(Topic ID: 214160)

POTC opto switch help please


By Jenk540i

1 year ago



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  • Latest reply 9 months ago by Jenk540i
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#1 1 year ago

Last week the ship started registering random hits. I felt like it happened at times when the ball triggered the "skill shot made" (switch #60). The "ship made" opto switch is #61. They are the same opto board. In switch test I could not reliably produce any error, but occasionally when I triggered the "skill shot made" (#61) it would register as "ship made" (#60).

So I assumed it was that I opto board and replaced it today. I played about five games and everything seem to be fine. Left the machine on for a few hours and came back to play again, now both switches are acting crazy. In the test mode the switch for the ship made is not even registering about half the time, and when I trigger the skill shot made switch it either does not register, it registers correctly, or it registers for the other switch (ship made). And if I just let the machine sit in switch test mode about every 20 to 30 seconds one or the other switch will activate spontaneously.

Just in the time it took me to type this one or both the switches have gone off several times in switch test mode without me touching the machine.

While I wait for advice I'm going to reseat all the wiring in the one IDC plug that goes to that board and see if that makes any difference. What should I do next?

#2 1 year ago
Quoted from Jenk540i:

What should I do next?

I'd remove the board the optos plug onto. ( you have cleaned the optos ? ) and reflow the solder on the pins the opto connectors and other connector plug onto.

Old board or new one.

If you are really ambitious, when you plug the opto connectors back on, I'd put a dab of hot glue to keep them on tight.

LTG : )

#3 1 year ago

what he said!

worked for me
also check if the optoholders are screwed firm
after hotglueing never had a problem, the conectors suck
and be sure to clean your opto's from black dust

#4 1 year ago
Quoted from LTG:

I'd remove the board the optos plug onto. ( you have cleaned the optos ? ) and reflow the solder on the pins the opto connectors and other connector plug onto.
Old board or new one.
If you are really ambitious, when you plug the opto connectors back on, I'd put a dab of hot glue to keep them on tight.
LTG : )

Thanks Lloyd

I'll do that now and report back. And yes, already cleaned the optos

#5 1 year ago

Reflowed the solder on all pins. Slightly spread the pins for the opto sensors so that they fit tightly.

Switch test initially ok. Let it sit in switch test mode for about 10 mins and no switches randomly activated as they had done before. Then I played a game and by ball 2 started having random registered hits on the ship again. Sitting in switch test mode again it started showing one or both of those switchs firing unprovoked. In switch test mode I have wiggled and moved each opto plug wire without seeming to recreate the issue.

Took it out of test mode and when it went back to the active game appropriately kicked a ball into the shooter Lane and then the ship registered hit after hit and sunk (ball not even in play). So many phantom hits on the ship that it defeated Davy Jones.

#6 1 year ago
Quoted from Jenk540i:

So many phantom hits on the ship that it defeated Davy Jones.

Next up, I'd go over wiring in any IDC connectors involved. Wires not pushed in tight, or too tight and cut.

LTG : )

#7 1 year ago

Here is the one connector. I rested the wires earlier with a proper tool. I feel like they look to be ok

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#8 1 year ago

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#9 1 year ago

Disconnected and reseated all plugs about 20 minutes ago. Switch test was without errors. Played a couple games and switches seemed to be working properly. Then left it sitting in the switch test mode for about 10 minutes to see if I would get a random firing again and so far that has not happened.

Not convinced that the problem has been fixed since it initially did fine when I first replaced the opto board.
I'll leave it sitting in switch test mode for a while and then try a few more games later.

#10 1 year ago
Quoted from Jenk540i:

Not convinced that the problem has been fixed

That is starting to point towards the tiny opto connectors having lost their tension and can't grab the pins on the circuit board good anymore.

LTG : )

#11 1 year ago
Quoted from LTG:

That is starting to point towards the tiny opto connectors having lost their tension and can't grab the pins on the circuit board good anymore.
LTG : )

That makes sense to me. I just played about four games with no errors. Right before I did that I spread the pins slightly to make plugs grip a little tighter. If it starts up again I will see what I can do to make them grip the pins better. Thanks again for all your help.

#12 1 year ago
Quoted from jorro:

what he said!
worked for me
also check if the optoholders are screwed firm
after hotglueing never had a problem, the conectors suck
and be sure to clean your opto's from black dust

Haha!! I'll tell ya still after all these years I try and type like LTG but i can't do it....
LTG for President!!

#13 1 year ago
Quoted from pinmike:

I'll tell ya still after all these years I try and type like LTG but i can't do it....

Sure you can. It's easy. Use both index fingers and do the peck and poke fast.

LTG : )

#14 1 year ago
Quoted from LTG:

Sure you can. It's easy. Use both index fingers and do the peck and poke fast.
LTG : )

Haha!! Thanks for the info...Haha!!

#15 1 year ago
Quoted from pinmike:

Haha!! I'll tell ya still after all these years I try and type like LTG but i can't do it....
LTG for President!!

AMEN!!!

1 week later
#16 1 year ago

Ok. Had not posted back in a week because I was waiting on new opto sensors. Installed those today.

