(Topic ID: 218125)

What are your thoughts on the Spike II system?


By LoserKid3

1 year ago



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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by mbwalker
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#101 1 year ago

I liked my GB but just didn't feel comfortable having a game that I can't easily repair myself so I sold it. I like Stern games but there are plenty on location at local barcades to play and enjoy without the risk.

#102 1 year ago
Quoted from vireland:

Any system that is so fragile that adding a single mod can blow it up (as Gomez has stated Spike is) is a bad system. On paper it may have great features, but real world? So far very unimpressive and WAY too fragile.

All electronic systems have been and are becoming networked distribution systems. From the studio radio systems we build to automobiles and everything in between. Just like pinballs, our company has never intended to have mods applied - whether older pre-network designs or current tech. Not really "fragile", just never designed for additional circuits. There's a big difference between adding something like an automotive relay to a 20 or 30 year old electronic product, and tapping something into a high speed computerized network - sure the risk of damage is higher. We've had folks take apart our embedded board sandwhich, not realizing how careful you have to be to replace the several thermal transfer pads on the backs of some intense ICs...or the overheats and fails. That's the modern world of computerized electronics getting faster, shrinking and compacting every day.

Modern electronics is less and less a playground for amateurs as well. Back up a couple decades, if you had some basic electronics knowledge - you know some things about ohms law, and transistors, things like that...and then you got the schematic for whatever it is: pinball, stereo system, television...then you could tinker. People still blew things up occasionally. Now you get a schematic and the device has an FPGA, software heavily wrapped into hardware, high speed networking and more. You don't know what the program behind the FPGA is, or perhaps what the pinouts are expected to do - and everything is way more complicated. You can't slap alligator clips anywhere...if there is something even big enough to clip to.

A lot of folks dropped out of repairing autos as another example: You used to be able to pick up a timing light or change spark plugs and do most of your own repairs. Then computers stepped in and you had to have a diagnostic code reader. "Why is the damn program running the mixture rich?" Then it gets more involved, maybe you replaced the ECM and pretty soon the backyard tinkering was not worth it anymore.

So yeah, nothing was intended to mod - unless a manufacture puts a cable on it and it says "plug in mod here". The fact that adding a mod can damage it is not what defines Spike as a bad system.

#103 1 year ago

I have enough confidence in stern and my ability to repair smd that I have no problem buying a Spike game and just bought GotG pro.

#104 1 year ago
Quoted from wayout440:

A lot of folks dropped out of repairing autos as another example

that's not a good comparison as automobile companies guarantee spare parts availably for 10+ years. It's usually much longer in practice. You also have a vast availability of dealer repair garages and independents. Pinball is nothing like this.

Quoted from wayout440:

Modern electronics is less and less a playground for amateurs as well.

No issue, but most electronic products cost nowhere near what a pinball game costs and when these other consumer electronic products do fail, it is usually time to step up to the next generation of products anyway. With pinball this is completely different.

#105 1 year ago
Quoted from wayout440:

The fact that adding a mod can damage it is not what defines Spike as a bad system.

what makes it a bad system is that a .23 cent LED has the ability to render the most important feature of the game (the flippers) weak, inoperable, or blow a $300+ node board.

Whomever thought that not isolating the coil power from the low voltage switches and LEDs was a good idea, deserves to be kicked in the junk.

Hell, just isolate the flippers by hard wiring them separate. The flipper is the player controlled interaction and the most important part in any machine. Stern somehow managed to screw up something that has been a rock solid design for almost 100 years and largerly unchanged for the past 40.

#106 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I made an excel file with all the spike games to date minus iron maiden, just so I could figure out compatibility and what not.
here is the excel file if your interested. It might not all be 100%, I did the best with the information I could gather.
if anyone knows something I'm missing let me know.

Thanks for putting this together. As a point of info, I've used a CPU board (Node 0) from BM66 in a Star Wars Pro. In fact, it is still in the SW and has been for about a year.

