Last weekend I had some guests over that I was giving away some free arcade parts to. As the norm, the arcade was fired up. Some time into the evening, we were hanging out near Simpsons and Williams row. Suddenly we hear a high pitched screeching sound. I looked over at the Simpsons arcade and saw white noise lightning on the monitor. Luckily we happened to be right there, so I quickly pulled out the game and unplugged it. The air now smelled like fresh ozone. I pulled off the back door and temporarily turned the game back on to observe what I suspected was a bad flyback. There it was, the flyback had a crack in it and was sparking. Yep, it definitely bit the dust in that monitor.

A flyback transformer deals with high voltages in the monitor and when you replace one, it is good practice to replace the HOT (horizontal output transistor) at the same time. I place the parts on order and received them within a week. In a few short hours I replaced both the flyback and HOT on the chassis. In the picture, the flyback is the black looking device with 2 adjustment knobs and 3 red cables coming out of it. I put the chassis back in the arcade game, turn it on and do some small adjustments on the flyback. Shazam! The Simpsons is now back to working order and has a beautiful picture. After owning this game for 13 years this was the first real repair I've had to do on it. My 3 youngest kids have literally grown up with this game. Click here to read more about the original Simpsons road trip.

Straight from the Vintage Vault Arcade! Love doing work Zoom calls from the bar. Yeah, that's my home office now.

March is a busy month for us. We have 3 family birthdays for in March, so the girls each received a party down in the Vintage Vault Arcade. That's a lot of girls, a lot of soda, a lot of candy and a lot of pizza. A few parents even joined in the fun close to pickup time. Enjoy the photos!

When recently firing up the arcade, I noticed my Atari Road Burners attract mode sound on FULL BLAST. All my games have attract mode turned off, so obviously something was not right in the settings. I go into the game settings, lower the volume and turn off attract mode and restart the game. It goes to full blast sound again. So recently I had a Joust with no sound, but now I have a game blasting full sound. I go back into the menu settings and this time notice a red message that said replace low battery. Well then, thats definitely a problem. This bad battery not only caused all sounds to go back to default, but steering calibration and high scores also will no longer save. At this point I'm thinking a standard CR2032 battery which I keep plenty of. Unfortunately I'm not so lucky. A lot of Atari boards of this era use a yellow rectangle looking IC battery which snaps on top of another IC socket. Defintely a weird setup. Strangely enough its called a Timekeeper battery. Luckily there are suppliers that keep these in stock. Not as cheap as a CR2032 battery, but cerrtainly not too bad of a price to fix a problem.

I order a new yellow Timekeeper IC battery which arrived quickly. I never replaced one of these, but it after locating it on the board I just pulled the old one out, and snapped the new one in. I turn on the game and go back into the menu. Now I turn off attract mode, turn on freeplay, and calibrate the steering. I then restart the game and everything is good to go now. Road Burners is definetly a staple in the arcade and its good to have it back in the rotation. Go here to read more about the original Road Burners road trip.

Recently I decided to set my sights on Joust for some high score fun, and wouldn't you know it... the sound was gone... or nearly gone. Let me explain. I could hear all the sounds, but it was almost at a volume level of "1". So I get out the keys, open up the coin door and crank that volume all the way up to "10+". Still, I could barely hear anything.

At this point I try the usual quick fixes, spray de-oxit on the volume pot and crank it back and forth to get any oxidization out, reseat all connectors and IC's on the sound board, and I even disconnect and borrow the speaker from my Robotron. Still, exactly the same. Darn. So now I have a board level problem. However, all sounds are there so I pull out the schematics and quickly locate the audio amp. It was a TDA-2003. Now I had the same problem with my Congo Bongo with a different audio amp, an LM324 [click here to read about Congo Bongo]. I decide to go through my parts box and locate a similar audio amp, a TDA-2030. I swap that in and its a no go, same situation. I'm still thinking it has to be the audio amp so I source two TDA-2003 audio amps off ebay for $4. Its a cheap test, and I'll have a spare. Within just a couple of days I get a mail call and the new audio amps are in. I pull out the trusty soldering iron, rub some heat sink compound on the new part and solder it right in there. Now for the REAL test. I put the board back in the Joust, fire it up and start a game.

Remember the scene in Back To The Future when Marty strokes the guitar in front of a mega amp? Yeah, that's what happened. Joust started to blare at a volume level of 15! I immediately reach right in the game, turn the volume down to a nice playable level, and spend the next 20 minutes playing my fixed Joust. Problem solved!

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