(Topic ID: 226448)

What Makes System 80 Games Tough to Work on?


By grantopia

1 year ago



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  • 29 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by songofsixpence
  • Topic is favorited by 6 Pinsiders

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    #1 1 year ago

    I've always heard this from people both here and that I know in the hobby, but never really took the time to ask - why is this?

    Really just out of curiosity and for my own education. I don't own any and I've never tried to work on any so just was wondering - why do these games have this reputation?

    #2 1 year ago

    Grounding issues, pin removal not easy.

    #3 1 year ago

    The boards were designed by Rockwell, an aerospace company. There is no static electricity in space so no need to ground electronics. They didn’t ground the system 80 boards. Back when the games were new and no one knew that they weren’t grounded, random features in the game would fail due to an electrical surge to that component. One week the flippers fail, next week it’s a bumper, etc. These bad stories have become the reputation that these games can’t shake.

    I’ve heard something about problems with edge connectors but I don’t know the details. You can buy a grounding kit for $35 and find articles on how to fix the edge connector issues.

    I’ve heard that once you fix the grounding and edge connector issues they are reliable

    #4 1 year ago

    Beyond the grounding/connector issues (which I've never really had issues with, at least not worse than other games), the main thing is that they're just not designed to be worked on. Lots of hard to find chips, no test points or diagnostic leds/tests. Every failure in the game can have tons of different failure points, with no easy way to figure out which one is the issue. They have an 'interconnect' (similar to williams) between the mpu and driver board, but while williams' sends the actual address bus across (so any interconnect issues will basically cause the game to crash), gottlieb just sends data across to latches on the driver board, so a flaky connection will leave the game running but solenoids/lamps can just wind up being stuck on/off due to flaky connections. The boards weren't designed with much future planning in mind. The driver can control very few solenoids, the sound board only had 16 possible sounds, etc. When that became an issue in newer games, they came up with creative hacks to work around it which add even more failure points. Their electrical engineers seemed to just design for "get it working right now", with no thought for reliability down the road or future issues.

    #5 1 year ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    [..good info..]

    Were these shortcomings as much as an issue for their system 1?

    #6 1 year ago
    Quoted from jeffc:

    Were these shortcomings as much as an issue for their system 1?

    Even worse overall. System 1's OS roms were hardcoded into its six (!) CPU chips which are soldered directly to the board. The games can even boot and run tests without the rom installed. Horribly un-future-proof. The grounding issues are even worse as a bad ground can lock on a solenoid, and on system 1 that can even come back and damage one of the CPUs controlling that solenoid.

    #7 1 year ago

    Once you're familiar with the typical problem areas, they aren't as bad to work on as people say. Address those issues, and they're solid as any other machine.

    Williams, Bally, Stern--all those games have their quirks and issues. Gottlieb is no different.

    The board interconnect, special solenoids, and overloaded GI on classic Williams? Ugh. How about the awful chip sockets, connectors, and burnt/hacked up rectifier boards on classic Bally/Stern? Double ugh.

    I can usually get a System 80 game up and flipping much more quickly than classic Williams/Bally/Stern games. It usually seems like there's a lot less effort involved.

    However, yes, there are certain chips that are difficult to get--especially when it comes to sound boards. But that's fairly typical since sound technology advanced so quickly and changed so much. Try finding some of the sound chips for the Stern VSU-100 speech board or the Bally S&T board--some of those are nearly impossible to get.

    System 80 games really aren't any worse than any other game system. Heck, System 1 games aren't even that bad either once you address the common problem areas. Everybody just seems to panic when faced with a Gottlieb game just because it's a little different than what they're used to compared to classic Williams/Bally/Stern. They really aren't that scary to work on.

    #8 1 year ago

    I have a slightly different take on this. Aside from some obsolete chips (sys 1 and 80). There is 1 huge barrier to entry for beginners: the power supply. I haven't had a system 1 that didn't come back to life with a power supply rebuild and some connector recrimp.

    The power supply with the integrated heat sink can be too much for someone without a lot of soldering experience to handle. The instructions on updating these boards to make them a little easier to deal with are straight forward but most pinball repairs don't involve a drill.