The reason for the switch is the backbox sound went out on the SW. Pulled the board from BM66 to keep the game going on location.

#107 1 year ago
Quoted from rubberducks:

You mean like fuses? Oh, wait ...
I doubt some software protection that they've either been sitting on for ages, or only just started writing will be as effective as fuses. Also, what have they been doing since Spike became available nearly 3 and a half years ago?

I think most people agree the Spike system is an insult to pin buyers; I was thinking of getting a GoT then remembered... it is a Spike game.

About the only think the Spike system has been successful in is cutting Stern's costs. Everything else is a fail.

Any modular system with throw away boards needs to be pretty cheap to the end user, and the boards need to be pretty universal. Spike massively fails in both these basic requirements, to the point it is really astounding. How can they have pumped out so many different incompatible versions of these?

It really makes no sense.

Any pinball system that can cause resets due to a flaky bulb or socket is a bad system IMO, and when "resets" are your best case (vs. blowing $300+ boards, yay!) I just don't know what to say.

Some people complain Spike games are not fused properly. From Stern's perspective, they are fused just fine, the $300+ boards are the fuses. What's not to love about that from Stern's perspective?

#108 1 year ago
Quoted from branlon8:

that's not a good comparison as automobile companies guarantee spare parts availably for 10+ years. It's usually much longer in practice. You also have a vast availability of dealer repair garages and independents. Pinball is nothing like this.

I was speaking in reference to the mods comment...not really even commenting on parts availability, or making a generalized comparison of all aspect of those two hobbies as a whole. The complexity of the electronics, ECM/computerized components has been enough for many auto "hobbyists" to not bother with trying to tinker or add mods to new vehicles. Blow up an ECM that costs $200-$300 or more? ...it doesn't matter that the parts are available. I couldn't replace a single instrument cluster lamp in one of my vehicles, because when I took it apart it was an integrated LED panel system and the ribbon cable disturbed caused even more lamps to fail. No individual lamp to replace, it was a pricey $150-ish panel.

Quoted from Whysnow:

what makes it a bad system is that a .23 cent LED has the ability to render the most important feature of the game (the flippers) weak, inoperable, or blow a $300+ node board.

I'll agree with this statement. I just usually don't consider a lamp change as a "mod" per se. Although at this technology level, they should all be programmable LED with no need to change lamps in the first place.

...I'm not defending Spike at all, I'm just saying that electronic systems are less and less friendly to mods as the electronics industry marches on.

#109 1 year ago

Attempting to link Star Wars (Premium/LE) to this thread

#110 1 year ago
Quoted from wayout440:

I just usually don't consider a lamp change as a "mod" per se.

just to be clear, I am not talking about changing out a led. I am referring to multiple people having trouble with the factory provided LEDs. They are having internal shorts which causes a plethora of down stream issues (node board blowing up, intermittent weak flippers, etc)

#111 1 year ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

just to be clear, I am not talking about changing out a led. I am referring to multiple people having trouble with the factory provided LEDs. They are having internal shorts which causes a plethora of down stream issues (node board blowing up, intermittent weak flippers, etc)

Internal shorts is a quality control issue, and the inability to repair them without causing other damage is also a concern. Neither of these is the same as modification ("Any system that is so fragile that adding a single mod can blow it up"). In summary, because serviceability is already is a problem with this system it would be reasonable to infer that attempting to add mods is asking for trouble.

carry on...

#112 1 year ago

I though that shorts in spike games were dealt with internally. That is, a short occurs, the node board shuts down until the short is cleared. I’ve never had a short in a spike game I’ve owned (sw, Gb, maiden) and I do a lot of moddding.

#113 1 year ago
Quoted from wayout440:

A lot of folks dropped out of repairing autos as another example: You used to be able to pick up a timing light or change spark plugs and do most of your own repairs. Then computers stepped in and you had to have a diagnostic code reader. "Why is the damn program running the mixture rich?" Then it gets more involved, maybe you replaced the ECM and pretty soon the backyard tinkering was not worth it anymore.

