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15th December 2018
A few months ago a couple of DoDonPachi DaiOuJou PCBs came in for repair. They had been purchased as non-working boards. One had major damage and corrosion on the large video chip. To make it worse, someone had also removed all of the SOP44 ROMs and seemingly tried to put them back with their eyes shut, or in the dark or something O_o
Here's a few pics of the worst one which I'll try to repair now.... OMG what a nightmare!!
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

and here's what it looks like after removing the video chip.... looks like a bomb went off under the chip!
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

This kind of serious chip and pad damage does not just happen by itself. Someone with no brains, no skill and no equipment tried to repair it and basically scrapped it as soon as they touched it. Several of the tiny 0.5mm pads have been lifted and were just hanging on by a few microns.
WOW! Talk about the biggest loser... this guy must have won the competition!
It is going to be a big challenge to get this thing going and stretch my Guru-Skills to the limit!

First thing to do is clean up the board and fix the pads. After a few hours of delicate work it was done. I scraped the corrosion off the pads, straightened the bent/lifted pads then patched the one missing pad with the thinnest piece of wire I could find (~0.15mm). Hopefully it would stay there when remounting the chip. It's not perfectly clean but several pads were loose so I could not clean the area too much otherwise those pads would fall off. If that happened the repair job would become even more difficult. It's a miracle only one pad was missing!
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

The board was ready to accept the chip but there's a dilemma. Should I put back the original chip... did I want to spend hours straigtening all those tiny legs on that really bad looking old chip and was it blown up? Experience tells me it was probably dead and I doubt the PCB pads could take the re-mounting and removal of the chip if it didn't work first time. So an executive decision was made. A good working chip must be sourced from some other PCB. Fortunately there are several other non-Cave games using that chip so the owner promptly bought a donor PCB and had it shipped to me.

The good chip was removed and mounted onto the PCB. This was a very tedious, delicate job. It required several hours of intense concentration and is an experience I would like to forget ever happened, so I'm going to skip the details and just show the
re-mounted good chip....
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

I suppose it came out ok in the end, but we're not done yet. The SOP44 ROMs had to be removed and read to make sure they were ok. They had to be removed anyway because of the previous poor hack job done to them so I figured I would read them anyway while they were off the board. Luckily all the ROMs were ok. However after removing the ROMs and cleaning up the PCB pads it was clear there was more damage and nearly every ROM had at least one lifted pad! Arrgghh!! Fortunately only one pad was missing and it was an unused pad. The remaining pads were hanging on by their fingernails so I just straigtened them, rolled my eyes in disgust and imagined I didn't see it.
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

After remounting all the ROMs it was now ready for the first power-up.
Would it work or was it still dead? Would it just blow up?.....
3...2...1.... power-on... hold breath!!!
Sigh!! It works!!
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

So first I had to test it to make sure it works fully. I coined it up and hit start and it appeared to be working. I started playing it and I'm thinking 'this is great' but then I noticed I couldn't move backwards! Damn! I went into the test mode and checked the controls and sure enough the down movement didn't work. First I suspected the I/O chip (IGS026) because it was also in bad condition but fortunately had not been touched by our Biggest Loser winner. It appeared to have been affected by the battery. In case you didn't realise, these boards have a Ni-CD barrel battery on them. If you have been following my previous work and repairs, you will know that is bad news for any PCB. If you own one of these boards you should immediately get that battery off the board before it kills it if you haven't already done it. On this particular board the battery had already been removed but there were remnants of corrosion around the area where it once was. So I removed the I/O chip, cleaned it up and remounted it onto the PCB. Tested again but still no go with back movement. I traced the down signal from the JAMMA connector to a few resistor networks but they checked out ok on the multimeter resistance test. I looked more closely at the edge connector and noticed the green solder mask was slightly darker at the place where it meets the JAMMA pad so I suspected a broken track caused by the leaking battery and doing a continuity test with multimeter confirmed a break in the trace. I scraped off the old solder mask and then the break was visible. For some reason the JAMMA pads had some of the gold plating flaking off too so I scraped that a bit and ran some old solder wick over it to clean it up. Using old solder wick and pushing down while heating with soldering iron allows the solder to stick to the pads and re-coats it so tiny imperfections are filled in. I patched the track with a small piece of wire and re-tested. Success, now down was working.
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

I went back to test mode and checked everything and noticed button 3 was not working. I checked the edge connector again looking for another broken track and sure enough found that the trace at the button 3 JAMMA pad was broken. I patched that like the previous one, but this time instead of running the patch wire back to the via I simply patched the trace directly. This looks MUCH neater. If you have to patch a break in a track or a bad via do it right there where the break is, don't run ugly long wires across the PCB!
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

I went back to test mode and verified all controls were now working. Job done!
Here's a few pics of the game fully working and the final pic showing the PCB fully repaired. The last pic is very large. First click the arrows at the bottom right corner to expand the pic to full size, then you can scroll around and look at the PCB using the mouse by left clicking and holding then moving the mouse.
Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair Cave DoDonPachi DaiOuJou repair

Another successful Guru-Repair! Fortunately it was sent to me otherwise it would definitely have been scrapped.


2nd December 2018
Well well, seems it was added and then removed.... like the hoarders (Shoutime and Co.) own the IP or something and have the power to stop distribution LOL! I don't think so... in other words, src + ROMs are available LOL!!
If Sega were concerned they would also not be happy about the other 1000 Sega games in MAME including several other 'Sonic' games. Of course they are not worried and don't care. The game is 28 years old and is a pretty poor effort which is why it failed at the test location.
You guys are funny. Better luck next time losers. Oh and thanks for an excuse to direct an inordinate amount of traffic to my site, it's great for publicity... thanks guys! :-D

So.... to get it going, in your MAME source tree, simply replace the original segac2.cpp file with the file in the zip, re-compile MAME then put the ROMs in your MAME ROMs dir.
Result..... instant Sonic Bros. LOL!!
Since it's an unprotected set, I'm sure the ROMs could be used to convert a C2 arcade PCB too....
Get it while it's hot because in a week or two this will be just another shitty arcade game 'Columns' rip-off and will be totally forgotten.


26th November 2018
A couple of years ago an unreleased Sega C2 game surfaced. It was shown on the net and at some arcade shows and hoarded by the usual people so no ROMs have become available..... until now ;-)
One of the hoarders even tried to scare anyone else with the ROMs to keep them secret by spreading rumours that the men in black would come looking for them if they leaked the ROMs! LOL!
The Bottom line is this is another game rescued from the clutches of hoarders and will be coming to MAME very soon.....
Sega Sonic Bros., unreleased prototype Sega Sonic Bros., unreleased prototype Sega Sonic Bros., unreleased prototype

While I'm on the subject of arcade PCBs, a large box of PCBs arrived from Korea recently. Some are to re-dump ROMs of games that had bad ROMs and some are totally undumped games. As for what they are, you'll just have to wait ;-)
New PCBs that arrived in November 2018 New PCBs that arrived in November 2018

In other news, the Sega Sonic System 32 trackball interface PCB was so popular that I completely sold out of stock so I have got another batch of PCBs made. If you missed out on the first batch today is your lucky day ;-)

I have also been working on a few PCB projects. There are a few NVRAM boards available for use in pinball machines that normally use a 5101 or 6116 static RAM to hold settings and high scores and a nasty NiCad battery to keep the RAM powered. Unfortunately they are priced out of reach of most people even though there is very little to it, just a PCB and a RAM LOL!
A buddy asked if I could make some so I made my own budget design and it works very well :-)
The 2nd pic shows the 6116 NVRAM installed in my 6803-based pinball machine (Eight Ball Champ). This series of machines needs around 50 settings correctly set or the machine doesn't work at all. The little adapter is almost invisible but it's the tiny thing just above the red push button.
This allows highscore and settings to be saved so a back-up battery is no longer needed so I removed the back-up battery from my PCB completely :-)
NVRAM adapter for 5101 and 6116 RAM NVRAM adapter for 5101 and 6116 RAM


6th October 2018
I've been busy doing mostly non-arcade repairs to some Amigas (one rare and special Amiga took 3 months to be documented here soon!) and other unrelated things for the last few months and making some PCB designs. I was recently given a fancy but dead PC monitor. But this is no ordinary monitor, it's a LG 34" UltraWide Curved Gaming Monitor, model 34UC79G. Seems to be still a current product and is listed on the LG web site at AU$1349. This kind of thing is really only for serious gamers that have plenty of money to throw around, the average Joe will never see something like this except at a large computer or electronics chain store.
LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor

Since this is such a rare beast I'm going to document my repair and I guarantee the end repair will surprise you ;-)
The problem with it is it's dead. It's pretty sad that something that is only just 2 years old and was incredibly expensive is now dead. It's also pretty sad to see even Korean stuff is now made in China. To make it worse I didn't have the power supply and it's a strange connector... great! :-/
After some research I discovered the power supply and connector is almost identical to the PSU used by some Sony VAIO laptop models, namely the P-series. By luck I have a Sony VAIO P here so I plugged in the power supply and tested it. The LED on the PSU came on for 1 second then went off. This is a sign of a short on the main power input. I opened the case to discover there's only 1 board inside.
LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor

If you check the PCB pic you'll see there's not much on the PCB. Even better there's no BGA chips... WOW! this might even be easy to fix. After checking some parts with my multimeter set on continuity I confirmed there was a short between ground and the input voltage (19VDC). When diagnosing a power short fault, the usual thing to do is to hook up a bench-top power supply and give it a small voltage with very low current like 0.05A or 0.1A and see if anything gets hot. Normally by spraying freeze spray on it before and watching to see where the freeze spray warms up. It's a fairly stock technique used by a lot of professional repairers and there's a lot of videos on youtube showing the technique. Unfortunately I don't have a bench top power supply so I had to do it the ghetto way. So not knowing anything about this monitor and finding no repair logs online (likely because it is rare and expensive and few 'gamers' would own one and be skilled enough to repair it), I proceeded to remove a few parts like surface mounted capacitors (known to short in iPhones etc) to see if the short went away... it didn't. But worse every part was seriously difficult to remove, even tiny surface mounted capacitors were held on with a tarzan grip! Obviously this PCB has at least 4 layers, but possibly 6 or 8 layers would not be surprising on such a new product. After removing over 20 parts I wasn't getting anywhere :-/

So what to do now?..... Obviously start looking up parts on Google and find out what they do! Fortunately there are not many parts on the PCB. After checking out a few parts I was getting bored with research and I wanted to just fix it! I looked over the board a bit more and noticed a chip package I had seen before in several repair videos of Apple Macbook laptop repairs by Louis Rossman. This guy seriously knows his stuff and routinely repairs Macbooks that no one else can handle (check Youtube if you want to know more). The chip I remember being replaced often is usually one that takes a higher DC voltage and drops it to a lower DC voltage. This is called a Buck Regulator. The chip on the board is very small (5mm x 5mm) and has a very strange number, probably re-badge by some manufacturer to hide it's identity. The number was 'SN1302001', but fortunately Google knows what it is.... it's a Texas Instruments TPS65286 Switching Buck Regulator (Google it for datasheet etc). So I figured I'll just remove it and see if the short goes away.... and it did! I discovered this chip is used to create the power for the USB hub on the rear of the monitor. Amazingly this tiny chip can provide 6 amps which explains the large heatsink pad in the middle of the chip on the bottom side and why it was very, very difficult to remove. I suspect this chip is not really up to the task given to it which is why it failed. Basically it's just too small to output 6 Amps and survive for any long period of time.
LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor

Now it gets interesting because I don't keep spares of this part in stock and I have never seen one on any junk board I have lying around here. Rather than order one off the net and wait 4 weeks for it to arrive from China I just decided to power it on and see what happens... after-all the short is now gone. To my amazement it powered up straight away and works. Well kind of anyway. The LED on the power supply stayed on and the LED on the monitor also came on, but nothing on screen except the backlight. Then I realised I had not put back a bunch of parts I removed earlier hehehe! So I put them back and re-tested. It works! I couldn't believe it! In case you were wondering, the message on screen is telling me there's no signal input.
LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor

So I re-assembled it and to confirm it was fully operational, I plugged it into my Toshiba C665 i5 laptop which has a HDMI output. The Windows desktop came up and shows fine, although the resolution of the monitor is so high (2560 x 1080) this laptop will never be able to show it full screen and I don't have any other device I can try that outputs a higher resolution. LG provide a driver for Windows 10 but I am sticking with Windows 7 so I can't get the higher resolution. But I can get 1920x1080 just fine. Obviously the USB ports won't work but I was never a fan of those stupid USB hubs on the rear of TVs/monitors anyway so no big deal that it doesn't work and I won't miss them!
LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor

And here's a later update with some pics running in Windows 10 with the full 2560 x 1080 resolution :-D
The last pic shows a directory thumbnail view of a compact flash memory card from my camera, showing all 159 pics as large thumbnails all on screen at the same time!
LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor LG 34UC79G UltraWide 34 inch Gaming Monitor

So now I have a working 34" UltraWide Gaming Monitor for $0, fixed by simply removing one chip. Not a bad score and it's now minus one nasty chip that will never cause this monitor to die again since it's not on the PCB. Even better the previous owner left the protective clear tape on the bezel edges of the monitor so after removing it the monitor looks like new :-D
Score: Guru 1, LG 0
Anyway.... Life's Good (LG-related pun intended) ;-)


9th June 2018
Well here it is, sooner than expected.... The System 32 Trackball Interface is now a reality! It turned out I was upgraded to the express service for free. I quickly assembled one using the minimum number of parts.... 5 IC's and the bottom connector. I used an original press-fit bottom connector taken from a System 32 driving interface board, but don't worry there is a common alternative available that will do the same job. I plugged it in and screwed it down using stand-offs taken from some old Sega board. Those holes are specifically designed to take the original Sega stand-offs but I don't have them so I used some black ones I had lying around and the height is perfect. I'm guessing they probably came off a dead Hikaru board. Common board spacers can also be used and fit just fine. I checked the three trackballs in the test mode and they all test GOOD. SUCCESS! :- D
Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface

Note the Sonic PCB shown in these pics is sold. I am selling the trackball PCBs to recover my costs. I have sold 7 of the trackball PCB's (so far). I have 13 PCB's total but I have no use for these now that the job is done since the Sonic PCB is sold and I have no plans to get more S32 main boards and/or convert them. That can now be done by _YOU_ using my System 32 Conversion Info Page here. I will keep one fully assembled trackball board for myself, so I currently have 5 PCB's available. If you are interested to buy one (or more) contact me. If more than 5 are wanted I can re-order another batch so don't worry if you missed out getting one of the available boards, just tell me how many you want :-)
Update: Now only 4 in stock.
Update: Now only 3 in stock.
Update: Now only 2 in stock.
Update: Now only 1 in stock (as of 1st November 2018).
Update: Sold Out ! Another batch has been made, see news above....

Here's some more pics of it fully assembled (I'm still waiting for some more parts to arrive to compete the partially assembled ones).....
Update: They are now all assembled and tested working.
Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface Sega Sonic Trackball Interface


2nd June 2018
The System 32 Trackball Interface PCBs have finally been shipped and should arrive within the next 3 weeks.
While I'm waiting, I made another small Eagle project and assembled it today. Tested and it worked first time :-D
Anyone who owns a Commodore 64 will know of the constant joystick swapping that is required because some programmers did not know the difference between Port 1 and Port 2 (LOL!!) and games use any random port regardless of the number of players it supports. Great! :-/
But fear not the solution is here! Now no more pissing around swapping joysticks to the other port.... I simply press the little button on top and it switches them instantly so the joystick works no matter which port it is plugged into :-D
There are some other similar things out there already but this one has been made as small and unobtrusive as possible on purpose.
This one also supports the mouse and switches the analog pins too, so a joystick and mouse can be left connected permanently!
Total build price was about $10 :-D
C64 Joystick Switcher C64 Joystick Switcher C64 Joystick Switcher C64 Joystick Switcher


14th May 2018
My System 32 Trackball Interface is finally complete and PCBs have been ordered....
System 16/32 Trackball Interface

8th April 2018 (Updated 26th September 2018 with pic #5 of actual part assembed)
While I'm on the subject of Taito PCB repairs, here's the next project I've just completed....
Taito TC0070 RGB Custom Module Taito TC0070 RGB Custom Module Taito TC0070 RGB Custom Module Taito TC0070 RGB Custom Module Taito TC0070 RGB Custom Module
This is a reproduction of the Taito TC0070 RGB Module used on many, many Taito PCBs from the 80's and 90's. These were originally made on a ceramic substrate and then covered in black ceramic and often break off or are damaged, or just fail internally. They are the very same things pictured in my Chase HQ repair log Part 3.

Some time ago (~2013) 'JROK' reverse-engineered the TC0070RGB module and provided a schematic here. There was a re-made version using PALs which re-produced the logic exactly but it was a bit ugly. Someone else came along and took the JROK design and copied it 1:1, called it their own and sold it for US$65, which is just highway robbery. Need proof? Google has all the answers. eBay has answers too LOL!!

Instead of paying through the nose, this can now be made by anyone familiar with the hot end of a soldering iron for $5. The simplified design presented here replicates the same logic and works 100% the same way. This design uses less chips (all common off-the-shelf parts available on eBay etc) and the final result is the same..... 5-bit digital R+G+B input (15-bits total) and standard analog RGB output. The design is based on JROK's reverse-engineered design and the Bubble Bobble bootleg PCB which uses the same kind of 15-bit RGB DAC on the PCB but instead of a flimsy ceramic module, they made the circuit with common logic chips etc and put it on the main PCB. Bryan McPhail helped to trace out the bootleg circuit and I laid out the PCB and routed the tracks using Eagle PCB CAD.

You might be thinking (or some leech who sells the US$65 one might be trying to convince you) "it isn't a 1:1 from the original so it can't be good".
FYI, all logic chips contain circuits made from resistors, transistors, diodes etc. Any circuit can be made from a number of different chips. There's no hard rule about how things can be done. It's called 'innovation'.

Regardless, it works and is free so it doesn't matter whether there are non-believers or not. The smart people will see the light and make it themself. Yes that's right, it's free. I have no plans to sell this, this is purely so people who want to fix their boards can get some PCB's made themselves and fix their own boards cheaply. I have some other future repairs to do to almost-worthless Taito PCBs that would otherwise be scrapped due to the cost of buying a pre-made TC0070 module. Now these can be fixed very, very cheaply using this module, which is 2" x 0.9" (i.e. smaller than the original). The PCB costs $3 (quote from Osh Park... probably $1 from most Chinese PCB manufacturers) and the parts are (depending on where you buy them) around $2 total.

Design files (gerbers) are available free on my "Guru's Useful Eagle PCB Designs" page. You make your own at any PCB manufacturer such as Osh Park then solder on $2 in parts and you have your own.

Don't get shafted and pay US$40 for a blank PCB or US$65 for an assembled version from somewhere else LOL!!!
You will learn something and feel better when you build your own TC0070 module for $5 :-D


2nd April 2018
Let's continue with the Chase HQ repairs, Part 4.
If you have not read the previous repair logs, read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 so you can catch up with the current situation.

The remaining final issue is there's no sound. Fortunately with this game the sound section isn't too complicated as far as the actual circuit. Most of the complexity lies within the custom Taito TC0140SYT and the YM2610 chips. The first thing I need to do is find a good TC0140SYT and mount that onto the board, since it was blown and I had removed it in Part 1. I have already verified all of the pads on the PCB join to the correct places. I found a chip among a pile of other chips of unknown origin....
Chase HQ PCB repair, replacement TC0140SYT custom chip

While not in the best condition, I've seen a LOT worse so as long as none of the legs are broken or break off when I straighten them, and it's not blown up (hehe!), it should be usable. After about 1 hour of prodding with tweezers and pushing with a stanley knife, and pressing the chip down on a flat surface, then prodding and tweezing and pushing again several times all the legs are straight....
Chase HQ PCB repair, replacement TC0140SYT custom chip
This isn't the actual chip (note the date code is different hehehe!!), I had already re-mounted it on the PCB and forgot to take a pic, but this gives you an idea what it's supposed to look like ;-)

Ok so now I just need to put it back on the PCB. There's not a lot to say about this, I just solder it on then clean up with isopropyl alcohol...
Chase HQ PCB repair, replacement TC0140SYT custom chip Chase HQ PCB repair, replacement TC0140SYT custom chip

I powered on and I got this screen....
Chase HQ PCB repair, initial test boot screen

Great! The sound error is gone! But does it make any sound? Well..... it's trying. On first boot there's the normal speaker click, but it's crackling a bit where it should be silent. When the Chase H.Q. title appears and drops the shadow down, it should make a clunk sound then the music should play. Unfortunately, there's just some bad screeching instead of any kind of correct sound, but it seems to be kind of in time with the correct sounds. The TC0140SYT receives the reset signal and is active on all address/data pins so I suppose that means the TC0140SYT I just re-mounted is ok. The Z80 and EPROM and RAM are active and so is the YM2610. When I coin up the screeching changes to different screeches and some of the pins on the Z80 change so the sound program is definitely running. Maybe the ROMs are suspect? I need to read them, should be a simple two minute job to read four ROMs, right?
Chase HQ PCB repair, sound ROMs

On the PCB is printed '23C4001E'. I don't know the brand of these ROMs, but the info on the net tells me it's equivalent to a 27C4001 or 27C040. So I read them as that type and got no output, just 00's! I removed another ROM and read it and got the same result. So I repeated with the last two and got the same result. Hmmmm, surely all four ROMs couldn't be bad? I'm not going to worry about that right now, just replace with EPROMs of type 27C4000/27C4001/27C040. I have plenty in stock so I grabbed a handful, erased them and re-programmed them with the correct data. On power-on I still got the same crackling and screeches! The address and data lines on the ROMs are active so for now I'll move on.

