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(Topic ID: 216450)

Weyland Yutani - Dedicated to Keeping 3 Alien Specimens Alive


By knockerlover

2 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 560 posts
  • 95 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 9 months ago by TomDK
  • Topic is favorited by 92 Pinsiders

You

Linked Games

  • Alien Heighway Pinball, 2017

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Post #3 Key posted, but no summary given Posted by knockerlover (2 years ago)

Post #186 Links to 1.2 software release Posted by Ferret (2 years ago)


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#6 2 years ago

Sweet, can't wait to get them all working!

#12 2 years ago

Perhaps my main contribution can be creating some documentation to help out other owners with repairs. Is there anything available? Parts list, switch matrix, electrical diagrams, anything? Might be challenging with two different production lines too, sounds like there's a few (major) internal differences.

#114 2 years ago

I'm doing some research on the serially addressable SMD LEDs in the production models. It looks like they're WS2812's, and specifically might be model "NeoPixel RGB 5050 LED" and they're mounted on a tiny custom board with 2x 3 pin header connectors. If anyone has any OEM / supplier info, it would be most welcome! Reply or PM me?

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/adafruit-industries-llc/3094/1528-2388-ND/6058485

smd01 (resized).jpg
smd02 (resized).png
smd03 (resized).png

#130 2 years ago

I'm still on the hunt for the OEM of the LEDs in the production machines as I'd like to get a run of them produced, if anyone has any info please PM me (or reply here if it's OK to post publicly). Thanks!

#164 2 years ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

Are you just testing these coils or are you replacing them for the fun of it?

I'm hoping he's installing stronger coils in the flippers and eject mechs, and if so would be excited to know the results. I feel like factory ones are weak.

1 week later
#228 2 years ago

Probably customs. I've had international packages searched before. Usually they put a sticker on it that says it was inspected by customs...but...

11
#232 2 years ago

There are many ways to backup/restore/clone a drive, but here's what we did to get 3 working PCs from the one good source.

We also ran into a small hiccup as the SSDs that came with the new PCs were ever so slightly smaller than the one we have as a working source. This really isn't an issue though, as less than 8GB of the SSD is actually used and we were working with 32GB mSATA SSDs.

1. Create file an image of the source using CloneZilla (If you have a working Alien, this is probably a perfect time to make a backup image!)

Nothing too special with this step, there's lots of ways you can do this. We opted for using an mSATA to USB adaptor and booting CloneZilla from a USB drive on another PC, just so we didn't have to work from the pinball machine.

The image file was saved to a drive on that PC.

2. Restore the image file to the new SSD. If the SSD is the same or larger than the image file you created, this would just be pretty straight forward. Essentially a reverse of step one, you select the image file and write it to the mSATA SSD.

In our case, as the new mSATA drives were ever so slightly smaller than the source image one, CloneZilla refused to restore it. So... I restored it to an external USB hard drive, and then used the linux command "dd" to copy the partitions to the new SSD, such as the following (mostly I'm documenting in case I need to do this again):

/dev/sdc = the USB hard drive with the image restored from CloneZilla
/dev/sde = the new empty mSATA SSD

Open Shell prompt from the CloneZilla boot environment

Partition the new SSD:
# sudo fdisk /dev/sde
n to create a new partition, Primary, 1, 2048 begin, 124927 end
a to make it bootable
n to create another new partition, Primary, 2, 124928 begin, 15999999 end
w to write and save changes
p if you want to look at the partition table, should be a 60M Type 83 Linux bootable (Grub? Bootloader), and a 7.6G Type 83 Linux (Linux OS / Alien game / data)

Copy the MBR (this probably would copy the partition table too):
# sudo dd in=/dev/sdc of=/dev/sde bs=512 count=1

Copy the the partitions from the USB hard drive to the mSATA SSD:
# sudo dd in=/dev/sdc1 of=/dev/sde1 bs=64K conv=noerror,sync status=progress
# sudo dd in=/dev/sdc2 of=/dev/sde2 bs=64K conv=noerror,sync status=progress

IMG_8936.jpg
#235 2 years ago
Quoted from jabdoa:

More
The last bit looks very dangerous to me. The file system is very likely corrupted after doing that and you may loose data later. It would be simpler to either shrink the file system or just create a new one and copy the files using "rsync -a" to the new filesystem.

