|and when I say "game room", I mean "back wall of the basement storage"|
It took a significant amount of work and cost a bit to get it all done, but here we have it, the great unveil of my back basement far wall, now a full-fledged pinball arcade.
On vacation in the Muskokas I went to the Balacade (in Bala Ontario!) and bought those 3 fabulous original marquees.
The picture on the left is a print by Tehching Hsieh from 1980. I collect art a bit, and had no extra room for it. It's really entirely unrelated to pinball.
But most importantly, we have the 2 new games! Data East's The Adventures Of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, and Capcom's BreakShot. Probably 2 games that are on the top of no one else's wishlist, but I don't exactly have a lot of money to buy A-Listers. This is a fabulous lineup costs $4000 total, less than a single NIB Stern, or any game that is remotely popular.
Mind you, the Royal Flush is now up for sale to pay for Breakshot, but in the meantime, we have a great looking trio.
I will go in to each game in later, but right now I wanted to talk about the ordeal of getting this set up.
On Friday the Rocky & Bullwinkle was delivered. On Saturday the Breakshot was going to be delivered around noon. I scheduled my go-to handypeople to come at 2pm to help me get them down the stairs.
I wrote about the crazy stairs in my house on MAACA, and how very difficult the stairs are. A few steps down, then a landing with a 90 degree turn. Then another 90 degree turn, except no landing, just rotating stairs. This is the crucial part: the machine has to be rotated down the stairs while being held vertically. That's where my hired help comes in: These guys built my kitchen, painted my entire house, intsalled all of my appliances, and have done a myriad of repairs: and now they're also helping get my pinball machines downstairs.
The other crucial aspect of it? The pinball machines can only make the trip with their heads removed. No legs, of course, but also the back box has got to go. A backbox is 27 and 3/4" wide, much wider than the playerfield, so disrupts the critical turning radius of my stairs. A backbox also weights about 50-60 pounds, so it definitely makes the difficult lift that much lighter.
On an EM machine like Royal Flush, removing the backbox is a breeze: 2 chunky connectors, then the bolts. The playfield can apparently even be removed almost as easily, breaking the machine down in to more reasonably managed parts.
But on a DMD machine, the back box is a collection of large circuit boards with most wires running down and in to the machine.
In order for me to get the back box off, this would all need to be undone. Here is where it all feeds to:
11am Saturday, I started getting to work on the Rocky & Bullwinkle. I got out the camera and photographed each board so I could clearly see the starting state of each connector, and the coloured wires coming off of them, in case I'd need that info later.
Using green painter's tape and a sharpie I started disconnecting things and flagging each side of the connectors.
This was mostly just laborious. There were 3 connectors that on them I spent more time and energy than the rest combined. All in all, it took me about 2 hours of solid work to get it all looking like this:
The two main tubes of wires were pushed in to the cabinet, along with a couple extra velcro-strap bindings to keep it all together.
While I was working on this, Breakshot got delivered! It is a "budget" game, with half of the boards and connectors to unhook. After Breakshot's back box was disconnected, my guys moved it downstairs and I started the process of setting it up again. Here it is with the head re-attached and the wires pulled through:
I reattached all of the connectors, trying to affix the wire guides whenever possible. I made special note of each board's ground wire, hoping that even if I flubbed something, I wouldn't FRY something.
I then went over each connector a second time making sure they were tightly affixed. Got the power cord, plugged it in, turned it on... AND WORKING! YAY!
Well, not quite. Turns out, no sound. I tried checking the diagnostic LEDs on each of the boards, but was unable to find any reference online or in the manual for the diagnostic LEDs.
I decided to re-check every connector going to or from the sound boards. I pulled my laptop out and went through each photo of each board. I found one misplaced connector on the board on the DMD unit that went to the sound board. I had plugged it to J4 instead of J5. Or maybe the other way around. Either way, it was wrong, the picture was right, and after that little fix I turned it on and it was PERFECT.
The next day I got to work on the Rocky & Bullwinkle machine. I had trouble getting the wires up, I think they all got a bit stuck when I shoved them in to the back box. I didn't want to yank too hard, as a faulty connector wire would be hard for me to diagnose. I eventually finangled them up, secured the head, and got started. Here it is with the left tube of wires attached, the right tube splayed out on playfield glass:
There are wire guides around the motherboards, but there is often an optimal stacking order for laying down the wire. Since I went left tube then right tube, my wiring job is certainly not as pretty as when I started, but there was no way I was going to start unseating connectors again just to make it pretty.
I went over each connector, making sure they were firmly affixed. Then got out the photos and made sure each connector was in its proper place on each board. Put the DMD back, plugged it in... AND IT WORKED!
No problems whatsoever.
I was SO relieved. I was dreading the folly of my actions, the seeming inevitability of breaking connectors, unseating wires, busting off capacitors with my fat fingers... but it all went back together again A-OK.
When I had originally started talking about the necessity of taking off the heads to get machines in to my house a lot of people thought it was a ridiculous idea. Inconvenient, risky, and downright dangerous. It was indeed a chore, but these machines will be here for at least a year or two. And the most inconvenient thing of all would be to MOVE because my god tearing apart a pinball machine has nothing on the difficulty of setting up in to a new house when you have as many art books as me.
Oh, and I got Magic Sliders on each of the machines now and it works great for pulling them out of the line-up for work. I'm probably going to return the 3-wheeled casters.
And I'm probably going to go play some pinball, since my baby is now sound asleep upstairs.