(Topic ID: 235445)

Stern Spike Node Board Schematics Troubleshooting and Discussion


By JodyG

3 months ago



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  • Latest reply 42 days ago by MooButt
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    #51 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    Does stern make you buy a new board if its bricked? And all they do is reflash it then sell on?

    Not sure about the first part. But if the only problem is messed up code the latter is entirely possible.

    #52 3 months ago
    Quoted from benheck:

    These HEX files... are they Intel HEX or binary? If Intel, then they contain pointers to which area of memory they should be written to. This could tell you if they're being placed above a bootloader or not.

    They go to 0x1000, which leaves the first 4kB and the interrupt vectors untouched. The BootROM 0x1fff0000, so I guess there is a Stern 1st stage loader in front of the image that does not get updated.
    So unless someone with a spare node board and a JLink or other SWD ARM programmer sees if they can readout this first flash block (read access to flash page 0 or the whole flash can be disabled in the mcu), we'll probably have to wait what the mysterious Stern support pack will bring..

    #53 3 months ago

    Every time I see that updating node board graphic when installing new code, I get real nervous.
    Thinking of all the fallen soldiers I’ve heard about from operators.
    Just last week a friend updated his Maiden and it completely bricked the game.
    Scary stuff for location pinball

    11
    #54 3 months ago

    Since I have nothing better to do with my life, here's a graphic of how a node board could get bricked.

    This is assuming the host CPU cannot electrically reset the node boards over the bus and must rely on commands telling the nodes to reset themselves.

    node (resized).jpg
    #55 3 months ago
    Quoted from branlon8:

    I am reaching the conclusion reading this thread that even with schematics, Spike games will not be repairable for most of us.

    Unless you buy one (or more) brand new replacement circuit board assemblies.

    #56 3 months ago

    I'm not seeing a custom programming header on the front of the node board unless #post31 shows that flexible ribbon cable connector at CN1 as being the programming header. I wouldn't think so as those types of connectors/ribbons aren't good for reliable connections.
    Maybe there's something on the back?

    #57 3 months ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    I'm not seeing a custom programming header on the front of the node board unless #post31 shows that flexible ribbon cable connector at CN1 as being the programming header. I wouldn't think so as those types of connectors/ribbons aren't good for reliable connections.
    Maybe there's something on the back?

    Nope, that's it.

    #58 3 months ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    I'm not seeing a custom programming header on the front of the node board unless #post31 shows that flexible ribbon cable connector at CN1 as being the programming header. I wouldn't think so as those types of connectors/ribbons aren't good for reliable connections.
    Maybe there's something on the back?

    I was not sure if that ribbon header was for programming or not. (although agree would of been a strange choice of connector)

    Screenshot_20190208-074036_Chrome (resized).jpg

    Also on the back is another bed of nails port(top center) and a few test pads scattered about maybe its programmed / tested with bed of nails jig?

    Screenshot_20190208-074011_Chrome (resized).jpg

    benheck, a stern node board reverse engineer / custom firmware episode on the benheck show would of been cool

    #59 3 months ago

    Since it's just for one time use and pretty compact the ribbon connector would not be such a bad choice for a programming header. All it's got to do is provide a way to flash the basic bootloader a few times, either initially (if they dont get the ICs preprogrammed with it) or for in house repairs. The real game firmware can be updated via the node bus anyway.. If Stern takes this service and repairability project seriously they should release this basic bootloader too (and to sw tool to get it to flashing mode) to allow us to do the same.

    #60 3 months ago

    Interesting news from Stern
    about time

    #61 3 months ago
    Quoted from cynric:

    Since it's just for one time use and pretty compact the ribbon connector would not be such a bad choice for a programming header. All it's got to do is provide a way to flash the basic bootloader a few times, either initially (if they dont get the ICs preprogrammed with it) or for in house repairs. The real game firmware can be updated via the node bus anyway.. If Stern takes this service and repairability project seriously they should release this basic bootloader too (and to sw tool to get it to flashing mode) to allow us to do the same.

    Could indeed be. My money is on that weird test pad connector on the back be interesting what the correct answer is and can be easily verified by just seeing what pins those various connectors connect to on the micro controller via a meter

    #62 3 months ago
    Quoted from benheck:

    Since I have nothing better to do with my life, here's a graphic of how a node board could get bricked.
    This is assuming the host CPU cannot electrically reset the node boards over the bus and must rely on commands telling the nodes to reset themselves.[quoted image]

    Probably a dumb question, but is this correctable in any way by some sort of hard reboot/reset? or would chips or other pieces of hardware need to be replaced to clear it up? is there any way to tell with the currently available information?

