(Topic ID: 241315)

Playball doesn't wait for flipper to shoot ball.... except on 1st ball

By alb0711

3 months ago

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  • 17 posts
  • 6 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by alb0711
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders


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#1 3 months ago

I'm pulling what little hair I have out trying to fix an issue with playball.

What is supposed to happen...

At start of each ball, player "shoots" ball by pressing right flipper button. This causes the ball shooter solenoid to shoot the ball up into the playfield. If the player doesn't register a 10 point or 100 point score change the machine will automatically reshoot the ball without player pressing the right flipper. This insures that if the shot ball doesn't register at least 10 points that the player isn't penalized a ball.

What is happening …

On 1st ball of game, everything works as designed (usually). Relay O is engaged. Player presses right flipper button and ball is shot into playfield. Relay O stays engaged until ball has scored a 10 point or 100 point score reel increment. As soon as 10/100 has been scored, relay O disengages. If shooter doesn't score 10/100 then relay O stays engaged and it will cause ball to self launch as soon as the ball present switch has been closed. This is I believe proper behavior.

From the second ball to the last ball (again usually), ball has drained and the ball present switch is closed. Relay O is open as I think it should be until the ball closes the ball present switch. The score motor turns, the ball counter is incremented, the vari targets are reset, relay O is energized and ball is auto ejected.

My theory...
For some reason the timing is off on the relay O closure. It seems like it closes a split second too early causing the auto reshoot feature to activate.

I've cleaned and adjusted the score motor contacts and have adjusted and verified the adjustment on the double pole contacts on relay O (see photo). Looking at schematic I believe that the O relay must be closed for the shooter solenoid to activate.

Anybody else run into this?

Please help me save my remaining hair!


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#2 3 months ago

I don't have a schematic for this; can you post a snippet of the whole Ball Return/O circuit?

#3 3 months ago

Not exactly the same problem, but there's some discussion of this circuit and how it should behave at:


Maybe you can let us know if you see any deviation from the description there of the sequence that should happen.


#4 3 months ago

When it autofires while it shouldn't, how many cycles does the score motor go through?

I think that when the ball drains:
- the Q/Ball Return Control relay fires instantly when the Ball Return switch closes.
- a switch on the Q relay fires the P/Add Ball Count Unit relay.
- the P relay starts the Score Motor turning.

These all happen essentially simultaneously. Once the Score Motor starts turning though, things should happen in a specific order:
Playball Ball Return 2 (resized).jpg

- when the Score Motor closes the 2C switch (at about 35 degrees through its rotation), the Ball Return solenoid fires but only if the O relay is active.
- with the P relay still active, the O/Ball Return relay fires when the Score Motor closes the 4C switch (about 100 degrees through its rotation).
- the P relay finally lets go when the Score Motor opens the 2B switch at the very end of the cycle.

So when things are working, the O relay shouldn't fire (at 4C) until after the Ball Return solenoid fires (at 2C). However, if your P relay isn't letting go reliably at the end of the Score Motor cycle (at 2B), then the Score Motor would keep turning through a 2nd cycle, and when it closes the 2C switch the 2nd time, the O relay would still be active (since no points have been scored), and the Ball Return would fire.

Could that be what's going on?


#5 3 months ago

Hi Mark and Curie, Thanks for the help!

The score motor always turns about 1/3 of the way through and it doesn't appear that P is active or sticking, but I'm going to take a closer look at it to see if there are any contacts that need adjusting on the P relay. 4C is indeed where the power is coming that fires the ball. It sparks a little and then ball is launched. I think I figured out at some point that 4C was also used to reset the vari targets and if O was open that is what it would do. Something is energizing O too early.

I'm going to take a close look at P and report back.

Thanks again!


#6 3 months ago
Quoted from alb0711:

4C is indeed where the power is coming that fires the ball. It sparks a little and then ball is launched.

Typo? 2C should fire the Ball Return solenoid. 4C should fire the O relay a little while later.

Here's one thing you could try if you're comfortable working on a live game. The Score Motor may have a jones plug/service jack that lets you cut power to it. If not you could desolder one of the score motor lugs. Then you could manually turn the Score Motor slowly so you can observe when various things are happening. Slowing it down should make it clear when things are happening relative to eachother.

#7 3 months ago

Fellow Playball owner checking in.

