Fixing never ends when it comes to pinball and it’s just an accepted part of being an owner. Due to working from home until COVID-19 is behind us, I’m spending more time with my games during break periods. I switched my SWEP1 machine on last week for a few games as it had been sitting idle for awhile and noticed that the sound was not right. Specifically, some sound effects were quieter than others. I put the game into test mode and ran the audio diagnostics. I found that there ware no sounds coming from from the left speaker. Only the right speaker and sub were working. My thoughts were that it’s either the PRISM card, sound amp board, or the speaker. I did the standard cable reseat at the back of the PC first, but the problem remained. I then opened up the PC and reseated the cable running from the sound board to the PRISM card. Again, the problem remained.
There are some things that remain on my pinball “to-do” list for quite awhile before I get around to them. Addressing the picture quality of my SWEP1 has been one of these things that I keep pushing back. In the current state, it’s not terrible and the game is very playable which is why I’ve considered it a low priority. But, I know it can be SO much better as much of the detail in the video and playfield animations is lost. The issue is the contrast. The contrast dial (which is responsible for the “white” level) is already at max and cannot be increased further. That’s where the small video amp board from Ultimarc comes in. This little board sits between the PC display output and the monitor, boosting the video signal. It’s available here, along with some additional information: http://www.ultimarc.com/vidamp.html
Since my SWEP1 arrived, the lightsaber Neon has been unreliable. Some days it works and others it won’t start up at all. In other cases it might finally kick in part way through a game or just stop working during a JEDI battle. It was a little random. The general work around for it was to adjust the two wires coming from the lightsaber, which would usually get it working again. At least for a day or so before it stopped again. This gave me hope it was a connection issue instead of a driver board issue. Last week the Neon completely stopped and no manner of wire adjusting would get it back on. Enough is enough – time to fix the damn thing properly. There are two probable causes – an issue on the driver board or the 12V transformer inside the lightsaber. I disconnected the power connector for the lightsaber and using my DMM, tested the voltage it was receiving. The driver board was doing it’s job properly and the correct voltage was coming in. I was fairly confident the issue was with the lightsaber, but this at least clarified it. So the lightsaber was removed for a closer inspection.
Having already made good progress on my SWEP1, I was keen to keep going and complete the remaining work. It’s no good having a half clean machine, so I made the decision to take SWEP1 offline for a couple of weeks to address the remaining playfield areas and assemblies. The lower playfield area around the apron and sling shots was covered in the last update and now I need to look at the middle and upper sections of the playfield. This means taking both ramps off to get access to everything on the playfield in these areas. The only assemblies I need to look at are the pop bumpers, so most of the work is cleaning at the playfield level and getting the parts back on.
I managed to locate some extra pockets of time (from somewhere) over the last couple of weeks to continue making progress with my SWEP1 service. In this update, I wanted to focus on the apron and lower playfield areas. That way I wouldn’t need the game to be offline for long periods, allowing me to continue playing. First up will be the apron area. SWEP1 has an awesome transparent blue apron. The decals are in excellent condition except for one small spot on the shooter power gauge.