(Topic ID: 218125)

What are your thoughts on the Spike II system?


By LoserKid3

1 year ago



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#201 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

Pinball in general has been behind the technological curve significantly for the past decade or two, but Spike II appears to be a really good leap forward

I agree with your entire post but not sure I understand the last part of the above sentence. How is it a leap forward? What does Spike II do better than SAM? Pardon my ignorance on the question, the difference in specs is above my technical grade so all I see are the extra costs in replacing them when they fail (which at least seems to be more frequently than on SAM).

#202 1 year ago

Those that work on the games regularly from route operation recognize that Stern SPIKE titles will be in the garbage dump in 10 years, but until then they will remain "reliable".
Our company still has regular, periodic infant mortality failures within 3-6 months of initial operation based on volume sales (we even had a couple instances out of the box), which requires node board replacement of all types. Why? HEAVY operational play.

We do full burn ins for at least 3-5 days before location placement. No full MPU failures to my memory. Stern customer service remains good.
Lifecycle remains doubled for home use games on average based on board testing.
Personally, I will never own a SPIKE game ever, as it is more apt within the next 5 years to get dumped for support when Stern moves onto a new system and determines this is already obsolete. It's like throwing money into a toilet, and pulling the handle.
Home enthusiasts are better off using the P-ROC system from other manufacturers, as this design is schematic documented and the boards are cost effective.
If a person is a high volume operator, it probably does not matter, as the game will have run due course, made its money, and you do have to buy what tournament and pinheads want to play, meaning the "new stuff" in many instances.

#203 1 year ago
Quoted from mcbPalisade:

I suspect the CPU they use is the P3-ROC which can be replaced for $175 from Multimorphic.

The P3-ROC isn't a CPU, it allows a computer with USB to communicate with the P-ROC boards and handles most of the low-level stuff. I think Houdini uses an UPBoard for the CPU, but ultimately it's a commercially available single board computer that could be replaced by any future computer that can run Linux and has a USB port, whereas SPIKE is a proprietary board made specifically for Stern.

Nothing insanely unusual about it that a hardware guy couldn't make replacements but still not as easy as ordering on Amazon.

#204 1 year ago
Quoted from TigerLaw:

I agree with your entire post but not sure I understand the last part of the above sentence. How is it a leap forward? What does Spike II do better than SAM? Pardon my ignorance on the question, the difference in specs is above my technical grade so all I see are the extra costs in replacing them when they fail (which at least seems to be more frequently than on SAM).

There are no significant advantages of SPIKE over SAM, except to Stern themselves in overall cost of manufacturing both in parts, design, and speed of assembly.
It does not even have an improved diagnostic or menu system comparative for such an "advanced" system.
The reality is SPIKE was a step backwards in the Reliability-Serviceability-Durability (RSD) of pinball PCB design and game longevity.
It is like comparing the modern Valley Dynamo Zombie Baseball to an old WMS 1962 World Series (which BTW World Series has more features).
If you put them side by side, fully serviced, Zombie Baseball fails first from things like sheared batting assemblies and bent running man units.
It is incredible how cheaply these games are produced at times.

Technicians already know, and it would benefit the public to stop believing Stern propaganda.
Being "behind" in technology has its reasons, as part of the requirements are having to be able to fix what you own.
If an item is purely disposable/unrepairable, operators refuse to buy new equipment and manufacturers stop making games.
Enthusiasts need to stop thinking that these devices were initially designed for home use, as even today they have operators in mind.
The percentage of home users that understand the SPIKE operation system is very small.

#205 1 year ago

Well, less wiring means less connector failures and wiring problems.

#206 1 year ago
Quoted from jwilson:

Well, less wiring means less connector failures and wiring problems.

Less easy connector repairs.

#207 1 year ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

If an item is purely disposable/unrepairable, operators refuse to buy new equipment and manufacturers stop making games

Another reason the home market has totally taken over and the operator market appears to be, basically, insignificant by comparison for new Stern sales...best I can tell anyway.

#208 1 year ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

There are no significant advantages of SPIKE over SAM

How about (LCD) screen output and better quality sounds (higher bitrate) ?

I'd say these things are pretty significant.