Don't see any posts from him here, but Rolf (I assume you're all seen his posts in EM help threads.) sent me a PM asking me to check in on this thread and wrote out some things for me to test on a working Playball:

From Rolf:
You once had this
problem. Do You still have the "Playball" ? We have an topic with a
problem "Ball is kicked-out automatically instead of 'caused by right
flipper-button activation' " - see
. Please participate, tell us about relays pulling-in when a played ball
enters the Outhole in a fully running pin (Your pin). Take the playfield
glass off - start a game, play a bit the first ball - then take the ball
out, lift the playfield and secure it, put Your finger in the Outhole (You
simulate "ball is lost - enters and lays in the Outhole") AND watch these
relays - do they pull-in and stay pulling - does the motor runs
continuously, does the pin now step to the next ball - watch the relays:
The Q-Ball-Return-Control-Relay (I believe it immediately pulls-in and
stays pulling) - the O-Ball-Return-Relay, the P-Add-Ball-Count-Unit-Relay.
The questions above are all about "a ball lost enters the Outhole".

Then (with the finger still in the Outhole) press the right flipperbutton -
what does the motor do ? Do one or more of the mentioned relays change
state (non-pulling to pulling or pulling to non-pulling) ? The
Outhole-Kicker kicks on Your finger - take the finger out of the Outhole.
Does the pin now steps to next ball ? Please help, greetings Rolf

Wont have time to do this until tomorrow, but will be happy to do so and report back.

#8 3 months ago

Hi Beatnik-Filmstar +
I was drawing on my JPG running into troubles --- so I asked You for some information to complete the JPG. The bigest problem I have is "the drawn switch on P-Relay to let the motor to run, my red question-marks". IF (if, if) there is not this switch in the pin: I can let the ball drain - ball closes the "Ball-Return-Switch" - this makes the Q-Relay to pull-in and actuate its switches, drawn green --- so the P-Relay pulls-in and actuates its switches (I did not / do not mark the switches) --- the O-Relay pulls-in and actuates its switches (I did not / do not mark the switches) - all good BUT THE MOTOR I cannot allow to turn (so I neglect the drawn switch "red question-marks") - then the player presses the right flipper-button and action happens ...

I do not like me to say "fault in the schematics" - so I asked for Your help. Greetings Rolf

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#9 3 months ago

I just spent an hour or two working with Playball.... so I haven't reviewed the 2 latest posts yet. I want to document what I've found before I forget it....

Received an email from another pinner who told me that the game instructions say that if a player doesn't hit a 10 or 100 switch before the ball drains then the player will be able to push the right flipper button again to relaunch the ball. I had assumed the auto relaunch I experienced was normal if the player didn't hit a 10 or 100 point target.... in fact the auto eject is never supposed to happen.

Mark recommended that I de-solder the score motor so I could move it in slow motion. Great suggestion!! Doing that I noticed that as soon as 2c closes that the ball launch always activates. 2C makes contact very early in the 1/3 turn cycle that the score motor makes when a ball drain occurs. Manually turning the score motor I was able to cause the ball launch solenoid to stay powered. While powered I tried opening contacts on the o and w and u relay. None of them would break the power to the launch solenoid.

I believe that the 2C closure on the ball drain during this 1/3 score motor cycle is supposed to trigger the variable score reset. In my testing I observed that 2C triggers both a variable score reset as well as the ball launch.

I'm thinking I've got some kind of short across the ball launch circuit and the variable target reset circuit.

Going back now to study the prior 2 posts.

Thanks again for all your help. You guys know your pins!!


#10 3 months ago
Quoted from alb0711:

Doing that I noticed that as soon as 2c closes that the ball launch always activates.

Given that you might be able to unplug the game and use your meter to diagnose things rather than overheating your Ball Return solenoid. Put your meter on the lowest resistance setting and clip one probe to the green-red wire on the Ball Return solenoid, and the other on the red-white wire (not labeled) on the far side of the Score Motor 2C switch. You'll probably see 10-20+ ohms which is the resistance of the path through the Ball Return solenoid and the transformer secondary winding. Turn the Score Motor until the 2C switch closes and you should see the resistance drop to something much lower, maybe an ohm or less, that represents the path that lets power get to the Ball Return solenoid when the 2C switch closes. Leave the the motor there and poke around to see if you can get that resistance back up to the original higher reading. Look for the usual: solder blobs, bent solder tabs, closed switches etc.

#11 3 months ago

I continued tracing my ball launch issues and noticed that work had been done to the machine by a previous owner. I'm kicking myself for not following up on this when I first saw it months ago. I just assumed the wire had an open short somewhere and previous owner replaced it.

The wire leading to motor 2c had been replaced at some point in the past. Following this black replacement wire to the large jones plug in the furthest back of the cabinet I can see that the original wire had been disconnected. This new wire was soldered in and it appears a jumper was also added between the replacement wire and the jones connection next to this wire (see photo).

