Pick Date: 3/09/19
A 20 year journey has finally come to an end. I finally picked up my first Space Ace arcade game. I have wanted
this game every since I started collecting, and have admired this game ever since I was a little boy.
I remember the moment Space Ace became my jam. I was a young boy with a handful of precious quarters at Showbiz Pizza Place.
I was a sci fi fanatic, and to play a cartoon laserdisc game called Space Ace just blew me away. So there
was the game, brand new and just begging to be played. The 50cent price tag was going to hurt, but I couldn't resist. I put my two quarters
in... and nothing. The game ate my quarters. Now I was pretty upset, and went to the attendant on duty to tell him the game ate my
quarters. What he did next was just unheard of. He walked up to the Space Ace game,
unlocked the coin door and put at least 30 credits on the game. Then he locked the game back up and walked away.
My bad luck with 2 quarters, just now turned into 30 free games. After playing all those free games of Space Ace, I WAS HOOKED!
Fast forward to the present, and I find someone selling a non-working Space Ace arcade game. This game had been in a barn for the
last 10 years and was in remarkable shape. It is serial# LDS-0369. That number is a factory built Space Ace, in the Dragons Lair style
cab. After a short production run Cinematronics switched to a rather ugly inverted style cabinet, I like this slanted body style much better.
I took a road trip into Lees Summit, MO and got to visit Brandon and his home arcade, Constellation City in order to pick up
the Space Ace arcade game.
The game was non-working, but showed some signs of life as the scoreboard lit up, the monitor blinked on and off, and you could hear a coin up beep.
I took the game home and started to clean everything up and read up on any online documentation I could get my hands on.
The game came with the original Pioneer LD-V1000 laserdisc player, and the seller threw in a working laser disc player (a Pioneer LD-V8000)
which is not compatible with the arcade game without a conversion board installed.
I ordered a Merlin 8000 board which not only allows
the new laserdisc player to run in these arcade games, but has Dragons Lair and Dragons Lair II roms also installed. This means you
can switch the game you play in the cabinet, as long as you have the original laserdisc. Luckily, I had picked up a Dragons Lair laserdisc
years back for just such an occasion. So I'm waiting for this Merlin board to show up in the mail, and in the meantime I pull out the original
non-working LD-V1000 laserdisc player. It was filthy, I mean just a thick layer of dust on it. I started to clean up the player, and ran
across an article on how to open up the laserdisc player and perform maintennance by thoroughly cleaning all the sealed optics in there.
I took off the cover, took apart the sealed optics section and started to painfully clean all the mirrors, prisms and laser diode. I put it
all back together, put it back in the game, and turned it on. To my surprise, it started RIGHT UP! I'm playing my first game of Space Ace in
more than a decade, and even then it was on an emulator. I was like a little kid again! It was fabulous, playing my very own Space Ace!
Soon enough the Merlin 8000 board came in. I installed and and shelved the original LD-V1000 (now working) and put in the more reliable LD-V8000
which only works on the Merlin board. Now the cut scenes switched much faster, and I was able to put in my original Dragons Lair laserdisc
and play that too! I am beyond the moon happy at this point, but a lot more work needed to be done to make this arcade ready. I spent hours
dialing in the CRT monitor for perfect color, contrast and brightness. It looks AMAZING now, with no burn or tube wear. The fan sounded like
a jet plane (bad bearings after 36 years) and the air filter was missing which explains the dusty, broken original laserdisc player. I sourced a
quieter fan and proper size air filter and installed them. Now the game needed one more upgrade, a Dexter board. This board uses the orignal
CPU mainboard, but stores the laserdisc images on a flash drive and mimics the commands for the old laserdisc players. This means no moving parts,
no laserdisc player breakdowns, the ability to store multiple laserdisc images on the flash drive, and also switch between games instantly. This
was out of stock but the creator of the Dexter board built built one board specifically for me to purchase.
The Dexter board came in, I carefully read the directions and got it installed. The Dexter also has an easy ability to flash new firmware
so I went ahead and did that after installing it. Now it was time to move the game down into the arcade. Previously I sold off 3 games so I moved
Space Ace into one empty spot and the Tron into the other. It's a beautiful site. Now I thought I was all finished, but I noticed after playing
this game over many weeks the monitor would flicker bright, or in and out. I'm concerned I have a monitor issue, or a Dexter issue and spent a
lot of time tracking down the problem. I surmised the video cable with a BNC connector was bad with time, so I replaced it. The picture looked amazing
with the new video cable, but the flicker continued. I finally tracked down the problem to the input connector on the NTSC decoder board.
With all the work I did, unplugging and plugging that connector back in more than a dozen times the connector had come loose from the board
and was barely hanging on. I tighted it up, ran all new solder and the video has been rock solid ever since. This Space Ace now is fully functional
with multiple upgrades, along with the ability to also play Dragons Lair and Dragons Lair II. I also have 2 working laserdisc players on the shelf
either to put back to original, or help get another project game working at some future point in time. If someone were to ask me what are my favorite
games, what would I never sell? That would be Star Wars, Q*bert and Space Ace. Two decades of waiting, and now I have 3 laserdisc games in 1.
It's time to go play some Space Ace (then maybe some Dragons Lair)!
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