(Topic ID: 235445)

Stern Spike Node Board Schematics Troubleshooting and Discussion

By JodyG

2 years ago


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    There are 324 posts in this topic. You are on page 7 of 7.
    #301 65 days ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    Well the good news the Node board 8 decided to work again for some in explicable reason but the flashers are still for crap. Power is set to 255 in settings and this is what it looks like.
    About as bright as a regular LED. I'll check voltages in the morning.
    [quoted image]

    Borygard here on pinside repairs them pretty reliably. Note that you CAN switch node 8 and node 9 (same board) and just change the dip switches and everything may work great if the node 9 position isn't using the bad part of what was node 8. So I'd try that first, then contact Borygard to see about him repairing your node 8.

    #302 65 days ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    Borygard here on pinside repairs them pretty reliably. Note that you CAN switch node 8 and node 9 (same board) and just change the dip switches and everything may work great if the node 9 position isn't using the bad part of what was node 8. So I'd try that first, then contact Borygard to see about him repairing your node 8.

    Did some digging this morning, what I have found so far.

    1) Game has latest revision boards so not its first rodeo.

    2) Flasher volts only 5-6 volts to ground, this looks correct.

    3) Flashers 129 (left scoop) 125 and 126 (back panel) are dead.

    4) Swapped node boards, flasher 129 starts working again!

    5) 125 and 126 had no bulbs in the sockets, I swap in the flasher from the pops into the left side and it works.

    So my only question now is.. are the flashers suppose to be this unimpressive? I know I'm use to Data East in which sunglasses are required when there is a light show but this seems excessively muted.

    Thank you for your help!

    #303 65 days ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    Borygard here on pinside repairs them pretty reliably. Note that you CAN switch node 8 and node 9 (same board) and just change the dip switches and everything may work great if the node 9 position isn't using the bad part of what was node 8. So I'd try that first, then contact Borygard to see about him repairing your node 8.

    Did some digging this morning, what I have found so far.

    1) Flasher volts only 5-6 volts to ground, this looks correct.

    2) Flashers 129 (left scoop) 125 and 126 (back panel) are dead.

    3) Swapped node boards, flasher 129 starts working again!

    4) 125 and 126 had no bulbs in the sockets, I swap in the flasher from the pops into the left side and it works.

    So my only question now is.. are the flashers suppose to be this unimpressive? I know I'm use to Data East in which sunglasses are required when there is a light show but this seems excessively muted. I even tried turning them way down and then way back up (255) in menu settings and they are changing.

    fd20cd67b57c1f86573ed8336ecc861b27ef5ce3.gif
    #304 64 days ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    Borygard here on pinside repairs them pretty reliably. Note that you CAN switch node 8 and node 9 (same board) and just change the dip switches and everything may work great if the node 9 position isn't using the bad part of what was node 8. So I'd try that first, then contact Borygard to see about him repairing your node 8.

    What does he normally charge? Turn around time? Can anyone give a review ?
    This thread reinforces me just to stick with Bally / Williams .

    #305 64 days ago
    Quoted from mollyspub:

    What does he normally charge? Turn around time? Can anyone give a review ?
    This thread reinforces me just to stick with Bally / Williams .

    Pretty sure Borygard is now working fo Game Exchange, and they do mail in repair.
    As far as the Bally/Williams comment, that just seems foolish to deprive yourself from enjoying the great games in the Spike platform.
    This thread is 2 years old, and there has NOT been the flood of failed node boards as predicted. Just a handful actually, and lots of those people breaking their own shit with mods and such.
    But to each their own, have fun replacing connectors, caps, and bridge rectifiers so you can play some shallow rulesets…

    #306 64 days ago
    Quoted from mollyspub:

    What does he normally charge? Turn around time? Can anyone give a review ?
    This thread reinforces me just to stick with Bally / Williams .

    I've never had to have him fix a node board (never had a dead one, and I've had every Spike except a couple), but I have heard good things about his work, and he's a great guy so I have no qualms recommending him. Whatever he charges, it will likely be substantially less than a brand new node board, so it's worth investigating.

    #307 64 days ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    So my only question now is.. are the flashers suppose to be this unimpressive? I know I'm use to Data East in which sunglasses are required when there is a light show but this seems excessively muted. I even tried turning them way down and then way back up (255) in menu settings and they are changing. [quoted image]

    No idea. It's really hard to get an idea of how bright they are from a gif. I DO know that the first thing I do with a Spike machine is turn down the LED and flashers to 75% brightness. They're generally eye-searing in a dark room for me.

