Coney Island Boxer Restoration Project – It Works!

I plugged in the boxer for the first time to test it today and received some good news. It works! I also cleaned out the inside, ran the tests, and did a few minor touchups to the display holder to make it usable. Here are some pictures:

The back of the machine.

The back of the machine.

I did some research, and from the stickers + labels on this unit, it seems to be designed by a company called Pigallegame, manufactured by a company called Pitt-BT (no website), parts supplied by a company called Novo-Parts (and they don’t even carry all of the parts), and licensed by Coney Island Arcade. It was made in Hungary in 2006. 3 of the 4 companies are based in Hungary and have poor english language support on their websites. I contacted each of the companies for support, and only Coney Island Arcade responded. I’ll be ordering the electromagnet/solenoid from them ($120 shipped to NY) if I can’t get one of my own to work. Coney Island’s website was down during the duration of this project.

The board diagram + testing options.

The board diagram + testing options.

Notice the broken english everywhere. Also, the wiring diagram for the coin selector is inaccurate and dangerous to follow, as it will destroy your coin acceptor. I’ll write a post later on about getting a generic (the machine is supposed to be used with an Alberici mechanism, which is really expensive) coin mechanism to work with the machine.

The display holder prior to installing the newly-fixed display.

The display holder prior to installing the newly-fixed display.

The display holder was a mess. Notice the broken plastic all over the place.

The CPU board. Notice the coin counter on the upper-right corner.

The CPU board. Notice the coin counter on the upper-right corner.

Here’s the CPU board. The coin counter says around 77000 coins have been inserted over the lifetime of the board. The little board above the CPU board is a power tap and the coin mechanism connection board.

Another shot of the CPU board.

Another shot of the CPU board.

The display board, installed.

The display board, installed.

I used the wing nuts that I had purchased the other day from Home Depot to install the display board. It fits nicely using only the screw holes on the cabinet itself, so I won’t have to replace the display holder which was quoted at $110 by Coney Island Arcade to replace.

The speaker and top of the inside of the machine.

The speaker and top of the inside of the machine.

The transformer + coin mech slot. The manual and a parts list was also included, in very broken english. I'll try and post pictures of both later on.

The transformer + coin mech slot.

Here you can see the transformer, coin mechanism slot, all the broken pieces of the display holder, the manual and a parts list. The manual was in very broken english. I’ll try and post pictures of both later on.

A shot of all the electronics boards.

A shot of all the electronics boards.

The newly-installed display holder from the front.

The newly-installed display from the front.

Moment of truth. Will it work? I sure hope so.

Moment of truth. Will it work? I sure hope so.

It works! I'm guessing this 6.27 is the software version currently loaded on the CPU board.

It works! I’m guessing this 6.27 is the software version currently loaded on the CPU board.

Woohoo!

Woohoo!

E. 1 Error.

E. 1 Error.

So, I turn the machine on, wait a few seconds, and this error pops up. What could it be? As it turns out, the machine tests out the solenoid at each startup, and uses the optical sensor to ensure that it’s working. If you manually release the arm during startup, the machine won’t detect a problem, and will work just fine.

I also ran all the tests available in the testing and options menus (activated by flipping the 2 DIP switches on the main CPU board to on). The light test showed me that all but 3 of the strength indicator lights were burned out, and the sound test showed me that the person who recorded the english phrases wasn’t a native english speaker – this makes for some hilarious insults if you score low on your punch. Difficulty can be adjusted along with the volume.

What’s Missing:

  • 1 Top Halogen Light Bulb
  • Punchball
  • Solenoid/Electromagnet
  • Coin Acceptor
  • Some Screws + Nuts

What’s Needs Fixing:

  • Plastic Display Holder – It looks like someone took a sledgehammer to it…
  • Buttons – All of them are mismatched, and one’s sticky.
  • Foam Hand Guard
  • Many of the Mini Lightbulbs for the Strength Indicator are burned out
  • Display Board – Wires… Everywhere!
  • Cabinet needs some buffing/TLC
  • Coin/Mech door on the back needs a lock + screws

Coney Island Boxer Restoration Project – Fixing the Display Board

I took a look at the display board today, and was pleasantly surprised – It’s fixable. The wires that were on it, are just to fix bad solder joints + breaks in the lines on the board.

Reverse of the board.

Reverse of the board.

Bad solder joints.

Bad solder joints.

Bad solder joints.

Bad solder joints.

Bad solder joints.

Bad solder joints.

Front of the display - Notice the super-effective makeshift display holder in the top right. There was plenty of the holding the display holder together on the inside of the cabinet.

Front of the display – Notice the super-effective makeshift display holder in the top right. There was plenty of that holding the display holder together on the inside of the cabinet.