#209 1 year ago
Quoted from Bendit:

How about (LCD) screen output and better quality sounds (higher bitrate) ?
I'd say these things are pretty significant.

I thought this was a discussion regarding reliability and design functions of the boards?
If we are discussing features now, SPIKE certainly has these perks.
SAM was a very robust designed game system, which worked well.
Personally, I would rather have a game that I know I can keep going, than one that has extra fancy sounds and video.
That is why I still own EMs too.

#210 1 year ago
Quoted from TigerLaw:

Another reason the home market has totally taken over and the operator market appears to be, basically, insignificant by comparison for new Stern sales...best I can tell anyway.

You are correct.
As long as new owners can get buffaloed, Stern will not change.
It is not like operators and distributors are unwise to the events around them, but they have businesses to run.
It is more likely that Stern will completely stop production of games, if the market falls flat, during the next pinball stall.
They already were last time anyway in 2009, and only one vote saved the company.
Stern has to squeeze out as much money as they can, when times are good.

#211 1 year ago
Quoted from TigerLaw:

I agree with your entire post but not sure I understand the last part of the above sentence. How is it a leap forward? What does Spike II do better than SAM? Pardon my ignorance on the question, the difference in specs is above my technical grade so all I see are the extra costs in replacing them when they fail (which at least seems to be more frequently than on SAM).

Just a couple of the reasons why I personally feel like it's a leap forward from SAM:

- They now use a bus for communication between nodes, it's what makes the system more modular. If some new technology or mech comes out, they aren't constrained to flipping transistors on and off or scanning a switch matrix, they can use their existing CPU hardware and node boards and just introduce a new type of node board. It doesn't require a re-release of the core hardware to do that. Even if Stern decided to upgrade to a more powerful CPU (Node 0), none of the other nodes have to change. Conversely, if a common node design like Node 8 gets updated, prior games that use Node 8 could potentially use the upgraded node. The bus protocol provides a nice layer of separation between devices.

- The node boards themselves have some advanced features on them. You can tell that even though all the features on the node boards may not be exposed or known about yet, the ones I've seen are pretty good. For example, the node boards have overcurrent detection and protection on them, and are able to smartly disable themselves as a line of defense. I think as we learn more about the system and Stern starts exposing that data through the display and error messages, we will really appreciate some of those features being born into the hardware.

I think as Spike II ages and platform goodies are taken more advantage of, it will be known as a really solid, long-term system.

Buying a NIB game for me is a once a decade thing probably, and I saved a while to buy GotG Pro. I wouldn't have risked that kind of money if I thought there was any chance of me ending up with a brick in a few years. Just my 2 cents.

#212 1 year ago

The current overload protection sometimes does not trigger on node board shutdown, coil, etc, and node board fails anyway.
One of the common problems presently, along with boards to get destroyed by some electrical voltage that is outside the specific circuit. Essentially, in some cases, no better than any previous PCB design. This could be corrected by independent fuse boards, but that has been removed from the PCBs in favor of the onboard "smart" monitoring that was referred. It is not all always that intelligent.

#213 1 year ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Being "behind" in technology has its reasons, as part of the requirements are having to be able to fix what you own.

thanks for saying this because this the point that keeps going through my mind. To what extent should the repairability of a game be considered during it’s design even if it means some fancy features have to be omitted or done differently ? In my mind great innovation in design needs to include repairability as a key feature. With its prices, immobility and expected longevity, pinball shouldn’t be going in the direction of most other consumer electronic gadgets.

And in general the home pinball enthusiast needs a certain skill set to keep his or her games running. I think the easier a game is to diagnose and repair, the more pleasure the game will provide long term.

#214 1 year ago

I only have one spike on location. Its back in my shop waiting on its 4th node to be replaced. This game cost more to keep running than the other 14 combined. Needless to say I highly doubt I'll be buying another spike system game.

#215 1 year ago
Quoted from branlon8:

To what extent should the repairability of a game be considered during it’s design even if it means some fancy features have to be omitted or done differently ?

