GENERAL => ARCADE => Topic started by: Womble on February 21, 2011, 10:36:08 AM

Title: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 21, 2011, 10:36:08 AM
My mega project at the moment is the Atari Vindicators cabinet I bought from ExtraBall, am a sucker for Atari cabinets, especially ones with unique controllers.


Well the woodwork is a bit of a mess, and the controllers are down for the count as the wiring is in a bit of a state...


...but after a quick scout round with the multimeter I was very pleased when I flicked the switch. The monitor image is beautiful and the game booted up.


Initially I thought everything was good, the attract mode of Vindicators takes about a week to get round to the actual game and as the controllers were non functional all I could do was wait. When it finally got the game the sprites were not right, they were missing some of their coloured fill regions and the flicked about horizontally from where they should be according to the game itself, ie the turret would sometimes be 3cms to the left of the explosion when it was destroyed. The explosion was also missing all of its yellow,and some of the play field area was wrong, the bunkers were mashed up and the end of level doors were not correctly drawn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjxAEIJ9igg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjxAEIJ9igg)

There was also no sound at all, I wasn't that worried as I got the "bong" noise when I powered her up, and after some poking around, by flicking the coin mechs I could get the same sound again. I was after some "attract mode" sound so I flipped out the manuals that came with the cab (Operators Manual, Full Schematics and Monitor Manual - wooh nice) and found the switch for "service mode" on the audio PCB.


The setting for attract mode sound was already set to "yes", slightly worrying, but not as worrying as the complete lack of sound when I flipped back to normal mode. The game rebooted but now I had no sound at all, I also could no longer coin the game up. Assuming I had disturbed a dirty ribbon cable I went round all the connections and reseated them all, no change. Flicking back into test mode I went to the audio test section only to have it fail giving the message "Audio System Failure".

The was a pain in the arse for two reasons, firstly it was late and I hate trying to go to sleep having made something worse, it never works and I have stupid dreams about the fault all night, sad but true. Secondly there was no easy way to get this board set going on the bench, it is typical Atari and relies on sockets to the PCB to connect everything, not a JAMMA edge connector in sight. Also the audio PCB is rather well hidden with 4 connectors at the very back of the board, which you cant see when you have your hand in the cabinet. With no other option I had to get the PCB out of the cabinet, I stuck the digital camera into where it lives and fired off a few "pre" shots and then pulled all the cabling out releasing the board.


First thing that struck me was the bridge rectifier quad of diodes and two smoothing caps, bad news as if this puppy needed AC to work fully I was going to struggle to rig it up on the bench. The PSU section of the cab had been bodged together with an old AT PC PSU and was relying heavily on manky old gaffer tape as insulation.


Moving the whole system to the bench safely was going to be a lot of work. Anyway - at least part of the PCB was normal TTL level logic, a 6502 CPU, a dose of RAM and ROM and some common TTLs. One great thing about Atari boards is that they were not afraid of using sockets, so everything bar the TTL was easily removed. The RAM and ROM passed their tests in my Wellon VP280, which left the CPU, as the coin mechs and coin counter all required 12V it makes sense that they are located on the same PCB as the amplifier chips which tend to required the same, at this stage I had no idea how the AC inputs were treated but it seemed logical that the CPU on the audio board would deal with the coin-ups as they were physically close to the 12V required by the rest of it, this wouldn't be the 1st board I have met where the sound CPU handles the house keeping as well. As the 6502 was socketed I replaced it with one from a scrap board, reassembled the cabinet and flicked the switch. Bong!! The sound was restored and I could once again coin-up the board, after all of this it turns out that the
attract mode sound only kicks in once every ten minutes or so, and you have to wait ten minutes from the point you power up to hear anything. I had left the cab running for a while and heard it start to play its tune from afar, it scared the crap out of Mrs Womble as the volume was not set to "gentle".

With the sound issue fixed I took the main board out, no chance of easily powering it up but as all the RAM, ROM, CPU and custom chips were socketed there was the chance of some testing off board. The 27512 ROMs all passed..


... as did the pair of 2018s and the four 6265 type chips with a virtually unknown-to-google chip ID. The CPU clearly was fine as the game ran, which left the customs and the PALs. As a repairer I loath PALs, they are programmable logic and contain a security feature, if the bloke who programmed it didn't want anyone to read out the contents again he could set a security bit meaning if you didn't already have the data you had no chance of making a new chip, you can erase the one you have but not extract the code again. As they are programmable logic they replaced lumps of normal TTL which you might have a chance of troubleshooting, they also tend to be highly game specific and the code may not exist anywhere. MAME doesn't use the contents of the PALs on many games although there is a project going on to backfill the DB with the correct PAL data. Plus plus plus my burner doesn't support the kind found on most boards of the era I work with, all in all we hates them.

So, the PALs I could do nothing with, which left the other Atari customs, if they were not in sockets I would probably not have focused on them so early but it was too good an option to rule out a whole lot of unknowns if I could swap in known good chips. I have an Atari Gauntlet board which has 3 of the 4 customs on it too, it works perfectly and its customs are also socketed.

But I decided that squatting down in the garage in the back of a cobwebby cabinet was not the way to go about swapping in highly unusual chips that if I killed I would struggle to replace, I had a bad Vindicators pcb, I did not want a bad Gauntlet PCB to go with it.

So I bit the bullet and made the harness. The schematics were a god send, they are available online but a paper copy is much easier to scan by eye looking for relevant bits. Obviously the main board was primarily powered by 5V, however it also got 14V from a tap on the main transformer, via the sound board, which went straight into a 3 pin voltage regulator on the mainboard, the output voltage of the regulator was determined by the support components around it, not by the chip itself. According to the schematics it should be 10V which goes into the video generation portion of the main board. The datasheet for the Vreg confirmed it would be happy with 12V input so that simplified that part of the system. The power supply for the audio board was also simpler than I thought, all the AC voltages are are rectified, smoothed and go off to the amplifier section and the coin mechs, neither of which I needed to power up on the bench. Also to Atari's credit they tend to pepper their boards with test point lugs so if you don't happen to have the correct sockets you can hook up power with some spade connectors with resorting to any forms of buggering around with the original sockets. All of this was soldered up to a JAMMA biscuit and a 9 way pin header allowed me to get the video out too. With the original PCB linker cable extracted from the cabinet I was able to power the board up on the bench without having to worry about the bodgy mains cabling (yet).


With it on the bench I could quickly swap in the known good 137418-101, 137419-103 and 137419-104 chips...


... from Gauntlet, which achieved nothing, the game ran as before with the same mangled sprites. This left the two fantastically named SLAGS (Syn Logic Array Graphics Shifter) chips and a 137536-001 chip. The SLAGS are sit on the bus that the gfx ROMs live on and removing one or the other blew lines through all the gfx, so it was not likely that they were involved in this fault as if they were partly faulty it should show up on all gfx relying on data from these EPROMS.

The 137536-001 (with the rather dull name "LB", Line Buffer?) ...


...isn't used on Gauntlet either and a search online showed it was used on a range of other board, none of which I have access too.

So it was scope time, having gone through the schematics I had noticed a set of lines call HPOS0-HPOS7 in what looked like the graphics subsection, Horizontal Position lines perhaps? So I focused on that part of the board, the "LB" takes the 8 HPOS lines as its address bus...


... from a pair of 74ls83 chips at 10K and 10J, their outputs seemed to be healthy enough when their inputs were active, but when there was silence the outputs did look a bit vague. The LB also takes an 8 bit data bus called MAT, I can only guess what it stands for, perhaps "match", basically I was looking for anything that looked like it was XOR'ing gfx data which is how sprites are overlaid on a background. The page all this was on was labelled "Mo Control", so assuming it has nothing to do with facial hair it sounded rather spritey.

The MAT and HPOS fed into the "LB" chip along with a few other lines, and as the whole sprites were jumping I was looking for areas dealing with 8 data lines at once rather than the odd bad line. With the LB chip off the board all the sprites vanished, further suggesting I was on the right path, either upstream, or downstream of the fault anyway, or perhaps right at it!. I went round the HPOS and MAT input lines with the scope when the board should have been moving sprites around and they looked fine, as did the clock and write enable lines going to LB. Unfortunately the attract mode of Vindicators takes ages to loop and includes only a couple of short scenes where there are actual sprites on the screen so it took a while to gain enough "sprite time" to check it all. Despite all the inputs the LB chip only has 8 outputs, another data bus, which goes to both a dreaded PAL and to a raft of OR gates across two LS32 chips. The "other" signal that the LS32's are ORing against is an output of the same PAL. With the board powered up and at the right point in the attract mode cycle I probed the 8 data line outputs from the LS chip, all looked good apart from pin 7 which is DO2. All the other pins were rapidly transitioning from logic high to logic low, pin 7 however was doing it a lot slower, it was still flipping but it didn't seem to match what the others were doing. Its a bit of a leap of logic to assume its bad based on what you see on a non-storage o'scope as you only get to see a very small timeslice, if it had been the high line on an address bus it would have been less of a worry but as a "middle of a byte" data line it looked suspicious. By temporarily shorting DO1 to DO2 I could annoy the fault, the sprites would flick along the horizontal plane and some of the missing colours would reappear, totally wrong colours but the sprites were briefly getting coloured in.

At this point I could go no further, I had 3 suspects, the two 74LS83s feeding the LS chip, and the LS chip itself. As I really prefer to leave a board as untouched as possible I was faced with finding another LS chip or bite the bullet and desolder the LS83s.

A day or two passed and I was still trying to track down a 137536-001, andysarcade.com sells them but are out of stock, so I was working further and further back through the google search results, until I found a badly parsed pdf manual of Atari's KLAX, a game I had sitting on the shelf in the spare room. I had thought that KLAX was circa 1991 or 1992, the attract mode states that it is now "the nineties and time to play KLAX", and as you only tend to find customs on games of the same era within any manufacturer I had not bothered to look. Not one of the earlier sites mentioned that the chip was used on KLAX, I pulled in the full manual and yep, it has a 137536-001 on board. It is actually from 1989, at the most its only 2 years younger than Vindicators, in reality it is probably less than 2 years. A quick trip to the spare room, found the board, pulled the 137536-001 out of its socket, installed it into Vindicators and powered up. One small eternity of waiting for it to demo of the game later..


..fixed, the sprites were where they should be...


...and all the component parts of the sprite were aligned...


...the turrets looked like turrets again


...and the end of level doors were correct again.

Had I known I had a 137536-001 on KLAX earlier I could have ruled this out without the several hours worth of work but in a way I am pleased that I had narrowed it down to within 3 chips, unfortunately it turned out to be the least easy one to replace. KLAX can live without its LB chip until I find one so its no great hardship. Just for kicks I put the bad LB into KLAX to see the result, rather unsurprising it was much the same fault. The sprites of the blocks coming down the conveyor were missing their colour fill, and were often off to the side of the conveyor to such a degree it was impossible to play the game.

Next step is to rewire one of the controllers so I can at least have a game, then its time to work on the cab itself, a fair bit of woodwork and a tray of metal bits for the local powder coaters.

Much work to be done, this is part 1 of 3 I hope, stage two is a strip and restore of the controllers, then comes the grunt work, fixing the woodwork and repainting the cab. Doesn't help that the cab weighs 160kgs, but its just so purdy.  :D
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: AndyRCM on February 21, 2011, 10:50:50 AM
Bloody fantastic mate! Awesome write up! :o)

Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: porchy on February 22, 2011, 09:50:31 PM
you are probably aware of this site but here it is anyway
http://www.aarongiles.com/gallery/index.html (http://www.aarongiles.com/gallery/index.html)

it wouldnt of helped you out with Vindicators but useful for future reference
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 22, 2011, 11:24:18 PM
Very nice! I hope he keeps it up, the complete lack of any "tested" entries might suggest he is getting zero feedback.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: porchy on February 23, 2011, 06:48:16 AM
Very nice! I hope he keeps it up, the complete lack of any "tested" entries might suggest he is getting zero feedback.
or might not even work fully/at all. at least we would have some hope if ever came around to replacing one of these eh.
protected PALs/GALs really are the devils work
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 25, 2011, 11:50:17 AM
Rebuilt one of the controllers today as I have enough parts from the two decrepit ones to make one good one. So I have finally actually played the game as it was meant to be played. Its really good fun, quite hard to get used to the controller but it makes for a much more engaging game than the cut down cursor key control method mame uses. Got to base #3 before one of the buttons decided to fail on me.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 28, 2011, 10:00:19 AM
Well this project was never just about the board, the cab needed some lovin' too. Certain parts of it had been rained on and the particle board had swollen badly, it also looses all its structural integrity and crumbles away. Most of the damage was superficial and can probably be fixed with some wood bonder, filer and a good sand. Other parts were totally shot, basically anything structural and water damaged would have to go.

The entire front face of the pedestal was one of the casualties, the right-hand arm was about 4mm wider than it should be, and a soft crumbly mess. The left hand side was only slightly damaged but the bottom was pretty torn up.

The only issue was getting it free from the cab, first of all the coin door had to come out, it is in very good nick, just needs a good clean and paint.


Getting the panel free took hours and for a long while it wouldn't even budge a single mm, it was screwed in 10 places, stapled in about 30 places and glued to the inner frame, two of the screws had rusted and just sheered off, the staples had to be picked out one by one and the glue needed some brute force.

Womble senior is in the country and was my willing helper.


Some left over weatherboard made a very good wedge.





Yup - it's farked.

Next in the firing line was the right hand outer track face, the side are sheet just peeled off, and you can see how swollen it is, the T moulding should cover the entire top face, its about 6mm wider than it should be and very furry round the edges.

Time to strip the cabinet first tho as it needed to be upended. So tube, chassis, game PCB, sound PCB and PSU all were evicted.



The very edge just crumbled to dust, but a few cm in it was good wood and tough as nails.

Brute force time...


..once we hit the cavity most of it could be wrenched free.

The cabinet had lost a wheel during shipping, the wood had given way and its not hard to see why, more water damage leaving the wood soft as shite. You can see the good wheel on the other side, that side had only very slight signs of even being wet, so it will not need anywhere near this degree of violence.



The wheel panel will be replaced, the original wheel refitted and a new side sheet installed. Am pondering whether to make a new front panel myself or find some way to get one CNC cut to the measurements I can make from the old one.

Either way, we have made a massive mess, the cab is a gutted shell, but its all good progress. :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on March 20, 2011, 11:05:25 PM
Actually I missed a step...before gutting the cab...

