(Topic ID: 143516)

What did you learn from your last repair?


By swampfire

4 years ago



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  • Latest reply 3 years ago by MrWizzo
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There are 215 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 5.
#1 4 years ago

I've been collecting for 17 years, but I'm always learning. System 11 games seem to give me more learning opportunities than other pins. This month's installment is:

"Special Solenoids: special when lit (on fire)"

I was playing a nice game of Space Station a few weeks ago, and suddenly the knocker went off about 5 times. Shortly after that, a few other coils locked on. I quickly turned the game off and opened the backbox. There was a faint burning smell, but nothing obvious. I turned the game back on, and all seemed well until Q77 on the MPU board caught fire. I made some notes in my repair log, and tried not to think about it. I had new games that needed my attention.

Last night I decided to tackle this. First, I reverted to newb mode and tried swapping in a known good system 11B MPU board from my Whirlwind. Same result: Q77 caught fire on that board too! I grabbed a beer and my schematics. Q77 is one of 6 transistors that drive the "Special Solenoids". What makes these coils "special" is that they can be driven directly by a switch, not just by software. The pop bumpers and slingshots are examples. I checked, and sure enough one of my pop bumper switches was closed. I adjusted it and turned the game on with the coil fuses removed. This allowed me to go into test mode and confirm that everything else was working - displays, switches, feature lamps, etc. A quick check confirmed that several coils were now locked on - indicating that the PIA at U10 is probably toast. Tonight I'll get out my Hakko and try to fix all the damage.

What I learned: First, always try to understand the root cause first, before trying a shotgun approach (replace and pray). Second, the six Special Solenoids are a weak point in System 11 reliability. I'll get some fuse holders and put 1A fuses inline with the output of the transistor drives for each of these. I need to do this in Whirlwind too, when I get back to that.

#2 4 years ago

Please link your game to the thread, when you add your story.

#3 4 years ago

I learned to look for a new hobby! Curling anyone.

#4 4 years ago

I am working on a rfm with a flipper coil problem. I have never really needed to pay attention to this circuit before on any machines. So I learned that there is one power wire coming in and that the other two wires are grounds coming in. one to flip and one to hold.

#5 4 years ago

connectors, connectors, connectors. the answer to so many problems. especially on early solid state. spent 10 hours chasing feature lights..corroded trifurcons between mpu and light board.

#6 4 years ago

I spend 45 minutes adjusting the centering screws of my roto target on Flipper Clown because the numbers wouldn't always line up 100% correctly. Then I realized the number plate was too tight on the shaft and it was getting stuck on the 2 metal pieces behind the numbers. That thing needs more play than a flipper bat does, works great now.

One of those things a competent person could fix in literally 2 minutes. Took me an hour plus 3 days waiting on a Bolt Depot order because I stripped the set screw

#7 4 years ago
Quoted from Meatneck:

connectors, connectors, connectors. the answer to so many problems. especially on early solid state. spent 10 hours chasing feature lights..corroded trifurcons between mpu and light board.

Absolutely. I got so tired of connector issues on my Black Knight that I replaced them all - made it much more reliable. It was easier to do that when I only had 1 game.

#8 4 years ago
Quoted from DefaultGen:

Took me an hour plus 3 days waiting on a Bolt Depot order because I stripped the set screw

Today I learned about Bolt Depot - thanks!

#9 4 years ago

I learned if you have enough to drink you may not remember your last repair. But amazingly those repairs do get done.

#10 4 years ago

On early Bally - Start with connectors yes, but another common issue i've found (recently on Elektra) is diodes and capacitors for switches.
I've worked on 2 Elektras and both had the same row of switches out: Top middle standup, Mid middle standup, bottom middle standup(s), Left outlane, and 2 star rollovers in shooter lane.
I spent many days rebuilding connectors (remember to label or do something to tell which ones you did, and don't stop in the middle)
After that, look to the diodes and capacitors.

