(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 11 days ago by russdx
  • Topic is favorited by 25 Pinsiders


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#32 5 months ago
Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

SO finally got through to a guy named Chaz, and the exchange was polite.
I explained to him the issue, that it was ONE switch not working and how I troubleshot it, and I asked him if there was anything they could do.
Chaz: "'well...they're kind of designed a certain way that makes them very difficult to repair, not sure what we can do...maybe send it in, and we'll look at it...''
Me: Is there a way you can swap it out so there isn't a lot of down time?''
Chaz: "it's something you need to order from your distributorrrrrr, or parts supplierrrrrr, eeeeyah...I mean, we're goingggg to be offering the schematics for them soon, very sooooon, but they're not easy to repair..... but I mean, you can try....''
Me: So my game needs to be down for several weeks unless I spend $220 for a new one, that isn't really guaranteed to not fail like this one and it runs two of these things, which means the other one can or will fail eventually too probably, and there is no real way to repair it over ONE simple switch? I own 6 Stern machines and like what you guys do but this isn't really good work''
Chaz: Yeahhhh...well...I mean, that's really all we can do right now, not sure what else we can do...sorry you're having troubles (chuckles) but you'd have to buy a new board
...thanks for calling (chuckles a few times more) WTF?
Okay Stern, game on. I'll buy that new ridiculously overpriced board and keep the rest of money going forward and chuckle all the way to the bank! From now on, SAM or before works for me and I'll sing the song of your Stern node JUNK.
Adios boys!

Chaz is an absolute great guy that has helped us repair many Stern machines over the last many years. I am not sure how many years he has worked at Stern, I am sure it is a lot. He works answering emails on his days off and is totally committed to helping pinheads keep their machines running. I understand your frustration with Spike, please do not take that frustration out on Chaz. He has done a fantastic job for many of us for many years.

#36 5 months ago
Quoted from pinballplusMN:

I as a player/pinballbuyer wanted to buy MET but am passing because of the uncertainties of future repairs and node failures.
Additionally, I had a customer who I helped update his GB and it took out a node board. It was a nightmare to get working. This spike system made me look incompetent as I couldn't give an explanation of why it failed. I'm sure he wont be a repeat customer as he probably thinks I caused his node to fail.
I just had guy today with a SW that needed a flipper fixed and passed on the call. As ive mentioned before pinballs can have a personality of their own as far as breaking down. When I go on a home service call in a way Im married to the game as Im the last one that worked on the game. With Sam, Wpc, System 6-11 etc if some gremlin pops up while im on the call I can easily fix or anytime after I leave etc because Ive seen almost everything. Most failures have a cause or explanation I can give to the client.
Possibly in the future I will buy or work on Spike game but for now I will just enjoy them on location as they are lots of fun to play.

#71 5 months ago
Quoted from cooked71:

If all the node boards were interchangeable I could almost accept the high price - the idea of stocking up on a couple of spare node boards for a quick and easy repair with no down time has got to have a value, especially for an operator/location. And if they were repairable, even better. That would be clever design.
But they’re not interchangeable, they’re not repairable and they’re ridiculously expensive. Stern still argue operators and location pinball are the most important segment of the market. With crap like this you wouldn’t know it.
When you’ve got no competition you don’t need to worry about improving the end user experience- you just try to maximize profit by reducing costs.

Check out the part numbers of most of the node boards. You will find the same CPU board and main node board on most Spike machines. Our distro keeps the main node board in stock and will have a replacement to you within one day.

Yes I agree the replacement parts are expensive. All the manufacturers of new pinball machines are using a similar system so the best way is for people to see if their boards can be repaired. Who keeps saying the boards are unrepairable? We have already repaired one ourselves and are about to send another one for repair. Any good Pinball tech can work out what is wrong with a Spike game the same as any 90s BW or SAM game.

#73 5 months ago
Quoted from Bublehead:

Can someone who is an electronics technician or EE like to explain why a node board is unrepairable? Being that I am an electronics tech/hardware/software engineer, I can tell you, everything electronic is repairable, the only question is, is it economical to do so? If the boards are an in house design, and built on contract for $25, then Stern can charge $219 for them to replace them, and not have to pay a tech to sit and repair them when they go bad, retest them, then ship them out. All those shipping costs to ship it back to china to repair it means they either fix it in house (a tech costs too much) or, throw it away and sell you a new one and pocket a nice chunk-o-change, or send you a new one free, their hit is only $25 plus shipping.