The next chip to check is the YM2610. It seems to be active, but all of those active pins are inputs coming from either the Z80, the ROMs, the sound RAM or the TC0140SYT custom chip. The only audio output on this chip is the digital audio outputs (SH1 and SH2, the analog output on pin 27 is not connected and unused) and a clock that drives the YM3016-F DAC. The input clock is correct (8MHz) and the output clock is also correct (2.666666MHz). I probed the two digital audio output pins with my logic probe but all I see is a regular high/low flash no matter what sounds are being made. Is it working or not? I got out the scope and probed those two pins again. This is the output of SH1 while in attract mode where it is supposed to be playing music (it's a bit hard to get a clean shot of it)....
Chase HQ PCB repair, YM2610 Channel 1 Output Waveform Chase HQ PCB repair, YM2610 Channel 1 Output Waveform Chase HQ PCB repair, YM2610 Channel 1 Output Waveform    and CH2....  Chase HQ PCB repair, YM2610 Channel 2 Output Waveform

There's mainly no change in the waveform except a little 'wiggle' at the top. When the sound isn't playing the waveform looks exactly like SH2. On SH2 the waveform has no change at all even when sound and speech is playing in game. Is it good or is it bad? I don't know what it's supposed to look like since I have no reference waveform. I would have thought the waveform should be a bit more irregular and span the full 0v to 5v range as different sounds are output but only the top wiggles hehe! That little wiggle might be the noise and crackle I'm hearing. Or maybe not. I think I'll try the 'Louis Rossman Repair Method' (search youtube for more info) and just change stuff that looks corroded heheh!
Chase HQ PCB repair, rusty YM2610 chip

The YM2610 certainly looks bad and rusty. But this theory might be on shaky grounds already here in arcade land because if I were to fully apply it, then everything would need to be changed because everything looks bad heheh! Anyway let's pull this sucker and change it and see what happens....
Chase HQ PCB repair, rusty YM2610 chip Chase HQ PCB repair, rusty YM2610 chip

Those little pieces left in the holes are not legs, they are the remains of the plating on the legs, the corrosion lifted the plating and it fell off. After cleaning it all up it looks like this....
Chase HQ PCB repair, rusty YM2610 chip removed

While the chip is off the board, I went along every pin hole and beeped out all the connections to where they go. They were all joined so everything is ok. I replaced the chip with another one taken from a junk board, powered on and got exactly the same output, crackling and screeches. Oh well, so much for the 'replace bad looking stuff theory'. That doesn't apply in arcade land, sorry!

So moving onto the next chip in line, maybe this is a digital to analog problem. The schem shows the complete path of the audio....
YM2610 --> SH1/SH2 pins 29 & 30
--> YM3016-F pins 7 & 8 --> pins 10 & 11
--> TL074 @IC64 pins 10 & 12 --> pins 8 & 14
--> TL074 @IC65 pins 5 & 12 --> pins 1 & 8
--> Taito TC0060DCA custom pins 2 & 5 --> pins 3 & 4
--> two resistors --> one line output
--> volume pot
--> MB3735 pin 1 --> pin 8 (+) & pin 5 (-)
--> 28-way edge connector pins 10 & 11
--> speaker
Here's the relevant circuit on the schems....
Chase HQ PCB repair, sound schematic Chase HQ PCB repair, sound schematic

I know from past repairs I can probe the TL074 outputs and 'hear' the sound on my logic probe through it's built-in piezo speaker. I probed the TL074 output pins and heard nothing. Probing the YM3016-F outputs also gave no sound on the probe and this is the next chip in line after the YM2610. There should be something coming out of the YM3016-F when music is playing, but there's nothing. Maybe that's it! I removed it, cleaned the pads and replaced it with another YM3016-F from a junk board.
Chase HQ PCB repair, YM3016-F removed Chase HQ PCB repair, YM3016-F replaced

I anxiously powered on and waited for the start-up tests. There was silence, no crackling. The title showed then the shadow dropped and 'CLUNK!' then the music started playing! Yay!! It's finally fixed!!! I coined up, started a game and Nancy announced we have an emergency(!), so I grounded the accelerator pin on the edge connector and the car took off. It's perfect :-D

But we're not done yet! I went back and tested the YM2610 digital outputs with the oscilloscope again and got the same readings, so the waveform above is what the digital out on a working YM2610 looks like.

I'm still curious about those ROMs. I removed the EPROMs and put back the original mask ROMs expecting to hear bad sounds, but the sound was still perfect! Hmmm, what's going on with those ROMs? I must investigate, we *still* have an emergency Nancy! I read the ROMs again but still got bad reads. Some research is needed. Here's the relevant datasheet pages for 23C4001 and 27C4001 and my original mask ROM pinout shown on the schem...
Chase HQ PCB repair, 23C4001 Datasheet Chase HQ PCB repair, 27C4001 Datasheet Chase HQ PCB repair, 23C4001E pinout

There's no difference between the first two pinouts, but the original ROM has pin 1 tied to ground. That pin 1 is a no connection on the 23C4001 mask ROM and VPP on the 27C4001 EPROM.
On my programmer it pulls pin 1 high by itself when reading it. The datasheet specification for 27C4001 says pin 1 on the EPROM is 'don't care', which means either low or high it will still read it just fine. Whereas the original mask ROM must have that pin tied low to be in read mode, otherwise it goes into power-save mode. I put the original ROM in a socket and read it with pin 1 lifted....

Chase HQ PCB repair, reading original 23C4001 mask ROM

Here's a tip! When doing this do not just put the ROM directly into the EPROM reader and bend pin 1 out at 90 degrees or more because you'll break the leg off the ROM! Put it in a socket and then you can bend it about 20 degrees and the height of the socket allows the pin to clear the EPROM programmer zif socket, then gently bend it back afterwards and the ROM leg will survive. I did another read as 27C4001 and to my surprise the read came back ok and the CRC32 matches the known good ROM dumps in MAME. So it looks like my EPROM programmer just pulls that pin high because there's no hard rule about it and the manufacturer chose to pull it high to 5V. Heheh! You learn something every day ^_^

Here's a summary of what was actually bad:
Replaced 10x Toshiba TMM2063 8k x8-bit Static RAMs (bad) with good RAMs, including adding sockets so if they go again it will be easy to fix.
Replaced 1x 256k x16-bit mask ROM (bad internal CE or OE) with 27C400 EPROM (IC27)
Replaced 1x Taito TC0140SYT custom chip (blown/cooked) with good chip
Replaced 1x Yamaha YM3016-F DAC (blown) with good chip
Repaired broken/corroded track from PAL at IC52 pin 21 to via with a patch-wire

Not In The Log: Re-programmed 1x 27C512 EPROM (IC51).... the dump of the original sound program EPROM didn't match the known good dump in MAME so I re-programmed it.

So you're probably wondering how this board got in such bad condition and had so many faults. Did you notice this board-set was a Frankenstein one? The sticker on the top board says "CHASE HQ UP", meaning it's an upright board. The sticker on the bottom board says "CHASE HQ CP" meaning it's for a cockpit board-set. The actual PCBs for any of the different cabs are exactly the same, just the program EPROMs differ. So it looks like some loser had several boards and swapped them around to get one going then sold the remaining non-working boards on ebay as 'untested'. However that's not all bad. Losers like that are part of the lowest end of the food chain, just as a spider needs bugs and other nasties to survive, PCB owners/repairers need PCBs that come from dubious locations with dubious faults sold by untrustworthy losers trying to sell stuff that they know is tested and doesn't work. All pretty common and predictable behaviour LOL!

Bonus Log Event: Pissed off the loser ebay seller who sold this as 'untested' hehehe!!

BTW, to all the Chase HQ owners out there, if you happen to have a Chase H.Q cockpit or deluxe cab, please dump the EPROMs on the top board and send them to me so they can be preserved in MAME because they are currently not dumped. Or at least it looks like they are not dumped. Maybe there's some additional hardware in the cockpit/deluxe?

UPDATE: Yep, there's an extra board in the DX cab. Got dumps of it and documented it. Should be in MAME by the time you read this.

Anyway, all problems solved, now we can go catch some criminals!



1st April 2018
Ok, continuing on with the Chase HQ repairs, Part 3.
If you have not read Part 1 and Part 2, click here for part 1 and here for part 2 so you can catch up with the current situation.

The blurred video issue is the main problem right now. I think if that is solved the game will be fully working other than missing sound (which I'll fix last). Here's some pics of the blur effect. Notice the in-game pic is almost perfect except a blur at the far right side of the screen...
Chase HQ PCB repair Chase HQ PCB repair Chase HQ PCB repair

The first thing I noticed was the RGB custom was a bit dodgy, hacked up by some loser who doesn't know how to use a soldering iron. Underneath the PCB was some dirty flux crap and it was really nasty. I think now I know what grizzly bear shit looks like.... urgghh! So I removed the RGB custom and some legs fell off. This is a pretty common issue with these ceramic custom SIL packages. I assume it works because the colors are ok, but just in case I'll swap it over with another one I have, which is also missing legs but not as many.
Basically just remove the old one and solder in the good one.
Before putting the new part in, check ALL the connections to the source and ensure they are all joined. It's *much* easier to check connections while the part is off the board than do it when the new part has been put back. That way if there is a connection issue it can be fixed directly at the track or via without having to add bodge-wires ;-)
All the connections from the RGB custom to the color RAM and TC0110PCR custom were ok so I soldered in the exchange part.
To replace the missing legs, first just solder in the good legs, taking care to make sure the holes with missing legs stay clean. Ensure the body of the RGB custom is as high as possible to allow working space underneath it. Then get a new resistor or capacitor and cut off the legs about 3/4" long. Tin the pin on the custom with solder and add some flux there too, then poke the wire through the hole from underneath the PCB. While holding it in place, solder it to the remaining RGB custom pin. Repeat for the other legs, then turn the board over and add solder to the hole. Don't put too much heat there otherwise the leg may come unsoldered from the RGB custom. When all the legs are soldered in place, trim off the new legs, clean up with isopropyl alcohol and job done!
Chase HQ PCB repair, old RGB custom Chase HQ PCB repair, old RGB custom removed Chase HQ PCB repair, check the connections and pads! Chase HQ PCB repair, check the connections and pads! Chase HQ PCB repair, poke wires in from below Chase HQ PCB repair, solder wires in place Chase HQ PCB repair, trim wires and clean up with isopropyl alcohol

Did that fix the problem? Unfortunately not, but it's exactly the same so I know the RGB custom is ok. At least now I know the connections are solid :-)
The next part in line is the TC0110PCR custom chip. This takes the pixel data from all video sources, merges it and sends it to the RGB custom. So let's change it.
There's not much to say about this really, simply remove *the correct way*, clean-up the pads and re-mount another identical known good part. Just check the pics, a picture paints a thousand words, and the picture caption tells the rest ;-)
Chase HQ PCB repair, old PCR (palette) chip Chase HQ PCB repair, remove PCR chip with hot air using QFP100 nozzle Chase HQ PCB repair, PCR chip gone! Looks like something crawled under the chip and died??!!?? Chase HQ PCB repair, pads cleaned up using same method as previous repair of TC0140SYT custom chip Chase HQ PCB repair, new PCR chip remounted and cleaned up with isoproply alcohol Chase HQ PCB repair, new PCR chip remounted, another view Chase HQ PCB repair, new PCR chip remounted, yet another view... looks great doesn't it ;-)

So did that fix the problem? Nope! It's still exactly the same. Anyway, the chip was a bit corroded and the pads looked bad so at least now it's clean and tidy :-)
Time to get serious. I first beeped out all the connections from the PCR to where they went. Lots of stuff, but all ok.
Then I beeped out all the connections from the next chip in line (the TC0100SCN custom) to where they went. Also lots of stuff, but all ok.
Then I went around the PCR and SCN chips with my logic probe looking for suspect signals, but they all looked ok.
I unplugged the video board and to my surprise, the CPU board actually starts to boot up. It shows some of the RAM tests then resets. But more importantly, the blur is there even without the video board. That means the fault is definitely on the CPU board.
I'm thinking, it looks like the pixels are too bright. Like some voltage is shorting the RGB lines, but all the colors are correct, it's weird! I'll just check the harness to make sure nothing is out of place....

