Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fun at home with a broken down Sigma game

I was looking through craigslist this week when I came across an old Sigma PT-2B game for sale. The ad basically said the machine was shot and they wanted 75.00 dollars for it. So being bored and curious I called the man up he really didn’t have much info and said the game had a line on the monitor. Well being close by I went to check it out and sure enough it looked like the game had a bad monitor. The game itself was in surprising condition so when the man’s wife came out and said did you get rid of that thing I offered the guy 25.00 which he accepted. I knew I could if nothing else, part the game out on EBay and get at least a couple of hundred extra bucks. So I loaded the game up and took it to my small work shop.
I am a slot tech so I don’t usually fix games at home or otherwise except at work so I had only limited equipment and parts. One thing I have been doing is pulling out old monitors, power supplies and other miscellaneous electronics I find at a nearby electronic dumpster which I’m sure many of you have seen in store parking lots and so on. Using these I began to tear them apart and pull all the electrolytic capacitors out and pile them. I know this is cheap and I could have simply ordered the capacitors and so on but is hey it’s free. 

After I took apart the Sigma monitor which is a TOIE TC-V614H I began to replace all the capacitors. Now I have fixed many of these monitors long ago before LCD’s so I did have a good idea what was going on with it. But I did not have all the equipment I would have in a casino slot shop such as a Cap Wizard, Huntron Tracker or even an oscilloscope so I simply decided to swap out all the capacitors. After many hours of looking for all the capacitors from my discarded monitors I finished up and slide the monitor back into the machine. To my surprise it came right up. The horizontal adjustment was a little out but nothing major. 

I then noticed it had a coin out error on the screen so I pressed the door switch to clear the tilt but it came right back. Hoping it was a simple hoper jam I pulled the hopper and everything turned freely. Now I became a bit worried, thinking I had a bad hopper motor or worse a bad hopper control board and possibly a bad MPU. So I jerry rigged a suicide cable to test the hopper motor. For those who haven’t done this it is simply taking an electric cord plugging it into the wall and touching them to the two motor leads. Since the hopper motor works off of 120 volts the motor should turn if good and sure enough it did. The hopper turned and spit out what little coins where in the hopper.
The hopper being good I began looking at the hopper control board and all its connections. I followed the wiring to the MPU and everything looked good. At this point I was sure I had a bad hopper control board or possibly a bad MPU.  Out of desperation I began to look at the manual for dip switch or software setting that could cause this since machines that are not gaming machine anymore are often setup differently from a casino depending on the jurisdiction. 

The MPU is on the left wall while the hopper control board on the right. The power supply is in the middle. (below the hopper control board is the player tracking board.)

After finding nothing in the settings that could cause this I sat down with a meter and the wiring schematics and began following the voltage. Then I found it, someone had moved the wiring around for whatever reason and the 120 volt that went into the hopper control board was off by one pin. After putting the pin it correct location I slide the hopper in and it worked perfectly. I have no idea why the wiring was this way but was very happy it wasn’t something more serious. Especially since finding a hopper control board for a PT-2B Sigma game from 1996 might have been a problem. Another strange thing is the person had the bill valadator turned off, when i turned it on the DBV 145 worked like a charm. 

This is the hopper control board where the white wire was down one spot in the wrong place. The white and black wire supply the 120 volts.

A friend of mine who had stopped by offered me 300.00 dollars for it since his wife has been wanting a poker game at home to play with. Which I would be happy to do if my girlfriend would stop playing with it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What is slot machine tournament mode, and how to, from a slot techs perspective

A slot machine tournament as most people know is a bunch of slot machines setup with a timer on a machine and people trying to earn as many credits as possible within that time. You can always recognize a tournament because it is blocked off with ropes and people are pounding on the spin/deal draw buttons as fast as they can.
But how do these games get setup for tournament mode, is there a magical switch inside the machine that turns it into a tournament game. Or do the powers that be upstairs turn a switch and the games automatically turn into tournament games.
The truth is that these games require a special EPROM’s to be turned into tournament games. The EPROM’s must be placed into the games main board or MPU and setup. This requires a slot tech to move the machines to the location, and then setup the game much like a game change on a slot machine would normally be done.  The only main difference is that no BV, Coin Mech, or PAR sheets are needed as long as they don’t cause a tilt when missing.
Basically the tournament EPROM’s are placed into the MPU and the timer clock is set to a specific time. This sounds easy but often can be a headache depending on how a casino handles tournament games. Some casinos simply don’t do tournaments while others do them all the time. The casinos that do the tournaments always have a different setup plan. For example one casino might convert games on the floor into tournament games and move them around. Another might have machines in storage that they pull out during tournament time. And others have a mix of plans such as converting some recently pulled machine from the floor to tournament mode or just converting machines on the fly.
The last casino I worked in that did tournaments had games on the floor that would be converted to tournament games when needed. This would start with doing the appropriate paper work such as recording the meters, clearing out all the money (drop the games) and so on. Since this casino only had S-Plus tournament game EPROM’s this would all have to be done only on these games. The S-Plus games need a clear chip to be used first since all the old data would often confuse the game causing a data error. Then the tournament EPROM’s needed to replace the old game EPROM’s. Once this was done the timer would be set and the games would (hopefully) be ready to go.
For someone at home with a slot machine that wants to setup their game like this it is completely possible but would require the correct EPROMs. Trying to acquire the correct EPROMs would be the main hurdle. The clear chip and set-chip EPROMs will most likely be the easiest to find. While the tournament chips will most likely be the hardest to find. Since slot manufactures are not going to sell these EPROM’s calling local slot shops or EBay will most likely be the best bet at finding them.