    In this situation it is good to have 2 things:
    1. An aftermarket power supply. Your confidence will shoot way up when you know the machine works and you just need to rebuild the old.power supply.
    2. A power supply bench tester. This is a much harder lift. Clay has instructions in his TOP 5 set and it requires the small transformer out of a system 80. This allows you to bench test the power supply and with some creative jumpering you can avoid having to solder in the big transistor to test the out out.

    If course#2 only applies if you think you'll work on a bunch of these. Someone had given me a sys 80 bottom board so I spent a morning building a bench a bench tester.

    #9 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    System 80 games really aren't any worse than any other game system. Heck, System 1 games aren't even that bad either once you address the common problem areas. Everybody just seems to panic when faced with a Gottlieb game just because it's a little different than what they're used to compared to classic Williams/Bally/Stern. They really aren't that scary to work on

    I don't think they're nearly as bad as many people say, either, but having worked on a ton of every system pretty much, I still find gottliebs to be a bigger pain when there is an issue.

    #10 1 year ago

    I found once I learned the basics pretty much everyone I have worked on if it hasn't been worked on recently suffer from the same problems (design flaws), after correcting them they have performed great for me. Not as many people like them so when you ask for help its harder to find reliable sources for info.

    #11 1 year ago

    Thanks for all the info. This was actually super interesting (at least to me!) since I've never messed with one of these games before. Appreciate the background!

    #12 1 year ago

    Besides repeating what everyone else has said, I can't stand Gottlieb's schematics. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I have a really hard time tracking a connection from point A to B.

    Their wire colors make me crazy too. Too similar for me and with dirt and fading they can be easily mixed up.

    #13 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    Address those issues, and they're solid as any other machine.

    more solid in my experience.

    Address the regular issues and then they seem to be largely trouble free

    #14 1 year ago

    I agree fully with ForceFlow, but I'd also add that since Gottlieb games are generally much less popular than their Bally or Williams counterparts, there are far fewer people who have really hashed out the details and tips and tricks for Gottlieb games that have become commonplace practices on games made by other manufacturers.

    If someone is having an issue with a WPC game or System 11 game and posts an inquiry here, they'll get a ton of replies.
    If someone is having an issue with a Gottlieb System 3 game, and does the same, they'll be lucky to get 2 or 3 replies.
    If someone is having an issue with a Gottlieb System 1 game, and asks a tech question, the most common response here will be "just buy a Ni-Wumpf or Pascal board"

    #15 1 year ago
    Quoted from mbaumle:

    I agree fully with ForceFlow, but I'd also add that since Gottlieb games are generally much less popular than their Bally or Williams counterparts, there are far fewer people who have really hashed out the details and tips and tricks for Gottlieb games that have become commonplace practices on games made by other manufacturers.
    If someone is having an issue with a WPC game or System 11 game and posts an inquiry here, they'll get a ton of replies.
    If someone is having an issue with a Gottlieb System 3 game, and does the same, they'll be lucky to get 2 or 3 replies.
    If someone is having an issue with a Gottlieb System 1 game, and asks a tech question, the most common response here will be "just buy a Ni-Wumpf or Pascal board"

    The gottlieb pinwiki pages have a lot of good info.

    But yes, less popular games generally get less replies.

    Any time I run into a problem or notice an interesting problem someone else was posting about, I try to document it after it's been solved.

    System 3 games are basically black boxes. Very little info about them, unfortunately. But--they also are pretty rock solid as-is and don't usually have too many problems.

    Basically, if I leave any gottlieb game on free play at a show, I have never had to worry about them having problems. They are usually trouble free. (Well, except maybe Black Hole--I always see BH owners tinkering with them at shows).

    Quoted from dothedoo:

    Their wire colors make me crazy too. Too similar for me and with dirt and fading they can be easily mixed up.

    Yeah, I have to agree with you there. The wire color choice was bad. However, the quality and durability of the wire is actually very good, so there's that.