This nonsense has been around for at least 20 years. Custom PICs with the code pin burned off (Twister, Goldeneye anyone?) so you can't see the code easily. The crappy custom-coded GAL chip in Gottleibs that always blows up? Yeah, it's been an issue before, Spike is just on a much larger scale.

And making a system that requires a car-level diagnostic to fix, or worse yet, is completely unfixable in the field and just requires replacements at $300 and up a pop is not nice, either, especially when the POINT of the new Spike system was cost reduction and interchangeability of components, neither of which came to pass for consumers because the cost savings weren't passed along, and the node boards have been changed so much they're not even interchangeable.

#114 1 year ago
Quoted from stangbat:

Thanks for putting this together. As a point of info, I've used a CPU board (Node 0) from BM66 in a Star Wars Pro. In fact, it is still in the SW and has been for about a year.
The reason for the switch is the backbox sound went out on the SW. Pulled the board from BM66 to keep the game going on location.

cool, I'll update it. is the part number on the BM66 board 509-1000-01, looks like I put the wrong P/N in for SW. wonder if you can use the newer CPU boards on aerosmith.
I've tried asking stern about compatibility, got some information from them but it took a while.

I didn't want to waste money buying multiple boards, if I could use one on multiple games. so I decided to make my own chart.
Easier reference then checking the manual to if you have multiple games.

updated with maiden, corrected a couple mistakes
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SH1Fyrm1apWfMjDiQMC9IcbQSIi1r710

#115 1 year ago

Well …. not repairable is not the problem for spike.
If have to pay 150 dollar for a node board and say 450 for a spike 2.

300/600 for a node and 1000 for a spike 2 cpu is way off.

#116 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

I have enough confidence in stern and my ability to repair smd that I have no problem buying a Spike game and just bought GotG pro.

What happens when your warranty expires?
I don't think they do SMD repair at Stern (I could be wrong).

#117 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

What happens when your warranty expires?
I don't think they do SMD repair at Stern (I could be wrong).

Then I'll figure it out. Same as I would figure it out with any of our cars, or appliances, or anything really.

I'll admit I have a lot of experience with surface mount, and have the proper tools to diagnose and repair boards like the stern node boards, so that doesn't frighten me. Not having their help (schematics, etc..) makes it more difficult, but if I'm looking at a high dollar replacement I'm going to try a repair first.

#118 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

Then I'll figure it out. Same as I would figure it out with any of our cars, or appliances, or anything really.
I'll admit I have a lot of experience with surface mount, and have the proper tools to diagnose and repair boards like the stern node boards, so that doesn't frighten me. Not having their help (schematics, etc..) makes it more difficult, but if I'm looking at a high dollar replacement I'm going to try a repair first.

I hope to get to that point someday. a good rework micro soldering station is super expensive and I don't really have the room for it yet anyway.

When they release the schematics, then there is hope that people will be able to do repairs. That's why I'm not to worried about it. Getting an alien pin for anything other then it sitting off in the corner would be crazy IMO. Still going to be a lot harder to find people who are capable of doing these repairs with surface mount.

#119 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I hope to get to that point someday. a good rework micro soldering station is super expensive...

SMD really is not that bad on some parts. 2 or 3 legged devices is not a big deal. Chips with a lot of leads can be a pain, but patience is a virtue. Even inexpensive irons have tips that be swapped for other sizes. Combined some good flux, solder wick and some fine tweezers - very doable. Honestly, one of the absolute best things to have is a decent magnifier so you can clearly see what's going on.

I'd rather remove a SMD IC rather than trying to remove a thru IC anyday. Getting every leg free on a thru-hole chip is a real PIA at times. There always seems to be that one pin that just doesn't want to give up the solder.

I still agree with your comment about a good SMD station - it clearly does help, but a lot of things can be replace w/o owning one.