I am not sure I can give a "right" answer.
Here is a little history:
BLY/WMS in the late 80s-early 90s used no more than a 20% cost rule, and added to the time required to create a pinball design, which is where the "one year" design standard came from in the first place. In the early days, Bally could pump out 4 titles in a couple months due to simplicity alone. In some cases this meant cutting complex features as well for the SAME REASONS.

Today, it completely depends on the profit margin requirements of the company at the time, health of the industry, and overall acceptance level of the owners that use the equipment. Acceptance is high out of operational ignorance, not pinball interest, which are two different areas. Hence, less questions mean more profit.
Making equipment easily repairable with redundancy adds to expense whether accessibility to get to said assemblies, or function of electronics.
It is certainly achievable with SMT, but not presently included in ANY Stern games.
Improvements are supposedly planned, but not yet implemented.
Consider this all, when you drop your next $8-10K on a new Stern pinball machine.
It simply is not there.

If I was not a technician, I would probably refuse to work on Stern games as well, but I am just biased after watching the industry for over 30 years.
No senior technician I know lines up at the gates for Stern's new releases, for those that can afford the titles unless they are a distributor as well.
I just see what "right" looks like, and what directions are reversed.

Lack of complete documentation should be the #1 simple indicator that Stern is doing things incorrectly.
It is hard to believe anybody could even consider to argue this point if they wanted.

This is not the way the amusement industry has been run, since the 1940s (after WWII) going into the Golden Age of EMs in the 1950s.
"Secrecy of schematics" is the fastest way to alienate long time repeat buyers, once fat wallets go broke or move onto other hobbies.
Even JJP figured this out, as they are now SHIPPING schematics and added documentation to customers for the EXACT reasons.
They at least are continuing to build a baseline trust in this area, but Stern is not. They are relying on pure customer service and their name to carry the weight until boards are NLA (which has already happened with games starting from 2015), which then they will simply state as before, "sorry, we cannot help". This is the short term profit methodology which has plagued Stern since 2013.

I am reminded of an old saying, "Just because your can, does not mean you should."
This includes cost cutting via reducing long term RSD of games.

#216 1 year ago
Quoted from mario_1_up:

I only have one spike on location. Its back in my shop waiting on its 3rd node to be replaced. This game cost more to keep running than the other 14 combined. Needless to say I highly doubt I'll be buying another spike system game.

Which game?

#217 1 year ago
Quoted from mario_1_up:

I only have one spike on location. Its back in my shop waiting on its 3rd node to be replaced. This game cost more to keep running than the other 14 combined. Needless to say I highly doubt I'll be buying another spike system game.

Spike I or Spike II? Are Spike I games earlier to work on than Spike II games?

#218 1 year ago

I know I've replaced 2 node 8's and CPU on game of thrones. Paid for the second node 8 but I had it already for a year and a half.
mainly sucks, because It was down for about a week and half each time. I got a couple backup's now.

#219 1 year ago

Do the other modern pin manufacturers (JJP and Spooky in particular) have more theoretical long term reliability in general based on the way they're built vs Spike II?

#220 1 year ago

For WOZ to completely stop working the CPU, motherboard or ram would have to crap out. The good thing about that is there is it's not specifically made for them, so you can go and buy one off ebay in 10 years or possibly substitute it with something else. plus they are only like 30 bucks currently for a new mobo. I'd be more comfortable with the idea of replacing an SMD light on one of those boards on WOZ. most of the other stuff on the driver board like transistors, look like through hole.
Haven't really had any failures besides lights, so I haven't investigated it to much more then that. Like previously stated they give you schematics for everything.

The parts for CGC as a whole seem a lot cheaper for the consumer to buy. I didn't like the idea of one big ass board. Thought it was gonna cost like 800 bucks to replace, but the price is only 300, it's mainly a light board anyway. Not real sure about the CPU board on that one, kind of looks like a Arduino. I think this would be a lot easier for some to replicate 10-20 years from now. The driver boards, think there are 3 on MMR have some easily repairable parts on them. plus you have planetary sourcing parts for these games because that's what they do.

everyone else is using p-roc which from my understanding is a set of universal boards. TNA, P3, ACNC, Houdini? Kingpin? If we are using throw away boards I'd be much more inclined to go this route. pinball life sources parts for spooky, and it makes it easier for the end user to get ahold of them.

the parts for spike change every couple of games, they are all proprietary and it's all throw away. apprx. 5 years after the game is off the line, parts for the game stop being made. As soon as distributors run out of parts... that's it. If you have a broken WWE then....

