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Tools you'll need:
Secondly, all the information provided on this page is provided with the understanding that if you use this information to modify your game, it is At Your Own Risk. Although modifying my game has worked splendidly well, it might cause yours to blow up, catch fire, or run off with your wife. I accept no liability of any kind by providing this information, provide no warranty for this information, provide no guarantee of correctness or statement of fitness, or in general accept any legal responsibility for the use of this information.
With that said, I do actually believe that this will work in most pinball machines. I just don't want to get sued if your machine makes off with your house and burns your wife down. So keep that fire extinguisher handy, just in case! :)
First, get that curly ramp out of the game.
There's no way around it; we're going to be doing too much work around the pop bumpers to avoid it. See how much
area it frees up when we remove the curly ramp from the game?
After you get the curvey ramp out of the game, don't take off the lower pop bumper cap just yet. Instead, open the game and lift the playfield. If you live in an alternate universe, Gary Stern will pop out of the cabinet and help you do the rest of the project! But since we all live in the real world, don't hold your breath; Gary isn't in there. :)
On the bottom side of the playfield, take out and remove the pop bumper light board. Now I
know all of you are thinking, "Hey! I thought the whole point of the project was to add lights
to the pop bumpers, now you're saying there's a pop bumper light board?" Well there is, kind of. I'm talking about the
board that lights up the lightning bolts near the pop bumpers. Here's a before and after so you know what
I'm talking about:
Put the playfield back down and remove the lower bumper cap. Put it and its screws somewhere safe; you'll need them eventually. While we're here, take a phillips screwdriver and tighten the two screws that hold the bumper to the game; that will prevent vibration from blowing your bulbs out quickly. Next, take one of the sockets and feed each one of the leads through the two small holes. Although it doesn't look like they'll fit at first glance, they will. Feed the socket through as far as it will go. Don't worry if you can't get the socket in all the way because we'll be pulling it through from the bottom side. Here's a picture so you can see what I'm talking about:
Now we need to go back to the underside of the game again, so put the playfield back up. (You'll be doing a lot of playfield
lifting during this project!!) You should see one of the socket leads sticking out from around the coil. The other socket lead will be
stuck between the coil and the coil bracket. Obviously, this isn't where we want it to be. So grab your long nose pliers, and
pull the lead out. I'm not even going to try and write a better description, because once you see a picture, it'll all make sense:
The next thing to do is to solder a wire to each one of the socket leads. For clarity, I used red and black wire, but let your muse be your guide. It's pretty straightforward; strip the end of the wire, wrap it around the lead tightly, and then solder. Make sure the wire you solder on is of considerable length (24" or better), so that you can try and route the wire through the game's existing wiring harnesses when you're done with the project. Personally, I like soldering the wire very close to and/or touching the staple, to give the staple a little extra physical binding to the socket lead.
Note: Since there are no diodes in this circuit, polarization doesn't matter. If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it; it's only here for those of us who've done a lot of work on pinball machines and remember that everything (or almost everything) in a game has a diode on it. These pop bumper coils do not, so it doesn't matter which way you solder the light bulb on, nor which way the current flows through the circuit.
For good measure, put some electrical tape over the leads. It doesn't look that pretty,
but better safe than sorry:
OK, so now we have a socket with wires, and wires coming off of the pop bumper coil itself for power. Now we need to
connect the two. Here's the general idea of the circuit we're trying to construct. No jokes about my bad (sic) drawrering ability; I know I suck.
Here's where the two barrier strips come in. Since we need two resistors per bumper, and
we have three bumpers, we need six connections. Good thing we bought the six connector barrier
strips! The easiest (and cleanest) way to go about this is to bend the tabs on all six resistors
so that they're just long enough to attach to the barrier strip on each end. Do that for all
six, and you'll create a fairly compact resistor block. Check it out:
Then mount the resistor block to the bottom of the playfield using screws. I had to float mine above a t-nut, but I don't think this is a big problem. (If you put yours in the same place, put some electrical tape on the T-nut to avoid rubbing.) It's a small miracle that there was enough free space down there to mount something this large! I guess CFTBL really was meant to have something in the bumpers, after all.
Once you have the resistor pack mounted, you're pretty much home free. Take the two wires from the socket, and (using the barrier strip) connect one to a 10 ohm resistor, and connect the other to a 50 ohm resistor. It does not matter which goes where. Then, take the power wires from the bumper, and connect one of them to the other side of the 10 ohm resistor, and the other to the second side of the 50 ohm resistor.
You're done! Or at least, for that bumper you're done. You still have two other bumpers to do, but the method is identical.
Once you've wired up the bottom bumper, of course you need to test it! That's where all the fun is! Start the machine, and go into the solenoid test mode. Stop the test, and advance it to the lower jet bumper. Put it on repeating test and watch that light flash every time that bumper fires!
This is a pretty easy project to do, and requires relatively little game modification. But remember the old saying, nothing in life is free? Well, that applies here too. It's almost free, but not quite.
The caveat is that the first time any of the bumpers fire, or if they haven't fired for say 10 seconds, the first flash isn't very bright. It's because that bigass coil that thwarted my analysis attempts in the electrical section takes up the majority of the juice. The electricity sees a big 60 ohm resistance versus almost zero resistance, and of course takes the path of least resistance. (Wow, finally someone uses that saying in an entirely correct manner!) This is normal, and there isn't anything we can do about it without increasing the complexity of the project by several times.
It does look a smidge weird, if you notice it. Most people don't notice it, but of course since I'm pointing it out here, you'll definitely notice it. :) Just in case you wanted to see what I'm talking about before tearing up your CFTBL, I whipped together a quickie video showing pretty clearly the first "dim" flash, so you can get a baseline of what to expect. 907K MPEG Video
But lest you think it was all for naught, here's a video showing the circuit in action. I think it adds a dramatic flair to the bumpers, and I can live with the first hit not being so bright. 1.2M MPEG video
Note: this is not the same video as I originally posted to rec.games.pinball. It's a better one, and in mpeg format so those among us who are windows-impared can enjoy the goodness too. Not only that, but the original video I posted had the exposure on the camera turned up too high, so it slightly misrepresented the brightness acheived with this mod. (It also made the flashes appear white, instead of red!) So I'm much happier with this video, as I think it more honestly represents the results from this modification.
Someone asked me (and to be fair, they had no idea what went into the project) if I was going to do a kit for this modification. My initial reaction is no; it's < $10 in parts, and that's if you buy them retail from the Shark. It's even less if you go through a mail order electronics house. There's nothing really remarkable in here, and I'd want something for my time to make up a kit. So I guess the answer is no, unless maybe someone wants to buy 200 of them for $20. Then I'd think about it. :)
As I sort-of insinuated on the intro page, this isn't the only game of mine I've modified. However, it is the only modification I've bothered to write up as a how-to. This document is pretty much feeling out the waters for the demand for this type of document.
The gist is if you like this document and want more like it, speak up! NOW! Either drop me some email (in case you can't figure it out, my username is thekorn, at (@) hotmail.com) or post a shout out to rec.games.pinball.
Of course, if I've made any mistakes on the pages (typos, spelling mistakes, using metric units, things like that) please also drop me a line so I can correct it.
If you want to go back to the electrical info page, click here.
To continue on to the questions and answers page, click here