(Topic ID: 235445)

Stern Spike Node Board Schematics Troubleshooting and Discussion


By JodyG

1 year ago



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  • Latest reply 5 days ago by KenLayton
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    There are 271 posts in this topic. You are on page 5 of 6.
    #201 3 months ago
    Quoted from Kevlar:

    To answer my own question above, just replacing D9 wasn't going to do it. I just removed D9 after obtaining a replacement but on closer inspection there's further damage to the board beyond my capabilities to repair, a little square thing U9 looks blown. The board has to be replaced at my cost, it's barely more than a year old. The spike system is shit, no more Sterns for me!.

    If D9 is just shorted think that would shut down the SMPS V-Reg but not damage other components. I think the bad stuff happens when D9 breaks open circuit.

    If the board is out of warranty and you have the means to replace that part i'd go for it.

    Make sure it really is just shorted. Its a Schottky diode with a very low forward voltage drop which will read differently than a typical rectifier type.

    #202 3 months ago

    Diode is definitely dead short, I've removed it and it still measures dead short ( I'm also comparing it to a new one). U9 is definitely also blown, which one took out the other I don't know. I made enquiries, its out of warranty.
    IMG_20200401_125153 (resized).jpg

    #203 3 months ago

    The magic operating smoke has definitely escaped

    #204 3 months ago

    That thing is tiny, if I did manage to replace it and the diode could I expect anything else to be damaged?

    #205 3 months ago

    Since the diode was shorted and not open, chances are great that nothing else is damaged. Clean the smoke residue from board first, so the chip will be easier to unsolder. Take care not to damage C23 (or replace it at the same time). R18 does not look very good either.

    Good luck!

    #206 3 months ago

    99% isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush will clean up that soot.

    #207 3 months ago

    That whole area looks suspect. I have almost finished rigging up to work on these boards, waiting on camera for trinocular scope and smd strips.

    #208 89 days ago

    As if anyone needed reminding that stern's QC is suspect at times, don't assume just because a node board is brand new that it's safe to use. I just installed a new node board 8 in my DP pro and on powering up the drop target reset coil locked on. I heard a coil fire but thought maybe it was normal, resetting the drops. Went through a few tests in the menu then started to smell something burning, and smoke started to come from the drop target area. Powered off, removed board to find this on the underside...

    IMG_20200402_151912 (resized).jpg

    My supplier said to remove the solder bridge, I warned that there may be damage to the transistor or whatever drives it but he said go ahead, worth a try with Stern being closed atm. Luckily it worked, there was no damage ( confirmed the transistor with a test meter across ), tested in machine, all ok. Supplier sending me a new coil to replace the one that got hot ( it still works though ).

    What would have happened if I'd turned it on and walked away? a fire?

    #209 89 days ago
    Quoted from Kevlar:

    What would have happened if I'd turned it on and walked away? a fire?

    I think the node board is supposed to detect overcurrent and shut itself off.

    #210 89 days ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    I think the node board is supposed to detect overcurrent and shit itself.

    Yeah, sounds like a Stern design.

    #211 89 days ago

    Don't think it was ever going to shut itself off. It was probably in this state for 1 to 2 minutes. The solder bridge had basically connected the transistor output directly to the 48v rail as soon as the machine power switch was on, the spike system and node board hadn't even had time to boot, the coil was energised immediately. Best case... Maybe a fuse on the main board or psu would have gone but I doubt it.

    #212 89 days ago

    The overcurrent protection will remove drive from the transistors, but it does not help when transistor is shorted. So after a while the coil would have overheated and shorted, and then either the 48V power supply would have shut itself down, or the line fuse blow.

    #213 89 days ago

    I doubt a shorted coil will blow the line fuse. A trace on a node board or associated components would open first.

    #214 88 days ago
    Quoted from Kevlar:

    Powered off, removed board to find this on the underside...

    DoubleFacePalm (resized).jpg

    #215 88 days ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    [quoted image]

    Biggest failure is the fuckup is directly above the signed for QC sticker . It would be funny if it wasn't shocking proof of Stern's QC failure, or perhaps whoever makes stern's boards QC.

