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.
I’m a fan of the Pinball 2000 (P2K) games released by Williams and I’m excited to now be working on one – especially since it’s my own. I have a little bit of down time while waiting for the Harley CPU board, so decided to keep my hands dirty and continue tinkering. The next machine to get a rebuild is a Star Wars Episode One. It was released mid 1999 and is the very last game to be made by Williams before they sadly closed. Interestingly, you can (or at least could) buy conversion kits for this and Revenge from Mars – meaning you could run both games in the same cabinet by swapping playfields, ROM’s and shooter assembly. It’s a bit of a manual process to swap them, but still nice to have two games taking up the one spot. There were sadly only two P2K machines made (with a couple more planned – Wizard Blocks and Playboy) and it’s a shame they were not able to continue with them. I feel they are very underrated! There isn’t much wrong with the game that needs to be sorted out. It mostly just needs the assemblies serviced and some cosmetic improvements. I’ll be doing my usual rebuild of all assemblies and cleaning, along with some presentation fixes too. Time to get started!