To fix it, I desoldered all of the segments to record the paths that needed re-soldering, and put it back together with ripped-apart IDE cable to fix the broken joints on the board.

Display board with the bad digits removed.

Display board with the bad digits removed.

Uh oh. Looks like I'm going to need a little more wire than before.

Uh oh. Looks like I’m going to need a little more wire than before.

Reverse of the display board with the bad digits removed.

Reverse of the display board with the bad digits removed.

The front of the newly-fixed display board.

The front of the newly-fixed display board.

 

My wiring job. Hopefully this will work.

My wiring job. Hopefully this will work.

As of now, the rest of the machine’s working condition is unknown. I’ll test it out after installing this board in a day or so. I also purchased three replacement buttons (43mm seems to be the correct size from measurements I took) from eBay for around $2.50 each, 30 replacement LED indicator bulbs (for the strength indicator – the bulbs are standard T5 #74) for $1.50/10, and stopped by Home Depot to pick up a couple dozen assorted screws + nuts and a new locking bolt for the mech door. This brings our running cost to: $84.25.

What’s Missing:

  • 1 Top Halogen Light Bulb
  • Punchball
  • Solenoid/Electromagnet
  • Coin Acceptor
  • Some Screws + Nuts

What’s Needs Fixing:

  • Plastic Display Holder – It looks like someone took a sledgehammer to it…
  • Buttons – All of them are mismatched, and one’s sticky.
  • Foam Hand Guard
  • Many of the Mini Lightbulbs for the Strength Indicator are burned out
  • Display Board – Wires… Everywhere!
  • Cabinet needs some buffing/TLC
  • Coin/Mech door on the back needs a lock + screws

Coney Island Boxer Restoration Project – First Look

Here’s a few images of the exterior of the unit before I’ve done anything – It isn’t in that bad shape. The inside is a mess, with broken plastic, screws, nuts, and more everywhere – At least a copy of the manual + the parts list was included. The bad display board was also included, so I’ll try my hand at fixing it in a day or so and post the results.

2013-03-07 17.26.20

The display cover still has it’s protective film on, so it’s not in as bad shape as it appears.

2013-03-07 17.26.26

The white thing hanging down from the top is the foam hand guard. It’s missing the black cover, so I’ll have to either remove it, or blend it in somehow.

2013-03-07 17.26.53

This is just about the only thing on there that says Coney Island.

What’s Missing:

  • 1 Top Halogen Light Bulb
  • Punchball
  • Solenoid/Electromagnet
  • Coin Acceptor
  • Some Screws + Nuts

What’s Needs Fixing:

  • Plastic Display Holder – It looks like someone took a sledgehammer to it…
  • Buttons – All of them are mismatched, and one’s sticky.
  • Foam Hand Guard
  • Many of the Mini Lightbulbs for the Strength Indicator are burned out
  • Display Board – Wires… Everywhere!
  • Cabinet needs some buffing/TLC
  • Coin/Mech door on the back needs a lock + screws

Coney Island Boxer Restoration Project – The Beginning

I’ve just purchased my next project from a Playdium auction. It’s a Coney Island Arcade branded boxer machine (sometimes also known as a punchball machine, strength tester, or punch measurer) that, from the auction listing, appears to be in terrible disrepair. Since there is very little repair information on boxer machines available on the internet, I’ll be posting updates on what I’ve done (with pictures + instructions), and a total running cost, as I fix it; piece by piece.

The description of the boxer from the auction was: “Coney Island Boxer – This is being sold for PARTS ONLY! Missing coil, missing bag, bad display, missing mech.” Ouch.

Images from the auction:

Well, the body doesn't look that bad...

The body is in OK condition.

Guess I'll be replacing that.

Guess I’ll be replacing that.

You know it's a risky buy when the list of problems is longer than the space available on the problem sheet.

You know it’s a risky buy when the list of problems is longer than the space available on the problem listing sheet.

So far:

Unit Cost: $37.29

Trailer Rental: $30.00

Total Running Cost: $67.29

5 Minutes in the Ms. Pac-Man Factory, 1982

I wonder how many machines made there are still working today.

Fixing a Blurry Arcade Cabinet Monitor (CRT)

I recently acquired a Simpsons Bowling arcade cabinet that had a blurry, unfocussed display. Here’s how I fixed it (for free) to be good as new.

The Cabinet:

Front view - Overall, it wasn't in that bad shape.

Front view – Overall, it wasn’t in that bad shape.

Side-view of the cabinet.

Side-view of the cabinet.

I learned later on that this cabinet had been left outside, unprotected for several weeks before I picked it up. That would explain the water damage!

