Adi's retro projects

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by adicakes, Nov 20, 2021.

  1. adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    Thought I'd create a separate thread for my refurb and repair worklogs, rather than clog up the shared retro threads. I'll probably bring across my previous worklog style posts so that everything's in the same place. Let's kick things off with...

    Sega Master System - refurb

    The SMS is my favourite console of all time. It was the first games machine I got after Nintendo G&W, and I must've spent 100s of hours on it as a kid. Time to replace the ancient capacitors and voltage regulator in this unit, and give it a good clean up while I'm at it. It's often the case that memories of technology disappoint when you revisit them, but not with this SMS -- it's still as awesome as the day it first came home from Tandy. :leet:

    This is the Australian release which means it's a PAL unit. The great thing about the Master System Power Base (MS1) is that it has in-built RGB output, as well as the Sega Card slot for 3D glasses and the early games which came on card media.
    IMG_20211102_141600939_HDR.jpg

    Decades of dust! Forget dust bunnies, I was met with dust boulders on first opening the casing.
    IMG_20211102_142046272.jpg

    A quick going over with a soft paint brush makes a big difference. Easy gains before the proper PCB clean-up. This is the less common VA3 motherboard revision, made in 1990, which was fairly late in the console's Australian lifespan (but not Brazil!). Metal heatsink still fitted to the left-hand side.
    IMG_20211102_142335266.jpg

    The bottom casing with the motherboard removed. More dust to clean off!
    IMG_20211102_142747272.jpg

    The heatsink unscrewed from the linear voltage regulator (circled) and removed from the motherboard. The white crud on the back of the voltage regulator is dried, powdery thermal (transfer) paste. There was a bunch of dried powder stuck to the heatsink too, which I cleaned off. When the paste is dry and powdery, it's not really working effectively to transfer heat away from the regulator. It's crucially important because linear regulators dissipate power as heat, and they get damn hot. This is why the regulators often fail with their own little Chernobyl recreation.
    IMG_20211102_143125974.jpg

    The original linear regulator is working, but this one's decades old and they're cheap as chips to replace. I'm going to remove this one and fit a fresh LM7805.
    IMG_20211120_165901729.jpg

    Old regulator removed and new one trial fitted. I couldn't just solder it in because it needs to sit at the right height to be screwed onto the heatsink. So, I did things in reverse - temporarily refit the heatsink to set the new regulator's height, then solder the three legs in place.
    IMG_20211120_172410566_HDR.jpg

    New LM7805 regulator soldered into position.
    IMG_20211120_180402995_HDR.jpg

    I used much better quality thermal paste - Artic Silver 5. It's pictured here, thinly spread over the metal backing of the regulator. Unlike the OEM paste, AS5 is conductive, so I had to take care to keep it well away from the component's legs and PCB.
    IMG_20211120_175614308_HDR.jpg

    The heatsink screws were originally secured with hot glue, but that's a bit messy looking for my taste. I scraped off the hot glue and used blue thread locker instead. Blue is medium strength; it'll hold the screws tight, but still allow the screws to be undone later, if needed.
    IMG_20211120_175933019_HDR.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    This motherboard has 18 electrolytic capacitors, and they were all replaced using top brands. The layout map makes the job very straight-forward.
    IMG_20211119_173337344.jpg

    Here is the motherboard with all electrolytic capacitors replaced, voltage regulator replaced, and heatsink fitted. I haven't shown the recapping process here because you've seen it all before.
    IMG_20211120_180627233.jpg

    To clean the cartridge and card slots, I apply DeOxit to a glasses cleaning cloth stretched over some folded carboard. It's just the right thickness to push into the cartridge slot and reach the pins.
    IMG_20211120_180954190.jpg

    Base of the casing cleaned and ready for the refurbed motherboard to go back in.
    IMG_20211120_181242521.jpg

    Motherboard screwed back into the bottom casing.
    IMG_20211120_183857553.jpg

    Top casing fitted and polished using Novus Plastic Polishes. Shiny! :lol:
    IMG_20211120_191644932.jpg

    She boots! :leet: This boot screen is etched into my mind forever. One of the happiest moments of my childhood was seeing it for the first time when my Master System came home after a 10 month lay-by with Tandy. My first console, and first anything-resembling-a-computer. Magic! I'm using a Commodore 1084 monitor here, though just with composite-in. I'm working on SCART for proper RGB...stay tuned. ;)
    IMG_20211120_193539051_HDR.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    My go-to game for initial testing is always Wonder Boy. :)
    IMG_20211120_193030503_HDR.jpg IMG_20211120_193157492_HDR.jpg IMG_20211120_193012406_HDR.jpg

    Fantasy Zone is another Master System favourite. Hours poured into this one, back in the day. :)
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    Shinobi ...yeah, my real ones know where it's at. Shinobi.
    IMG_20211120_193738279_HDR.jpg IMG_20211120_193907990_HDR.jpg

    Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a classic and renowned for its insane difficulty.
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    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  4. Grant

    Grant Member

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    What's on the BIOS? I had a Master System 1 with Hang On in the 90s, when I bought one this decade it was one of the later MS1s that had Alex Kidd (normally found on the Master System 2). The Alex Kidd BIOS didn't have the "Sega jingle" on startup, so I replaced it with an EPROM and flashed an early 32K ROM (the largest it can address without a hardware mapper). The built in game is gone but the jingle is back

    The region mod is just a jumper if you're using RGB as well, if you want to get frustrated at how PAL games weren't optimised for speed.
     