D'oh! I found it. I had originally made a harness for Operation Thunderbolt and fixed that one first last week. I have re-used the harness since the wiring is mainly the same for Chase HQ except the video which comes off a 5 pin connector and I'm not concerned about inputs yet so I don't care where the other wires are. So I left the RGBS wires in place on the 28-way connector and added extra RGBS wires to the 5 pin connector coming off the existing wires on the 28 way connector where the RGBS is for Operation Thunderbolt. I just piggybacked the wires and fed them to a 5 pin connector which plugs into connector V. Obviously a mistake!! I did that mainly so I could leave the harness the same and use it to run both boards to see that they powered up and worked without having to re-wire the harness. I was thinking it wouldn't matter because those pins were just inputs/unused but obviously one of them has some voltage or ground there and was screwing with the video heheh!!
OK so I removed those extra wires on the harness and the video is back to normal! :-D
WOW! It's April 1st. I think I may have April-Fooled myself! hehe!
Note to self: When re-using an old harness, remove all the unused wires hehe!
Chase HQ PCB repair, fully working video Chase HQ PCB repair, fully working video Chase HQ PCB repair, fully working video Chase HQ PCB repair, fully working video Chase HQ PCB repair, fully working video

Note the purple Taito logo is actually blue on screen (i.e. correct). For some reason the camera makes it look purple.
So now there's just the sound issue to fix and then the Chase HQ board should be fully working.


31st March 2018
Let's continue with the Chase HQ repairs, Part 2.
If you have not read Part 1, click here to read that first (posted March 30th 2018) so you can catch up with the current situation.

I'll look at the sprite issue now. The problem seems to be that the transparent (outer) section of the sprite isn't fully transparent, there are lines through it. That means data is missing.
Chase HQ PCB repair

It's definitely not ROM related since I checked the ROMs and they are all ok. Incidentally, one thing I discovered about the ROMs.... there are some that have an indented line running the full length of the chip, a tell-tale sign they are made by Fujitsu. On the PCB is screened 'MB834100'. I couldn't find the datasheet for this chip but I figured it was like 23C4100 so I read them as 27C4100 with my EPROM programmer and got a bad read so I figured they were bad and replaced them with 27C400 EPROMs. That didn't help and made it much worse! The datasheet for the Fujitsu MB834100 is not easy to find but there is a good quality datasheet in the 1989 Fujitsu MOS Memory Products Databook available at bitsavers.org. After checking it I realised the MB834100 mask ROM is pin-compatible with a 27C4096 EPROM! So I read the mask ROMs again as 27C4096 and got good reads :-)
Note to self: MB834100 = 27C4096

I got a quick tip-off from Bryan McPhail... yes, the same very talented MAME developer who emulated many games in MAME years ago. The suggestion was to look in the area surrounding IC173/IC174 because that has something to do with the transparency of the sprites, or check the video RAM.
This is the relevant section of the schematic....
Chase HQ PCB repair

Personally I didn't think it was the RAM because piggy-backing the RAM has no effect except to make it worse and put wide vertical stripes across the entire screen, but the tip-off was close! I probed about with my logic probe and pin 8 of IC174 (LS260) sounds strange. My logic probe has a piezo speaker inside so I can 'hear' the 1's and 0's... it's very nice.... good data sounds pleasant and rhythmic, but this didn't sound good at all. When I shorted pins 8 and 9 of the LS260 together with my logic probe, by pure luck it fixed the sprite problem 100%!!! Obviously that's not the solution but it shows I'm close. What that actually did was inject the signal from pin 9 into pin 8 because pin 8 has something missing. The actual suspect signal is on pin 8 of the LS260 at IC174. The schems show it as a signal on the FRD BUS called FPO10 or something like that (the schem is the usual poor quality crappy hard to read scan... arrgghh!).
Here's a close-up of some of the circuit with the relevant signal highlighted in red....
Chase HQ PCB repair Chase HQ PCB repair Chase HQ PCB repair Chase HQ PCB repair

The schematic shows FPO10 connects to several places..... 74LS260 at IC174 pin 8 (input), 74LS166 at IC153 pin 12 (input), 74LS244 pin 9 at IC130 (output only, all inputs on this chip are grounded), pin 11 (D0) of the 256k VRAM at IC85 and a PAL at IC52 pin 21. All inputs can be ignored because they have no effect on the signal. We need to find some chip that 'creates/outputs' this signal. The schem show the source of the signal is the PAL at IC52 pin 21. There is a bank of eight PALs together in the top left corner of the video board and out of those chips, there's only two different types. Checking PALs with MAME as a reference is not the easiest or quickest thing to do. The PALs in MAME must be converted to .jed files using the JEDUTIL program provided with the MAME distribution. Then the actual PAL is read using an EPROM programmer and compared manually with the MAME-converted .jed file. The reason it has to be manually compared is because the MAME-converted .jed file only shows lines in the fusemap that contain 1's. Any line with all 0's is omitted, so the CRC32 of a MAME-converted PAL .jed and the real read from an EPROM programmer will always be different. Even looking at both of the actual fusemap files will show they are very different, except those lines that contain the same bits. Knowing several of the PALs are the same, rather than go through the hassle of all of that converting and comparing B.S., I simply read the PALs and checked the CRC32 against the other identical PALs. They all matched so the PALs must be ok. There is another way too.... I could swap the PALs to the other location where the same PAL is, but IMO that would not tell me whether the PALs are good or not, especially if there was no difference on the screen. The better way is to just read the PALs and compare them against one of the other identical PALs :-)

When I probed the RAM on pin 11 it shows the same strange signal. Luckily on this board the data lines are not connected across multiple RAMs. When data lines are connected across multiple RAMs (for example to create a 16-bit data path from two 8-bit RAMs) it's a nightmare to find the suspect RAM because when probing the RAM you are actually probing two or more pins on multiple RAMs. This why it's very difficult to repair faults on later arcade games that have 16 or more 8-bit video RAMs tied together to create a large 32-bit chunk of RAM. A classic example is Namco's Point Blank, where sixteen 32k x8-bit static RAMs are tied together on their data lines and address lines. It's a nightmare to find a sprite fault on that board. In that case the only way to find the bad RAM is either remove all of the connected RAMs and test separately or use an oscilloscope and hope something looks different. But even an oscilloscope won't fully help, although it can allow you to narrow it down to less possibly-bad RAMs. I have a nice 80MHz quad-trace dual time-base scope but I'm no expert with it so I skipped that part. Personally I think scopes are over-rated. They have their uses, but not in this case. I already know there's a bad signal but the scope isn't going to help me find it and even if it did show an abnormal waveform, it can't tell me exactly which chip it comes from. That's where the schematics come in handy and why schematics should be scanned at a minimum of 300 DPI, or better 600 DPI. Without a schematic the only way to trace signals is by having a known good reference board or removing parts and using a multi-meter to beep out the connections by visually locating the connections on the board. It's a huge job. The schem pages for Chase HQ were scanned at a measly 72 DPI!! The moron who did it probably looked at the page on a 14" CRT back in about 1992 and saw lines so he thought it was good. He obviously never viewed it full size and tried to read the text. OH MY GOD! It's just barely readable ggggrrrrr!!!! Imagine if I couldn't read the schematic signal labels, it would be useless and the scanning would have been a complete waste of time. It's a big nightmare to find the actual connections when it's unreadable, especially on a bus where all the signals are on the single bus line and they only fan out at the IC pins. Here's a tip for future schematic scanners out there.... scan at 300 DPI or 600 DPI so that your good work becomes useful for repair work rather than a burden. If only everyone had scanned schems at 300/600 DPI, MAME could be even better.... yes that's right, in some cases MAME suffers from lack of info because schems were scanned at a very low resolution and were useless! Anyway, my rant about schem quality is finished.

When I short pins 11 and 12 of the VRAM at IC85 (D0+D1) it also fixes the sprite problem. Again, not the solution but shows I'm looking at the right signals. Since D0 is a bi-directional data pin, it can either be input or output. There's no real way to know for sure if the RAM is bad except to remove it and test it either in an external testing device like an EPROM programmer with RAM testing capability, or plug it into another PCB. In my case I keep a set of working PCBs with various parts socketed so I can test parts on the PCB. So I removed the RAM.
Chase HQ PCB repair, 256k Static RAM removed

I plugged it into my test PCB and it was fine, so the RAM isn't bad. I also noticed when there's no sprites on screen that specific pin on the RAM (D0) is still active (regular pulsing) on my logic probe even though all the other data pins on that RAM and all the other VRAMs are quiet, so I guess it's floating or something.

There's definitely some signal missing so it's time to get beeping! I know where the D0 signal connects so I probed the FPO10 pins of the connected chips with my logic probe and found the same regular pulsing signal on all of the chips no matter what was on screen. All EXCEPT the PAL. On the PAL (IC52 pin 21) I got a LOT of activity when sprites were on the screen and no activity when no sprites were showing. BINGO!! That PAL was about 12 inches away from the initial bad signal I found so without the schems that fault would never have been found.

I set my multimeter to continuity and checked the actual connections on the PCB. All of the chips were connected except the PAL pin 21. I hooked up a mini-clip to pin 21 of the PAL and touched the other end of the cable to the nearest chip with the same FPO10 signal (the 74LS244 pin 9) and that fixed the sprite problem 100%! I looked on the bottom of the video board and the trace from the PAL goes to a via but between them it has 'The Curse Of The Taito Green Mask Turning Black And Rotting The Trace' problem which plagues many Taito PCBs :- (
I don't think there's much point patching the PCB trace with a micro-wire because the track is shot, so I added a wire to join the PAL pin 21 to the via and that restored the sprites back to normal :-D
Sprite problem solved!
Chase HQ PCB repair showing damaged (black) track Chase HQ PCB repair with damaged track patched with a jumper wire Chase HQ PCB repair, sprites restored to working condition! Chase HQ PCB repair, sprites restored to working condition!

Obviously we're not done yet since there's still more problems so the repair will continue later....


30th March 2018
Chase HQ repair, Part 1.
A couple of Taito PCBs came in for repair a few days ago. The games are Operation Thunderbolt and Chase HQ. Neither PCB was in great condition but they HAD to be saved from the junk pile so I put in an extra special Guru-Effort to make sure they came back to life again!

One of the main issues with late 80's and early 90's Taito boards is the RAMs made by Toshiba have failed. Taito PCBs are loaded with them usually. The specific chip is Toshiba TMM2063 (8kx8 Static RAM), and also TMM2018 (2kx8 Static RAM) is another one that fails often.
Here's a pic of the nasty TMM2063 culprits....
Toshiba TMM2063 8x x8-bit static RAM

The Chase HQ board has 10 of these chips on the CPU board and if any of them fail the board will have major problems, most of the time just killing the board dead. In some cases the road or colors will be bad but if it's any of the 68000 program RAMs or the shared RAM the board won't boot.

