.
so in 10-20 years from now when all these boards are NLA perhaps aftermarkets could be created much like circuit boards for games from the 70-90s.

You can reverse engineer the boards far easier then that they are not complex and most of the circuitry is just duplicated for each input / output.

But without knowing what firmware is on that chip or how it interacts with the main controller its pointless.

#255 5 months ago

Did someone indicate that some node boards for certain games are already no longer made??

#256 5 months ago
Quoted from 27dnast:

Did someone indicate that some node boards for certain games are already no longer made??

I assume they stopped making spike 1 boards after GB went out of production.

#257 5 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Was the 1st node board even faulty? Could it have just been the trough boards causing the fail signal to show at the node board? It kinda seems odd that both would blow simultaneously. If so, I wonder if a problem with the one board took out the other board.

Yes it was faulty. When I swapped with another in the game It revealed itself.

#258 5 months ago
Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

Nobody fixes this crap.

I had a bad nodeboard in my Ghostbusters last year and my friend fixed it. He replaced 2 components.
I must say that he is a pro but he told me it wasn't very difficult to change them.
It costed me 3 euro's or so...

#259 5 months ago
Quoted from pascal-pinball:

I had a bad nodeboard in my Ghostbusters last year and my friend fixed it. He replaced 2 components.
I must say that he is a pro but he told me it wasn't very difficult to change them.
It costed me 3 euro's or so...

How was he able to diagnose which components were bad? Were they visibly "toasted"? Your friend could be a pretty popular guy over the next decade or so.

#260 5 months ago
Quoted from Rum-Z:

How was he able to diagnose which components were bad? Were they visibly "toasted"? Your friend could be a pretty popular guy over the next decade or so.

yes, one was visibly toasted and the other component was sort of connected to it and het replaced also in advance.

#261 5 months ago
Quoted from pascal-pinball:

yes, one was visibly toasted and the other component was sort of connected to it and het replaced also in advance.

That’s kind of scary, the game just up and toasts a component. Kind of like needing fancy smd equipment to replace a fuse. Not cool.

10
#262 5 months ago

Just FYI - my buddies ghostbusters has been playing up. Started with no rollover lights up the top. Local stern guys sent around a guy who has no idea how Spike works. So buddy decided to get a new node for that, $100 landed from memory. No difference.

Luckily one guy in our community is a clever clogs, and he diagnosed that this component was blown on several of the node boards, causing a problem downstream.

Several 15c components repaired the problem.

rd
1B27F6CC-63EB-486B-9D7E-2D9545B3629E (resized).jpeg

#263 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

Just FYI - my buddies ghostbusters has been playing up. Started with no rollover lights up the top. Local stern guys sent around a guy who has no idea how Spike works. So buddy decided to get a new node for that, $100 landed from memory. No difference.
Luckily one guy in our community is a clever clogs, and he diagnosed that this component was blown on several of the node boards, causing a problem downstream.
Several 15c components repaired the problem.
rd
[quoted image]

looks like some sort or regular with a in/out smoothing cap and resistors to set voltage. Have you got a close pick of its number?

#264 5 months ago

That same component was blown on multiple boards in the same game? That is nuts.

How was the diagnosis made ?

#265 5 months ago
Quoted from BC_Gambit:

That same component was blown on multiple boards in the same game? That is nuts.
How was the diagnosis made ?

The guy compared all the components with node boards from a working game and worked it out. Old school style detective work.

Sorry, don’t have the part number but I’ll try and get it.

rd

#266 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

The guy compared all the components with node boards from a working game and worked it out. Old school style detective work.

But Wait!!
I thought these things were un-repairable boat anchors if a node acts up??
Unless of course, we had schematics, then the next Stern abomination would need to be sorted.

#267 5 months ago
Quoted from DNO:

But Wait!!
I thought these things were un-repairable boat anchors if a node acts up??
Unless of course, we had schematics, then the next Stern abomination would need to be sorted.

