(Topic ID: 158930)

WARNING to Rottendog 327 owners - Check it now!


By goingincirclez

3 years ago



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  • 48 posts
  • 26 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by StratDoc
  • Topic is favorited by 24 Pinsiders

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23
#1 3 years ago

So I just resurrected a Firepower by rebuilding almost every aspect including all the boards, but its original Williams Sys6a MPU / Driver have been troublesome. So I bought a Rottendog 327-1 combo. On April 23 I finally installed the Rdog in my newly completed game and everything worked fine, save the typical dial-in tweaks and quirks. Family, Friends, and Guests alike played probably over 100 games practically trouble-free in its first week. Awesome!

Suddenly this past Saturday April 30 in the midst of a game, a ton of switches registered at once, including tilts which of course crashed the game. Troubleshooting revealed switches in column 4 were shorting to Column 1 primarily, as well as a few others. Further troubleshooting revealed this was not a two-way relationship. More troubleshooting revealed the problem did not appear to be in the playfield visually (no stuck / shorted switches, etc). All diodes seemed to test OK. Testing the switch and column wiring by metering each harness pin on 2J2 and 2J3 to ground, as well as to each other, revealed no continuity - so that should safely prove there are no hard shorts or wiring faults, etc.

Indeed, when running the switch diagnostic and jumpering the connector pins on the board, the problem appears: Column 4 registers all switches in any row. Apparently this problem is somewhat common as the buffer-driver chip that handles this is socketed.

I'm still waiting for Rottendog and/or Big Daddy to reply to my emails, I'm hoping they could send a couple replacement chips so I can get up and running.

But why the sudden death? I removed the board and bracket to check it and look what I found:

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So it would seem that using the original Williams board mounting brackets, can short pin 1 of the row connector to ground!

Nowehere is this mentioned in documentation or mounting instructions. This seems like a major design flaw in the Rottendog board. It shouldn't be too difficult to move the connector over. Maybe the mounting brackets in my game were an odd revision. But this obviously could cause a major issue even if not the exact problem I had.

For my problem I should mention that I hadn't yet installed all the mounting screws when I put the 327 board in the game - I used the top ones just to see if things would work before fully buttoning things up... when the game came to life, we all got carried away with play over the next week. It seems very plausible that the board either might have settled and/or jostled with nudging over time or incidentally, enough to finally short that pin to ground. It clearly would not have taken much, and I should probably be amazed it ever worked at all?!

The good news is the fix is fairly simple: take a file, or a Dremel with a grinding stone, and remove some material from that center bracket mount:

20160502_225904_(resized).jpg

DO THIS NOW - BEFORE YOU BLOW UP YOUR EXPENSIVE NEW BOARD OR GAME!

Hopefully Rottendog can comment on and/or fix this for future runs.

#2 3 years ago

Interesting. Thanks for posting.
That IC is socketed for easy replacement, just like the ULN2803 on WPC-S and later games. Good idea.
IIRC, it's an oddball IC.
--
Chris Hibler - CARGPB #31
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#3 3 years ago

Those without a Dremel can also use a hacksaw, file, or simply install plastic washers or electrical tape there.

Thanks for pointing out this problem.

#4 3 years ago

I had a transistor blow on one of their PD boards and called them via the phone. They immediately mailed me a couple of transistors and were very cool about it. You might try a call.

#5 3 years ago

That is a pretty unfortunate location for that connector. I'm surprised it's taken this long for that to happen to someone!

#6 3 years ago

Thanks for the heads up.
Interesting find.

#7 3 years ago

this is great info. Would be hard to see this when mounting the boards.

#8 3 years ago

Yep, had the same problem a while back. Even sent the boards back from Australia before I found the fault. I did notify Rottendog at the time of the issue.

#9 3 years ago

I have a similar issue that is ongoing.
I replaced the chip only to have the issue reappear, since I hadn't figured out why it blew yet. Thanks for posting this!
The repair is to replace U17, the small chip in a socket on the right side of the board with a new a 74HCT9114. It's socketed, so no problem. The chips are available very cheap from K's Arcade and other places.
Replacing the chip solved my problem for a few games before it blew again. Have been looking for the short and not finding it.
Thanks so much for posting what has to be the solution to my problem!

Edit: Ah crap. This is not where my short is occurring. Back to troubleshooting mode...................

#10 3 years ago
Quoted from Billy16:

They immediately mailed me a couple of transistors and were very cool about it. You might try a call

I emailed Sunday and tried the number on Rdog's site a few times yesterday but only got a "this account does not have voicemail please try again later" message. Will try again today.

Quoted from johnwartjr:

I'm surprised it's taken this long for that to happen to someone!