    #16 1 year ago
    Quoted from mbaumle:

    If someone is having an issue with a Gottlieb System 1 game, and asks a tech question, the most common response here will be "just buy a Ni-Wumpf or Pascal board"

    The thing is... its really that easy and solves most of the problems with System 1

    #17 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    Basically, if I leave any gottlieb game on free play at a show, I have never had to worry about them having problems. They are usually trouble free. (Well, except maybe Black Hole--I always see BH owners tinkering with them at shows).

    Black Hole seems to be its own special thing for sure. Although mine has been solid across three moves now that I got the kinks worked out.

    #18 1 year ago

    When I first started to work on Sys 80s, at the time, it was impossible to find the split, terminal pin for the double-sided interconnect. The only choice to replace it would be to hack a JAMMA connector to it. Results were never pretty.

    Those pins have become available again.
    splitconnectorpin (resized).JPG

    #19 1 year ago

    The sound circuits are a real pain to repair/diagnose. I owned a Raven that I brought back from the dead but never could get the game music to function. Game sounds were fine, though. I've worked on another 80b and never could get the game sounds to work. Both games are still up and running, but neither sound issue was able to be fixed.

    #20 1 year ago

    Forceflow and Cheddar are spot on.

    And in reality, the "Ground" mods have very little to do with static. It is simply about making sure that each and/or every board has a good common ground connection so that voltage levels on each board share the same exact 0V level. For the other manufacturers, this was accomplished with the mounting screws. Leave them off, and you get the same "gremlins". Gottlieb, didn't use a ground plane as their mounting system. Bad connections in 40 year old electronics plague every manufacturer. Use the information and guidance on the internet and you can pretty much bullet proof any system regardless of brand. The availability of new MPU boards has simply prevented many games from otherwise being junked.

    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from songofsixpence:

    When I first started to work on Sys 80s, at the time, it was impossible to find the split, terminal pin for the double-sided interconnect. The only choice to replace it would be to hack a JAMMA connector to it. Results were never pretty.
    Those pins have become available again.
    [quoted image]

    Wait, they have? I thought they were discontinued and running low on/out of stock

    #22 1 year ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    Wait, they have? I thought they were discontinued and running low on/out of stock

    Me too. Where are they available?

    #23 1 year ago

    I agree with all the above. Connectors, chips, power supplies, Machibe ground going through pins and not through a metal back panel. All these are things that people learn and fix. There are also online guides out there today that will bring you up to curve.

    But from a beginners perspective NO ON-BOARD diagnostics has to be the toughest. On a bally or williams of similar vintage there is a flashing diode or an 8 segment display that at least gives you some info before you ever pull the meter out of the toolbox. On a Sys 1 Sys 8 there are no cpu or on board diagnostics. So a dead game can have a problem anywhere from power, to connectors, or even a dead CPU. Bally williams I can talk a novice over the phone with no meter and get a 90 percent fix rate. Not with a Gottlieb.

    #24 1 year ago
    Quoted from athens95:

    On a Sys 1 Sys 8 there are no cpu or on board diagnostics.

    Even worse, system 1s give an artificial pause before booting just to make you feel like it's doing something

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from songofsixpence:

    When I first started to work on Sys 80s, at the time, it was impossible to find the split, terminal pin for the double-sided interconnect. The only choice to replace it would be to hack a JAMMA connector to it. Results were never pretty.
    Those pins have become available again.
    [quoted image]

    Those bifurcated pins don't appear to have been reproduced as far as I can tell.

    Look for part numbers 08-03-0306 & 08-03-0305

    What usually happens is that someone occasionally stumbles upon a small cache of them and then lists them for sale until they're gone.

    #26 1 year ago

    There was another thread linking the new parts. As I recall, they are coming out of china for the AMP style black Jamma housing. Just have to find itm

    #28 1 year ago

    Looks like they have 57,757 of those in stock (according to the max number I could add to the cart).

    #29 1 year ago

    http://www.arcadeshop.com/i/475/molex-pin-snap-in-crimp.htm

    They actually come on a strip, so they have to be individually snipped off.

    A bit more expensive here:
    http://www.twistedquarter.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=177_184&products_id=1115&zenid=ndg3e69agvv5a13r6sp96hqut7

    I don't know if they come on a reel, or for the premium price, you get them as individual pins.

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