    Also, note that more than one setting modifies the LED and flasher brightness. I have no idea WHY it's like that, but it is. You may be modifying only half the "formula" for the machine to calculate the brightness of the flasher.

    #308 64 days ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    No idea. It's really hard to get an idea of how bright they are from a gif. I DO know that the first thing I do with a Spike machine is turn down the LED and flashers to 75% brightness. They're generally eye-searing in a dark room for me.
    Also, note that more than one setting modifies the LED and flasher brightness. I have no idea WHY it's like that, but it is. You may be modifying only half the "formula" for the machine to calculate the brightness of the flasher.

    Anything flasher related set to max or 255 in all flasher settings. Positively milquetoast compared to Data East games or even the Stern Trek premium I owned. No brighter than the GI lamps frankly aside from the exceptions I mentioned.

    #309 64 days ago
    Quoted from DNO:

    Pretty sure Borygard is now working fo Game Exchange, and they do mail in repair.
    As far as the Bally/Williams comment, that just seems foolish to deprive yourself from enjoying the great games in the Spike platform.
    This thread is 2 years old, and there has NOT been the flood of failed node boards as predicted. Just a handful actually, and lots of those people breaking their own shit with mods and such.
    But to each their own, have fun replacing connectors, caps, and bridge rectifiers so you can play some shallow rulesets…

    A friend just had his Ghostbusters node 8 board crap out. Machine was working fine a few days ago then went to turn it on and it couldn't find node 8 board. He tried the usual things like reseating all connectors and resetting the dip switch settings as well as moving the board to a compatible machine and trying it there. Still won't recognize it. So he bought a brand new board and it worked fine.

    #310 64 days ago
    Quoted from KenLayton:

    A friend just had his Ghostbusters node 8 board crap out.

    8 and 9 crapped out on mine, as you describe (board not found). And then the CPU board, which lost its 5v. £1K is around what I spent replacing them. Not good.

    #311 64 days ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    Anything flasher related set to max or 255 in all flasher settings. Positively milquetoast compared to Data East games or even the Stern Trek premium I owned. No brighter than the GI lamps frankly aside from the exceptions I mentioned.

    You might want to make sure this modification was done to the GB you got:

    https://sternpinball.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Stern-SB188.pdf

    Also, make sure the node board has the diode service bulletin done:

    https://sternpinball.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Stern-SB189.pdf

    #312 64 days ago
    Quoted from FlippinJB:

    8 and 9 crapped out on mine, as you describe (board not found). And then the CPU board, which lost its 5v. £1K is around what I spent replacing them. Not good.

    Was the service bulletin modifications done on the boards that crapped out? If not, that's probably why they died...

    #313 64 days ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    Was the service bulletin modifications done on the boards that crapped out? If not, that's probably why they died...

    Yes to the first one (SB188), but not the second one. Have the newer node boards had the SB189 issue fixed? I'd hate to have to replace them again!

    #314 64 days ago
    Quoted from FlippinJB:

    Yes to the first one (SB188), but not the second one. Have the newer node boards had the SB189 issue fixed? I'd hate to have to replace them again!

    I'm assuming so because newer machines use essentially the same node boards but don't need the fix, but I can't say authoritatively.

    #315 64 days ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    You might want to make sure this modification was done to the GB you got:
    https://sternpinball.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Stern-SB188.pdf
    Also, make sure the node board has the diode service bulletin done:
    https://sternpinball.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Stern-SB189.pdf

    Yes and yes, they have been done.

    #316 64 days ago

    If anybody replaces a board and has no use for a dead one, send me PM. I would like to build up some spike board troubleshooting experience. I have the know-how and right setup for smd rework, but not a lot of time working through the different failure scenarios.

    #317 62 days ago
    Quoted from RobF:

    If anybody replaces a board and has no use for a dead one, send me PM. I would like to build up some spike board troubleshooting experience. I have the know-how and right setup for smd rework, but not a lot of time working through the different failure scenarios.

    PM sent.

    #318 59 days ago

    Just a heads up- Everything seems to have settled down and functioning on GB and I have a question. I'd like to upgrade the spinner flasher PCB (which leaves very much to be desired) with a socketed pseudo 906 5V Spike rated flasher.

    Has anyone done this? Are the board drivers for the pseudo 906 under the pop bumpers the same as the pcb mounted "flasher" ?

    1 month later
    #319 2 days ago
    Quoted from G-P-E:

    I have always believed that there is no substitute for big iron (big transformer) for the solenoid loads.

    Quoted from KenLayton:

    I agree with you also about using a big power transformer for powering the coils.