Now the game was working I was keen to actually play the damn thing, the controller arms all worked but the buttons were a mess, all the ones on the P2 controller were dead, most felt like they had nothing actually behind them to be honest. The P1 buttons all felt like they should do something but only two actually did. Time for a strip down.

The controller handles are held together with two hex bolts, when they are held together they clamp down on a pair of O rings which hold the handles tightly to the metal arms. The O-rings were totally shot, which explains why the handles rattled on the arms.


Inside its clear someone had replaced one of the fire buttons with a more modern equivalent, it doesnt really fit in the controller well but it does actually work. The other buttons were all mounted on small PCBs that really only serve as a way to connect the wires to the switch itself.


The button cap itself sits on a "button joint" seen in the photo below, a small stud of plastic whose only purpose is to allow small kids to twist the shite out of the buttons themselves without transferring any of the twisting to the actual switch.

The P2 controller was just a shell, there were no switches, pcbs and most of the joints were missing, I did have the full set of button caps tho, and someone at some point had used what looks like blu-tac to hold the button joints and the button caps together, which is probably why I still have a few of those from P2. I did have enough parts to fully kit out P1.


The mini pcbs all cleaned up nicely and were reuseable. The old wiring was actually still in place, so all I had to do was to reattached the ground pin and remove the crappy old modern wiring.


Once back together and reinstalled in the cab the game was finally playable, for a while, then one of the buttons gave up. Stripped it back down and measured the resistance of the switch, 60 ohms, hit it with some contact cleaner and it dropped to 0.1 ohms. Fitted it back in the cab and again it worked for about half an hour, then it failed again. The original switches are a crap design, the bulk of the switch body is empty, the push button pushes down on a bent bit of metal which transfers the force to a bit of plastic on the switch guts which in turn pushes on the actual metal part, the total contact is about 1mm square and totally buried in the sealed switch inner. Am gonna have to replace these with un-knackered ones or something slightly different. Am not keen to go down the path of butchering the controller handles to fit something totally new tho.

The missing bits I can easily buy, but the switches are almost impossible to find without having to pay more for the switches than I paid for the cabinet itself, thankfully some kinds souls on AA have found some old PC keyboards with likely candidates for replacement, aside from Vindicators and Road Blasters the natural habitat for these switches appears to have been mid to late 80s PC keyboards.

Back to the shell....

In the end I decided to get a new front panel made for me, I might be able to make one myself but as it is going to be the most obvious section of the cabinet I didnt really want to be staring at my first ever attempt at routing for years. If it wasn't perfect it would be pretty obvious, so I took the old cabinet front...


...for a walk over to a nearby industrial estate where there happened to be a couple of cabinet makers. So I now have this....


... a perfect new one, the coin door frame is just slotted in to prove it fits :)

The final really horrible feature of the cab was the grey vinyl on the monitor shroud section of the cab...


...it was peeling at the edges, dented, scratched and generally very tatty. Also t every join it was clear that water had got in and damaged the chip board underneath...



..that is fixable but there was no way to save the vinyl, so it had to come off.


I thought this was going to be a long job as have read some horror stories about people spending hours and hours, and indeed when I started to peel it off it would just crack off in small pieces leaving me trying to get a new grip on it with my thumbnail. Applying heat seemed like a good idea so Mrs Womble lost her hair drier for a while, this worked absolute bloody wonders.




After ten minutes..


The other side was actually in a worse state...



...but put up no more of a fight when faced with the hair drier, another ten minutes worth of work...


That left only the roof section, and the odd tatty bit of wood screwed on. I am guessing this is a handle to allow you to tip the cabinet back, fugly tho.


So I now have a bald cabinet, but it looks so much better already, the wood edges are not bad either, an application of wood hardener and a good sand should fix those up nicely. The lower vinyl areas are in very good condition, just a bit dirty so those will stay as original. Aside from one small section of wood on the partially disassembled fake track I am nearly at the point where I stop ripping things off and start fixing her up.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on March 21, 2011, 11:49:11 AM
Be good to see it start going back together, you replacing the grey vinyl ? if so, like for like, or you going to get some fancy graphics made up ?
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on March 22, 2011, 03:03:01 AM
Not sure at this stage if I will replace the vinyl or paint it to match the old colour, depends on availability really. The original cabinet art would have been on top of the vinyl but it is not available at the moment so I may have to go down the path of getting USA folk to photograph their cabs and I create the equivalent art files for remanufacture.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Superully on April 30, 2011, 02:44:13 PM
hi there!
i stumbled upon this resto thread while looking for the vindicators schematics. nice to see that someone else is currently working on a vindicators restoration as well - i thought i was the only one! i though my cabinet was in bad condition, but yours is even worse. please follow my resto thread over on bruno's dragonslair forum, here's thelink (http://www.dragonslairfans.com/smfor/index.php?topic=2583.0)!

The original cabinet art would have been on top of the vinyl but it is not available at the moment so I may have to go down the path of getting USA folk to photograph their cabs and I create the equivalent art files for remanufacture.

it might be interesting to hear for you that because my cabinet is missing one sideart as well, i'll be scanning the other side soon. the vecotr king on our forum will then turn it into a vector file for later reproductions, so no need to ask on an american forum ;)

i will be following your resto thread with a lot of interest, keep up the great work!
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on May 02, 2011, 03:49:03 AM
Your thread is awesome! So good to see another one in progress. I admit I am amazed your sound board worked, it looks like it has had coke spilt on it, there should be a cardboard shield over the board presumably to divert spilt drinks away from the sound PCB.

The wood work on mine is pretty bad, two panels at least need to be totally replaced. Am very excited about your artwork scanning project, what a great idea to strap a scanner to the cabinet. Are you planning on doing the front artwork as well? Mine only has the bottom tracks remaining, everything else is gone.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Superully on May 04, 2011, 06:05:18 PM
Your thread is awesome! So good to see another one in progress. I admit I am amazed your sound board worked, it looks like it has had coke spilt on it, there should be a cardboard shield over the board presumably to divert spilt drinks away from the sound PCB.

thx a lot. i was extremely surprised myself that the board worked, never would have guessed that in a million years. however, i want to clean it, but i'm not sure how yet. never had a board that dirty!

The wood work on mine is pretty bad, two panels at least need to be totally replaced. Am very excited about your artwork scanning project, what a great idea to strap a scanner to the cabinet. Are you planning on doing the front artwork as well? Mine only has the bottom tracks remaining, everything else is gone.

i haven't planned on scanning the front art, but in case you need it, i could do so. however, you would have to vector / reproduce it yourself and i don't know how it's going to come out with that silvery / shiny coat on top. let's see!
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on May 05, 2011, 01:31:02 AM
I would be grateful if you could scan the front artwork as my cab is totally bare, well the front panel is being replaced anyway.

Any chance you could email the admins of DragonsLair to ask why my registration is never approved, twice now I have tried to join but my account is never activated.

Username there is also Womble.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Superully on June 29, 2011, 09:01:27 PM
I would be grateful if you could scan the front artwork as my cab is totally bare, well the front panel is being replaced anyway.

front artwork has been scanned as you can see in my thread on dlf.

now what i would need from you are those replacement switches or a source where to get them ...
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on December 23, 2014, 09:48:48 PM
Hands up who thought this project was dead?

After 4 years I finally got the urge to work on this again and to get it finished. So am cracking on with it in the hope that my mojo lasts long enough to get it all done. I really don't need it stood in the toy room for another 4 years as a tombstone to the memory of optimistic thinking.

Nothing had changed on this since the last update, the cab was still missing one side track and the piece of wood where the wheel had once been.

So I tipped the cab on its side and fired up the jigsaw to cut the missing piece.




Sadly as I was fitting it it became clear how far gone the rest of the wood on the track edge was, the whole lot had been soaked at some stage and left the particle board the consistency of Weetbix. The original nails were rusted and loose and the whole lot was slowing giving way. Even if with a new section supporting the wheel it wouldn't work as the old sections supporting the new section would just give way under the weight.

Also even if I did manage to retain the original woodwork I would be faced with a tonne of work prepping it for new paint and rubber tracking.



The area under the rubber was water damaged as well as glue infested, and would need to be chiseled out to get to semi decent wood, filled and sanded flat again. Trouble was even with the chiseling above the structure was getting looser and looser as the wood crumbled and the nails worked loose.

The only option is to replace the lot, demolition time!




Bunnings only sell one sheet of 18mm MDF (as close to the original as possible) and it is massive, but they do have an awesome cut shop, so they were able to slice it up into strips the right size for the track surface and the edging. I just needed to cut the angled edges to the panels, which with my jigsaw was actually a right pain.

The old edge formers were made of plywood and were in good condition once all the Weetbix was chipped off so these were retained


So with a few panels cut I had the nose and tail sections ready for gluing.


One quick dry assembly to check the fit...


...looking good.

With the track nose removed I had enough access to fix another problem. The inner edge was badly water damaged too, this leading edge is part of the entire side panel of the cabinet and not easily removed without completely breaking the cabinet down. Aside from the effort involved this would mean I would lose massive sections of wood in great condition with the original pristine vinyl covering, not an option, despite the current mojo situation.

The panel in the undamaged areas just above where the track foot kicks out is 20mm thick...


...in the water damaged track area it had swollen to 26mm thick. No hope of getting any T-moulding to cover that mess.


With the track box totally removed I had enough side exposed to attempt to restore it by flooding the area with wood hardener and clamping the shit out of it to attempt to squeeze it down to 20mm again.

A quick test run to see if it was possible, using a cable tie to prevent the T-mould slot getting crushed in, proved I could get it back to 20mm with a lot of force.


So, the cab was flipped over..


...and the edge got a very long drink of wood hardener...


and it was clamped up within an inch of its life. I already had one drill vice but bought a couple more as they have long plates of steel which allowed me to clamp the whole thing up consistently and compress a large area without trying to find something additional to spread the load. A couple of bits of MDF were used to spread the middle load into the corners the upper and lower vice would not touch.

I used the original t-moulding to prevent the t-mould slot collapsing, and was slightly concerned I would ended up with the shitty old T-mould firmly glued in place. Thankfully it didn't stick, and after 24 hours the clamps came off, to reveal...


Pretty damn good, except it wasn't fully dry. So It is likely to spend the entire week clamped up to fully harden, I will probably have to run raw PVA glue along the edges to really lock it in too.

Next step is to glue the end caps and the top plank in place, fit a bracing block of timber behind where the wheel attaches so I can use some proper screws into proper timber rather than trying to screw it to the MDF itself. Then the edge board goes on to finish the right track section.

Of course now I am going to have to demolish the left track and repeat the whole process, but that should take me half the time with all the issues worked out.

Watch this space...
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on December 23, 2014, 09:50:13 PM
Ok, so it is December now and the last update was in October, but things haven't ground to a halt on this

A new toy has certainly helped!



Part of the reason the old wheel had fallen off was that it was only screwed into the MDF, which considering the weight of this cabinet (145KG when complete) seemed a bit unwise. The force on the wheel is also not always in the same direction so the whole assembly will try to twist when you rock the cabinet back on to the wheels. Some bracing with real timber seemed like a good idea. Pilot holes were drilled for the wheels based on the positioning of the other original wheel (though even that had a mixed bag of screws so potentially it had torn off at one time), and a piece of scrap wood was cut to size so it would not only take the screws from the wheels but also be glued to the inner and outer face of the track to brace it a bit better.



The missing wheel was found...


...and given some TLC.


New right track front installed...


...some tidying up of back-end by chiseling off the remains of the Weetbix wood and glue to allow it all to align properly...


...and the new back fitted with the bracing timber well glued down.


Messy business this!


A couple of days later, with the ends firmly glued in place it was time for top plank with beveled ends to align with the track caps. In the cold light of day, after a clean up it looks pretty damn good.


Upright again!


Time to look at the other track!


It was in much better nick but it was Weetbix the very front and the wood is still a sticky gluey mess under all the rubber tracking.




At this stage I could go one of two ways, take the easy way and live with it, or replace the lot. As the other track would be perfect I took the plunge and decided to rebuild this one too, had pretty much sold myself on that option, hence the new toy. I soon regretted it. Aside from the front of the edge panel this one was infinitely stronger than the other one had been. Trying to break in proved mostly unsuccessful except in buggering the front of it.

Jigsaw time!


Regret kicked in about here..




Once it had been jigsawed down the middle it was easy to break it up. The damage to the grey vinyl will be completely hidden by the new wood work so I wasn't too annoyed about it.

Another saggy wheel, this one also had had a hard life, 4 none matching screws and the wood it was mounted on was looking pretty ropey.


Time to build new structure for this side.

First task was to clean up old formers...


...chisel off the remnants of the old particle board and knock through the old staples for removal.


Cutting the end caps for the other side using the jigsaw had taken me an entire afternoon, and involved lots of colourful language and about 50% wastage with wandering angles and dodgy alignment of parts. This side took an hour with no wastage at all to get a complete set of end parts that fit together without any sanding or prep.


Glue time, trickiest bit is always the first piece.


The old formers were reversed so the old inner face becomes the outer as that was still smooth and not ragged from the removal of the old glue and particle board.

More clampery ensued as end caps took shape...


...and lots more chiseling off rock hard glue and powered 80s particle board, am sick of this part of this.


This is the inner former that is welded to the cabinet side so has to be cleaned up in-situ.

Prior to fitting the end caps I had to think about fixing mashed corner piece. Again the wood was totally shot, as this was the lowest part of the cabinet any water running off it would collect here and have time for a good long soak in.


It had to go, using a scrap piece of MDF as a spacer guide I cut parallel to the former getting back to half decent wood.



I found some scrap timber left from the house build that was exactly 20mm thick to match the cabinet panel and rounded two corners off and routed the T-moulding slot in it. I got the routing done as a favour so I quickly cut the side panels too so they could be T-mould routed at the same time.

After a lot of measuring and double checking (because it looked wrong by eye) about I took the plunge and made the cut.



Good fit!


The old vinyl was cut back with a razor blade far enough that the seam of the replacement would be under the end cap woodwork.

I had planned to use some the new vinyl but it occurred to me I had kept a tear of the old monitor shroud covering for colour matching. If I could re-attach a piece of that it would be a perfect match. It was bit battered...


...but nothing that 48 hours of being clamped between two blocks of MDF didn't straighten out. Baby wipes and some eucalyptus oil took care of the dirt and glue residue. The new corner was glued in place and the gaps filled.


After a 24 hour wait the vinyl was cut and glued in place.


I had already tested the use of wood glue to refit the old vinyl, the back of the vinyl was fairly well coated in wood dust and remnants of the water damaged areas which were well stuck by the original adhesive so the wood glue still thinks it is gluing wood to wood.