What Rotordave is showing is the upper right GB LED board, not a node board. Still, it would be nice to have the schematics on the LED boards as well.

#268 5 months ago
Quoted from schudel5:

What Rotordave is showing is the upper right GB LED board, not a node board. Still, it would be nice to have the schematics on the LED boards as well.

That’s one of the boards - the other nodes were the same, evidently.

I’m seeing the guy in the weekend, I’ll try to get clarification ...

rd

12
#269 5 months ago

I emailed Jeremy (aka Clever Clogs ..) and here is what he said...

.........

Ok… technical stuff follows.

The way these sub-node boards work is pretty simple (SPI protocol).

The main node sends a binary stream down the MOSI (Master Out, Slave In) line to sub-nodes clocking on SCK.
Data is passed to shift registers on each sub-node (74HC594D) and onto mosfets which drive the LEDs on that board.

Each shift register also passes on data to either the next shift register (more LEDs) or to the next sub-node in the chain via a dual inverter (NC7WZ14) acting as a buffer.
It’s the dual inverter I’ve circled in the node picture you have and is what’s busted.

So, how’d I diagnose this?

It really helps having an electrical engineering background or at least understand what components do and be able to read and understand datasheets.
It's also good (mandatory?) to have the right tools for the job (multimeter, oscilloscope, microscope, hot-air rework station etc).

I was told the LEDs on node 8b were working fine. As this is the first sub-node in the chain that meant node 8 could not be the issue.
Quite thankful for that as node 8 is a way bigger problem to diagnose.

Using a multimeter on continuity mode you can see most of the connector pins on 8b are pass through (RCK, SCK, MISO, 5V, GND) so none of those can be a problem.

That’s leaves MOSI.

Basically I wired up a micro controller to the sub-node, wrote some code and sent data down to the board.
Following the MOSI traces, I tested the appropriate pins on the shift register and dual inverter on my scope.
The signal was good on the inverter input (A1) but wasn’t inverted on the output (Y1).

I also tried to manually drive the inverter by pulling A1 high then low but still no output.

The dual inverter is a 7c (NZD) component!
Replaced it on 8b and 8c and all is well again.

Now the mystery is why this has happened?

Possibly a bad batch of inverters.
Maybe a voltage spike on the 5V rail blew them up.

Who knows.

Jez

........

So there you go! Clear as mud.

rd

#270 5 months ago

^^^^^^^

I knew it. Had to be.

#271 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

Basically I wired up a micro controller to the sub-node, wrote some code and sent data down to the board.
Following the MOSI traces, I tested the appropriate pins on the shift register and dual inverter on my scope.
The signal was good on the inverter input (A1) but wasn’t inverted on the output (Y1).
rd

Yikes, I was afraid things were getting that complex, but having to write your own code to test crappy boards without schematics... I am tapping out well beyond that point.

Hopefully some repair tools and "common things to do" type pinwiki repair documents are developed over the next decade or a lot of Spike games are going to end up in the trash.

Thank you for taking the time to follow up on the repair method used, I am sure it will be helpful for somebody in the future!

The SW on location in my town is missing a ton of center playfield lights, it is well beyond the owner's ability to repair it (even if he had the time, he is busy managing a large venue). And dropping $400 on a board to maybe fix it is not appealing on their end.

#272 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

Basically I wired up a micro controller to the sub-node, wrote some code and sent data down to the board.
Following the MOSI traces, I tested the appropriate pins on the shift register and dual inverter on my scope.

Cool, I was just getting ready to do this myself, looks like you saved me some time...