    I know these are older posts ... and this may have been addressed elsewhere in the thread ... and I am not being snarky or stupid ... just trying to contribute.

    All a big power transformer adds to a system is cost. They're also a waste of power since you have to rectify that voltage. Moreover they're heavy ... they add significant mass to the pin, so that means they're more expensive to transport. Moreover, when linear supplies fail, things are guaranteed to blow up ... most switching power supplies fail open ... that's a good thing since it won't destroy anything.

    Powering coils in a pin with 48V driven by a switching power supply is fine so long as one takes the exact same precautions that have been taken since solid state pins were introduced to the masses. The diode across the inductor (in their example, the inductor represents a motor) shown in the video is no different than the ones on pinball coils. Forget those in a pinball machine with a linear supply and things will still blow up regardless of it being powered with a big ass transformer. The phenomena described in the video is identical why one needs diodes across a coil.

    One can run into problems if a switching power supply output is driving a highly inductive load ... something like a long, long wire can have enough inductance to cause a problem ... some care has to be taken there of course (I suspect that is why they are using TVSes at the input of the regulators). You wouldn't run into this problem with a linear supply, but I think the benefits of a switching power supply far outweigh that risk.

    One final note. 48V driving a switching regulator that regulates a voltage down to 5V or lower isn't that big of a deal these days. Switching regulators are VERY reliable ... far more reliable than linear regulators in my opinion since far, far, far less heat is generated. Heat is public enemy #1 to semiconductors in a working system. Switching regulators are extremely efficient ... far less heat is given off as a result.

    Most networking equipment designed to "5 9s" (that's nerd speak for 99.99999% reliability) are designed to be powered by a 48V source (keep in mind I am talking about the big ass telecom switches/routers, not the stuff you have on your desktop ). The same voltage is standard on a lot of robots as well. Most boards (or "adaptors" as the hip and trendy call them for some stupid reason) for these kinds of systems will regulate that 48V down to 12V or 5V ... then, depending on power requirements, use additional switching or linear regulators to get the ridiculously low voltages (like 2.5, 1.8, 1V or less) to power CPUs, ASICs, FPGAs, DSPs, memories, and other devices (almost all of the time switching regulators are used).

    That being said, what I don't like about 48V being routed everywhere in a pin is safety ... that's a relatively high voltage to have running everywhere in a pin w/o any safety interlock being possible (if you lose 48V, you lose the ability to debug anything ).

    Switching regulators aren't perfect of course ... most problems are due to designer error though ... and most of the problems are EMI related ... if one isn't careful with the layout of the regulator on the PCB, you will see nasty EMI spikes right around the regulator's switching frequency.

    If it were 1995 or so, I wouldn't be too crazy about switching regulators being used to drop 48V down to 5V ... however, these days, it's a no brainer. The technology is very mature. It is nothing like the switching power supply Atari used in some games (I, Robot comes to mind ... some Firefoxen ... and I think a couple of others) .

    #320 2 days ago

    megadeth2600 ....you don't mention that there are very few off the shelf switching devices that will actually give a 5V etc output with an input as high as 48V.

    Most specify a MAXIMUM difference between input and output of 36V - and that is MAXIMUM, not a recommended situation. Stern is proving this point with numerous blown up regulators on their Spike system that purport to do exactly this.

    Slightly different, but related subject:

    Mains transformers are far and away the most stable and reliable devices in a pinball machine - millions of machines out there in the wild speak to this.

    Let's see how many of your mains powered switching regulators are still going in ten years time - oh, and when they stop working let's see how many of them can actually be repaired.

    You talk a lot about using switching supplies in "networking equipment" and I agree - for this job they are a good fit MAINLY because that equipment is thrown away after 10 years in operation and upgraded. We expect our pinball machines to last a LOT longer than 10 years, well, I do anyway.

    #321 2 days ago
    Quoted from pins4u:

    you don't mention that there are very few off the shelf switching devices that will actually give a 5V etc output with an input as high as 48V.

    I don't mention that because there are many, as in hundreds, of off the shelf switching regulators out there to choose from that will easily accept 48V and regulate it down to 5V @ about 80% efficiency with a cost no more than $2.00 USD.

