Arcades and neons go together like peanut butter and jelly. No, not a cheap LED imitation sign, the glow of a real neon, just like the glow of an arcade CRT. A good arcade will have all kinds of different lighting and accents. The title marquee on a game draws you in begging you to drop your quarter. The lighting in the room then draws you into the atmosphere as a whole.

My wife got me this Michelob Ultra neon sign for my birthday. I've been wanting one of these for about 5 years now, ever since I saw one at a music trivia night at a bar called Mustang Sally's.

It fits right in nicely with my Bud Light and Budweiser neon signs, don't you think? Now which racing game do I want to play first....maybe some Crazy Taxi by Sega?

Atari 2600. The granddaddy of all home game systems. Yes, the graphics are sub-par, the sound laughable, but it was the first. No longer did playing an arcade game cost a quarter per play. You could play all day, all night, for free, on your home TV set. Atari 2600 revolutionized the inudstry. Yes, you went to the arcade for better graphics and better sounding games, but you came home to the Atari 2600.

Seriously though, the Atari 2600 did the best it could with 128 bytes RAM. You read that right, not 128MB, not 128KB, but 128... bytes of RAM. Now the game code was held in 4K ROM cartridges so that helped a little bit, but still, there were limitations. That being said I found a 33 game Atari 2600 cartidge lot on Facebook Marketplace. Not counting duplicates I already owned, this pushed my Atari 2600 cartridge collection up to 107 game cartridges. Atari will always have a special place in the Vintage Vault Arcade. Time to play some of my favorites... Adventure, Atlantis, Berzerk, Popeye, Journey and Q*bert, on my vintage wireless joystick. Nice!

Back in the day, I was a Commodore 64 magazine subscriber, as well as a few others (Byte, Electronic Fun, Electronic Games, Radio Electronics). At some point in my life through my college years, I got tired of moving boxes of old magazines from my childhood and let them go. Big mistake. Now in the era of vintage computing and retrogaming, I've been missing some of these magazines. I've looked for some of these vintage magazines over the years but as you can imagine, its hard to find classic 80's magazines that are now 30 to 40 years old.

Jump to present day, and I was browsing one of my Classic Computer groups online. Someone posted a picture of a bunch of Commodore magazines and asked if anyone was interested in them. I messaged him right away, and said I was interested in early to mid 80's magazines and asked how much he wanted. Free. He said he wanted the space back, and was giving away an entire box. Little did he know, it was also my birthday. Happy birthday! Now I've paid it forward several times over the years, and here it is coming back. Turns out there were 102 vintage Commodore magazines in that box. Plus, he gave me a vintage Commodore dot matric printer. Plus, he gave me a woodgrain 5 1/4 floppy disk holder. Plus, there were a few books and vintage programming posters in there.

In the picture that's my Commodore 64 computer just to add to the "presentation". The photo only represents a small portion of the magazines, which included Compute!, Compute!'s Gazette, RUN, Ahoy!, Family Computing, Commodore Power/Play, Commodore Magazine and Transactor!. As mentioned, 102 magazines in total. A big shout out and thank you to this generous collector who paid it forward. I have my reading cut out for me now!

After spending a few late evenings in the arcade by the lounge area, one night my Defender started coming up with RAM failure. Williams games are notorious for RAM chips going bad in their banks of RAM. Defender has 24 IC chips of 4116 Dynamic RAM. Running through the setup test can usually identify which specific RAM number is bad. In those cases, you replace that RAM, power it back up and all is good.

Unfortunately for me I'd replace a RAM, power it back up and immediately the game said that another RAM chip was bad. This happened to me 8 times in a row until I ran out of spare RAM. At this point there has to be something else going on.
A specialty note is that 4116 DRAMs use three power supply voltages: +12, +5V and -5V (along with ground). Because of this, I decide to check voltages right at the power supply. Sure enough its spot on with all 3 voltages. Next thing I do is measure voltages at a RAM chip, just in case there was a low enough drop to cause an issue. Voltage pins are at 1, 8, 9 and 16. I get +5v, +12v, ground.... and no -5V. Nothing. I check another RAM chip. Still no -5V. I measure back at the power supply, and there is -5v there. What in the world? I pull off the power connector to that Defender board and reinsert. Voila! I'm now measuring all 3 voltages at the 4116 RAM chips. Something to keep in mind is that Defender was made in 1980. It is now a 42 year old game. Sometimes the socketed IC chips or the board connectors get bad connections from temperature changes and/or oxidization with time. In this case, reseating the power connector made sure all the RAM had proper voltages, and now there was no RAM failure on power up. Defender came right up, and is now running perfectly. Vintage Vault Arcade tool tip: Always check your voltages!

Paperboy is the 4th arcade game I have owned. I picked this one up back in 2007 and it has been a working champ in the arcade. That means 15 years of pure enjoyment, from a game I fell in love with as an 80's kid. I've noticed over the last year that the Paperboy controls seemed a little off. Most arcade games I've owned had little to no maintennance done on them by previous owners. More than likely Paperboy had the original 38 year old potentiometers in there. With that, I ordered 2 new pots as replacement which are needed for the X/Y diagonal movement in the game. Paperboy pots are very specific 5K pots with "D" shaft types. They have a flat edge that allows an allen screw to hold the gear on.

Unplugging and taking off the control panel is relatively easy, and allows quick access to both pots. Two things you need to make note when replacing the pots. That is the 3 pin wiring color code and the center adjustment of the pot. For the color code you simply take a picture of the existing wiring and make sure you solder wires onto the new pot in the same order. The center alignment gets a little trickier. You adjust the pot to the extreme right and left making note of the turn position. Then adjust to the center most position. Next, I replace and solder in the new pot without the gear. Finally, make sure the spring loaded handle bars are in their center postion. Then slide the gear onto the pot and use an allen screw to attach it in place. When finished I plug back in the handle bar control panel, do the pot adjustments in the game's setup menu, and finally coin up a game of Paperboy. The control of the Paperboy character onscreen seems nice and tight. Perfection! Looking forward to another 15 years out of this game in the Vintage Vault Arcade!

It's that time of year for the annual New Years Eve party down in the Vintage Vault Arcade for friends and family. I'm pretty sure this year the kids outnumbered us. It's all good, having a safe place for both adults and kids on New Years Eve. The video jukebox was loaded up with over 2700 music videos, we had a taco bar set up in the kitchen, 165 cans of soda were loaded in the soda machine, and 280 quarters on standby for the candy and tattoo machines. Things didn't wind down until early morning. I know for a fact that "someone's kid" was asking me for more quarters for the candy machines at 4am. Always a good time down in the Vintage Vault Arcade!

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