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Who here likes the old Electro-Mechanical (EM) type games?

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Even though I grew up with, and have a nice little collection of video arcade cabs, I often find myself really getting the bug to somehow fit more Electro-Mechanical units into my collection. I'm not sure why, but these pre video game era pinballs and such fascinate me with how they work and even sound. Each game has its own quirks and, unlike a video arcade, EM machines can even often get an issue, then work it out of themselves with a bit of heavy play. I think part of th fun is how violent some of these machines are when working. Shuffler bowlers like my Triple Score tend to hum, thump, click, and bang when they are resetting for each throw and even the pinballs get odd hums and such as different circuits energize up in anticipation of you either hitting a 'special' or some bonus. So, who else here has found themselves oddly drawn to the EM side and what is it that you like about them?

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I love EM games! I really wish someone made a collection of them similar to Pinball Arcade. There's just something about the chimes and bells and ka-chunk-ka-chunk sounds that come from EM games that warms my heart.

 

About the closest port I could ever find was Penny Parlor on iTunes which is .... okay .... not great .... but okay. Such a lost opportunity.

 

20111011125916_a6478697.jpg

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I like 'em. The mechanical nature and tactile experience created by the moving parts, clunking and whirring just helps the feeling of being "in" the game. Speedway, for example, gives great clunking feedback when you crash. This may be the same effect that always made me like pinball better than video games in the arcades. It's just more real somehow.

 

One day, I hope to run across some old, obscure EM machine that I can pick up cheap. My wife probably has the opposite hope.

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They are definitely cool machines. It's fascinating to see the many creative ways the manufactures found to create arcade games prior to video technology being available. I feel lucky to live relatively close to the Old Sledworks Arcade in Duncannon, PA which has quite a large collection of the machines....

 

http://roadsidewonders.net/oswarcade/

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Does Williams Slugfest count? I know it's a little newer with digital displays, but the concept is the same. I loved getting the baseball cards!

 

Thanks for posting the video. Haha, that motorcycle game has a part busted. My guess is it works something like the old Atari F1, which used to scare the living **** out of me when I was a young'un:

 

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I love EM games, and grew up with them. They're way out of my league though when it comes to collecting.:)

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They're pretty interesting especially the ones with an 8-track player for the sounds like Midway's Haunted House game:

 

 

Here's what that Chicago Coin Motorcycle game -should- be operating like. Vector, you should of got your quarter back. :lol:

 

 

 

The only games I remember playing with EM were pinballs though.

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I played this western shootout once that had you shooting at targets with a very real-looking gun (it shot marbles) Great fun, took nickels.

This is the one I remember being set up next to the ice cream counter at Thrifty when I was a kid. I don't remember the "skirts" though, just the machine sitting on the legs.

http://p2.la-img.com/567/19522/6647367_1_l.jpg

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I for one do not like em pins. They may have simple play and cool sounds but outright suck to fix! Just wait till the cloth wrap around the wires start to deteriorate and there is random arcing happening and try to fix it by replacing god knows how many miles of wire. As the days turn into weeks, you will realize why the hell would anyone ever want to own one. I only bought 1 EM (Honey) and will only buy ss pins since. I enjoy the simplicity of the ss machine and ease and speed at which i can troubleshoot, repair and swap boards.

 

If you want to play a nice throwback to the old school with out the hassle of owning one, i would suggest time machine.

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I currently own a couple EM pinball machines (King Pin & Yukon) and enjoy a lot of other EM pins & rifle games owned by friends locally. Cable harnesses are present in any type of game, and while cloth-wrapped wires in older machines are more susceptible to fraying, theoretically the same thing could happen in a modern machine too and lead to more than just a hot solenoid. ;) I imagine the day will come when I have to make a custom cable harness for my custom game... ugh... I might just see if the wire harness manufacturer here locally will do it for cheap.

 

There is something meditative about cleaning all the switch stacks and various mechanisms that you don't get with SS pins because modern SS pins are so crowded that you're spending most of your time trying to make sure that tiny screw doesn't get stuck somewhere in the wiring harness, which inevitably one or two do. :P Plus, EMs produce the "chings and dings" you'd expect to hear from a physical game, and present a pretty nice visceral experience.

 

Also, as a guy who's somewhere between your average pinhead and your average vintage mini/microcomputer collector in terms of electronic skill, it's just not satisfying to replace board after board in SS games, especially when they're hard to source, reproductions are expensive, parts used are obsolete, etc. I prefer finding the root cause of the problem (which probably exists on the one you didn't replace) instead of having x number of MPUs fail on you in the span of a few months, and would rather spend a bunch of hours tracing down the failing $1.50 part than spending hundreds of dollars on a new set of boards (definitely not worth my time, other than my learning!).