As much as this game fought me all throughout the restoration I should probably retheme it to F-U-power... so if it had to be me, after it was done, that's probably just par for the course. I actually had to laugh when it crashed because it said "You-Are-Destroyed!" due to the tilts, which I hadn't yet heard... which seems oddly appropriate...

I'm hoping a quick chip replacement fixes it. Maybe get a coupe spares in case there actually IS something else lurking. Glad this post is helpful though, I hope it spares someone else some aggravation!

#11 3 years ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

Suddenly this past Saturday April 30 in the midst of a game, a ton of switches registered at once, including tilts which of course crashed the game. Troubleshooting revealed switches in column 4 were shorting to Column 1 primarily, as well as a few others. Further troubleshooting revealed this was not a two-way relationship. More troubleshooting revealed the problem did not appear to be in the playfield visually (no stuck / shorted switches, etc). All diodes seemed to test OK. Testing the switch and column wiring by metering each harness pin on 2J2 and 2J3 to ground, as well as to each other, revealed no continuity - so that should safely prove there are no hard shorts or wiring faults, etc.

By any chance, did this result in your displays going dark and the game not booting? This might resolve something I was never able to resolve with mine. Fingers crossed.

#12 3 years ago

I had a 2803 go bad on a MPU326 in a Gorgar. Game is long gone but I now wonder if that was the issue.

#13 3 years ago
Quoted from EvanDickson:

By any chance, did this result in your displays going dark and the game not booting?

I didn't have that problem. In my case the game still boots and attempts to play but any trigger of a column 4 switch (the "F" lane, any pop bumper, etc... which on Firepower are some of the first switches triggered) immediately shorts to another row and crashes the game. But the displays, sounds, etc as well as diagnostics all work.

#14 3 years ago

I have used many of these boards for years and still do with no issues but good to know and will have to check mine out now.

#15 3 years ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

I didn't have that problem. In my case the game still boots and attempts to play but any trigger of a column 4 switch (the "F" lane, any pop bumper, etc... which on Firepower are some of the first switches triggered) immediately shorts to another row and crashes the game. But the displays, sounds, etc as well as diagnostics all work.

in your second picture, there is a single trace running underneath that far right screw. Could that also be a problem?

#16 3 years ago
Quoted from KenLayton:

in your second picture, there is a single trace running underneath that far right screw. Could that also be a problem?

If you look close, you can see that trace is part of the ground grid.

-2
#17 3 years ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

I emailed Sunday and tried the number on Rdog's site a few times yesterday but only got a "this account does not have voicemail please try again later" message. Will try again today.

As much as this game fought me all throughout the restoration I should probably retheme it to F-U-power... so if it had to be me, after it was done, that's probably just par for the course. I actually had to laugh when it crashed because it said "You-Are-Destroyed!" due to the tilts, which I hadn't yet heard... which seems oddly appropriate...
I'm hoping a quick chip replacement fixes it. Maybe get a coupe spares in case there actually IS something else lurking. Glad this post is helpful though, I hope it spares someone else some aggravation!

I don't think Jim is in business anymore.

#18 3 years ago

@goingincirclez

I have a similar issue with a Rotten Dog board I purchased for my SST. It was not machined correctly so you cannot correctly mount it. The hole for the center bolt which also acts as a ground does not line up correctly. The machine is playable, but randomly shuts down every so often. The people at Ks Arcade told me it was a known problem, but that I was fine only using 4 screws to mount it. When I did this it shut down almost every game. When I attempted to add more (two you can sort of wedge in there because it almost lines up) it noticeably shut down a lot less often. There is no way to wedge the center one in like the other two, so that part of the board is not grounded. It doesn't happen as often now, but it still happens... usually during a tournament or a really good game

#19 3 years ago
Quoted from Skyemont:

I don't think Jim is in business anymore.

Yeah I am getting nowhere with the phone. Not a good sign what with the website being as out of date as it is, so I hope that isn't true.

#20 3 years ago
Quoted from Skyemont:

I don't think Jim is in business anymore.

This is the first I've heard of it. When did this happen?

#21 3 years ago
Quoted from Skyemont:

I don't think Jim is in business anymore.

That would be a bummer, Jim really took care of me when I had a problem.

#22 3 years ago

I just talked on the phone with Jim last month.

#23 3 years ago

Jim just now called me back; he is going to send a new inverter IC chip (I have asked to purchase a couple spares just in case) and will look at the board mounting issue. Glad to get reasonably quick attention on a failed board; thank you Jim!

#24 3 years ago

Just snap that mount bracket off. You don't need that one.

