Played a couple of games pinball today

A couple of months ago I shorted a switch to a coil on Medieval Madness killing multiple components. I spent several weeks following the troubleshooting guide (“Check Fuse F106/F101“) and replacing almost every recommended part without fixing the problem. Every time I have thought about playing pinball since then, I’d look over at Medieval Madness and feel too guilty to play another machine.

This week I handed my game boards over to Pat at Endless Pinball for some professional troubleshooting. Now that the guilt has lifted I played a couple of games on Pirates of the Caribbean at home this morning. :)

In honor of the futuristic year 2010

I’m trapped in a world before later on.
I’m trapped in a world before later on.

Where is my hovercraft?
Where is my jet pack?
Where is the font of acquired wisdom that eludes me now?

We’re trapped in a world before later on.
We’re trapped in a world before later on.

Where’s our telray?
Where’s our space face?
Where’s all the complications we won’t see around?

“The World Before Later On”, by They Might Be Giants.

Listen to the song on Google.

WordPress Auto XFN-ify v1.2: offical update

When I logged on today I had 18 WordPress plugins that could be updated. One such plugin was Auto XFN-ify, the plugin I created an unofficial update for a few months back.

Upon further research the update was released September 30th. And here is the change log for the official Auto XFN-ify 1.2 update:

  • Improved regex for link replacement (Thanks, prometh)
  • Fixed issue where Style sheet option was not being honored (Thanks, prometh)
  • Included additional icons for: parent, child, and spouse relationships (Thanks, Brian Hanifin)

Thanks for the hat tip David Meade. :)

Download: Auto XFN-ify 1.2

The Night We Booed “The Best Band in the World” off the Stage

I went to a Tool concert (they were a heavy rock band) in the mid 90’s with my sister! The opening band was a couple of overweight balding guys playing folky rock guitar music. I didn’t know who they were at the time, but apparently I was in the minority of those who were enjoying their music. Because midway through the first song most of the crowd was booing and chanting “Tool, Tool, Tool”. They persevered and played at least 4 or 5 songs though the taunting.

Then the main act Tool came on stage, of course their was a loud cheer from the crowd. They had succeeded in getting their band on the stage sooner! Then the lead singer steps up to the mic and proceeds to chew us out for giving the opening act such a hard time, then they started into sound track of squealing tires and feedback that probably looped for a half hour before someone finally pulled the plug and we all went home.

A few years later, my sister and I went to a concert at the same arena to see this great new band fun rock band. I had one of their albums and really enjoyed their music. So, they get up on stage and say “So, the last time we were here, you guys didn’t give us such a warm welcome.” Then it hit me… the Tool concert crowd had booed Jack Black’s Tenacious D off the stage!

I have to admit as much as I enjoyed their music, silly rock is an odd choice for an opening band for a heavy rock concert. :-)

Medieval Madness: Pinball Repair Log

My wife and I are now the proud owner of one of the grail games of pinball collectors: Medieval Madness. We bought it from a game room store on September 3rd, and it ended up having some issues when we got it home. I have been gaining a lot of confidence repairing this machine as all of the issues have been pinpointed withing a couple of hours. So, I am enjoying my time repairing this machine. On the plus side, the machines warranty includes all the parts I need for 90 days.

ISSUES

  1. Left Flipper Malfunctions:
    • Flipper stays up for about a second after release.
    • In Switch Edge test mode there is a hum/buzz that occurs as the lights on the switch matrix display are finally turning off. (This sound emanates from playfield, not the speakers.)
    • Lane Change: At one point I saw the “R” and “E” alternate back and forth after the left flipper button is released. (I assume all four of the letters to spell “FIRE” do this, but I haven’t watched closely enough to verify.)
  2. End of Ball / Multiball.
  3. Flash Lamp Shorts.
  4. Catapult Kicker Power.
  5. Right Troll Inconsistency.
  6. Castle Gate Inconsistency

DETAILS
Left Flipper

  • [9/5] The flippers on the WPC machines use optical switches instead of leaf switches. There is a “F” shaped piece of plastic which normally blocks the opto switch light. This plastic was leaning slightly away from the opto board, which was apparently causing these crazy things to happen. I also discovered the left opto was missing a piece of spring steel. Transferring the steel piece from the right flipper resolved the problem.
  • [9/14] Installed new piece of spring steel on the left flipper button assembly, and returned the other piece back to the right side to resolve the problems.

End of Ball / Multiball Issues

  • [9/5] A new acquaintance of mine told me the balls are getting caught high in the trough so the opto switches are not registering the balls presence. The solution is to replace the old dented ball trough. Until the trough arrives, we just have to give the game a jiggle to free the balls.
  • [9/14] Installed a brand new replacement trough engineered by Mantis Amusements. This trough adds a steeper incline, and uses inexpensive replaceable rods. And, the next time our trough has problems, flipping the rods over gives the trough new life! :-)

Flash Lamps

  • [9/5] Playing Pat Choy‘s MM made me realize our the flash lamps were not working.
  • [9/9] Discovered a blown fuse.
  • [9/10] Luckily every flash lamp had quick disconnects, so troubleshooting involved unplugging every flash lamp under the playfield (I now realize there are 4 flash lamps behind the translite as well). Then installed a new fuse, and began plugging one lamp in at a time until the fuse blew. The problem was a #89 flash bulb which lights up the green moat plastic. The base had broken loose and was causing a sort. Repositioning the base resolved the short (at least temporarily).
  • [9/12] Discovered the lamps lighting up the green moat trough are NOT supposed to be lit constantly! Uh oh! I disconnected the moat lamps (via the quick disconnect) to avoid the lamps melting the moat plastic any more than they may have already done.
  • [9/13] After reading Clay’s Williams WPC repair documentation (at marvin3m.com / pinrepair.com), I believe the transistor(s) that turn those lamps on have developed a short.
  • [9/13] Both the TIP102 and its predriver transistor have been requested from the seller. Hopefully replacing these transistors will resolve the problem, and we won’t end up having to replace anything further up the line (like the chip that tells those transistors when to activate the lamps).