#120 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

When they release the schematics, then there is hope that people will be able to do repairs.

I do know that the schematics are coming, which will make it much easier. Surface mount isn't that bad.

All that aside, I put my money where my mouth is because Stern does make the best pinball machines out there today, IMO. Spike 2 included.

#121 1 year ago

I suppose we can talk about the ease or difficulty of changing through hole components vs. surface mount components on these Spike boards all day. The issue I have is what to change. When you turn on a GB and get a node 8 communication error that won't allow the game to boot, what do you look at? No manuals or schematics to clue you in is the issue. There are chips on the node boards that store ROM level game program information. What I've encountered hasn't been replacing a diode or transistor. You really don't want to try the shotgun approach to fixing these issues.

#122 1 year ago
Quoted from schudel5:

...The issue I have is what to change. When you turn on a GB and get a node 8 communication error that won't allow the game to boot, what do you look at? No manuals or schematics to clue you in is the issue...

Boy, don't disagree there. It's like driving across country w/o a map.

I don't mean to derail the thread regarding Spike - but are other manufactures as 'tight lipped' about schematics, etc. as Stern? I guess the P-ROC systems would be easy to fix.

#123 1 year ago
Quoted from TomGWI:

I heard back from Chas. He said it only takes one shorted bulb and they will all go out. Wants me to remove the bulbs and test so I will start there.

Gee , what a brilliant, forward thinking design.

#124 1 year ago
Quoted from spazzman90:Just had a node board go out on a Star Wars. Diode broke (likely due to vibration) and looks like it fried a chip or 2. Stern says cough up $350. Ouch for a 10 month old game.

Why does this post have 2 down votes?

-1
#125 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

I have enough confidence in stern and my ability to repair smd that I have no problem buying a Spike game and just bought GotG pro.

#126 1 year ago
Quoted from spazzman90:

Just had a node board go out on a Star Wars. Diode broke (likely due to vibration) and looks like it fried a chip or 2. Stern says cough up $350. Ouch for a 10 month old game

They aren’t under warranty? Who was your distributor? $350 for a board is ridiculous.

#127 1 year ago
Quoted from TheFamilyArcade:

Why does this post have 2 down votes?

I'd guess it was actually for the issue that Stern charges $350 for a node board. Not for the fact that he pointed out that it cost him $350 to get.

It's difficult in a thread like this where you think "That sucks, I want to express my outrage" and it ends up in a downvote. But I really doubt that was actually against the poster.

#128 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

is the part number on the BM66 board 509-1000-01, looks like I put the wrong P/N in for SW.

I forgot to look today. I'll try to remember and get the info posted.

#129 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

cool, I'll update it. is the part number on the BM66 board 509-1000-01, looks like I put the wrong P/N in for SW. wonder if you can use the newer CPU boards on aerosmith.
I've tried asking stern about compatibility, got some information from them but it took a while.
I didn't want to waste money buying multiple boards, if I could use one on multiple games. so I decided to make my own chart.
Easier reference then checking the manual to if you have multiple games.
updated with maiden, corrected a couple mistakes
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SH1Fyrm1apWfMjDiQMC9IcbQSIi1r710

Thanks for sharing your list, it´s very helpful.
Please keep up the good work !

#130 1 year ago

On Spike II games Node 8 is interchangeable on any game, as is Node 9. The 8/9 boards with letters after them like 8a, 8b, are game specific boards.

#131 1 year ago
Quoted from stangbat:

I forgot to look today. I'll try to remember and get the info posted.

all good, pretty sure it is the same part number, I goofed on the cpu board P/N for star wars. I would assume you could use newer boards on AS, but I'd wait on confirmation from stern or somewhere here before taking that leap. Marco has their compatibility chart, but for node boards it's not even close to correct on most of them.