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    This one is from the "Plus Pack" which had the light phaser bundled, and got Hang On and Safari Hunt built-in. And yep, the good thing about the VA3 board is that it's very easy to mod for PAL/NTSC switching, but ...one thing at a time. :)
     
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  6. alch

    alch Member

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    lol I thought this said Aldi :/ damn.

    I got a sega game gear that deserves my attention
     
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  7. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Fantastic stuff - I have the same memory of seeing the BIOS jingle for the first time after bringing it home from Kmart. Ours didn't have a game built in other than snail maze; we got Hang On on a card. That was all we had for a while until we got Double Dragon and After Burner for Christmas - AB pretty quickly forgotten but my brother and I played DD day and night.
     
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  8. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    Sega Game Gear Deluxe Carry Case - restoration

    This was part of an eBay bundle with a Game Gear needing repair and six games. It's the official Sega "Deluxe" case which IMHO is by far the best one around, but not easy to find in Australia nowadays. It looked like it'd been sitting in a shed for 20 years. Time for a resto!

    Covered in dirt and grime, and some splashes of paint too. :tired: I soaked it in a warm enzyme bath for a few hours and gave it a gentle scrub. I used a generic version of Preen Oxy Action powder and a fingernail scrubbing brush so that the scrubbing isn't hard on the fabric.
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    Uh oh...looks like some rodents had a snack on the strap. :(
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    I bought some replacement webbing from a "pet collar supplies shop" (yep) in Tasmania. Re-used the old fittings and did a bit of hand-sewing to make a new strap.
    102612359_10157082771441496_8279054945520376634_n.jpg

    Et voilà! Happy with the result. :leet:
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    G&W Donkey Kong - internals repair and swap

    Recently I sniped an auction for a boxed G&W Donkey Kong in cosmetically great shape, and with all of its original paperwork. Unfortunately it also suffered severe problems with its screens, which is why the price wasn't $300+. Luckily I'd bought a super cheap DK unit earlier in the year, and was able to reach a great outcome for not much money (in G&W terms, anyway ;)).

    Here is the boxed Donkey Kong unit I got from eBay at a great price. Cosmetically, it's in superb condition with just a few light marks on the metal plate. But there's a reason it sold cheaply -- she hides a dark secret...
    240862975_10158026824466496_8151317022455246926_n.jpg

    Argh, severe LCD bleed! I've seen photos of G&W bleed this bad, but never owned one like it myself. The lower screen has a handful of weak sprites too; they display, but at about half the contrast of others. That could be an issue with PCB->LCD contact, but it might also be in the LCD glass itself. On top of the LCD issues, both top & bottom polarizers and reflectors have failed.
    240882491_10158026824336496_126219915088551697_n.jpg

    I knew about the bleed when bidding on the eBay auction, and had a plan...

    Early this year I'd bought another DK unit that, cosmetically, had reached destination: fucked a long time ago. Someone has etched "GO AWAY" on the top with what looks like a protractor; the clasp is broken; a hinge pin is missing; and the back is in rough shape. The 'left' and 'up' D-pad directions didn't work, nor the jump button.

    Despite all that, the unit's screens were good, with clear LCD glass, polarizers and reflectors. :) Surprisingly, the battery cover was still present too. This unit was only $20 -- schwoit! My plan was to fix the control issues with the horrible-looking unit and swap the electronics with the one in super nice cosmetic condition.
    240837217_10158026831331496_3928833848156610323_n.jpg

    First step: redo the solder points circled here, which have dulled and corroded over the years. This sort of corrosion isn't uncommon, even in G&W units that outwardly look mint. G&W casings aren't air-tight, and decades of exposure to the air will have its effects.
    240853291_10158026824116496_7524408620738500684_n.jpg

    Next step: fix the control issues. The jump button just needed a clean. Dampen a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol and gently swab the contact point on the PCB. If the q-tip starts coming away dark black, STOP! That means the conductive ink is being removed, and it's one-way thing.

