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Middle Earth restoration! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA


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  • Middle Earth restoration! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    HI All,
    New to the pinball game, I thought I'd start with something easy, Atari Middle Earth
    Yeah OK I didn't do my research.
    The Cab is in good condition, paint a bit faded, chrome a bit tarnished with surface rust.
    Backlight art is pretty good.
    Playfield is very good with all the plastics there and none cracked.
    No glass.

    So I got the idea from PO there was something wrong with the transformer. I checked as best I could all the outgoing voltages and found either correct values or nothing. I am not totally sure I stuck the multimeter in the right places though.
    Having seen no radically high voltages I thought let's give it a spin...
    PO also indicated the main board had been tested and seemed ok.

    1. Lights on, and seemed to go into attract mode, but so real sound just a loud HUMMMM!
    2. Test switch seemed to go through 4 different modes before back to attract mode. Some of the score display worked.
    3. Triggered the coin microswitch credits came up.
    4. Pressed start button, drop targets reset, right flippers worked but a bit sticky. Hitting targets seemed to light things up and add to P1 score. then the score just kept going up by about 100 per second with no more input. left flipper blew the solenoid fuse!
    5. So I went searching for the short / problem that blew a fuse. Found a few terminals unplugged, broken microswitches, checked every microswitch for action and continuity, found a couple of duds.
    6. Turned it back on, then all hell broke loose! Every solenoid triggered over and over and over again, all the lights flashed on and off at the same rate of about 3 times a second!
    At least I know which solenoids work now!
    7. Shut it down quickly!

    So... Anyone had a similar experience?
    Where to go from here?

    And yes I now know Atari .....
    I'm leaning FAST!


    I have a big garage Bro!

  • #2
    raysco is the brain to pick for Atari repairs 🙂


    • #3
      Sounds like it's stuck in solenoid test mode.


      • #4
        Originally posted by namastepat View Post
        raysco is the brain to pick for Atari repairs 🙂
        Oh no he isn’t 😱😱😱


        • #5
          Originally posted by namastepat
          raysco is the brain to pick for Atari repairs 🙂
          Yep, this definitely sounds like a job for Raysco. As long as its not a Gottlieb😂
          Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life


          • #6
            Ha! I have already tracked down raysco looking at his old posts this machine looks scarily familiar!

            So I went to the shed this are to have another fiddle.
            I replaced a couple of suspect microswitches, found a couple more blown fuses and had a good look at the main board.

            OOOOPs, I found a random blob of solder splatter lodged across a couple of terminals of a many legged electronic thingy .
            My bad! Yesterday just prior to the solenoid spasm, I was desoldering some dodgy cabling on one of the solenoids. The errant blob was DIRECTLY below where I was working
            So I cleaned that off and fired it up again. less spasm but still a little.
            Pressed the reset button changed all the blown fuses and hey presto back to attract mode, no spasm!
            Unfortunately one of the fuses for the solenoids I replaced was much higher value than I thought.... and I let a little smoke out! If there is one thing I know about electronics is that it runs on smoke!
            When you let the smoke out you can't put it back in, and the electronics stop working!
            Fortunately it looked like it came from either a small diode, capacitor or resistor all mounted near each other and look to be easily tested and replaced.
            With the correct value fuse back in I found and isolated the offending solenoid (kicker)
            I ran some more tests. It seems to run through the three test modes ok.
            Using a process of elimination I found the problem with the left flipper was one of the solenoids, isolated that and no more blown fuses. One of the left flippers now works, but goes on and off very rapidly when the button is held down.
            But one of the previously "good" kicker solenoids stayed on and got quite hot, so I had to isolate that as well! I think that may have something to do with the escaping smoke, as it worked fine earlier. (before the solder blob and smoke escape.) And that solenoid is triggered by the wire which I overloaded!
            I am also not confident that the score board works completely as in test mode it is supposed to read all 8s, but it was all mixed up. Possibly bad contacts at the score board connection tangs.
            Still no sound, just a loud HUMMMM!

            Next test I put up a few credits, (only one of the coin slots seems to work.) and pressed start!
            WOW! It ran through a reset and even ejected a ball! I hit a few targets and microswitches all of which added the correct points, drop targets went down and then reset. (The initial problem of the score continuing to rise seems to have come from the drop targets not resetting due to blown main solenoid fuse on the P/S.)
            Ball count works!