When mounting regular stock boards, i only ever install the two top screws on the MPU and the two bottom ones on the driver board. Minor difference board to board, game to game, can have you shorting to ground in similar situations to that Rottendog board.

#27 3 years ago

Thanks GIC for the great tip. I checked my Lucky Seven game and it had the same issue, although the board was still OK

jody

#28 3 years ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

Jim just now called me back; he is going to send a new inverter IC chip (I have asked to purchase a couple spares just in case) and will look at the board mounting issue. Glad to get reasonably quick attention on a failed board; thank you Jim!

How did you get in contact with him? I'd like to figure something out with my issue.

#29 3 years ago
Quoted from KenLayton:

This is the first I've heard of it. When did this happen?

It didn't. Jim and Rottendog are still around and designing, producing, and supporting their replacement boards.

--
Rob Anthony
Pinball Classics
http://LockWhenLit.com
Quality Board Work - In Home Service
borygard at gmail dot com

#30 3 years ago

In case anyone is interested, this is what i'm talking about. The center/center mount is completely misaligned. The top one is kind of wedged in there.

rotten-dog_(resized).jpg

#31 3 years ago

Salut,

I have exactly the same issue with the Whitestar PDB replacement from Rottendog.
I have put some isolation tape to avoid shorts.

Cheers,
flugs

#32 3 years ago
Quoted from flugs:

Salut,
I have exactly the same issue with the Whitestar PDB replacement from Rottendog.
I have put some isolation tape to avoid shorts.
Cheers,
flugs

Thanks. Mind sharing how you applied it?

1 week later
#33 3 years ago

Just an update:

Last Saturday May 7 I received a part from Jim at Rottendog, but it was the wrong one. I managed to get a hold of him later that afternoon, and he explained he must have mistakenly grabbed the wrong one since the two bins are right next to each other. OK, we're all only human, it stinks but no biggie: I was happy that he seemed concerned, apologized for my time delay, and said he would rush a proper replacement with some spares for my trouble as soon as the post office opened on Monday.

I'm only a day or two away from Rottendog's PO, but a full week since has come and gone and they are still not here. This is now about two weeks since the original failure.

I'm a pretty understanding and forgiving guy, but given the board's design defect, the difficulty of getting hold of Jim, receiving the wrong part, and then no parts, over two weeks... I am less than impressed with Rdog products and support and will probably consider other options in the future.

However, I'm happy to report that for once my impatience has paid off even though it literally cost me 20 bucks! F3TT's above advice, about K's Arcade stocking those chips, led me to purchase 3 of them even before Rdog got back with me the first time. Turns out that was the right thing to do! I popped a new 74HCT9114 in my board when they arrived last Friday. With no other mod to the game besides the ground bracket, I was instantly up and running and the game has played great for a solid week since. I did eventually replace a couple diodes on that column as a precaution. But I strongly suspect the row header-to-bracket short design flaw was the original issue.

#34 3 years ago

Thanks for this post.

My firepower has a brand new Rottendog board. The right center target and a couple of the rubber switches were not working. I had a technician work on the pin. He tried everything to solve the problem but nothing worked. i remembered this post and mentioned it to the tech, and sure enough that solved the problem.

The tech put the board back in, but now there was a display problem. the first and third scores were missing two digits. He jiggled wires, checked connections and nothing worked to solve the problem. He finally took the board out and put it in my Blackout - also has a Rottendog board - to see if it was a board problem or something else. Same problem with the displays on the blackout. So, it appears to be the board.

Could the display issue be related to the mounting bracket short? Strange that solving one problem would cause another.

#35 3 years ago
Quoted from StratDoc:

Thanks for this post.
My firepower has a brand new Rottendog board. The right center target and a couple of the rubber switches were not working. I had a technician work on the pin. He tried everything to solve the problem but nothing worked. i remembered this post and mentioned it to the tech, and sure enough that solved the problem.
The tech put the board back in, but now there was a display problem. the first and third scores were missing two digits. He jiggled wires, checked connections and nothing worked to solve the problem. He finally took the board out and put it in my Blackout - also has a Rottendog board - to see if it was a board problem or something else. Same problem with the displays on the blackout. So, it appears to be the board.
Could the display issue be related to the mounting bracket short? Strange that solving one problem would cause another.

Check the connectors at the top of the MPU. Check that the display PIA is well seated in the socket. Check that the 74154 decoder is well seated in the socket.

#36 3 years ago

Another update: still no replacement parts from Rdog; I called and Jim answered this time, said he'd forgotten about them and would turn around and drive the hour to the shop and drop them in the mail.

Hopefully the third assurance is the charm, and my experience is not the norm for Rottendog support.

