(Topic ID: 232957)

Node Boards- Update- Stern tech fixes issue via email

By shacklersrevenge

9 months ago

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


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#262 8 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.

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#265 8 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.


#268 8 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 ...


#269 8 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.



So there you go! Clear as mud.


#275 8 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.


#320 8 months ago
Quoted from KenLayton:

The way it looks to me is that Stern is cheaping out by using one single output power supply instead of using two power supplies to power all boards.

The other issue we had (again, on a Ghostbusters) was the game resetting all the time.

This was because there was (dunno if it is still the case) a watchdog chip on the front node board, which would reset the game if the voltage went too much under 48v. (Can’t recall but I think it was like 47.5 or so)

We solved this by discovering the power supply had an adjustable output via a small pot - we wicked this up to a little over 48v and solved the issue.

As I say - I don’t know if that is still the case with the newest Spike games. But it certainly was on the early ones.

Hopefully that will help someone!


#445 8 months ago
Quoted from iceman44:

HUO pinball? I seriously doubt it.

Icey ... Icey ... Icey ...

It’s great that you haven’t yet had any issues.

However, looking at the bigger picture, you have some long term collectors and operators over the last few years (and in this thread..) that are very concerned about the future of these machines.

While I don’t doubt that the aftermarket will one day step up and create a solution (as Altek and others have for the older pins) the fact is these boards are shitting themselves at an alarming rate - far more than Whitestar or Sam ever did. In fact, I’d never had ONE issue with a Sam boardset until a few weeks ago (my SM needed a 5v voltage adjustment which I could do with a small screwdriver and a volt meter in under 5 minutes)

The fact that the node boards have zero fuse protection was a flag to me from day one - and I’m no electronics engineer, far from it. A few cents worth of fusing on each board would have been a very good idea.

Quoted from iceman44:

then send it off to HEP and have the POS restored.

This is sorta missing the point - even giving HEP $5000 to restore a machine isn’t going to make a Ghostbusters with unobtainable node boards work. It’s a $5500/7000/8000 USD boat anchor at that point.

While I don’t buy that Stern have planned obsolescence into the pins (that’d be remarkably stupid and financial suicide in this tiny hobby/business) the fact is that the new system isn’t as good as the old one, and that’s really all there is to say about it.

I hope they sort it out - I really do.


#453 8 months ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Sorry RD, I'm not one of them, and neither are the 12k pin owners they sold in 2018 and growing.

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.


#456 8 months ago
Quoted from clg:

Pauloz? He should be covered under the CGA you are right unless they try and weasel out under some sort of commercial use loophole, if it exists. I wonder if it will make coin cascade rethink pricing if they have to cover longer term repairs? Simon had no help at all from coin cascade with his dead node board. Stern wasn't that helpful either until he directly emailed Gary who responded. He was willing to pay for it too mind you!

That’s just disgraceful service.

Or - lack of.


#459 8 months ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

A sincere and honest question here...what is that percentage rate based on actual numbers? WhiteStar/Sam vs. Spike 2?
As a Spike 2 game owner, I'm curious.

I’m not the distributor, so I can’t answer that.

All I can tell you is, I’m not aware of a SAM board failure in my circle (news would soon travel in our community) and I know of multiple SPIKE failures.


#465 8 months ago
Quoted from clg:

Both Ken and I had transistors go on SAM's but it is the same as on a WPC, $1 in parts, 5 minutes and it's done

Oh yeah! My Ironman blew a flipper transistor once, forgot about that. Replaced both the flipper transistors with the beefier versions and no problems since.

But I can’t recall a whole SAM board becoming unserviceable.


#467 8 months ago
Quoted from pinballaddicted:

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.

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.


#590 8 months ago
Quoted from pauloz:

They have now changed their tune and are going to sort the problem with new boards. My game has less than 300 games on it.

As they should. I’m pleased you followed up on it.


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