Pinball: France has a pinball machine!

I’ve been traveling recently and on my travels I have searched for pinball machines, however none have been found. Until now!

I was in France last November and during that time I never saw a pinball machine. Of course I didn’t travel too far out of the Gard d├ępartement.

Three weeks ago I flew to Taipei, Taiwan to give a presentation on some Open Source software and some additional software that I wrote for SGPIO (SFF-8485). When I was in Taipei I didn’t see any pinball machines. I did see lots of iPod knock-offs in the electronic markets though.

And now I’m on vacation in the South of France; I

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Phoenix: The Game Over Signal & Special Switches

In my Williams Phoenix pinball machine, there are two ‘kickers’ and three ‘pop/jet bumpers’. They are not completely under CPU control. Basically the way they work is the ball hits the (special) switch which goes to the driver board into an AND gate (shared with the CPU’s PIO output for that solenoid) which goes to a NOR gate that drives the transistor, thus actuating the solenoid. Each switch has a resistor & capacitor in series with eachother to create an RC time constant since the solenoid will push out on the ball very quickly. They allow the bumpers & kickers to extend fully before cutting power to the solenoid to

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Phoenix: Sound Board Woes

After all that work replacing the interboard connector on my Phoenix pinball machine, I’m now treated with problems from the sound board. I think this machine has it out for me: Quick drains on the balls in play, letting my girlfriend & her friend consistanty win over me. Its saying “Just put me out of my misery! Stop fixing me!”.

Anyway, the sound board in Phoenix is driven by what would be solenoid outputs from the driver board. However, instead of driving solenoids, they drive 5 input pins (left connector pictured above) to the sound board to trigger a particular sound to play. I’m not sure on the specifics of

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Phoenix: The Lamp & Switch Matrix

My Williams Phoenix Pinball machine uses (roughly) 200+ Watts of power when on. Translated: Some components can get very hot. Especially if the pinball is left on 24/7 as it may be at an arcade or a bar.

To the right is a photo of some General Illumination power resistors (click to enlarge). As burned up as they look, they still work and still measure their correct resistance values. Also you can see it started to burn up the components directly above them (which go to the Switch Matrix). had a brief suggestion of instead of replacing those resistors with higher-wattage ones… or to simply replace those drivers right

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Phoenix: The Dreaded "Interboard Connector"

Williams pinball machines use several different circuit boards, all tied together in some way shape or form. In the back cabinet of Phoenix, there are three: The Power Supply Board (right), the CPU Board (left-top), and the Driver Board (left-bottom). Standard molex connectors are used throughout the game. Most are 9-pin connectors going from the outside edges of each board to whever else they need to go: Power supply, playfield, coin door, or just between boards.

But there is one more connector: The “Interboard Connector” (pictured below). This is a 40-pin connector used to transfer all the CPU’s address lines, data lines, and some misc. signals and power/ground rails between

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Phoenix: The Blanking Signal

The day after I thought I had fixed my Phoenix Pinball’s problems and had a working machine, that solenoid fuse blew again.

This time, however, I could work around it by removing the fuse before I powered on the game, and only inserting it after powering it on.

Not having a clue as to how Williams pinballs work, I begin doing testing and a lot of internet research. I figured the fuse was blowing because all solenoids would lock on simultaneously at power-on. I remember reading at various places saying that running all the data & address lines over an ‘intraboard connector’ was a big design mistake by williams. I

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Phoenix: Getting it working

The Phoenix pinball machine, before it is even playable, needed working flippers and solenoids. After I purchased it, in all the excitement, I decided to just power it on and see what happens (the previous owner did power it up in his garage for me, so I knew nothing catastrophic would happen).

The CPU booted up just fine, and it even had some credits left. Press the start button, but the ball doesn’t launch. Only the right flipper works. Moving the ball manually into play, the game is lifeless with no working bumpers or kickers, and only one flipper! But it scored OK and most switches seemed to work.


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Pinball: Williams System 4 "Phoenix"

I recently purchased a ‘non-working’ 1978 Phoenix pinball machine by Williams. The previous owner said it was blowing the solenoid fuse on power-up and the left flipper didn’t work. Also, the backglass was flaking pretty bad, and the machine shows tons of signs of wear and age.

As this is my first pinball machine, I really have my time set out to making this machine act like new! This blog category will keep track of all the work we (my girlfriend & I — and Eric and his machine) put in to it.

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