#132 1 year ago
Quoted from cynric:

While the controllers are not hard to acquire, the software is. Unless Stern releases binaries for the node boards or they can be extracted from either existing boards (which can usually be prevented) or the spike update files, we are pretty much screwed. The node board NXP MCUs do come with a basic bootloader, however I would not count on spike just accepting and reprogramming a blank one. If it does, then this is point is invalid .

Your point is spot on. A blank device will not be reprogrammed on the network. It would be ideal (and I have requested this) that Stern make preprogrammed NXP devices available for repair. I haven't tried extracting the boot code off of a working node board, but it's 50/50 if it's locked down or not.

#133 1 year ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

They may buy chips that they load code into that become custom tho. You could maybe by the part for decades, but if you can't get the code to program it - then that is an issue.

I honestly didn't even think about this point.
I know when you install a new node board it updates automatically, but the firmware or whatever they use on the boards initially to be able to do this is what your talking about. man that sucks.

#134 1 year ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

Chips with a lot of leads can be a pain, but patience is a virtue.

Think it's more intimidating, cause it'd be pretty easy to mess up if you don't have steady hands. I have some tweezers that came with this pace soldering station I bought a little while ago. Haven't used it yet, but I could see it being extremely useful for SMD IC chips. Yeah, I finally purchased one of those magnifying glasses with the lights that folds down, man that thing is great.

Quoted from RobF:

it's 50/50 if it's locked down or not.

If you find out anything let us know.
kind of wish stern gave us some more information on how the system works as a whole.

I understand the basics of the new system, but anything beyond that...

#135 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

I honestly didn't even think about this point.
I know when you install a new node board it updates automatically, but the firmware or whatever they use on the boards initially to be able to do this is what your talking about. man that sucks.

Same for the Spike 2 MPU board. It's an almost stock off-the-shelf design, with a couple of minor alterations, that definitely could be reproduced at a fraction of the cost that Stern sells them. But whether it's possible to extract what ever firmware or OS they have on it initially before the game code is installed is another matter entirely. I suspect it isn't. At least, not easily. Given the amount they're charging, I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already tried. As nothing's popped up yet ... draw your own conclusions.

#136 1 year ago
Quoted from TigerLaw:

They aren’t under warranty? Who was your distributor? $350 for a board is ridiculous.

The warranty period for boards is two months, starting when the game is shipped to the distributor. The DMD boards is nine months. Nothing else is covered.

Interesting they cover a dmd even though the game doesn't have one and they don't cover the display that's in the machine. The Iron Maiden manual hasn't been updated either.

I notice the Iron Maiden manual specifically says "Installation of non-authorized accessories, lamps, LED’s, motors or other devices or modification of electro-mechanical devices may damage the system and will void your warranty."

Screenshot_20180624-190311.png
#137 1 year ago

I can't think of anything that is anywhere near the price and has, in effect, no warranty.

#138 1 year ago
Quoted from D-Gottlieb:

I can't think of anything that is anywhere near the price and has, in effect, no warranty.

Pretty common in commercial gear. Short warranties, and dealer networks that sell service/parts. The trade-off is you normally expect good service and parts availability... but neither has been the case for stern

#139 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

Think it's more intimidating, cause it'd be pretty easy to mess up if you don't have steady hands....

Yeah - I should added that to my comments.

#140 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

Yeah, I finally purchased one of those magnifying glasses with the lights that folds down, man that thing is great.

I’m always on the lookout for new and useful tools. I have a great led lamp with a large magnifying glass, but what do mean with lights that fold down? - could you share a photo?

#141 1 year ago
Quoted from branlon8:

I’m always on the lookout for new and useful tools. I have a great led lamp with a large magnifying glass, but what do mean with lights that fold down? - could you share a photo?

Probably something like this, or the larger ones that clamp to the side of a bench or table.

amazon.com link »

#142 1 year ago
Quoted from branlon8:

I’m always on the lookout for new and useful tools. I have a great led lamp with a large magnifying glass, but what do mean with lights that fold down? - could you share a photo?