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I've only played one EM game. (A Williams Blue Chip pinball machine.)

But I do like researching about these machines. It's fascinating to know how these companies managed to pull off these special effects before video arcade games came around.

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I currently own a couple EM pinball machines (King Pin & Yukon) and enjoy a lot of other EM pins & rifle games owned by friends locally. Cable harnesses are present in any type of game, and while cloth-wrapped wires in older machines are more susceptible to fraying, theoretically the same thing could happen in a modern machine too and lead to more than just a hot solenoid. ;) I imagine the day will come when I have to make a custom cable harness for my custom game... ugh... I might just see if the wire harness manufacturer here locally will do it for cheap.

I haven't seen inside a really, really new machine. I assume by now they may have adopted some sort of networking/bus technology (e.g. CANbus) such as has been done with cars to reduce the amount of wiring required.

 

Not sure where the sweet spot would be (if there is one) between reducing labor and wire costs vs. added cost of networked sensors/actuators and added complexity in software. That might depend largely on where the units are manufactured.

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Here's a walk through we did Dec 2014. I wanna go back and do another video in HD.

 

https://youtu.be/CpIJZ7LhGOw

I wonder if that's my old Chicago Coin Motorcycle machine. Mine played exactly the same way- with a broken drum gear (the playfield didn't move, as in this video) and no scoring. Mine also had the top marquee. The others I've seen (1 or 2 others) are missing that marquee. I sold mine over 10 years ago.

 

EDIT: ... and now I've seen two with the marquee, going by the second video above. That machine looks to be in exceptional condition for its age...

Edited by Brian Deuel

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Here's a walk through we did Dec 2014. I wanna go back and do another video in HD.

 

https://youtu.be/CpIJZ7LhGOw

 

Wow, that place looks like a lot of fun! Too bad it is so far out of my migration path. Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas has a decent selection of these type of games and of course tons of EM pinballs. One of the games they have is Chicago Speedway, which is a racing car version of the motorcycle game you showed and I spent a lot of time on that one.

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I haven't seen inside a really, really new machine. I assume by now they may have adopted some sort of networking/bus technology (e.g. CANbus) such as has been done with cars to reduce the amount of wiring required.

 

Not sure where the sweet spot would be (if there is one) between reducing labor and wire costs vs. added cost of networked sensors/actuators and added complexity in software. That might depend largely on where the units are manufactured.

 

I get the impression that the big manufacturers in pinball these days are still doing most things as they were done back in the '80s & '90s. Even Jersey Jack's 2014 "Wizard of Oz" still uses a switch matrix for reading sensors similar to the earliest solid state games. The biggest waste of space comes from still trying to drive devices such as pop bumpers & flippers that can't run at regular TTL voltages; everything has to be amplified up to around 60V. Not sure if anyone's made single driver / voltage booster PCBs that can be placed next to any pinball part right in its place, but most of the time, you see a large driver board with lots of transistors in the head unit and then lots of long, thick wires going to every part in the game -- modern ones even moreso than older EMs. I guess they figured wires are cheaper for manufacturing than mounting a ton of multi-purpose PCBs, but I'd argue that's more difficult to maintain. I'd love it if people would abandon that and just use regular ribbon cables or perhaps some kind of networked star/ring/line topology.

 

I'm all in favor of doing more with software and TTL-level logic than with solenoids (which have to suck a lot of energy), especially with the advent of open-source pinball frameworks such as Mission Pinball, D3, and other frameworks that'll abstract away a lot of the tedium so all you have to worry about is the ruleset. The part you're up against is there's not (yet) an overlap of firmware developers privy to all the latest developments and people developing pinball machines. However, there are more & more really great custom cabinets people are bringing to the big shows, and someday Stern is going to be sad if they don't hire folks who stay on the cutting edge...

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I went back a couple of weeks ago and did an updated video in HD

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4cNZBfI3vM

 

 

That damn chicken game would drive me bat shit crazy. There's got to be a setting on it to either shut it completely or at least have it only speak less frequently. Like once an hour......if that.

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I have 1 game, my first game. Sub-Pack it's a later EM but I love the fact it doesn't have the difficult scoring mechanisms. I've been restoring it bringing it back to glory.

Edited by Atari the Jedi

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