The end cap goes on and covers the seam almost entirely, the vinyl hasn't been cut yet so it still looks ragged.



The old wheel gets reinstalled...


...and more clamping and gluing ensue, seems to be the theme with this project.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on December 23, 2014, 09:51:59 PM

A complete a bombsite in here!


48 hours later and its time for the top plate to be cut


Perfect first time


Once that was clamped and glued in place I finally got round to taking a razor blade to the repaired corner...


... not too shabby I think! A little bit more filler required along the joint at a later stage.

With everything now fully glued the cabinet had two wheels for the first time in ages so I could actually move it without dragging it, handy as the cabinet needed a trip outside. The back panels of the cabinet were also pretty crumbly but were mostly intact.



Replacing them would be an absolute bitch and would likely involve damaging the side vinyl as the back panels are stapled through from the outside before the vinyl was installed. I also didn't want to lose the Atari stickers which are still present, if a little battered. Even in the undamaged areas the rear surface has a rough texture to it and I think the black is the old paint. The solution was to give the entire back a good long drink of wood hardener, basically just watered down PVA glue, followed by a stint in the hot sun to dry. It was certainly thirsty, 400ml was brushed on and sucked into the wood.


It was then wheeled outside for an afternoon in the sun dry.


It worked well, the crumbliness is gone and everything is rock solid again. After a repaint it should be pretty much the way it should be.

Time to fix the other wrecked corner, much the same as before but not as much damage to replace.




Thankfully there was just enough left of my rounded routed block to do this corner too, but I glued it to a block of wood so I could get it under the saw blade without needing to have my hand anywhere near the biting bit.



Happy with that!

More gluing and clamping...


...the paper is actually the backing paper from sticky labels, wood glue doesn't stick to it well so this avoids you getting your clamp or your press block glued to your work.

Another week passed while that lot set, partially as the urge to work on this is weak most evenings. Next step is to make the side panels, except I already had side panels ready any waiting, shame they didn't fit. A big problem with this cabinet is that it isn't completely true, it probably never was. So parts made to fit mathematically often are not quite right when it comes to a real world fit that has to look right. At some point between my measuring the dimensions for the panels based on the loosely fitted edge caps and them being finally installed things had changed somewhat. Not hugely but it would be noticeable, if I made the front section of the track fit correctly the back would be a complete mess.

What doesn't help is that one track box is 4mm longer than the other, again it probably always was as the original formers are still stapled to the main cab structure that was inside and protected from the wet by distance and vinyl on both sides. Ho hum, time to scrap those and start again.

I have no easy way of making perfect long cuts without resorting to the jigsaw of the wandering blade, but Bunnings do, and it just so happens that this panel looks roughly the same dimension as 16mm panels they sell. So I took one of the large off cuts from the massive sheet of 18mm MDF I bought waay back and marched back in to Bunnings one night. The girl on the front door was perfectly happy to put a "customer's own" sticker on it and let me in with it. The guys at the cut shop didn't bat an eyelid at the sticker and were happy to slice it up for me. A bit cheeky I guess, but Bunnings have already made a killing out of me and this project so any guilt was extremely short lived.

This time I used the fully completed and solid as a rock tracks as the template, three JAMMA finger boards also came in handy as their combined width was exactly the overhang I needed on the edges. Once the panel was perfectly aligned I clamped the crap out of it and drilled a pilot hole through it and into the outer wooden former.


This let me reposition the panel with perfect accuracy using two drill bits. Using the JAMMA fingers I then drew the outline of the cuts to take the corners off and fired up the mitre saw at 45 degrees. After cutting two I alligned the board for one last sanity check as I really didn't want to cock these ones up too.


Two more cuts on the reverse side and it was done, a perfect fit.


The cabinet was rolled over and the same done for its track. The result is two slightly different tracks but both are a perfect fit for their sides. While I was had the saw set up I also dug out the front panel that I got made back in 2011, it never did quite fit, a quick fiddle with a ruler and  pencil on it to plot the center line revealed why. Both of the lower sides that slot between the two tracks were out by a few mm. One side I could fix the problem area with a single swipe of the mitre saw but one side needed to be pruned further than my saw's reach. Knew I should have paid the extra for the sliding mitre, except it was a lot extra so maybe not.

This is as far as I could get the cut, close but no cigar.


The rest was taken off with the jigsaw that was threatened with landfill if it did a wonky cut

She fits!


It looks so weird and awesome to see the cab with its front on again.

Time to properly line it up!


Except a boatload of old glue and wood chip had to be chiseled off first.


The trouble is it needs to look right, so the control panel was dug out of the corner and dropped into place.


At this stage I went looking for the original bolts that hold it in place, but I had nothing in the parts tray and no recollection of what they should look like. Going back to the photos I took when I first got it showed I probably never had them in the first place. So some rather shiny ones from my stash were used as temporary ones to hold it in. I ended up lying it down again for this stage as gravity was not helping, a single JAMMA fingerboard helped size up the overhang required.


Once it was perfectly aligned it was clamped and two small alignment holes were drilled equally spaced and into a clear space in the cabinet's inner frame.


Taking shape!


Time to route the edge panel T-moulding slots, this time I bit the bullet, borrowed a mini router from a mate and fired it up. I already had the bit from before as the guy who did the favour didn't have the 2.4mm slot cutter, the deal was I provide the bit and some beer and he provided the router and the cutting. Shame those panels are in the scrap now.


Very very easy job this one, it cut like a hot knife through butter. It took a fair while to get the depth set up perfectly but it hit the centre line all the way round.


With the alignment holes completed on the side panels and the front panel it was time to fit the dowels to allow them to be fitted and removed for priming, painting and vinyl application. This was done by stepping through drill bits of increasing size on the edge panels until the hole was 8mm for a dowel.


From the pilot/alignment hole up to the main hole took about 8 drill bits as I didn't want any drift to occur and wreck the alignment. On the side panels I drilled through entirely from the outside, it will need filling, and sanding but will be covered with vinyl and the side art so any imperfection wouldn't be seen. The front panel is more critical, so I did the cabinet and the panel itself separately, and on the panel the dowel hole doesn't go all the way through to the front face. A bit of a gamble but thankfully it worked well. With all panels dry fitted I figured it was time to drop in the coin door, the marquee frame and the other controller for a reunion shot.


Lots still to be done, but am really pleased with the progress so far. There are two back corners on the monitor shroud that probably need the same treatment as the rotten ones at the bottom, as well as some more wood hardener squeeze manoeuvres on a couple of places, but then most of the work left is cosmetic, filler, primer, paint and vinyl. The artwork is a story for another day ;)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on January 13, 2015, 11:23:05 AM
Am keeping the momentum up on this one, partially because it is majorly in my way, but I can almost see the finish line now.

The last remaining sections of nastiness on the main cabinet body were around the rear edges of the monitor shroud where the wood has crumbled and worn down..


..and on the underside where the main cabinet sides protrude through the base.


Over time these have been damp and crushed out of shape, its not in an area that will be seen but this is where the T-moulding ends so fixing these up should help keep that in place, plus I am determined to get this back to the best condition possible, inside, outside and even underneath. Wood glue was injected and a small clamp used to push everything back together while it set.


The real problem area was the back edges of the monitor shroud itself, as this cabinet is slightly tilted back any rain water would track towards the back and down the rear edges, so the wood there is a badly frayed along the edge, and both lower corners had taken damage as they would be the drip points. The right hand one was just a bit swollen..


..but the other one was a complete mess.


One option would be to cut a large lump out, but then I would have to replace the black vinyl on the inner side of the rear overhang, again it would be out of sight but I have got this far I might as well do it properly. The rear edges also need to be fixed to give straight edge to take the vinyl which will need to be trimmed with a knife, not easy on a ragged wandering edge.

Both corners were fed wood hardener and clamped up tight for two days to fix the swollen corner and to provide a solid foundation for something a bit more drastic on the wrecked one.

Bondo time! References to bondo are all over US arcade forums, but it is just a brand name rather than a specific product its basically car body filler. It sticks like shit to an army blanket but thankfully not to baking paper, which when strapped round a piece of MDF and clamped to the sides makes a pretty good edge guide to build up the edges without over filling and leaving a huge ridge that would need to be sanded down.



Some sections took a lot to get back to the straight and level.




I thought this would be quick, but it took most of the afternoon to do repeated applications to build up the edges, and the badly damaged corner. Each application takes about 30 mins to fully cure, and it is best not to do this on a hot day as once the hardener is added you should get roughly 5 minutes to work with it before it starts to seize up, that decreases rapidly when its hot. The first day I tried this I barely got 60 seconds and that was with the absolute minimum of hardener added.

The plan is to trim the edges with a router but that definitely is an outside job which must wait for a weekend but With the cabinet lying face down I can get started on another major milestone - paint! The back of the cabinet got a final brushing of watered down PVA glue to ensure it was rock solid and was left for a few hot days to fully dry.

It turned out to be pretty hard to colour match the back of this one. It seems some Vindicators cabinets had the same black vinyl on front and the back, but this one clearly never did so no online sources were much use. Also the multiple PVA washes the back had been given left it looking shiny in the undamaged areas and both gloss and matte in the rougher textured areas. Time to dig in the untouched since 2011 parts pile to find the monitor access panel that was still in virgin condition.


It seems any water ran around this so it is in very good condition. For some reason the inner side has the grey vinyl the cab exterior has, I guess they made these from scrap cabinet off cuts. The outer side has the exterior black paint so I took it into Bunnings for colour matching. The closest they could find was White Knight "Splashes" in Flat Black.

The edges and stickers were masked up and the paint went on.




The wheels were removed again and a dose of MDF primer was applied to the rear end caps to seal the surfaces, this is to lock out moisture but mainly so it doesn't drink the rubber glue needed to fix the rubber tracking later on.



Looks awesome!! With the access panel (yet to be painted) dropped in to check the match it is possible this paint is ever so slightly more matte than the original. It is hard to tell due to the way the water damage has changed the surface textures,  but am happy with it. Once the hatch is painted it will all look right, it just a dramatic improvement over the sad battered look I had got used to.


After one coat there are a few places that need a touch up, especially on the masking take over-runs, I didnt bother painting right to the edge as that is going to be sanded back anyway. A few other areas will need a touch up anyway later on.

Also, with the cabinet lying face down I was able to take a good look inside the compartment in the base that seems to have been designed to take a fan. There's no signs Vindicators cabinets ever had fans fitted so this is just a dust and spider trap, a role it has played well for 27 years.


This lunar landscape is at 90 degrees to the floor so this grime is well set in. The screw may be one of the PCB mount screws lost at some stages in the dim and distant past. The whole lot was vacuumed out and wiped down. Need to track down a replacement fan cover, probably a mesh one to keep the wildlife out in future.

It's getting there!

I also found the CP bolts that I thought I never had. It is amazing how bits seem to just walk off on long drawn out projects. :rolleyes
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on January 13, 2015, 01:55:58 PM
Getting there mate, can't wait to see this finished  :D
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 25, 2015, 03:26:34 AM
Cheers Panther - am keeping my nose to the grindstone on this one...

Well today was February the 9th, the day on which, in 2011, a 50 foot truck somehow reversed into my street and dropped off a rather sad looking Vindicators cabinet. I can't quite believe this has dragged out past the four year point, but it has, so it is time for a progress update I think, a big one!

Since last time -  more priming of the side tracks while it was face down...


...and more priming work when it was face up...


...and more gluing and clamping of crushed particle board.


The usual method again, soaking glue into the smooshed edges and clamping with a small vice overnight.


This cabinet woodwork repair seemed endless and was really starting to drain my enthusiasm. Time to take a look at the mains wire, no idea why I left it attached for so long as it had been chipping the surface and generally getting in the way for a long time. Due to the unhealthy bulge and the electrical tape it was clearly going to have to come off at some stage.


I was expecting to find the wires bodged together, but it was just a nasty gouge in the insulation, still enough to condemn it though.


It got the chop.

The next bit was something I really was not looking forward to, sorting out the back edges of the monitor shroud. The ragged worn edges had been stabilised with a good soaking in glue, and then built up with bondo, which was easy but messy, and I needed a clean straight edge to trim the vinyl to.

I had planned to clamp a straight edge of wood a suitable distance from the edge and then run the router along to cut the back straight. A good idea in principle, a nightmare in practice. The clamps were always in the way, so I had to stop after 10cm and move them, at which point the wood would slip and I would have to start lining everything up again. It also made a monumental mess, like standing in the middle of a blizzard as snow flakes of cured bondo covered me, the cabinet and everything within ten feet.



This idea was abandoned quickly, I had no idea how I was going to make this work on sloping top portions anyway as there was nothing to clamp the guide wood too at the back without needing massive clamps or weird shaped ones. It turned out that just using the flat plate of the sander was more than good enough for this job and it made a lot less mess.


It took a fair few episodes of bondo, followed by sanding, then more bondo to fill small imperfections, rinse and repeat as nauseum.


The top seam also needed attention...


...so a line of wood glue was rubbed into the joint


...and was followed up with a watered down glue wash to get it well soaked it.


A few hours out in the sun dried it all off nicely.


It was at this point I noticed something nasty, many moons ago I had clamped and squeezed one of the front edges before I put the new side track woodwork, i.e while I still had easy access and only needed a clamp up something an inch thick. I was sure I had done the other side too, but apparently not, and it now had its track woodwork installed so the easy access was gone. Ah the joys of a stop/start project.


Where the previously squeeze size was 20mm, to match the rest of that panel area, the other side was still 24mm which would be a dead loss case for refitting t-moulding later. My only option was to squeeze it with the track in place, which meant I needed something with jaws that could open at least 28cm and also apply a lot of force. Time for some additions to my clamp collection!


These apparently have a max clamp force of 750KG, should be enough :)

Yet more wood glue wash...


... until it is sopping wet with it...


... and the living crap clamped out of it to squeeze the soggy panel back to the right width.


I used the remains of the old t-moulding spine to keep the t-moulding slot from collapsing under the pressure and to focus the squeeze on the wood itself. I had to cut the outer surface off the t-moulding to allow the wood to dry out, if the t-moulding is complete it makes too good a seal on the panel edge and it never dries.


72 hours later and the clamping is done, you can just see my mini vice clinging to the underside of the cabinet here, it is clamping some of the frayed edge of the main cabinet edge that protrudes through the base.

Back in the garage again, more clamping required, to fix the swollen corner on the front of the monitor shroud on the right which was 2-3mm thicker than the t-moulding on the corner.

