(Topic ID: 257378)

SPIKE Node Board Repair, Anyone?


By Jason_Jehosaphat

78 days ago



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  • Latest reply 71 days ago by kermit24
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#1 78 days ago

Just wondering if any repair tech in the pinball community repairs injured/disfunctional node boards from Stern SPIKE/SAM games. I realize Stern would like their customers to just buy replacements, but they are expensive. So, naturally, I'd like to know what my repair options might be, if any.
Thanks.

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#2 78 days ago

The million dollar question..... Following

#3 78 days ago

Stern has publicized the schematics of several node boards types. So long as the processor is not fried, they should be reparable. It is SMD so the parts are a bit smaller, but it is not to bad to replace parts. Most important part is to have a hot air soldering station.

#4 78 days ago

Can't you send them back to Stern for repairs? Granted it may cost some money though.

#5 78 days ago

You may be SOL for Independent repairs.

#6 78 days ago

Why did they start using these node boards?

#7 78 days ago
Quoted from PinRob:

Why did they start using these node boards?

Cheaper wiring costs as just a communication cable and power is wired back to the head, so separate wires for switch matrix, lights, coils, etc.

It also seems now a revenue source for replacement node boards. The mark-up on these replacement boards seems pretty significant.

#8 78 days ago

Threads like this one will be very popular in a few years. Stern's penny pinching will continually reveal itself.

#9 77 days ago

If this is true, besides going to SMD components like every other device on earth, what's the big deal about node boards? Learn how to deal with SMD and move on? Why isn't that reasonable?

Quoted from DDDwingmaster:

Stern has publicized the schematics of several node boards types. So long as the processor is not fried, they should be reparable. It is SMD so the parts are a bit smaller, but it is not to bad to replace parts. Most important part is to have a hot air soldering station.

#10 77 days ago
Quoted from jalpert:

If this is true, besides going to SMD components like every other device on earth, what's the big deal about node boards? Learn how to deal with SMD and move on? Why isn't that reasonable?

So you're saying you can fix node boards?

I think the issue is that it is difficult to fix them and Stern is charging a HUGE mark up for the boards. That and the early boards are different from game to game. Not sure if that has changed.

Personally, I'm still out on new Sterns. I love the new JP, but the node boards are keeping me away from getting one. And I'm not the only one. This could be one of the reasons the Williams titles continue to go up in value.

#11 77 days ago

I have done work on SMD devices, not a huge barrier to repair.

#12 77 days ago

Following.

#13 77 days ago
Quoted from gdonovan:

I have done work on SMD devices, not a huge barrier to repair.

Repairing boards you also need to know what to replace. I know Stern has released schematics of the node boards, but I'm not sure anyone knows what needs to be replaced when there are issues. Also, just replacing components may or may not resolve issues as there are chips on the node boards that have boot-loader software on them. Without that software, it still won't work. Biggest issue I've seen is communication issues where the node board isn't visible to other node boards and the game just sits there like a $7,000 brick.

#14 77 days ago

I think the combination of cost, SMD multilayer boards, lack of good documentation, and proprietary code that to my knowledge can't be replaced yet on these boards are what is keeping some repairs from being done.

I am sure we will gain more experience in the coming years and find some workarounds. Otherwise we will have rooms full of huge paperweights in 10-15 years.

Please see the multiple prior threads on this topic for more info...

#15 77 days ago
Quoted from schudel5:

Repairing boards you also need to know what to replace.

That is the trick, what to change.

#16 77 days ago

Still seems like a hypothetical problem to me. I know the early machines had high failure rates, but Stern stepped up and provided replacements well beyond the warranties. I had a v2 board go out and it was easy peasy to get a replacement.

I haven't heard many issues with the late version boards, and only vague rumors of a couple people actually paying for replacements.

They will go bad eventually, but I believe aftermarket repair capabilities will catch up by the time it is a widespread problem. How was the reaction in the 70's when the first boards came out, were techs immediately capable of repairs?

At the end of the day, a replacement board is about 5% of the cost of a new machine, so it's not great, but it's not a life changer. I've had 5 spikes and had $0 out of pocket for boards.

I'd love it if stern charged a more reasonable markup, but based on the pinball market these days, that is really unlikely.