It’s a data copy of the partitions. The file system was never mounted, and any corruption in it would have existed prior on the source. The partitions only occupy the first 8GB of the SSD anyway, nothing to shrink. What do you feel is dangerous about using dd?

#241 2 years ago
Quoted from JoinTheCirqus:

More
Hi, would you consider selling this as a product to other pinsiders? I have an Alien, but I’m not incredibly computer savvy. I would love to have a backup just in case.
Thanks Michael

Yesterday I received some info about obtaining an install image, and also ballypinball sounds like he has an installer ISO too? If that pans out, I think we'll all be in good shape as far as SSD's dying. Let's explore those sources, and make images the 'official' way if possible.

2 weeks later
#256 2 years ago

Some many "HIGH" jokes to be made. Let's just hope we got the traces correct.

...and by we, I mean you knockerlover

1 month later
#331 2 years ago
Quoted from TimeBandit:

I am making replacement LED boards. I will have permanent stock and will be passing them out at component cost plus shipping. I think they will be about a dollar each.

timebandit that's awesome! I'm down for at least a set + spares, I think knockerlover already reached out to you on my behalf. How about the light pipes, happen to have found a source for those?

#332 2 years ago

Backbox bolts for Alien

We lost some of our "backbox bolts" for Alien in knockerlover 's move, but found workable replacements at a local True Value hardware store. They're 6mm x 30mm 1.00 pitch. Original is on the left, replacement on the right:

IMG_9718 (resized).jpgIMG_9719 (resized).jpgIMG_9720 (resized).jpgIMG_9722 (resized).jpg
#336 2 years ago

DUDE! That's awesome news, can't wait to upgrade our prototype games with your parts!!

1 week later
#348 2 years ago

As part of the CPU upgrade, video cables had to be replaced as the Zotac used different port types than the High Praise which uses all DVI on the PC side. The airlock display is HDMI, however the hole in the playfield is not big enough to fit an HDMI plug through. So we had to do what the factory did, shave down the HDMI cable's connector. The pictures attached are the OEM cable shown at the top side of the hole it comes up through.

IMG_9787 (resized).jpgIMG_9788 (resized).jpg
#365 2 years ago

Some more diagnostics on machine C's backbox display not working, and appears we have a faulty LCD driver board. We have spares, but they're apparently programmed for the playfield LCD and not the backbox one...so back to AliExpress for some more pre-programmed boards. In the mean time, I switched the backbox displays between machines B and C.

#398 2 years ago

This is awesome! Ordered plenty so knockerlover and I can retrofit our prototype pins with the single smd design and lighting will work correctly with the new game code! Thanks so much timebandit you rock!!

2 weeks later
#412 2 years ago
Quoted from knockerlover:

Yeah.. I like the minute differences in the screen layer.

We missed the opportunity to put "Somebody set up us the bomb." below the daughterboard between the headers. Oh well!

#416 2 years ago

Got my LED order from timebandit today and spent all evening and half the night soldering them up and installing them! My Alien is a prototype with the 5 LED towers, but since we upgraded the CPU and code to the 1.2 version, half the lighting no longer worked. (New code doesn’t support the 5 LED towers)

Install went OK, I had one bad LED that I had to track down and some of the towers are tricky to swap with the LEDs on the under playfield boards since I didn’t fully remove them from the game, just loosened them and carefully reached behind to exchange the needed LEDs.

It is a total of 38 towers to swap with the single LEDs, here’s their general locations:

Bottom board (top when PF is up) - 2 anchor screws behind IO board/must remove it

(4) left side lanes and 2 above left outlanes
(2) right side lanes

Individual green boards
(2) 1 each of the 2 individual green boards on the left
(1) near the Xeno scoop and pops

Middle board (No anchor screws behind IO board)

(5) left side under ramps
(3) behind drop target mech
(3) right side behind upper right flipper mech
(2) the right side near pops

Top board (bottom when PF is up) - 1 anchor screw under IO board

(9) left side under ramps/next to orbits
(7) right side behind pops

38 total

Now I’m in need of compatible light pipes, but at least the pin is playable now!!