I don't think I can find a map of the jones plug wiring in the schematics? Can someone with their own Playball please either take a photo of this rear jones plug for me or just take a quick look to let me know if this jumper is supposed to be there? It is the short black wire connecting 2 jones sockets in the photo.

I'm going to trace the original wire that leads from the jones plug to 2C and I'm betting there is a relay somewhere along the way that would have opened this circuit preventing the auto launch.

I'm feelin optimistic!

Thanks again!

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#12 3 months ago

More progress!

I traced the disconnected old wire through the O relay. When I remove the questionable jumper, disconnected the replacement wire that went from jones plug to score motor 2c and then reconnected the original wiring that goes from jones plug to 2c and passes through the O relay the ball return is no longer auto firing. However, I no longer have enough current to energize the ball return solenoid. I can see that the ball return tries to fire when the right flipper button is pressed. There is a small spark at 2C. I measured resistance from 2C back to jones plug and it was .1 ohms. I believe the problem now is upstream from the jones plug.

I'm guessing old owner had the problem I have now and created an "auto fire" ball return by shorting across the jones plug and bypassing the O relay. This would have made the game playable.... but not correctly so!

Now I've got to figure out why there isn't enough current to energize the ball return.

I'd still appreciate verification that the jones plug jumper in question doesn't belong there. I'm 99% certain, but would feel better at 100%.

Thanks again!

#13 3 months ago

Yes, the jumper is definitely not supposed to be there. See pic below of my Playball. The wire insulation is dirty, but I can see the green w/red wire.

Sounds like you indeed might have a high-resistance path somewhere in the circuit to energize the Ball Return solenoid.
You are confident that the ball return solenoid itself is firing strongly if you jump 24V to its terminals?

Sounds like you have checked the normally open switches on the O relay and at Motor 2C. Have you cleaned/adjusted the normally closed switch on the 3rd chute relay (W) that is also in the circuit to the Ball return solenoid? It is the NC switch with black & red and brown & red wires to the switch tabs.


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#14 3 months ago

I'm stuck again. I've checked the O and W relays for continuity and made sure the contacts were clean and adjusted. I've tried jumpering across the circuit in case I have a damaged wire somewhere. I've tested the ball return solenoid and it's strong when it gets electricity from somewhere other then the problem circuit.

I did note that the U relay activates every time the ball return operates. I thought maybe the machine couldn't handle the 2 solenoids on the same circuit firing at the same time. I unsoldered the U relay but I still am not getting the ball return to fire. I suspect the U relay is supposed to fire every time the ball return fires. It (U) resets the variable targets.

The last person who tried to fix this must have run into the same issues.

This should be electricity 101 kind of work, but its baffling me.

Any other ideas?

Thanks again!


#15 3 months ago

Could the coil of the U relay be shorted (and thus drawing most of the current)?
Might try unsoldering the wires to the U relay and see if anything changes.

Otherwise, the bad wire or a loose solder joint between the ball return solenoid, the O relay switch, the W relay switch or the motor switch 2C. Wiggle all the wires and make sure one isn't loose at the solder point.

#16 3 months ago
Quoted from alb0711:

I've checked the O and W relays for continuity and made sure the contacts were clean and adjusted.

You checked the O and W relays or switches for continuity? Continuity could mean 20 or more ohms depending on your meter. What's the resistance across those switches when they're closed (and the power is off)?

Quoted from alb0711:

I've tried jumpering across the circuit in case I have a damaged wire somewhere. I've tested the ball return solenoid and it's strong when it gets electricity from somewhere other then the problem circuit.

Use the jumpering technique but divide and conquer until you can pinpoint where the problem is. For example if you jumper from the brown-red wire on the Motor 2C switch to the green-red wire on the Ball Return solenoid solder lug, does the Ball Return work when the Score Motor turns? If so, the Score Motor 2C switch is fine and the problem is somewhere between the ends of the test lead. Move the test lead around to see if you can change the results based on which switch(es) you bypass.

#17 3 months ago


As you all suspected, there was still a dirty relay contact. Using MarkG conquer and divide advice I measure resistance across each segment of the circuit until I discovered a contact on relay O causing 30 ohms of resistance. Once I cleaned it the machine works as it is supposed to.

My personal lesson here is to never assume that an old repair fixed some old problem. In my case the previous owner's repair masked the issue.

Anybody else ever notice how the relays that need the most adjusting seem to be at the back of the machine and the hardest to access?

Thanks everybody for your help!


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