Same process, fill the slot with something, this time remains of a metal heat sink plate


block the section with MDF offcuts to spread the load, soak the particle board with a glue solution, this time drilling tiny holes to let the glue get in easily...


... and bring out the big guns for some force.


While it was laying down I tackled the front track "toe" section inners. The vinyl here was a mess, and the wood was all knocked about. As this buts up against the front panel which will be all new, with new vinyl on it, these need to match or they would look dreadful.


Vinyl comes off...


...on both sides..


... and I give up for a few days as I am over it again.

After three days the edge clamps have done their work while the glue set hard...


...and the corner is back to its original state and no longer sticks out beyond the t-moulding...


...which I am planning to re-use as it is in good nick, and for a couple of other reasons I will get to later.

The toe sections get bondo'd up...


and sanded back to their original splendor.


Once the cabinet was upright again the top got another light sand as a couple of small sections had been worked on, and the new back edges look great.


It should be a breeze to trim the new vinyl on that edge!

Primer time...


...mainly to seal the boards, but also to fill any tiny voids that are holding dust from the sanding. I have vacuumed the surfaces thoroughly but I bet the vinyl would end up stuck to 50% loose dust and only 50% fixed material.

First coat, a very light one to avoid soaking the wood again.



Second coat...


...and the same treatment for the front panel too.



The track edge panels get their alignment dowels checked and glued into place.


and the outer surface of the dowel filled and sanded.

Then they got some primer action too.


All the sanding and priming had made a bit of a mess of the black paint job on the rear. It was only really intended to be a first coat anyway, so the second coat was now due.

Yet again the cab was flipped face down...


...and the mains input and switch panel was removed so I could safely paint the inside of the switch cutout.




The old rear panels were recovered from their 4 year storage...


...complete with original Vindicators Operator instructions and lock that has long since lost its key.


The lock was removed and the panel gots a glue wash to match the back of the cabinet as it was a bit inclined to shed surface flakes.


With it fully sealed it was time to crack open the black paint for a bit of a marathon session.

The rear of the cabinet got its second coat, with a slight overlap onto the white so any thin edge visible between the back and the vinyl shows up black instead of brilliant primer white. The dent you see on the top edge is a trick of the room lighting I think, it isn't there in real life.


The front panel got a first coat


quickly followed by a second one as it was dry within minutes


Both rear panels were painted too so they now perfectly match the velvety black of the cabinet rear.

Even with this progress, there were still some sections of woodwork needing attention...

The front side edge of below where the CP sits had taken a lot of water damage and then been susceptible to physical damage. The corner of the vinyl had come forwards and the wood behind it had disintegrated.



Sigh - more wood glue soak treatment, this section took a LOT until it started to pool on the surface!


And some more clamping, using baking paper to stop the blocks (used to spread the load) from ending up glued firmly to the cabinet.


This worked very well, but the collapsed corner was still hollow, so some thin slivers of wood were cut, lubed up with glue and slid into the gap until the vinyl surface was level. It was then clamped up for another 24 hours.


It is a bit hard to tell on this shot, but it is looking much better and is again structurally sound.


The slightly tatty upper half of that panel lives under the CP, but I will probably give it a coat of black on the paint brush's next outing.

A couple of small jobs remained that I had been putting off were next on the list.

Firstly the cleaning up the side rail blocks that brace the track outer to the track upper, they were still covered with the remains of particle board and full of staples.



And making another a replacement one of these...


It is the angled hand grip that is screwed to the top of the cabinet so you can get hold of something when tilting the cabinet back. The original is a complete write-off as it bore the brunt of the water damage and was a crumbly mess. So I needed a fresh one, something like this...


The the tracks got clamped and glued in place


 and the grab handle was test got primed.


The end was really starting to feel like it was near but there were a couple of large items on the to do list that had been put off until I was a lot further forward with the cabinet, like about now!
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 25, 2015, 03:27:50 AM
The first one up was the power supply!

Four years ago it was bodged up with an old AT PSU and a lot of electrical tape, that got canned a long while back. In fact the AT PSU was only there to supply the 5 volts for the main board, as the original 5V PSU was missing,  the audio board, amplifiers, coin lamps and marquee take their power from this beast.


When I released the 4 large screws holding this down it refused to move, so I had my head stuck in the cabinet trying to find a 5th screw or something I had missed. In fact the only thing holding it in was gravity, its is heavy, far heavier than it looks, at least 10 Kilos and about a kilo of that seemed to be dirt and rust.

It is the original PSU though, serial number VIN1222, just like the rest of the parts.




Luckily most of the rust was actually dirt, and all the dirt just brushed off...


... leaving a pretty tidy unit.

After a strip down, in which all parts were removed from the base plate, and all the wires cleaned with a damp cloth so the colours could actually be seen, it looks pretty good.




The larger of the two transformers is the 240V to 110V step down that was fitted when it was imported, the serial number plate on the rear of the cabinet still states 110V 60Hz so it was clearly born a US machine. The output of the step down goes to the connector block which provides a feed to the smaller transformer that seems to be a 110V to 110V on the secondary with three taps that go off to the fuse block for 17VAC and 14VAC across fuses F2, F3 and F4. Fuse F4 isn't used by Vindicators so the missing fuse is correct.

The mains input comes through a mains filter, and is double fused through the two fuse bays labelled F1. Double fusing is a bad idea generally and it is not common these days, I may or may not rectify that, in this application it is probably OK.

The only thing missing here is the 5v 10Amp switch mode PSU to provide 5 volts for the game board. Generally switch mode PSUs do not like having zero load on any of their outputs and a normal arcade PSU has 12v and -5 that would be totally unused. The original PSU was just a 5V power supply, with sense return terminals and the chances of finding an original is zero. So a parcel should be inbound from a specialised PSU supplier, containing a single rail 5v 10Amp PSU that will be happy on the 110V that it will be fed in this cabinet.

All up the power supply chassis strip and clean took me an hour end to end. It is is in fact the only section of this entire restoration that didn't turn out to be a boatload more work than I initially thought.

The mains harness that runs up inside the cabinet got a good wash too. It doesn't look too bad in this photo with the flash, but in real life inside the cabinet it was hard to make out the colours of any of the wiring..




After the brief break from the cabinet woodwork, what could be nicer than some more woodwork . Yep, same again, another edge this time, the back of the control panel on the right, more water damage, swelling and separating vinyl.

It was 23mm instead of 19, which doesn't sound much but you get the wood bulging out from the t-moulding an it looks horrible, especially in such an in-your-face area as the CP.



The usual drill again, with slightly more complicated blocking to get an even pressure across this corner.



More drill feed holes...


...and again, it drank in a lot of glue solution.


Am getting my moneys worth out of these clamps at least.


After a few days the clamps were released and some old t-moulding was offered up to demo the repair, looking good!


With the end in sight for the cabinet repair, and the PSU repair just waiting for the postman, the last single mountain left to climb was the CP and the iconic controllers.


Dirty, rusty, incomplete and faulty.

The microswitches are completely at the end of their working life. It had failed switches when I got it, and it lost a couple during my testing. I tore down the problem ones to clean and adjust but they only lasted half an hour before the resistance when closed went from single digit ohms up into the meg ohm range again. So I was only able to play a couple of levels before they failed on me again, at which point I  powered it off and decided to take a look at sorting out the cabinet woodwork - and here we are 4 years on.



The reason the player 2 start button never worked is clear here, the button housing has lost the tabs that actually hold the switch in place under the button.


It is no great loss as the switches are not original, or even correct for the cabinet, the correct ones are in a parcel on the shelf awaiting their moment.

I had taken a walk to a local powdercoaters at some point during the cab priming phase to get a rough idea of the cost to sort out the metal work. The answer was a lot, $150 to $200 which seemed pretty crazy, but he was able to confirm that this effect on the coin door is not powder coat.


Both the "leather effect" on the coin slots, and the speckled effect on the coin door are paint effects that can't replicated with power coat. The same with the marquee surround frame, so as they are mostly in good nick and easily painted, I will work on those myself. The controllers were another matter as they were in a dreadful state.  Clearly they have had a very hard life and it looks like someone attempted to paint them at one stage, going over the rust and damage in the past with gloss black spray paint. Based on the the underside (i.e. protected) surface of the black parts and online photos its clear the controller metal work should be satin black, with a smooth finish, a prime candidate for powder coating, once they are stripped down.

So lets do it!

The microswitch assemblies that detect the forwards and back movements were unscrewed and removed, and the handle grips unbolted.


Crappy old switches exposed again, along with the original colour of the metalwork.


Switches desoldered so the wiring loom could be pulled through.


Wiring completely removed, just the mechanics remain.


A bit dirty but it could be lot worse, no signs of WD40 thankfully.


Lots of photos of parts taken here as I suspect this will be a pain to get back together again.







One down, one to go.


The rubber buffer stops seem particularly crudely cut, the rubber is in good shape, but they seem to have been cut from the stock by a blind man in a hurry using a blunt spoon.


The controller arms look even worse when they are free from the mechanism.


The player 2 controller looks better underneath but is in just as bad shape up top.



Here we go again!


It was a lot quicker this time, except for one stage. There is a bit of a knack in getting the blue controller grips off the arms, you need to slide them down until they are just clear of the end plates, at which point they can rotate on the arm tube. If you don't rotate them they will bind on the corner and refuse to come off. When you rotate they should come off quite easily, unless the arms are badly rusted like this one.


I had to resort to sand paper to smooth the rusted surface enough to get the grip off, and even then it was a struggle.

One box worth of parts was my reward.


In the cold light of day the state of the main parts is clear.




So I dropped them round to the powder that morning, for a date with the sand blaster. Not a cheap option, but they will be done in 4 days and they should look absolutely mint.

Meanwhile the mechanical parts had an appointment with a degreasing bath...


...which is extremely effective, turning these...


...through a couple of hours submersion...


...into these.


The metal parts got a long soak, I was a bit wary about leaving the plastic washers in it for too long but they cleaned up well with a quick dunking.

The plastic parts and the rubber bump stops ended up in the sink.


The sub plate cleaned up very well, the scuff marks are just wear and tear, but the two sliding baffles were more problematic. The shiny portion you can see initially looked like it was just the area that was rubbed clear of dirt during use, but in fact they confirm that someone in the past had painted the controllers with gloss black paint, as that is what those areas are, the extent of them being masked by the controller plate above.

Player 1's baffles show it clearly...


... and player 2 was just a lot dirtier but had had the same paint treatment.


I guess whoever did this just did it with a spray can and moved the controllers back and forth to get all the areas that would be seen. I had hoped it would come off, and it did...


... but you can still see where the paint was, in fact it still looks like it is painted, more so as it is not hidden by grime.


I may resort to painting the baffles entirely in matte or satin black paint if I can't improve it any further.

The handle grips were pretty grim too...



... both nothing that soap and water couldn't cure.


And that is it for now, the t-moulding is inbound from the US, new locks are in the post, the rubber tracking is sat in the corner stinking up the room, and the correct leaf spring switches arrived for the CP last week. I still need to source some vinyl, but am starting to run out of things I need. Sadly there is still some woodwork left to do, 3 problem areas remain to be attacked when I can face more gluing and clamping.

It will be soon, very very soon, before the 9th Feb 2016 I promise.

There is already lots more to show,  lots of parts have arrived and a lot more filth has been consigned to the bin, I just need to write up the next stage :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on February 26, 2015, 09:51:41 AM
Great reading, should be fantastic once completed.  :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 26, 2015, 12:10:38 PM
Thanks Panther - am looking forward to that day hugely, just to have it finished and off the to-do list will be reward enough.

But wait, there's more...

Stripping the controllers was a significant step, but it uncovered two significant problems. Firstly these...


... they are the plastic bearings that clip into the metal controller frame and support the metal rods that twist and slide during use.

They cleaned up pretty well after a soak in the degreasing solution...


...but the problem was I was missing one, there are 4 smaller ones per controller and 2 larger ones, and on the right hand controller one of the small ones was missing. After 25 years I figured my chances of finding a spare was slim, and reduced to zero as I had no idea what they were actually called. I tried a number of image search strings but came up blank, so I posted on KLOV to see if anyone could help me out with a name based solely on a photo.

I also asked an even more unlikely question regarding the CP security bolts that this cab would once have had. There is a very good Vindicators repairlog on Dragonslair by a guy called Superully who had some very good photos of what his bolts looked like, which are these shots.



He was replacing his with standard screws, but had the luxury of actually having the originals on hand. All I had was the empty holes and the nut component embedded in the cabinet woodwork. My only logical option was to rip it out of the panel and take it to Bunnings and try a variety of bolts to see what would fit. Trouble was I knew they wouldn't have the right bolts, even if they had the right size, and ripping them out would create more work to get it back in again. Being US in origin this cab is a nasty mix of metric and imperial everything, and being in a metric country the only bolts I had on hand were metric, but M6 bolts did sort of fit, despite being a bit loose. So my question was "what imperial screw thread would I need if an M6 bolt just about works but isn't a tight fit"

Amazingly I got two perfect hits, the bearings are called Nyliners and the suggestion for the bolts was that they were probably black oxide, 1/4 inch, 20 thread, tamper-proof pin-in-torx bolts. Result!

With the Nyliner name I could track down the product brochure and it seems they are still made. Although mine were old and worn the question was whether they were imperial ones, or metric, especially as some metric values align very close to imperial ones, i.e were the rods 8mm and metric, or were they 7.93mm which is 1/4" in old money? Measuring the rest of the controller chassis seemed to point to the unit being imperial as they are bang on 4" wide, the chance of the them being metric being 101.6mm by accident seemed unlikely, plus the metal itself was about 1.6mm thick which is too close to being 1/16" for it to be luck. So working all that out I ended up with the parts being these ones.


So 5L1-FF for the smaller holes, and 6L1-FF for the large, I just needed to find a 5L1-FF one. Most sites are vague about the sizes. and ebay is hopeless, no-one actually quotes the real part number,  they just state the measurement, but how carefully they were measured is the issue, is it 7.93mm or 8mm? Thankfully Pinball Spare Parts out in East Melbourne happened to have a single one left in stock and did reference the original part number. Minimum postage ran to $8 which seemed a bit steep for something the size of a 5c coin and weighing about a tenth of one. To make up the postage I went looking for other stuff to get, including the mythical security bolts and found something that looked very similar by eye in the "unknown" section, it had no dimensions listed so I rang them up. I wish I kept a record of the guys name because he was very helpful and put in more effort than a $10 sale really warranted. The ones I had found were actually too small but another item was exactly what I was after, and they were literally cents each.