#221 1 year ago

Wow, that's really concerning. I'm looking at getting a NIB pin in the next few months, and was considering a Stern SW Premium, but I will likely look more towards JJP (Dialed In looks good) or a TNA.

#222 1 year ago

nothing wrong with getting a star wars, just sell it in a few years

#223 1 year ago

Love this proclaimed 10 year shelf life because the guy in the PNW read a book about SMD. These games will not self destruct in 10 years.

#224 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

These games will not self destruct in 10 years.

Love this proclamation that some guy said on Pinside.

#225 1 year ago

Love all the fortune-telling in this thread!
But if you can throw some good tech-talk behind it, you might win!
How does anyone know what technology will be like in the future? They dont.
How does anyone know how long a board will last? They don't.
How does anyone think they look smart acting like they know these things? They...
Well, you get the picture. How many games, over all the years of pinball (electronic era, for discussion) have become obsolete, especially one from a major manufacturer?
Personally, I ran into an Atari Middle Earth that compenents and boards were too hard to get working well, and made it go away. Other than that, Everything has been fixed!
I find it impossible to think that all these Sterns are self-destructing in an irreparable way in 10, 20, or whatever number makes you scared, years.

#226 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

Love this proclaimed 10 year shelf life because the guy in the PNW read a book about SMD. These games will not self destruct in 10 years.

xtheblackknightx is easily one of the most knowledgeable and expierenced guys on Pinside. If he’s worried about these things we should not dismiss them off hand.

#227 1 year ago
Quoted from DNO:

Love all the fortune-telling in this thread!
.

Quoted from kermit24:

Love this proclaimed 10 year shelf life because the guy in the PNW read a book about SMD. These games will not self destruct in 10 years.

think you guys are missing the point.
a lot of stuff can happen that might change the way we feel about spike in 10 years, but this is where we are right NOW.
also no-one said 10 years was the definite shelf life, obviously electronics can and do last a lot longer. I think he meant it more or less as an average to where something on the board will break, to where the whole board is now garbage. As opposed to older boards which are a lot easier to repair.
The majority of what I've been reading on this thread or writing is based on experience individuals. Not some dude that picked up a book, well maybe he picked up a book .

Ignorance is bliss or so they say.

#228 1 year ago

Ghost busters.

#229 1 year ago

I guess what really chaps my ass is the cost of the boards. There markup has to be 400%.

#230 1 year ago
Quoted from hocuslocus:

also no-one said 10 years was the definite shelf life, obviously electronics can and do last a lot longer. I

I must have misunderstood...

Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

Research shows the lifecycle of these SMT boards is less than 10 years of route operation, materials and construction. After that, they are toast, and the game is trash.

#231 1 year ago
Quoted from mario_1_up:

I guess what really chaps my ass is the cost of the boards. There markup has to be 400%.

600% is normal factory multiplier. A new ECU for my 2001 Honda Civic costs $800-1000. If that's what you need then that is what you buy.

Adding a PC or SBC to make Multimorphic P3 work? That changes the math a lot. But long term the more general the solution the more likely it is to be around after a while.

I'd bet that one of two things will happen: 1) Someone will entirely reverse engineer the SPIKE II platform and sell it themselves or 2) Stern will release lots about it some day in the future so people can work on them.

#232 1 year ago

I work industrial maintenance for a living. Every time I see quotes for machine parts it blows my mind. So at 600% stern pays $32.80 which sounds right.

#233 1 year ago
Quoted from mario_1_up:

I work industrial maintenance for a living. Every time I see quotes for machine parts it blows my mind. So at 600% stern pays $32.80 which sounds right.

It is disappointing that they are viewing replacement boards for defective boards they sell as a profit center at all.

That would be like General Motors making a fortune off car starters for brand new cars if the starter went out 9 weeks after ownership. “That car we sold them won’t work without a starter charge them a thousand bucks for piece of junk replacement.” People would go bonkers.