#273 5 months ago
Quoted from BC_Gambit:

Yikes, I was afraid things were getting that complex, but having to write your own code to test crappy boards without schematics... I am tapping out well beyond that point.
Hopefully some repair tools and "common things to do" type pinwiki repair documents are developed over the next decade or a lot of Spike games are going to end up in the trash.
Thank you for taking the time to follow up on the repair method used, I am sure it will be helpful for somebody in the future!
The SW on location in my town is missing a ton of center playfield lights, it is well beyond the owner's ability to repair it (even if he had the time, he is busy managing a large venue). And dropping $400 on a board to maybe fix it is not appealing on their end.

from what i just read this is great news sounds like those boards are just basic logic no microcontroller involved. Any one can reverse engineer them and create copies

i dont own a spike game but could some one take photos of these various board's? might be far easier to reverse engineer then first thought

#274 5 months ago
Quoted from russdx:

might be far easier to reverse engineer then first thought

All talk until it's done.

#275 5 months ago
Quoted from BC_Gambit:

And dropping $400 on a board to maybe fix it is not appealing on their end.

That’s where my Ghostbusters mate was at.

He was looking at 3x node boards that would *maybe* fix the issue.

Circa $800 bucks (NZ) for 3 boards, shipped.

Because of 21c of blown parts.

Lucky Jeremy was around.

End result, the guy is going to sell the GB and is scared off buying any more newer pins.

rd

#276 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

I emailed Jeremy (aka Clever Clogs ..) and here is what he said...

Wow! $800 vs $0.21. Kiwi rocks!

#277 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

I emailed Jeremy (aka Clever Clogs ..) and here is what he said...

If Jeremy doesn't mind, I'll post this info on PinWiki. Unless he'd like to do it and add some more detail. I'd like to add the pic to if that's okay.

#278 5 months ago

Is the (presumably huge) profit margin Stern makes on these replacement boards worth the loss of customer goodwill? What's the unit cost to Stern of these?

#279 5 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

All talk until it's done.

well i did say might! just some high res photo's would be helpful.

#280 5 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

That’s where my Ghostbusters mate was at.
He was looking at 3x node boards that would *maybe* fix the issue.
Circa $800 bucks (NZ) for 3 boards, shipped.
Because of 21c of blown parts.
Lucky Jeremy was around.
End result, the guy is going to sell the GB and is scared off buying any more newer pins.
rd

I haven't bought a Spike game yet and this is why. Between shipping and duty it gets expensive fast if something breaks. Plus you take a hit on any new game in NZ anyway if you resell. Simonzz has a fair few spike games and I know he had one node board go, maybe a second but I'm not sure so they don't all break but its a worry still for me. It helps that stern still hasn't put out a must have game for me and I can play other peoples

#281 5 months ago
Quoted from russdx:

from what i just read this is great news sounds like those boards are just basic logic no microcontroller involved. Any one can reverse engineer them and create copies
i dont own a spike game but could some one take photos of these various board's? might be far easier to reverse engineer then first thought

Until Spike 3, or Son of Spike, or whatever comes along.

-10
#282 5 months ago
Quoted from westofrome:

Is the (presumably huge) profit margin Stern makes on these replacement boards worth the loss of customer goodwill? What's the unit cost to Stern of these?

How much is an x-pin replacement display? WAY more than the sum of parts...,how much for Pinstadium?,,a topper?, what about the cost of those JJ light board kits??
People need to get over dissecting these boards and complaining like Spike nodes are the only thing in pinball that is overpriced.
Oh, and most people that need one, and it fixes their issue, are prolly fine with a couple hundo, that's what a service call costs anyway, maybe now some won't need a tech.
But let me know when you all are ready to dump your Spike games from Fear of the Node, I'll pick them up for free.

24
#283 5 months ago
Quoted from DNO:

How much is an x-pin replacement display? WAY more than the sum of parts...,how much for Pinstadium?,,a topper?

That is all nonsense.

No one needs a silly topper or blinding purple LEDs, but you need a working game.

Every minute a pin is down, it's costing the owner money.

For 90 years, all pins were designed to be serviced on site.

Pins had full schematics.

Unless the pin caught fire, it was up and earning in less than a hour.

