(Topic ID: 2929)

Not broken but a question about the opto circuits on Fish Tales flipper buttons


By Son_of_Zombie

9 years ago



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  • 19 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 9 years ago by Son_of_Zombie
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#1 9 years ago

Hi everyone,

I was told by a pinball service agent that my fish tales machine has a strong and a weaker flipper action. He suggested that if you push the button in slowly the flipper will hit the ball with less force but if you push the button in fast it the flipper will strike the ball harder and therefor the ball will go faster. If this is true it sounds like it would be easier to hit certain targets with a slower ball. But I have never been able no matter how slowly or gently I push the button to get this slower hit. Is the service agent wrong? Am I just an unco ordinated gumby? Is my machine "faulty"? I put it in speech marks because if he never mentioned I would never have considered the possibility as it works as I would expect it to.

Thanks for any help, I have searched the internet and read a .pdf manual but still not sure.

Cheers!

#2 9 years ago

Well, correct me if I'm wrong here but as far as I know, flipper buttons are only on/off, no "in between". In other words, the way you press the button does not influence the power of the flipper bat. This is true for all switches in a solid state pinball machine, there is only on/off.

It almost sounds like a prank. Do you remember him having a somewhat evil smile when he told you this?

#3 9 years ago

flipper buttons are only on/off, no "in between". In other words, the way you press the button does not influence the power of the flipper bat. This is true for all switches in a solid state pinball machine, there is only on/off.

Cheers for the response, I was just having a closer look to get more info. I know a bit about electronics but not a lot about pinball machines... You are correct if it's a simple digital switch with only two states like a momentary switch. But these are optos, an LED (normally infrared) shines at a sensor. The button is connected to a strip of metal that blocks the light hitting the sensor, but when pushed it moves out of the way. The sensor picks up the light source (it can see infrared but we can't) and knows the button is pressed. This is still pretty much a digital switch effectively with two states. I have as close a look as I can and it appears to be a pair of optos, one lower one higher (but still close together) this means the capability would be there for this to work. As you press the button the top opto will open first followed by the lower shortly after. It would be a very simple circuit to measure the time difference to allow what the service agent said... and no he looked serious, ever heard the saying you cant BS a BS'er? I can BS with the best of them!

Just noticed in small writing on the board it says opto1 and opto2...

So I'm convinced this is possible, does anyone have this machine and may be able to confirm or deny that the function exists?

Thanks for your help robin, anymore ideas?

P.s sorry for low quality photos, camera is stuffed had to use phone. The bottom image is with the button pressed.

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#4 9 years ago

I would tell that guy you talked a person that had no arms and worked the flippers via several cables attached.......directly to the brain.....Reminds me of my dingy BLOND niece. I have frozen rats in my freezer and I told if you put one in microwave for two min. it would wake up. She almost bought it.

#5 9 years ago

Went back and read my post.....almost as dumb as she is.

#6 9 years ago

Hey Twizz,

Don't be concerned, we all have our moments. I won't tell you any of my embarassing stories (there are a few), but I once made my brother (9 at the time) believe that the bend in bananas was to do with marketing. They actually grew straight and people worked tirelessly in factorys bending them because they would sell better that way. Mum ruined it a couple of hours later when he rushed to tell her what he had learned.

P.s I take it the rats are for feeding a pet? If so what is it? Always curious as I lived on the grounds of a zoo for 9 years (in a house not a cage!). Now you are going to wonder if that is a 'straight banana' story! By the way after 9 years living there I am convinced that there are no original jokes to be made anymore, but life is full of surprises.

#7 9 years ago

Whatever this person told you is 100% false. The opto is a digital control, on/off as far as the pinball machine is concerned. There is no analog sensitivity to the flipper buttons that will send a varying voltage to your flipper coils.

However, you can produce a softer hit when you have a ball trapped. This is especially useful during multiball if you have a bunch of balls settling onto one raised flipper. If you can do it quick enough, you can de-energize the flipper so it drops ever so slightly and then re-energize it. This can help settle the balls out into a nice line if they are piled up ontop of each other, or even pass over to the other flipper with enough practice.

#8 9 years ago

The opto is a digital control, on/off as far as the pinball machine is concerned. There is no analog sensitivity to the flipper buttons that will send a varying voltage to your flipper coils.

