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(Topic ID: 281933)

Weak coils across multiple games. Is it my house‘s power?


By MikeCP

11 days ago



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  • 32 posts
  • 14 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 8 days ago by vireland
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Spike Coil Testing Chart (resized).jpg
20201120_130847 (resized).jpg

#1 11 days ago

Greetings

General tech/power question that goes beyond my expertise and experience thus far.

I’ve had a few games in a row in my house that were in great shape, a few of which were NIB Sterns. It seems consistently that my flippers and auto plungers were underpowered. Within 20 minutes of playing a game, I’d start to see fade.

For example, NIB Jurassic Park. Auto plunger would work maybe 90% of the time cold, but get deep enough into one game and it’d start to miss the ramp. And the kicker on this one is that I sold it to someone that said they didn’t have auto plunging issues at all.

Another example is the captain marvel ramp in avengers. From a trap it’s possible to hit the ramp cold, but maybe 10 minutes into a game? Impossible.

Can you offer any avenues of research I can explore? Or perhaps terminology I can have an electrician I can look into?

Thanks

#2 11 days ago

IF you know what you are doing. Grab a meter and check power at your wall outlet when they seem weak.

How many games on one outlet and what amps is your circuit breaker ?

LTG : )

#3 11 days ago
Quoted from MikeCP:

Greetings
General tech/power question that goes beyond my expertise and experience thus far.
I’ve had a few games in a row in my house that were in great shape, a few of which were NIB Sterns. It seems consistently that my flippers and auto plungers were underpowered. Within 20 minutes of playing a game, I’d start to see fade.
For example, NIB Jurassic Park. Auto plunger would work maybe 90% of the time cold, but get deep enough into one game and it’d start to miss the ramp. And the kicker on this one is that I sold it to someone that said they didn’t have auto plunging issues at all.
Another example is the captain marvel ramp in avengers. From a trap it’s possible to hit the ramp cold, but maybe 10 minutes into a game? Impossible.
Can you offer any avenues of research I can explore? Or perhaps terminology I can have an electrician I can look into?
Thanks

As the coils warm up with use their power decreases. Does not sound like a line voltage problem.

On JP the shooter lane has a metal looking fork with two screws. Take the screws out. Put a small washer under only the left side and then screw back down. That helped my JP to be almost 100% reliable on the auto launch. Keeps the ball on track again the right wall and not rattling around.

The flipper power fade is real. You should want it so even in the worst case scenario it can make all the shots without much trouble. In the test mode there is a flipper power adjustment you can try playing with. Even possibly adjustments to the problem ramp could help. Something like a loose screw can suck a lot of momentum out of a ball.

#4 11 days ago
Quoted from LTG:

IF you know what you are doing. Grab a meter and check power at your wall outlet when they seem weak.
How many games on one outlet and what amps is your circuit breaker ?
LTG : )

I do not, so I will not. Only one game. I can look at my circuit breaker, I suppose.

Quoted from barakandl:

As the coils warm up with use their power decreases. Does not sound like a line voltage problem.
On JP the shooter lane has a metal looking fork with two screws. Take the screws out. Put a small washer under only the left side and then screw back down. That helped my JP to be almost 100% reliable on the auto launch. Keeps the ball on track again the right wall and not rattling around.
The flipper power fade is real. You should want it so even in the worst case scenario it can make all the shots without much trouble. In the test mode there is a flipper power adjustment you can try playing with. Even possibly adjustments to the problem ramp could help. Something like a loose screw can suck a lot of momentum out of a ball.

I'm aware this is a common issue. This is, however, across games. More than just the two I shared. And it's worse than just standard fade. We're talking about being weak to begin with, and fading within 20 minutes. I did a ton to try and dial in that JP shooter lane based on everyone else's tips, but it was clear my issue was more about power than mechanics (as evidenced by game being sold and working in another house no issue).

#5 11 days ago

Besides the pins, how much other stuff do you have plugged in on the same circuit that might be using power?
Does anything else happen in that room like light bulbs flicker when you push the flipper buttons continually?

#6 11 days ago

Stern Flipper fade is real and I see it more than is reported here. It is evident during league night and during long games.

However if you think it is more than that, then figure out what else is on the circuit. Make sure there isn't anything else like a fridge/freezer, AC or even a Plasma TV. I used to pop a circuit when I turned on the TV, so I used extension cords to other circuits for leagues.

