Project Pinku Many Kotoba - Sega Blast City Resto and MAMEing

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by Urbansprawl, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    The story so far

    As promised, here is my Blast City restoration thread. First, some background on how I got here.

    The Blast City is a Japanese style sit down arcade cabinet that was manufactured to live in Japanese Game Centers like this -

    [​IMG]

    Being a Japanese style cabinet it is quite compact despite having a large 29 inch screen. It is also much lighter than an MDF based Western stand up cab. Given I live up a flight of stairs in an apartment these are both desirable qualities;).

    You can find a bunch of info on the Blast City all over the place, but notably here -

    http://wiki.arcadeotaku.com/w/Sega_Blast_City

    and here

    http://hard--candy.com/candy?cab=Blast+City

    There are a few mistakes at both sites though, most notably that the cabinet is actually constructed from fibreglass rather than metal or plastic. This is part of what makes it so light.

    I came to the Blast City after acquiring a restored Blast City monitor from the forums - these are a pretty rare find so I snapped it up and put it on my desk -

    [​IMG]

    The monitor is a 29 inch Nanao MS-2931 CRT, which is pretty rare amongst arcade monitors in that it can accept both traditional 15khz arcade resolutions (320x240 and 20 or so other resolutions thereabout), as well as 'high def' 31khz resolutions (640x480) without you having to switch jumpers around on the screen. This makes it really appealing for MAME projects because being able to send 640x480 to the screen makes life a lot easier.

    After acquiring the monitor I started work on the MAME setup and configuration - I'll detail that in another post. I started to think about what cabinet I wanted, and originally settled on a copy of a NEO-GEO MVS:

    [​IMG]

    One of the prettiest cabs in my opinion. The difficulty is most of the classic western machines of that shape were 25 inch, whereas the Nanao is 29. There were some Western 29 inch cabs but they tended to be huge. If I scaled up the NEO-GEO shape then it looked pretty awkward - it would have looked like it had arcade machine gigantism. It was also non trivial to mount the monitor in a way that was safe given my limited woodworking skills. Instead I decided to go with the original and look for a Blast City.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  2. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Ordering and Arrival

    I kept an eye on the internet for a good Blast City cabinet. The main source for these in Australia is Highway Entertainment -

    http://www.highway.net.au/

    At least, they are the main source who is interested in dealing with the public and has a website :) A working Blast City in reasonable condition usually goes for around $1,200, which was too much for a machine I was going to repurpose and not keep in original condition. I also already had the monitor which tends to be about half the value of the arcade machine in the first place. Then around February they got in a bunch of dead machines - 25% of the price of a new machine, and in various states of disrepair. Given how cheap they were (relatively speaking:rolleyes:) I ended up picking up two machines because the freight was similar between one or two cabinets. Having a source of parts available is also going to be pretty convenient - saves me trying to find mounting frames, the right types of screws, harnesses, light fittings, speakers etc. They were ordered in February, and they arrived today.

    One machine has a clean chassis but no monitor, and its down in the garage. I'll take some pictures and put them up later. The other has the screen intact but not working, and can be seen here -

    [​IMG]

    This machine is actually from Hong Kong, which is a good thing because as you can see it was in a nominally non smoking location. Anyone who has been to Asia can safely say that it probably still got smoked at plenty, but it isn't full of cigarette ash and butts. It also has a 240v power supply, and a coin mechanism designed for HKD coins.

    As you can see, the control panel is pretty beat up on this one, and it has only one lone button remaining:

    [​IMG]

    I'm planning to replace the buttons and joysticks with some Ultimarc bits I've already acquired so I'm not worried about the missing pieces, but I'll need to look at what can be used from the control panel.

    The Blast City has three access doors at the front -

    [​IMG]

    The top smaller door gives access to the coin mechanism, which can be seen here:

    [​IMG]

    The mechanism accepts coins and gives credits in the game. I'm going to try to hook this into MAME to give the proper feel of dropping coins in and avoid the mashing the credit key playstyle that tends to spoil a lot of games in MAME. As I mentioned this is a HKD coin mech, which I might replace with the yen coin mech from the other machine. A quick test shows its working about 30% of the time, so some love will be needed here.

    The lower door gives access to the coin bucket, which pulls out to be collected by the operator.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Apparently these buckets are pretty rare but both of my machines came with them. No coins came with the cabinet bucket but the cabinet itself has six or so coins strewn about inside it. Inside here is also the coin counter, which is reading 340243 coins -

    [​IMG]

    Approx $56,000 AUD over the life of the machine.

    The larger door gives access to the internals.

    [​IMG]

    Neither of these cabinets came with an arcade cabinet board, and both seem largely unmolested - the advantage with buying from an importer is you don't get someone else's crappy bypass wiring from when they tried to turn it into a SF4 machine. The JAMMA harness looks intact, although I won't know properly until I can take it apart and check. It's moderately dirty but not nearly as bad as some of the others I've seen. You can see the loose coins glinting at the back.