#17 77 days ago
Quoted from Black_Knight:

Still seems like a hypothetical problem to me. I know the early machines had high failure rates, but Stern stepped up and provided replacements well beyond the warranties. I had a v2 board go out and it was easy peasy to get a replacement.
I haven't heard many issues with the late version boards, and only vague rumors of a couple people actually paying for replacements.
They will go bad eventually, but I believe aftermarket repair capabilities will catch up by the time it is a widespread problem. How was the reaction in the 70's when the first boards came out, were techs immediately capable of repairs?
At the end of the day, a replacement board is about 5% of the cost of a new machine, so it's not great, but it's not a life changer. I've had 5 spikes and had $0 out of pocket for boards.
I'd love it if stern charged a more reasonable markup, but based on the pinball market these days, that is really unlikely.

I just had a node board failure on my GB that Stern had no interest in replacing. They told me to order elsewhere. Granted, it was bought in like 2016, but they didnt even ask me about any information.

#18 77 days ago

So how comfortable are people to buy and keep these games long term like 20 years plus? I don't own any spike games, but this has definitely scared me off a bit. I want a SW, but I would probably never sell it if I do get one, but want reasonable repair costs.

13
#19 77 days ago
Quoted from konghusker:

So how comfortable are people to buy and keep these games long term like 20 years plus?

Extremely comfortable.

#20 77 days ago
Quoted from konghusker:

So how comfortable are people to buy and keep these games long term like 20 years plus? I don't own any spike games, but this has definitely scared me off a bit. I want a SW, but I would probably never sell it if I do get one, but want reasonable repair costs.

It makes me nervous haha. 20 years from now, will replacement boards be as easy to find? Id rather go back to just changing a single bulb when needed vs. these node boards. Granted, the effects on the new machines are awesome.

#21 77 days ago
Quoted from Rager170:

They told me to order elsewhere. Granted, it was bought in like 2016, but they didnt even ask me about any information.

Is it possible to order the node board elsewhere? None of the online pinball part suppliers sell node boards to my knowledge here and the distributors only want to sell them to their direct customers as I understand it.

#22 77 days ago
Quoted from konghusker:

So how comfortable are people to buy and keep these games long term like 20 years plus? I don't own any spike games, but this has definitely scared me off a bit. I want a SW, but I would probably never sell it if I do get one, but want reasonable repair costs.

You appear to own two JJP games. Do you think they are any different?

Rob

#23 77 days ago

All pinball companies are using surface mount components today. Thousands of Stern Spike 2 games are being sold. When there is demand for node board repair, repair services and hobbyists with the skills will be willing to take our money. They reality is that currently, very few have failed thus far out of warranty, so there isn't very much repair demand yet..

#24 77 days ago
Quoted from branlon8:

Is it possible to order the node board elsewhere? None of the online pinball part suppliers sell node boards to my knowledge here and the distributors only want to sell them to their direct customers as I understand it.

Pinball Life had it.

#25 77 days ago
Quoted from Rager170:

Pinball Life had it.

Marco has quite a few node boards in stock.

#26 77 days ago
Quoted from kermit24:

Marco has quite a few node boards in stock.

Yup, they have a bunch of them also. Marco was out of stock for the one I needed...

#27 77 days ago
Quoted from Rob_G:

You appear to own two JJP games. Do you think they are any different?
Rob

Don't know, as I'm not a tech. Just know everything I keep hearing about this node board design has been frustrating to people unable to repair them. Opinions seem to be mostly negative and discerning from what I've seen. My guess is they will be figured out, but it would be nice to see more confidence and not a crazy high price in replacement parts as well.

#28 77 days ago
Quoted from Rager170:

Yup, they have a bunch of them also. Marco was out of stock for the one I needed...

Game Room Guys may have them also:

https://www.gameroomguys.com/search?keywords=node%20board

#29 77 days ago

Yea they have a good amount it seems also..

-7
#30 77 days ago
Quoted from Rager170:

I just had a node board failure on my GB that Stern had no interest in replacing. They told me to order elsewhere. Granted, it was bought in like 2016, but they didnt even ask me about any information.

Allegedly though, right? Sounds very vague. A rumor if you will. I’ve heard numerous “stories” exactly like yours, but where’s the proof?

#31 77 days ago
Quoted from TheFamilyArcade:

Allegedly though, right? Sounds very vague. A rumor if you will. I’ve heard numerous “stories” exactly like yours, but where’s the proof?

really? lol. You think I just made this up?

On Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 10:11 AM Pablo Padilla <[email protected]> wrote:

Justin,

Unfortunately we do not sell direct and you will have to contact your distributor/Dealer to order this part. You can also purchase direct from the following link.

