Straight from the Vintage Vault Arcade, a review & gameplay on another one of my favorite games, Space Ace!

Its been recently discovered that for the last 37 years, Dragon's Lair and Space Ace arcade games left the factory with the left volume control pot wired incorrectly. This wiring apparently differs from the pinout printed in the manual. Now, I've noticed more noise and hum from my Space Ace than other games around it, and I had attempted to adjust the volume to compensate. I figure that it had to do with the stereo audio coming from the laserdisc and left it at that. I also noticed that I had to adjust the left volume pot clockwise and the right volume pot counter-clockwise. I was annoyed at the time but didn't think much of it.

So why wasn't this discovered before and why did it work for almost 4 decades? Well, the sound still worked for the most part. However, the reversal of the pot wires meant you varied the strength of the input signal by shorting it to ground. This is hard on the signal source and creates noise to the entire system. Not good, but it still worked. Credit Shaun Wood for the discovery and the diagram.

So it turns out the fix was to simply swap the red and blue wires on the left volume pot. Sure enough on my pot the blue wire was center and the red wire outside. According to the correct wiring, red should be center and blue on the outside. I swap the wires, put the pot back into the panel. I then turned on Space Ace and re-adjusted the sound accordingly. Perfect. This was an interesting find and easy fix to the beloved Space Ace laserdisc game. Of course in the process I squeeze off a few games for good measure.
Click here to read about the Space Ace road trip.

A mysterious person puts up a new high score on Joust in the arcade. When Rock Dad beats his score, this person challenges every member of the Rock Dad family in a game of their choosing.

Recently my son had a few boys over and he was on the monster racing game, the Sega Rally Championship Deluxe. I noticed a horrible squealing, metal scraping sound coming from the game as he played. I jump in the cab and start to work the brakes and gas pedal, same loud metal scraping sound. Now I've had this game for 11 years so I guess it was due for some maintennance. I get underneath the dash and unbolt the brake and pedal assembly. Luckily, it was all one piece and comes right out. Manually pushing the pedals I can tell the springs, gears and moving parts probably haven't been greased or oiled up since coming off the assembly line, and that was 1995. I work in a lot of lubricant in all places and soon enough it all started to sound good as new.

I bolt back in the assembly and play a few games. All back to working order again! Click here to read about the original Sega Rally Championship Deluxe road trip.

First, a 20 year journey ends when I finally picked up a Space Ace arcade machine. This is the companion arcade game released right after ground breaking Dragons Lair. Both featured film-quality animation created by Don Bluth, which was then played back on a LaserDisc. The LaserDisc was the forefather of DVD's and Blu-rays. I did multiple repairs to get the game running again, which included fixing the laserdisc player. Next, I ordered a Dexter laserdisc replacement board which plays the original laserdisc images from a flash drive. Although I got the laserdisc player working, the moving parts in them were prone to breaking down. The success of laserdisc games back in the day was short lived because they broke down before earning back all of their money. I stored the now working laserdisc player for collectability, and swapped in the Dexter to be the workhorse while playing in the arcade. Finally I installed a Merlin ROM upgrade board which allows you to swap the original ROM code to play Space Ace, Dragons Lair and Dragons Lair II from images on the Dexter.

This multi-game laserdisc system has been running flawlessly for 2 years now. Unknown to me, the creators were working on getting Cliffhanger to run on the Merlin-Dexter system during Covid 2020. I just caught wind of this, and immediately dived right in for the update. This required unpacking the Cliffhanger laserdisc image on Dexter and swapping out the Merlin EPROM with the updated game code and menu system. This thing is working perfectly and best of all... now plays Cliffhanger! Click here to read more about the original Space Ace road trip.

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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