(Topic ID: 24414)

TECH: STTNG Problems: Only one left to fix!


By Nexyss

7 years ago



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  • 45 posts
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  • Latest reply 6 years ago by Nexyss
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#1 7 years ago

6 days ago, I brought home a really nice working (but getting dirty), and great playing STTNG. So far, these are the problems that have developed:

Alpha Quadrant switch not detecting the ball

Ball not making it to the lock hole (intermittent). The pop up blocker is a little low when retracted, so I think that is most of the problem

Machine searches for balls and won't start a game. Launches to the lock hole, then drops a ball out of the chute by the Left gun, and repeats. Every once in a while, I can start a game and play, but it launches two balls sometimes.

I want to try to make this machine bullet proof. If you have any suggestions on how to do that, please let me know.

#2 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

6 days ago, I brought home a really nice working (but getting dirty), and great playing STTNG. So far, these are the problems that have developed:
Alpha Quadrant switch not detecting the ball
Ball not making it to the lock hole (intermittent). The pop up blocker is a little low when retracted, so I think that is most of the problem
Machine searches for balls and won't start a game. Launches to the lock hole, then drops a ball out of the chute by the Left gun, and repeats. Every once in a while, I can start a game and play, but it launches two balls sometimes.
I want to try to make this machine bullet proof. If you have any suggestions on how to do that, please let me know.

The game loads two balls in the subway and if the optos are dirty it will repeat this process.
Make sure the launcher coil is clean and adjust the circular ramp so it is sitting on top of the one below it, if it is wobbly it scrubs the speed off the ball.
This has to be working to load the balls into the subway.
Go into coil test and go back one click and that will eject all the balls, you don't want to open a STTNG with balls in the subway or the two balls roll to the back and blow the back of the subway out.
Once the balls are out and you make sure all six of them are there go to switch edge test and drop them down the middle and make sure all the balls are registering and make sure the connectors are seated on the trough opto boards.
If this is working correctly go back to coil test, eject all balls and lift the pf.
Go back into switch edge test and use a thin piece of business card or a strip of a credit card and check each opto.
Move the diverters by hand and make sure they are not sticky or a bent or a broken diverter arm.
To remove the subway for cleaning unplug all the connectors and remove the VUK weldment on the right and remove all the screws holding in the subway and you can worm it out of there, clean and reinstall in reverse order.

#3 7 years ago

First check the voltage at the optos. I had some that tested fine on the switch tests, but the voltage change between blocked and open was not as significant as it should have been. Replacing them helped considerably. If you still have random opto problems I would consider buying the upgraded 16 opto board with the diagnostic lights. They have great tech support and were able to talk me through fixing a few things that weren't obvious. I had one that was showing partially good on the board diagnostics and the "sister" switch was actually the problem, not the one that was indicated. Turns out on the board they are wired in pairs. It took me a couple of months to figure out the problems, but mine has been running 100% since then.

#4 7 years ago

Thanks for the tip on taking out the balls before lifting the playfield. I hope I didn't mess anything up yesterday. lol

I am going to go out and test the optos in a few minutes.

I just remembered another new problem. It quit saving the settings the other day. I replaced the batteries, and it worked fine for a couple of days, but now it is not saving again. Has anyone had that problem?

#5 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

Thanks for the tip on taking out the balls before lifting the playfield. I hope I didn't mess anything up yesterday. lol
I am going to go out and test the optos in a few minutes.
I just remembered another new problem. It quit saving the settings the other day. I replaced the batteries, and it worked fine for a couple of days, but now it is not saving again. Has anyone had that problem?

That is not good, this usually means corrosion on the CPU, look for the fuzz on the legs of the components underneath the batteries.

#6 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

I want to try to make this machine bullet proof. If you have any suggestions on how to do that, please let me know.

Totally tear down and shop, rebuild, every inch of it.

Otherwise you keep patching the patches and will spend more time on repairs than playing.