This Chase HQ board showed only a wavey pattern on screen and was resetting very quickly so with this RAM type in mind and knowing they would probably all be bad, I decided to pull and replace the TMM2063 RAMs for the Master 68000 CPU and Shared RAM hoping it would at least boot up to some sort of screen. After doing the main CPU RAM (Taito call this the LOCAL RAM, IC28 & IC35) it was still resetting quickly so I also changed the Shared RAM (Taito call this the COMMON RAM, IC43 & IC44). A change! It was resetting very slowly, about once every 4 seconds, but there was still nothing on the screen. I checked the data and address lines on the 1st 68000 and there was some activity, so the master 68000 was alive! But only for 4 seconds. At this stage I checked the 2nd 68000 reset line to see if it was active and it wasn't.... the reset pin on the 2nd 68000 was still low. I was thinking the 1st 68000 was waiting for the 2nd 68000 to reset, but because it didn't, the 1st 68000 just kept resetting. In reality the 2nd 68000 doesn't reset automatically, it only resets after some of the RAM tests pass then the 1st 68000 sends a command to reset the 2nd 68000. Essentially the reset for the 2nd 68000 is CPU-controlled. Before realising that I started tracing out where the reset for the 2nd 68000 was coming from and thinking maybe I had a logic problem somewhere but when checking the schematics I found a complicated path leading back to the 1st 68000 and a dead end to the theory that the 1st 68000 was waiting for the 2nd 68000 to reset :-/

Time to change tactics! I had previously checked the ROMs and found a bad mask ROM which was connected to the TC0100SCN custom chip, but at that point I had not changed it. Mainly because I figured it wasn't important at this stage since it's not program-related. The mask ROM had absolutely no activity on any data pins and reading it with an EPROM programmer only gave a 0xFF output (i.e. nothing), so it looks like the CE pin (chip enable) or OE pin (output enable) has failed internally. On a whim I took out the bad ROM and put in a random 40 pin EPROM I had lying around and the data pins were active! The screen showed some strange block graphics on screen like perhaps a potential text message!!
ChaseHQ PCB repair

So I grabbed an EPROM from my stock of parts and of course found it wasn't blank! I popped it into my UV eraser and painstakingly waited about 10 minutes for it to erase. Eventually it was blank so I programmed the AM27C400 EPROM (pinout-compatible with the original 234000 mask ROM) with the correct data, plugged that in and got this screen!
ChaseHQ PCB repair ChaseHQ PCB repair

It turns out the ROM at IC27 holds the text characters. This message tells me the local RAM (main 68000) and common RAM (shared between both 68000's) is ok and the color RAM is bad. So I replaced the color RAM (IC2 & IC3) and got this screen....
ChaseHQ PCB repair
Still something not quite right but it kept going and booted up!!! WHOA!!!
ChaseHQ PCB repair ChaseHQ PCB repair

The next thing to do is fix the "ROOT MPU RAM ERROR". That's the RAM connected to the 2nd 68000 CPU which is currently not running, just resetting. It should actually be called the 'SUB MPU' but I'm guessing the Japanese person programming it at that time back in 1988 didn't quite understand English properly and put ROOT instead heheh! Anyway, I replaced that RAM (Taito call this the ROOT MPU RAM, IC38 & IC54) and that got rid of the ROOT MPU RAM error and improved the graphics a lot! I also heard the speaker pop and a hum is coming from it now. That suggests the Z80 (sound) program is running because one of the tasks of the 2nd 68000 is to talk to the Z80 and issue sound commands.... one of them is probably a 'wake-up!' command.
ChaseHQ PCB repair ChaseHQ PCB repair ChaseHQ PCB repair ChaseHQ PCB repair ChaseHQ PCB repair

Still lots of graphical issues! The next step is to replace the road RAM since the road is missing too. That's the RAM at IC22 and IC23. After changing them the road now shows!
ChaseHQ PCB repair

There's still has some graphical issues relating to sprites and a weird horizontal blur but I'll sort that out later because a quick check of the video board didn't reveal anything obvious. There's a lot of RAM on the video board and it's a time-consuming job to find the (possible) bad RAMs and strangely, piggy-backing the RAMs didn't help, it just made the display much worse. There's also a lot of PROMs and PALs on the video board and all of them run hot. Fortunately all of them are dumped and they are preserved in MAME :-D
I checked all the graphic ROMs and they are ok so it looks like it's not going to be so simple to fix the banding and sprite issues. Some more research and schematic reading is needed first.

In the meantime, let's move on. I want to address the sound fault and show a technique for removing a dead/blown-up custom quad-flat-pack chip without over-heating the board and damaging or warping it like some idiots do when using a heat gun (check my news 7th January 2017 for a typical example).

The sound fault shown on the boot-up screen that still remains could be caused by several things..... bad sound RAM (yet another of those nasty Toshiba RAMs), or bad Z80, or bad Z80 program ROM, or missing clock/reset signals or a multitude of other things including one or more broken connections. However the Z80, sound RAM and sound ROM are active so I doubt any of those are bad. As I was looking in the sound area for a possible fault, I happened to touch the Taito custom chip marked 'TC0140SYT' and I burned my finger! S.O.B!! So that chip is blown and has to go! Normally I would remove a custom chip cleanly using a special temperature-controlled hot air tool without damaging the chip in case it is actually good and then it can be kept and re-used. But in this case I knew the chip was toasted (literally!) so there's no need to save the chip, just get it off without damaging the board.
The NUMBER ONE concern in any repair is DO NOT DAMAGE THE PCB!!!! In this case, the PCB isn't in great condition anyway, so we don't want to make it worse.

To remove it, start by adding some flux to the chip, then run some fresh solder across all of the legs with a soldering iron using the 'drag soldering' method. There's no need to be neat or worry about solder bridges since the chip is coming off and going into the bin after anyway. Now heat each leg with the soldering iron and lift the legs **ONE AT A TIME, CAREFULLY** using tweezers. Start from the edge and work your way to the other edge. Lift the legs high enough so you can get the tweezers in underneath the next leg then lift it up slowly, making sure the solder is melted BEFORE you lift the leg up. Again, do it slowly and carefully one leg at a time. Here's a pic showing one side lifted....
ChaseHQ PCB repair

Go all the way around the chip and eventually it will come off without damaging the PCB pads. When there's about 10-15 legs remaining, heat all of them by putting the soldering iron sideways to heat all of them together (the newly added solder will help with this) then slide the chip away off the pads. If you don't do that, as you lift the last remaining legs the chip will move and could tear the remaining pads off the board. You could put a weight on top of the chip to hold it but it's just easier to heat the last 10-15 legs in one go and then slide the chip off while the solder is molten.
ChaseHQ PCB repair
Just remember, when you do it this way the chip is scrap, so only do it like this if you know the chip is dead!

Now clean up the PCB pads with some wick and isopropyl alcohol and it will look pretty good.
ChaseHQ PCB repair

But it's not quite Guru-Worthy yet.... notice around pins 60 and 90 there's some corrosion on the pads. As I said, the board wasn't in great condition and there's some corrosion crap on the pads. That can be fixed easily. Scrape off the crap with a small flat-bladed screwdriver or a knife **CAREFULLY** to expose the copper trace underneath. We're not mining for iron ore here, do it very very gently and carefully!
ChaseHQ PCB repair

Problem solved right? No, the pads need to be re-tinned. There's a really easy way to do that. Add flux and then use old wick containing old solder and with the soldering iron, rub the wick on the copper pads. The solder will come off the wick and stick to the pads. After cleaning up with isopropyl alcohol again, now it's Guru-Worthy!
ChaseHQ PCB repair

The next step is to simply find another TC0140SYT chip on a junk Taito PCB and transplant it and hopefully that fixes the sound fault. But it's late now so that's a job for another day :-)

Here's a summary of the various RAMs and their locations.....
ChaseHQ PCB repair
Note the 'Road RAM' and the 'Sound RAM' isn't tested.
On the video board, the Object RAM is the two 2018 static RAMs at IC185 and IC186. The large bank of 256k static RAMs isn't tested either. They are for the sprites.


29th March 2017
Some more of my To-Be-Decapped chips have been decapped by CAPS0ff.
The Mega Blast C-Chip was dumped, so now all of the Taito C-Chips have been successfully dumped!
It has also been marked green on my Decapping Status Page
Please support CAPS0ff with funds if you can so more chips can be decapped.


12th March 2017
Some more of my To-Be-Decapped chips have been decapped by CAPS0ff.
This time we have almost all of the Taito C-Chips (#73, #189, #232 & #236).
I'm not sure what happened to the C-Chip for Megablast (#231), which is also listed in my decap list as 'sent', but there is no mention of it by CAPS0ff.
The Megablast C-Chip is a special case because the game only checks for the chip being plugged into the board and after that ignores it, so a decap of it isn't so important.... it's more of a curiosity thing ;-)
Anyway, these new dumps will help with MAME's emulation of various nice Taito games from the late 80's and will be available in the next MAME release at the end of this month. In case you didn't realize there is a new MAME released at the end of every month. Those newly decapped chips have also been marked green on my Decapping Status Page
There's more news and pics of the decapped chips on the CAPS0ff blog.
Please support CAPS0ff with funds if you can so more chips can be decapped.


27th January 2018
A few months ago I added a page here with info about converting any Sega System 32 board to run Sonic The Hedgehog. I did not announce it here but many people noticed it ;-)
That page has been updated with decrypted ROMs for ALL of the System 32 games that use a FD1149 so now all System 32 games can live once again!
Click here to jump to the page, or click on the top menu 'Guru Misc' and select the Sega System 32 link.
Enjoy!


26th January 2018
If you have been following MAME progress you will have seen a recent addition of the TV Boy II. This is a rip-off of the Atari 2600 and not to be confused with the Japanese TV Boy made by Gakken.
I happen to have an original boxed Japanese TV Boy here. Although not related to the recent MAME addition I thought since it is quite rare this would be a good time to showcase what's inside since that information is mostly guessed or unknown.
Unfortunately there are no dumpable parts inside.
Inside is 6 logic chips, a 7805 voltage regulator, a MC6847 video controller, a 6116 (2kx8 SRAM), a MC1372 modulator chip and a 3.579545MHz XTAL. So now you know why it has not been dumped..... there's nothing in there to dump.
I don't have any carts, but I assume it contains a 6801 which has 2k ROM and 128 bytes of RAM. It was common to see a micro-controller in a cart with the game code built-in in some other early game consoles of that era too.
The 6801 datasheet says it's pin and electrically compatible with the 68701 microcontroller so there may be hope to dump the 6801 as a 68701 if carts were available....
Anyway, here's some pics of the PCB....
Gakken TV Boy Gakken TV Boy Gakken TV Boy


1st December 2017
Some more of my To-Be-Decapped chips have been decapped by CAPS0ff.
This time we have all of the Sega Model 2 chips (#211-#218)
While you may think that this will help MAME's emulation the answer is "probably not". While true emulation is now possible, emulating an additional 4 or 5 DSP's in MAME's Model 2 driver will kill the speed to nearly zero and a snail will travel faster. It would be nice if ElSemi re-surfaces and updates his great Model 2 Emulator to support the DSPs with true fast emulation, although that's probably unlikely to happen.
Anyway, those chips have also been marked green on my Decapping Status Page
There's more news and pics of the decapped chips on the CAPS0ff blog.
Please support CAPS0ff with funds if you can so more chips can be decapped.


17th November 2017
I've dumped Golgo 13 Part 3 which runs on Namco System 10 hardware.
The official title is "Golgo-13 Juusei no Chinkonka".
The English translation is "Golgo 13 The Requiem for Gunshots".
This is also crossed off as dumped on my Namco System 10/11/12 Status page
Here's some pics of the game. The last pic shows the position of the PCB in the large batch that arrived 15th July 2016....
Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10 Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10 Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10 Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10 Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10 Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10 Golgo 13 Part 3 on Namco System 10

I have put the ROM dump online here. Note this will be available for a limited time until it hits MAME then you'll be able to get it from the 'usual' places'. You can't play this in MAME and you can't use this to convert or fix your PCB. The dump is actually useless. Due to the extreme level of encryption and protection, sadly this game and all other System 10 games will not be working in MAME anytime soon or maybe never. Anyway, now it's officially dumped and publicly available.