    #63 3 months ago

    The micro is in a bricked state until you re-flash it (external tools needed)

    #64 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    Could indeed be. My money is on that weird test pad connector on the back be interesting what the correct answer is and can be easily verified by just seeing what pins those various connectors connect to on the micro controller via a meter

    So just a continuity test between that ribbon cable connection/back pads and the pins on the MCU? I should be able to do that this afternoon if I have time.

    #65 3 months ago
    Quoted from RCA1:

    Probably a dumb question, but is this correctable in any way by some sort of hard reboot/reset? or would chips or other pieces of hardware need to be replaced to clear it up? is there any way to tell with the currently available information?

    Depends on how their bootloader works. Normally I would expect it to wait a certain time for a magic command that can send it to flash mode before starting the main firmware. In that case the right cable and software to send that command and the hex file should do. However normally I would expect a bootloader to verify the main flash contents by signature or at least checksum before starting it too...

    #66 3 months ago
    Quoted from Luckydogg420:

    So just a continuity test between that ribbon cable connection/back pads and the pins on the MCU? I should be able to do that this afternoon if I have time.

    Yup. I wouldn't be surprised if the two were in fact wired in parallel. The bottom pads for quick programming/testing in the factory, the ribbon connector for later service access.

    #67 3 months ago
    Quoted from Luckydogg420:

    So just a continuity test between that ribbon cable connection/back pads and the pins on the MCU? I should be able to do that this afternoon if I have time.

    I traced it out the ribbon connector. This is what I meant by;

    Quoted from RobF:

    Yes there is an in circuit programming port. From the little homework I did, it looks properly connected to be used with the fully populated board.

    #68 3 months ago

    That 6 pin bed of nails is almost certainly the programmer.

    #69 3 months ago

    We will know a lot of details for sure within a few weeks.

    #70 3 months ago

    February 30th can't come soon enough for me. I've been waiting for these.

    #71 3 months ago
    Quoted from DaveH:

    February 30th can't come soon enough for me. I've been waiting for these.

    haha, man that is going to be a LOOONG wait.

    #72 3 months ago
    Quoted from DaveH:

    February 30th can't come soon enough for me. I've been waiting for these.

    That's probably how long everyone will be waiting.

    #73 3 months ago
    Quoted from benheck:

    Since I have nothing better to do with my life, here's a graphic of how a node board could get bricked.
    This is assuming the host CPU cannot electrically reset the node boards over the bus and must rely on commands telling the nodes to reset themselves.[quoted image]

    If the main code is corrupted on flashing as theorized, what Stern should do is stay in the Bootloader waiting for a fresh programming command and not try and vector to the main code. This is pretty easily accomplished by first doing a CRC check on the main code before executing.

    This would allow the end customer, us, to still be able to try and update the node board main code flash without anything being bricked.

    Of course, this is all speculative as to what the real root cause is with the node board failures.

    #74 3 months ago

    Very interesting to be able to do some repairs.

    But to be able to interact with the system, to develop some mod, for example, it would be necessary to have details about the communications protocol that is used between nodes. I do not think that information is provided by Stetn.

    On the other hand, although I do not know that, it is likely that the bootloader system to update the firmware, is encrypted. So there would be no possibility to modify it, disassemble to see how it works (both, the bootloader and the firmware), or load your own, unless you directly write on the microcontroller deleting the bootloader. Just connect a sniffer to try to discover the protocol and the commands sent between nodes, to get a more interesting information.

    In any case it is always interesting to have the schemes, for repairs and some basic interactions for the development of some mod.

    #75 3 months ago

    That pinball framework already have the commands as they written a bridge for spike1/2

    I dont think its encrypted at the moment but if people start trying to create clones they probably will in the future.

    #76 3 months ago
    Quoted from cynric:

