(Topic ID: 232957)

Node Boards- Update- Stern tech fixes issue via email

By shacklersrevenge

5 months ago

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  • 744 posts
  • 148 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 days ago by russdx
  • Topic is favorited by 25 Pinsiders


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#217 5 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.

#221 5 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.

#255 4 months ago

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

1 week later
#362 4 months ago

So, the black knight went on Kaneda’s Podcast and popped off about Stern Spike system and node boards.

It’s really difficult to know if he 100% knows what he’s talking about or if he knows enough to be dangerous and then just talks up the rest (or if he’s simply wading in total Uninformed BS)... but he’s throwing around phrases like “planned obsolescence” for Spike games. Then again, he also seems to make up words (“technicianal” I believe was dropped?)

What say you Stern?

Stern just got completely called out for basically selling $5-8k-plus games that carry hardware that (a) has early games - like KISS - with boards that are NLA or becoming scarce, and (b) suggestions that current games are going to end up in the same place.

Oh... add in the notion that the system is “half baked.”

I’d like to hear Stern come onto a podcast or a public forum and defend the electronics in its games... publicly commit to providing schematics or repair support... and discuss plans for games that have unique boards that are no longer made or available. Or at least directly address these concerns about Spike.

#364 4 months ago
Quoted from Rum-Z:

In almost 50 years of living, I've found out that obsolescence happens on a frequent basis, whether it's planned or unplanned.

I’m pretty much right there with you... know what you mean.

He’s saying that it’s planned, which from an electronics standpoint isn’t something we’ve seen in pinball. And he’s also indicating there’s a good shot that spike games could simply become paper weights due to a poorly conceived system... one that they might be only committed to supporting 8-10 years out. That’s a serious accusation against a company that’s selling high dollar value items to collectors.

I’d certainly like to hear why Stern has to say about this.

#373 4 months ago
Quoted from BrianBannon:

FYI, current cabinet node boards work in KISS as I used the latest one when my original cabinet node board failed, they are backward compatible.

Is that true across the board? Or are there any game specific kiss boards?

My understanding is that some games have some unique boards

#393 4 months ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

That's an interesting concept--content locked TVs.

Erase that from the internet immediately!!

Good grief - don’t give manufacturers any ideas!

#399 4 months ago
Quoted from knobstone:

This issue needs to be addressed directly to Stern at TPF. It's frustrating to know what to do when you are interested in purchasing a Stern Spike 2 pinball machine. As someone who is not part of the pinball "clique," I have no qualms asking about the node board issue at TPF.
When it comes to Pinball podcasts, Kaneda is the only podcast that discusses these issues to where there's no point to listening to the "dime a dozen" podcasts who rarely talk about the problems of some of the current generation machines from all pinball manufactures. It's called accountability.

Your last paragraph is largely true. Hats off to Kaneda for being a wide reaching voice that is willing to go to bat for the customer. You have to give him props for being willing to upset manufacturers by speaking his mind. We’ve heard Nate do it (and TFP definitely will speaker their minds too. big tip of the cap to Tommy and Taylor for keeping things real)... but, like his tact or not, Kaneda will take it to very brutal levels of reality.

The question is: is it noise or reality?

That’s why this Black Knight interview was intriguing. I’d like to hear Stern come on the show with him... to hear if he backs down, admits he really doesn’t know what he was tossing around as near fact, or if he’d stick to his guns-a-blazin.

My issue with the black knight is his outright disdain for what he sees as this ignorant influx of modern collectors. But also, he’ll make rather bold claims here on Pinside, but when asked to provide reference he basically ignores and never addresses. From my perspective, if you’re going to attempt to educate with knowledge that isn’t wide spread , you need to be able to provide some facts or reference to show what you’re saying is legit.

#413 4 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

This is a very smart idea when done right. I don’t think there is ANYTHING wrong with node board architecture, just node board durability and circuit isolation. When a playfield short takes out a node board and every other board it is connected to, that is not a great design. If the bus truly isolates node boards, AND any coupling that might be required between two node boards to syncronize an operation is opto isolated, AND boards are adequately fused and watchdogged, the design carries more pluses than minuses for both repair, and ease and cost of manufacturing.

When can you start working at Stern???

#496 4 months ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Two additional node board failure examples in just the past 24 hours.
SPIKE home use game, Aerosmith, fails for unknown reasons outside warranty. SPIKE 2 system.
Another, based on trough board issues, Ghostbusters. Another SPIKE 2. Most likely related to vibrational problems.
[quoted image]

These node board failures totally suck for the owners. But, what are we supposed to do with this information? Two out of how many?

Here's a simple fact: electronics fail. It's a fact of life. Pointing out a handful from an internet forum that represents a sliver of pinball buyers/users doesn't help. You could dig up complaints or detailed accounts of product failures for nearly anything on the internet. But it's all meaningless unless you have context. We also don't know why the failure occurred. Until we understand that, the information is still meaningless. And guessing its "vibrational" related is a total shot in the dark guess.

You claim to be expert, knowing enough to sound the alarm bells with some very bold and damning statements... but there's practically zero context or verifiable background information to support what you're saying. "Because I said so" or "I know from talking to others" isn't enough, IMO. We're not talking about impression-based assessments of gameplay or art. We're talking about the evisceration of a company's platform. If it's really a problem, show the beef in the burger. Has anyone taken working boards and found an immediate (non-invasive) way of causing a failure? If vibrations are the culprit, has anyone shown this through a test? Has anyone analyzed the system's software (because your buddy read an email by someone that said they've looked at the code and it's well designed)?

#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.

#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...

#580 4 months ago
Quoted from hoby1:

Unless your spending all you time at the quarter arcade with all the new titles or a close buddy's house.....Yep your missing out.

Well, all the new Sterns do pop up at a location here in the Maryland suburbs. So, unlike 4 years ago (when there was barely location pinball around here), you don’t have to risk anything... just go and play. 50 cents a pop if you believe it (true)

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