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New Bally Professional Arcade owner. Tips?

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Took a chance, and overpaid for a 1977 Bally Professional Arcade (Astrocade).

It did not say if it was working or not.

Luckily it is working, and after removing the "switch box" (which gave an almost all snow picture) to going from the RF to Coax adapter, it is bright, rich and clear! It is so nice, I've abandoned looking for composite/s-video mods!

 

This is the Bally Arcade with "Arcade" on a red background, and the screen says 1977.

 

I think I will first add that resistor to the data chip. That is the one that gets hot and fails, right?

A document on BalleyAlley says that there is too much voltage going to that chip, and that less voltage will run cooler and be more reliable.

Anybody here done this?

 

In doing this I will have removed the shielding, which I'll leave off.

Besides a fan, any other tips or suggestions?

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Sounds like you have one of the earlier models. I think those are more prone to overheating. I have a later Astrovision-made model made in the early 1980s. But all Bally Astrocade "models" (I think there are four) have the same design and need proper ventilation under the unit. I keep mine on a little metal "rack" that keeps the unit lifted up off the floor so it can breathe. You might also wanna open it and check to see if the copper foil strips are peeling off or not. I think they are for diffusing some of the voltage/heat from some of the main chips to the RF casing & metal plate (that is soldered over the motherboard)? Others here could give more info as I'm still fairly new to the Astrocade.

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Yeah, definitely keep it off the carpet. I've also heard that removing the RF shielding (which I do for practically every console I give a composite mod) is also hazardous to the system's health. All that metal acts as a heat sink, keeping the components from burning up, so keep it in there!

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I had my Bally version on all weekend at last years MGC and it was just fine. I guess I have a 'good one'.

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I had my Bally version on all weekend at last years MGC and it was just fine. I guess I have a 'good one'.

Rub it in, why don't you? :P

 

If you've got a working Astrocade, my advice would be to leave it alone. I've had two or three that ran like clocks until I removed the RF shielding (on the advice of the internet). I still don't understand why that would kill it, but there's definitely a connection. Just take the ordinary precautions against overheating.

 

One of my Ballys came from Dave Fleming, who used to run it at MGC in the Underdog Chamber. For years, it would run the whole weekend without a hitch. And then I had to go take out the RF shielding... :mad:

Edited by BassGuitari

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Congratulations on getting a working Astrocade. I love this system that was so far ahead of its time. First of all, you have an early ROM because most Astrocades show 1978 on the menu screen. I've read that there are incompatibilities with some multicarts with the '77 ROM, but I've been able to use my UltiMulti on two '77 models without any problems.

 

I've read that same article about undervolting the custom data IC. I think I posted about it here or on the Bally Alley Yahoo group. Anyway, Kenn Lill (the creator of the UltiMulti and Astrocade hardware) advised against it. So that was good enough for me.

 

There's a lot of debate about whether removing the RF shield causes problems. I've owned 12 Astrocades (a few of them got sent back to sellers who had described them as working). I've removed the RF shield from all but a few of them. Three of them developed problems after I removed the shield. However, I did not test them for very long WITH the shield, so the problems may already have been there. And then, two of them went back to normal. One is still fried. My opinion is that removing the shield had nothing to do with it. The others have worked well without the shield, including my "workhorse." I'm a bit of a paranoid when it comes to the Astrocade, so I run it without the top part of the case, no RF shield. I even detached the keypad from the cartridge assembly because it created a kind of "heat tent" over the data IC. That's probably overkill. I do have a fan pointed across the data IC and RAM. If I intend to play for a while, I use a laptop cooler too. The Astrocade is worth all this craziness because it is a PIA to find a working one.

 

Remember, the Astrocade was designed WITHOUT an RF shield. One was added because the FCC required it. So I don't think it is necessary for proper operation, but that's just my opinion.

 

At the very least, you'll want to open up the case and check to see if there's still thermal paste covering the data IC. I had one Astrocade that showed a black screen until I cleaned off all the thermal paste. Some had dripped into the socket over the decades.

 

I have an article about buying the Astrocade on my blog (link below). Have fun!

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For the metal shield, on the model made by Astrocade (the one I have (that got the red Professionnal Arcade cover, but it might have been replaced over ages by one from an older model?) ) you can't remove it simply because there is a stick of metal crudely glued on the shielding with some heat paste.

 

post-35492-0-18385900-1375298435.jpg

 

As you can see, the stick of metal itself isn't linked to the IC neither to the RF shielding. And that's some unefficient design.

 

Something more reliable would be to stick an adhesive passive heatsink to replace that poorly conceived heatsink.

 

8953.jpg

 

Now can you tell me more about that resistor thing? I never heard of it before, and if this can save up on the IC life, I'm all ready to give it a try (anyway, at the worst, you can't damage an IC by underpowering it).