So a few days later both mysteries were solved and the parts were in the Vindicators coin box here waiting for their time to come, a quick test of the bolt in the side of the cabinet confirmed they were an exact fit.


To find both at the same supplier and in the same city was insane luck, importing from the US would have been slow and relatively expensive, plus the only supplier of the bolts refuses to ship outside the US at all.

The second major problem was that the controller frames consist of three pieces that are welded or braized together and a large proportion of these joints had cracked open. This explains why the player two controller was rattly as almost every joint was loose.



All four welds on one of the bearing plates had failed and the slightest pressure would cause it to fall out...


... which meant the mechanism was supporting the frame, rather than the other way round.

Pretty manky looking too!


Still I had a message from the powder coater that my parts were ready and a few streets away in the industrial estate was a steel fabricators, I decided to try my luck and drop in. I wasn't overly hopeful but the guy took them straight into the workshop to the bod on the TIG welder, and seconds later...



...fixed, for the princely sum of $20 for his trouble. Probably crazy money on a per-weld basis, but was more than happy to pay that for the problem to be gone.

The powder coater's parcel contained some gems too..


...considering what the arms looked like before, compared to this...



Unfortunately my excitement was short lived, they had powder coated the entire piece, including all four bolts, the threads were completely buried and unusable.


I considered buying a tap and die set to chew off the covering, but getting it lined up on the buried thread would be a nightmare. So I took them back and complained, apparently I needed to have explicitly stated I wanted the threads protected, err yeh clearly I wanted the threads buggered, I mean who wouldn't? In the end they took them back to be completely stripped back and redone, the chemicals required to strip just the threads are so fumey they would wreck the finish on the rest of it, so a total re-strip was the only option.

While that was being re-done the controller chassis needed a trip through the degreasing bath, but not before the top plate welds were filed flat to let the controller plates sit flat.

From this...


to this...


...to this...


... to this...


A great improvement, except for the top surfaces which were as rusty as ever. I think these controllers had had drinks poured into them at some stage, as were signs of what I guess was coke corrosion where it would have collected. Also as I had exposed bare metal with the weld filing I needed to protect that area from rust.

So a blast with the sander...


... took the whole surface back to bare steel.


Which was masked...


... and hit with metal primer.


I had no plans to paint the rest of them as this is purely a protective step, the rest will stay original, plus reassembly is almost certain to chip paint off around the bearing holes and that would make Womble sad.

With the controllers underway and the second trip to the powder coaters delaying things there I moved onto the CP itself.

Four years in the garage and not much love beforehand had left it looking tired, even after blowing the dust off.




It has a few dings on it, and the common cracks you get on old vinyl CPs but it was perfectly re-usable, after a good clean.


Soap and water is one way, but I didn't want to inflict the metal work or the CP overlay to a soaking. I had read a number of repairers swearing by chinese magic erasers. They are melamine foam blocks, the material has been known for a long time, but apparently its use as a cleaning material was only discovered a few years ago. I finally found some at Coles in Melbourne Central for $2 a pack. Just add water so they are slightly damp and rub away.

Holy crap do they work wonders




The areas around the controller holes are likely to be completely covered once the controllers slot back in so I didn't go crazy there. I will try harder if I need to, these are micro abrasives so I didn't want to get too brutal on areas that probably won't need it.

Meanwhile the postman had brought me this, a new 5V 10Amp switch mode PSU.


The main PSU chassis was missing the original 5V PSU and the cab came with an old AT PSU bodged in its place. Getting an exact fit was never going to be possible and spending lots on a 25 year old PSU from overseas seemed totally pointless. This one is not an arcade one as such, but is a professional grade one, made by a company that are happy to put their name to it and a full list of technical specifications and guarantees you will never get with an no-name $30 yum cha arcade PSU. As I only needed a single rail (ie 5V, not one with 5V, -5V and 12V) it was actually pretty reasonable.

It would be a painful experience to try wiring this up in the dark when everything is back inside the cabinet so the wiring loom needed to get fitted externally so it will go in as one assembly, so the wiring loom came out, it needed a wash anyway.




This provides the main PCB and the audio PCB with 5V and takes the AC from the transformer for the amplifier section and coin counter drivers that also live on the audio PCB. Originally the wiring supported a 5V and 0V sense connection back to the PSU. It was a common feature on Atari cabinets but is usually now disabled as bad connections on the sense connections can cause the PSU to think it needs to crank up the voltage leading to fried boards and burnt edge connectors. At a psychical level these wires are just connected to the 5V and ground plane on the PCB, so they make just as good power feed wires, as they do power return wires when connected to a PSU that doesn't support the sense feature.

Trouble was the eyelets are too wide for this PSU's connection posts


... so rather than cutting them off entirely and replacing them, I opted to give them a trim and a file.


Now they do fit, along with new linker wires to the main 110V binding posts. The upshot being a complete power supply unit ready to drop back into the cabinet.




It occurred to me that the 5V adjust pot is going to be very hard to adjust when this is all installed, so I guess I will have to get everything hooked up and running on the bench here so I can set the 5V correctly, prior to putting it all back into its dark cramped cave.

A cave that is still coming on nicely..


...the last of the clamping and gluing is now thankfully behind me, with the fixing of the last swollen edges.


More of the old tedious process...






There is a load of metal painting coming my way, plus the t-moulding has arrived and confirmed I have cut the wrong slot widths so I need to backtrack a bit there but all in all, and I know I have said it before, the end is in sight. Two Saturdays should do it, maybe three :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: AndyRCM on February 26, 2015, 01:46:12 PM
stunning . . .
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: jack_farmer on February 26, 2015, 05:32:10 PM
Wow! Looking great!  :D
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on February 27, 2015, 11:51:21 AM
Really cannot wait for this, wonder if you can get cheap flights to Oz  :P
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on February 28, 2015, 11:18:37 AM
Hehe if you book a year in advance they can be reasonable. It's coming on a pace, put in another 5 hours today and got loads done.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on March 02, 2015, 09:27:50 AM
Somehow don't think the wife will let me fly half way round the world to play Vindicators (not without her anyways !!)  :o
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on March 02, 2015, 11:00:05 AM
Its two player, she can come too!
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on March 15, 2015, 11:08:42 AM
Update time, another whopper.

Of all the parts needed for this cabinet T-moulding has been the biggest pain, again it is the old metric vs imperial problem but there are two parts to the problem. Firstly there is the width of the actual t-moulding itself, i.e. what width of panel it will fit. This machine was born in the California, so imperial measurements are everywhere, the sheets of particle board used throughout were 1/4" thick. However down under MDF seems to only come in 16mm or 18mm sheets, and even the 18mm is harder to get. I am sure there are suppliers somewhere that stock every variation but for people with day jobs that don't involve a van the options are limited. Even Bunnings only sell one sheet that is 18mm and it is a monster, I had to get it cut down multiple times just to get it all in the car.

So when you want to get t-moulding you could look for 18mm stock, except you never know whether what you are buying is actually 18mm, or 19.06mm badly measured, or something else entirely. It gets worse in that some seller sell t-moulding for 18mm but it is actually 20mm. They may or may not clearly state this in their listings and when asked they advise that yeh it is 20mm but you just use a knife to trim it, all 30 feet of it, sounds like a great plan. Some sellers in Oz have bought their stock from US suppliers so it will be 1/4", but they may sell it as 18mm or 20mm as it is kinda half way in between. Stock from non-US countries probably are made in metric measures, probably, possibly, who the hell knows?!!!

Then you have the second problem, what size slot should you cut for it. Am surprised how many online sellers do not state that critical fact, get it wrong and you will struggled to install it, risk splitting the edge of the panel, or have it so loose you need to tape or glue it in. In my searches I have found what seem to be a number of standards, most quoted in imperial but that map roughly to 1.4mm, 2.0mm or 2.4mm.

My problem was amplified by the fact that this cabinet now contains original US 1/4" (19mm) panels in good condition, my new 18mm panels, and areas of the superstructure that were 19mm before they got wet and are now actually 20mm. Clearly one size would not fit all, but if I get multiple types to cover all areas there is the issue of what slot I need in what areas, and also whether colour/finish will match between types.

A while ago I jumped the gun and bought some t-moulding locally so I knew what slots to cut in the edge panels, trouble was I then decided that that was far to glossy for this cabinet and that I needed matte black not mirror finish black. What I really needed was matte black in two sizes that looked identical, which meant from the same vendor so I could ask about the colour match, and also from a vendor who clearly stated the exact dimensions of the slots required for each. This really narrowed my choice of vendor down to being only t-molding.com in US, who were excellent in answering my crazy questions and also selling non-standard lengths on request. I had hoped to avoid overseas shipping costs but T-moulding is light and the whole lot was about $55 delivered.


In the end I decided to go for 1/4" inch for the front panel edges, the track side panels and the original rear edge of the CP which was an undamaged 1/4" panel. I will have 0.5mm over hang on the raw panels either side, but after priming and the finishing this is probably not a problem. The other size is 13/16, which is 20.6mm in new money and a decent fit for both the worn existing slots and the areas I need to cover, especially the front inner "toe" sections of the tracks. This was the area where colour matching was going to be the problem as the outer face of the tracks are my 18mm panels and the inner faces are the original, swollen, glued and clamped up panels which are now 20mm.

Buying from one vendor almost solved my problems, except the 1/4" stock for my 18mm panels from them needed 1/16" (1.6mm) slots, and all my panels had beautiful 3/32 (2.4mm) slots. Both sizes had perfect colour and profile matched, in fact its hard to tell them apart by eye, but my slots were far too big, the groove only lightly gripped the t-moulding and it would just ping out around the corners.

I had no interest in chucking these panels away and making new ones , even if I could be bothered I was left with the problem of alignment, these ones had the dowels glued in place to ensure the panels get installed in exactly the right spot. Those holes were now drilled and filled, so doing that all again wasn't an option.

Opinions online about this problem are varied, some people say just bondo the slots and cut new ones, this sounded reasonable except for the fact that bondo is not fun to work with and trying to shoe horn it into the grooves before it set was going to be an epic battle over the 6.6 meters of slot I needed to fill. I also didn't want to have to sand the edges on these panels as they were already perfectly straight. Any changes there would impact the alignment and if I broke that I might as well start again anyway. Also, one commenter on Klov said that bondo isn't ideal as the new grooves have edges like polished glass, and the t-moulding doesn't grip very well. Having met routed bondo on the training edges of the cabinet this sounded very plausible and a good enough reason to ditch that idea. Another option was to cut strips of cardboard, bent into V shape which you hammer into the groove along with the t-moulding. This probably would work, especially if the cardboard was covered in glue on the wood side. This just sounded a bit too bodgy for me and I can imagine it is hard to get the thickness right, and getting it all to go in straight is probably not as easy as it sounds, corners would be a nightmare. The other suggestion is to glue it in, with hot glue. This would take hours, plus I would have to find someway to hold it all in place perfectly while the glue set, plus any glue oozing out would make a mess and you only get one shot at this, try to remove a section and you would wreck the slot, the t-moulding and possibly the panel.

I needed a better solution, ideally what I needed to put back in the slots was actual wood, something I could route normally and have a nice rough surface for the t-moulding to grip, but where do you get long thin strips of wood for such a task? The answer is probably every supermarket and $2 shop in the country, introducing - Coffee Stirrers :)


By some fluke of good fortune, two coffee stirrers back to back are the perfect width for the slots I cut and two pairs side by side were the perfect width to fill the depth of slot to the original surface. Plus at $2 per pack it's by far the cheapest of all the options I discounted anyway. Of course with this project things are never quite that simple, because I had primed the edges, the primer filled the slot ever so slightly and now the coffee stirrers wouldn't fit any part that was painted. Scraping the primer helped a bit but the simplest option was to re-route the wrong sized slots with the bit I originally cut them with to restore their fully width.

Getting the bit alignment is the hardest part of using a router, but once set I buzzed along the grooves creating a fine mist of dust and not much else, but the slots were now ready for filling.


While the front panel was clamped to the workmate I also took the edge cutter bit to the lower section of the control panel, it was too tight at fit against the inner track edges. If the fit was tight now it would be impossible when there is vinyl on the track inner edge. I had sanded these sections down and re-primed them but I wasn't happy with the straightness of the edge. A piece of wood clamped as a guide let me trim it completely straight again, I think I was only 1mm out but it looked wonky before.




Coffee stirrer and PVA glue time, this is one of those jobs that you think will be quite quick, and on the straight sections it is, trouble is the angles and fiddly bits slow you to a crawl.



Front panel!


Corners are less of a problem as the spline gets cut away there to let the t-moulding bend to take the turn, so there is nothing needing anything to grip in those areas anyway.


All in all it took me about two and half hours to fill up the track edges and the front panel but the result is a very neat job. Some areas had small gaps that needed filling but I could cope with that small amount of bondo work. These needed a good few days drying time as lot of glue was used, so I got on with some other routing job.

I decided to do the coffee stirrer trick to the front inner track areas, these were originally badly water damaged and I was not totally convinced they would hold the t-moulding in place. After a rip through with the router it was clear that they will be a lot better after the coffee stirrer treatment than before.



While the router was out and set up I quickly re-cut the slot on the rear corner of the monitor shroud as that had been completely filled when that area was rebuilt.


Straight as an arrow!

A bit of a side story now!

A few weeks ago a thread popped up on AA with the title "Free Vindicators Cabinet", and I admit my heart sunk, I had visions of a perfect cabinet, complete with artwork, probably missing some of the electronics but available for free, and probably just down the road from me.

Actually it was in SA and it was a gutted shell, in far worse condition than my one had ever been.


I know how bad things can be on these cabs and still look mostly OK, but this one looked dreadful so was probably even worse, but between AA members Camaro and Phreak97 I was able to get some useful parts and some missing info that will help mine live again. Many thanks guys!!

Amazingly it was Serial number VIN1229, mine is VIN1222!!!


It is very likely that they rolled off the Sunnyvale production line on the very same day back in 1988. Sadly it was basically just the wooden shell, all the electronics, PSU, control panel and wiring was gone, in fact some of the doco suggests it was converted to a Pit Fighter, which was released in 1990, so this was probably only a vindicators for a couple of years.

It did still have some of the original grey t-moulding, which was great news as a section of mine is chewed up. The t-moulding on VIN1229 would have come from the same batch, probably the same roll in the factory, in fact probably within 10m of each other on the roll so the colour match will be guaranteed if I can splice some of it in. I was also able to get some photos of what remained of the rear lower fan grille, it was completely trashed, in fact am surprise it was still hanging on as they are usually missing on rescue cabs.