    The node board hex files can easily be pulled from the game .spk file. Just extract the Linux image from them using the pyhton script from here. In the game directory there are these files for GoT 1.34: coil4node-LPC1112_101-0_19_1.hex
    coil4node-LPC1112_201-0_19_1.hex
    coil4node-LPC1313-0_19_1.hex
    game
    image.bin
    lcdnode-LPC1113_302-0_19_1.hex
    pinnode-LPC1112_101-0_19_1.hex
    pinnode-LPC1112_201-0_19_1.hex
    pinnode-LPC1313-0_19_1.hex
    "game" is the elf executable, that can be dissected using IDA. There is the update routine, the node board list and the firmware suffixes inside. What I have not yet understood is which the files for the same MCU type goes to which boards (xx-LPCyy-101-zz or 201).
    And there is the risk that these firmwares might not be the complete content of their flash and there is another bootloader in there which is NOT in the spk.. However node boards dying during updates speaks strongly against that - and also speaks against Stern using NXPs bootloader/protocol.
    Regarding the NXP bootloader, has anybody with a broken node board ever tried replacing the MCU and just plugging it back in?
    You can also check out some more details on spike from the other scripts in the firmware, notably the /etc/init.d/ directory has game, game_monitor and update files which are just shell scripts for the startup. In there you can also see that the spike node bus is just a plain simple UART...
    Note that if "game" isn't there, startup continues to a pretty large "spike menu". I wonder what that is?

    One of the things in that spike menu is the option to set 60/50Hz and US vs export etc, there was a video at the factory that showed some of it a while ago.

    I’d be amazed if the MCU’s didn’t have some sort of way to trigger a flash download in software rather than having to do it hardware which would drive the price up hugely at integration time. If every chip had to be bootflashed electronically. But it could be that Stern’s CM buys them that way - so I don’t see how anyone else wouldn’t be able to buy them that way you just might need a big order.

    With the right kit it wouldn’t be too hard to figure this out, stick a splitter on the cable into the node board and just run a trace on it and see what it’s doing, I’m guessing there is a handshake that says something like, hello, are you alive, identify, code version, option, boot, update, restart ...

    Neil.

    #77 3 months ago
    Quoted from pinballsp:

    Very interesting to be able to do some repairs.
    But to be able to interact with the system, to develop some mod, for example, it would be necessary to have details about the communications protocol that is used between nodes. I do not think that information is provided by Stetn.
    On the other hand, although I do not know that, it is likely that the bootloader system to update the firmware, is encrypted. So there would be no possibility to modify it, disassemble to see how it works (both, the bootloader and the firmware), or load your own, unless you directly write on the microcontroller deleting the bootloader. Just connect a sniffer to try to discover the protocol and the commands sent between nodes, to get a more interesting information.
    In any case it is always interesting to have the schemes, for repairs and some basic interactions for the development of some mod.

    It’s not encrypted, but having looked at the architecture of the system, jail breaking it would have been child’s play, I’ve jail broken a lot more well built hardware (and before anyone says anything i’m part of a red team doing ethical hacking!)

    Neil.

    #78 3 months ago
    Quoted from benheck:

    That 6 pin bed of nails is almost certainly the programmer.

    And you think they are electrically programming all the boards? Surely it would be cheaper for them to get the MCD manu to do that? Unless that’s the CM’s problem then stern don’t care. I can imagine the ribbon connector being some sort of PC interface that allow stern repair hosed node boards.

    #79 3 months ago
    Quoted from NeilMcRae:

    And you think they are electrically programming all the boards? Surely it would be cheaper for them to get the MCD manu to do that? Unless that’s the CM’s problem then stern don’t care. I can imagine the ribbon connector being some sort of PC interface that allow stern repair hosed node boards.

    Nxp would only pre flash on large volume orders id guess, not sure how many units this would be? But stern still need to put each board into a bed of nails jig to test anyway so may as well quickly program as well (take couple seconds on those tiny 8bit micros)

    Plus i guess each board has slightly different firmware so having pre flashed might be a pain?

    #80 3 months ago
    Quoted from DaveH:

    February 30th can't come soon enough for me. I've been waiting for these.

    In what year does Feb 30th come about? This year Feb is only 28 days.

    #81 3 months ago

    Id of laughed if they said 01/04/2019

    #82 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    But stern still need to put each board into a bed of nails jig to test anyway so may as well quickly program as well (take couple seconds on those tiny 8bit micros)

    This is the likely case. Maybe not Stern but whoever supplies the boards.

    I'd assume the main CPU updater has the ability to verify the flash data on node boards? Maybe they could set a flag in the bootloader portion that prevents the main code from running until it's been verified.

    That way if the system resets, a node board that hasn't cleared the flag would stay in bootloader mode, able to try again.

    #83 3 months ago

    Be really interesting if you get a LPC1112 and flash it with one of those hex files from the update package and then send it some UART data and see if it does anything?

    You never know.....

    #84 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    Be really interesting if you get a LPC1112 and flash it with one of those hex files from the update package and then send it some UART data and see if it does anything?
    You never know.....

    You'd need the bootloader too.