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I've owned 12 Astrocades (a few of them got sent back to sellers who had described them as working).

 

If we were discussing any other system, I would say that was people pulling shenanigans. However, when I sold mine it was perfectly working (photographed as so, played it for hours with my wife the night before shipping to say goodbye to it), incredibly well packed, and it still arrived no longer working correctly. During my ownership it was always used on a hard surface with proper ventilation (I even had computer fans setup for it).

 

I wish I had never gotten rid of the Astrocade because it is an amazing system, but I will not attempt to reacquire one because of the delicacy of the hardware. Unless I can pick one up in person, that is :)

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If we were discussing any other system, I would say that was people pulling shenanigans. However, when I sold mine it was perfectly working (photographed as so, played it for hours with my wife the night before shipping to say goodbye to it), incredibly well packed, and it still arrived no longer working correctly. During my ownership it was always used on a hard surface with proper ventilation (I even had computer fans setup for it).

 

I wish I had never gotten rid of the Astrocade because it is an amazing system, but I will not attempt to reacquire one because of the delicacy of the hardware. Unless I can pick one up in person, that is :)

 

Yes, one of the reasons why I have 8 or 9 Astrocades is because I am scared to sell one because I know that it can be working when it leaves me and not when it arrives. I'm not truly a hoarder, although I do like to have "insurance" for fragile systems.

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...

 

Now can you tell me more about that resistor thing? I never heard of it before, and if this can save up on the IC life, I'm all ready to give it a try (anyway, at the worst, you can't damage an IC by underpowering it).

NOT recommended. (Thanks boxpressed!)

An expert posted in a yahoo group message that it causes more problems than it fixes:

Quote, "It actually causes more problems than it cures. The Oscillator that powers the system goes into the Data chip with a 10 V swing. So you could destroy it when you fire it up. It also won't give an accurate 2.5 V that is needed for proper modular working. I have seen only one work, and that was marginally. My advise is NOT to try this.

Ken"

 

Things I have found out include:

1. You either have one that works, or you don't.

 

2. Overheating will kill it, so:

A. Replace the thermal paste and add a better heat sink.

B. USB fans / laptop cooler stands will keep it cool.

 

3. Removing the shield may break a working system. (I'd guess static or a stored charge zapping something?):

A. Cutting part of the shield out with cutters appears safest.

 

4. Reseating chips may cure a glitchy system, but if things work - keep out.

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For the 3, it might just be because the shield is used like a crude radiator. Putting passive heatsink should allow you to remove the shielding safely; as mentionned already, the Bally was designed without shielding (and European systems sometime had no shielding; Some Intellivision had it removed or never put in the first place, Euro-only system like the Interton VC 4000 never had any shielding at all) and anyway, all shiedling on our old system was only to comply with FCC rules, not a protection for electronics.

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IIRC, the '77 BPAs have no real sink attached to the IC except the one that is bolted to the shield. However, if there is a metal ingot attached to the IC (this is the case with the Astrovision/Astrocade models), you might damage the IC by trying to pull it off. However, I did have one where the ingot popped off on its own. There was a smudge of thermal paste on the underside. My workhorse has it still attached, and I just leave it there.

 

I wouldn't cut the shield. I've seen 3 "models" of the shield: Home Library Computer, Bally Professional Arcade, and Astrovision/Astrocade Professional Arcade. With the exception of the HLC shield, the other two are very easy to remove. You just have to take your time. I've attached some photos of a '77 BPA. I think it may resemble yours. You can see the thermal paste on the IC in one photo and another after it has been cleaned up. The last photo is of the makeshift heatsink that is attached to the top of the shield.

 

If you haven't already, check out the Bally Service Manual (link in my article I mentioned above).

post-30018-0-09362500-1392927416_thumb.jpg

post-30018-0-10503400-1392927435_thumb.jpg

post-30018-0-22461200-1392927521_thumb.jpg

post-30018-0-63135900-1392927535_thumb.jpg

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Personally, if yours is working, I wouldn't make any changes. I removed my sheilding and it stopped working; put it back and presto it works again. Keep in on a laptop cooler when in use, and set it on a hard, flat surface, not the carpet.

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Check out the heavy-duty shield on the Home Library Computer. Those clips on the side do not easily slide off the way they do on the later models.

post-30018-0-57452000-1392928076_thumb.jpg

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However, if there is a metal ingot attached to the IC (this is the case with the Astrovision/Astrocade models), you might damage the IC by trying to pull it off. However, I did have one where the ingot popped off on its own. There was a smudge of thermal paste on the underside.

On mine, there wasn't even any remains of thermal paste on it.