· NODE BOARD PART NUMBER – 520-7017-72

Thank you,

Pablo Padilla

Stern Pinball Tech Support

800 542-5377

#32 77 days ago
Quoted from Rager170:

really? lol. You think I just made this up?
On Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 10:11 AM Pablo Padilla &lt;[email protected]&gt; wrote:
Justin,
Unfortunately we do not sell direct and you will have to contact your distributor/Dealer to order this part. You can also purchase direct from the following link.
· NODE BOARD PART NUMBER – 520-7017-72
Thank you,
Pablo Padilla
Stern Pinball Tech Support
800 542-5377

Same node that’s just gone out on my BM66.

#33 77 days ago
Quoted from Black_Knight:

Still seems like a hypothetical problem to me. I know the early machines had high failure rates, but Stern stepped up and provided replacements well beyond the warranties. I had a v2 board go out and it was easy peasy to get a replacement.
I haven't heard many issues with the late version boards, and only vague rumors of a couple people actually paying for replacements.
They will go bad eventually, but I believe aftermarket repair capabilities will catch up by the time it is a widespread problem. How was the reaction in the 70's when the first boards came out, were techs immediately capable of repairs?
At the end of the day, a replacement board is about 5% of the cost of a new machine, so it's not great, but it's not a life changer. I've had 5 spikes and had $0 out of pocket for boards.
I'd love it if stern charged a more reasonable markup, but based on the pinball market these days, that is really unlikely.

you don't want to rely on just swapping out when it comes to boards. Board repairs usually costs you pennies to fix if you want to take the time to learn how to do it. It's the main reason most of these old games are still running today. If you depended on swapping boards 10 years ago. Most of the older games you see today would have been in the trash, because swappable boards didn't exist. You HAD to fix your boards, or go to someone who could. The fact that Stern took forever to release schematics, and make the boards very difficult to repair, says that they are trying to exploit the parts business. Make shitty stuff, designed so you have to depend on replacements. That's a shitty system. Especially since they are charging 200 - 300% more for games than they were in 2009. remember when you could get replacement playfields from stern for $200? We used to have piles of LOTR, TSPP playfields floating around everywhere. now they want and arm and a leg for replacement boards? WTF? If they priced them reasonable. Most of us would have a replacement on hand for when things go to shit (and they will eventually). And when it does. You better hope your programmed chip doesn't go out, because if stern no longer sells it, you will never be able to get your game running again.

#34 77 days ago
Quoted from J85M:

Same node that’s just gone out on my BM66.

What annoys me more is Stern knows they have issues with these boards due to vibration. They should be giving these board replacements out for free when they break.

Dont get me wrong, I actually do like Stern and they have been helpful in the past. But in this instance, I asked to get a replacement and that was the response.

#35 77 days ago
Quoted from Rager170:

What annoys me more is Stern knows they have issues with these boards due to vibration. They should be giving these board replacements out for free when they break.
Dont get me wrong, I actually do like Stern and they have been helpful in the past. But in this instance, I asked to get a replacement and that was the response.

Actually, I even tried to point out their issue when asking about a replacement. Almost like a "hint hint".

Message:

Hello, I just received an error message on my Ghostbusters Premium machine saying that Node 9 cannot be found. I am pretty sure that the diode is broken as mentioned in the service bulletin. I would also assume this is why about half the machine has no lights currently. Can you please help to get me a replacement Node 9 board? Thank you, Justin

#36 77 days ago

Looks like I poked a bear this morning!

My vague comment was poorly worded. I know people have paid for boards, but of all the node threads I've seen on pinside, I think there are fewer than 5 people who have admitted to being out of pocket. So vague meant the size of the issue, not its existence.

Compare this to playfield issues, where many more times the number of people have been affected.

Hell, I think the coil stop quality issue has had a bigger impact on Stern owners than node board payments. I know its impacted me more.

I understand the risk of a node board, and it won't stop me from buying a machine that I want. YMMV.

We are all frustrated with the accumulation of quality issues and price increases, but until the market collapses, I don't see any relief.

This by the way is just bullshit:

Quoted from CaptainNeo:

Especially since they are charging 200 - 300% more for games than they were in 2009.

That means 4 to 5 times the price they were 10 years ago.

#37 77 days ago
Quoted from Black_Knight:

This by the way is just bullshit:

Quoted from CaptainNeo:

Especially since they are charging 200 - 300% more for games than they were in 2009.

Quoted from Black_Knight:

That means 4 to 5 times the price they were 10 years ago.

black_knight Can you walk me through your math on that?