#234 1 year ago
Quoted from TigerLaw:

It is disappointing that they are viewing replacement boards for defective boards they sell as a profit center at all.
That would be like General Motors making a fortune off car starters for brand new cars if the starter went out 9 weeks after ownership. “That car we sold them won’t work without a starter charge them a thousand bucks for piece of junk replacement.” People would go bonkers.

Tons of profit in car parts. Sure the warranty is longer, but these parts have LOTS of margin.

#235 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

Tons of profit in car parts. Sure the warranty is longer, but these parts have LOTS of margin

No doubt. But at least the warranty lasts for 50,000-100,000 mile’s of actual use. Often it is not the new car buyer that is taking the beating.

#236 1 year ago
Quoted from TigerLaw:

No doubt. But at least the warranty lasts for 50,000-100,000 mile’s of actual use. Often it is not the new car buyer that is taking the beating.

Taking a beating? What are you talking about? Stern isn't leaving anyone out to dry with the service and support. New pin buyers are being taken care of well beyond the warranty.

#237 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

Taking a beating? What are you talking about? Stern isn't leaving anyone out to dry with the service and support. New pin buyers are being taken care of well beyond the warranty.

Well, in the post you quoted I was talking about the new car industry specifically. I would have thought that was rather clear since I said it expressly, guess it wasn’t.

As for Stern, are you saying no one has had to pay the price for node boards that people in this thread are claiming they are being charged when their boards go out? If so, where have the numbers come from and what is happening to the people saying they are being charged? Are you saying they are fibbing to us?

#238 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

Taking a beating? What are you talking about? Stern isn't leaving anyone out to dry with the service and support. New pin buyers are being taken care of well beyond the warranty.

Warranty? Two months is not what I would consider to be a reasonable warranty on something that costs this much. What about the Pinsider that had to spend 350 bucks 10 months into ownership for a replacement node board? It should be at least a year in black and white, with an extended warranty as an option.

#239 1 year ago

SERVICE PARTS (Spares) COSTS

If you're building something - say a clothes washer - then here are some build quantity thoughts:

Suppose your target building 1,000 units at the current revision for market. You actually have to build a large percentage more on the line, say 30% more based on reliability information.

These "spares" will have to be packaged, cataloged, managed and stored for the "service life" of the product. This adds directly to the cost of the 1,000 units you plan to sell.

Each revision will need its own set of shared/unique parts to be stored. What prompts revisions? 1) Parts availability. Manufacturers regularly issue "End of Life" warnings for parts they are done making. Users that count on these parts are usually offered a "one time buy" opportunity to get what they think they need to support this washer revision. 2) Better designs. Moore's Law has made giant leaps in price/performance for electronic stuff. People expect more and newer parts can do that faster and cheaper. 3) Manufacturing efficiencies. Improvements are constantly made to the "current" product that improve its price/reliability/manufacturability.

These spares have a large percent-contribution to the factory % markup, part of that ~600%.

The problem with pinball is that the customers expect the thing to work forever. If/when this becomes impossible then the customers will have to adapt. That, or replacements will have to be available through other avenues so they can keep it running. I'd say the ARM family of CPUs actually make this much more possible.

So: put down that cell phone and start studying electronics! ( - :

#240 1 year ago

Another thing to keep in mind:

Remember that JJP Celeron motherboard I mentioned? You can't get one from JJP or Newegg. So what do you do if that fails? Start scrounging for parts to fix your 2013 WoZ? I'd say so.

Stern's stability hasn't forced this burden on their customers, as of this writing. You can pay "a lot" and keep moving or scrap it.

#241 1 year ago
Quoted from D-Gottlieb:

Warranty? Two months is not what I would consider to be a reasonable warranty on something that costs this much. What about the Pinsider that had to spend 350 bucks 10 months into ownership for a replacement node board? It should be at least a year in black and white, with an extended warranty as an option.

D Gottlieb you are the 2nd person on Pinside who has reported paying for node boards within the first year of ownership. Countless other reports are not consistent with that, including my own with 4 Spike games purchased. Not calling you a liar. I am curious who this pinsider's distro is.

