Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Naughty Venice

Naughty Bally Venice Bingo. Issues and a operator hack...

Bally Venice Bingo

In my previous post, I published a long play video of my Bally Venice bingo machine being played.

If you are part of the 11% of the viewers that watched the end of the video... You might have wondered why I didn't play for extra balls.

To summarize the last game played:

I get the  Numbers lit in All 4 star zones score 450 feature lit.

I start chucking some balls: I hit the *16, then hit green 19, then *1, then red 2... 

And the last ball lands in *17. That's 3 out of 4 star numbers lit. The camera is still rolling (figuratively speaking). 

I figure I should try punting for extra balls and try to skill shot it, *6 is easy enough to hit.

All my quarters are played with zero credits left on the register but I remember I have a few Quarters in my pocket. I fish out my quarters. Press the yellow button before dropping the coin for extra balls and nothing happens! The yellow button is dead. Dead dead deadski.

Is it supposed to do that, like some kind of devious feature, or did the machine just pack up?

I press the R button in a lame attempt. Hoping that it would shake up the machines Goldbergian innards, but no dice.

I turn off the camera, edit out the last part of the video and I start investigating.

Now that I gave you the play by play. Here's the unadulterated ending of my bingo session.

Let's go straight to the point: The machine did pack up.

That's what I get for not going over the whole machine when I first got it and not playing the game for long periods of time. But it did give me the chance to study the manual and schematics and find some hacks along the way.

After making the video, playing a few games, the yellow button had multiple symptoms apart from the aforementioned dead yellow button:

Sometimes the yellow button would work, but switching between red button and yellow button mode with zero credits on the register... the switching would be difficult.

Sometimes, pressing the yellow button would start a new game instead of playing for extra balls.

Sometimes, once the game was in play for extra balls mode, pressing the red button would play for extra balls instead of starting a new game.

What a mess! I was dealing with multiple intermittent issues. Assuredly multipoint failure.

The suspects were the red button relay, the actual switches on the red button and those on the yellow button too, the before 5th selector lock trip and the extra ball #1 and #2 trips. 

I started with the red button relay... I open the back door to find the relay just dangling.

This is embarrassing.

On the bright side I don't have to unscrew the relay from the board to service it. 

I cleaned the switch points and checked the switch gaps. Then I used beefier screws to secure the relay to the board.

That resulted in no improvements whatsoever on my red / yellow button issues.

Next was cleaning and adjusting of the red and yellow button switches. These switches are finicky AF. The order in which the switches open or close is super critical.

Here's an excerpt from the manual. 

Checking the red and yellow button switches had a marginal effect on the problems.

Next thing to look at was the before 5th selector lock trip.

I was inspecting the trip bank when I noticed a tucked away cut green and black wire near the top of the trip bank. Then I found that the green-black wire went to the 4 star numbers score 900 trip coil. Naughty operator hack.

Might as well fix it. Not my prettiest work but it's functional.

I always wondered why the 4 star pays 900 panel was all scratched up on the backglass. Now back to the yellow button mystery.

I took apart the switch stack that has the normally open switch with the red on one side and the blue white wire on the other. Cleaned the switches... and they were grubby. But that had little effect on my problem.

At this point, play testing the game it seemed like it had gotten worse. Consistently. At the end of a game, pressing the yellow button to play for extra balls would start a new game. That meant the extra ball #1 and #2 trip relays were not tripping when yellow button switch 1 was first closed. Directly actuating the switch in the stack confirmed this. I didn't hear the unmistakable click of the relay trip.

At first I suspected a open circuit between the door and the trip relays but that measured good with the multimeter.

So I went upstream in the circuit and I found it. Turns out it was the timer cam index 16c that was out of adjustment.

The 16C switch in situ.

Since then Venice has been playing great... until the next failure. It has 400 pounds of wiring and relays just waiting to fail.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Bally Venice bingo (1968) long play

Bally Venice Bingo long play

I can't say I play this game a lot. But that could be said of all of my games. It's a shame, Venice being such a rare title.

I made a typical long play video of Venice. Typical... I end up not winning anything.

Venice is an electro-mechanical juggernaut of a bingo machine, with 4 transistors for the special game as the cherry on top.