Hi as I stated earlier, I understand a single opto is a digital control and an opto pair is simply a pair of digital controls. At no point have I mentioned the word analog, I KNOW it is not analog. I am a partially qualified electronics engineer, and I could write a simple circuit using early '80s integrated circuits that could measure the time difference between the two opto's regisitering an input. I could then write another simple circuit to use the output of the first to drive the coil at one of two different speeds using technology of the same era. As this is an early '90s machine the technology definitely exists. One of the first things an electronics engineer is taught about designing circuits is to reduce manufacturing costs by not using redundant components or materials. The opto pair is actually just 2 single optos mounted side by side, what you describe above will work with just one. This is very simple technology and the designers of the machine would have been acutely aware of this. I would be very surprised if they included a redundant component. (or a backup in case the first failed, it's not a plane if the primary fails and there is no secondary it's not going to kill people!). I'm prepared to accept that the machine doesn't have two flipper speeds but it makes no sense as to why the opto boards were designed the way the were. If I can design the circuit then the designers of this machine certainly could. Can anyone explain the redundancy of this flipper board? If this could be explained or proven that it is not redundant for a reason I am overlooking, I would appreciate it!

Incidentally for people who have this machine have a look at the the reel it has black plastic tabs that extend off it. It has 5 little tabs and one big tab close to one of the small tabs. Now if you lift your playfield out on it's runners look underneath the reel there is a metal bracket underneath it with 2 little U shaped pieces of (probably black) plastic. These are two more optos using exactly the same technology as what I described above. As the reel rotates a tab will first cut one opto and then the other for a brief moment both will be cut. Shortly after the first one is no longer cut but the second is still cut a little while longer. The reason for the one big tab is a "point of reference" both optos will be cut considerably longer with the big tab than the small tabs. This combined with the machines programming knowing the number of big and small tabs is so the machine knows exactly what position the reel is in, with reference to the 3 holes for the balls. So the designers clearly know about this technology as they are already using the exact same technology for a different purpose.

I think I will just go see the service agent again (might cost me but) he is a qualified electronics engineer and has worked (for around 2 decades) for the only company in my country that has imported pinball machines for the last 25 years or so into my region.

Thanks so much for everyones suggestions and ideas, I have enjoyed the exchange of ideas even if it didn't result in a solution.

Thanks again I will let you know what the agent says!

#9 9 years ago

One reason for the redundancy could simply be a matter of inventory simplification. Since some games require two sets if the games requiring only a single set can work with two sets, then there is only one board type to manufacture, ship, stock, etc.

I don't know this to be a fact, but it's what I always assumed after observing it myself. I'll gladly accept another explanation if there's one that makes more sense though!

#10 9 years ago

You are correct DiJourno. There are two optos there because some games have two flippers per side. An upper and a lower. If your game only has one flipper per side, then the other opto is not being used even though it is being powered.
For example; My Corvette has an error stating the upper right flipper opto is bad. But Corvette does not have an upper right flipper. So, I haven't replaced the opto board because there really is no need other than a slightly annoying error code.

That guy had a straight face probably because he believes that nonsense. He is probably confused by the fact that there are two circuits built into each flipper. The power and the hold circuits. When you press the button the power circuit activates the coil with a full 50volts. Then, when the flipper gets close to the end of the stroke, the EOS switch is activated which shuts off the 50v and activates the 12v (I think it is 12) to hold the flipper up. This is to ensure the coil does not burn out while you take a swig of your beer.

If the EOS switch activates too soon the flipper will not hit as hard because it won't be getting full power when it should and the power will be the same every time. If it doesn't activate you will burn out the coil.

#11 9 years ago

One reason for the redundancy could simply be a matter of inventory simplification. Since some games require two sets if the games requiring only a single set can work with two sets, then there is only one board type to manufacture, ship, stock, etc.

THANKS!! Of course and how DUMB of me for not considering this! This is another way of reducing costs in manufacturing and also logistics. You may have also answered the question as to why the agent suggested it and didn't appear like he was trying to have a joke at my expense... he may have simply got my machine mixed up with another Williams machine that does support this feature. We were at his work, not in the presence of my machine. Thanks again to all contributors! As I said in the title it wasn't broken, but the question had been on my mind for some time..

Thanks to all again!

#12 9 years ago

That guy had a straight face probably because he believes that nonsense. He is probably confused by the fact that there are two circuits built into each flipper. The power and the hold circuits. When you press the button the power circuit activates the coil with a full 50volts. Then, when the flipper gets close to the end of the stroke, the EOS switch is activated which shuts off the 50v and activates the 12v (I think it is 12) to hold the flipper up. This is to ensure the coil does not burn out while you take a swig of your beer.

Thanks for this you clearly know your stuff... Although the discussion never entered into the optos with him, he merely asked if I knew my machine had the capability. All the talk of optos was all my doing as I was trying to understand if it was true. I will still speak to him to find out more as now I am even more interested in the inner workings of my machine.

Oh and I'm now wondering about the swig of beer... do you mean not all machines come with one of the beer drinking hats pictured below? If not I highly recommend one... T he!

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#13 9 years ago

For example; My Corvette has an error stating the upper right flipper opto is bad. But Corvette does not have an upper right flipper. So, I haven't replaced the opto board because there really is no need other than a slightly annoying error code.

