(Topic ID: 273931)

Stern Lord of the Rings ejects two balls randomly


By apple550

16 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 23 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 days ago by bigehrl
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#1 16 days ago

I realize there are quite a few posts on modern Stern machines ejecting two balls. Before you jump me, please read everything I've done so far and you should understand why I'm posting for help. At this point I'm desperate and would try anything. Before anyone asks, yes I only have four brand new balls installed.

The issue: Every once and while two balls will be ejected instead of one. It's random and after hours of testing I find no pattern as to when and why it will happen.

What I observe: Diagnostics reports all trough switches, optics, and shooter lane switch working properly even after thorough testing. The clear function also has a nice visual that also confirms this as I test. Most testing is done using the clear function as I can reproduce the issue faster this way.

What I've test/tried:

First thing I did was replace both the transmitter and receiver optics, no luck. Next I took a multimeter and tested the resistors and transistors on the receiver board to make sure they were reading right (switch on or off). I then continued to test the soldered leads that the wires connect to, the harness itself, up and up all the way to the board. On the board itself it reads correctly from the optics on or off.

The next thing I tried was adjusting coil power. Soft doesn't eject balls and there is no difference in behavior between normal and hard.

Then I adjusted the leg levelers to make sure things were dialed in correctly and they were.

In an effort to try to reproduce the issue consistently and perhaps eliminate some root causes I tried the following:

Catching the ball before it hits the shooter lane switch. - Does not change behavior or cause behavior.

Causing the ball to bounce back into the ejector. - Does not change behavior or cause behavior.

Tilting the table (the table does not have plumb line installed) to make it easier to eject. - Does not change behavior or cause behavior.

Tilting the table to make it harder to eject. - Does not change behavior or cause behavior.

Adding an extra ball. - Causes the behavior everytime there are five or more balls in trough.

If anyone has any ideas of where to look next I'm all ears. Trough switches seem to work fine, but then again I'm not sure how to test them with the multimeter so if anyone can explain that to me I can always try that. Thanks!

#3 16 days ago

Also, high carbon steel balls will magnetize and cause similar trough issues

#4 16 days ago

The two small opto boards at the end of the ball trough. I'd remove them. Reflow the solder on the optos and the pins the connector plugs onto. And stick them back in the game.

LTG : )

#5 16 days ago
Quoted from LTG:

The two small opto boards at the end of the ball trough. I'd remove them. Reflow the solder on the optos and the pins the connector plugs onto. And stick them back in the game.
LTG : )

This.

First stop for me when fixing two balls in the shooter lane is changing the connectors to the opto boards from IDC to Molex, or just solder the wires directly. If you’re going to solder directly, then maybe just replace the opto boards entirely while you’re at it - they’re cheap.

#6 16 days ago
Quoted from LTG:

The two small opto boards at the end of the ball trough. I'd remove them. Reflow the solder on the optos and the pins the connector plugs onto. And stick them back in the game.
LTG : )

This would be my guess as well.

#7 16 days ago

Just to repeat myself here. The first thing I did was swap out the optos with new ones. I know I wrote a book, but I put that in first, because I knew that's the first thing you pinheads would go to! Then I measured voltages switching on and off all the way up to the main boards themselves. No issues to report.

#8 16 days ago

Thanks, do you know what voltages I should be seeing across on those trough switch for modern Sterns? I'm beginning to think it's one of those myself since I can only get the issue to consistently trigger when there are five or more balls in the trough. Also the ejector coil never fires a second time with only one ball in the trough.

#9 16 days ago
Quoted from Boat:

Also, high carbon steel balls will magnetize and cause similar trough issues

I should mention, brand new balls from PinballLife made for machines with magnets.

#10 16 days ago
Quoted from apple550:

I should mention, brand new balls from PinballLife made for machines with magnets.

It was realized you said that but just because they are new on claimed to be for magnets does not guarantee they are not magnetized. I have had “new correct” balls magnetize in just a few games. At the very least a simple test to see if a paper clip sticks to any of them would be advised. Also verify your slop in both directions to ensure they are rolling down the trough. LOTR is a crazy magnet play game. Hope it’s something simple for you.

#11 16 days ago

Have you tried dielectric grease on the trough connector pins? I had a similar problem and that fixed it for me.

#12 16 days ago
Quoted from apple550:

Just to repeat myself here. The first thing I did was swap out the optos with new ones.

Cool.

I'd reflow the solder any way. New parts can fail too.

LTG : )

#13 16 days ago
Quoted from LTG:

Cool.
I'd reflow the solder any way. New parts can fail too.
LTG : )

Maybe I made a blunder in my assumptions then. I thought that by testing the resistors and transistors on the board for the proper values in operation would rule out any solder issues. Is this faulty logic?

