(Topic ID: 87202)

Technical issues with my LOTR

By alex1973

7 years ago


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  • 23 posts
  • 5 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 years ago by judremy
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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#1 7 years ago

For quite a while now I have been experiencing some strange issues with my LOTR LE (with shaker motor installed) and I am wondering if anyone have seen or experienced similar problems.

1-When I start a new game, sometimes the Ring mode will be triggered right away (before I even launch the ball into play!). I suspected a hyper sensitive ring optical switch (Balrog roar activates the shaker motor) but cannot see any issues when I go in diagnostic mode and shake the machine manually (way harder than the motor does!)...
I have lived with that issue for quite a while but am getting tired of it now.

2-Mid Sword lock will not be triggered when a Ring Mode is active. In those cases, the machine will enter in Ball Find Mode while the Ring Mode timer continues to go down. If the Ring Mode count down reaches 0 before the ball search ends, THEN the Mid Sword Lock will register (but, the ring Mode will be over). If the ball search ends before Ring Mode count down reaches 0, then the two balls on the sword lock are being released.

3-When launching the ball, I have a very hard time gauging how to get it around the Orthank (and get a try at the Flipper skill shot). It seems like it gets randomly blocked just before the ORC and the ball (sometimes) loses a lot of velocity there. The more power I put into the launch, the more likely it is to get stopped there (and barely reach the tower in those cases). I have looked at the switch next to the ORC and the launch track but everything seems OK.

I have checked all switches and ran multitudes of tests. Everything seems to work perfectly. Basically, I am clueless...

Anybody can provide some insight on any of those issues?

#2 7 years ago
Quoted from alex1973:

For quite a while now I have been experiencing some strange issues with my LOTR LE (with shaker motor installed) and I am wondering if anyone have seen or experienced similar problems.
1-When I start a new game, sometimes the Ring mode will be triggered right away (before I even launch the ball into play!). I suspected a hyper sensitive ring optical switch (Balrog roar activates the shaker motor) but cannot see any issues when I go in diagnostic mode and shake the machine manually (way harder than the motor does!)...
I have lived with that issue for quite a while but am getting tired of it now.
2-Mid Sword lock will not be triggered when a Ring Mode is active. In those cases, the machine will enter in Ball Find Mode while the Ring Mode timer continues to go down. If the Ring Mode count down reaches 0 before the ball search ends, THEN the Mid Sword Lock will register (but, the ring Mode will be over). If the ball search ends before Ring Mode count down reaches 0, then the two balls on the sword lock are being released.
3-When launching the ball, I have a very hard time gauging how to get it around the Orthank (and get a try at the Flipper skill shot). It seems like it gets randomly blocked just before the ORC and the ball (sometimes) loses a lot of velocity there. The more power I put into the launch, the more likely it is to get stopped there (and barely reach the tower in those cases). I have looked at the switch next to the ORC and the launch track but everything seems OK.
I have checked all switches and ran multitudes of tests. Everything seems to work perfectly. Basically, I am clueless...
Anybody can provide some insight on any of those issues?

Issue #1: this is a switch. Mode start will trigger if the ring opto is flaky or if the balrog switch senses a hit. It's for sure a switch. If you're sure all the switches are fine, I'd replace the magnet opto.

Issue #2: also a switch. You could have divots in the sword. My guess is that one of the lock rollovers is intermittently not registering. Perhaps just a bending to make more sensitive will take care of it.

Issue #3: this is mechanical. You'll have to just get in there an watch how the ball plunges and try to see what its hitting or what's causing it. Sorry not better answer for this.

#3 7 years ago

Hello Mark,

Thank you for taking some of your time to share your thoughts over my issues. It is very appreciated.

Issue#1: I also thought about the optical switch but I believe I would experience the problem more frequently and not only on game start (although Ring Mode do get unduly triggered on some very rare in-game occasions).
As for the Balrog switch, it has been replaced recently (Should I add, frequently) without fixing the problem (although it fixed the hyper sensitive Balrog I had before).
I could try replacing the ring's optical switch but that involves some important money without knowing if it will help or not.