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Inspired by Jeff Rothe’s post, I thought I should share my top WordPress Plugins. In addition to this blog, I also keep a private blog about my family. The family blog of course has photos and video of our kids.

  1. 404 Notifier: Provides an RSS feed (or Emails) of 404 errors. After all you cannot fix broken links if you don’t know they exist! Install this and you may be surprised what you find.
  2. Auto XFN-ify: Adds images to the links in your blogroll based on your relationship with that person. See the links on the right side of this page. (Note: I created an unauthorized update to this plugin, which adds a few missing relationship icons.) Update (Dec 8, 2009): The author of this plugin released his official Auto XFN-ify 1.2 update which includes my updates.
  3. FeedBurner FeedSmith: Detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed
  4. Lifestream: Displays your activity from various social networks. (Like Friendfeed, but hosted on your domain.)
  5. Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu: All admin links available in a neat horizontal drop down menu. Saves lots of screen real estate!
  6. Ozh’ Better Plugin Page: Adds a little sliding plugin list and buttons to toggle display of Active/Inactive/Out-of-date plugins to the “Manage Plugins” page.
  7. Push up the Web for WordPress: When people visit your website using an outdated browser, a subtle upgrade link is shown at the top right hand corner of the screen. They can click this link to visit the upgrade website for that browser, or choose to be reminded after a time you specify.
  8. WP-Gallery-Remote: Allows you to integrate images from any Gallery installation (http://gallery.sf.net) into your posts/pages.
  9. Viper’s Video Quicktags: Easily embed videos from various video websites such as YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo into your posts.
  10. WP-o-Matic: Enables administrators to create posts automatically from RSS/Atom feeds.

Comet: Pinball Repair Log

Comet is one of two non functional pinball machines I picked up for at a Garage Sale about two months ago. The other is Space Station (whose repair log is here).

ISSUES

  1. Battery corrosion — but no leaks.
  2. All displays are dead.
  3. Display Power Supply voltage problem.
  4. All ramps are damaged to some degree. The middle ramp needs repair.

ISSUE DETAILS
Batter corrosion.
[7/13] Removed corroded battery holder and replaced it with an off-board battery holder. Game powered up and played very well (except of course for the lack of displays, and middle ramp issue). Luckily the corrosion does not appear to have spread.

All displays are dead.

  • [7/13] The glass looks scorched. Will have to see if any of the displays work after I repair the voltage problem. I suspect I will end up having to purchase a new set of LED displays.

Display Power Supply voltage problem.

  • [7/17] 100 volts was missing on one of the two 100v pins. When I was feeling around for overheated components, I touched the heat sink of one of the transistors and got a little zap! Since the heat sinks of a transistor should be ground, I believe someone hooked up a replacement transistor without making sure the correct leg went in the correct hole (often replacement transistors legs are in a different order than the original component).

Ramp Damage: Middle / Roller Coaster Ramp

  • [7/15] Side walls at entrance appear to have melted slightly and lean far to the right. This prevents the entry gate/switch from moving out of the way of the ball. With gate removed, a large bump at the entrance still makes entry almost impossible and causes many airballs to fly hard into the glass.
  • [7/16] After talking it over with several people, and doing some reading, we will probably use a heat source to soften the ramp enough to allow us to reposition the warped walls… and perhaps lower the bump. Per the suggestion of both Shane and my father-in-law, we may attempt to use some kid of resin to reattach the cracked lip at the very front of the ramp.

Hack my Pac: 4-in-1 Pac-Man Menu

When I bought my above average Pac-Man cabinet, I wondered if there was a way to choose between playing Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man. My wife said she wanted to play Ms. Pac-Man with the fast mode enabled.

Of course I first ran across the 96-in-1 Multipac. But why in the world would you want to have 500 variations on Pac-Man (plus Pengo)??? Ok, Pengo would be cool, but I don’t want to play “Pac Electric Cowboy”, or “Pac Mr. Roboto”!

Thankfully I found Jason Souza’s 4-in-1 Pac Hack. WOW! This is exactly what I wanted. No more, no less.

Before I could install the 4-in-1 Pac-Man multigame, I had to get the Pac-Man operational. (Note to self: make sure daughter boards are not upside down on day 1!) Since I was already ordering parts from Bob Roberts, I asked him to include the supplies to install this hack. Not including shipping, it cost me $26.50 for the two ROMs, ROM programming, ROM sockets, and wire. So, after flipping the Z80 Buss Sync Controller, replacing 2 RAM chips, and replacing the sound transistor, we were ready for the hack.

Two months pass… while I am waiting on parts for my Space Station Pinball repair I decide it is time to hack my pac. :-)

It was very tedious, and at times difficult to solder the tiny wires to the chip legs. And then there was the worry that I would connect things up wrong, so I quadruple checked every wire. I even used a continuity checker to ensure none of the legs I soldered were accidentally shorted to the leg next to it (there were a couple of those that needed to be corrected).

I am almost embarrassed to share this with you… it looks like my pac board got attacked by a spaghetti monster. But the end result was worth it. :-)