            Looks like I might be getting some traction.

            My next day off I will look at finding some solenoids.( Read somewhere that Atari put the diodes the opposite way round to everyone else, so I'll need to re-read the fix for that)
            Also will look into the scoreboard connection. (Danger high voltage! 180V)
            The difficult job will be to locate a can of electronics smoke and the right place to pump it back in!

            What resistance value should I get for a good kicker solenoid?
            I assume there is two windings in a flipper solenoid, one to operate and one to hold? Two different resistance values?
            What are the chances I've fried something expensive on the main board? (Who would know?)
            What creates the sound? And what is it supposed to sound like?


            I have a big garage Bro!


            • #7
              Holy crap bro. You’re learning curve is a vertical line. Amazing progress given you’ve never had a Pinnie before. I cant help you with your questions but hopefully some smart dudes here can help you out. Keep going. 👍🏻
              I have no garage!


              • #8
                Damn! I got it running and 5 minutes(if that) later it went back into solenoid overdrive again. It seems I will have to get the main board and auxiliary board tested properly instead my plug it in and fiddle method.
                The only Atari repairer I can find on the net is in Houston USA! Postage is almost as expensive as his test and repair (if possible) price. And he can’t guarantee the work as it is such an unstable 40+ year old board.

                Anyone in Aus that can sort these things.

                I have seen on other websites people redesigning old pinballs, with new themes etc.
                As the main issue with Atari machines seems to be electronic, is there any way to Frankenstein this pinball machine with a different motherboard?
                Perhaps raspberry Pi or arduino based?
                It is after all only switches and reactions.
                Has anyone gone down that route?
                Surely some 12year old kid can program something 😂

                Seems a shame that it is all repairable except the electronics.
                I don’t care much for “originality” if I can make it work better than original!



                • #9
                  Hey Graham,
                  I think you have jumped right in at the deep end. You were doing so well. Also you are trying to get it all running in one hit. Maybe you need to take the “divide and conquer” approach.
                  The machine will usually boot up with all solenoid power disconnected, switches and lamps disconnected allowing you to work on one section at a time.
                  Sometimes you may need to part install these circuits, ie if it needs to see a ball in the trough.
                  You probably need to look at getting the displays working first so you can see what’s happening in diagnostics.

                  Johns Jukes in Canada fixes these but won’t rush, I believe he sometimes will do a swop faulty for good.

                  There are other options re Rpi, Proc, Virtual Pin, but not sure about with Atari game roms.


                  • #10
                    “Maybe you need to take the “divide and conquer” approach.”

                    I have kinda been doing this and narrowed things down. Just as I’m making headway, it all falls apart again!🙄
                    Display seems fine now that I straightened a couple of contacts and I even fired a couple of balls around (with two and a half flippers working). Points add on correctly
                    I know I have fried something to do with right slingshot, (it stays on) when I let the smoke out. I’m thinking Q15 by the details in pinwiki.
                    So that is disconnected along with one of the top flippers.
                    I have also found a great workshop here in Toowoomba who will test and if necessary rewire or remanufacture the transformer.

                    “Johns Jukes in Canada fixes these but won’t rush, I believe he sometimes will do a swop faulty for good.“

                    Thanks, another resource to check out.

                    I guess the really disappointing thing is, as I thought things were going well, I went and bought a heap of parts to fix up a number of dodgy things. Flippers, solenoids, pop bumper parts, etc stuff to make it work “mechanically “.



                    • #11
                      I know how determined you are. You will get it going! Don’t worry about the extra parts you bought. You’ll end up using them all, if not on this project but the next one.
                      I have no garage!


                      • #12
                        Doesn't Ken have an Atari test bench recently acquired?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gemini2544 View Post
                          Doesn't Ken have an Atari test bench recently acquired?
                          That would be nice if I could find someone local.

                          who is Ken, and how should I contact him?


                          • #14
                            Ken Shipley. He does board repairs for most people on here.

                            His username is Skybeaux shoot him a message.


                            • #15
                              If Ken can/will do Atari he would be my first choice. Very professional, quality work.
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