    #216 88 days ago

    Probably the job description of QC inspector is "Fill in and attach the QC sticker in designated space". Or maybe the stickers are already printed with the necessary data. For sure, individual boards do not go through any QC whatsoever.

    #217 82 days ago

    Why are node boards so expensive? If these are going to be a point of failure, then Stern should sell replacements at a reasonable price. My Ghostbusters node 9 popped the other day. 260 quid!

    Surely these boards can't be that expensive to make.

    #218 82 days ago
    Quoted from FlippinJB:

    Why are node boards so expensive? If these are going to be a point of failure, then Stern should sell replacements at a reasonable price. My Ghostbusters node 9 popped the other day. 260 quid!
    Surely these boards can't be that expensive to make.

    Replacement node boards are money for Stern. It is not a question how much they cost to make, but how much you are ready to pay for replacement board, when your $6000 game needs one. Probably their BOM is about $20.

    #219 82 days ago
    Quoted from Tuukka:

    Replacement node boards are money for Stern. It is not a question how much they cost to make, but how much you are ready to pay for replacement board, when your $6000 game needs one. Probably their BOM is about $20.

    Agree with you 100%. But in my day, you'd stick a new tip102 or whatever in! I love the new technology in these machines, but if it pops at the drop of a hat - and that costs me 260 quid each time - then that's just not sustainable. Stern should not see the failure of their boards as a revenue flow as people have to buy new ones out of warranty. We all know that things go wrong with electronics, but I firmly believe that all pinball companies should support their customers by minimising the profit they make from essential replacement assemblies like node boards - especially since these seem to be something of a common point of failure, looking at other threads.

    From a Stern marketing point of view, I would hope they would realise that if people are routinely encountering problems like this that cost them 260 quid to fix, then it follows that they will be much less likely to buy a Stern game in the future. My Ghostbusters has less than 200 plays on it.

    #220 82 days ago

    Think of it this way: Node boards are to Stern what ink cartridges are to printers.

    #221 82 days ago

    Node boards don’t fail very often. And this whole conversation has been had over and over.

    #222 82 days ago
    Quoted from FlippinJB:

    Agree with you 100%. But in my day, you'd stick a new tip102 or whatever in! I love the new technology in these machines, but if it pops at the drop of a hat - and that costs me 260 quid each time - then that's just not sustainable. Stern should not see the failure of their boards as a revenue flow as people have to buy new ones out of warranty. We all know that things go wrong with electronics, but I firmly believe that all pinball companies should support their customers by minimising the profit they make from essential replacement assemblies like node boards - especially since these seem to be something of a common point of failure, looking at other threads.
    From a Stern marketing point of view, I would hope they would realise that if people are routinely encountering problems like this that cost them 260 quid to fix, then it follows that they will be much less likely to buy a Stern game in the future. My Ghostbusters has less than 200 plays on it.

    Shit happens all the time and everywhere... My HUO GB has around 5k games played. Nothing major did go bad except for 2 switches...

    Quoted from DNO:

    Node boards don’t fail very often. And this whole conversation has been had over and over.

    True, its like reviews on Amazon. If something is bad there is a good chance someone will write a bad review. But if something is good the chances of getting a good review are not as high as getting a bad review. Maybe some operators can share their experience. But the operators I know had very few nodes fails.

    #223 82 days ago
    Quoted from DNO:

    Node boards don’t fail very often. And this whole conversation has been had over and over.

    I'm not sure what people expected Stern to do anyway? Cater to a very small market of garage repair guys that refuse to move past through hole, or move to modern technology?

    #224 82 days ago
    Quoted from Midway-Man:

    Maybe some operators can share their experience. But the operators I know had very few nodes fails.

    Some of my experiences....GB did have a node replaced in the first month, free from Stern. Both of these have been rock solid though, along with 15-20 other Spike games I maintain, with similar or more play.