All the people saying the node boards are unrepairable have no real idea why. They believe what they read on Pinside!

I agree with you, the boards can be repaired if you have a good tech available to do the repair. It becomes about economics after that.

#74 5 months ago

That is me and it is a CPU board not a node board. I will keep everybody posted once I have a solution. Pinside is a great place to keep info on fixing machines. We have also repaired a transistor on a node board.

Anything else?

#77 5 months ago

Quoted from TheLaw:
Really? So any good pinball tech can repair a node board easier than replacing a switch on this drop target? Just wanna make sure I'm hearing you correctly

I am not saying that, there is plenty of good info already on the thread. Just like any good pinball tech cannot repair a SAM or BW board. They send the board to their "board guy". There are already "board guys" that can repair node boards.

#177 5 months ago
Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

This is a good question. I really do love the way Sterns play, they're packed with interesting rulesets.
The problem is when they don't play, however common and rare this may be going forward remains to be seen. When it happens though, it's a royal PITA with no real way to fix it like the old days. This would not be such a large concern if they were either easily repairable, or these node boards cost $50 a piece like they should. Then you could easily justify picking up a spare or two for peace of mind.
I've played several games on this now, with no issues whatsoever (yes, everything tested and working correctly)
Pinball is a good time and right now it's hotter than ever. What's unfortunate is, it's a shame that Stern took advantage of us, and left behind a near bulletproof design in Sam and cost-cut their way to more profits by converting over their entire line to a very unproven and fragile ''the pin'' style of game- All this while they already pulled a fast one with premium/LE vs pro features and pricing, and jack the prices $200 every other release.
It begs the question, why? You're giving us less and less and you want more and more?
I totally understand and get it, they're a business out to make as much as they can, but don't ask me to pay $219 to fix your problems on top of what I already paid, that's just not right.
I can't say going forward that I feel safe, but I can say I'd feel pretty foolish spending $5600 on a pro that can break with no way to repair it other than to spend hundreds more for a potentially minor issue.

Good on you for posting a good resolution and outcome for your issue. SAM is not as bulletproof as everyone thinks. We have had 2 SAM games that required replacement boards. One a CPU board and the other a I/O board. I guarantee you Spike CPU and node boards are much cheaper than SAM boards. Both SAM boards we replaced were SMC technology. Both boards are still used in current games. If Stern release their schematics of their current node boards and they are as cheap to make as everyone one on here seems to think, parallel manufacturers will start making replacement boards at a much cheaper price. This time will come, it is only a matter of time and demand.

If you love the hobby, enjoy it. If you love a game and want to buy it, do it. All this scare mongering about new games does the hobby no good and stops people from buying new games. What it does do is keep the up the prices of old games. Once everyone is more comfortable with the newer tech, different methods of repair will become available, just like what happened to all the 90s B/W games.

#178 5 months ago
Quoted from FalconPunch:

There is a Star wars on location where I play a monthly tournament.
During a 4 player game the machine went into this weird slow motion style thing and stopped scoring. Lights where blinking very slow.
We rebooted the machine and it didn't turn on.
Turns out it need a node board replacement
1 month later at the next tournament the machine was working again, (new node board) but a massive cluster of insert LEDs where out....The Node board obviously controller these but everything else worked. I told the guys and they said they never realised....
They reseated all the cables and nothing happened.
Today I saw the machine again and the LEDs are still out. I asked what the deal was as they said that apparently the LED boards are fried after the NODE board went. Has anyone ever had that happen? Surely a Node board cannot fry every single LED board it is connected to

I have seen this issue before on a SW and the OP had fitted extra lighting that overloaded the node board. Do you know if there were any mods or extra lighting fitted to the machine?

#180 5 months ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

I would think Stern has proprietary software on the board, forcing any after market vendors to write their own code that doesn't violate Stern's patents. Not saying it isn't possible, just that the software is likely more of an issue then hardware.