#38 77 days ago

1,000 2009 Price
3,000 300% more
4,000 2019 Price

4,000 is 4 times 1,000 - (ignoring about 17% inflation)

So a premium today at 7,000 would have cost 1,750.
A pro at 6,000 = 1,500

Where machines really that cheap in 2009?

#39 77 days ago
Quoted from CaptainNeo:

you don't want to rely on just swapping out when it comes to boards. Board repairs usually costs you pennies to fix if you want to take the time to learn how to do it. It's the main reason most of these old games are still running today. If you depended on swapping boards 10 years ago. Most of the older games you see today would have been in the trash, because swappable boards didn't exist. You HAD to fix your boards, or go to someone who could. The fact that Stern took forever to release schematics, and make the boards very difficult to repair, says that they are trying to exploit the parts business. Make shitty stuff, designed so you have to depend on replacements. That's a shitty system. Especially since they are charging 200 - 300% more for games than they were in 2009. remember when you could get replacement playfields from stern for $200? We used to have piles of LOTR, TSPP playfields floating around everywhere. now they want and arm and a leg for replacement boards? WTF? If they priced them reasonable. Most of us would have a replacement on hand for when things go to shit (and they will eventually). And when it does. You better hope your programmed chip doesn't go out, because if stern no longer sells it, you will never be able to get your game running again.

And sooner or later, Stern is not going to be selling node boards.. so it isn't a bad thing folks are giving some thought to keeping these machines running for the next 10, 20 or 30 years time.

Assuming Stern will always be there or even support older games in the future is ignoring the past.

#40 77 days ago

You can't start off by saying you don't want to rely on board swapping, then go right into how it was 10 years ago. The only people who were throwing games away were operators, of heavily routed games, that weren't worth the $350 to replace the board because heavily routed used games weren't worth anything. Not the case today.

Today, with some games costing $12K+ or any used DMD game being worth $1,500+, nobody is throwing their game away over a $350 board.

And again, schematics are out, SMD components are the norm, it sounds like some people are worried about a lack of troubleshooting knowledge which sucks, but I'm not sure I can blame Stern for that.

Stern is seriously stepping up the quality of their games, especially code. I know we like to bitch here, but come on, there is nothing about the Spike board set that is out of the ordinary by today's standards.

Also, for context, I bought a HUO WPT last month in which the owner drastically downplayed a reset issue it had. He said 1 in 100, more like 1 in 2. Turned out there was a service bulletin to fix the CPU board, but it was never done. In 2019, I'm dealing with a not so perfect early SAM board, just like everyone here knows that the early Spike system probably isn't going to be perfect. I'm not a stranger to being "screwed" by Stern's early implementation systems.

It's not like we haven't seen any improvement in Spike harware...

Quoted from CaptainNeo:

you don't want to rely on just swapping out when it comes to boards. Board repairs usually costs you pennies to fix if you want to take the time to learn how to do it. It's the main reason most of these old games are still running today. If you depended on swapping boards 10 years ago. Most of the older games you see today would have been in the trash, because swappable boards didn't exist. You HAD to fix your boards, or go to someone who could. The fact that Stern took forever to release schematics, and make the boards very difficult to repair, says that they are trying to exploit the parts business. Make shitty stuff, designed so you have to depend on replacements. That's a shitty system. Especially since they are charging 200 - 300% more for games than they were in 2009. remember when you could get replacement playfields from stern for $200? We used to have piles of LOTR, TSPP playfields floating around everywhere. now they want and arm and a leg for replacement boards? WTF? If they priced them reasonable. Most of us would have a replacement on hand for when things go to shit (and they will eventually). And when it does. You better hope your programmed chip doesn't go out, because if stern no longer sells it, you will never be able to get your game running again.

#41 77 days ago
Quoted from jalpert:

Stern is seriously stepping up the quality of their games, especially code.

You jest!

Playfields chipping, planking and pooling issues, plunger stops falling apart, node board failures and games out for 3-4 years before a proper code update is evidence of them stepping up?

#42 77 days ago

In related news, the sky is falling.

I never said they didn't have issues. I said the quality of their games, not the build quality. Most people get great games out of the box. Some do not for a variety of reasons. Again, I'm one of those people that got less than great games. Overall, Stern has been reasonable about issues for me, just like it sounds like they've been reasonable about early Spike hardware failures.

Quoted from gdonovan:

You jest!

Playfields chipping, planking and pooling issues, plunger stops falling apart, node board failures and games out for 3-4 years before a proper code update is evidence of them stepping up?