    00317A6F-A28F-47E8-9713-738AD6172E8D (resized).jpeg03C8E354-E05F-4B0D-99EB-B7C84FCF4908 (resized).jpeg
    #225 82 days ago
    Quoted from DNO:

    Some of my experiences....GB did have a node replaced in the first month, free from Stern. Both of these have been rock solid though, along with 15-20 other Spike games I maintain, with similar or more play.[quoted image][quoted image]

    The operator which is a friend has almost every new Stern game, except for JP and SThings. But only 1 board really failed. Node 8 on his GOT LE had a reset issue. If both flippers were hit at the same time the board would reset. Stern was using different Nodes up until GOT. These nodes were smaller and felt a lot cheaper. Stern started using different boards beginning with GB. So some issues have been solved by Stern at this point.
    Also his BM66 CPU Node had a failure. The Backbox speakers were never working. I told him that, since he didn't even notice. I bet they were already out at the unboxing. However the game was still playable. BM66 is his best earner till today. Last time i met him, he said it was around 30k plays in 4 years, which is a lot for a German location.
    If remember correct the missing sound was a issue with Sterns board supplier. Since a lot of Star Wars had this issue as well.
    So far he is really impressed how this system is holding up.

    #226 82 days ago
    Quoted from KenLayton:

    Think of it this way: Node boards are to Stern what ink cartridges are to printers.

    Aargh! I really hope I don't have to think of it that way!

    #227 82 days ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    I'm not sure what people expected Stern to do anyway? Cater to a very small market of garage repair guys that refuse to move past through hole, or move to modern technology?

    I expected them to have competent engineering review in the design phase that would have taken into consideration sending 48v to the board that needed just 12v or 5v and regulated the 48v down on-board was asking for trouble when a part failed and raw 48v was sent into nearby components, frying them completely. It should have had discrete power, not converted on-board from a single high-power source that current detection cannot protect the board from when things go wrong. It's a bad design. A step back from prior stern board designs in the long-term reliability department.

    #228 82 days ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    It's a bad design.

    Agree to disagree there. It had growing pains but at the core it's not a bad design. As the software matures it's becoming even better.

    #229 82 days ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    Agree to disagree there. It had growing pains but at the core it's not a bad design. As the software matures it's becoming even better.

    Sending 48v to the node boards and regulating down on each board is a bad design, IMO. Spike2 is a pretty new system. I don't think it will age well. But we'll see. Only time will tell.

    #230 82 days ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    Sending 48v to the node boards and regulating down on each board is a bad design, IMO. Spike2 is a pretty new system. I don't think it will age well. But we'll see. Only time will tell.

    I'm not a fan of it. It's pretty much not repairable, difficult to diagnose even with the schematics and replacement parts are difficult to find and very expensive. Plus boards are not entirely transferrable across games. It may be more robust in terms of what they can do for gameplay and video, but there are too many drawbacks in my view.

    #231 82 days ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    I think the node board is supposed to detect overcurrent and shut itself off.

    Rule one of engineering is that you never ever rely on on an overcurrent circuit alone for protection...The Stern SPIKE system disregards this rule and the outcome is significant board damage that could have been avoided with a simple fuse.

    #232 82 days ago

    I'm convinced spike/node board failures are significantly higher than SAM, I know plenty of people had node boards failed, and know of at least 3 cpu boards fail just in our tiny uk community, I know only 1 person had a SAM board go down and that was his own fault, caused but incorrectly connecting a MOD. As someone with the printer ink comparison above, Stern have turned boards into consumables. Faulty board? no problem sir, just buy a new one, easy. Except they cost a fortune.

    #233 82 days ago
    Quoted from Kevlar:

    I'm convinced spike/node board failures are significantly higher than SAM, I know plenty of people had node boards failed, and know of at least 3 cpu boards fail just in our tiny uk community, I know only 1 person had a SAM board go down and that was his own fault, caused but incorrectly connecting a MOD. As someone with the printer ink comparison above, Stern have turned boards into consumables. Faulty board? no problem sir, just buy a new one, easy. Except they cost a fortune.

    Borygard here on pinside is doing a good service repairing node boards, but I'm sure he can't repair all of the ways they can be damaged, and that's still likely a $100+ repair (guessing).