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2 months later
#464 2 years ago

We had this happen, and if I recall correctly, the monitors are plugged in the wrong order on the CPU. Try swapping them around rebooting between each attempt until it displays correctly. If need be I can open mine and trace them out?

2 months later
#504 1 year ago
Quoted from pyramidschemebar:

Sorry if this has already been covered. I was never sure why my Alien doesn't have the screen in the back box. Someone just directed me to a podcast that said the very early ones shipped like this. Is that your understanding? Has anyone added a screen to to one of these?
[quoted image]

I have an "unofficial prototype" translite (the logo is in the wrong spot) that has the window for a monitor if you want to attempt the swap. The monitor panel and needed display hardware is available, knockerlover and I could point you to parts that should work. You'd have to fabricate the monitor panel mounting (factory design was a metal box that holds the monitor by the edge with small screws), and you'd have to get the right cables and probably wire up the power. ferret should know if your computer software will support the third monitor. I'm assuming your game has the Zotac PC? .. of course you could upgrade that too, depending on how deep your want to dive...

1 month later
#505 1 year ago

On this long journey, the last piece to upgrading machines B and C to the latest computers, and Xeno head design, is obtaining/reproducing the newer versions of the tongue and jaw boards as they had an old design (not compatible with the newer architecture?). There's also some speculation of differences in the rear most light board, one thing we can pretty much confirm is the power (yellow/black) to one of the boards is reversed in the revised design. Along with the boards, we're also manually making the wiring harnesses to mate them. We're making solid progress, and this post documents the jaw board programming and we've confirmed our boards working in an Alien LE.

This assumes you know a bit about Atmel programming, have a USB programmer, and have some blank (re)production jaw boards; we learned, we have, and we obtained. The below is kinda a brain dump with not great instructions, but it's better when I don't instruct on things I don't know well!

Used MacOS and downloaded the CrossPack AVR toolkit:
https://www.obdev.at/products/crosspack/download.html

alien_flash.hex code:
https://pastebin.com/3Yc2QiYD

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dump flash from working jaw board:

$ sudo avrdude -c usbasp -p atmega328p -U flash:r:/Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex:i

(flash:r: command reads flash)

It should respond like:

avrdude: warning: cannot set sck period. please check for usbasp firmware update.
avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s

avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e950f
avrdude: reading flash memory:

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 20.54s

avrdude: writing output file "/Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex"

avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK (H:07, E:D9, L:E2)

Note the Fuse settings of the working jaw board are:

High fuse bytes: 07
Extended fuse bytes: D9
Low fuse bytes: E2

The important change here is the low fuse bytes, which control the clock speed the code we're going to flash expects. The others were defaulted to 07 and D9 respectively on our run of boards, and didn't need to be changed.

$ sudo avrdude -c usbasp -p atmega328p -e -U flash:w:/Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex:i

(-e erases ROM and EEPROM before programming and the flash:w: command writes the code to flash)

$ sudo avrdude -c usbasp -p atmega328p -U lfuse:w:0xE2:m

(write the bytes E2 to lfuse)

After these two commands, the jaw board should be programmed.

Other options to read/write are the eeprom, hfuse, and efuse but we found they didn't need to be changed; though we dumped them anyway.

So piecing it all together, it looks like this when writing a fresh board:

$ sudo avrdude -c usbasp -p atmega328p -e -U flash:w:/Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex:i
Password:

avrdude: warning: cannot set sck period. please check for usbasp firmware update.
avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.01s

avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e950f
avrdude: erasing chip
avrdude: warning: cannot set sck period. please check for usbasp firmware update.
avrdude: reading input file "/Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex"
avrdude: writing flash (1322 bytes):

Writing | ################################################## | 100% 0.86s

avrdude: 1322 bytes of flash written
avrdude: verifying flash memory against /Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex:
avrdude: load data flash data from input file /Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex:
avrdude: input file /Users/username/alienfw/alien_flash.hex contains 1322 bytes
avrdude: reading on-chip flash data:

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.82s

avrdude: verifying ...
avrdude: 1322 bytes of flash verified

avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK (H:07, E:D9, L:62)

avrdude done. Thank you.