#43 77 days ago
Quoted from jalpert:

You can't start off by saying you don't want to rely on board swapping, then go right into how it was 10 years ago. The only people who were throwing games away were operators, of heavily routed games, that weren't worth the $350 to replace the board because heavily routed used games weren't worth anything. Not the case today.
Today, with some games costing $12K+ or any used DMD game being worth $1,500+, nobody is throwing their game away over a $350 board.
And again, schematics are out, SMD components are the norm, it sounds like some people are worried about a lack of troubleshooting knowledge which sucks, but I'm not sure I can blame Stern for that.
Stern is seriously stepping up the quality of their games, especially code. I know we like to bitch here, but come on, there is nothing about the Spike board set that is out of the ordinary by today's standards.
Also, for context, I bought a HUO WPT last month in which the owner drastically downplayed a reset issue it had. He said 1 in 100, more like 1 in 2. Turned out there was a service bulletin to fix the CPU board, but it was never done. In 2019, I'm dealing with a not so perfect early SAM board, just like everyone here knows that the early Spike system probably isn't going to be perfect. I'm not a stranger to being "screwed" by Stern's early implementation systems.
It's not like we haven't seen any improvement in Spike harware...

you are missing the point. You are going to have to throw your game out when Stern stops making boards, if you are relying on board swapping to keep your game running. The point is, years ago, you didn't have to worry about supplies of boards. Because YOU can fix your own boards with parts that cost a penny, or maybe. .35 cents , even today. Stern spike boards..that's a lot more tricky. And impossible if the specially coded chips fail. right now, sure you can order boards. but 15 years from now? then what?

#44 77 days ago

The picture attached is of a lamp board, and other companies are now using these too. The node boards that fail most often on Stern are Nodes 8 and 9 as they are responsible for coils and switches. Major through hole components are easy to diagnose and replace. The smaller surface mount chips - definitely much harder for hobbyists but not impossible. Typically I've found that if they fail, they tend to do so after low use. Then they're pretty robust.

#45 77 days ago
Quoted from CaptainNeo:

you are missing the point. You are going to have to throw your game out when Stern stops making boards, if you are relying on board swapping to keep your game running. The point is, years ago, you didn't have to worry about supplies of boards. Because YOU can fix your own boards with parts that cost a penny, or maybe. .35 cents , even today. Stern spike boards..that's a lot more tricky. And impossible if the specially coded chips fail. right now, sure you can order boards. but 15 years from now? then what?

#46 77 days ago

45 Posts and nobody can identify a repairperson capable of fixing these boards. Stern borrowed a manufacturing principle from Apple, use proprietary components so you control the repair (or lack of) your product. They do not make money from used machines, used machines keep them from selling new machines.
Built in obsolescence is the norm in a throwaway Society. Imagine how much money Stern would make if all of these 20,30,40 year old machines could not be repaired.

#47 77 days ago

I’m missing something... you CAN repair the boards, what am I not understanding?

Also, none of the things you are saying you know with certainty, and you won’t until the day stern goes under or stops supplying the boards.

Quoted from CaptainNeo:

you are missing the point. You are going to have to throw your game out when Stern stops making boards, if you are relying on board swapping to keep your game running.

#48 77 days ago
Quoted from CaptainNeo:

you are missing the point. You are going to have to throw your game out when Stern stops making boards, if you are relying on board swapping to keep your game running. The point is, years ago, you didn't have to worry about supplies of boards. Because YOU can fix your own boards with parts that cost a penny, or maybe. .35 cents , even today. Stern spike boards..that's a lot more tricky. And impossible if the specially coded chips fail. right now, sure you can order boards. but 15 years from now? then what?

So should someone purchase replacements now just in case down the road they aren't available?

#49 77 days ago
Quoted from mollyspub:

So should someone purchase replacements now just in case down the road they aren't available?

If we have to do that, everyone is going to be buying a lot of parts for all their newer machines!

#50 77 days ago
Quoted from phil-lee:

45 Posts and nobody can identify a repairperson capable of fixing these boards. Stern borrowed a manufacturing principle from Apple, use proprietary components so you control the repair (or lack of) your product. They do not make money from used machines, used machines keep them from selling new machines.
Built in obsolescence is the norm in a throwaway Society. Imagine how much money Stern would make if all of these 20,30,40 year old machines could not be repaired.

I was given this info on the Ghostbusters issues thread by Pin Monk about fixing my boards:

"Borygard here on pinside repairs node boards. Might want to see if he can do it for you, or if he has a swap service."

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