    An easy way to restore the conductive pad under the buttons is to use the mildly abrasive properties of regular paper. Hold the button flat to the paper and gently run it down the page a few times. DON'T press too hard! We only want to remove a few microns of the pad's surface. There should only be a faint mark left on the page.
    240833949_10158026824061496_2483655324180792501_n.jpg

    The D-pad problems with 'left' and 'up' directions were due to the contact pads on the PCB being almost completely worn away. I used this silver conductive ink to paint new pads where the old ones used to be.
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    New pads circled. They look white, but in real life they're light silver, with a satin metallic finish. The ink doesn't reach full conductivity until it's completely dry, and accelerating the process with a hair dryer helps the final result. I used a thin sheet of metal to separate the hairdryer airflow from everything to the right of it.

    This photo also shows the result of redoing the solder joints mentioned earlier. The corrosion is gone and they're now nice and shiny. I hadn't yet cleaned off the flux in this photo, so it's still a little messy around the solder points.
    240863779_10158026824191496_6204550544782850564_n.jpg

    'Guts swap' completed! I fitted the plastic facias from the nice unit to the repaired electronics and re-assembled things in the spiffy casing. Circled here are the results of soldering the piezo buzzer wires. It's important to use good quality leaded solder, add flux liberally, and work quickly with a hot iron. Smooth and shiny is the goal.
    240832450_10158026824131496_4435107892397627753_n.jpg

    Et voilà! Nice clear screens and dark vibrant sprites. :leet: Controls working great with no change in 'feel' at all. I'm impressed with the condition of the paperwork. It's super flat, unmarked, and unwrinkled. Bloody beauty! The box has sun-faded quite a bit, now more of tangerine than the original orange. I don't mind it, LOL.
    240862250_10158026824566496_4723308143507270559_n.jpg
     
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  11. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    I'd say this is my fav G&W. A boys first true love is never forgotten :lol:

    man, oh wow. thats top work Adicakes :thumbup::thumbup:
    super clean (as usual)
     
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    G&W Manhole - reflector replacement

    It took ages to find a Gold Series Manhole example that didn't have problems in the LCD glass. This one was a bit of a gamble because the failed reflector could be hiding LCD issues. I took a chance, bought it, and things turned out just fine. :) Manhole was later re-released as part of the New Widescreen series with new updated graphics, a bigger screen, and blue casing. Same gameplay mechanics though.

    The oval-shaped staining is indicative of a failed reflector film that sits behind the LCD glass.
    122401637_10157400354011496_692212488849758440_n.jpg 122227768_10157400353906496_5532456911487972238_n.jpg

    Failed reflector (top) compared to new replacement (below).
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    Et voilà! A fairly quick and straight-forward job. :thumbup:
    122377993_10157400354216496_2534931687066388764_n.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    G&W Super Color Crab Grab - refurb

    A boxed G&W Super Color in excellent condition is typically $500+, but I paid a fraction of that because of this game's problems. Cheap and not to hard to fix - that's a win! :) Excuse the 'Bold & Beautiful' photo quality in this set, I didn't realise the lens was dirty when taking the shots. :tired:

    It's a bit hard to see, but this photo shows a speckled, mouldy sort of pattern over the screen, most obvious in the middle area. That will be a failed reflector film. Also, the game is actually powered-on here -- the graphics are very, very faded. That's a sign of a failed polarizer film which sits above the LCD glass.
    118233448_10157276488816496_6454493390084910752_n.jpg

    Disassembled, it's easy to see just how bad the original reflector film (left) had deteriorated. The new, replacement film is on the right.
    118319986_10157276488826496_1881212304939735068_n.jpg

    The "Color" in "Super Color" games just comes from a translucent layer of plastic that sits above the LCD. This photo shows the two top-most layers (left) and the new polarizer film (right). The polarizer is not really tinted that dark -- it's just the protective films I hadn't yet removed.
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    New reflector and polarizer fitted. I cleaned the button contacts and interior casing while things were apart.
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    Et voilà! All back together and she's ready to rock! :leet:
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    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    G&W Green House - polarizer and reflector replacement

    The seller of this G&W Green House unit was a good guy to deal with. He'd been told by a prospective buyer that the top screen has LCD bleed. I couldn't tell for sure, but my gamble was that it was actually a reflector film that'd failed worse than others I've seen. We negotiated a fair price to reflect the chance I was taking, and as it goes luck was on my side.

    Here's the unit as I received it. Hard to tell what's really going on with the screens. The reflector has certainly failed, but it's failed so badly that other problems in the LCD (like bleed) could be hidden. Reflectors don't usually go this dark when they fail, which is why it was a gamble.
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    Popped the casing open and yep - the reflectors are cactus. Here's the top one.
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    New reflectors and polarizers fitted top & bottom and she's good to go! I sold this unit onto a good mofo at-cost. :thumbup:
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  15. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    I know your day job is in research, I just didn't know it was researching G&W :lol::lol:

    Lovely work :thumbup: and a great fun game too
     
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  16. mR_CaESaR

    mR_CaESaR Member

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    Oh man! Literally my childhood just flashed before my eyes!