#11 4 years ago

On my LOTR I learned that although micro switches test and register fine they can still be flakey and need to be replaced. I still can't beleive this one.

#12 4 years ago

I learned that even after making the same repair 10 times before, it is easy to screw something up.

I was installing NVRAM in my 10th game the other day. Completed the socket and install and no boot up. Spent 4 hours trying to figure out what went wrong and finally gave up deciding my eyes were tired and head was foggy. The next day I started diagnosing from scratch and found a lack of continuity from a single pin. Sure enough I had taken out a 1mm section of trace. I learned how to do a nice pro looking sticth and all good/ back in aciton.

What did I really learn... Taking time off between board work means you need to refresh your muscle memmory before just jumping in. Also>>> a fresh set of eyes and a clear head can be key to figuring out what you messed up.

#13 4 years ago

^^^ Same exact thing happened to me, on my JM. It sucks to think you're doing the right thing, and then render a pin nonfunctional.

#14 4 years ago

Tonight's lesson: Alltek boards are amazing, but not infallible. My Fathom had 2 problems:

1. Reset sequence not working (e.g. coils not firing when they should)
2. Settings were getting lost (e.g. sound reverts to chimes)

I swapped in a newer Alltek and Fathom is golden! Fortunately Alltek sockets all of their ICs, so it should be easy to figure out which component went bad. I'll start with the RAM and go from there. I think Alltek has a warranty, but I'm pretty sure this is a chip problem rather than a board problem.

EDIT: what a luxury - a lifetime warranty!! Makes me glad to be an early Bally/Stern fanatic:

http://www.allteksystems.com/warranty-information.html

#15 4 years ago

What I learned: document it, take pictures, write the symptoms down, write down what you did to fix it, and if possible take a video of the problem in action and a video of it fixed.

It helps A LOT more to see and hear the problem rather than writing a couple lines that could mean 1000 different things.

#16 4 years ago
Quoted from NPO:

What I learned: document it, take pictures, write the symptoms down, write down what you did to fix it, and if possible take a video of the problem in action and a video of it fixed.
It helps A LOT more to see and hear the problem rather than writing a couple lines that could mean 1000 different things.

That's actually REALLY insightful. We're so used to writing up the problem and solution, but in 15 years 95% of the pinball community will use video. A pinball repair vlog would be very valuable. Challenge accepted!

#17 4 years ago

I replaced a diode in my AFM power driver board. After I put the board back in the CPU, switches, and display worked but almost nothing else did - very few of the lights, none of the solenoids. After about an hour of scratching my head I found the problem - when I reconnected the ribbon cable between the CPU and PD board it was off by one pin. I learned it is very easy to put this cable back on incorrectly.

#18 4 years ago

Funny thing about pin repairs. It feels really good to fix one. It is frustrating as hell when a repair doesn't work. Best to stay calm and walk away if needed. I recently grabbed a hot soldering iron @2am replacing caps on a Bally sound board. Even though it needed them anyway, didn't fix the problem. Hate that crap, but at least you know what wasn't the problem. Running down shorted wires, bad connections, switch adjustments, the joys of owning a Pinball..........

#19 4 years ago

Random power surges can blow GI fuses for no reason.

#20 4 years ago

When get to the root cause of a difficult problem, I feel like the smartest guy in the world. But more often I discover that the problem was obvious all along, and I feel like a complete fool. Either way, I'm happy when I get to play again, without spending (much) money on the repair.

#21 4 years ago

I learned never to commit myself to a repair before looking at the problem....

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#22 4 years ago
Quoted from dothedoo:

I learned never to commit myself to a repair before looking at the problem....
IMG_5849.JPG

....

#23 4 years ago

I learned that sometimes it really is as simple as just a fuse.

#24 4 years ago

Always keep extra flipper opto-interrupters handy. Black ones are best.

#25 4 years ago

I learned from another thread that you keep trying as best you can to fix properly but if your having a Pinball party overfuse and hope for the best! You have to have priorities!