It sticks out too far so it gets knocked and bashed about, and crushed if the cabinet is ever laid on its back. Knowing what it should look like I was able to find a very good replacement with a bit of Google image hunting.


It fits the bill of being as close to the original style as I could get plus it has a similar looking cover and a foam filter to keep the spiders from moving back in.

It needs to be installed once I am past the point of laying the cabinet down, which means after the front panel is fitted, but now is the time to pre-drill the pilot holes for the screws while I can still get comfortable access to the area.



It looks huge but the screw holes line up with the originals so it is spot on.

All in all I got some grey t-moulding, the service instructions that live inside the machine, the serial stickers and a selection of the screws they used on these cabs as some of mine were missing and a few were rusted and snapped on removal.

With a free afternoon and nothing more I could do until all the coffee stirrers and glue set, I moved on to another one of the final items on the check list - the coin door.


This had been kicking around the toy room for 4 years and wasn't in great shape, I stupidly had taken it apart back in 2011 and then lost a few pieces, which I have slowly been finding again. It looks ok, a bit tired, with some chips and rusted bits. Not pretty enough!



When the cabinet arrived, the coin door looked like this, even worse...



(http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e230/Womble76/Vindicators/Vindicators4/DSC02296...I had given the doors a strip down and tried out some black spray paint on them some years ago to see what the colour match was like (not great) and also to see if the paint would hold when painted over the original (it did). Atari coin doors have an odd paint effect on them, they have a matte black undercoat and then a top spatter coat in gloss. The end result is something with a lot of texture  that is not as glossy as gloss and not as matte as matte. Recreating this can be done,  but it is tricky and time consuming, it would also mean stripping everything back to bare metal, which some people do. I was less keen mainly because the spatter coat is achieved by pushing very gently on the spray can nozzle so it doesn't spray properly. It's hit and miss, and if you miss your only option is sand back the paint and start all over again. Decided that a happy medium would be to use satin black paint and just go over the old areas. The original texture would be retained and I could actually get the job done without losing sanity or weeks of time. Many people just powder coat the doors, or strip and use hammer effect paint, neither of which appealed as they would be less original and pretty costly for the powder coat option.So the coin doors were stripped and given a good wash, resulting in another set of parts on the kitchen bench.[IMG]http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e230/Womble76/Vindicators/Vindicators4/047.jpg)


The really rusty coin return flaps were quickly sanded back to metal, cleaned and then hit with primer.


The other parts were just hit with the spray can.




The monitor bezel had taken a couple of coats of primer to get an even finish in the previous week.


So it was propped up on the triangle off-cuts of the track panels, on one of the scrap ones for easy of transport, and given a light coat of black.


The rear power switch plate which was on its second painting attempt after a gust of wind caught the cardboard it was sat on last time, throwing the whole lot down the drive onto the concrete completely wrecking the pain job. That had to be sanded back to bare metal a second time due to all the chips and grit on it.

I hate spray painting, if you want to invoke wind and rain the best way seems to be to shake a spray can, suddenly the wind just appears. To avoid over-spray this was done down the far end of the driveway, and the parts were carried inside on individual planks of wood immediately after painting to fill the toy room with fumes, but to dry out of the wind and dust.


The only other parts needing attention were the collection of rusty screws that were destined to go back on the cabinet. A wire brush and a couple of hundred rpm in a drill soon sorts that out.



Before and after!

One the set was complete, the whole lot were primed...


...and half painted, I knew the spray can was nearly empty but it gave a final cough and died, about 4 seconds too early.


Another can needed to finish the job, and in fact everything got another coat anyway as the coverage on a couple of areas wasn't as good as I had hoped and also to ensure a colour match.

The final result was a much tidier kit...


...with all the original texture effects intact.

Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on March 15, 2015, 11:09:00 AM
Which when assembled and combined with two new locks...



...resulted in this!



It will look even better when the orange coin reject buttons are clean, which they weren't.



Destined for a wash!

The coffee stirrers were now solidly glued in place, so I forced myself to get on with the task of re-routing the panels.


Setting up the bit depth takes at least as long as the job itself I find, but once it is set the rest is very quick. I had assumed that the coffee stirrers would be easier to cut than MDF, the router didn't seem to think so, and it really took its time to cut. The end result is exactly what I wanted, a thin film of wood replaced on the inner faces of the cut and nothing too smooth either. Its just a shame the router did kinda wreck my paint job.


Power supply time again, well power supply switch panel. The final coat of spray paint was well and truly dry so this lot needed to go back together.


The main switch was pretty tarnished originally but had cleaned up really well with some metal polish, I had confirmed it was still electrically sound, and jaycar had nothing close, so I wanted to keep the original.


Mains connector and grounding lug refitted...


...followed by the mains lead, cable clamp and some new spade connectors.


The mains cable is part of the original one, it had damage in a few sections and was far too long before. I chose the best looking 2 meters worth and binned the sections with crushed cores and nicks in the insulation.


Looking sharp!

It would be shame to put the manky old original plug back on this, it was corroded, chipped, bent and discoloured, so I found a replacement off an old computer monitor that was an exact match, you can't buy these piggy back sockets anymore. The original plug on this would have been a US three pin plug so this plug is only as original as its time in Australia, but might as well keep it correct.


Job done!


Next big item on this list - controllers! Except the blanking plates still needed something doing to them. They had been badly spray painted along with the rest of the controllers at some point in the machines history. So they had splodges of black paint where they were exposed by the controller plates. I had got a lot of the spray paint off with a fingernail and hot water but I was still left with this.


I had considered painting them with matte black spray paint, but as these things slide back and forth the paint may start to show signs of wear, plus I didn't want to in-fill the texture with yet more paint.

The solution - Simple Green, it seems to feature in most arcade restoration threads from the US and surprisingly enough, seeing as it is just a cleaning spray, Bunnings sell the exact, made in the USA, stuff.


Despite being a decent cleaner it also will eat paint if you give it enough time, apparently model makers regularly use it to soak old paint jobs off plastic models. There are a lot of threads about people trying alternatives, but for efficacy and the fact it doesn't seem to damage the plastic underneath Simple Green seems to be the top rated option.

All up it took 48 hours in the stuff neat to get all the paint to lift off, minor encouragement required an old toothbrush and a needle mounted in a pen drill to pick the last bits out of the texture.


Then I had to do it all again as for some reason I forgot that two controllers = 4 plates and had only done two, but it takes no effort beyond setting it up and leaving it alone.

After, and before.


While the last pair were soaking, a parcel arrived from a locksmith I found via eBay. I had hoped to keep the lock on the rear hatch original, firstly because it was original, secondly because the cam arm already had the right bend in it, and thirdly it seemed pointless to buy a new lock that will get virtually no use at all. He supplied me with the right key for it with the two locks that are now on the coin door, but even though it was the right code the lock would not turn. So I posted the key and the lock to him, and it came back fixed. So it seemed a good time to fit it, except that it needed a bit of TLC first. So how to polish and barrel lock? Simple, use the drill again and spin it up against some polish lint.


Worked a treat so it went back in its rightful place, I wonder how many decades since this was last lockable without needing to use a spanner from the inside.


With the controller blanking plates free of paint, extremely clean and now dry, I could get on with the controllers.

The powdercoaters had fixed their cock-up, striped and re-coated the top plates without clogging the threads, so it was just a case of picking off the masking tape...


...and starting to build...


...face down on a towel to protect the finish...




... and test fit the blanking plates, looking great!

Now to the tricky bit, and the first problem, powdercoating adds thickness, probably more than paint would, and the controller hand grips would not fit over the tubes. They would slide on up to the bend and then jam solid.


Just what I wanted, an opportunity to scratch the crap out of the powdercoat finish. My allegiance to the expensive powdercoat was greater than to 0.5 mm of scuffed blue plastic on the handle grips. So the holes were given a light sand with very fine sandpaper to smooth them and also to make the hole slightly bigger. Sand paper wrapped around a finger seemed to be the way to go here.


With the grip now engaged on the inner plate I screwed the two halves together to stop it flapping around loose and scratching up the tube, onwards!

Armed with photos from the disassembly, the original manual that vaguely describes the process, and a tray of parts...



...the rubber bump stops go back in, and the first test install of a controller arm plus blanking plate revealed the second problem. The arm was too tight in the main cage, thankfully this was more due to the alignment of the parts and not the powdercoat thickness.

So I removed the arm, and loosened the nuts holding the top plate assembly together and it freed up.

Onwards, the cleaned Nyliners go back on.


I did actually find the missing one, lying in the middle of the floor a week after I claimed it was lost, and it was in very good condition, but another one I had in the set was very worn, so the new one replaced that one. The lost/found one went through the degreasing solution, had a wash and went straight back on.

I was pretty paranoid about scuffing the powder coat so I ignored the instruction order in the manual and went to fit the lower anchor rod that is the arm pivot point, or tried to, on one of the arms the rod would only go through the holes in the arm tube with a lot of force, and on the other side no amount of pressure or colourful language would move it - the powdercoat strikes again


Thankfully this point is completely out of sight so more brutal methods were available. After matching up a drill bit to the pivot rod diameter with some vernier calipers I was able to drill out the excess...


...and fit the anchor rod.


With that in place along with the rubber stops, the arms, and the powder coat finish were safe from flailing parts. The next section I assumed would be hard work, but getting the springs in proved to be very easy, when paired with the nylon washer they just slid along the tube until they were lined up and the actuator rod could be dropped through.


The middle link rod proved useful in holding the actuator rod half in place while the second spring was loaded in.


Then the middle link was fitted, with its clips to hold the actuator rod to the controller arms.


It was seconds before I was about to battle the very last split ring into place that I happened to spot something nasty, throughout the entire controller build I had failed to notice that when I took the first arm back out, to loosen the nuts, I had let the blanking plates slide out, and I had not replaced them. So I had just built the entire controller without them, and the only way to get them installed was to strip the whole thing down and to start again, from scratch. Not pleased!

Having built the first controller twice, by the time I got to build the second one I knew every trick and short cut to the process, so instead of nearly an hour, that one took ten minutes. Which left me with these fine looking fellows!


I haven't refitted the internal wiring and the buttons yet as they both rely on the actual switches to hold everything in place. The original switches are Omron B3G switches, a very common type in the mid 80s on computer keyboards, in fact the Vindicators manual refers to them as keyboard switches on the diagram. The blue controller grips are designed for those switches to slot into place exactly and the fit holds everything together. Back in 2011 when I found the original switches were completely wrecked and Omron B3Gs completely unavailable for anything less than insane money ($20 each), I tracked down a couple of old PC keyboard that had very similar looking switches. A few weeks ago I decided to desolder a couple to check them out, only to find they look the same but lack the grooves that the originals had, without those they do not lock into place in the handles. I could cut the grooves into them but they are needed at the exact place that the clasps which hold the two halves together were located. So I could make them fit, but only if I want them to fall apart as well.

Thankfully, in the intervening years, Ali Express has popped up, which I think is the Chinese equivalent of eBay and two sellers were listing new old stock Ormon B3Gs for $10 for 10. So the old keyboards went in the bin and I now await a parcel which hopefully contains the right thing and ones that actually still work.

So whats next? Still some cab work to do, some final painting mostly. I have bought the vinyl for the front panel but completely failed to find any vinyl remotely close to the original grey stuff used on the monitor shroud and the track panels. I can have light grey and I can have silver, but bugger all in between, unless I want to look at the vinyl wrap sold for cars at an eye watering $60 per meter. I would need $240 worth to do this cabinet which seems excessive, especially as I intend to eventually track down the side art  which will  cover up over 90% of the grey anyway. So I have decided for the sake of sanity to get paint colour-matched to a sample of the vinyl and go with that. It will be quicker than driving all over the city trying to find a source for the mythical vinyl, plus it will be a lot cheaper too, probably less than $10. I doubt I would be able to get an exact colour match even if I could find suitable vinyl, so paint it is.

Major progress since the last update, if the end was in sight before, this is the end straight I think.

ETA? About two weeks, which is what I said two weeks ago, and four weeks ago.  :P
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on March 16, 2015, 11:59:32 AM
Looking better than ever
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on April 26, 2015, 02:21:09 PM
Well as per usual, my prediction on time remaining was way off, its already six weeks after my prediction of two weeks and although I have made progress, it isn't finished, but I do have a decent excuse.

Anyway - dropping into Bunnings with a cleaned up section of the grey vinyl got me a 250ml pot of optically colour matched paint for the princely sum of $8. The match isn't exact, but it is very close, probably a closer match than random vinyl would have been.


First coat, looks like a good match compared to the sections not in shadow.


A light sand an another coat later and this was the result!



Depending on the angle the top section looks lighter than the bottom, or darker. From front on both seem roughly the same so am very happy with it.

Along with the paint I also bought a 2 meter straight-edge clamp while I was at it, which save some sanity when attacking the rubber.


Using an off cut of the track upper MDF strips I had cut as a width guide...



... got me some perfectly sized strips.


Looks great when loosely draped on, with a side panel for a quick test fit.

With the cab paint now fully dry I could finally fit the new handle up top...


It's a small job but one that I have been keen to get done, initially I assumed this would be the very last thing I do so it took on a bit of a milestone quality, either way it felt damn good to get it installed.


At this point I was raring to go, then I fractured my elbow (nothing cab related) and spent two weeks looking like this.


Anything heavy was out of the question, but I was able to crack on with some wiring.


This lot are the wiring harnesses for the controllers, the micro switches that register the forward and reverse position of the controller arms and the brackets that hold them to the controllers.

Pretty filthy...



So after copious photos showing which wires went where...


... the switches were removed and the wiring looms went in the sink.


As did the wiring loom from within the cabinet as that was pretty horrible too...




I think this had had stuff spilled on it in the past, potentially its old oil from the controllers, or coke.


As it was a nice day the whole lot spent the afternoon swinging in the breeze...


...while I cleaned up and reassembled the switch brackets.


Based on the pattern of corrosion on them its easy to work out which one goes where on the two controllers too - rust can be useful!

The power of soap and water on old electronics never fails to impress me, these look brand new again.


With everything clean and dry I moved on to reinstalling the original three wires that were broken when the cabinet arrived. I had quickly rigged up some wiring to get the game running but it was too thick to go into the original sleeving and not as flexible as the original stuff. I just had to get the original three wires back into their sleeve, so a guide wire was soldered to the trio to pull them through.



This wire is so flexible it doesn't really feel like wire, but considering it will live its life getting bent back and forth I preferred to keep the original as I guess it was chosen specifically for its ability to take constant flexing.

Next on the list - the micro switches, or more to the point, recovering the mini PCBs that the old switches were fixed to.