Most ops don't route pins anymore because they say they are too expensive. If it now turns out that every repair involves a few hundred dollars in boards, I expect it won't be long before no ops route them.

It's the same reason you don't see BMW taxis in the States; they are too unreliable and costly to operate.

-4
#284 5 months ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Most ops don't route pins anymore because they say they are too expensive. If it now turns out that every repair involves a few hundred dollars in boards, I expect it won't be long before no ops route them.

Most ops don't operate pins because they are lazy.
EVERY repair now involves a new/broken node board?
Everyone can keep spinning this the way they want, but there are more pins being operated now than there has been in the last 20 years, and there will be ways to repair them.

#285 5 months ago
Quoted from DNO:

Most ops don't operate pins because they are lazy.

Nonsense.

I run service for a few ops.

They are not lazy people. They are hustlers that KNOW their business.

Do you think I've ever fixed a Key Master or Bar-Ber-Cut that required three new $200 boards?

-2
#286 5 months ago
Quoted from vid1900:

I run service for a few ops.
They are not lazy people. They are hustlers that KNOW their business.

I am an op, and have 30 years in the industry. I said most ops, glad you work for some good ones, most that still have the will to route pins are pretty good.
So,...never replaced a $400 CD player? Never had to buy a new monitor? Replace a touchscreen? New ramp? There are plenty of repairs that cost equivalent.
Node boards go bad in 3's now? Wow!
Haven't seen that one.

#287 5 months ago

New pins not working out of the box is bad.

#288 5 months ago

These node boards just reek of Stern trying to manufacture an eventual obsolescence. They really don't want these machines to last for 50 years anymore. Where's the profit in that, said the Ferengi.

#289 5 months ago

Stern is in a very good position right now, demand is very strong and they have cut costs, and they have no real competition, especially at the pro level. That’s quite a position to be in. If I had to guess, I’d say most of the games are going to homeowners, not operators. If I were an op, I’d run the game through the warranty, then list it for sale.

Seems nobody cares about these crappy node boards or the spike system, except the few of us in this thread. Once the boards become NLA, if that happens, that’s when the uproar might begin.

-1
#290 5 months ago
Quoted from DNO:

Oh, and most people that need one, and it fixes their issue, are prolly fine with a couple hundo, that's what a service call costs anyway, maybe now some won't need a tech.

Spoken like someone with more money then brains. Why pay a hundred or more for a 1 dollar fix.

Quoted from DNO:

I am an op, and have 30 years in the industry.

30 years in the business, your comfortable with a couple hundred dollar expense, and you still need a tech to do repairs? Sounds like more money then brains.

Quoted from DNO:

Never had to buy a new monitor? Replace a touchscreen? New ramp? There are plenty of repairs that cost equivalent.

Would you be ok with replacing one of these parts in a machine that’s less then a year old? Like if a touchscreen went out within a year of it being new, would you be upset with the cost, or just think

Quoted from DNO:

there will be ways to repair them.

Because you haven’t instilled confidence in me with your vast knowledge of electronics

#291 5 months ago
Quoted from russdx:

well i did say might! just some high res photo's would be helpful.

I’d love to have a full set of hi res pics for each node board. This is Node 11 from game of thrones.

I’ll be gone ice fishing this weekend, but I’ll snap pics of the rest next week. I’ll also try to get better quality pics.

A3604A9E-03ED-445A-9E46-00FA811A6B50 (resized).jpegDE8F247F-33F4-4F02-801E-F69E79D9118C (resized).jpegF537170F-0548-4180-98AB-FFF86618A3B3 (resized).jpeg
#292 5 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Would you be ok with replacing one of these parts in a machine that’s less then a year old? Like if a touchscreen went out within a year of it being new, would you be upset with the cost, o

Touch screens usually have (had) a year warranty, unless vandalized. Now go bitch about Sterns warranty.
As for the rest of your insults, you have no clue who I am or what I do, so I won't feed trolls.
I've said my thoughts, now I'll just go, have fun Fearing the Node.