This game is so heavy that it's land locked in my workshop area. It's been there since 2017. Like most 20 hole games, it's not very fun to play imho. But I like it anyway. I remember coveting this game so badly, the machine hiding in a dusty Ville Saint-Laurent warehouse "attic".

Thank your R.A.B. for making this game part of my collection. Wherever you may be.

Here are some older posts about Venice

More Pictures

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Bally Key West Bingo: stacking features for a sweet win

 I was playing my 1956 Bally Key West Bingo machine the other day.

Sitting in front of the machine in my basement. Drinking PBR, listening to The Smiths and contemplating the state of the world. Cheerful stuff...

Playing... Coining up the game. Chucking balls. More coins, more balls. More coins... and suddenly I was rewarded with a conjunction of lit features: 

Magic squares A, B and C. Select-A-Score feature and "Press Buttons After shooting 5th Ball" via the rollover. This is my favorite feature combination on Key West and more or less the only reason I keep this game.

So all I had to do was shoot a winning combination on a red or yellow line and somehow hit the bottom left rollover and I'm golden. Doable... and I did it.

The beauty of this feature combination is that once you collected in one color (red or yellow), by pressing a button on the foot rail and select the other score option you can collect in the second color, even after the 5th ball has entered play (but before a 6th ball). A 3 in line ended up paying the princely sum of 24 credits. 16 with red and 8 with yellow. (1.20$ in nickels) woot!

Let the pictures do the rest of the explaining. It's very straightforward once you know the bingo lingo.

šŸŽµSo you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own. And you go home...šŸŽµ

Monday, September 12, 2022

Keeney Mountain Climber (1967) Revisited and repaired

Keeney's Mountain Climber 1967 Upright Flasher Slot Machine.

OG followers of my blog might remember I got this machine back in 2016.

2016: Seems like a long time ago... I had more hair (but it was shorter), more faith in humanity and less machines.

I got the game in the first place because of the IEE (pronounced "I double E") Panasocpe displays. Since then it mostly sat in the "storage" part of my basement.

Weird view of the panascope displays

Recently I was bored without a project so I decided to take the game out of storage and get it working properly.

I tried to recall my 2016 mindset that rationalised it was better to just stick the game in storage and forget about it rather than fix it. I think it came down to too many projects on the go, the general condition of the machine and the fact I had way less parts on hand. Back then I thought it wasn't worth the parts "investment". Now, it's different, I can literally pick up parts off the floor of my shop. The place is a mess of parts.

To misquote Raoul Duke: 

There was evidence in this room of excessive consumption repairs of almost every type of drug coin operated device known to civilized man since 1544 AD 1936.

What are Mountain Climber's features?

  • The cabinet's design makes it a superb beverage shelf.

  • It has panascope displays
  • It has a hold feature for each symbol window. What the machine calls "Skill Stop" but not in the same way as modern-ish pachislo games have a skill stop.
  • Arrows are wild. That means arrows can replace any other symbol to make a winning combination.

Arrow Bell Arrow registers as 3 Bells

  • It has a double or nothing gamble feature with the mountain climber... I guess you could call it an animation of the climber' perilous ascension to the summit.
Once the player gets a winning combination, the machine prompts the player to choose either to take the score or play for double or nothing, then again for double-double and double-double-double. That's potentially 8 times the payout of the original win... or nothing.

Once the double or nothing button is pressed, the back lighting of the panels cycles from left to right and back until it ultimately stops on a panel determining if you got double or nothing.

Each double win advances the back lighting of the plateau payout column. First plateau is Regular win. Fourth plateau is a double-double-double win

Here's a clip *not my video* of the double or nothing feature from Keeney's Mountain Climber from SLOTS 'R FUN CASINO

Features continued...
  • 3 melons or 3 arrows or a combination of melons and arrows pays out as bonus tokens (Gold Award Payout). Originally those combinations would pay out from a separate payout unit one or more special tokens each worth 100 credits to be redeemed by an attendant. Cool feature but it was removed on my game.šŸ˜  
Gold award payout details from the manual

As it is in my machine, the melons / arrow combinations just lite a "BONUS" panel on the glass in the mountain chalet once collect score button is pressed. Future project for this machine might be to find a substitute for the gold award payout solenoid.