It isn't clear if you have more than 1 machine at a time, but play with the others off or move them to other circuits.

How old is your house and if old, has the wiring been upgraded or just had new outlets installed to look new.

The best advice was above, get a meter and do some 'scientific' tests.

#7 11 days ago

Using this post:

https://mrelectric.com/blog/how-to-use-a-multimeter-to-test-an-outlet

I can report: 120v. But one thing it says:

"Check if the wiring is reversed.
Place the red lead into the large slot and the black lead into small slot. If you get a reading, the wiring is reversed. This won’t affect simple equipment like lamps but can cause issues for more sophisticated appliances and electronics."

I definitely got a reading of 120v with the leads both ways.

#8 11 days ago

Oh actually:

"Determine if the outlet is properly grounded.
Keep the red lead in the small slot and move the black lead and place it in the ground (Uu-shaped) outlet slot. The reading should remain the same. If it doesn’t, the outlet is improperly grounded."

Reading went to ~0.

#9 11 days ago

I'd get an outlet checker. That would be a big help for you.

Home Depot, hardware stores, lots of places have them. Cheap, easy to use.

LTG : )

#12 10 days ago

It is not the line voltage. In new stern games there is a switch mode power supply that really does not care about the line voltage as long as between 100vac to 240vac you get 48vdc out.

Flipper fade is real.

Let the flipper get weak after continuous play. Then stop playing for 30min to let the coil cool down while leaving the game on. Then try again and flippers will be back to full power.

20201120_130847 (resized).jpg
#13 10 days ago

Bara has it right. No way it’s the wall side causing problems. Computers lock up, or suddenly restart when voltage drops below normal operating voltage. This is just some knowledge from being a computer tech for 15 years. That and overclocking before the introduction of auto overclocking on newer motherboards.
If the game isn’t locking up, or rebooting, the main voltage coming in isn't the problem.

Im not familiar with flipper fade or modern pins, but I highly doubt the board that drives the coils is bad on a newer game. Possible, but your flippers do work...so extremely doubtful.

#14 9 days ago

Bummer - Well, thanks everyone.

Kinda back to square one. I agree flipper fade is real, but it seems to happen way too fast for me.

#15 9 days ago
Quoted from MikeCP:

Bummer - Well, thanks everyone.
Kinda back to square one. I agree flipper fade is real, but it seems to happen way too fast for me.

Which spike2 games? Some are worse than others. Here's the chart for the ones I've tested with a temp probe on each coil so far:

Spike Coil Testing Chart (resized).jpg
#16 9 days ago
Quoted from vireland:

Which spike2 games? Some are worse than others. Here's the chart for the ones I've tested with a temp probe on each coil so far:[quoted image]

Avengers Premium is the latest culprit. Auto plunger is garbage. Left flipper can't hit Capt Marvel after like 10 minutes.

Had similar issues with JP, but that was mainly the auto plunger being an issue.

#17 9 days ago
Quoted from MikeCP:

Avengers Premium is the latest culprit. Auto plunger is garbage. Left flipper can't hit Capt Marvel after like 10 minutes.
Had similar issues with JP, but that was mainly the auto plunger being an issue.

Avengers does have issues with coil heat/fade (which the cooling kit fixes), but the temp and fade on that stock machine is a very gradual increase from the testing I've done. What's your playfield pitch? Your room ambient temperature?

#18 9 days ago

You're having an issue that isn't normal. I've been at many tournaments where the games were played mostly non-stop for hours without the kind of fade you're describing.

A Kill-a-Watt might help diagnose a house power issue. http://www.p3international.com/products/P4400.html

#19 9 days ago
Quoted from vireland:

Avengers does have issues with coil heat/fade (which the cooling kit fixes), but the temp and fade on that stock machine is a very gradual increase from the testing I've done. What's your playfield pitch? Your room ambient temperature?

Playfield pitch is ~6.5. Ambient Temp ~70 F.

Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

You're having an issue that isn't normal. I've been at many tournaments where the games were played mostly non-stop for hours without the kind of fade you're describing.
A Kill-a-Watt might help diagnose a house power issue. http://www.p3international.com/products/P4400.html

Yeah, and it's the 2nd machine in a row. So I'm at a loss. Considered buying a kill-a-watt. That website is laughably broken.