Issue#2 I am positive, this cannot be an intermittent switch problem -it only happens while ring mode is on (The lock registers correctly 100% of the times when Ring Mode is not active). 2-The Sword lock gets registered as soon as the ring mode ends 3- I have tried bending, adjusting and eventually replacing the switches to no avail.

Issue#3 I guess that one was pretty obvious... It was more an attempt to find anyone that had the same issue. Hoping they could share how they managed to find/solve it.
I have already tried to look for any obstructions without finding any. It would require a well placed slow motion camera to really spot where the ball hits as, when I go smoothly, it does not hit anything...

#4 7 years ago

I'm still not persuaded that these are not switch issues. The game has no way to know the status of ball locations except by switches. The game switches see the cpu's only input. If wacky things are happening then its the switches.

You might have a generic switch matrix problem also. Have you spent time triggering switches while in the switch test diagnostic? Here I would be looking for one switch triggering others. This indicates bad diode or wiring often. Perhaps the shooter lane switch also triggers balrog or mode start. The other explanation is that mode start is always lit at ball start. So flaky optos does still remain a possibility. As for costs, optos are really cheap. If you're not willing to spend $20 or so to help diagnose your problem then I don't know what to tell you. The opto power board is more expensive and is another possible break point.

Anytime your game goes into ball search, that means no switch has been hit for N seconds. If you locked a ball and the ball search starts, your lock switch was not registering.

#5 7 years ago

When I checked for a new opto switch, the price I saw was way above the 20$ you mention. I probably saw the price for the whole kit... Sorry about that.

I haven't thought about the shooter lane switch... That could be a good place to look!

I also like your bad wiring suggestion, as the Balrog moves when the game starts. Maybe some bad wires touches when that happens and the Balrog hit switch get triggered. I will have a look at those things as soon as I can.

As for the Sword switches, I did as you said. I went into switch diagnostic and triggered them until my finger bled. It registered every single time. I also tried with balls on the rail (with and without another ball on the first lock). It always registered. I know this is crazy but... the issue only occurs during a game when the Ring Mode is active.
Maybe I should put this on a video or something...

#6 7 years ago

I think it has to be something in the switch matrix. I would look at that and see if the ring shot and the lock switches are on the same row or column. There are two switches for the ring, possibly the one behind the playfield is causing the ring mode to fire, but I believe it is the ring opto that registers and causes the ring mode to start. Maybe use the flashlight and cellphone to see if both optos are working right.

As far as the hard plunge, it may be the diverter peg is not all the way down behind Orthanc tower. Maybe it is binding on something.

#7 7 years ago
Quoted from judremy:

I think it has to be something in the switch matrix. I would look at that and see if the ring shot and the lock switches are on the same row or column.

Believe it or not, I have no idea how these things are diagnosed or repaired. I bought my pinball machine NIB so I never had to deal with that kind of issues before.

Quoted from judremy:

Maybe use the flashlight and cellphone to see if both optos are working right.

A flash light and a cellphone?
I had to Google this to make sure your were not pulling my leg
I landed on Flippers.be.
There is quite a lot for me to learn there!

I will try those things and see if I can come up with some answers.

Thanks a lot for your precious advises!

#8 7 years ago

Looks like $20 was an exaggeration. They're $3.75 each. http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1210. You need two for a set. So $7.00.

#9 7 years ago

Found a copy of the switch matrix from another thread. It doesn't seem that these issues are related:

https://forum-s3.pinside.com/201402/1469617/193963.png

Take a look at the metal post that pops up behind the Orthanc tower and make sure it is not binding or stuck in an up position.

#10 7 years ago
Quoted from judremy:

Found a copy of the switch matrix from another thread. It doesn't seem that these issues are related:

You mean issue#1 cannot be related to a switch matrix problem? or is it #2?
Balrog Open/Close are on the same column as the Balrog hit... Could that mean, if it is a matrix problem, a Balrog Close be interpreted by the CPU as a hit? Because that could explain the Ring Mode on Start problem...

Quoted from judremy:

Take a look at the metal post that pops up behind the Orthanc tower and make sure it is not binding or stuck in an up position.