    #234 82 days ago
    Quoted from Kevlar:

    Stern have turned boards into consumables. Faulty board? no problem sir, just buy a new one, easy. Except they cost a fortune.

    Amen. That's what worries me - I have a Ghostbusters and BM66 and I am concerned that I'll have to buy new printer cartridges for them in the future at 260 quid a pop.

    #235 82 days ago

    There's nothing wrong with 48V to a node board.
    My opinion: The problem is that Stern doesn't actually have real electrical engineers on their staff who have the proper knowledge of what and how to do things. So; they do something half arse... or implement a "reference" design from without actually understanding what the circuit does.

    So; you end up using a 48V to drive a linear regulator... or spec a electrolytic cap when the reference design clearly states LOW ESR caps are needed... to that engineer a cap is a cap... and any cheap cap will do. Hell; they may even "outsource" the design external to the company.

    I'm saying this because I've looked at the first gen "node board" design in my STLE; and that node board design is beyond wacked. Sure it "looks right" on paper... but implementation is just wrong.

    That said; I don't see any evidence of better methodology from any other manufacture... except one.

    #236 82 days ago
    Quoted from Kevlar:

    What would have happened if I'd turned it on and walked away? a fire?

    That is for the courts to decide

    #237 82 days ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    There's nothing wrong with 48V to a node board.
    My opinion: The problem is that Stern doesn't actually have real electrical engineers on their staff who have the proper knowledge of what and how to do things. So; they do something half arse... or implement a "reference" design from without actually understanding what the circuit does.
    So; you end up using a 48V to drive a linear regulator... or spec a electrolytic cap when the reference design clearly states LOW ESR caps are needed... to that engineer a cap is a cap... and any cheap cap will do. Hell; they may even "outsource" the design external to the company.
    I'm saying this because I've looked at the first gen "node board" design in my STLE; and that node board design is beyond wacked. Sure it "looks right" on paper... but implementation is just wrong.
    That said; I don't see any evidence of better methodology from any other manufacture... except one.

    Maybe they engineered them by costing cutting of taking an good plan and then just starting takeing parts out till they stop workinged and then you put the last part back in.

    #238 82 days ago

    They need to get Larry Demar to help in designing the next System. Didnt he do the Wpc boardset?

    #239 81 days ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    That said; I don't see any evidence of better methodology from any other manufacture... except one.

    Except one...!! Are you going to leave us hanging?

    From my limited understanding of these things I see a few competing systems: Spike, P-roc, Microcontrollers (Beaglebone) and JJP

    The way I figure, JJP got it right: standard PC motherboard and SSD harddrive running the game and the displays, high power operating system linux, separate driver-I/O board for the mechanical stuff, separate amplifier sound board, pretty much all the computing power in the backbox where it belongs (starting with DI) and separate cables going to the coils and switches (makes repair easier). It seems to me this is how WPC would have progressed, had Williams continued to make games.

    #240 81 days ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    My opinion: The problem is that Stern doesn't actually have real electrical engineers on their staff who have the proper knowledge of what and how to do things.

    You might want to do some research on that. I'm not going to call people out by name but they have some very talented EEs.

    #241 81 days ago
    Quoted from branlon8:

    Except one...!! Are you going to leave us hanging?
    From my limited understanding of these things I see a few competing systems: Spike, P-roc, Microcontrollers (Beaglebone) and JJP
    The way I figure, JJP got it right: standard PC motherboard and SSD harddrive running the game and the displays, high power operating system linux, separate driver-I/O board for the mechanical stuff, separate amplifier sound board, pretty much all the computing power in the backbox where it belongs (starting with DI) and separate cables going to the coils and switches (makes repair easier). It seems to me this is how WPC would have progressed, had Williams continued to make games.

    But still an switch matrix and node board like system for the lights.

    #242 81 days ago
    Quoted from Joe_Blasi:

    But still an switch matrix and node board like system for the lights.

    But I think the RGB controllers are just taking the digital signal from the computer in the backbox and routing it to the correct led-board. It’s a very simple task - not much computation required.