We have a board repair guy that also repairs common boards in the lighting and sound industry. We have given him a node board. Most of the components (micro processors, switches, transistors, capacitors etc, etc) are the same part as what is used in the sound and lighting industry. Nothing pinball only related on the node boards. The node boards are only I/O boards. The firmware to run the boards is in the software and software updates for each machine. I do not think there is any pinball rocket science on the node boards.

I understand why Stern have not released circuit diagrams to anyone, the CPU and node boards are not very complicated and can be reproduced quite easily if a person or company really wanted to.

#190 5 months ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

I don't disagree about the hardware, it's just of the shelf stuff that anyone can by at plenty of supply houses. However, this did catch my attention when I was reading the manual not long ago (I just got a AS Pro, so it was still be fresh in my memory). No clue what the 'embedded code' entails, but they would be (sadly) silly to make it simple. Playing the devils advocate - they would load it up with proprietary code so after market vendors would spend more money in court than selling boards. Sad, but that's how the world works today. Hope I'm wrong! Sort of reminds me of back in the 80's when there was an Apple clone...that didn't last long.
[quoted image]

Thanks for the info. We have not got that far with Spike and Node boards yet. Our goal is to see if we can fix a CPU or Node board if it stuffs up. We do have some great help if needed. If we can fix it, post on Pinside to help others with the same issue. We have a current post about some LED back box lights not working. Since I started the post, the lights have worked every time.

#202 5 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.

#205 5 months ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Why wait?
Ofcourse; we dont' know if it was changed on future titles.

Thanks very much. That is awesome help.

They deliver to Australia too!

#207 5 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.

1 week later
#219 5 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.

That is really good, thanks very much for sharing.

1 week later
#314 5 months ago
Quoted from mollyspub:

I don't like hearing the cost of boards but what bothers me more is the statement of no longer being available. I just don't understand why Stern would let this happen. Possibly Homepin can step in and start producing these?

You can still purchase every spike game node board from Stern distros. There have been some boards that have been upgraded and superceeded. A very informed Pinsider created an awesome spreadsheet with all the board numbers, I do not have this right now. No cause for panic or alarm.

#466 4 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

I literally just got an email from one of the 3 BM66 owners in NZ, he has an LE, and one of his main nodes has died. The NZ distributors basically don’t want to know about it.
My advice was to complain to the NZ consumer authorities and demand repair or refund. We have strong consumer protection here in NZ.
That’s 3 Spike pins in our tiny NZ community in less than a month that no longer work.
I’m just reporting the facts. I am not scaremongering or wishing ill will on anyone. This is what is happening.

Hey RD,

I am sure that you probably already know this.. All the guys at PinballLife can help you with a replacement node board (your mate will have to pay for it) to get the game up and running again. The support is there, you just have to pay for it.

#481 4 months ago
Quoted from rotordave:

Yeah - but if there is an underlying issue with another board, or something else, you plug in your new $400 (NZ) board and it blows up soon after.

I thought you would be all over it.

If your mate wants to sell it how it is please let me know!

I am sure you will get it going for him.

#487 4 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Where would I find this info? I’ll have to fix this I guess.
It would be nice if stern had some dealer network, where they can send important information on to the customers. Like how car companies send an auto recall notice. I would have never know about this problem.

There is a start for you.




#491 4 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Weird. I can’t find anything for GoT. It’s a spike 1 game, and has node 8 and 9 in it. I wonder if it’s required, and what’s changed?

If GOT is not on the list, I would not do anything.

Stern expect us to check the service bulletin section of their website and then go to your distro to get the parts if required.

#686 4 months ago
Quoted from Squizz:

Great video to watch if you haven't already seen.

No it is not. This guy has his nose out of joint because he was parallel importing NIB Stern games in to Australia and got caught out by Stern. Stern stopped his supply of machines (he was selling spike games) and surprise surprise he made that video and all of a sudden, Spike became an issue. Plenty of sour grapes in that interview.
If you agree with him, I suggest that you do not buy any recent games from any manufacturer. All are using a similar system to run their games.

#690 4 months ago
Quoted from heme:

what exactly does that mean?

We have one Stern distro in Australia. The guy who made that video was buying games from another distro in the USA and importing them in to Australia and selling the games NIB himself. By passing the Aust distro that pays for the privelidge.

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