I learned later on that this cabinet had been left outside, unprotected for several weeks before I picked it up. That would explain the water damage!

Before:

IMG-20121004-01162

Gameplay

IMG-20121005-01175

Close-up of Blurriness

IMG-20121005-01174

Another Close-up

After:

DSC02499

That’s better!

DSC02500

It helps when you can actually SEE the bowling ball.

DSC02497

Made it to the Top 10 on my first try after fixing it. Coincidence? I think not!


The Fix (Step-by-Step):

Sorry about the awful picture.

Sorry about the awful picture.

  1. Find a friend.
  2. Power up the game.
  3. Open up the cabinet.
  4. Find the knob labelled “focus”. It should be on the flyback transformer, on the display board somewhere near the end of the picture tube. I’ve circled/boxed the flyback on my cabinet in the image above. ***DANGER – BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN WORKING NEAR THE PICTURE TUBE, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S POWERED ON! DO NOT TOUCH THE DISPLAY BOARD OR THE CAPACITORS! THE CAPACITORS ON THE DISPLAY BOARD ARE CHARGED WITH EXTREMELY HIGH VOLTAGES THAT CAN KILL YOU, EVEN WHEN THE MONITOR IS POWERED OFF. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH HIGH VOLTAGES, EITHER FIND SOMEONE WHO IS OR DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS FIX.***
  5. Have your friend watch the screen and tell you when the screen becomes focussed as you slowly twist the focus knob. The screen should become either clearer or more blurry. If it becomes more blurry, try twisting the knob the other way. If that doesn’t work, you’ll probably need to replace the caps on the display board.

Why (Cheap) N64 Reproductions Won’t Be Possible

Here’s a mapper-based NES game:

MMC3 mapper, specifically.

MMC3 mapper, specifically.

You have your ROMs (2 big chips on the top left), CIC (anti-piracy chip – on the top-right), memory mapper (bottom left square chip), and WRAM (bottom right chip). The NES reads the game off of the ROM chips by calling the data it needs from the correct memory banks. Since there aren’t enough address bits (what’s used to select memory on the ROM chips) on the NES to support all the memory on the ROMs, the memory mapper helps the NES read all of the data on the ROM’s higher addresses by managing it’s higher addressable (readable) memory. The ROM chips are just that, read-only memory ONLY.

Now, here’s an N64 game:

But there's less chips! That should be simpler, right?

But there’s less chips! That should be simpler, right?

Here we only have 2 chips; the CIC on the left (the little chip) and the ROM/Bank-switching/Logic chip on the right.

Since chip-making technology advanced greatly between the release of the NES and the N64, Nintendo was able to put more “stuff” into that one ROM chip than ever before, making boards cheaper and simpler to produce, and games harder to counterfeit. The fact that this extra “stuff” is included inside the chip, means that simply removing and replacing the chip with a another reprogrammed one (much like how NES and SNES reproductions are made) won’t work.

So basically, N64 reproductions won’t be possible without expensive custom boards to replicate the logic contained inside the ROM chip. This means no cheap N64 reproductions for you.

Universal Game Case Cover – Recca (Famicom)

Here’s a cover for universal game cases that I made for the game Recca (Famicom). It’s not very good, but feel free to use it however you’d like.

 

Meh quality.

Meh quality.

Getting A Coin Acceptor and Arduino To Work With MAME

As part of a MAME retrofitting project, I was recently tasked with getting a coin acceptor to work with the MAME emulator. As the MAME emulator uses a keyboard to get input (ie. controller, start, coin insertion, etc…), I had to get the coin acceptor to output a certain key whenever a coin is inserted. The best way to do that, in my opinion, was with Arduino. Here’s how I did it.

For this project, hardware-wise, I used an Arduino Uno (Rev 2) and a Chowhe CH-926 Programmable Coin Acceptor, however, these instructions will work with any generic pulse-based NC coin acceptor.

Software-wise, I used Atmel’s FLIP in-system flash programming software, the Arduino software, and the following USB firmware hex files (one for the keyboard driver and one for the original):

Arduino-usbserial-uno.hex

usbkeyboard-0.3.hex

First off, was getting the coin acceptor to accept coins. I programmed mine to accept quarters ($0.25), loonies ($1), and toonies ($2) and output 1 pulse for each multiple of $0.25 inserted; but you can program yours to accept whatever you’d like, as long as your coin-acceptor supports it and you have 15-20 sample coins to feed through it. Follow the instruction manual included with your acceptor to program and sample it.

The Arduino requires inputs to be NC, so if your coin acceptor supports both NO and NC ouputs, set it to NC.