Sorry, I forgot to reply to that suggestion of yours.
The ball hits something way before it reaches the Orthanc tower. It appears to be under the Sword/Ringwraith ramp, just out of the launching ramp.
I have tried to find exactly what it is hitting without being able to determine what it is.
It has been this way since I bought the machine so I always assumed it was kind of normal.

Quoted from markmon:

Looks like $20 was an exaggeration. They're $3.75 each. http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1210. You need two for a set. So $7.00.

Thanks Mark! At $7.50, it is clearly worth a try.

#11 7 years ago
Quoted from alex1973:

You mean issue#1 cannot be related to a switch matrix problem? or is it #2?
Balrog Open/Close are on the same column as the Balrog hit... Could that mean, if it is a matrix problem, a Balrog Close be interpreted by the CPU as a hit? Because that could explain the Ring Mode on Start problem...

Sorry, I forgot to reply to that suggestion of yours.
The ball hits something way before it reaches the Orthanc tower. It appears to be under the Sword/Ringwraith ramp, just out of the launching ramp.
I have tried to find exactly what it is hitting without being able to determine what it is.
It has been this way since I bought the machine so I always assumed it was kind of normal.

Thanks Mark! At $7.50, it is clearly worth a try.

I guess it could be the switch matrix. I would say to check for a broken diode or a bad one. Best way to find that is in the switch edges test and then start hitting switches. Even moving the balrog back and forth will test the optos/switches for the open/close positions. Watch for two blocks to light on the screen when it is moved. It could be registering a hit from the switch behind the balrog when it moves if the switch is too sensitive.

The only thing I can think of under the sword ramp is that the gate may not be swinging freely and causing the speed drop. I would check there.

I am not an expert, but I try to help. Good luck.

#12 7 years ago

Issue#3 : I found it. It's the launching rail that is off a few degrees. That makes the ball bang the sidewall as it climbs upon the V. Since I have to move the rail by an hair or two, I cannot screw it properly as the screws tend to go back to their original holes, orienting the rail as it always been... Any ideas for that?

Issue #1 : Okay, I managed to narrow down the source of the problem.
If I disable the Balrog hit switch by disassembling it (switch then stays open), the Ring Mode no longer triggers when the game starts.
However, if I hold that same switch to the closed position (as it normally is) with my finger and start a new game, the problem occurs.
So, to me, that rules out faulty switches (both opto and micro) and leaves me with very little options.
Could a faulty diode on the Balrog hit switch (or somewhere else) do that?
Could it be a matrix problem like you guys said? If so, what part should I be looking for ?

Issue #2 : Still a mystery. The game will always register the Mid Sword lock but will stop doing so when ring mode is active.
I'm 100% positive: I tried both scenarios again and again, over and over.

I will try to find a way to put this on video.

#13 7 years ago

Putting it on video isn't helpful. That only helps clarify your problem description and no one is confused by the description of the problem.

Quoted from alex1973:

.
However, if I hold that same switch to the closed position (as it normally is)

What makes you think this should be a normally closed switch? It should only be closed when you hit the balrog,I think. The fact that it's normally closed sounds like your whole problem. Switch is miswired?

Fixing this might also fix the issue 2. Switches are odd and when things aren't working right, odd things happen even that might seem unrelated. Your miswired switch in balrog is on same column as right ramp enter. That might be part of the problem.

#14 7 years ago

IIRC, the Balrog switch is normally closed, and when you hit the Balrog it physically moves backwards and opens the switch. Your question about diodes is exactly what guys are referring to as "switch matrix problems". Since you said you have replaced that switch a number of times, ck to make sure the diode is oriented correctly and the wires are on the correct lugs on the switch.

Also, FYI there is a cable leaving the Balrog assy that goes through a hole to under the playfield. It has the wires for the switch and the flasher. Those wires are notorious for getting breaks in them form the motion of the Balrog. When I got my routed LOTR, ALL 4 wires were broken in two. You have to split open the black sheath around the wires to find the breaks. Good luck with your fix!