    #243 81 days ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    That said; I don't see any evidence of better methodology from any other manufacture... except one.

    I see Spooky uses a seperate power supply just for the +5 and +12 volts to all boards.

    #244 81 days ago
    Quoted from branlon8:

    But I think the RGB controllers are just taking the digital signal from the computer in the backbox and routing it to the correct led-board. It’s a very simple task - not much computation required.

    And you need to reboot / power off / power on when they get stuck.

    1 week later
    #245 67 days ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    You might want to do some research on that. I'm not going to call people out by name but they have some very talented EEs.

    Not sure I agree. There's no evidence they have a single EE on their team.
    Seriously; I've seen some of the highly questionable stuff that comes out of Stern. If they have a talented set of EEs; they must have them doing mechanical design or something.

    And no; outsourcing the EE work to a external FIRM is Not my definition of a EE on the team.

    I already gave a perfect example in the post you quoted from; but ... ok; you're free to think they have some talented EEs if you want to.

    Quoted from branlon8:

    Except one...!! Are you going to leave us hanging?

    Not really the point I was trying to make. There is one manufacturer *I* believe has a talented EE on their team. But; not going to drag them into this horrible show.

    #246 67 days ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    They need to get Larry Demar to help in designing the next System. Didnt he do the Wpc boardset?

    Whoever designed the SAM system did a good job.

    #247 67 days ago
    Quoted from Zitt:

    Not sure I agree. There's no evidence they have a single EE on their team.
    Seriously; I've seen some of the highly questionable stuff that comes out of Stern.

    Two things come to mind:

    1) Excessive use of zener diodes as regulators all over the place...WHY!

    2) Metallica (not Spike) magnet boards that burn because they have a 5W resistor that helps dissipate heat from the Zener regulators...except, the magnet has a thermistor for overheat protection that opens if the magnet gets too hot, when this opens ALL the power (8-9W) goes to through this 5W resistor. I don't need to say what happens after that...

    #248 67 days ago
    Quoted from Pin_Guy:

    Two things come to mind:
    1) Excessive use of zener diodes as regulators all over the place...WHY!
    2) Metallica (not Spike) magnet boards that burn because they have a 5W resistor that helps dissipate heat from the Zener regulators...except, the magnet has a thermistor for overheat protection that opens if the magnet gets too hot, when this opens ALL the power (8-9W) goes to through this 5W resistor. I don't need to say what happens after that...

    I think they out sourced parts of the spike system and games before spike did have some half spike boards in them.

    1 month later
    #249 7 days ago

    I figured I'd bring this up incase anyone has fixed it.

    I have a Munsters pro with the audio popping and now after a 1.03 update (from 1.02) ZERO game audio/sound. Game is probably just shy of warranty and so the cpu replacement is a maybe. Has anyone replaced/tested the audio dac/circuit and fix this issue?

    If they warranty the board, I assume they'll want the old one shipped back :/ I'd be curious to replace the parts and see.

    Any who Stern's spike system is just a modified/custom IMX6 dev board. I find that interesting. We used a few imx6 and imx8 kits. Very capable cpu's. I'm very curious why they didn't have a hdmi out though, as that is pretty standard, maybe they didn't think streaming would get big when designing theirs.

    #250 7 days ago
    Quoted from northvibe:

    I figured I'd bring this up incase anyone has fixed it.
    I have a Munsters pro with the audio popping and now after a 1.03 update (from 1.02) ZERO game audio/sound. Game is probably just shy of warranty and so the cpu replacement is a maybe. Has anyone replaced/tested the audio dac/circuit and fix this issue?
    If they warranty the board, I assume they'll want the old one shipped back :/ I'd be curious to replace the parts and see.
    Any who Stern's spike system is just a modified/custom IMX6 dev board. I find that interesting. We used a few imx6 and imx8 kits. Very capable cpu's. I'm very curious why they didn't have a hdmi out though, as that is pretty standard, maybe they didn't think streaming would get big when designing theirs.

    I know deadflip does direct HDMI capture for his streams. Not sure how he does it. Maybe Jack can share?

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