#26 4 years ago

"If at First, if you do not succeed, Try, Try, Again".

Adjusting steppers can be frustrating. Set it up, tighten it down, play a few games and BANG! It falls out of sync again.

#27 4 years ago

I always learn the same lesson... I am a moron.

Just yesterday, I spent over an hour fixing a problem on my 1957 jukebox. Assumed it was one thing, then another, then something else. If I had simply looked more closely and thoughtfully diagnosed the problem, I would have seen it and corrected it in about 5 minutes. You know what they say about assuming...unfortunately, the only one that is the ass is me!

#28 4 years ago
Quoted from swampfire:

Tonight's lesson: Alltek boards are amazing, but not infallible. My Fathom had 2 problems: [...]

Dave at Alltek was very responsive and helpful. We figured out the problem after a few emails. It turns out that whoever installed a supercap in my board didn't make the required mod to allow charging it. D7 has to be jumpered out as shown below, otherwise the cap never charges to over 0.5V.

So, the problem wasn't the Alltek board, it was a faulty modification of the board.

IMG_7275.jpg

#29 4 years ago

Take tons of photos BEFORE taking something apart.

#30 4 years ago

This probably hasn't happened to anyone but me, but when you take something apart remember where you put the pieces. I disassembled part of a machine and when it was time to put it back together I couldn't find the parts I looked and looked for them but couldn't remember where I put them. A few weeks later I found them in the coin box of of another pin, what the hell was I thinking

#31 4 years ago

Today I learned that I'm definitely not Targaryen - I burned a nice long section of my hand with my Hakko 808.

#32 4 years ago

Not to let bare wires all touch the same piece of metal. Luckily the fuse didn't blow when it took out the GI...

#33 4 years ago

I had a not-so-gentle reminder to use less aggressive chemicals when cleaning a cab.

#34 4 years ago
Quoted from dasvis:

Take tons of photos BEFORE taking something apart.

Believe me, I do. And in the end, it seems the one shot I need from a certain angle will be the ONE I did not take.

#35 4 years ago
Quoted from swampfire:

Dave at Alltek was very responsive and helpful. We figured out the problem after a few emails. It turns out that whoever installed a supercap in my board didn't make the required mod to allow charging it. D7 has to be jumpered out as shown below, otherwise the cap never charges to over 0.5V.
So, the problem wasn't the Alltek board, it was a faulty modification of the board.
IMG_7275.jpg

I'm sure he gets many emails on that problem. He got the same one from me a couple of years ago.

#36 4 years ago

After spending the last two days "dialing in" a friends fully restored Fathom I have a few things to get off my chest. Mostly I only do restorations for myself, but I have one friend that pays reasonably, covers all parts cost and never squawks about what it takes to do it right.

That said, this Fathom that I have been working on really demonstrates the quality of work an individual performs. While at first view this game looks wonderful (mostly because of a nice paint job) I found many things that are just shoddy repairs. So..just want to list a few things that should never be missed when doing a restoration...

First off, for a game like Fathom with a $5k price tag I would expect all the score displays to be perfect... Put a new NOS score glass in the Match/Credit display.

When stapling ground braid to the underside of a playfield use a pneumatic stapler....hand staplers just do not penetrate the hard playfield well and you end up with bent and loose stapling.

Make sure all braid is routed so as there is no chance of shorting...Took me most of a day to find a braid buried under the main harness that was shorting to a leaf switch because it was not routed around the switch..

Follow up to the situation in the last paragraph... If you are doing a nice restore for someone, you need to test the hell out of everything to insure proper function. Initially when I got the machine it was to get the roll overs working, fix a bad pop bumper and generally just make sure everything was working. This is where the fun began... The roll overs were never adjusted by the person who restored and clearly not functioning. All of them had about a 1/2" gap in the points... So I adjusted them and got them working and lo and behold I now have a switch matrix issue. As most of you know when the matrix is compromised, the switch tests just don't work as you get phantom closed switches. I found I had GI voltage on the matrix which initiated the hunt....that's when I found the leaf switch with the braid under it shorting to the leaf....and not shorting all the time!!! So I was chasing my tail.