LTG

#7 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

I just remembered another new problem. It quit saving the settings the other day. I replaced the batteries, and it worked fine for a couple of days, but now it is not saving again. Has anyone had that problem?

Nope, you are the first.

Could be many things. Pull CPU and with a meter see if battery power is getting onto the board.

I'm kind of sensing you are new to this. You may need tools, learn some basic electronics.

Lots of help on Google, YouTube for basic electronics. Lots of great pinball help here.

LTG

#8 7 years ago

I have plenty of tools and I understand basic electronics. I am just asking if others have had specific experience with these issues, and if so hopefully share their experience. It looks like everything that can break on this machine requires a lot of time and teardown to get to, so I would like to try to avoid unnecessary steps if possible. I would have preferred to not do any of this work, but it doesn't look like there are any qualified, and willing, people around here to hire to do it.

Checking the battery holder is certainly a good step to try, but if someone new what this was and it didn't involve disconnecting that whole mess of connectors, that would be information I would really appreciate knowing. That is why I asked.

Thanks

#9 7 years ago
Quoted from LTG:

Totally tear down and shop, rebuild, every inch of it.

Otherwise you keep patching the patches and will spend more time on repairs than playing.

The previous owner said this was already done. I was hoping that meant that I wouldn't have too many breakdowns.

#10 7 years ago
Quoted from LTG:

Totally tear down and shop, rebuild, every inch of it.
Otherwise you keep patching the patches and will spend more time on repairs than playing.
LTG

Truth. That's what ultimately ended up happening with my STTNG. I was new to the hobby, and STTNG is a beast. But, I cut my teeth on one of the most complex, problem prone machines. MANY hours later, I had a 100%, gorgeous machine. It made me feel comfortable...to a point...working on some machines.

#11 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

The previous owner said this was already done. I was hoping that meant that I wouldn't have too many breakdowns.

Thankfully the previous owner already did that so you won't have any problems.

LTG

#12 7 years ago

Working on the optos. All of the trough optos are good. The opto board by the ball launcher looks to be the problem. I touched the connector and heard a bunch of beeps in the switch test.

I don't think I even want to mess with this, so I will order the aftermarket boards and be done with it. I just don't want to pull it, reflow all of the joints, and have it not work right.

I have seen the Great Lakes Modular set; are there any others that might be better, or are these the good ones?

I looked at the alpha switch a little too. It looks like the ball is just pushing the metal piece to the side instead of lifting it.

#13 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

Working on the optos. All of the trough optos are good. The opto board by the ball launcher looks to be the problem. I touched the connector and heard a bunch of beeps in the switch test.

I don't think I even want to mess with this, so I will order the aftermarket boards and be done with it. I just don't want to pull it, reflow all of the joints, and have it not work right.

Might not be the header pins on the board, it might be the IDC connector. Might be worth rebuilding that connector before you go for a new board set because you could get the new board set, hook it up, and still have the same problems.

#14 7 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

The previous owner said this was already done. I was hoping that meant that I wouldn't have too many breakdowns.

Unless you got pictures of the game torn down to the bare playfield and know how long ago/how many plays since the shop job you can't tell how good of a job the previous owner did on the shop job. Meaning possibly the reason why it is getting dirty already was because of a less than stellar shop job.

#15 7 years ago

Any dirty optos will cause many problems on STTNG, go through and clean them all under the PF first, and their is a lot of them and in tight places, then troubleshoot from there. Re-flow the pins on the Battery holder first, then replace if it still loses settings, then troubleshoot. You will get it going, most problems are simple answers.

#16 7 years ago
Quoted from metahugh:

Unless you got pictures of the game torn down to the bare playfield and know how long ago/how many plays since the shop job you can't tell how good of a job the previous owner did on the shop job. Meaning possibly the reason why it is getting dirty already was because of a less than stellar shop job.

My guess is that he didn't clean the trough very well...or at all.

