The Pinball Fix

Gottlieb Count-Down

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"There is a two-player EM version of this game called 'Space Walk.'"

Electronics Continued

I had an issue when I installed the new boards in the game. Have you heard of those people who call technical support and are told to turn their computer off and on and it fixes their problem? Or the grandma who calls tech support once a week because she forgets how to open solitaire on her computer? That's how stupid I felt after my issues with the new boards. Here's what happened.

I'm not dumb when it comes to fixing games, but I sure felt like Sgt. Schultz after this one. I am bi-vocational, pastoring a small church and then I have a job as a computer database and data programmer to make a living. And yet, I made a dumb mistake with the new boards. When the game booted with the new Ni-Wumph board, I went to the section to select my game and selected Count-Down. I then went to the HARDWARE/Diagnostics and tested everything. The displays worked, all lights worked, and all solenoids except #8 (red drop target reset) worked. OK, I might have an issue that needed to be fixed with that solenoid. I then manually fired that solenoid by grounding the transistor on the driver board. The solenoid worked so I knew the wiring and the mechanics were good. Then, I started up a game. The initial tune played, but only the green drop targets reset and then NOTHING else worked: no displays, no CPU-controlled lamps, no solenoids, no nothing. I'm stumped so I put a post on PINSIDE and contact "Ace" at Ni-Wumpf. To begin, the Ni-Wumpf board is technically NOT compatible with the Rottendog Driver Board. So, I remove the Ni-Wumpf and the Rottendog driver board and put in my old original CPU and driver board. The game works! (See, it was basically connector related). So, I re-install the Ni-Wumpf with the original driver board. In diagnostics, everything works except the #8 solenoid again. When I boot a game, only half the solenoids and half the CPU-controlled lights work. Weird.

My fear is that I have messed something up on the Ni-wumpf board. I email "Ace" again and he has asks what revision software I have. Maybe something is wrong there. He also asks me to do a reset of the NVRAM and then go back and pick my game again. This is where I found out my stupid error. I did the reset and when I go to pick my game, the first option Ni-Wumpf has is Count-Down so it is showing in the displays. However, just because it is showing doesn't mean it has actually been selected. There was my problem. I had assumed all along that I had actually selected Count-Down, when in fact, I hadn't. So, I cycled through all of the possible games until I came back around to Count-Down. I then made sure to select it then. Guess what? Everything worked!

Boy did I feel dumb. The issue was that I had never actually selected a game for the software to use.

This caused one negative and one positive. I had originally planned to deliver the game to "J" two days before Christmas. I had to call and sheepishly explain that it wouldn't be ready by Christmas. At the time I thought I might have to exchange boards. "J" was very understanding. I did get the game going and was able to play it for a couple of hours. Normally, when I restore a game I play it a lot before selling it. That gives me my "nostalgia" fix and allows me to work out any kinks that might not come up immediately. That happened here. After about two hours, a wire broke off one of the reset coils. Fortunately, it didn't hit anything and short out lamps or the switch matrix. Also, a segment on the #1 and #2 players and the credit score was out. This was due to the connector not being good. Remember that I re-pinned all the connectors? Well, at first, I did all the connectors touching any board, but didn't do the displays. I went back and did the displays now.

In summary, I did the NVRAM reset, selected Count-Down, and everything worked correctly. It seems that I didn't have a game selected or the wrong game selected. In my defense, and it's a weak defense, Count-Down is the first game that comes up when you go to game select mode. My guess is that since it was the first one showing, I assumed it was "selected" and then selected "DONE." After resetting the NVRAM, I went to game select and cycled through all of the games back around to COUNTDOWN. I then selected it and it worked.

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Below are three pictures of some of the touch ups done to the playfield.

pf touchup

pf touchup

pf touchup