    Here are 17 from Texas Instruments that could have been designed into any Stern node board that required 48V in and 5V out with a max output current of 2.0A ... these are the results of a cursory search too ... I'm positive there are several more ... and this is just TI. Vendors like ST Microelectronics, Analog Devices, Maxim, etc all have their own regulators available that meet or exceed requirements. I'd guess that there are at least 250 devices out there on the market that will be available until at least 2030. More if you don't care about a part's end of life. Also, many of these parts are footprint compatible ... you have a wide range of choices.

    https://www.ti.com/power-management/non-isolated-dc-dc-switching-regulators/step-down-buck/buck-converter-integrated-switch/products.html#p238min=1.5;48&p238max=48;100&p634min=-3;5&p634max=5;92&p451max=2;2.5&p212max=11.704312114989733;100

    Quoted from pins4u:

    Most specify a MAXIMUM difference between input and output of 36V - and that is MAXIMUM, not a recommended situation.

    A Vin/Vout difference is only considered for efficiency purposes when evaluating a switching regulator ... you tend to only insure you are not exceeding a maximum input voltage. Vin/Vout difference is more of a linear regulator constraint (and a 36V difference in that case would be horrible) ... however, a switching regulators can still regulate 5V from a 48V source with 50% efficiency if the output current is in the microamp range. Of course, current demand will be much, much higher (which results in a much much higher efficiency).

    As an example, Stern's 520-6976-72A node board uses a Monolithic Power Systems MP24943DN ... it has a max input voltage of 55V which is plenty of margin. Again, only efficiency is impacted when comparing the output voltage to the input voltage (this is not a linear regulator). Looking at the curves on the datasheet linked below, the node board will have a conversion efficiency around 75% to 80% assuming an output current of about 0.5A to 1A.

    The regulator also has output overvoltage protection as well as a thermal shutdown mode. If something goes wrong with a linear regulator, you're out of luck until a fuse blows ... you tend to destroy other parts before the fuse opens (mainly driver transistors ... and possibly a pre-driver or logic IC). The switching regulator simply turns off.

    https://www.monolithicpower.com/en/documentview/productdocument/index/version/2/document_type/Datasheet/lang/en/sku/MP24943/document_id/1966

    Quoted from pins4u:

    Stern is proving this point with numerous blown up regulators on their Spike system

    I remember there being problems in the early days of Spike, but I haven't heard such complaints myself for a few years now. That isn't to say that there isn't a problem ... I could very well be wrong. I just haven't seen many people complaining about node board failure. I think those early problems were due to vibration and connector issues and not the regulators themselves.

    Quoted from pins4u:

    Mains transformers are far and away the most stable and reliable devices in a pinball machine

    I'll agree with that. It's all of the linear voltage regulation/conversion after the transformer that I dislike. These days, it is a waste of power and money to convert mains voltage to 48VDC solenoid voltage using linear conversion and regulation.

    Quoted from pins4u:

    switching supplies in "networking equipment" and I agree - for this job they are a good fit MAINLY because that equipment is thrown away after 10 years in operation

    That is after 10 years of continuous, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation with near or at zero mean time between failure. That is a pretty good torture test. They don't get downtime ... at all. Some places will operate the equipment more than 10 years since the telecom grade core and edge routers routers are designed to be scalable and require a substantial investment up front.

    Quoted from pins4u:

    We expect our pinball machines to last a LOT longer than 10 years, well, I do anyway.

    While I sound like a Stern fanboy defending their electronics, I am anything but that. They disgust me anymore. However, I don't think that their electronics will be a problem two decades from now. I suspect mechanical engineers and machinists will be saving the pinball machines of today in the future ... I find the quality of Stern's basic mechanical assemblies to be garbage anymore. I have never had more issues with coil stops and flipper links in my life. If they're cheaping out on that stuff now, wait until they apply the same kind of idiocy to assemblies that are specific to a particular machine. Their profit margin on pinball machines is ridiculously high ... they can *easily* afford to maintain acceptable quality ... however, they don't ... they seem to cut costs and raise prices on everything anymore. Disgusting.

    #322 1 day ago
    Quoted from megadeth2600:

    Most networking equipment designed to "5 9s" (that's nerd speak for 99.99999% reliability) are designed to be powered by a 48V source (keep in mind I am talking about the big ass telecom switches/routers, not the stuff you have on your desktop ). .

    You have too many 9’s. It should be 99.999% if you’re referring to 5 9’s.

    Interesting discussion though.

    #323 18 hours ago
    Quoted from Spyderturbo007:

    It should be 99.999% if you’re referring to 5 9’s.

    You nitpicky people and your 9s .

    You're obviously correct .

    #324 16 hours ago

    Thanks for the analysis megadeth2600, It's really good to hear your take on the reliability and design of these boards. There's clearly a lot changed in power supply design over the course of pinball's history

    There are 324 posts in this topic. You are on page 7 of 7.

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