I hesitate to call an electrician to make my flippers not fade so far!

#20 9 days ago
Quoted from MikeCP:

Playfield pitch is ~6.5. Ambient Temp ~70 F.

Yeah, and it's the 2nd machine in a row. So I'm at a loss. Considered buying a kill-a-watt. That website is laughably broken.
I hesitate to call an electrician to make my flippers not fade so far!

Very weird. Is this new or have machines always done this? Do you have any cell towers very near by? It would have to be some OTA interference because once the proper power level goes into that power supply (which you confirmed you have), it's putting out ~48v and that's all the machine sees. Have you put a meter on the power supply output with clips and watched the output in realtime as you play? Very weird...

#21 9 days ago

I cannot describe how annoyed I am to be pulling out the slow-mo video on the auto-plunger for the 2nd NIB game in a row, but I just did it, and it really looks fine. Just...weak. Hey, "Skill Shot" every time, I guess.

#22 9 days ago

Can you wire up a fan to blow on the coils? Or at least move air around them?

#23 9 days ago
Quoted from Teamhex:

Can you wire up a fan to blow on the coils? Or at least move air around them?

If this was Stranger Things, I would say 20-30 minutes to fade is reasonable, but Avengers is a REALLY SLOW build to substantial fade, so it seems unlikely that's what this is.

Maybe take a multimeter and see what your flipper coil resistance is (ohms) when cold vs as soon as you notice fade?

-1
#24 9 days ago

Like so many things, Stern in 2020 doesn’t know how to do something that Williams/Bally had figured out all throughout their production of solid state games in the 80s and 90s.

#25 9 days ago

Question - I know the weak flippers is an issue but are we really sure the flippers getting hot is really the cause?

#26 9 days ago
Quoted from G-P-E:

Question - I know the weak flippers is an issue but are we really sure the flippers getting hot is really the cause?

In such a short period of playing time, it seems unlikely to be the cause as far as I'm concerned. But anything's possible I guess.

#27 8 days ago
Quoted from usandthem:

Like so many things, Stern in 2020 doesn’t know how to do something that Williams/Bally had figured out all throughout their production of solid state games in the 80s and 90s.

Nobody knows how to do it. Stern, JJP, and others have similar issues.

#28 8 days ago
Quoted from G-P-E:

Question - I know the weak flippers is an issue but are we really sure the flippers getting hot is really the cause?

In his case hard to say as I don't know if its been correlated when coil feels hot flipper is weak. But for absolute sure hot flipper coils can cause weak flippers and follows Stern games back into the Sega era as my Sega Baywatch has this problem. A couple years ago I put two 12vdc fans in a game and had them pointed right at the flipper coils. Made a huge difference in heavy play like league night when the game gets four player games on it a couple hours straight.

PWM in place of a secondary hold winding seems like it is the causes the flipper coils to heat up faster.

#29 8 days ago

I definitely got a reading of 120v with the leads both ways.

Did you have the game plugged into the outlet and turned on when you checked the voltage?

#30 8 days ago

I will say I had this issue a few years ago and my wall voltage was fine. had to call electric company to check the pole, they found something wrong and after that I haven't had an issue. was having the problem on STTNG,ST pro, and BSD. everything worked but just barely could make ramps etc

#31 8 days ago
Quoted from vireland:

Which spike2 games? Some are worse than others. Here's the chart for the ones I've tested with a temp probe on each coil so far:[quoted image]

these dudes are using some huge fans!!
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/cooling-flipper-coils-by-aluminium-heat-sinks-or-pc-fans

yeah, wall outlets might of been a thing on older games with a transformer to playfield components. But like barakandl said new games use a constant output via switching power supply. (unless your not getting 48V off your power supply, that's not the issue)

maybe you've already done this with JP but, I lowered the power and lined up auto plunger so both tab parts hit the ball at the same time. As for the manual plunge, I had to lower the spring tension. Both were to powerful causing it not to make the entrance ramp, weird thing is that it worked fine for a while. Works 100% of the time now.

as for the marvel ramp, if you figure that one out let me know. It needs to be a clean hit, even then it's not guaranteed.

#32 8 days ago

Hahaha, that's ridiculous. Bigger is not always better. Those are WAYYYYY too big for the job. My personal preference is for as small and clean an install as possible.

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