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.

The Solenoid fuse in Phoenix is not tied to the flippers. The flipper fuse is actually located under the playfield near the flippers themselves. After doing a bunch of reading at, I found I could just ground out one side of the flipper solenoid to test it. Works perfectly. Further testing shows that it is nothing more than a corroded flipper button switch! After a bit of filing and adjustments, I eventually have two working flippers.

Next on the agenda is to diagnose this solenoid fuse (the shiney one 2nd from the left in the blurry picture). I bought the last of Radio Shack’s 2.5 amp, 250v slo-blo fuses (8 total). Pop one in, turn the game on, all the solenoids briefly actuate, then the fuse blows.
psu-fusesAfter a lot of reading of how pinballs work, I eventually test all the driver board transistors. Yep, there’s two bad ones that are ‘stuck’ on. Off to digi-key to order some new ones. In the mean time, I check all the coil resistances, and every coil looked good (roughly 5 ohms each). A couple looked burnt up, but they still function & read OK.

When I got the new transistors, I went to work replacing them. (While I had the driver board out, I did some suggested ‘upgrades’ for the lamp matrix & fixed a switch matrix problem, described in another post).
After reinstalling the driver board, leaving out the solenoid fuse for now, I power it on, run the switch test and all switches are now working. Next I plug in the solenoid fuse and all the solenoids work and the fuse didn’t blow!

Finally, I can play the game! Works great, too!

That is, until the next day …

1 comment to Phoenix: Getting it working

  • Mark DeRosa

    Hey man thanks for the info, same machine same problem, I think. One of the pop bumper links broke, jamming the bumper, burning out the coil. I replaced the coil, now it shoes the same signs as yours, minus the flipper. I’m new at this and still navigating my way around, I’ll definitely check out Im no electrician, but any other advise?

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