    The PSU is intact and apparently works, but at this stage I'm not sure if I'll make use of it. The challenge is the speaker amplifier is located inside the PSU - not sure if I'll try to drive the speakers directly, figure something out with the PSU or replace them. Ideally I'd like to keep them though.

    The monitor turns out to be another MS-2931, but apparently dead as a doornail. There isn't any visible burn in but it isn't likely to be salvageable (or Highway would have fixed it and sold it). I'll get the experts in to have a look and see if anything can be saved.

    One major PITA - some of the locks have been changed from the Sega originals. I have the coin door and the coin mech key, but I don't seem to have the control panel key which is going to be essential. The main access door has had the lock removed. I'd rather not drill out the locks but I'll see where I get to. The lock might be stuck because there is a Hex Pin security screw in place - I've read that sometimes these screws prevent the cab from being opened regardless of key so it could be that getting rid of the screw will solve my difficulties. Next step is to to find some Hex Pin bits and see what can be done.
     
  3. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Second Cabinet Inspection

    Had a better look at the second cabinet today - overall it is much cleaner and I think I will end up using it as the base machine.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see it actually has the control panel from an older Sega cabinet, the Astro City. The cabinet itself is definitely a Blast City though. The joystick knob is an awesome green colour with little bubbles in it - definitely going to see if there is a way to keep it part of the system.

    This machine only has about 60,000 coin counts in it, so about a third as much use as the first cabinet which was a two coin per credit cab.

    Even better, the locks have been cracked open on this so the control panel opens:

    [​IMG]

    Inside were a bunch of bolts, some mystery parts, some japanese stickers saying player 1 something, player 2 something:

    [​IMG]

    and a little PCB, which turns out to be the security board from a Virtual Striker 2 arcade board:

    [​IMG]

    I'm really wishing I took this one up the stairs when the delivery guy was here instead of the other one, but here we are nonetheless.
     
  4. MyDixiesNormous

    MyDixiesNormous Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Messages:
    2,418
    Location:
    Melb
    I'll be keeping an eye on this build. In planning to do something similar myself or build a cab from scratch and use an LCD for space saving reasons.
     
  5. brodequin

    brodequin Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Central Coast NSW
    hey mate, nice machine I have a sega astro city, im sure you know all this but if you ever run into monitor problems talk to joey (jomac) http://www.jomac.net.au/ he has repaired many chassis for all my machines before and hes cheap

    heres some cool instruction cards for your machine (pretty sure the instruction space is the same on astro and blast)

    https://segamadebaddecisions.wordpress.com/

    and last but not least jump onto aussiearcade if you havent already
     
  6. neolithic

    neolithic Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,298
    Location:
    Northwest Brisbane
    I'm the guy behind Sega Made Bad Decisions - if you have any requests for artwork I'm happy to have a look through stuff I haven't put on there.

    My Astro has an MS9 Nanao in it that requires work - starting to get some horizontal geometry issues/bouncing picture. Probably just need a cap kit, but I'll probably contact Jomac to get it done properly. There's a guy in Everton Park, Brisbane (Paul Ridgway) who did my initial repair work a few years ago, which revealed that my chassis is apparently matched with a slightly incorrect Toshiba tube (can't do 24khz). Still has good convergence and strong colours.

    If you ask me, these Sega candy cabinets are the best for acquiring a stack of different arcade boards - they can be easily refit to suit each game with requisite artwork/etc. I made a quick connect system for easy switches between kick harnesses on Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat - another easy mod well worth doing.

    Fun Fact - My Astro apparently came from the doomed Sega World in Sydney.

    A pic from a few weeks back with an old sign I sourced off eBay:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  7. brodequin

    brodequin Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Central Coast NSW
    hey mate, im pretty sure my astro came from sega world aswell did yours come with the stainless steel dolly to wheel it around.
     
  8. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Thanks for the interest guys, I'm keen to keep everything past the JAMMA interface as original as possible. That way I can use the MAME setup, as well as dropping arcade boards in as needed. Not sure on the controls though - I'm keen to wire these through directly. Regardless I'll keep the JAMMA controller cabling intact.

    The monitor was recapped and repaired by our very own Epic Fatigue, who fixes these in Melbourne. He's also been very helpful with my stupid questions. Aussiearcade has been really handy as well.

    Awesome blog neolithic, have you ever seen any Gundam Blast City art? There was a Gundam game for the system.
     
  9. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Got the control panel open this weekend - my partner managed to lever the internal lock mechanism open through one of the button holes.

    [​IMG]

    Gave it a good clean, but there are a few rust stains in the plastic that are resisting the magic eraser.

    Speaking of rust -

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately the bottom of the panel is rusted through in a couple of places and is beyond repair. The one downstairs is better but its a single player control panel only. This one will need to be replaced.
     
