Last Action Hero (Data East, 1993) came to me as a restoration project for a customer who had had the machine for some time but was moving it to a new location. He wanted it to be fully working so he could set it up in his factory. The machine was relatively functional, but had a few issues that required extensive repair. I have a soft spot for Data East machines, so I was keen to take this one on and see how a full restoration would make it pop like new again.
It's been a while since my last post! Over the last few months, Fiona and I have been busy with a mix of our own arcade projects as well as various repairs for customers, so let's go over one of the recent repairs for another Fish Tales (Williams, 1992)! This customer had not played their Fish Tales in several years and it had sat around not working. The difficult part was that the customer (and the machine) were in Orange, NSW. A bit beyond the typical house call distance! Luckily, he was able to bring the machine to our workshop for the various repairs that it needed.
This restoration was for a customer who had just come into possession of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Data East, 1991) pinball machine from a family member who originally wanted to sell it. Luckily, he convinced them not to sell it and instead get it restored. Of course, I was happy to help, and was keen to get some more experience with Data East machines. Early 90s Data East machines are generally not known for their fantastic gameplay, but the games are simple and fun, which is all that was really needed in an arcade in the 1990s.
Once again my favourite time of the year is here... Pinfest! I have a blast at Pinfest every year so I'm always excited for September when it rolls around. Pinfest is an annual pinball festival that takes place in Newcastle on the Central Coast and is hosted by the Newcastle Pinball Association. It is always a fantastic event with many machines on free play for the general public to play. This year, Pinfest was at a new, larger venue, so I was doubly excited to check it out and play pinball all weekend.
The dot matrix display used in most modern era pinball games is a high-voltage plasma gas discharge display. High voltages are required in order to energize the plasma in order to illuminate it, creating the dots and pixels we see on the display. This process is controlled by a specific section of the display driver board (part no. A-14039) in WPC games. Pinwiki has a detailed description of problems that can occur with these displays and how to fix them. In particular, the section on testing DMD controller voltages discusses the high voltage section of the board and the voltages you can normally expect to find on it. When the components on this section of the board go out of spec, they can affect the display, rendering text and images on the screen impossible to read (if present at all).
At this point, it was time to rebuild the display driver boards in a couple of my games. The display in my Getaway (Williams, 1992) seemingly worked fine, but the voltages being produced by the board were way too high. On the other hand, the voltages on my Judge Dredd (Williams, 1993) were perfectly fine, but the display would occasionally fail and stop working mid-game. Both of these problems were fixed by rebuilding the high voltage sections of the display driver boards.
Here you will find logs of our pinball machine restorations, repairs, discussion about general pinball topics, and recounts of our random pinball adventures.
Check back regularly for updates!
Running this website is a hobby for me, just like pinball. I like being able to show my restoration work to everyone so that others can learn from it and learn to fix their own machines. If you enjoy reading the content, please consider donating to offset some of the website's operating costs.