In episode 41, we somehow talk at length about FMV games (blame John), and the value* they give the gaming community. We also chat about MCA vs Sanwa joysticks, some arcade and pinball repairs, and a whole lot more retro!

Intro music from

Anatomy of Next Podcast


The X-Files Game (1998)

Robert Patrick

Night Trap (1992)

Double Switch (1993)

Ground Zero: Texas (1993)

Snatcher (1988)

Make My Video (1992)

Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

Sanwa Parts on Focus Attack

MCA Sticks Discussion on Shoryuken

Sega Genesis and Mega Drive Classics

Capcom CP System (CPS1)

The Shadow (1994)

Bride of Pinbot (1991)

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Shadow Pinball
Let’s start with The Mystery Of The Open Window
Firstly, the chip in question IS the EPROM with the main pinball code. But why would so many negligent people install a UV susceptible chip without a suitable prophylactic sticker over its window of vulnerability? Easy answer, they don’t! Going back a quarter of a century when the machine was made (& therein lies a clue), the EPROM was programmed and a plain paper sticker was taken from a sheet that had been through a printer to ink it up with the Machine Name and ROM version, and it was applied to the chip like a tiny address label, covering the window in the process. Anybody seen what happens to 25 year old address labels or sticky tape? The glue turns to dust, and the slightest disturbance will cause them to fall off. In the hot backbox of a pinball machine this drying process is accelerated and the prominent labels on the smooth tops of chips tend to be the first to go. Depending on when and how it happened, the sticker (paper) may still be in the machine somewhere. Other stickers on boards are probably machine serial number stickers and should be retained if possible as some collectors put value in how many match each other on the boards and also the cabinet (indicating original condition) - many don’t give a rat’s.
It’s probably becoming slightly more of an issue to cover the window in modern times as I believe LEDs emit more UV than incandescent bulbs (still probably only a minimal risk though).

A couple of quickies:
Wall socket power is not so important here as in the US - we have a lot more margin for error headroom in our 240 volts when it’s rectified down than their 110 volts, Also we tend to be at the higher end of the range of our type of supply, with us generally at 240+ and Europe more around 230.
Don’t be too scared checking it. Just start with it switched off, put the probes in the socket and switch the multimeter to an AC range greater than 240V, then with hands well clear flick the switch on, get your reading and then off again.

A minor point on watchdog resets: low volts won’t damage the CPU but can cause processing and memory errors leading to crashes and setting corruption as evidenced on earlier pinball systems. It reboots to avoid these errors when power is insufficient.

If you are pricing replacement CPU boards, check what comes installed on it as far as socketed chips are concerned - CPU, RAM, ASIC etc. I mentioned to Roger your $149 board and he seemed to think on the surface it was a good price but to quote the start of the Note on that page:
“This board does not include the game ROM, ASIC, Security Chip or Microprocessor in order to the price of the board as low as possible.”
They can all be moved from your current board (& it’s still probably good value) but the safe removal of the square ASIC requires a special PLCC tool as offered at the bottom of that page.

Don’t know you really need to go for a replacement CPU, or even that diode. In the case of the diode, note that most of the small black diodes are standard 1N4004 but that one is NOT (or shouldn’t be, if it’s been replaced) [from memory I think it’s 1N5817].

Switch matrix plugs.
About Marc’s comment that connectors can’t be disassembled and wires reattached, that you need to solder the wire or replace the whole connector. Just to clarify slightly:
NO to all that! 😁
Pretty much all the plugs used to connect to boards in modern pinball machines (including & particularly ‘90s Bally/Williams) are IDC plugs - that is Insulation Displacement Connectors. Inside the back of the plastic housing, each metal terminal presents 2 sharp V-shaped grooves that an insulated wire can be pushed sideways into so the metal ‘V’s cut through the insulation and make electrical contact with the wire inside. The GIF below shows a 5 contact plug have its housing dissolve away to reveal the connectors within and then 5 wires inserted.
When wiring a plug from scratch like this, a special tool is used to apply all wires simultaneously and evenly. When reattaching a few errant conductors, an appropriately small flat screwdriver can be used to CAREFULLY insert each wire one at a time. As long as there has been no damage done to the metal ‘V’s, the wire can be returned to its place good as new - no solder required. You do need to check the condition of the end of the wire before attempting this. If it’s too damaged, insulation missing or wire broken, you may need to snip off the damaged end first (also check in the back of the plug to make sure there are no remnants of the wire clogging the channel). Remove as little wire as possible because if it becomes significantly shorter than its neighbours it may take more tension than the rest and be prone to further damage.
Here’s another GIF showing a wire end-on going into the IDC ‘V’, clearly showing contact being made to the copper wire through the insulation (for some reason I’ve found this GIF cycles about 10 times and then stops on the last frame).
When placing the wire in the channel, make sure the end of it is all the way across to the other side but still inside the plastic housing so good contact will be made in both ‘V’s. Some plugs (particularly those switch ones) may have a plastic cap over the back to help keep the wires in place. Close inspection should show this is easily prised off with a small flat screwdriver or knife blade to allow attaching the wires before replacing it.
You can often need to replace plugs in pinball machines, but those are generally the larger plugs carrying vital power that are making poor contact and particularly if they’ve suffered heat damage.
Random item from my Tabletop Games Collection
See it & the rest here:
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Great advice Mark. I thought once a wire was out, they couldn't go back in (much like RJ45 connectors), but I was dead wrong! I guess it's pretty easy to see the only connectors I have experience with, are RJ45...
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Looking in the back of some older pinball machines you could easily get the impression that wires won’t go neatly back on to a plug - so often there is ugly soldering of wires into the backs of plugs (surrounded by melted/burnt plastic) or even straight on to the pins of a board. This is almost always in the locations where the plug SHOULD be replaced - constant high current connections for the GI and the transformer feed for the CPU 5v (J101), where the connector and pins have been burnt to a crisp due to poor contact and overheating. Anywhere else where a wire has just popped (been pulled) out of the back of a plug, it should be able to be gently nudged back in to place.
Random item from my Tabletop Games Collection
See it & the rest here:
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