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Arcade System Rebuild

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This arcade was dropped off to us with missing and broken pieces. I’ve never worked on an arcade before so I figured this would be a great opportunity. Since my only experience with an arcade system was playing them, I was excited to take a look at how they operate.

Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet
Arcade Cabinet

List of parts that were broken or missing:

  • The back cover was missing.
  • The base that the joysticks sit on was broken. It was missing a side and it was broken so the latch on the right wouldn’t hold it down.
  • The power supply was broken.
  • The CRT monitor was broken.
  • Some of the cables were missing and most where sliced.
  • The joysticks didn’t click so I assumed they were broken.

List of parts I needed or order:

  • 2x Player harnesses (Cables to connect the 3rd and 4th player joysticks to the main board) - $30
  • VGA Converter box - $40
  • Jamma Full Cabinet Wiring Harness Loom - $13
  • Power Supply - $20
  • 4x Joysticks & 12 Buttons - $80
  • Plastic socket for the button replacements - $2
  • LCD Monitor - $50
  • Wood, glue, screws - $20

The first thing I did was a lot of research on the parts, pieces and options that we could use. I found that there is a lot to these arcade systems. Different brands, different connections, cables, etc. During my researched I found that this board was what is called a JAMMA Board. It is fairly universal and there was plenty of options I could choose from while rebuilding it. The cables looked damaged beyond repair so I figured it would be easier to replace all of them. The joysticks didn’t click and I assumed they were broken so I placed an order for those as well.

I made the decision to keep this rebuild to the original configuration. There are options out there for a 500 games in 1 board (or more) but since I already had the TMNT board I stuck with that. Since the joystick base had been broken it was easy enough to take it off and work on it separate from the cabinet. That made it easy to replace the joysticks and the buttons which did take a special tool. Basically it’s a deep socket wrench I purchased for $2.

I was able to remove the old buttons and joysticks and put the new ones on without any issue. I tried to keep the connectors all facing the same way on the bottom so it was easy to know which connector was which. They weren’t labeled very well so it was hard to tell what the ground was and what the JAMMA connector was. After reading up on how to connect them I did. There are 3 plugs on each button and on each direction on the joystick. One was a ground that had to be connected. One was the connection that leads to the JAMMA board that needed to be plugged in. The other one I’m not sure what it’s for but I left it untouched.

After getting the 3rd and 4th player’s connected and plugged in I attached the JAMMA full cabinet wiring harness to the 1st and 2nd player.

At this point all the controllers were plugged in so I put the joystick board back on the cabinet and plugged the cables into the JAMMA board itself which was mounted to the side of the cabinet. I asked another employee here to fix the broken joystick board so it didn’t’ fall off and rip the cables. He was able to rebuild the side and attach it to the cabinet. I was glad to have it secure as I was afraid someone would bump it and ruin the work I had done up to this point.

My next step was to connect the coin slots that were part of the harnesses to each player. After figuring out which cable was the coin slot cable I went to attach them but found that the connector on the cable was smaller than the connectors on the coin slots. There are large and small connectors when getting these cables which wasn’t something I found during my initial research. I toyed with the idea of replacing the coin slots as some of the buttons were not as smooth as I’d like but I ultimately decided to stretch out the cables I had to fit onto the large connectors. I didn’t want to put more money into this project when I knew this was an option. All it needed to do was send a signal so as long as they had a solid connection we would be good. I got some pliers and a flathead screw driver and slowly stretched the metal ends out to fit around the large coin slot pins. I ended up getting them connected but they were loose so I put some electrical tape on them for good measure.

After I had gotten the coin slots connected I moved onto putting the LCD monitor and the VGA converter box on. I removed the broken CRT monitor (if you don’t know how to deal with CRT monitors I would recommend NOT touching them as they can be very dangerous), then I talked to the same guy who fixed the joystick cabinet and he made a custom wood backing with screw holes for the new LCD monitor. I was able to mount the new LCD monitor to the new backing and I secured the VGA converter box to the side of the cabinet. It was an easy attachment and just required I plug the power in and the VGA cable in.

Now I’m to the point where I’ve got most everything connected but I have no power going to the unit. I wanted to check the power supply before connecting it to the rest of the arcade. I got a volt meter and measured the power supply to ensure it’s putting out the correct power. If it put too much out I could damage the JAMMA board and too little can cause damage, or at least glitches in the game play. After ensuring the power supply was accurate and right where I needed it I connected the JAMMA harness I purchased to the power supply.

It was now time to see if all the work has paid off. I powered it on and it came alive! The first time I tried to play it I realized I plugged the attack and jump buttons in backwards so I turned it off and swamped all those. Once I got that squared away I was ready to put my coins in and give it a few minutes of game play. I was glad to see that everything was in good working order.

These can be configured for free play, $.025, or tokens depending on what your needs are. There are other options that can be done such as a volume control (I would highly recommend one), additional cabinet lights, multiple monitors, adding a keyboard, a track ball, more buttons and much more. My next step will be building my own cabinet from scratch and getting one of the multi games in 1 board. It was a fun project and I look forward to doing it again.


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