#37 3 years ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

Another update: still no replacement parts from Rdog; I called and Jim answered this time, said he'd forgotten about them and would turn around and drive the hour to the shop and drop them in the mail.
Hopefully the third assurance is the charm, and my experience is not the norm for Rottendog support.

Seems to get plenty of practice...

#38 3 years ago

Am I allowed to chime in and say never again to Rottendog? Or will I get burned at the stake for that? Not a fan at all. It cost me over $300 in misc repairs for damage one of their boards did to my game and all I was offered was a replacement board. Not a chance in hell I'd do it again. Keep the replacement, I don't want it. Tired of sugar coating things on here to appease the fanboys. I've been screwed by other vendors and there's plenty of distributers taking advantage with higher prices on NIB than others offer and being jerks about it. Yet others will praise them. Strange world we live in.

2 months later
#39 3 years ago

I have this same issue with firepower, any switch on column 4 causes resets tilts and just general weirdness. Going to check for the grounded pin issue tomorrow on my 327 board- thank you!

17
#40 3 years ago
Quoted from sevenrites:

Am I allowed to chime in and say never again to Rottendog? Or will I get burned at the stake for that? Not a fan at all. It cost me over $300 in misc repairs for damage one of their boards did to my game and all I was offered was a replacement board. Not a chance in hell I'd do it again. Keep the replacement, I don't want it. Tired of sugar coating things on here to appease the fanboys. I've been screwed by other vendors and there's plenty of distributers taking advantage with higher prices on NIB than others offer and being jerks about it. Yet others will praise them. Strange world we live in.

No one will burn you at the stake.

-

Think of Jim having the hardest job in the entire world.

Pins were made to last 3 years, then they were supposed to go directly to the dump.

Pins we have in our basements are often 30-40 years old, and have been worked on by at least 50 different hacks over those years.

Each of those 50 hacks have made repairs that are very much not factory correct.

Then the hobbyist owners are usually worse than the hacks. They have none of the electronic training or mentoring that the hacks did.

-

So you have Jim who has to supply a complicated computer product to hobbyist who don't have any formal repair training or mentoring.

Obviously if the hobbyists knew how to repair 70s era computers, they would just fix the boards rather than buy new Rottendog ones.

I can't tell you how many pins I have gone to fix, that are filled with dead boards in the bottom of the cabinet. The hobbyists just plop a new board in, without fixing the actual problem.

Could you get a brand new Rottendog board with a problem? Sure, there is always that chance, just like you could get a bad NOS Williams or Stern board.

But remember, there is no way for Jim to magically see your game from 1000 miles away. There is no way for him to know what 50 different people have done to it over the years.

All he can do is supply you with a brand new board that hopefully won't get damaged by your game (and hopefully arrives to you itself undamaged).

#41 3 years ago

Checked my board, did not have the shorted pin to bracket issue. The chip at IC 17 on mine is bad, 2J2 pin 5 and 6 shorted to ground. Going to spend some time testing the playfield after replacing the chip prior to reinstalling the board. Something in the game had to have killed it.

image_(resized).jpeg

#42 3 years ago

I wonder who marked two of the OP's pictures as "unsafe"? Seriously? Unsafe maybe to the game.......

2 years later
#43 1 year ago

Interesting - I had oddball switch issues on my Firepower, and now column 6 switches do not work at all. I suspect I had the same problem. I put some electrical tape over the mounting hole.

Can anybody tell me which chip I need to replace on the rottendog combo? Where is it located?

I cannot find the schematics for the board. Thanks.

#44 1 year ago

I started a post this weekend about column 2 being out in my Firepower. Sure enough it is the same issue as posted here. You can find the replacement IC at Ksarcade - https://ksarcade.net/74hct9114n-buffers-line-drivers-nine-wide.html. The newer Rottendog boards appear to have addressed the design flaw.

#45 1 year ago

Most likely U17, the small chip in a socket on the right side of the board. As StratDoc says, should be a 74HCT9114.

#46 1 year ago

Yes I put some electrical tape over the mounting tab and ordered a few of those chips. Hopefully that's the issue.

It was doing all sorts of crazy switch matrix shit before settling on one row not working so likely so.

1 week later
#47 1 year ago

I installed a new IC and my switch matrix issues are resolved. I ordered a couple of additional ICs in case it happens again. I cut the mounting tab off and wrapped any exposed metal in that area with electrical tape.

3 months later
#48 1 year ago

I made the modifications to mounting bracket, but the IC failed again yesterday after about 3 months with no issues. This time it affected the ball ramp switches 57 and 58. Has anyone else experienced problems with the IC that are not related to the mounting bracket?

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