#17 7 years ago

A lot of you have owned one of these, and I have only played the game a few times in the last 10 years. If you have some free time, would you mind looking at these pics and let me know if you see something that looks weird? The close up shot is one I think is weird. There is a hole in the plastic, so I think maybe something should be there to block the ball from getting stuck up there? Also, if anyone knows what those two bolts sitting in the cabinet go to, please let me know.

The frontmost ship was facing backwards, so I turned that around, but it still may not be positioned right. I found a remote battery holder on my old Pinbot board, so I am heading out to swap it. Thanks for looking!

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08140015.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135941.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135949.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135936.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135925.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135836.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135811.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135804.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135756.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08135724.jpg

#18 7 years ago

I see something weird - Its really super clean!!! I was expecting to see a nightmare.

I have a feeling those bolts in the cabinet are for the head.
The purple rubber posts just need small screws with the built in washer/head to hold them down - nothing goes on top of them.

The ship was actually facing the correct way before - but everyone turns it around so you can see it.
If you were closer to NJ I would come fix it.

#19 7 years ago
Quoted from fusion301:

If you were closer to NJ I would come fix it.

I really wish you were closer! lol

It is just the rubbers that look dirty, otherwise, the machine looks pretty new-looking to me. I just need to figure out where all the dirt is coming from. I tried to post thumbnails from photobucket, but failed miserably.

#20 7 years ago

I removed the board with the battery holder. I see a couple of cold joints on the battery holder, but I also see some bad looking joints that look to be original. Anyone know if that was common on these boards?

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08150448.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08150437.jpg

#21 7 years ago

Having just got my STTNG going, I would have to agree with Lloyd on this one.

It is exciting getting a new addition but patience is a virtue here and I cannot see a way around tearing it down and checking everything again. That's what I did even though it was working 90% when I got it and I could have further patched things to get it going. I found some very interesting hacks/fixes that I needed to reverse as well as a lot of adjusting that was required.

You won't regret spending the hours at 'the front end' to know it is solid and done right.

#22 7 years ago

Take a picture of what you are saying is dirty - or getting dirty. Not sure on those boards really hard to tell whats what but it looks pretty clean - no hacks etc.

"Ball not making it to the lock hole (intermittent). The pop up blocker is a little low when retracted, so I think that is most of the problem" - can you explain this better - what exactly happens and when.

#23 7 years ago
Quoted from fusion301:

Take a picture of what you are saying is dirty - or getting dirty. Not sure on those boards really hard to tell whats what but it looks pretty clean - no hacks etc.

"Ball not making it to the lock hole (intermittent). The pop up blocker is a little low when retracted, so I think that is most of the problem" - can you explain this better - what exactly happens and when.

The piece that pops up to block the lock hole sits a little low when retracted. The balls seem to be a little slow by the time they get up there, so the low part is sometimes enough to deflect, or stop the ball before it reaches the whole.

Here are a few pics. It just seems dirtier than I would expect. He said he hasn't touched it much in the last year, and I think he said the rebuild was finished about a year and a half ago.

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08153305.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08153251.jpg
http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b6/pcolson/2012-09-08153244.jpg

#24 7 years ago

I have been trying to figure this out the ball launching problem (launches, then spits the ball back out of the left drop hole). I have reflowed all of the joints on the opto boards, but that didn't help. All of the opto switches test good. I (finally) thought that the subway diverters might be the problem. I ran through the coil test, and 5 were not working. The upper diverter was trying to fire, but not moving much. The other 4 were not doing anything. I looked in the manual, and those 4 are all connected to the 8 driver board on the same plug (along with 2 flashers). There was a blown fuse in F103. I replaced it, and started the machine. The fuse blew shortly after the ball launched.

That is as far as I got tonight. I need to get up early, so I need to stop now. I really wish that marvin3 site was still up! I don't remember the proper way to test the transistors and solenoids. I will try to figure more out tomorrow night. If anyone has any advice on this, please let me know. I want to try to order parts soon. So far I know I need to buy a switch for the alpha quadrant ramp. I tried to cheat and adjust it without removing the other ramps, and I broke off the arm.