I had 5 of the original 8 as the second player controller was missing all its switches on arrival, thankfully it still had the actual buttons, and was only missing a couple of the plastic button joints. One of the PCBs was in a bad way, with the pads starting to lift so about 3 years ago I bought 4 new old stock PCBs and two replacement button joints.



The new old stock switches arrived too and were an exact match for the originals.


Any excitement was short lived, of the 8 switches only 2 were working, the others had the same problems my old ones did, dirty or oxidised contacts inside. Clearly these switches have a shelf life and time is not kind to them. The working two had a resistance of 2 ohms and a very clean on/off action, the bad ones had resistance that would creep higher and higher from 6 up to 15 ohms, the continuity would come and go as the switch was pressed and often they would be open circuit when the button was fully depressed.

I had tried to get to the contact points on the old switches but the actual switching portion of the guts is a semi sealed thin plastic package within the switch body, the majority of the space inside the body of the switch is used by the triple sprung system that makes the physical key press smooth.

While googling around for contact cleaner I found that the web is full of people singing the praises of Deoxit contact cleaner, and surprisingly Jaycar sell it, so I got a twin pack of the Deoxit D5 cleaner and the Deoxit Gold sprays.


To check it didnt eat the plastic I tried it on an old faulty switch that was originally on the cabinet, and the D5 did bring it completely back to life, but after a day or so the resistance started to creep up again. So I hit it with the D5 again, and then followed up with the Gold, which is supposed to be the protector you use after cleaning with D5, and it worked like a charm. The switch has been working perfectly for a couple of weeks now, and the switch is still perfect, all I have to do is treat the new switches with it, and hope they stay working long term

A combination of Easter and life in a plaster cast derailed me for another fortnight, but with some strength back in the elbow I could at last get on with the cabinet again. Track time!

To ensure a good join between the two pieces of matting needed to cover the length both were clamped in place at the ends and masking tape applied so I could glue them in stages.


The glue required that both surfaces be coated, and left separate for 20 minutes, then brought together, at which point the glue grabs instantly. Not ideal, but the plan was to roll the pieces together, hence the need for clamping in place at the ends.


With the track peeled back and supported on a plank it was time to get the glue going.


It is horrible stuff, it only seems really keen to stick to itself, and has a tendency to peel of the surface entirely and wind itself up into a ball.

I ended up picking the snot like bundles of glue off the woodwork...


... and trying again. I did not have high hopes that this was actually going to work, but after 20 minutes the glue did seem ready to do what it was supposed to, so with some careful rolling out and some rapid clamping I got the top surface down.


Time for the rear ends, purposefully did the rear first, in the hope that by the time I did the fronts, which will be very visible, I would be better at it and have worked out what not to do.

Damn this glue is horrible to work with.


Looks like far too much, but it worked.

With the mat down and hammered flat with a block of wood I moved to quickly installing the wheels again. I had marked on the edge the lines on which the screw holes were, and they were a neat 5cm and 7.5cm in from the edge. So after a quick go with a finger drill at the right points, followed by a bigger bit in the power drill...


...I was able to fit the wheels for the final time.


Same deal on the other side...



The trick seems to be to pour the glue on, then work very fast to spread it out before it starts to bundle up. After 20 minutes it grabbed on and the top part was done.


End piece down...


... and wheels back on.


Not a bad looking rear!!


The front sections had to wait a day, to be sure the back sections were fully bonded before they had the full weight of the cabinet laying on them while the front sections were glued. I needn't have worried, if I prop the back up on a foot stool and a blanket the rear rests solely on the wheels, which makes it easier to work on the tracks anyway. Same deal as before, makeshift platform to roll the track back onto while the glue gets ready...


... frantic glue smearing before it turned to snot.


Then twenty minutes later the surfaces are pressed together and the glue slams shut.


Two milestones got knocked over today as Radirgyman popped round to help out with applying the vinyl to the front panel, another job I wasn't looking forward to. On his advice I had picked up a length of PVC pipe to roll the backing off onto, and a plastic scraper, armed with those it went on pretty easily.




The end result looks stunning...


the areas where it is wrapped around the 90 degree bend seem less keen to stay stuck, especially around the coin door cut out as I don't recal taking too much care with the inner surface, but as the coin door itself clamps in hard around those edges the best option to keep the vinyl behaving was to fit it.



The outer edges are less of a problem, but they will need a trim anyway to reveal the t-mould slots, to avoid any vinyl escape attempts I am leaving the trimming until I am going to fit the t-mould, other wise it has more time to misbehave. I expect the t-moulding will keep everything nicely clamped on the edges so am not concerned.

Time for another dry fit!


The front face will remain clamped for at least 24 hours minimum, if there is any section of rubber that needs to be well bonded it is that portion.

I predict t-moulding installation is on the cards for this week. I also need to trim some of the installed rubber tracking with a razor blade as for some reason its a couple of millimeters proud of the edge at the back along about 10cm, but then the side panels will get t-mould and will be finally glued in place. As will the front panel, and then it is time to reinstall all the good stuff as the cabinet exterior will be 99% complete, just a few tweaks here and there.

If the t-moulding goes well I think the reinstall of the monitor, PCBs and PSU will be happening this week, along with the first power up since 2011.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: AndyRCM on April 26, 2015, 05:46:18 PM
OMFG . . . this is immense mate but looking fantastic. ;) Can't wait to see the finished article - might HAVE to visit to have a play too! ;)

Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on May 07, 2015, 12:20:16 PM
Onwards - time for T-moulding, thankfully this was not the shit fight I was expecting it to be. After the issues with me cutting the wrong width slot, and then fixing that with coffee stirrers, plus the copious amount of bondo work, and old sections of slot that I couldn't get a router bit near to re-cut, I was expecting this to be a bit of a battle.

Starting off midway along the underside of the track panel...


...with nick cut out of the tongue to let it bend neatly around the corners...


... and it all went on very easily.


I ended up using a soft cloth between the rubber hammer and the T-moulding as it did leave slight marks on the first bit, thankfully those are on the underside so completely hidden.

First lap completed...


...with a sharp knife to get a neat joint.



Just one to go to get the matching pair.


When trying the sides on for size I discovered that I had cut the rubber matting slightly wonky at the rear of the left track, it was overhanging the wood by a few mm which meant the side panel would not fit properly. I cut a notch in a piece of scrap MDF to act as a guide to allow me to line up a steel ruler with the wooden edge under the overhang to use as a cutting edge, and ran a razor knife along it.



Time to seal up the tomb, it got a final clean up and vacuum...


... followed by one last dry fit...


...which showed that it had a slight bow outwards in the middle which would need persuasion to behave. I also took some sandpaper to the areas where I wanted a good bond to remove the primer back to the bare MDF to let the PVA glue do its work.


A decent amount of glue I admit (the flash makes it look worse)...


...and the panel went on., and was weighed down with some improvised weights, an easier option that trying to clamp it while lying down.

I rubbed some more glue into the cabinet rear edge as it was still looking a bit uneven at the edge. That got clamped up tight using the vinyl backing paper as the non-stick divide between the MDF block and the cabinet.

The intent was to leave it for 24 hours, but it stayed that way for three days. Meanwhile I turned my attention to how I was going to fit the front panel, which I wanted to be removable as potentially I will get the artwork for it one day. The upper section has 4 of the original screws holding it on, the lower section was originally stapled and glued, so it needed some fixings there. Four screws of the right length found...


... and pilot holes drilled. The screws in the photo are just in there for safe keeping, when installed they will be the other way round obviously. I drilled 3 holes at the bottom but ended up only using the two outer ones, the other two screws ended up half way up the cabinet one on each side level with the coin door.

Right hand panel time!


This one was a much tigher fit on the dowels, so much so that I could barely get it off again after the dry fit. I didn't want to lay the cabinet down on the newly glued panel as this thing is bloody heavy so I didn't fancy risking it stressing the recently glued joints or squashing the T-moulding from the side. Thankfully this side didn't show signs of needing much assistance...


Running out of things to do that night I decided to refix the coin door/coin mech serial number sticker that had fallen off years ago.


It went back where it came from, in the same wonky position as before.


A bit of a dry run with the T-moulding highlighted that I needed to touch up the black undercoat on the rear edges, I think I had been a bit too effective with the masking tape, so the vinyl got masked up again and the black edges got a second coat to hide any edges that might show through.


An hour later it was dry enough to move on to the next stage - T-moulding the rear.


This takes the thicker of the two sizes I bought as the edges are now thicker than they originally would have been. It went on like a charm!


Straight down the cab, out and round the base, the old slots turned out be be no problem at all!


Side two was much the same.


That's the last time the cab should ever need to be face down!

On to the front "toe" sections, which needed the cabinet to be flipped on to its back with the back of the monitor shroud on a foot stool.


The inner sections were just paint at this stage, they needed vinyl and a dose of new T-moulding, or should I just re-fit the original pieces?


I used a track off-cut to get roughly the right sizes square of black vinyl...


...and rolled it into place.


The slight overhang was trimmed, wrapped round the edge and locked into place with the T-moulding, which again went on with only a slight hitch when some of the slot edge decided to break away and block the slot. That got cut back with a knife, vacuumed out and the installation went on.


Side two was much the same...


...except underneath where the slot was slightly too worn to make a good fit. It would got in but wasn't that tight, so some wood glue was injected into the slot and it was clamped up for a couple of hours.


On to the cabinet front, the rear of the control panel this time...



...coming along really nicely.

Those tracks look good enough to EAT!


Only one thing missing now - the front panel...


... which went on next. The white sheets on the toes are the backing paper from the vinyl, it is there to stop the font panel scuffing them up as it was lowered into place.

The four square head fitting bolts go back in, these are a set salvaged from the Adelaide cabinet as my originals were half snapped and very rusty.


The new internal screws were done up with an arm through the coin box door...


...leaving the cabinet looking extra awesome and only really missing the T-moulding around the front panel edge, which goes on next.


As this is a new metric panel it gets the 1/4 inch stuff, which is 19mm in new money, which on 18mm thick MDF gives a half mil lip around the edge.


Job Done!


Now that the cab doesn't need to lie down anymore some other stuff can go on, like the grill to shutdown access to the spider holiday camp at the back.


So, the inner cover goes on...


...and after the air filter and the outer cover clips on I am left with this.


Not a bad looking arse!

The monitor vent can go on too, this is one I bought from a KLOVer from a scrapped Championship Sprint cabinet as the one on this cabinet had been wrecked by the freight company trying to stow the mains lead by jamming the plug into the vent...


...I found a supplier of very similar screws to the Atari ones as I never had the full set and didn't really want the vent to be only held on by 3 mismatched head types originals instead of a matching set of six.


Ideally these should have been hex or square driver screws but that would be a pain to source without getting them from the US and buying through a freight forwarder, which for 6 screws would be pretty insane, even for this project.


Finally - the marquee can go back on...


...first it does need a tube though, which I bought ages ago on what I over optimistically thought was the last Bunnings trip of this project.


With that the perspex was dropped into the frame, with the marquee artwork slotted in next, then it was slotted onto the front of the cabinet, and the CP was dropped into place.


Am blown away by how good this looks, being so used to seeing it in its disheveled state for the last 4 years, seeing it like this is just weird.

The marquee will get its screws installed when I have proven that the tube lights up and the speakers still speak, the screws going back on are painted so I doubt they will take too much screwdriver action before the paint starts to chip.

As great as the coin door looks it is still missing everything that goes behind it, the mech frame, the mechs themselves and the  coin reject buttons that really make an Atari coin door look so great.

Time to reunite some more parts that have been rattling around loose for the last 4 years gathering dust. A quick strip, clean and oil later...


Love that the coin and country designation stickers are still on the US made mechs.


I toyed with the idea of putting the original coin cards back in the eject buttons but they were a very tatty and didn't even match style-wise. Thankfully someone had made up a sheet of "freeplay" coin cards for a range of coin doors with the relevant manufacturer logos that you just print out and cut up.


Which after the mechanism was finally reunited with the coin door (plus a spare key hook pinched from Paperboy which doesn't need it)...


... looks absolutely awesome!


And with that I am calling the restoration of the cabinet portion of this mega project COMPLETE!!!

Now the fun begins properly, after all it is still a mostly empty shell, all the good stuff is ready and waiting for my next free Saturday so I can cross the finish line and flick the switch for the first time.

-----Freeplay - Press Start----


Coming SOON!
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: AndyRCM on May 07, 2015, 01:15:35 PM
Awesome . . . truly awesome.
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on May 08, 2015, 11:37:25 AM
WOW !!  :)

That really is what you call a restoration !
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on May 25, 2015, 12:54:13 PM
With the cabinet sorted it was finally time to reinstall everything, the only thing I needed to do beforehand was to check the 5V setting on the PSU as the adjustment pot is pretty inaccessible once everything is installed. Plus I wanted to see whats on the screen while taking the measurements, which would be impossible with my head stuck in the back of the cab and the monitor mounted above pointing forwards. The only option was to get it all set up on the kitchen bench

Time to drag the monitor out of the corner of the room...


...it has been dumped face down on bubble wrap in various places around the room over the last 4 years so am glad to see it going home again.

The manufacture date is a bit surprising, it was 4 years old when it was installed in this cabinet.


It is definitely the original monitor for this cab as the VIN1222 serial number that matches everything is on it...


...so either it was reused by Atari themselves or they had a very deep stock of monitors and it took from 1984 to 1988 for it to find a home.

It was pretty dusty so it got a good going over with a brush and vacuum cleaner, and a slightly damp cloth on the rear of the tube.

Bench time - monitor, power supply unit, main PCB, audio PCB, mains switch assembly and mains harness are reunited!


The 5V measured level was measured with the no load and it was fine, slightly high is good when unloaded.


So the main harness was connected up and I flicked the switch.


It's alive! The voltages were checked again and everything was good.

Now the original board fault on this was a bad Atari LB custom IC, and years ago I had borrowed an LB chip from my KLAX PCB, which was still on the board.


I had no luck in finding a source for LB chips from any of the usual arcade parts places, but luckily eBay came to the rescue a few months ago. A guy about an hour away from here had listed a huge box of arcade crap, cables, harnesses, smashed coin mechs and assorted junk. Almost as a side note he mentioned a single unknown PCB, which for some reason he had on the auction as the last photo in about a dozen, the rest were just multiple angled shots of all the filthy LAI harnesses, spiders and dust.


The PCB was clearly an Atari board and judging by the design and some Google image searches I identified it as a Xybots main PCB, basically from the same era as Vindicators and Xybots has two LB chips.