5th October 2017
While repairing things over the years, I've noticed an increasing trend for arcade boards to develop faults with the mask ROMs. This problem is getting worse and is not going to go away.
A while ago I got hold of a fairly uncommon Jaleco Megasys 1 game called P-47. The game was working but the player and enemy sprites were missing. After a quick analysis with a logic probe I realised the only issue was one of the mask ROMs was dead. Normally any issue with ROMs can easily be fixed using dumps from MAME and programmed to a common EPROM, but in this case the mask ROM was an uncommon non-JEDEC Hitachi HN62312 mask ROM where none of the pins matched anything else or were even close. Even power and ground were in different places! There's virtually nothing on Google about it either.
Let's change that.... Here's the pinout.....
(2M) 256k x 8 mask ROM
        HN62312

  A8  1 +-v-+ 32  A9
  A7  2 |   | 31  A10
  A6  3 |   | 30  A11
  A5  4 |   | 29  A12
  A4  5 |   | 28  A13
  A3  6 |   | 27  A14
  A2  7 |   | 26  A15
  A1  8 |   | 25  A16
  OE  9 |   | 24  A17
 GND 10 |   | 23  NC
  CE 11 |   | 22  GND
  D0 12 |   | 21  A0
  D1 13 |   | 20  D7
  D2 14 |   | 19  D6
  D3 15 |   | 18  D5
 +5v 16 +---+ 17  D4

  CE - tied to pin 13 of 74LS139 logic chip
  OE - tied to GND
  NC - no connection. on HN62314 (512k x 8 mask ROM) this is A18
If you know anything about EPROM pinouts you will immediately see it's a pretty whacky ROM pinout!

Since this is just one ROM, rather than jerk around making up a custom adapter, I decided to just get this thing fixed and modify the board to accept a common 27C020 EPROM and move on. Then the data can be easily programmed to a common EPROM and in the event that it fails again the EPROM can simply be changed for a new one.
The first step was to remove the socket and trace the tracks connected to the ROM. After that was recorded I cut all the tracks tied to the ROM very neatly, soldered in a new socket and programmed the EPROM with the data from MAME. Well almost. These larger 2M-bit mask ROMs contain data that is identical to the already dumped 1M-bit version EPROMs. The 2M-bit mask ROMs were dumped some time ago but unfortunately someone didn't think it was important enough to document it in the source code so the 2M-bit mask ROM dumps don't exist. Considering MAME's main goal is to document the history of arcade games, the fact that this anomaly has not been documented is somewhat disturbing! Makes me wonder what other valuable info has been brushed aside as unwanted by some dev who knows nothing about real hardware and PCB repairs. Hmmmm.....
Anyway, the next step was to carefully wire each pin to the circuit. In the end it was actually pretty easy. Almost all of the tracks are common with a 27C010 EPROM next to it. The highest address line A17 goes off to the connector 'POST#7' directly (A17 is not on 27C010) and CE goes to a logic chip. OE was just hard-wired to ground. So I got to work wiring it and after about 1 hour it was done. Conveniently the power and ground pins were close to normal power and ground locations so I just jumped them using a wire jumper and solder. Now it works great! Apart from a sticker on the top of the EPROM, from the top it looks all original and is now a lot more reliable with common EPROMs instead of crappy old mask ROMs :-)
It may look a bit rough from the bottom side but it is not seen when assembled and the main point is it was fixed quickly and now works 100%, rather than being just another broken piece of crap piled up in my garage ;-)
This board has been added to my Items For Sale page which now has 3 racks :-)

Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair
Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair Jaleco P-47 repair


26th June 2017
Occasionally something comes along that is so incredibly rare and obscure that no one has a clue what it is and it gets passed by totally unnoticed by everyone. Everyone except me, of course ;-)
That happened last year when I picked up a rare Namco game called "Abnormal Check".
The basic hardware is Namco ND-1, but with an extra daughter-board on top that controls a printer which dispenses a print-out at the end of the game. I had to tie a few printer status signals high/low to get it to boot up but after that the printer is ignored so it's playable. The game is entirely in Japanese but can be played by randomly hitting buttons when responding to the questions (or you can learn Japanese hehe!)
In a multi-player game, there's some hilarious effects when the player dies, including the head getting cut off and flying into the air, stomach opening up and bullets coming out shooting the losing player, lightning bolts frying the losing player, turning old and grey etc.
At the end of the game the winner is put into the spotlight and grows 2X bigger.
Here's a few pics from the game, including some hardware shots at the end. The last hardware pic is from the previous post showing the placement of this item in the pic. The thermal printer is sitting on top of the metal box to the left.
Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996 Abnormal Check, Namco 1996

And here's a shot of the title screen from the emulation, thanks to R. Belmont.
Abnormal Check, Namco 1996
There's no additional pics to show of the emulation because in general the ND-1 driver in MAME isn't complete enough to allow it to just run. The original ND-1 driver in MAME is very hacky and minimalistic and there are some serious graphical issues due to incorrect/incomplete emulation of the Yamaha YGV608 graphics chip. Abnormal Check is using the chip in different ways and exposes a bit more about how the chip works so hopefully it gets fixed in time. As a result of that, Namco Classics 1 and Namco Classics 2 should also improve :-)


15th June 2017
Some more undumped PCBs from Japan arrived a couple of days ago....
Undumped PCBs 15th June 2017 Undumped PCBs 15th June 2017 Undumped PCBs 15th June 2017
All these are extremely rare and not dumped. One is another Konami Viper/PC server with 12 CDs/DVDs (there was a similar but not identical one in a previous shipment), a small Konami PCB which is super ultra rare, and an ultra ultra super ultra rare Namco game running on Namco ND-1 hardware that was previously thought to be just a myth.

There were also two free PCBs. One is a Taito Mini Vaders PCB which is working fine.
The other is a Tetris The Grand Master PCB (already dumped version JAPAN 980710) that was not working. There were some loose chips on the lower ZN2 PCB and a broken track which seems to have been caused by some other PCB being pushed hard against the chips on the lower PCB. That would be impossible while the top PCB was plugged in so at some point it died and was dissassembled and then not stored well after. The actual real fault was loose legs on the large Sony chips but the additional broken track done at a later time meant that even if the original fault was fixed it still would not have worked. Regardless of the damage, the actual PCB is in very nice condition with only minor scratches on the top of a few large chips. The under-side of the PCB is like new. I repaired the faults in about half an hour and now it works just fine :-)
Tetris The Grand Master, Arika 1998 Tetris The Grand Master, Arika 1998 Tetris The Grand Master, Arika 1998 Tetris The Grand Master, Arika 1998 Tetris The Grand Master, Arika 1998

I also recently did some Namco System 246 dongle cart conversions and one of the supplied carts was an alternative version of Tekken 5 Dark Ressurrection which is not dumped so I dumped it.


8th May 2017
Anyone with a Konami PCB from the early to mid 90's will know about the dreaded KONAMI 054986A black ceramic module that develops issues and causes the board to either fail to boot-up or the sound is missing completely. The module is used on Lethal Enforcers, GI Joe, Violent Storm and many others. Usually it can be resolved by changing all of the capacitors, but sometimes the leaking caps cause damage to the fragile circuit. In the past there have been some fairly weak efforts to draw that circuit, but in all cases it was limited to the simple parts on the top side of the module.

If you saw those poor diagrams and thought it would be nice to have a full schematic of the entire module, today is your lucky day.
KONAMI 054986A Schematic


1st May 2017
It's time the non-working Apple Macintosh IICi moved onto a new home. If you are looking for bits and pieces for a IICi I am stripping it and selling off the parts, or you can buy the whole thing as-is if you want.
Check my For Sale page here for pics and info of what is on offer.
Apple Macintosh IICi parts for sale

In other news, another chip just got decapped and dumped by CAPS0ff. This time #145


7th April 2017
Another Commodore repair job came in today. This time we have an Amiga 600. There is an Individual Computers ACA620EC 68EC020 accelerator card fitted over the top of the PLCC 68000 CPU which seems to be flakey. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Most of the time it starts to boot then gives some checksum errors then crashes. Re-seating it several times helped but even then sometimes it still crashed randomly. After a closer inspection I noticed the card isn't sitting fully down on one side and looking closer reveals the 68EC020 is fouling on top of the 28.375MHz oscillator on the motherboard. Maybe just on the very edge of the radius on top of the oscillator tin can.
ACA620EC Accelerator card ACA620EC Accelerator card ACA620EC Accelerator card not sitting fully down ACA620EC Accelerator card fouling on the edge of the oscillator

This is a bit unusual because this card is specifically designed to clear and fit properly within the constraints of the A600 motherboard and I found no reports of this problem with a quick google search.
I figured I'd start by removing the PLCC socket and have a closer look. I was thinking maybe I could lift up the PCB slightly and then it would clear (it would have an air gap under the socket) then re-solder it in place and it would clear. With the socket removed, I fully pushed the PLCC socket down onto the 68000 CPU and it went down all the way with a 'crack' sound... meaning it's now on very tight. I don't think the socket has ever been on that tight.
ACA620EC Accelerator card with PLCC socket removed PLCC socket pushed fully down on the 68000 CPU PLCC socket pushed fully down on the 68000 CPU

So then I put the PCB back on top of the PLCC socket, just sitting there loosely and noticed the 68EC020 CPU was no longer hitting the top of the oscillator! There is some movement between the pins of the socket and the holes on the PCB and I can take advantage of that. When pushed up (away from the oscillator) the 68EC020 clears and the board is fully seated. So I tacked it in place on two pins to test the theory and sure enough it no longer fouls on the top of the oscillator. So all that's left to do is simply solder it back in place. Basically it just needed to be re-positioned about 1mm so it cleared. I did a quick test after and now it's working perfectly :-)
ACA620EC Accelerator card with PLCC socket tacked in place. Notice all the pins are now offset in the holes ACA620EC Accelerator card with PLCC socket fully soldered. Can't see any difference :-) ACA620EC Accelerator card fully seated now ACA620EC Accelerator card clears now. Look closely and you can see the right edge of the 68EC020 and left edge of the oscillator clears. The 68EC020 sits about 1mm below the top level of the oscillator ACA620EC Accelerator card fully working :-)

I'm still looking for other random Amiga power supplies to make schematics and some parts from a not-working 1084S monitor as per the post below. If anyone wants to assist please contact me. See the post below for the details.


13th March 2017
I've been busy over the last 3-4 weeks doing a lot of Commodore repairs that came in.
Here's a quick run down of the problems and what was done.

Commodore 64 faulty power switch repair
Very common problem, the switch works sometimes and sometimes not. Easy to fix, just replace the switch. Problem is we're about 30 years too late to buy the parts now. I found a similar switch online and bought it hoping it would be a simple drop-in replacement. It almost is, but the plastic rocker was too big. Luckily the design is similar and the plastic rocker can be swapped with the original one and fits ok. So I swapped everything over, inserted the switch into the PCB then errr, it didn't push down fully. I got out my trusty hacksaw and chopped off the bottom part of the bracket which isn't needed anyway and now it fits perfect. Soldered it in and it's working fine.
Commodore 64 switch replacement repair (faulty switch removed) Commodore 64 switch replacement repair (comparing rocker cover sizes) Commodore 64 switch replacement repair. Old smaller rocker cover swapped over to new switch. Fits perfect :-D Commodore 64 switch replacement repair (chopping off the bracket) Commodore 64 switch replacement repair (useless bracket gone!) Commodore 64 switch replacement repair (soldered in, bottom side of PCB) Commodore 64 switch replacement repair (problem solved!)