#15 7 years ago

Hey, another thought. I have fixed many a weird problem by doing a factory restore. Not a factory reset, a factory restore. It is under utilities menu.

#16 7 years ago

If balrog is normally closed then any intermittent break in either of the switch wires would register as a balrog hit. Game allows balrog hits to start modes because of the case where balrog might be blocking ring and mode start is lit. Also diode problems are more noticeable on closed switches as it allows electricity to flow through the circuit onto the next. Diode related symptoms could be caused by any switch on same row or col not just the one misbehaving.

#17 7 years ago
Quoted from markmon:

What makes you think this should be a normally closed switch? It should only be closed when you hit the balrog. The fact that it's normally closed sounds like your whole problem. Switch is miswired?

The Balrog switch is kept closed (pressed) by the mechanism. Hitting Balrog tilts the whole thing forward, releasing the switch.
I don't know how I can change that...

Quoted from markmon:

Fixing this might also fix the issue 2. Switches are odd and when things aren't working right, odd things happen even that might seem unrelated.

BINGO!

I made the Ring Mode Sword Lock test once again but with the Balrog switch disassembled this time.
Guess what: now the Sword Lock registers every time !!!

I need to find the way to fix that single issue.
Are you sure the Balrog switch has to be closed upon hits? According to my manual, everything seem to be assembled properly...

#18 7 years ago
Quoted from LOTR_breath:

Since you said you have replaced that switch a number of times, ck to make sure the diode is oriented correctly and the wires are on the correct lugs on the switch.

After checking the diode orientation, it has the same orientation as the manual diagram.
Now for the wires on the lugs, there are no indications of that in the manual.

Could someone tell me if am ok?

My current setting is :
Green wire on center lug.
Red/white wire on lower lug (same side as the switch roller)
Diode going from lower lug to upper lug (grey stripe facing upper lug, as in the manual).

Quoted from markmon:

Diode related symptoms could be caused by any switch on same row or col not just the one misbehaving.

Since my other problem vanishes when I keep that switch open. Wouldn't that mean it is the faulty one?

#19 7 years ago

Ok,
I made some progress. I replaced the Balrog switch and by doing so, realized I had the wrong one installed (was the 180-5119-02 instead of 180-5119-00).

On my first play-test, I was pleased to see that Ring Mode no longer triggered on game start.
However, the sword lock problem would still randomly occur (under the same scenarios, but not systematically). I also had a hyper sensitive Balrog problem.

Further investigations revealed that the hyper sensitiveness was due to vibrations and not a switch adjustment (keeping the switch closed with my fingers and knocking on the machine would trigger a hit).
There seem to be an issue with the Balrog light as well. It will only turn on when the Balrog gate is open.

I believe I will need to do what pinball_addict said and have a look at the Balrog wires.
Now, before I tear everything down, what kind of wires (and gear) should I buy?
Where do you guys buy this kind of stuff (wires, wire protector, mini tie-wraps)?

#20 7 years ago

You really don't need to buy any wires. There is enough slack. Just find the break, cut, strip, twist, and solder. Wrap it back up with e-tape and your good to go.

#21 7 years ago
Quoted from LOTR_breath:

There is enough slack

By the look of it, I do not seem to have as much leeway as you did, two inches at most.
I still could try, if the break is close enough I should be able to make it. I guess...

What did you do for the black protective tube? It has to be ripped open, doesn’t it ?

#22 7 years ago

I had some intermittent Balrog problems on my LOTR LE registering phantom hits. Its HUO and doesnt' have that many plays really. I thought it was strange. I pulled the Balrog and remove the shrink tube. I couldn't find any obvious breaks at all. I had a new switch so I replaced it, the diode and made a new harness as well. Ever since it's been perfect. I used to see replacement harnesses on ebay and some pinball sites - Barry

#23 7 years ago
Quoted from alex1973:

By the look of it, I do not seem to have as much leeway as you did, two inches at most.
I still could try, if the break is close enough I should be able to make it. I guess...
What did you do for the black protective tube? It has to be ripped open, doesn’t it ?

Slice it open then use electrical tape after to seal it back up or just the zip ties could hold it closed.

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