#14 16 days ago
Quoted from apple550:

Is this faulty logic?

Not necessarily. What you have going on you need to keep eliminating stuff.

LTG : )

#15 16 days ago

Alright, new way of reproducing result. If I hold down any of the trough switches at the rear of the ball trail after a ball is ejected it the ejector will fire one and only one additional time. This is exactly my issue, so I'm fairly sure it has something to do with these trough switches. They all test great and consistent even with the multimeter tested up to the main board. Maybe one or more of them is just too sensitive? That's what I'll adjust next, since what's the worst that can happen? I have to replace them?

#16 9 days ago

An update to this. I replaced all the trough switches and still no luck. If anything it seems to happen more often now. Does anyone know what voltage these switches should be reading? They are all different for some reason.

#17 9 days ago

Just to repeat what others have said, because there's no indication you actually followed the advice, it could still just be the connector.

Your descriptions are not very precise on what you actually did. You said you've replaced the optos and reflowed. It could mean replaced just the optical receivers on your board, or replaced the whole board. When you say reflow, is that the whole board, just the opto receivers, just the headers?

But there's no indication you've properly addressed the connector. As Ryan pointed out, that is one of the most common causes. You might be able to detect this is flaky by going into test and wiggling those wires and connector and see if the status changes (with balls removed), but that's not foolproof. If you don't have a non-IDC connector, I would eliminate this by soldering the wires to the board.

#18 8 days ago
Quoted from apple550:

First thing I did was replace both the transmitter and receiver optics, no luck. Next I took a multimeter and tested the resistors and transistors on the receiver board to make sure they were reading right (switch on or off). I then continued to test the soldered leads that the wires connect to, the harness itself, up and up all the way to the board. On the board itself it reads correctly from the optics on or off.

I have not reflowed the new board. Looking at it under a magnifying glass I can't observe any solder points that are cracked or look poor. I also can't find anywhere on the board that reads wrong. I suppose a reflow would be the next step, though one that seems empirically illogical.

I can try soldering the wires to the board itself, since of course I've tried shaking pretty much all the wires in this machine to see if I could get any thing to suddenly read on the switch test. I've also tried it the other way around, activating switches and seeing if I can get them to turn off by shaking wires. Soldering the wires isn't entirely logical either since I've tested the voltages at every connector all the way up to the main board for hours and can't find any inconsistencies.

The other issue I have is I have yet to be able to reproduce the issue with just the optics alone. I've found numerous ways to produce the behavior with the trough switches however. Now that I've wired trough switches up, I need to retest all the voltages to the board again.

I realize I didn't address trough issues in terms of mechanical movement yet. Gauss meter says new balls are not magnetized to any significant level (it will always get some sort of reading off anything magnetic). I cannot observe the balls ever getting stuck or moving funny in the trough.

The reality is at this point I guess I have no ignore any sort of logical analysis and just try some of these ideas.

#19 8 days ago

i know you said the shooter lane switch works in test, so forgive me if you've done this, but have you tested it with a physical ball, and not pressing it down manually with your finger? sometimes the ball will not sit properly on it after eject, causing it to think the ball didn't successfully eject, and it'll try again.

#20 8 days ago

Yes I have done that. I've also tried not letting the ball get to the shooter lane switch at all to test the resulting behavior, but the only thing that happens is after some pause the autoplunge will fire.

#21 7 days ago

I tried reflowing the receiver optic board connector headers and led pins, but no luck there. I guess the next stop is soldering the connector directly on.

#22 3 days ago

So it seems I was just driving myself crazy. At some point I observed this phenomenon during games which is what prompted me to investigate. Unfortunately from that point forward I was only testing using the clear ball function. It seems the clear ball function itself can cause the game to eject multiple balls. This makes sense, as I noticed that often the amount of time between when I pressed the button and when it would fire was highly inconsistent. No such inconsistency in coil test mode.

So naturally I invited my whole family over to play the game for hours, and believe it or not the problem never arose. Yet going back to the clear function it will happen again, and again, and again. So a warning to anyone attempt to test this way, the test itself can at times be the problem itself.

#23 3 days ago
Quoted from apple550:

So it seems I was just driving myself crazy. At some point I observed this phenomenon during games which is what prompted me to investigate. Unfortunately from that point forward I was only testing using the clear ball function. It seems the clear ball function itself can cause the game to eject multiple balls. This makes sense, as I noticed that often the amount of time between when I pressed the button and when it would fire was highly inconsistent. No such inconsistency in coil test mode.
So naturally I invited my whole family over to play the game for hours, and believe it or not the problem never arose. Yet going back to the clear function it will happen again, and again, and again. So a warning to anyone attempt to test this way, the test itself can at times be the problem itself.

welcome to the wonderful world of pinball ownership.

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