#25 7 years ago

The lower subway coil is locked on, so I ordered a new one and the transistors for it. Hopefully, that will solve the problem. I should have the order from Pinball Life by Thursday.

#26 7 years ago

I just got the parts in from Pinball Life. In a couple of hours, I will be able to start on it, so hopefully I will be playing tonight. I tried to order 3 coils, but apparently I forgot to update the cart before checking out, so I actually only ordered one. I hope the other coils work. I really don't want to have to get raped on shipping again to get them. Note to self: Double check before submitting the order.

#27 7 years ago

Making some progress!!

The upper diverter is now working properly. It was all gummed up with what looked like dried up grease. The diverter arm took a lot of torque to move. I took it apart and cleaned out all of the gunk, and it is working fine.

The ball launching problem was caused by the top subway diverter coil being stuck on. It blew fuse 103, so both the subway diverters, and the two coils on the dropdown target in front of the lock hole were out. I changed the coil and both of the transistors. All seems to be working fine now on that one.

Only one fix left...I hope. I need to change the switch on the alpha ramp. Does anyone reading this know how to take off the Delta ramp above it? It is attached to the borg ship, and I am not sure what all I need to remove to get to that switch.

Thanks

#28 7 years ago

I sent this to him a few days ago, but if someone can doublecheck my procedure it would be appreciated....this was all from memory....

Quoted from Frax:

I will have to see if I have pics of the teardown still, I'm pretty sure I do, but yes, bascially you will HAVE to remove the Beta Ramp and the Borg Ship to even get to the alpha ramp. If you need to REMOVE the alpha ramp, you may have to take off the left wireform as well.

Start with the right wireform and loop. Mine were ziptied together. One screw on long support on left, Screw+nut on the middle of the wireform where it crosses over, screw/posts attaching on the right side. Take pictures of those post+screw+washer stacks because you WILL NOT remember how the hell they fit together and can make annoying problems if you don't put them back together just right..

After that, remove the right wireform, it's two wood screws then it will slide out of the bracket up by the flashlamp on the top right. Remove the two small screws from the steel flap at bottom of Beta ramp. You may have to remove the flash lamp dome to get to the other two screws securing beta ramp if I remember right.

Remove three screws from top of Borg Ship. Lift plastic ship off the U-trough. There are two small screws securing part of the left ramp assembly to the borg ship, with washers. Those have to come off to remove the U-trough. U-Trough is held to backboard with I think 3 machine screws? I usually just hung the borg ship by it's cable over the backboard to get it out of the way. Same with the Beta ramp....just make sure you are VERY careful if you have to fully raise the playfield at all, lol. Don't want to shatter the ramp with the backboard.

Anyways, this is where my memory starts to get REAL foggy... left wireform from the alpha ramp is also held down by two wood screws. If you have long magnetic screw starters or magnetic screwdrivers with a very long reach, it will save you a LOT of trouble. After that, I can't even remember what it looks like under there. I did all this stuff at once....cliffy sleeves, cleaning, waxing, full plastics set, LED GI/Flashers....

I'll see what I can find in pictures.

#29 7 years ago

Hey Frax, now I remember reading that. I must have been tired because all I remembered was that you were looking for pics. It was a long week. I will go out and try this now and report back. I forgot some screws somewhere, because the ramp still feels solid.

I shouldn't need to take off the Alpha ramp; the switch is mounted to the top of it.

#30 7 years ago

Alpha Quadrant switch is fixed. Thanks Frax, your directions made it pretty easy.

I forgot that the balls launched from the right gun hit the circle part of the rail. I just need to raise that up, and everything will be working. I used that PBL rubber cleaner on all of the rubber parts, so the game is looking pretty good now. That stuff is amazing!

Thanks for all the help everyone.