Back in the day in a Quebec tavern the way it was operated you would get the attendant's attention in the bar and they would pay you directly (that's my best guess).

  • Inside the coinbox compartment there's 3 meters and an adjustment knob to make the game more or less generous.

Meters: Cash payout, Coin and Total Gold Award

Knob and dial for Liberal / Conservative adjustment 

Adjustment details from the manual

So what's wrong with my Mountain Climber?

  • The cabinet is a mess and is currently, and has been for the last 5 years, resting on a movers dolly.

  • The double or nothing feature unit was damaged.

  • It's a european market re-import, still with the british pre-decimal sized coin chute. Not a problem but the game is well travelled. 

  • It has the wrong handle... from a Bally flasher.

  • The glass is roached.

  • The Panascope displays are faded.
  • Someone added a credit button for previous home use. That's OK. It works, I'll keep it that way.
  • The machine was "converted" for the Quebec gambling machine laws of the time:
That is the payout hopper and the bonus payout solenoid were removed. Furthermore, the wiring was altered so that the replay register resets back to zero by way of the impulse unit when the machine is turned off and then back on to knock off the credits. Despite being modified, I have to presume the game was funcional at some point before being decommissioned. 


The repairs:

I remember back in 2016 cleaning most of the relay switch points, cleaning the flasher discs and unjamming the clutch washers, changing the lamps on the IEE displays, then I remember it played like crap and just put it away.

Looking at the game now with eyes 6 years older and some experience acquired along the way... this is what I found was wrong with the machine:

Erratic credit unit: The credit unit is from a Bally machine (but that's not a problem): However, the credit unit step up coil was weak, causing the credit wheels to go up and down erratically when adding up a win. Furthermore the points on the score impulse relay that pulses the step up coil were excessively pitted and had to be filed down.

The double or nothing feature registered intermittently: You would land on double and it would register nothing every once in a while. 

That was caused by the wiper disc on the double or nothing unit being no longer centered with the wiper assembly due to the trauma the unit sustained at some point. That caused the wipers to not being able to touch the contacts they were meant to about 180 degrees out of 360.

That unit sustained a good hit judging by the damage

The wiper motor shaft, the wiper unit and the wiper disc are all supposed to be precisely centered relative to each other.

To fix I bent two of the 3 still usable posts spacing the disc with a beefy pair of pliers, checked it and gave it a "good enough". All the contacts and wiper arms touching when they're supposed to.

I know the 2016 me would have cringed at using brute force like that from fear of making it worse but the way I look it now, the unit was already screwed as it was, might as well try to wing it.

Incorrect scoring or no scoring at at: Took apart the step up and reset arms for both the plateau unit and the commutator unit. Cleaned and lubed the moving parts. Both units were excessively gummed up and both needed a new coil stop and plunger spring for the reset coil. Mid 50's Bally stepper unit coil stops were a perfect fit. Also, part of the step up arms were bent out of shape from excessive actuation causing the units not to reset properly at the start of a new "spin cycle" after collecting a win. Again, bent the parts back into shape. 

Gross looking unit needs a good cleaning.

3 Oranges would score 9 instead of 10: That's a weird one... a segment of wire to the last contact for the 10 win was intentionally cut by some d.p.o. on the back of the commutator unit disc. Easy fix with a tiny bit of wire and a gob of solder.

Each win has it series of contacts

Gameplay Impressions:

I have to say I like this game. I didn't think much of it at first but Mountain Climber is very entertaining to play.

There's a lot of interaction between the player and the game, compared to Super Wild Cat and Little Buckaroo.

The hold feature is fun and engaging and the double or nothing all the way to double double double adds extra zest and danger to the gameplay experience.

It has a bell with the most charming chime that rings every time you get a winning combination or successfully gamble the double or nothing feature.

One funny thing is how the melons on the payout scale dont look like the Panascope symbol. Actually none of the panascope symbols (except for the bell and lemons) look like the ones on the glass. Like they were created by two separate art departments that didn't talk to each other.

A bit more reading and viewing

A 2016 post I wrote about fixing my first Upright: Keeney Little Buckaroo

An old school webpage about Games, Inc. "The Hunter":