Commodore 1084S-P monitor repair
It was just making a whining sound and the power light was off. That's a classic sign of an internally shorted flyback. Luckily, replacement reverse-engineered flybacks for *some* monitors are still available from a company called HRDiemen. I pulled the flyback out, ordered a new one from a local distributer, soldered it back in, adjusted all the various potentiometers etc and it's working just fine now. One word of caution regarding these replacement flybacks, I have bought many of them over the years and every one has been shipped with the screen control pot turned up full. That basically over-volts the neck board and tube RGB guns by 2 to 3 times and can blow up the neck board or tube or both. If you fit one of these new flybacks, be sure to turn the screen control pot all the way down (maximum turn counter-clockwise) then adjust it as required.
Commodore 1084S-P monitor repair showing chassis with dead flyback removed Commodore 1084S-P monitor repair showing chassis with dead flyback removed (bottom side of PCB) Commodore 1084S-P monitor repair showing dead flyback... rot in hell you dirty m#%^er f&*(er Commodore 1084S-P monitor repair showing the new replacement flyback Commodore 1084S-P monitor repair showing working monitor running Forbidden Forest (my favorite C64 game)


Commodore Amiga 600 repair (and rant about caps)
This had a fault where it would take about 10 minutes to power on. After that it would work fine until powered off, where it would then take another 10 minutes to boot-up again. That usually means bad capacitors. Sure enough when looking around there was leaky caps in the reset section and some corrosion. When it did work the sound was strange too. If you check the first photo (below) you can see the crud build-up on the SMD op-amp chip, which explains at least part of the sound issue (more on that later). First thing to do is remove all the affected parts, then clean up the PCB, check for track damage (there wasn't any) then replace all the parts with new parts. The owner had previously bought a cap kit from a popular Amiga part supplier in UK (ending in 'kit') but was not confident enough to do the job himself so he provided that to me so I could swap over all the caps. I replaced the first two bad caps in the affected area and the other things such as SMD resistors/caps/transistors etc and the op-amp IC, powered on but that didn't fix the booting issue. The sound issue appeared to be slightly better but still not right. I then consulted the schematic and found that the section that was damaged is actually the amplification circuit. Well at least that should be fixed now hehe! The reset IC (LM555) is tied to a smaller electrolytic 10uf cap so I changed that and it vastly improved the power-on time from 10 minutes to about 1 minute. An improvement sure, but not good enough! The Amiga should of course power on instantly. When it was working, I also noticed the sound on the left side of the monitor was lower in volume than the other side. That is generally a cap problem too with the caps connected to the outputs near the RCA jacks. So then I proceeded to replace the remaining caps on the board since I had the cap kit anyway. After replacing all the electrolytic caps I noticed the sound problem was solved but the computer was still not booting up immediately like it should be doing. It also sometimes would not see the HDD. I checked the 44-pin HDD connector and found a couple of loose pins. The connector was damaged so I have ordered one to replace it (currently waiting for it to arrive). With my logic probe I could see the output on the reset chip was not firing. I checked the schematic again and noted there are a number of SMD parts in the reset section connected to the 555 timer, located on the top side and bottom side of the PCB.
Commodore Amiga 600 repair (reset section of schematic)
I pulled each part and tested them and they were all OK. The only part I had not checked was the "new" 10uf electrolytic cap at location C612 that I had replaced from the cap kit. So I pulled the cap and tested it and found it to have an ESR reading of 4.2ohms. That is WAY too high for a cap in the reset section, about 3-4 times out-of-spec for the 10uf 35v cap which was supplied. I grabbed a quality Matsushita/Panasonic high temp low ESR "FR" range cap from my spare parts stock (which is basically the highest specification cap available from that company), swapped that over then powered on and BAM! it powered on immediately. Problem solved! So the moral of this story is use only low ESR caps in the reset section and beware of companies/people who sell cheap cap kits. Cheap as in "cheap caps", not cheap as in "cheap price". The cap kit provided was certainly not a cheap price but the caps are definitely cheap Chinese crap caps. Always buy quality Japanese electrolytic caps when working on repairs of expensive or uncommon electronics, otherwise you'll be sorry. There are really only a few that are guaranteed for 10+ years and they are all made in Japan. Most of them will last 30+ years. They are made by Nichicon, United Chemi-con, Matsushita/Panasonic, Rubycon and a few others. If you are interested, you can google 'bad caps' and read all about cheap rubbishy caps that have become famous on sites like badcaps.net so you can avoid them! Unfortunately that site now requires an account to view forum posts so I can't recommend it. There is another site that has a full list of every brand with photos and info at http://capacitor.web.fc2.com. This site allows you to identify the brand of any cap (including cheap caps). The site is in Japanese but you can use google translate or the Chrome browser to auto-translate it. The site is *very* informative so it is worth the effort to do some research there.
Do yourself a favor, when buying electrolytic caps for quality electronic equipment, only get them from official channels like Mouser, Digikey, Element14, RS etc and choose the quality Japanese brands (they usually sell several other brands too). You will also save money because other companies and sellers just buy them from places like that (usually selecting the cheapest brand they can get away with), mark them up and re-sell them for a profit. Otherwise you're probably buying cheap Chinese caps that will fail in a year or two and possibly damage your rare collectable equipment. Those companies and individuals are only there to make money and will do whatever it takes to save a few bucks. To give you an idea, a cheap cap costs 10c, the good quality version costs 65c. That's a difference of 55c. That may not sound like much to you and me, but in quantites of 1000 it's an extra $550, and of course they are there to make money so they cheap out and use crappy caps. Don't buy them from eBay either because the Chinese cap companies have copied all of the brands and sell them as genuine good caps when in fact they are cheap copies with the same branding marks!
If you do want to buy a cap kit ask the seller what brand caps it has. If they are reluctant to tell you or they don't know or they just say they are using the best quality caps available, it's almost certain they are using cheap caps. If you have caps already and want to know if your cap is good use an ESR meter to test it (available on ebay for a small price), then refer to the standard ESR charts floating around the net to see if the cap is good or bad. The uF reading should be within +-5% of the number printed on the capacitor and the ESR should be within the specification on the chart. The actual ESR depends on the voltage rating of the capactitor and the uF so you need to refer to the chart to know if it's good or bad. Only use caps within specification and toss out-of-spec caps in the bin where they belong. The Amiga deserves only the best and only Amiga makes it possible!
Commodore Amiga 600 repair (corrosion) Commodore Amiga 600 repair (all parts removed, not cleaned up yet) Commodore Amiga 600 repair (cleaned up) Commodore Amiga 600 repair (all parts replaced with new parts) Commodore Amiga 600 repair (old caps removed) Commodore Amiga 600 repair (new caps replaced) Commodore Amiga 600 repair (fully working)


Commodore CBM 4016 repair
This one took a few weeks to figure out. It would boot up and work, but then lock up at some random time. Sometimes it would run for 3 minutes, or 30 minutes, or 3 hours. If I powered off then on it would work again perfectly for some random amount of time. Sometimes when it crashed it would drop out to the built-in machine code monitor. Other times while running a simple basic program it would stop with a "syntax error" and just one character had been changed to a 4x4 checkerboard pattern symbol. After fixing the error in the program it would run again until it crashed again later. It was crazy! When it ran long enough to run a software RAM test, it didn't find any errors. The voltages were ok so it wasn't a power supply issue. The board was really gross too. Some idiot had sprayed silicon spray all over the board and it was a really nasty slippery slimy thing to work on.
The first thing to do was clean it up so I removed all of the socketed chips and gave it a bath in soapy water, rinsed in clean water then dried it off outside in the sun for 1 whole day. After that I replaced all of the old MOS mask ROMs with EPROMs (2532 are directly 1:1 compatible) and changed all of the 37 year old single-wipe sockets for new dual wipe sockets including all of the larger 40 pin sockets. Removing the sockets also meant I could clean the crud off the board under the socket too. Changing the ROMs & sockets didn't help but one of the ROMs was unknown and undumped!! It was the editor ROM for a 50Hz, graphic keyboard, 80 column type PET which is not available on the net. I promptly sent that to the master PET ROM archive at zimmers.net for safe keeping :-)
Next step was to change all of the 4116 DRAMs. They are also 37 years old and I figured at least one of them was bad or soon will go bad so I ordered 16 new (old stock) DRAMs and new dual-wipe sockets and just replaced everything. I wanted it to be stable and reliable for many years to come so there's really not much point trying to diagnose if one or two RAMs are bad, better to just change it all and be done with it. While doing that I realized that this machine was a 16k, 80 column board which had been upgraded to 32k by someone who was not very good with desoldering parts and had damaged the board under the chips. That explains the amateurish patch wire the size of fence wire on the bottom side of the board under the RAMs! With all of the RAM removed I traced all of the RAM tracks and found no other track damage. Even after changing all of the RAMs it still wasn't working properly but with all of that changed at least now I knew the problem was not ROM or RAM related.
I powered it on the next day and it was totally dead! After testing some things I realised the syncs on the 6845 were missing. The input clock was there but no syncs, and since they are outputs it had to be a bad 6845. I changed it and the computer sprung back to life with the same fault as before. So the 6845 just died on me in the middle of the repair!
All of the caps were 37 years old too, so the next thing was to replace all of the caps. Still no improvement on the actual lock-up issue so I figured I had a logic problem. Over the course of about another week I slowly checked each chip but it wasn't an easy task because most of the time it was working and when it locked up everything would stop. Powering off/on would make it work again perfectly for some random amount of time. In the end I consulted the schems and started just changing all the logic in the memory control section since that too was all 37 years old. In reality it needed all of the logic replacing but that was a huge job. After replacing about 1/2 of the logic the whole thing just died again and this time it was permanent. There were no clocks anywhere (not even on the CPU) but the main crystal was ok. Most of the time it wouldn't boot at all but when it did (once in dozens of power-ups) it locked-up within 1 second and the monitor would make really bad noises like it was out of sync and receiving the wrong frequency. That allowed me to narrow down the search to the clock generation circuit. I eventually found the bad chip, a 74LS164 at location UE3. I tested it in my IC tester and it failed. After replacing that chip it fired up immediately and continued to work for the rest of the day without any issues so I knew it was fixed 100% :- )
I wanted to see if the PET experience could be better so I looked around on the net and found a replacement ROM that has been reverse engineered from the original ROM with additional features. These include Escape key sequences, a soft reset (like CTRL-ALT-DEL on a pc), a DOS Wedge and a 40/80 column soft switch mode. I burned a new EPROM, fitted it and it had some issues so I contacted the maintainer and he promptly fixed the problems and sent me a new binary and it worked great! If you have a PET and are interested in adding more features like I mentioned above check out the site here
Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (random crash). Notice the program now has 2 extra line numbers added to the end. Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (Random crash). This stopped with a 'syntax error'. When the program was LISTed, a 0 had been changed to a checkerboard symbol Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (crud on PCB) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (damaged tracks/pads on PCB and missing cap C63) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (crud on PCB) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (crud on PCB) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (broken capacitor) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (all RAM removed) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (bad capacitor) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (board working and all back together) Commodore CBM 4016/8032 repair (working machine) playing Poker game


Commodore Amiga Power Supply 391029-05 Repair
This is one of the myriad of Amiga power supplies made by Commodore, model 391029-05 and is one of the light switch-mode power supplies. When powered on it appeared to be working but when powered off it would make a whining sound that would get lower in tone over about 5 seconds before stopping completely. I suspected the caps so I opened it up and found several bad caps that had bulged and leaked. They had also leaked through to the bottom side of the PCB causing some corrosion. I removed all of the caps, cleaned up the board and replaced all of them with good new caps. The noise issue was still there but for only 1/4 of a second so I figured it was normal. I believe the noise is the switching transistor trying to run but because the AC has been turned off, the large filter cap drains quickly and makes some noise via the transformer winding. I don't know if that was by design or not, but it's actually a good thing because the big filter cap is totally discharged. I measured it after running it for a while then powering off and the big filter cap had no charge in it. In any case the tiny 1/4 second noise is not a fault. I've heard a similar sound when turning off some electrical appliances. I tested the output voltages and found there were none! After about 2 minutes the voltages measured ok! So there was a delay in the power supply starting up. But it couldn't be caps because I just changed them all with exactly the same values that were in there. Or could it? I checked an identical Amiga power supply and found that some of the caps were a different value! I changed them for the other type and it fired up immediately. I checked the caps I removed and they measured OK so they were just the wrong value and likely changed by some amateur years ago. At that point I was curious what the caps did so I went looking for a schematic of this power supply on the net and found nothing. So then I looked for *any* Amiga power supply schematic and found nothing! That just isn't right so I decided to reverse this one and make a schematic of it to see how it works. After a few days it was done. Below is the schematic for this power supply (391029-05) which I am making available for the benefit of the Amiga community. The schematic might look a little bit strange but that is by design. The PCB has no component locations or markings so it makes it difficult to reference components between the schematic and PCB. The schematic is drawn using the same track layout as the PCB, but viewed from above. Think of the PCB as being transparent and you can see the tracks below. That way you can look at the components on the PCB and immediately know where to find them on the schematic. It is also drawn on an A0 sheet because I really hate multi-page schematics. If you have ever tried to fault-find an Amiga motherboard using the available Commodore schematics you will know how much of a pain it is to look through 18 pages trying to find a signal only to find it then goes off somewhere else and then you have to find that signal, then off somewhere else etc etc etc. Drawing it on one very large sheet solves that problem. In today's computing world, multi-page schematics are really a thing of the past in my opinion. For those who are curious, the schematic was drawn using Altium Designer version 16.