Once your coin acceptor is programmed, connect the white (COIN) line to a digital input on the Arduino. I used #2. Make sure you also connect or bridge the black (Ground) line to the Arduino’s ground, otherwise your circuit will be incomplete.

Next was the programming. Here’s an outline of what to do to write your Arduino program:

First you’ll need to define your variables. I used coinInt as the digital input pin number, led as the led’s pin number (so that it would blink every time a coin was inserted for debugging purposes), and buf as the keyboard buffer that would be overwritten with each keypress. Here’s what you should  have so far:

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int coinInt = 0; //Digital Pin 2
int led = 13; //Blinker  
uint8_t buf[8] = { 
  0 }; 	/* Keyboard report buffer */

Now, you’ll need to define the setup and loop functions (which are required by the Arduino). The loop function stays empty (as things are only done when the coin acceptor pin goes high), but the setup function will require a few lines of code. you’ll need to have a delay of at least 6 seconds, so that the keyboard driver on the PC can detect the Arduino. you’ll also need to setup the input and output pins (for both the led and coin acceptor) and begin the serial connection to the computer. You’ll do this by setting the pin mode of the led pin to OUTPUT, attaching an interrupt to the coin acceptor pin so that it calls our coinInserted function each time the pin goes high ($0.25 is inserted), and beginning the serial connection with Serial.begin. The way the coin mechanism works, it will report a quarter as 1 pulse (1 x $0.25), a loonie ($1) as 4 pulses (4 x $0.25), and a toonie ($2) as 8 pulses (8 x $0.25). Your code should now look like this:

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int coinInt = 0; //Digital Pin 2
int led = 13; //Blinker  
uint8_t buf[8] = { 
  0 }; 	/* Keyboard report buffer */ 
 
void setup()
{
    delay(6000); //  Give the keyboard driver time to boot
    pinMode(led, OUTPUT); // init led
    attachInterrupt(coinInt, coinInserted, RISING); //Call coinInserted when pin 2 goes high
    Serial.begin(9600);
}
 
void loop(){}

Since those required loops are now out of the way, you’ll have to define the function that will be called when a coin is inserted. I called my function coinInserted. What coinInserted does, is turn on the led, write the letter I in keyboard scancode to the serial connection, and turn off the led. The result is that the letter i gets printed to the computer and the led blinks each time a valid coin is inserted into the acceptor. Your final code should now look like this:

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int coinInt = 0; //Digital Pin 2
int led = 13; //Blinker  
uint8_t buf[8] = { 
  0 }; 	/* Keyboard report buffer */ 
 
void setup()
{
    delay(6000); //  Give the keyboard driver time to boot
    pinMode(led, OUTPUT); // init led
    attachInterrupt(coinInt, coinInserted, RISING); //Call coinInserted when pin 2 goes high
    Serial.begin(9600);
}
 
void loop(){}
 
void coinInserted()
//The function that is called every time it recieves a pulse
{
    digitalWrite(led, HIGH);
	buf[2] = 12;    // Letter I
    Serial.write(buf, 8);
	buf[0] = 0; //release key
    buf[2] = 0; //release key
    Serial.write(buf, 8);	// Send release key to the PC
    delay(25);
    digitalWrite(led, LOW);
}

Once this code has been uploaded to your Arduino, you’ll need to flash your Arduino with the generic usb keyboard firmware. To do this, put your Arduino into DFU mode, open up Atmel’s FLIP software, load the Arduino-keyboard-0.3.hex file, and flash it to the Arduino’s USB controller. The Arduino’s USB controller chip (for the Uno Rev. 2 – you’ll need this for FLIP) is an Atmel ATmega8u2. If the flash is successful, restart your Arduino and test out your acceptor by opening notepad and inserting a coin. If it works (and the letter i appears on the screen), congrats, you’re done. If not, you’ve done something wrong – you’ll need to put your Arduino back into DFU mode and reflash your USB controller back to the original Arduino firmware (Arduino-usbserial-uno.hex) to try again.

Now that your coin acceptor is fully working, open up MAME, go to settings, select the option for Insert Coin, insert a coin into your acceptor (you should see “i – Keyboard 2” as the setting), and save. Your coin acceptor will now work with MAME.

Cards Against Humanity – All-White/Ink-Saver Edition

As you probably already know, Cards Against Humanity is an awesome card game. Unfortunately it’s also sold out here in Canada.

I decided to make an all-white set because I wanted to print a set at home while not using tons of ink. It was made by inverting the “black” card pages in photoshop. I scribbled on the backs of the “black” cards once printed with a marker to make them easier to differentiate from the “white” cards while playing.

You can download the all-white set here.

Credits for the original file go to Cards Against Humanity.