Sniped the lot for $12 (6 quid) and took a drive out east to collect it.

The Xybots audio board of the set was missing and I had no idea if the PCB was a wreck or not, but I swapped one of the LBs into Vindicators and flipped the switch. Knowing the kind of problems a bad LB causes it was great to see this...


...spritely perfection.

With a good LB on board it was time to start filling the empty cabinet with goodness.


The transformer and PSU block goes in first, because it is bloody heavy and hard to manoeuvre even. The base plate acts as an earthing point for a number of wiring runs, so star washers were added to the old eyelets and the 4 big screws went back in to help gravity hold it down.


The mains input switch plate goes in next to fill the big hole on the back...


...and another two screws hold it in place. The connection to the main transformer block is re-made.

The main PCB finally goes back in...


...and finally the monitor gets rehoused and bolted down...


...and connected to the mains feed from the rear.


Next was the fiddly bit -  getting the audio PCB...


... back in here.


It not only has to squeeze through the coin door, but also slide under the cardboard splash guard and align with a wooden groove at the back, and two PCB standoffs at the front, there literally inst a millimeter to spare, but it does fit, handy as I guess the splash guard was stapled in place once the PCB was originally fitted. The cabling to the audio PCB was mostly done by feel at this stage as there's no clear view to had. The power connector from the rear section comes through a small port hole between the front and rear bays, the speaker connections drop down from above, the SCOM (Serial communications) lead that connects the two logic boards together comes over the middle dividing wall and connects to the main PCB

Finally the coin door lamp 12V output, coin mech input and coin counter outputs all come in from the front.


Back on the main PCB the SCOM (serial coms between the two PCBs) cable, the monitor video cable and the controller/start  harnesses are plugged back in.


With that connected the only thing left to do was an earth test to confirm that the earth pin on the plug was connected to all accessible metal parts, and to flick the big switch.

First sign of life...


...and it boots!


Two problems were pretty apparent, a complete lack of sound and no light from the marquee.

The machine should play a metallic "clank" sound effect when powered up but I had nothing. The only signs of audio life were a crackle through the speakers when the volume pot was moved, this suggested the audio amp was working and also that the cabling to the speakers was good. Flipping the switch on the audio PCB gets you to the test mode, which doesn't do much without input from the controllers to step through the options, but using a piece of wire in the controller connectors to ground the correct pins I jumped through the tests to the audio tests. These test the SCOM (the ability of the audio CPU and the main game CPU to talk), and should play the various tones and sound effects. The SCOM test passed, and the system went through the motions of playing the test sounds, just in silence. At the end of the tests it triggers a reset of the audio board too, which I could hear as a faint pop in the speakers. Its useful info, the system clearly thinks it is playing the SFX as the processor section is fine, the rreset signal pop suggesting suggesting the pre-amplifier Op-Amps were ok too, I was really only left with three chips as candidates for either partial or total failure - the POKEY chip itself, the YM2151 generator, or the the YM3014 DAC chip.

The POKEY chip is the only non-standard part and I thought I would have a load of them across my Atari PCBs, but Indiana Jones and Road Blasters use a later variant, KLAX doesn't use one at all, and my Paperboy and Gauntlet boards are very well buried in their respective cabinets. I did have spare YM2151s and YM3014 chips so I swapped in a YM3014 and reinstalled the board, same problem. So the DAC was replaced and a YM2151 installed, with the board back in the cabinet full sound was restored. The power up clank is all you get for about ten minutes of attract mode before the theme tune kicks in but when it did, it did it well.

Before tackling the marquee I moved onto the monitor bezel, it had spent the last 4 years lying flat on top of my JAMMA cabinet face down so was in good nick still. It slotted right back in around the monitor but it clearly needed some TLC.


The nasty price label had to go for a start, sadly it was fixed in place by a load of folded up brown parcel tape and there was no way to get it off without damaging the card underneath.


There had been a sticker the other side at some point too and removing that had damaged that side too.


The remains of the old foam tape on the edges was so far gone that it just crumbled to dust and could be completely removed with a brush and a vacuum cleaner.

The bezel damage was always less obvious when behind the smoked glass panel so that came out from hibernating between a couple of other cabinets for a clean up.


The remains of the foam tape was there too, the actual foam just crumbled away, and the tape base could just be pealed off leaving the glue on the glass.


Half an hour with eucalyptus oil finally got all that off and the glass was cleaned within an inch of its life.

The bezel was fully dusted off and given a couple of coats of satin black spray paint to cover up the damaged areas.


The CRT face was given one last clean and the bezel and glass were reinstalled.


The glass sits in a groove along the lower edge, and is clamped in place by the speaker grill plate at the top, but I needed to fix one last thing before the grill could be reinstalled, someone (think it was like it when I got it) had dented the center of the left speaker cone.


Not a major issue but usually an easy fix, all you need is a vacuum cleaner and a steady hand to get the nozzle close enough to let the suck do the fixing, but not close enough that it rips the cone clean off.


Job done, so the grill to could go back in place, held by 5 repainted hex head screws.


The only thing holding up the screwing down of the marquee frame was The lack of light, which was a fairly simple fix, there's only really three things that could be wrong, the tube, the starter or the housing/wiring/sockets. The tube was brand new, the wiring seemed ok, at least I had 110V at opposite ends of the tube fitting, and the most likely cause was a dead starter anyway. The starter is about the only thing that is likely to care about the voltage, and for some reason I forgot an obvious solution and went for putting the Vindicators tube into my JAMMA cab (it lit), and taking its starter and putting it and the tube back into Vindicators, which didn't work. Not too surprising as I was putting a 220v starter into a 110v cab. Then it dawned on me that Paperboy is also a 110V cab internally so I quickly whipped its marquee off...


...and robbed its starter, a rather vintage looking metal canned US type, compared to the plastic Korean one in Vindicators...


...once installed...


...success. With the old plastic one in Paperboy its marquee light is now dead, so the starter was the problem.

With that all fixed the metal frame can go on to fit the marquee artwork and perspex in place. Being rather pleased with the paint job on this and not keen on getting 8 scratched circles on from the screws I fitted fibre washers under each of my repainted screws...


...and they look really smart, as does the cabinet...


...with one controller dropped in for good measure.

Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on May 25, 2015, 12:55:28 PM
On to the final straight, fixing those controllers.

The switches on these were the Achilles heal on the cab, a number were missing, most were faulty and could barely be coaxed back to life briefly. The NOS batch of 10 I bought had 8 that were not much better than the originals, so it was time to sort those out.


These are the infamous Omron B3G keyboard switches, designed for 1980s keyboards, it seem overkill but based on the number of expected "key presses" they were expected to get on a machine like this are probably not.

Thankfully the halves just un-clip and are easily taken apart...


...except for the actual switch bit which is the three legged part. That is a fused plastic block with the contacts inside, and an actuator spring clipped to the outside...


...that pushes on a plastic tab when the white plunger is depressed against the central spring. The rest of the body and the opposite spring clip seem to be solely to ensure a decent key-press feel. I had assumed all along that the issue was dirty contacts, and potentially that was part of it, but not all.

A good soak in Deoxit had worked wonders on an old switch I had tried to resurrect, the spray seems to boil at room temperature which is handy as the boiling liquid drags the cleaner deep inside the closed contacts block.


After that all the switches worked perfectly, until they were reassembled, but a number still remained completely dead, or just borderline making contact after reassembly. It turns out the actuator spring clip on some of the switches had become slightly loose over time and did not squarely grip the top of the plastic switch housing. If it is loose then it just rocks when the button is pressed and doesn't even attempt to engage the switch. Thankfully that is easily sorted out by manually re-bending them to a tight right angle at the top. With that issue fixed I had a full set of switches to play with, so the first couple were mounted on the micro PCBs.


The first controller on the bench was player two as its wiring harness was fully intact and ready to roll. The first step was to fit the rubber o-rings that prevents the handles from rattling around, 2 per arm.



I had 4 the right size in my stash, but had to buy a couple of "shower repair" kits with dozens of useless parts from Bunnings to get another 4 that matched as they didn't sell anything remotely close separately.

The switch assemblies dropped right in, with the button cap and joints...


...  and a rubber band and RJ45 block prevent the whole lot from falling down the arm until the case is screwed closed.

Wiring is a bit tight which is why I didn't trim back the old wires if I could avoid it.


With that done its just a case of bolting the handle grips together. The old bolts were pretty rusty...


... so I had bought some brand new black oxide coated 18mm M4 hex head bolts to replace them.


Then it was just a case of repeating on the other handle to complete the job.

Never resisting the urge to slot things back together I dropped it into the CP...


...hooked up the wiring loom and fired up the button test mode.


All switches for player two passed with flying colours.

Player one was not quite as quick and easy...


...both handles still needed their wiring looms to be pulled through the arms and the right arm wiring harness had lost all three of the pins on the Mate-n-Lok connector, these being right trigger button, right thumb button and the associated ground pin.


From memory the wiring to the original pins was badly bodged and the pins were in a bad state.

So left arm first it was...


... and then on to the right. I had to make a small extension to the red wire to reach the furthest switch as the loom was shorter than the other 3 due to past abuses. A small section of heat shrink went on to insulate the solder joint.


I found 3 of the correct type male AMP pins in my stash to replace the lost ones and fixed the connector.


I dropped the controllers back into the CP, quickly connected the looms and ran the switch test again. All switches on both players passed the test.

Controller rebuild complete, and they look stunning!



I had been using the coin box as the parts bin for this project and it was now no longer needed, so it got a bath to remove 27 years of dust and grime.


and once dry it went home.


Time to rebuild the control panel!!!

First up - the player 1 and 2 start buttons. The machine would was born with black leaf spring switches according to the manual diagram, and I had tracked down a couple from the US


Except nothing is ever quite that simple, the white base is a standard part, as is the leaf switch, but the button comes in two types, long and short. If you have a wooden CP, as was pretty common in the leaf spring era, you need the long button to get through the depth of the wooden panel and still have enough throw to operate the switch. Atari was a big fan of metal CPs so you need a short switch, but as Atari was so obsessed with black buttons and as their cabs are regularly restored to original spec there is now apparently a worldwide shortage of short black leaf spring style black switches - I guess no one is making them anymore.

If you use the long body switch and tighten everything as it would be with a metal CP you have a switch that its very very firmly on at all times.


The standard solution seems to be to put a standoff ring under the white switch body, but a simpler solution seemed to mount the switch further away from the panel at a distance where the springs. Even simpler is that a wrecked Midway leaf spring switch contains insulating shims that are a perfect fit for this.


This one came out the Pacman cabinet at Game Masters at ACMI, so if you went to that and were disappointed that the Pacman cab's joystick was knackered then something positive at least came out of it. That one switch got me six thick shims and one thin one, and the perfect standoff distance mod with this CP needed 3 thick and one thin shim.


Actually the screw that holds the leaf spring switch to the base is so overly long that it still has a tonne of thread left even at that standoff, which makes me think that this is the way you are suppose to do it.

The other switch took the remaining 3 thick shims and I made two ultra thin ones by cutting down the metal of the contacts to make up the missing shim.


So, on they go...


...followed by controller two...



Same deal for controller one...


... and it is almost done.

Only thing missing is the small harness for the start switches, which drops back in neatly, the wires even remember where they should hang...


... and it is done!



At this stage the CP should be able to drop back in, except I had forgotten one thing when I was pre-drilling my holes in the front panel all those weeks ago. The coin door harness has a cable strap that is supposed to be screwed to the inside of the front panel. Drilling from the inside out, when everything is installed, cleaned and vinyled is not ideal, but it was the only thing holding me up now. To avoid making a mess inside the cab I taped a match box below where the hole was going to catch the dust...


...and masked up a drill bit to ensure I didn't go ploughing through to the front face and wreck the vinyl.


It was then followed up with a drill bit close to the screw body width. I also didn't want to put in a screw so tight it would cause a bulge in the wood face only a few mm the other side. With that done, the coin mech harness went back where it was supposed to be.


The CP could finally go on for the last time...


... and with everything was connected up inside...


... another switch test was run through to confirm everything was working, followed by an earth test to check I had continuity to earth on the newly connected controllers metalwork, from the inside obviously as the outer faces are all powder coated.

With nothing left to do inside, the six security bolts went on, with slightly over sized black oxide washers as the CP had been held in with big bolts before and the bigger washers covered the past scars better...


...except for the two on the upper face of the CP.


There was one final thing to do, something I have seen other cab restorers do at the end of their projects that I always thought was a nice touch - key rings for the cab locks with the original manufacturer fliers for the game, at $5 each why not.


Looks great!


Up until this point I had not started a game since day 1 when the switches crapped out, in fact I purposely haven't even played it in MAME in the intervening years, as I didn't want to risk getting over the game before I had finished it.

So I went back into test mode, set it to free play, rebooted and hit P1 start.

How does it play you ask?

Superbly, like a dream 4 years, 3 months, 15 days in the making. Has it really been only 1565 days?


And with that I am calling this restoration COMPLETE!!!!







Wonder if I am too late for the T-shirt competition?



Ah crap, just missed it, oh well

Thanks for watching folks :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: AndyRCM on May 25, 2015, 02:28:04 PM
You sir . . . are a genius. It has been an absolute honour to watch you accomplish this - thank you for sharing this one mate. :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Panther on May 26, 2015, 12:37:06 PM
History in the making.

Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: Womble on May 27, 2015, 01:53:23 AM
Thanks guys, its really good to get it done, for a long while I seriously doubted I would. Probably the biggest bonus is the amount of mess around the place that has all vanished into it now it is all put back together. It was a massive learning experience, so at least I can now look at other cabs and have a good idea of what is really involved. Am currently giving Paperboy sideways glances as that now looks tatty in comparison, especially its coin door is in a dreadful state.

There are a couple of things I still may do with it, not 100% on the monitor bezel still, and I'd love to replace the grey t-moulding as that is very brittle and is starting to crack along the underneath sections. Plans to save the original, or use the sections salvaged from the wrecked Adelaide cabinet were short lived as that stuff just shatters when you try to cut it, it stopped being flexible decades ago. I can get replacement stock, but only from the US and they sell it in a minimum of 20 foot lengths, they can do custom lengths but probably not as one off sales. I will need a load of black for Paperboy at some stage so will tack some onto that order.

For the time being I am just enjoying the very odd sight of it complete and looking mint, that and the lack of a self imposed job sheet for every spare drop of time I could get. I really did force myself to ignore everything else and focus on getting this done, now I have time for other retro things :)
Title: Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
Post by: simon_m74 on September 21, 2015, 05:07:39 PM