To quote a famous 1980's movie character "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it". For a arcade hobbits like myself always looking for a decent arcade game score, maybe it should read "Life moves pretty fast. So I just grabbed these games without much of a plan for them". I responded to an ad for a moving sale that included two arcade games. I was told they had been in the owners possession since the late 1980's. The location was very close to my house and the price was right, so much like the much cooler 1980's movie icon old Jack Burton I said "What the hell".
Both of these games are total odd balls in their own way, but let's start with the Moon Patrol. Eagle eyed readers will spot that this arcade classic is not in the original dedicated cabinet, but in a very nice (but painted over) Stargate cabinet. The control panel overlay is a generic one (From a company called Willis, yes just like the kid from the TV show Different Strokes). The marquee has been modified to fit in the Stargate slot by cutting a piece out of another random marquee. Inside the power supply has been replaced with an older switching one, but the wiring harness is the correct one for a dedicated Moon Patrol.
The monitor was a WG4900 with a slight bit of Stargate and Moon Patrol burn in. Even though it was dirty inside, the monitor was in pretty nice shape. An interesting note is that original Moon Patrol machines that shipped with a 4900 would have a slight modification in order for the game's width to fill up the screen correctly. This monitor did not have that modification, making the image almost a perfect square when playing Moon Patrol. I installed new capacitors and a few other components in the monitor and boom.... I had myself a nice WG4900 19 inch monitor, great Stargate cabinet, a good Moon Patrol wiring harness, and extra working Moon Patrol PCB as a back up for my dedicated Moon Patrol already in the arcade. Ok, onto the second game of this mini bulk buy!
At first glance, this seems to be a run of the mill Ms. Pac-Man upright with artwork that someone has painted over at some point. In actuality, someone went to the trouble to install laminate over the original game sides to hide some heavy damage to the front of the game. Ms. Pac-Man machines tended to have very long service lives, much longer than the average game. Ms. Pac-Man arcade games are still staples in places like Laundromats, Bars, and Diners today. Needless to say, whomever originally purchased this game many years ago probably made their initial investment back several times over. The game powered up but showed no signs of life.
Most of the Ms. Pac machines I have worked on have a factory installed Electrohome G07 monitor, but this one has a WG4900 (Just like the Moon Patrol/Stargate above). After I wrestled the monitor out of the machine, I was pretty taken back by the condition of it. Sometimes the heavy tinted piece of glass that sits above these monitors can hide serious flaws. The tube "burn in" on this monitor is something truly to behold. Pac games are well known with arcade collectors for having a good bit of burn in (thanks to the bright colored graphic playfield design surrounded by black areas of the field), but this might be the heaviest burn in I have ever seen on any monitor in my 25+ years of collecting. I rebuilt the chassis for this monitor to get rid of a heavy curl at the top of the screen.I plan on using this monitor will be used as part of my test rig for right now. I feel the tube burn in is just too severe to put into any project. This monitor would be an excellent candidate for a swap from an older television set tube, however comparable tubes for 4900's are tough to track down. Still, I will keep my eyes open for one.
My focus then turned to the Ms. Pac-Man PCB. The first thing I noticed was the super sketchy wiring harness. It appears at some point, the pins which connect 5 voltage input into the harness broke. Instead of repairing the harness, some lazy operator added a new quick connect harness just for the 5 volts and soldered it directly to the board.
Surely this fix took as much time and effort as if they would have fixed the harness correctly. I disconnected this nonsense and threw the patched together harness in the recycling bin. I've seen my fair share of crazy and lazy vending operator fixes with these machines, but this "repair" was a real head scratcher for sure.
After tracking down a dead processor, I was able to get the board to work.... sort of. It would often reset or display only garbage. Since I already have two working Ms. Pac-Man PCB's I thought it would be cool to tun this one into an original Pac-Man PCB. If you don't know, Ms. Pac PCB's are just regular Pac-Man PCB's with different ROM's and a daughter card which fits into the slot where the Z80 processor normally sits. Removing the daughter card, and placing the Z80 back in the normal slot produced a RAM error with the board... so I replaced all the RAMs with some donors from a non working Rally-X PCB.
I did a few other things to make it a functioning member of a dot eating society. The whole PCB received new capacitors, along with new ROMS (Using the Ms. Pac ROMS does create some odd results however, since the addresses of some graphics are not in the same address line spots), and I fixed two bad traces on the board. After I touched up the edge connector from the previous technician work, our Pac board was working perfectly. I soon discovered it had been a long time since I have played regular Pac-Man, and that I am now pretty terrible at it.
So what are the plans for the two cabinets eh? Our current Stargate upright machine (which runs the excellent JROK multi Williams board) is a bit of a mess. The cabinet is splintering badly from the base (a common issue with Williams cabinets), and has a puckering water damaged top and back as well. The new Moon Patrol/Stargate cabinet is rock solid, and will make an excellent donor cabinet after it receives a total strip down and re-stencil back to its proper Stargate artwork in the sides. The damaged Stargate cabinet will be rebuilt and hopefully turned into the Atari conversion kit classic Cloak and Dagger.
The Ms. Pac-Man cabinet is too long gone to restore back to a proper Pac game with any sort of quality in my opinion. I won't lose too much sleep not restoring this one back, seeing that they made more Ms. Pac cabinets than any other arcade game in history. Once I properly clean it out the game plan is to turn it into one of my wife's favorite games Arkanoid. Arkanoid was a very popular conversion kit right around the time where a lot of Pac games were finally losing their popularity. I will use the outstanding conversion art kit from www.szabosarcades.com to really make this game pop.
We are at the tale end of Winter here in Seattle, and I am hopeful as soon as the weather warms up a bit I can knock some of these projects out. The workshop is starting to get a bit crowded. I even had to turn down someone who wanted me to restore their game unfortunately thanks to my commitments to school and my own personal arcade projects. Still I can't wait to dig into these games a bit more when time permits!