Sicne you seems an expert on Bally consoles, can you tell me if the one I own have the correct cover? :

dsc02611.jpg

post-35492-0-86125000-1375298487.jpg

Edited by CatPix

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Yes, one of the reasons why I have 8 or 9 Astrocades is because I am scared to sell one because I know that it can be working when it leaves me and not when it arrives. I'm not truly a hoarder, although I do like to have "insurance" for fragile systems.

 

Welcome to my world, don't say I didn't warn you...

 

:)

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For the metal shield, on the model made by Astrocade (the one I have (that got the red Professionnal Arcade cover, but it might have been replaced over ages by one from an older model?) ) you can't remove it simply because there is a stick of metal crudely glued on the shielding with some heat paste.

 

Something more reliable would be to stick an adhesive passive heatsink to replace that poorly conceived heatsink.

 

 

That shield comes off, I've removed many of them, and the retro heat sink should come off the custom IC chip as well. When I've completely removed a shield from the MB all the chips are left clean and bare. I have heard of and considered adding heatsinks to the IC and RAM as well, but never really found the need to on a good console that hasn't already suffered heat damage.

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Luckily it is working, and after removing the "switch box" (which gave an almost all snow picture) to going from the RF to Coax adapter, it is bright, rich and clear! It is so nice, I've abandoned looking for composite/s-video mods!

 

Glad that worked for you, I still have an old switchbox connected to my TV so I've never gone that route. I will have a composite video mod available shortly with RCA out for audio (mono) as soon as I lock down which cable to use. I'll post a general notice when its available for anyone who's interested.

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On mine, there wasn't even any remains of thermal paste on it.

Sicne you seems an expert on Bally consoles, can you tell me if the one I own have the correct cover? :

 

 

 

There are lots of people who know tons more about the Astrocade than I do, including TMOSteel above, who has helped me so much. But thanks for confidence. I would say that your model could have come with that cover. Most Astrovision models I've seen come with the Bally Computer System cover, but a lot come with the BPA cover too. I think that Astrovision had a lot of stock to use up, so you get a weird mish mash of boxes, covers, and consoles. For example, I have a white Montgomery Wards Astrocade that comes with the shipping box and is as close to new as I've seen for a white model. But it comes with the BCS cover without the Wards logo. And I just acquired an Astrovision model whose console box is the early Bally box (the one with all the people in the arcade). I'm almost certain that this was the box that originally came with the console because I also have the shipping box with the same serial number.

 

I used to care a lot about original covers, but I realized that there is no way to "prove" that any cover came with any given box or console.

 

For what it's worth, I like the red BPA cover the best, even more than the HLC and the rare "astrocade" cover. It's a classic and classy look, IMO.

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Also, I bought a couple of these from Console5.com, but I haven't attached them yet. Everything works fine without the top of the case and fan.

 

dip40-heatsink.jpg

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On mine, there wasn't even any remains of thermal paste on it.

Sicne you seems an expert on Bally consoles, can you tell me if the one I own have the correct cover? :

dsc02611.jpg

post-35492-0-86125000-1375298487.jpg

That's the cover I have, but my bottom sticker is silver and says "Bally Professional Arcade," not "Astrovision."

Mine was also opened because its RF cord is whittled down to fit internally. It came with 20 games so it must have been used a bit back in the day because someone purchased all those games.

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I opened mine because... I always open all my systems. internal cleaning and checking, and out of curiosity. I got the right idea since one big capacitor had a broken connection (probably happened during shipping) and there was also a 1cent coin (from 1982 :D ) stuck inside it!

 

I used to care a lot about original covers, but I realized that there is no way to "prove" that any cover came with any given box or console.

 

For what it's worth, I like the red BPA cover the best, even more than the HLC and the rare "astrocade" cover. It's a classic and classy look, IMO.

Ha, I should have guessed that myself... Thanks anyway. Not that I mind much; I'm in Europe, so it's very unlikely that any people I'll show the system would even know what system it is... and meh, I have a pristine cover, that's the most important ;) .

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I used to care a lot about original covers, but I realized that there is no way to "prove" that any cover came with any given box or console.

 

The only two I can say for sure came with a specific cover, matching the console label, are the Home Library Computer and the Astrocade. Both models have specific cartridge bay covers, both have specific bottom labels.

 

Every Home Library Computer (BL-1200) that I have seen has the silver Bally Home Library computer bottom label with matching blue Home Library Computer cover. (Mine does, pretty sure yours does, as well as the few others people have). These were the first mail order machines when it was first introduced.

 

Same goes for the Astrocades I've seen (ABA-1000-2), silver Astrocade with blue lettering bottom label with matching black/gold/white Astrocade cover. (Both of mine look like this, once came packed in its matching Astrocade inc shipping box with matching serial number).

 

The Montgomery Ward models could be a whole different debate but we've already covered that on another forum. ;)

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