I ordered this one from amazon.co.jp
it's made for building models, but is packaged with a table mount as well as a thin metal plate that acts as a [moveable] base for the magnetic end opposite the LED lit magnified ring. the magnet holds really well
it comes with an ac adapter but can also run on 3 AAA batteries

https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B0077JAXAO

51t+8VJEz5L._SL1040_ (resized).jpg

#143 1 year ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

Pretty common in commercial gear. Short warranties, and dealer networks that sell service/parts. The trade-off is you normally expect good service and parts availability... but neither has been the case for stern

Bad service or no parts? This hasn’t been the case for me. I haven’t heard of anyone paying for a node board within the first 12 months and even beyond in some cases.

#144 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

I haven’t heard of anyone paying for a node board within the first 12 months and even beyond in some cases.

Quoted from spazzman90:

Just had a node board go out on a Star Wars. Diode broke (likely due to vibration) and looks like it fried a chip or 2. Stern says cough up $350. Ouch for a 10 month old game.

#145 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

All that aside, I put my money where my mouth is because Stern does make the best pinball machines out there today, IMO. Spike 2 included.

Your current collection shows you don’t own any Sterns, although you did say you just purchased a GOTG. I’d prefer to hear from those that own or route several of them.

#146 1 year ago
Quoted from BudManPinFan:

Your current collection shows you don’t own any Sterns, although you did say you just purchased a GOTG. I’d prefer to hear from those that own or route several of them.

what do you want to know

#147 1 year ago
Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

"Installation of non-authorized accessories, lamps, LED’s, motors or other devices or modification of electro-mechanical devices may damage the system and will void your warranty."

That is a pretty standard “cover your butt” warranty. It’s actually needed because all of us have varying degrees of electronic expertise. And it’s really easy to fry electronics when you don’t know what you’re doing. If you haven’t seen someone connect a connector one pin off, you just haven’t been around long enough. They have to be able to protect themselves from ham-handed fools trying to plug their TV into the Pinball machine node board to get free cable.

#148 1 year ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

what do you want to know

Actually your earlier post in this thread is exactly what I was wanting to hear, the experience of someone who has routed several of the spike games. I don’t have enough experience with electronics to know whether all the concern over the spike system is justified or not, but there sure seems to be some valid points. I don’t want to add to the paranoia, I own one spike pin and to this point it has never given me a problem, but when people with a lot more experience/ability than I are expressing concerns it has me nervous about purchasing another.

#149 1 year ago
Quoted from BudManPinFan:

Actually your earlier post in this thread is exactly what I was wanting to hear, the experience of someone who has routed several of the spike games. I don’t have enough experience with electronics to know whether all the concern over the spike system is justified or not, but there sure seems to be some valid points. I don’t want to add to the paranoia, I own one spike pin and to this point it has never given me a problem, but when people with a lot more experience/ability than I are expressing concerns it has me nervous about purchasing another.

From my experiences and in talking with other operators, I think the issues will crop up on the majority of games over time.

Route games are on for 8-14 hrs a day and obviously have more play and heat/cool cycles in a shorter time.
It is just a matter of time before home games eventually see a similar amount of play and on time. What boggles my mind in this whole thing is that these node boards are not readily available for under $200.

Given that Stern has developed toss away electronics for the consumer with Spike, they need to figure out how to get a decent amount of overstock for each node board version so the consumer builds confidence they will be able to fix games before they become 250lb dust collectors.

#150 1 year ago
Quoted from branlon8:

I’m always on the lookout for new and useful tools. I have a great led lamp with a large magnifying glass, but what do mean with lights that fold down? - could you share a photo?

basically what the others were saying.

I grabbed this one though, like it because it doesn't take any desk space and it moves and stays out of the way if you don't need it.
it's really bright and covers a big area.

amazon.com link »

this one is pretty nice as well
amazon.com link »
I mainly use it for painting or cutting frisket on cabinets. my eyes are still pretty good for close vision, so I don't need this yet for everything

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