#31 7 years ago

Glad to hear you got it going.
I think that hardened white grease is factory I have had diverters on a couple games frozen with it and have read about several others including yours with the same problem.

#32 7 years ago

Sweeeet! Glad to know that my memory at least on one thing is good!

#33 7 years ago

I think I got the wireform up high enough now. I can shoot the start hole from the right gun. I am hoping that is the furthest right I will have to go with that gun, as it will still hit if I fire to the right of that hole. I can hit the right hand shots with the left gun. Thanks again Frax, I found your thread on adjusting that.

Now I get to spend the next couple of hours trying to break it all again. lol

#34 7 years ago

Everything seems to be holding up now. My first Billion point game! This is fun.

2012-09-16155634.jpg

#35 7 years ago

Glad you got it working.
Steve

#36 7 years ago

I forgot to mention; I found out that I am not at all good at soldering on this machine. I work on arcade boards without too much problem, but these traces lift if you even touch them with an iron. I am definitely going to have to figure out what I am doing wrong. It is no fun repairing a board when you were just trying to replace a transistor.

#37 7 years ago

Too much heat and you need to clean and wet the tip.
Dry tip+too much heat= lifted traces.

#38 7 years ago
Quoted from tracelifter:

Dry tip+too much heat= lifted traces.

I thought dry tip + too much heat = walk funny the next day?

Eh, what do I know.

--
Rob Anthony
Pinball Classics
http://LockWhenLit.com
Quality Board Work - In Home Service
314-766-4587

#39 7 years ago
Quoted from Borygard:

I thought dry tip + too much heat = walk funny the next day?
Eh, what do I know.
--
Rob Anthony
Pinball Classics
http://LockWhenLit.com
Quality Board Work - In Home Service
314-766-4587

LOL!

You are confusing heat with friction.

#40 7 years ago

I use a 50w iron and I think most people say that it's too much for PCB soldering. I say that it's worked so far, but it's also adjustable, lol.

There shouldn't be any shots to the right of the start mode hole with the right cannon. If you check where the MARK (not home!) switch opens in the cannon test, that is the earliest point that the game will even let you fire the gun so you don't blow up your Beta ramp....at least with that cannon.

#41 7 years ago

I use a Hakko, and keep the temp at 700. I don't think I have ever lifted a trace on an arcade board at that temp. I will have to find a couple junk boards to practice on.

5 months later
#42 6 years ago
Quoted from Nexyss:

would you mind looking at these pics and let me know if you see something that looks weird?

From the pics it looks like you have the same problem that I did with the drop target. Details here:

http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/sttng-top-drop-target-questions

3 months later
#43 6 years ago

Well, it worked fine for 9 months! It started acting up right as I was getting to Final Frontier (on the first continue). The same issue with the subway, so I will have to tear into it tomorrow to find out what parts I need. I was really worried about this machine 9 months ago, but this is the first problem I have had since then.

PinballYeti - Thanks, I never saw your post here until I reread the thread to try to remember what the issue was tonight. I will look into it tomorrow.

#44 6 years ago

If the diverter is locked on and balls are circulating endlessly, first check the transistors on the 8-power-board.
Is the tie-back in place?
The two diverters on the subway, and the two coils on the drop-target are daisy-chained.
If the tie-back to the board is broken or absent, this coil "cluster" is known to spike back current to this board blowing out transistors.

1 week later
#45 6 years ago

It is working, but I am really not sure what caused it to stop working. The only parts I replaced were the fuse at 103 and the coil sleeve for the bottom diverter. Everything else tested fine. The tie back is connected, and I buzzed it to the diode on the aux board.

So, all I really know is that the fuse blew. The bottom diverter coil didn't move as smoothly as the upper, so that is why I replaced the sleeve.

When I placed the parts order from PBL (of which, all I used was a sleeve), I also bought a set of prototype coils for the flippers. I will install those later tonight or tomorrow. I want to test the current "fix" before I add any potential new problems.

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