My MB was doing this same thing for 6+ months. I chose not to fix it for the same reason -- it's a benign error on a machine with one set of flippers. I replaced the board (couldn't find just the $5 sensor part to swap out) for one reason: I wanted the machine to turn on 'cleanly'. I think if a second error had crept into the mix I may have ignored it since I was used to the test menu warning at machine turn on.

#14 9 years ago

That guy had a straight face probably because he believes that nonsense. He is probably confused by the fact that there are two circuits built into each flipper. The power and the hold circuits. When you press the button the power circuit activates the coil with a full 50volts. Then, when the flipper gets close to the end of the stroke, the EOS switch is activated which shuts off the 50v and activates the 12v (I think it is 12) to hold the flipper up. This is to ensure the coil does not burn out while you take a swig of your beer.

Ok, I'm sure the rest of your info is perfectly correct, but I now know this is NOT NONSENSE! I was looking through the test menu (I never needed to test anything but lamps previously) and found a flipper coil test, when you run the test the right flipper does a strong hit, then a WEAK hit! It then repeats for the left flipper. Anyone with a Fish Tales machine (and possibly other Williams machines) can verify this using their own machine.

Now I just have to find out why I can't get this to work using the flipper buttons...

P.s. I knew the agent wasn't an idiot, he is a walking encyclopedia of pinball knowledge!

#15 9 years ago

Ok, I'm sure the rest of your info is perfectly correct, but I now know this is NOT NONSENSE! I was looking through the test menu (I never needed to test anything but lamps previously) and found a flipper coil test, when you run the test the right flipper does a strong hit, then a WEAK hit! It then repeats for the left flipper. Anyone with a Fish Tales machine (and possibly other Williams machines) can verify this using their own machine.

As I said, each flipper has a power circuit and a hold circuit. The end of stroke switch turns off the power (strong) circuit and turns on the hold (weak) circuit. This is to protect the coil from burning up. The test is there so you can determine if one of these two circuits is not working. If only the hold circuit is working, the flipper will still raise but it will be Very weak, about 1/4 strength. If the hold circuit is not working the flipper will not stay up. You cannot get and do not want this to happen at any time during the game. If you switch the wires you will burn up the flipper circuit board.

#16 9 years ago

As I said, each flipper has a power circuit and a hold circuit. The end of stroke switch turns off the power (strong) circuit and turns on the hold (weak) circuit. This is to protect the coil from burning up. The test is there so you can determine if one of these two circuits is not working. If only the hold circuit is working, the flipper will still raise but it will be Very weak, about 1/4 strength.

Yes, I did and do understand what you said, and there is no way I would ever rewire my pinball machine.. that's insane! When I did the test it happens very fast, so fast I couldn't read the writing on the screen. In my excitement I made the last post before discovering I could get it to repeat a test over and over, when I did this I was able to read the weak test as saying "Hold". I was just coming back on to eat humble pie over the last post when I read this one you made. So I hang my head while I eat that dry and tasteless pie!

I mentioned excitement before, I have to admit that sometimes I get carried away with my favourite hobbies and sometimes this causes me speak before I think.

Thanks again for the assistance.

P.s I really wasn't joking about the beer drinking hat, as my machine doesn't have the topper installed and my friends and I often joked about the only bad thing about the machine is that it's hard to play and drink I put one up in place of the topper as a joke. See below..

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#17 9 years ago

Be sure that does not fall and smash the top glass,
now that would be a bad day.

Enjoy the beer.

Cheers

#18 9 years ago

My STTNG topper landed smack in the middle of my playfield glass the other day after some overly aggressive nudging. Fortunately, it's made of plastic and didn't break the glass.

#19 9 years ago

Be sure that does not fall and smash the top glass,
now that would be a bad day.

Yes, indeed it would!

Of course you cant see in the photo but it is secured firmly in place rather than just sitting there and the elastic bands that hold the bottles are very tight and are surprising well stitched to the hat for a piece of cheap junk.

I live in Christchurch, New Zealand and I don't know if you are aware but we have had two major earthquakes and often many aftershocks a day in the last 6 months. The hat and bottles remained in place during all of these! Both earthquakes heavily damaged buildings and homes and many had to be demolished due to their unsafe condition, in some cases there wasn't much left to demolish. The second unfortunately caused over 150 deaths but I and many others consider ourselves "lucky" now when compared to the events unfolding in Japan.

There was a phrase popularised by the 28th Battalion of NZ infantry (the maori battalion) in world war two who were often given some of the toughest missions of our troops in the war. This phrase is Kia Kaha, "forever strong" when translated to english. The phrase "Kia Kaha Christchurch" is appearing almost everywhere here and as silly as it may sound it does help many people.

Kia Kaha Japan!

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