And how could this person have missed a non working Pop bumper??? That turned out to be a broken trace on the Solenoid Driver board right at the drive transistor. I did appreciate that the guy rebuilt many plugs and pins, but on the Solenoid driver board, only rebuilt the plugs....pathetic.

The saddest thing was something I can't fix...at least not without charging my friend another couple hundred bucks. He had told me that the playfield did not fit well down into the cabinet. I figured this was likely due to inaccurate placement of the playfield pivot hinges but in fact was due to the lower cabinet not being square. The restorer took the time to put a new bottom in the lower cabinet, but neglected to make sure the cabinet was square before securing the bottom...Note that the bottom board of a cabinet is the means to insure the lower cabinet is square....food for thought...how do you check to see if the cabinet is square before securing the bottom panel??? Very simple...with the cabinet upside down, you measure diagonally from corner to corner...It's square when these 2 measurements are the same. This will not affect game play, but with the lock bar off, you can see a gap between the playfield and the lock down mechanism that is tight on one side and has a 1/4" gap on the other side.... Even a framing square shows it's out of square.

And a good deal of poor soldering under the playfield...

Sheesh!!!

So if you are doing your own playfield swap, I hope there are some points in here for you to be aware of...If someone else is doing you swap, be sure they know what the hell they are doing. I am presently doing a Flash Gordon full restore for my friend and just completed the playfield swap...everything perfect!...next is the full restore on the cabinet. In the garage I have a Xenon of his that will just be a playfield swap and electronics upgrading. Waiting in the wings will be a top to bottom restoration on a Bally Viking...

God I hope that's all he has for me for a while!

#37 4 years ago

I have been working on a williams Grand Prix em for a while. Got everything fixed. Played a couple of games and..... BOOM! No power.

What did I learn? While I like the game play, the nostalgia, and the idea of EM pinball. I hate working on them. I know. I know. Once it is dialed in it will work forever. Getting it there is a pain.

#38 4 years ago

The IC pad traces are very delicate; it's easy to remove them with bad soldering technique. Looks like I'm going back to solder school.

#39 4 years ago
Quoted from QuarterGrabber:

On my LOTR I learned that although micro switches test and register fine they can still be flakey and need to be replaced. I still can't beleive this one.

I've had to replace those stupid VUK switches a few times on mine.

#40 4 years ago

This is probably going to sound ridiculously simple but it does highlight how 'sleeping on it' can help a huge deal.

I recently got a pretty nice WH20, and I had a few small things I did to it before I give it a good clean and pull it apart over the winter. I wanted to get a spare color DMD I had in so I could at least enjoy it, well I got the DMD in and had a few games and wanted to adjust the dots settings but try as I might the translite just would not raise high enough to lift out and over the top of the speaker panel as per usual. It just kept on catching on something. I even took the lock out and no dice. After about 30 minutes of futile attempts to get it out I gave up.

Next day I literally walk up to the game, give it a bit of a wiggle and get it out practically straight away! I must have been tired or something.

Also noticed the original DMD had no grounding braid attached to it so that was a nice bonus

#41 4 years ago

I'm a very logical thinker, and one thing I love about pins is that if there's a problem, there's always a logical reason for it. Recently my Sorcerer would award the bonus and go to the next ball while I was still playing the previous ball; usually when I locked the first ball or hit one of the lane change switches. So without thinking it through, I pop the playfield, check for shorts, check the switch matrix chart, etc. No luck, and nothing about this problem seems to make sense. I take a breather to think things through logically, and decide it has to be something in the ball trough. Sure enough, the rightmost switch in the trough is riding right up against the ball kicker arm, which sometimes drags the switch wireform along with it. Some creative bending and problem solved. It's all logical.

#42 4 years ago

Once worked on a Fire! cpu that was dead dead and was also burning a special sol and driver.

