Having made some good progress on Playball in my last update, it’s time to continue the push forward and get this reset issue sorted out. I took a couple of days away from the machine to clear my head and (hopefully) prevent myself from making any assumptions on the machine. The fact I can play a game on it when manually pulling the control bank arm in tells me the game is close – something is just not quite right. There isn’t a lot on this game that has to be reset in order to start. My primary focus here is the control bank – and quite specifically, the SB armature switch.
Before I get carried away with checking the armature switch, I wanted to go through each of the 5 relays that appear on the control bank. It’s home to relays for Tilt, Game over, Reset, and Reset complete (which is 1 coil, but two sets of switch stacks). I’ve seen all relays pull in at various states of the game, so I know the coils are good. They also reset correctly when the arm is manually pulled in. The schematics are quite useful here as they outline the type of switches attached to each relay (normally open / normally close / make-break). Here I found a problem. One of the switches on the reset complete relay was not adjusted correctly. A make / break switch, it should toggle between states. The lower switch was always closed – regardless of the state of the relay. This was adjusted.
Before making any other adjustments, I repeated the test steps to start a game. No change – same continuous score motor issue (followed by playing a game when the control bank arm was manually pulled in). So what controls that arm? Not much actually. It goes through a fuse, the SB armature switch and a score motor switch. The fuse was removed from the machine and tested – it was good. The score motor switch examined and looked fine. That leaves the armature switch.
Here was the source of the fault. The switch was removed and contacts cleaned. Issue was still present. It took a few adjustments, but finally I had it. The arm pulled in towards the end of the reset sequence, and the game started correctly, without any manual intervention. This was the first time I had seen the arm pull in since working on the machine. I played a game to completion and hit the start button again. The reset sequence again completed successfully without manual intervention. It might be worth replacing that armature switch in the long run, but it’s a part that has to be ordered in and not readily available locally. This was a big win – the game was now playable!
So we’re done? Not quite, as there was a game play issue still to sort out. Part of the game is to advance men around the bases to score runs. You can either spot bases by hitting various lit targets around the playfield –
Or you can hit the vari targets to advance around the bases –
While testing the game earlier, I noticed that this never happened. You could light the bases via the targets, but they never advanced. This feature is controlled by a continuous stepper unit in the base of the cabinet.
This stepper has a notch cut out of the disc, so that every 5 steps, it controls a “home” switch – opening it up. I noticed an issue with it straight off when manually advancing the unit – the switch was always closed – even when at it’s home position. This was adjusted and the switch contacts cleaned. It now opened correctly when it should.
I started and new game to see if that made any difference. Sadly not – the stepper never fired and did not move players around the bases. I switched the machine off and had another look at the unit. With my DMM I tested the coil – this looked to be another issue with the unit. Looking at the schematics, I could see the coil used in the replay count stepper was the same. The game is setup for free play and part of the replay stepper unit is missing too, preventing credits from being added. Since the replay unit would not be used, I decided to transplant the coil from it to the hit unit. The coil from the hit unit still had one of the original metal sleeves and this was stuck inside the coil – it couldn’t be removed.
With the coil swapped over the game was switched on and the start button pressed. Instantly, the hit unit sprang to life for the first time and advanced to the next home position. This was a lot better! The old coil was certainly an issue holding it back. I manually triggered targets and could now see men advancing around the bases – although it was inconsistent. Looks like one problem solved, but another to look at. I had a look through my spare parts and found an old stepper with the same coil – I’ll swap this in to replace the dead one that was now on the replay unit – in case the owner ever wants to hook up the replay unit again.
We’re close now – the hit stepper needs to be cleaned up as the men moving around the bases is not quite right. The stepper advances correctly, but the lit bases are not always right. I believe this is due to the filth on the stepper rivets and also the stepper seems to not step correctly in some cases. Another issue to look at is when the game enters its reset sequence to start a new game, it should reset the state of the 3 man on base relays. Currently it doesn’t, meaning their state is carried across games. These are the interlock style relays – built with 2 coils, they operate to toggle the state of the switches.
At this point, I believe the reset issue is linked to the stepper unit and not the 3 relays. Since it’s not always making proper contact as the stepper disc advances, I believe the relays are not set/reset correctly via the score motor switch. I’ve had a look at the 3 interlock relays and their action seems fine and there isn’t much resistance. Before I go adjusting these, I want to clean the hit stepper and get that working correctly – that alone may solve the issue. If not, I’ll move on to the 3 relays. Hopefully I’ll have that sorted soon 🙂