#293 5 months ago
Quoted from DNO:

Touch screens usually have (had) a year warranty, unless vandalized. Now go bitch about Sterns warranty.
As for the rest of your insults, you have no clue who I am or what I do, so I won't feed trolls.
I've said my thoughts, now I'll just go, have fun Fearing the Node.

So, since I "have no idea who you are" I dont get an answer to any of my questions?

Sorry for being so rude, I may be an asshole, but I wont say anything behind your back, that I wont say to your face. (I guess some people are more sensitive then I am)

Anyways, I dont think that it's right for stern to be withholding schematics. I dont think that it's right to pay for a replacement part when something can be fixed, and I dont think that it's right for a customer to be gouged for parts that realistically cost dollars. Maybe you think all of these things are ok, but it dont.

#294 5 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

I’d love to have a full set of hi res pics for each node board. This is Node 11 from game of thrones.
I’ll be gone ice fishing this weekend, but I’ll snap pics of the rest next week. I’ll also try to get better quality pics.
[quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]

what is the number on that little square chip? (looks like a microcontroller, 8 legs each side)

#295 5 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

This is Node 11 from game of thrones....
[quoted image]

Egad! SM components are one thing... but I had no idea Spike Nodes were packed so dense!

So OK, serious question: just *how* is one supposed to remove something like, say, that small IC "U12" for example... with all those other sensitive components in the way? Do you just clear them all out and hope for the best?

I mean I have some needlepoint tips for my Hakko that could theoretically reach but, damn: one false move and you've nicked something nearby. And be honest, you've done that on your Sys6 and other boards too, and those components are miles away by comparison.

And removal is probably the easy part: how in hell are you supposed to thread a needlepoint iron AND a solder lead between larger components to reattach an SM part? That's basically just floating until you manage to tack it down, and apparently WITHOUT the luxury of basic sight to see what you're trying to do?!?

Ugh. If they were more robust, sure, I get it. Or so uniform as to become a commodity in themselves, even that could make sense. But damn, that seems so unnecessary. Makes me wonder what was wrong with bundles of wire (which technically are still there in all the inter-node connections, ha). I guess they are hoping to never change the MPU and offload more of the work to Nodes and headers and such?

#296 5 months ago

Does Stern anywhere give any guarantees that node boards are available in the future? If not, the risk of a pin becoming obsolescent and unrepairable quite quickly. I've had my eye on GB for a while, and Munsters is a fun pin but these concerns are putting a serious doubt on those purchases

#297 5 months ago

To be honest, this thread is scaring me.
No repair ? Boards no longer available? How can Stern let this happen? Am I and others going to have games that no longer can be played?

#298 5 months ago
Quoted from mollyspub:

To be honest, this thread is scaring me.
No repair ? Boards no longer available? How can Stern let this happen? Am I and others going to have games that no longer can be played?

You should be scared. The boards are not easily repairable and new boards range from $200-$1000. There is no guarantee of supply. We can only hope that a secondary market for boards develops. It is my understanding that most of the boards are not transferrable across games. Nobody is going to invest time to make a board for just one game. Stern needs to release schematics as a first step. Once we see that, fears may ease a little.

Time will tell, but right now the future is very unclear you are rolling the dice. It is really unfortunate how this is being handled as the games are a lot of fun.

#299 5 months ago
Quoted from Lermods:

Nobody is going to invest time to make a board for just one game.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Case in point: Alien. Check out those threads sometime. Some awesome pinsiders have reproduced all types of stuff for that game already.

#300 5 months ago
Quoted from mollyspub:

To be honest, this thread is scaring me.
No repair ? Boards no longer available? How can Stern let this happen? Am I and others going to have games that no longer can be played?

All we can hope for is that someone makes some aftermarket boards.

They can make them less dense for easy service, and use Thru-hole parts where available.

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