Put it on bench, put in LEON's, found the CPU problem, fixed, found the SOL problem fixed..

Put it in my Bugs Bunny to test,,, what can be described as Klingon is on the displays... Hmmmm...

Put it on bench, put in LEON, scoped out all display dirver pins to make sure none are floating or stuck high... Nothing obvious.

Put it in Bugs, Klingon still. Put original Bugs in Bugs, works fine...

Put it on the bench, put in LEON, re-verify everything a second time...

Drag it to Bugs, drag over scope, nothing obvious,,,

Then dawn broke over Maui.... Fire! = System 11, BUGS = System 11C. One uses the older 4 player display with credit/match and the newer uses the 2 long alpha/numeric segment displays... Fire! board was talking Klingon as far as the System 11C display knew...

DOH a couple of evenings flushed down the toilet.

#43 4 years ago

Working on a Mousin Around that spent a couple years in someone's garage with no top glass. Lots of corrosion on metal bits, ramp flaps are solid rust. Have been dismantling and cleaning ramps, parts go into ultrasonic and metal parts then go into tumbler. Rusty ramp flaps get a vigorous scrubbing with aluminum foil and vinegar.

Rivetting everything back has proved challenging at best. A rivet press might be nice, but after shipping, customs fees, and exchange rate, it's like $450. Not happening.

I've learned that if you buy a c-clamp rivet clincher, make sure the rivet die at the fixed end is on some sort of extension. I can't rivet half the things because the body of the clamp itself requires a certain amount of clearance that is not provided with rivets at the edges of ramps, or on the flanges that hold microswitches. Probably (but not verified, as I do not have this) a better tool would have the rivet die on a threaded piece as well as the cup-shaped-rivet-holder-thingy (technically speaking).

1 week later
#44 3 years ago

Today I learned the power of dirt. I have a Taxi and the Pinbot target bank wouldn't reset (Pinbot Stranded, really!). Fiddled with it and the targets really didn't want to reset even manually. Then when pushed, didn't want to drop. First I tested the coil to see if it was melted in the middle or something. Resistance seemed good. So then I pulled the whole assembly out. When I had it down to just the targets themselves on the chassis, they still didn't want to move. Gunky dirt. Completely Disasssembled. 3 minutes in the ultrasonic with Mean Green and hot water. Reassembled. Tschnick tschnick tschnick. They all worked nicely. Reassembled everything and put it back in. Started up a game. No reset. F*ck. Raised the PF and noticed that I forgot to put the wire connectors back on. Put them on. Started up a new game. Target bank worked perfect!!!

There was just so much greasy, waxy dirt built up in the assy that it could no longer move.

#45 3 years ago

I learned that I suck at soldering. I also learned (again) that pinball machines don't like to be moved.

#46 3 years ago

I learned if your in a crappy mood and tired, you break more things than you fix, so have another beer and put down the soldering iron, go watch tv......

#47 3 years ago
Quoted from Mudflaps:

I learned that I suck at soldering. I also learned (again) that pinball machines don't like to be moved.

So true.
We just moved a Xenon we are working on. It was booting perfectly.
We moved the machine from one side of the room to another on pinball skates, so it was smooth ride.
Now all I get is a loud hum from the speaker and the main board no longer boots up. Arrrrrrgh.

#48 3 years ago
Quoted from Arcade:

So true.
We just moved a Xenon we are working on. It was booting perfectly.
We moved the machine from one side of the room to another on pinball skates, so it was smooth ride.
Now all I get is a loud hum from the speaker and the main board no longer boots up. Arrrrrrgh.

Are you sure that the outlet is grounded?

#49 3 years ago

People are dodgy and some don't do the right thing

#50 3 years ago

Today I learned, from reading in the Taxi manual, that you can run the switch test and jumper between the connector and pin for the row and the connector and pin for the column to find out if a specific switch is not working at the boards, or off the boards. Holy cow this is huge. Today was worth it!

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