It would be good to continue to make more Amiga power supply schematics but the other versions are not available to me here. If you are reading this and want to help, you can. If you have any of the other versions of the Amiga power supplies (heavy or light versions, dead or alive) or any other Amiga hardware that doesn't have any schematics available and you would like to see them reverse-engineered so a schematic can be created and made publicly available, contact me. Even if you can't help directly, you could help by informing other Amiga users on any of the Amiga forums and similar places so that my request gets out there. You can also help by simply donating via Paypal or donating any other unwanted Amiga or Commodore hardware. Hopefully I will be able to get hold of more Amiga power supplies (or other hardware without schematics) and make schematics for all of them. That will benefit everyone who owns a real Amiga so they can continue to live on! :-)
Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair. Notice there are 3 bulged caps Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair (corrosion) Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair (corrosion) Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair (bulged capacitors) Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair (all caps removed and PCB cleaned up) Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair (new caps replaced) Commodore Amiga Power Supply Repair (working) Commodore Amiga Power Supply Schematic 391029-05


I'm also looking for a yoke from a 1084 or 1084S or 1084S-P or 1084S-P1 monitor (or possibly a 1081 may also fit). Basically any of the models made by Philips should work ok.
Commodore Amiga Monitor Repair. Shorted yoke :-( Commodore Amiga Monitor Repair. Shorted yoke :-( Commodore Amiga Monitor Repair. Shorted yoke :-(
I was given a dead and rusted 1084S-P1 a while ago. The chassis repair took a long time to fix because of all the corrosion but now works fine. The repair will be shown in a future news post. Unfortunately the yoke is shorted and corroded so it's currently still unusable. If you have any faulty/not-working Commodore monitors and you want to part out some pieces please contact me.


21st February 2017
Some more decapping news! My Sega Model 1 DSP's were decapped and the ROMs have been successfully extracted. More news on the CAPS0ff blog. Please support CAPS0ff with funds if you can so more chips can be decapped.
Those chips have also been marked green on my Decapping Status Page


16th February 2017
I redumped Gallop Racer 2 and now it's working in MAME. Here's a few screenshots....
Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997
Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997 Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997
Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997

This next pic shows the PCB in the Mother-Load that is shown on 15th July 2016.....
Gallop Racer 2 by Tecmo 1997


26th January 2017
At my request, CAPSoff has decided to consider decapping chips that are still sitting here in my Guru Lair or other chips that may be acquired in the future.
Because of the costs involved with decapping and processing chips, to do all of the current chips and any future ones that come along, they would like to get some support from the emulation community in order to keep the project moving forward. You can read about it on their blog here.
They also recently did some decapping work on some PIC16C57 chips and you can see their blog entry about that here.


7th January 2017
A few years ago around the middle of 2009 I received some items for decapping. Technically they were not really needed but they were sent anyway. However this was an extreme case of severe butcherism because the chips were received like this.....
Chips from Fighter's History Chips from Fighter's History Chips from Fighter's History Chips from Fighter's History Chips from Fighter's History Chips from Fighter's History Chips from Fighter's History

The PCB was also sent, minus most of it's chips!
Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History

Clearly this was scrap, or so I initially thought, so I basically tossed it on my pile of junk and it sat there for several years.

We all now know that the chips were not really needed for decapping because the emulation is working fine thanks to fantastic reverse-engineering work by Bryan McPhail. It always disturbed me that this PCB was treated so badly and was scrapped for no good reason. Recently I came across it while looking for some other stuff and I decided to make an attempt to resurrect it to it's former glory.

The first thing was to determine if all the chips I needed were available. After a bit of searching I found all of the custom chips except the HuC6280, but I had a couple of spare chips lying around so I had that missing chip in stock. There were several other chips missing including several SMD logic chips, a YM2151 sound chip, a few SMD capacitors, an electrolytic capacitor that feeds the reset circuit and a DIP8 EEPROM. And of course all of the ROMs were also missing. I had all of those parts either in my parts bin or on some scrap PCBs and the ROMs can easily be replaced with EPROMs so the re-assembly work could begin!

The next step was to clean all the old solder off the PCB pads where the missing chips were. It was a pure miracle that the fragile solder pads were not broken or ripped off the board by the idiot who did all this damage. It's an easy job to remove solder so after an hour that part was done.

Now came the really tedious and boring part.... I had to bend all of the legs on every custom chip back to where they were supposed to be *very carefully*, hoping the legs were (a) all present and (b) didn't break off as I manipulated them. After many hours (about 1 hour per chip) the job was done and everything looked as good as it could get... not perfect but very close.

Now to start mounting the chips. I started with the logic chips, capacitors and other smaller parts then moved onto the custom chips. One by one they were soldered into place. Because the chips were not perfectly straight and flat within 0.1mm (the normal tolerance) I had to mount each leg one by one (close to 800 legs!). I couldn't do the usual drag soldering method and mount the chip quickly. Every leg had to be held in place carefully in line with the PCB pad and then heated with the soldering iron to make it stay there. Because I worked in engineering for 30 years I have developed special tools to help with that kind of task so it went fairly smoothly. After many many hours (maybe 24 hours across about 3-4 days) everything was in place and it was time to power on and see if it was alive.

The first screen I saw was full of garbage tiles so I thought it was not working, but looking closely at the screen I could see some white text among the pink, blue, white and purple mess that read.....
"WARNING GAME MODE SETTING ERROR"
By luck probing around, I accidentally shorted two pins on a logic chip near the CPU and to my amazement it booted into the game! The backgrounds were scrambled but it was running! The title screen graphic "Fighter's History" was there but the "Copyright Data East 1993" text was also scrambled, mostly just random dots. Most of the initial Data East logo first boot screen was also OK but some sections were out of position. All of the sprites were OK. The game was playable (i.e. controls were working so I assumed the custom I/O chip was OK) and sound was working too. Things were starting to look very promising!
Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History

I figured some legs on the custom chips were loose so I went around every chip and checked them and found a couple of loose legs. The graphics were improved slightly but it was still not fixed so I started looking closer at the bottom of the PCB. Because this board had been attacked with a heatgun there were many solder blobs on the board where the solder in the vias had come out of the hole (because it was boiled) and was sitting on the PCB surface as a little solder ball. You can see some of the little balls in the 11th pic shown above (the PCB pic with the blue resitor array pack). There were dozens and dozens of those little balls all over the PCB top and bottom. This particular PCB has vias that are *really* close together and some of the solder balls were causing shorts. I cleared most of them before I started soldering the custom chips on but missed a few. After clearing some more blobs it improved a bit more. The corruption seemed to change slightly with each re-boot. I checked a few logic chips connected to the 56 and 74 chips (used for generating the backgrounds) and found a 74F373 SMD logic chip that was a bit random. I pulled the chip and tested it and found it passed the test only about 50% of the time so it was faulty. This was probably the original fault as I'm guessing this board came off ebay. After changing it the graphics were no better but at least now the corruption was consistent.
Fighter's History
The pic above shows the backgrounds are now partly correct.

At this point I needed to get some confirmation about a few things so I contacted Bryan to get his opinion. MAME is really great for playing games but there's very little real world repair info in MAME (aside from my Guru-Readme's hehe!) to help with problems like this. At least not for the average person who doesn't understand the deep down guts of the code and how it works. He told me the bootup warning error means there is a problem with the 93C45 EEPROM and the graphics fault was likely shorted or loose pins on the background graphics chips. In this case that's chip 56 and/or 74.

On a regular board a bad line will usually give a solid bad line/jailbar on the graphics. But on Fighter's History the graphics chip uses a form of encryption that mixes up all the bits within a 4K block or something so they aren't stored linearly. This means that a bad line can cause the addressing to go completely wrong over the whole block so everything appears completely scrambled. So it could just be 1 bad line causing the problems.

I had a look at the EEPROM problem first. After checking I realized what was wrong. Urgghh! I had used a 93C46 EEPROM and it should be a 93C45 EEPROM. They are sometimes compatible depending on how they are configured. In this case the 93C45 EEPROM is fixed at 64 bits x 16-bit and a 93C46 can be configured to either 128 bits x 8-bit or 64 bits x 16-bit when a specific pin is held high or low. That pin was not set because the 93C45 doesn't have that option so it was the wrong chip. After finding a 93C45 EEPROM in my parts bin and changing it the fault went away and the game booted up fine. Of course that didn't fix my graphic problems.

I went around the graphics chips again even more carefully than last time and found a micro-hair of solder shorting 2 pins together. I cleared that which improved the colors slightly. Then realizing there was nothing else to look at (all chips were mounted 100%), I double checked the bottom side just in case there was another solder blob causing a short. Sure enough I found one. After clearing that it booted up and was 100% fixed! Success at last!!
Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History Fighter's History

All cleaned up and ready to go. WOW! What an amazing transformation! :-)
Fighter's History PCB (Data East 1993)

So after reading all of this you're probably wondering who the butcher is, right? Well, normally I would not mention that because this was sent for a useful purpose. But of course if you have been reading these pages for some time you will know I take great pleasure in giving assholes who have screwed me over in the past their just desserts. This is no exception. The funny part is he can't even deny it. It's documented ALL over the internet and a simple google search will reveal the truth of who this horrendous butcher is. Hahahahah!!!
All I can say is if you value your undumped board DO NOT send it to him for dumping!

At least this ended well because it was sent to someone who could properly take care of it (i.e. me!) and now I can sell this board on my Items For Sale page :-)

So now with all the excitement over I can use the working PCB to discover something useful for MAME..... I noticed recently a small change to MAME relating to the volume chip used on these Data East boards. Unfortunately no one has documented exactly what chip is used for the electronic volume control so the change is just guess work. The real PCB does not have a volume pot on it and volume is adjusted in the test mode electronically. So I had a look, did a bit of research and identified the chip pretty quickly.
Chips from Fighter's History
The Fighter's History PCB (and others like Night Slashers etc) use a Mitsubishi M5222FP Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA) in a tiny SOIC8 package which is used for the electronic volume control. You can see that in the above pic just near the group of larger electrolytic capacitors. For those curious about the chip the datasheet is here.





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