  10. neolithic

    neolithic Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,298
    Location:
    Northwest Brisbane
    You better believe it

    Sadly not I'm afraid.

    Regarding your rusted control panel goes, as far as I know that's a fairly common thing with these cabs as well - I had to scrape years of Coca Cola crust off my own (and replace all the buttons/sticks). There's a guy on eBay selling the Astro one specifically: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Sega-ast...18?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_15&hash=item4191e3cfc2

    Maybe contact him and see if he has any Blast appropriate?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  11. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Thanks for the heads up. I think the Astro city fits so I could probably just use that one and get some new vinyl printed. Easier to get an intact one though.
     
  12. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Got lots done this Sunday after being slightly hungover on Saturday. Went down to the shed pulled the back off and started cleaning the fibreglass chassis. The plate at the bottom is metal which lets the front piece stand on its own. The paint has come up really well, but there are some spots where I'm going to have to get out the appliance touch up paint. Colour matching it is going to be very annoying.

    [​IMG]

    I took the control panel off to give it a clean and get in behind it. The control panels bolt on and off these cabinets, which makes it very easy.

    [​IMG]

    Once I got the control panel off and gave it a good clean, I could see that something was jammed in the coin mechanism. After some more disassembly I found no less than twenty seven 100-yen coins stuck in the bottom of the coin feed. This gives me approximately $30 off my total investment :)

    [​IMG]

    The machine is labeled as fifty yen, but I've only found one fifty yen coin the the whole thing. This needs further investigation.

    After cleaning it up I took it up stairs. The back piece is very light - maybe 15kg total? I'm very glad I got a fibre glass machine. The front was heavier (due to the steel plate) but still manageable.

    I took the control panel and reattached it. The next step was the least pleasant - mounting the screen. This required lifting it from my desk and carrying it to the cabinet, then aligning the bolts to slide the monitor home. The monitor is 90kg, and I had to slowly push it in at chest height. After much swearing and team work it was achieved. I need to go back to the gym.

    [​IMG]

    Looking good. I'm waiting for a J-Pac, which I can use the interface the original controls through the PC. I'll use the single player control panel for now while I source a two player control panel front plate. Should have something sort of playable this weekend!

    [​IMG]

    The parts machine. This machine is almost totally complete, and I'll most likely sell it in the next week or so to get some space back.
     
  13. badmofo

    badmofo Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    Australia
    90kg! Good lord!

    Great work so far, looking forward to seeing it up and running.
     
  14. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Aah thats the shipping weight, I didn't think I was that strong. Actually 50kg :)
     
  15. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    It lives!

    [​IMG]

    The J-Pac arrived today, and I was able to get the controls correctly wired and working. This is really good, because it means the original wiring harnesses are intact and I don't need to find new ones.

    Still need to integrate sound, get the PC inside, and a heap of other things but its really good to get something playable.

    [​IMG]

    If anyone else goes down this path then I really recommend using the J-Pac - it makes things a whole lot easier.
     
  16. Mickatroid

    Mickatroid Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Messages:
    1,560
    Location:
    Canberra
    All looking good. You could try a simple amp based on the TA 2024 chip. They are readily available on ebay for a song. I have had good luck with Sure branded stuff before. I have ordered from their website too. They have a 2024 board on there.

    I did once try and power the amp from a molex connector. The noise levels were horrendous. YMMV ;)
     
  17. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    It has some of the JVS wiring loom, so I have left and right phono connectors. If I use these will it bypass the amp in the PSU?
     
  18. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Also confirmed it is definitely a fifty yen machine so at least 27 of the 64,000 coins dropped into it were the wrong denomination entirely :)
     
  19. Mickatroid

    Mickatroid Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Messages:
    1,560
    Location:
    Canberra
    Honestly not sure about what will bypass what. I can say though that the amp I linked to is a power amp. It has no volume control. It expects a line level input. A headphone level one should work too.

    A classic application for it would be to connect it to a volume controlled MP3 player and then to speakers. If that is not the kind of device you need there are versions with a volume knob.

    Warning though. A full scale line level input will cause the amp to go full bore and might damage your speakers. It really needs to have its input come from a source with full volume adjustment.
     
  20. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Messages:
    530
    Quick update - I've been travelling a bunch recently which has slowed my progress. However, one of those trips was to Japan so I managed to pick up some new buttons to match the originals that came on the Blast City -

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a two player control panel anywhere in Akihabara - there were a couple of intact machines, including this one in Super Potato -

    [​IMG]

    and some new single player panels but not a two player one to be seen. The closest I saw was a two player panel modded into a Supergun but it was about $600 :)

    Instead, I managed to find a guy who is making replica panels in the US, and this is now in the post on the way to me-

    http://thegameroom.com/parts-pinball-arcade-spares.shtml

    I've also ordered a TA 2024 amp and I'm getting some cables custom made to plug into the AMP connectors on the back of the speakers so I can leave them intact. Waiting for the postie this week :)
     

Share This Page