#242 1 year ago
Quoted from mcbPalisade:

Another thing to keep in mind:
Remember that JJP Celeron motherboard I mentioned? You can't get one from JJP or Newegg. So what do you do if that fails?

You replace the motherboard/processor/memory with a modern, available one that will run the WOz Operating system (probably Linux) and program. That's the point of standardized computer parts. You don't have to change every piece of hardware when one piece fails. My netbook from 2011 will still run many flavors of Linux and if I needed to compile my own the information is available.

#243 1 year ago
Quoted from kermit24:

D Gottlieb you are the 2nd person on Pinside who has reported paying for node boards within the first year of ownership. Countless other reports are not consistent with that, including my own with 4 Spike games purchased. Not calling you a liar. I am curious who this pinsider's distro is.

I have not had to obtain a node board yet. I was referring to a previous post that someone else had made.

#244 1 year ago
Quoted from mcbPalisade:

Remember that JJP Celeron motherboard I mentioned? You can't get one from JJP or Newegg. So what do you do if that fails? Start scrounging for parts to fix your 2013 WoZ? I'd say so.

The product was made to be platform agnostic. If it becomes a problem, JJP (or in another life.. someone else) can rework the kernel drivers and recompile if needed.

#245 1 year ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

The product was made to be platform agnostic. If it becomes a problem, JJP (or in another life.. someone else) can rework the kernel drivers and recompile if needed.

Luckily the security dongle JJP uses is easily hackable.

#246 1 year ago
Quoted from DNO:

I must have misunderstood...

ok
I'll agree, he probably could of phrased it differently. but I'm sure your smart enough to read btwn. the lines.

I don't think we are going to see these issues come up for at least 10-15 or so years, after the game has come off the line. So I'm not telling people to get super worried. It's only when parts run out from the distro's.
Just think even now, unless you know how to pirate, you are screwed if you have a RFM and SWE1. That is if your CPU or motherboard go out. As you probably already know, Nucore is no more.

It's nice to think that some future pinhead will fix all these issue's for you, but probably not the smartest idea to bank on.
Circuits used in pinball machines are only getting more complicated, and using proprietary software making it even more difficult to replicate (not to mention all the revisions). Spike is on a stripped down version of Linux using an older kernel 2.6.30 (maybe updated?). Just like a regular PC there are device drivers, software, hardware that all have to work in unison to achieve the desired result.
found a pretty interesting write up from a guy who is a lot more familiar with Linux then I.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/spike-linux-details
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BusyBox

A system using this tech makes sense to use in cars because they sell millions, parts will probably be on hand for decades. For Tv's, their cheap who gives a crap if they break, just by another right?. Pinballs, they are expensive, prone to breaking just by looking at them wrong and they sell to a much smaller audience.

If enough people raised concern with manufactures, it might expedite the release of more information about the system as a whole. So people can start looking at the possibility of future repairs. I'm sure you've seen all the repair documentation older games have, things are bit more complex now.

#247 1 year ago

Nicely said, hocus
Much better than the gloom and doom some speculate of

#248 1 year ago
Quoted from mcbPalisade:

Another thing to keep in mind:
Remember that JJP Celeron motherboard I mentioned? You can't get one from JJP or Newegg. So what do you do if that fails? Start scrounging for parts to fix your 2013 WoZ? I'd say so.
Stern's stability hasn't forced this burden on their customers, as of this writing. You can pay "a lot" and keep moving or scrap it.

There are newer motherboards with newer/better CPUs that work. The processor isn't the key factor, the chipset is. I've swapped a newer MSI motherboard in to an original WoZ and it works fine. Loads faster, too.

The main thing that's dumb about JJPs off the shelf parts is they took a standard ATX power supply and changed a couple of the connectors when they could have left it standard and used an adapter for those two leads. Total pain in the butt.

#249 1 year ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

Luckily the security dongle JJP uses is easily hackable.

Oh my. That shifts the table a lot.

#250 1 year ago
Quoted from vireland:

The processor isn't the key factor, the chipset is.

Hum, there have been lots of chipsets. Do you anticipate trouble in the future finding this one in current-production motherboards?

Keep the info coming, I'm learning about machines I don't have regular access to.

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