Thursday, March 26, 2009

Activate interlock! Dynotherms connected! Infracells up! Mega thrusters are go!

(Disclaimer: if you plan on doing this repair, make sure to unplug your machine first--120 VAC can be dangerous.)

Ok, so this repair is not as exciting as the title appears. When I recently put my Centipede back together, I noticed that certain parts had been stripped, particularly the coin door area. Atari liked to put interlocks on the coin doors of its older machines, for safety reasons. Open the coin door, the power to the whole machine goes off. (That way the guy collecting coins has little chance of getting shocked.) My interlock had been stripped out, likely used as a repair part on another machine. You can see where the wires were twisted/black taped together. This is a sloppy and possibly unsafe scenario:

I took them out, separated the wires, and attached some quick disconnects:

Here's the interlock. If the plunger is pressed in (i.e. when the door closes on it) it makes a connection. If it is manually pulled out (i.e. during servicing) it also makes a connection.

Here is the interlock attached to the quick disconnects:

You can see in that picture that the AC wires leading to the interlock are fed through a rectangular mount. This is where the interlock snaps into place:

That's it. It's a small repair, but with these machines, every little bit counts.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Restoring a Swiss Cheesed Control Panel

Like many Dragon's Lairs, this one was ultimately converted to another game. This particular one became a Clutch Hitter, which required 2 joysticks with 3 buttons per joystick. The original Dragon's Lair had one centrally mounted joystick with 2 sword buttons, one per side.

Here's the converted panel:

Here I am in the progress of stripping the panel. My trusty heat gun, box cutter and scraper are clearly in view. For removing the adhesive, I used some Goo gone and a brass wire wheel brush on a power drill.

Check out the cleaned off panel--I see way too many holes! Fortunately, when they converted it, they did not fill any holes--they just cut new holes, put on the overlay, and bolted a piece of plexiglass over it.

My strategy for filling the holes was simple. I bought a thin piece of aluminum sheet metal, and cut it to the exact size of the panel I was working on.

Next, I clamped it in place behind the panel, and traced out only the holes I wanted to keep with a sharpie.

The 'keeper' holes were then cut out (roughly) with a dremel. They need not be perfectly round, since they won't be seen or touched in the finished article.

Next, I slathered on some quick setting epoxy:

Then I glued the aluminum sheet (carefully aligned) to the original panel. You can see that I clamped it in place with some spare junk buttons and some spring clamps. Now I have nice solid metal behind every hole I want to fill.

Bondo time! Here is the first layer after application:

Here it is after some sanding. I ended up putting on another layer (mounded up over the holes) and repeating the sanding process.

Next up I had to do some work with a metal file--some of the holes were kind of rough cut with the drill from the original conversion. After the edges were flattened out, I cleaned the panel with 409 (to get rid of dirt/fingerprints) and then primed the sanded panel:

That's starting to look more recognizable. After priming, I put on a coat of black paint.

Next, I lined up the overlay (from Quaterarcade) and put in some buttons for alignment. I pulled the backing off of the top edge, and tacked it down.

Next, I removed the buttons, and slowly removed the rest of the backing, sticking the overlay to the panel. I used a heat gun (very gently) to heat the portion of the overlay that had to make the 90 degree bend. Then I clamped it down (with spring clamps and some buttons).

Here's a shot of the panel in place on the machine, with a leaf switch Wico installed and a few buttons loosely tossed in.

Here's the machine with the restored panel and marquee. The cabinet still needs a lot of work, but it's identity crisis is over.