So... I'm taking some stuff to the recycling drop off, and on the way you have to drive past a few auto body places and a couple of scrapyards (it's just outside of town next to the landfill). I look over at one of the scrapyards, and what do I see? The easily recognizable profile of a bright red Nintendo cab! I just catch a glance, and while I'm sorting the recyclables, I'm trying to think of how I should handle this...
I stop on the way back, and there's not only a Nintendo cab with a monitor, but a couple of other cabs that I can't really see well. I ask a guy who's dumping some stuff what's up with the scrapyard, and he says that It's free game (no pun intended) for anyone to dump (I'm sure he thought I was weird for asking about taking stuff, but oh well). So I race home, grab the minivan (take out the back seat first-- it's certainly faster than pulling out the trailer and hooking it up to my car), some tools, gloves, and my brother, and then race back (also we took some grass over to the dump). Turns out that the Nintendo cab is pretty beat up, and the monitor is pretty trashy looking, so we leave that, but I did get the control panel, coin door, most (if not all) of the wiring harness and what looks like an interface board (it was a Vs. Unisystem).
One of the other cabinets is a weird ass mini-cabaret with a 9in monitor that (after finding the control panel) was almost certainly a gambling game. It didn't have any PCB's or anything, so I left it alone. The last remaining cab, the one I snagged, is a dedicated Armor Attack......... A Cinematronics B&W vector! I was absolutely positive that the monitor was non-working (I could see some fried components), but everything else in it looked good... The PCB's and wiring looked clean, but I didn't try to boot it up. The biggest problem I could see was that it was dirty as hell. There was some mouse junk in the bottom (I picked up some masks at the 'ole Wal-Mart... I didn't feel like getting hanta), and the whole thing was just filthy. But it looked like it would clean up pretty well. It needed some scrubbing, but the side art was 95% or better on both sides! The CP and marquee look really good, and the coin door and front panel are in good shape.
I replaced the bottom and back of the cab with new wood, and did a little bondo work to clean up the bottom edge. The rest of the cab is really solid, so it worked out great (if it was bad, I would have parted it out on the spot).
It was quite a bit of work to restore, but I can now say that I own my first vector! I gave myself a pretty good chance that I would be able to get it running again, and I found quite a bit of info online about Cinematronics games and their monitors to help.
Here are some shots after bringing the game home (below them are some shots of the game in its current, almost 100% state):
Finally, I got my garbage dump Armor Attack to power up and the monitor worked! It was two years to the month since I found the beast, and now it was sitting there flashing pictures at me and making noises!
First of all, a big thanks to tbbk (from the KLOV message boards) for sending me a Cinematronics power supply with new caps long ago; I used it, since the one I had was really beat looking. Second of all, no thanks to krakboi (also from the KLOV) for always giving me shit about not working on this project! Just kidding, I appreciate the fact that he tried to get me off my ass. Two years is long enough to have a non-working game stare at me, and since I made it one of my priorities to fix my games this summer, I started piecing it back together. As far as a repair log is concerned, I have done a hell of a lot of work on it. much of which can be seen in the pictures above:
- did a serious cleaning to the cab and parts
- replaced the t-molding
- tore the coin door apart and cleaned
- repainted the metal parts
- tore the power supply apart, cleaned it, and reflowed solder
- pulled the monitor board and worked on it
- replaced all the diodes on the monitor
- replaced all the transistors on the monitor
- replaced most of the capacitors on the monitor
- replaced a bunch of resistors on the monitor
- jumpered a few spots where the solder pads had torn off
- replaced the DAC80 Digital to Analogue chips with DAC800's
- replaced the high voltage 'gold box' with a NOS unit
Let me just take a moment to say that the monitor in this cab is a bitch to get in or out. With the positioning of the heat sinks on the side of the frame (which are super hard to put on when the monitor is in place), you pretty much have to take the entire assemby out in one piece, meaning you have to hold the damn thing in place as you put the bolts through the side of the cabinet to hold it. It's pretty heavy, as I'm sure you can all imagine, not to mention, super awkward to hold in place.
Now, here are the almost 100% shots ;)
To Do List:
- Install credit switch (coin mechs set for tokens)
- Get monitor adjusted so it fits the overlay!
- Put it back together after finishing monitor so I can play it! :D