$ sudo avrdude -c usbasp -p atmega328p -U lfuse:w:0xE2:m

avrdude: warning: cannot set sck period. please check for usbasp firmware update.
avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s

avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e950f
avrdude: reading input file "0xE2"
avrdude: writing lfuse (1 bytes):

Writing | ################################################## | 100% 0.01s

avrdude: 1 bytes of lfuse written
avrdude: verifying lfuse memory against 0xE2:
avrdude: load data lfuse data from input file 0xE2:
avrdude: input file 0xE2 contains 1 bytes
avrdude: reading on-chip lfuse data:

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s

avrdude: verifying ...
avrdude: 1 bytes of lfuse verified

avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK (H:07, E:D9, L:E2)

avrdude done. Thank you.

#508 1 year ago

knockerlover you were hitting the bathroom pretty hard that day... I think that board that blew up can be fixed. I bet the capacitor was wired backwards, hence the instant explosion... and yeah, that was, uhh, I though I smoked pinbackpacker's Alien LE. Thankfully, was just one of our jaw boards.

#510 1 year ago

I couldn’t have done it all without your help knockerlover and all of you awesome people in the Alien owners community! I’m honored to own the game, and will forever cherish owning one of the earliest build Alien prototypes. It even has a Full Throttle serial number, something I don’t think too many Alien’s in existence have. This one is mine, off comes the Cointaker sticker!!!

Now get yours working with that wiring harness I fixed!

B4306F8A-79D1-4952-A687-BA55D40B507D (resized).jpeg
#520 1 year ago

Ahh, well, I may have celebrated the success a tad too early. It seems that getting the Xeno head to work has also brought about all the issues Heighway had with these IO boards, and since my game has old IO boards, it’s a problem...

The IO boards have a protection circuit in them that was hacked and disabled at the (Heighway?) factory. A bank of 4 “030” resistors were changed to “000” shorts, and even that apparently wasn’t enough, they then soldered a wire across the resistors both on the top and bottom of the boards. Then and ES3D chip at D28 was also apparently reversed so it’s cathode goes the other way? Of course all of these boards are labeled v1.4B but the ones hacked at the factory seem to have also had the top of a capacitor colored with red sharpie marker.

Now, there’s runs of new IO boards out there, we have a bunch, but they don’t have these hacks. So with firmware 0.6 that they ship with, the center magnet doesn’t work. With firmware 0.9 they overload and protect themselves, so the coils on that board go dead during play (magnet, upper right flipper, drop target reset, and left hole) and can only be reset by power cycling the IO board (whole game). With 0.9 firmware and the hacks I’ve documented above replicated, the board is eventually popping fuse Area 2, D11 which is the 70v to these same coils (we’ve confirmed this with 2 modified boards to eliminate our soldering skills?). Also worth noting, that fuse has to do with the Xeno tongue too. There’s got to be another modification to these boards I haven’t yet discovered... with a factory hacked IO board running firmware 0.9, everything works fine.

So all that to say, has anyone tried one of these unhacked new IO boards in their middle PCB to see if they have the issues I described? timebandit do you have one to test?

EE140725-68EE-41EB-AAF2-681327035262 (resized).jpeg
#523 1 year ago

Thanks kneissl, you didn't need to modify anything else?

... we've done that on two boards and still get the fuse blowing, and our solder job has been DMM tested good. We have have very early production models, so perhaps that is part of the issue, maybe a difference in some other way.

Is everyone's fuse for "Area 2, D11" a 4A fast blow? Maybe our games have different fuses...

1 month later
#537 1 year ago

Some spare Alien parts and extras left over, open to offers!

Archived after 45 days
189 views
Sold (amount undisclosed)
Parts - For Sale
Used, good condition “I have these left over from Alien upgrade: 38 USED prototype 5 LED towers, will only work with old v0.9x code or other project $20+ship”
2019-04-14
Gainesville, VA
1 (OBO)

1 month later
#543 1 year ago

His game can’t run new code without hardware modifications. Staying on v0.9x is the only way to keep lighting functionality with 5 LED towers.

8 months later
#558 9 months ago

Short answer: yes

Long answer: The one motor controller board is(was) available on eBay, and the other Arduino based board was ordered from the OEM manufacture in small quantity. The newer wiring harnesses have to be made from hand, the Xeno head itself needs to be the newer design, which means trying to source one of those too. It's a complicated upgrade beyond just sourcing the parts, and you'll need a reference game, experience programming Arduino's, etc.

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