So far I have: (in this order)

Cleaned all 4 opts
Replaced the opto board that services the 2 switches. Actually used 2 different replacement boards
Reflowed the solder on the opto board
Spread slightly the pins for the opto sensors and hot glued the plugs to the board
Replaced the opto sensors today

Still have the same issue, buts what is interesting is the sequence in which it fails after each repair is exactly the same:

As soon as I complete a repair I start in diagnostic switch mode

1. Switch test says everything works fine, even if I test all switches dozens of times
2. Start game, everything works until about the 3rd ball then start getting rare random hits on the ship
3. Then the more I play the random ship hits get more frequent, especially if I am close to sinking a ship or in Davy Jones multiball. I don't think it's ever happened on a ship that has had no hits.
4. Then after seeing random ship hits if I keep playing that opto "ship made" suddenly stops registering when it is actually triggered, but the opto lights are clearly still on.
5. Go back into diagnostic switch test at that point and both the "ship made" and "skill made" switchs do not consistently register, and triggering the "skill made" switch then often registers "ship made". And if I let the game just sit in the diagnostic mode the "ship made" switch will just randomly register 2-3 times over 10 minutes.

If I turn off the game and then restart a game after a bit the cycle repeats itself. First few balls of the game seem to play fine.

#17 1 year ago

Bump for ideas

#18 1 year ago

did you try reseat the connectors on opto board when you replaced the optos did you make sure the wires are in correct places

#19 1 year ago

i had a problem om my trunk optoboard the big white conector it had the black ground wire wiggling
try to wiggle the wires one at a time with playfield raised and in switch test
my board kept going nuts cause of this

#20 1 year ago

I appreciate all the suggestions.

Yes, the Opto switches have been connected correctly. Between changing out the boards and the opto switches they been disconnected and reconnected multiple times

And yes, (I did mention it much further up in this post) I did reseat all the wires in the IDC connector and have resoldered all those plns as well. And in the switch test mode I have wiggled all of the opto sensor wires as well as the wires in the main IDC plug and cannot duplicate the errors, yet, as I said above when the switch starts acting up if I leave the machine setting in the switch test mode that one switch will periodically randomly activate with no manipulation of any kind

#21 1 year ago

i had the same issue caused by bad connection of ground i my case
how about your conectors in backbox
maybe post in the potc club

#22 1 year ago

I had the exact same issues as you but in my case one of the lines in the tiny board (as part of the opto itself) was broken. I soldered a small wire between the two pins and that solved it.

But since you’ve already replaced the opto units itself, this can’t be the case with your machine.

Please post your issue in the POTC thread here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/dead-men-tell-no-talespotc-owners-club

#23 1 year ago
Quoted from jorro:

i had the same issue caused by bad connection of ground i my case
how about your conectors in backbox
maybe post in the potc club

So actually thought about this yesterday. So last night I removed and reseated each plug on the CPU associated with these switches. Switch test was fine and played 2 games with no noticeable issues. Moderately encouraged but of course not convinced it's fixed until I get to put it through a few more games.

Pulled and replaced J1, J6, J12 and J16. Manual says J5 has a common return for both switches but I could never locate J5. The only J5 I could find was for the ribbon cable to the DMD.

If it takes care of the issue I have no idea which one it could have been though.

#24 1 year ago

Would be happy to but I've never moved a thread. Instructions?

#25 1 year ago

i posted a link to your topic in the potc club , the pirates will be here soon!

#26 1 year ago

Do these switch IC's fail often with sterns? Those two switches go back to U18 on the power driver board. Is this a socketed/removable chip? Not sure if I traced the switches back properly.

If this chip was toast I would expect more switches to be wonky. Just something to consider.

#27 1 year ago

The optos on Stern SAM machines are notoriously unreliable and prone to chatter. Most often, the problem is that the little two-pin connectors on the transceivers don't make proper contact with the pins on the opto board. Re-seating the connectors fixes the problem briefly, but it usually comes back in short order. You can get get the same issue with the main connector on the opto board. You get chatter until you re-seat that connector, then the problem comes back again after a few days or weeks.

The connectors under the playfield are most likely to cause the problem because that's where you have the most vibration. Any connectors that are part of the switch matrix in the backbox can cause this too, but are less likely to do this.

Reseating all the connectors is usually the first step. Do this one at a time, so you can figure out which connector is the culprit. The switch matrix test can be useful identifying which opto is responsible. Then do something near the chattering connector, such as cleaning contacts, adding contact grease, re-flowing solder on the pins, etc.

I've seen people put a small dab of silicone on the junction between the connector and the PCB, to prevent movement. If that doesn't help, you can cut the connector off the ends of the transceiver leads and solder the leads directly to the pins on the opto board. If you want to be able to remove a transceiver without soldering, you can add an in-line connector to the leads. That allows you to pick a more reliable connector and, because the connector is suspended in mid-air by the lead, it tends to experience less vibration.

#28 1 year ago
Quoted from jorro:

i posted a link to your topic in the potc club , the pirates will be here soon!

Thank you

6 months later
#29 9 months ago

Digging up the past; did you get this resolved and if so, what was the solution? I’m tracking down a similar issue with a Met and an opto deal. Replaced both opto components and the amplifier board with the same results .. TIA

#30 9 months ago
Quoted from Jenk540i:

So actually thought about this yesterday. So last night I removed and reseated each plug on the CPU associated with these switches. Switch test was fine and played 2 games with no noticeable issues. Moderately encouraged but of course not convinced it's fixed until I get to put it through a few more games.
Pulled and replaced J1, J6, J12 and J16. Manual says J5 has a common return for both switches but I could never locate J5. The only J5 I could find was for the ribbon cable to the DMD.
If it takes care of the issue I have no idea which one it could have been though.

Yes
This actually took care of it. It's had no issues since. It's just a sketchy system that fails with the least loss of continuity.
But it took me months to fix and I replaced a lot of parts before I addressed the issue at the boards instead of on the Playfield.

#31 9 months ago

Thank you! I’ve started there today; will keep going plug by plug.

#32 9 months ago

Good luck.

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