    The 4 most epic games on the console!

    Amazing effort!
     
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    G&W Ball - repair

    Ball was the very first Game & Watch model released (28/4/1980). This unit was new to the buyer who ran into problems with it, and approached me for repairs. It was non-trivial to repair but I got there in the end.

    Here is the unit as it arrived. The screen films could use a clean, but it's got much bigger problems. A battery terminal has snapped off, and one of the piezo buzzer wires has broken.
    240515139_10158032885731496_5514807605268950394_n.jpg

    The metal tab circled should be soldered to the 'finger' of PCB to the left of the circled area. The tab has broken off and taken the PCB pad with it. The the underside of the battery clip (right-hand side) is brown -- that's a layer of fibreglass that was lifted off the board. Destination: fucked!

    I've seen this happen a few times with Silver series games. The main reason is that when people disassemble the unit to replace polarizer/reflector films, they unscrew the PCB then lever it up from the bottom edge, instead of lifting it straight up. When the board is levered against the top edge, it puts a heap of twisting force on the top tab and snaps the soldered pad off the PCB. Always lift UP!
    240601868_10158032886186496_6326745475960722964_n.jpg

    When I cleaned the old solder off the detached battery terminal, this is what floated off it. The original copper pad from the PCB.
    240092676_10158032886256496_8485847101634908815_n.jpg

    Yep, the news is bad. That brown area of PCB circled is just bare fibreglass board. There should be a copper pad there, which is what the battery terminal was originally soldered onto. In this case, it's the negative battery terminal. The bare board won't take solder, of course, so I'll need to do something else.
    240597471_10158032886111496_5119404524582445533_n.jpg

    There are a few options. I could glue the terminal back onto the board and solder a bodge wire that connects it to another negative point on the board, e.g. the test pad circled red. Or, I could create a closer solder-able point by removing a small area of solder mask - the orange rectangle within the yellow circle. I chose the latter option because it's closer to original, and a bodge wire would be tricky to get clear of the gameplay button and screen connection.

    I scraped away a little solder mask to see how well the trace would take solder. The test solder went well, pictured here, so I cleaned it off and created a slightly larger, rectangular shape.
    240345792_10158032886081496_758753719933559279_n.jpg

    With the solder mask removed, there was an area I could use to solder the battery terminal back into place. To give the join some extra strength, I added a few dots of cyanoacrylate on top and underneath, and hit it with kicker.
    239685054_10158032886016496_7456596395966885687_n.jpg

    The next job is to fix the piezo buzzer connections. The circled area on the buzzer was corroded, so I cleaned that off and redid the join. The bare end that's floating in the air has to be resoldered to the PCB.
    240528842_10158032885701496_725764370317090010_n.jpg

    First I have to remove the old solder and strands of wire that are still trapped in the hole.
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    Solder sucker to the rescue! The connection point is all cleaned up and ready to have the wire soldered back in.
    239853429_10158032885896496_4418867463654861927_n.jpg

    The piezo buzzer wire is reconnected. Throughout the course of working on this unit, the red piezo wires broke off too. They're so old, even just a bit of movement creates metal fatigue. I ended up redoing all of the buzzer solder points afresh.
    240672615_10158032885796496_2249880766432415799_n.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    Et voilà! The unit is back together and the battery terminal is looking good. It's very important to use LR43 batteries for units that recommend it on the back plate. LR44 batteries are too tall, and will eventually crack the battery cover, back casing, and/or flatten the terminals.
    240188875_10158032886226496_8041061239141036359_n.jpg

    Out of traction and back in action. :leet:
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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
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    adicakes

    adicakes Member

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    G&W Super Color - scratch removal

    I got this Super Color cheap because it had a couple of deep scratches on the outer screen. The biggest one was distracting during gameplay. I knew there was a good chance of restoring the screen using a multi-step cut and polishing process. Turned out very nicely. :)

    The scratches. By far the worst one was to the lower-right. I could feel it with my fingertip, and it's right over prime real estate for the graphics.
    107664231_10157163526501496_1871604343074238260_n.jpg

    Mask off the screen area and start with reasonably aggressive cutting compound to remove a tiny layer of surface, levelling out the area surrounding scratches.
    107144735_10157163526206496_7289859822922942791_n.jpg

    Deep scratches gone! This is after the second stage, which is a light cut/polishing compound to remove hazing bought about by the first stage.
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    Final stage - shine and protection.
    109102003_10157163526336496_8454648824371945858_n.jpg

    Et voilà! Scratches eliminated and a shiny screen surface restored. :leet:
    109199454_10157163526471496_2638500212947237867_n.jpg
     
  20. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    man, so much sweet repair in this thread. exellent work as always. :D
     

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