    #85 3 months ago
    Quoted from PinballManiac40:

    In what year does Feb 30th come about? This year Feb is only 28 days.

    OMG, how many people didn’t get this joke? It’s a reference to the thought that I don’t think Stern will actually release them, and even if they do, there will be something proprietary that can’t be fixed anyway.

    B4F5E53D-4DE3-403F-B542-4C5AB2017CB2 (resized).jpeg

    (That should heat up Google a bit)

    #86 3 months ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    So what are the odds that they are actually released in February?

    "Schematics of Ghostbusters' node boards have been delayed but are still on the horizon."

    #87 3 months ago

    I'm not sure why it takes so long to get schematics ready....they were already drawn in order to design the node board PCB's

    #88 3 months ago
    Quoted from woz:

    I'm not sure why it takes so long to get schematics ready....they were already drawn in order to design the node board PCB's

    My only guess is that Stern didn't design and doesn't build any of the node boards. So, they're probably relying on a third party 'interpreter' to put the information into a understandable format. Again, just a guess.

    #89 3 months ago
    Quoted from schudel5:

    My only guess is that Stern didn't design and doesn't build any of the node boards. So, they're probably relying on a third party 'interpreter' to put the information into a understandable format. Again, just a guess.

    Hopefully, they won't be 15th generation photocopies or some piss-poor fax copy.

    I hope schematics are included for the Avengers and Transformers The Pin models cpu boards. Attached is a picture of the 520-5318-01 Spike The Pin cpu board from Avengers.

    Avengers home Spike 1 cpu board (resized).JPG
    #90 3 months ago
    Quoted from schudel5:

    My only guess is that Stern didn't design and doesn't build any of the node boards. So, they're probably relying on a third party 'interpreter' to put the information into a understandable format. Again, just a guess.

    It takes 5 seconds to click export as PDF in your schematic editor.
    I think they just don't want them available to the public.

    #91 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    It takes 5 seconds to click export as PDF in your schematic editor.
    I think they just don't want them available to the public.

    bingo.gif
    #92 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    It takes 5 seconds to click export as PDF in your schematic editor.
    I think they just don't want them available to the public.

    I know for a fact this is incorrect.

    #93 3 months ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    I know for a fact this is incorrect.

    Did stern sub contract out the whole development of the Spike system? Did they even own the rights to distribute the schematics before now? Maybe we’re all blaming stern for the problems with node boards when they didn’t even design them?

    Just thinking out loud

    #94 3 months ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    I know for a fact this is incorrect.

    Which part?

    #95 3 months ago

    Both, kinda. Stern definitely wants people to have the documentation.

    russdx is correct that you can hit print on a schematic very easily, but have you guys considered it's maybe more than just a print out of the raw schematics? This is a large company we are talking about. I know at my place of work, running documents through legal and approvals can take a looonnggggg time.

    #96 3 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    It takes 5 seconds to click export as PDF in your schematic editor.
    I think they just don't want them available to the public.

    unless the person that did the schematic layout made a hot unlabeled mess and it needed cleaned up. Go over to git hub and look at some schematic files for various open source things. Not all, but some I have looked at are really ugly and hard to follow.

    If stern wanted to release schematics on par with the simpsons party pinball (what a great manual) it would take some time to polish up.

    #97 3 months ago
    Quoted from barakandl:

    If stern wanted to release schematics on par with the simpsons party pinball (what a great manual) it would take some time to polish up.

    I use my Spider-man manual for all my SAM information, but TSPP would be a good one too for Whitestar. I'm guessing about the time they started in on the whole Pro/Premium/LE thing they dropped the ball on providing actual complete game manuals. The way they keep adding and moving around adjustments with each code update, those sections would just become a hot mess.

    #98 3 months ago

    We wait for the Black Knight’s response.

    04ABD2F2-5694-4B9F-972B-90097471747F (resized).jpeg
    #99 3 months ago

    Indeed my response was assuming schematics are in a good state (which you would hope they are for such a project)

    #100 3 months ago
    Quoted from schudel5:

    I use my Spider-man manual for all my SAM information, but TSPP would be a good one too for Whitestar. I'm guessing about the time they started in on the whole Pro/Premium/LE thing they dropped the ball on providing actual complete game manuals. The way they keep adding and moving around adjustments with each code update, those sections would just become a hot mess.

    Ah but that is what "Manual Amendments" are for. Remember when Williams did that for some of their games?

    Naturally, if Stern has their game manuals in electronic format, they could hit "edit" and add/subtract info in the manual. Then hit save and post the latest version of the manual on their support page.

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