I've always wanted a Pole Position cabinet. I've been looking for years and it is really hard to find one that is within driving distance, inexpensive, and actually
working. In June 2016 I stumbled across one for sale in Myrtle Beach for $300. It listed on Ebay as "Tested Project Pole Position Arcade Game ( Working Game )" and
was being sold by the same guy who sold me a machine in the Crusin World / Daytona USA debacle.
I paid my $300, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
While talking to the guy on the phone we agreed on a price of $100 for some extra items (Wing Shooting Championship pcb, an extra Pole
Position video pcb, an unknown Golden Tee pcb, and a Galaga control panel). He told me to meet him around the back at the loading docks so I took my extra stuff
out to the truck and drove around back. He had the PP machine waiting for me and I asked him to turn it on. Of course, it didn't work. It would display some funky
graphics but it did have sound and the cabinet looked to be in fair condition. We worked on getting the game to boot up for a while and to my shock he took an
old sanding disk (around 200 grit) and started raking it across the edge connector saying that it would fix the problem. I'm amazed he didn't sand all the traces off.
Anyway, after messing with it for a while I offered him $150 (which he did not take). We worked on it a while longer and finally got it to boot up. Yep, it was a
Pole Position II machine. He apologized and we walked back to his office where we grabbed two more PP board sets that were leaning against the wall behind a chair.
He threw them in with the deal and I headed home:
The machine looked to be in fair shape. You can see one of the bottom corners is missing.
Here are the extra boards he threw in the deal (and the one PP video pcb I purchased over the phone). I had a feeling I was going to be needing these:
I cleaned out the cabinet and pulled the board for initial inspection before firing it up. Hmmm, maybe this is why the game was displaying PP II and not PP.
The guy said he didn't know anything about games and could only rely on what the board said. Pretty clear what this one says:
Of course the game did not work again once I got it home, so now came the fun part of figuring out what was wrong with it. The first thing I noticed was the
burnt up edge connector:
OMG! I think I found the problem. The CPU pcb had major battery acid damage. The was going to be a very long task to get this board back into shape:
After inspecting the boards and cleaning the connectors I popped them back in and tried to fire up the game. Nope, just garbage:
Since I knew I would not be playing PPII for a while, I turned my attention to the other boardsets. Hopefully I would be able to get a working game after all.
There was only one full set of PP boards that were complete. The other three boards looked like they had been stripped for parts. I took a chance and threw the
other full set in the cabinet. Surprisingly, it worked (kind of). It is hard to tell in the picture but the graphics were pretty bad. The cars were almost see through:
I did an inspection / cleaning on the board and found one of the chips was not seated at all. I had never seen a chip pulled out of a board like this before.
The legs were bent all to hell and I was worried that I would break them off while trying to straighten them back out. Later on I would find a similar situation on
one of the PP parts boards. This doesn't look bad in the picture but imagine what the legs look like on the other side. They are plugged in and bent way back:
A further inspection showed that there were many other problems with this boardset. Here you can see where repairs had been made:
There were also many chip legs that were either completely black or rusted:
After doing some light cleaning I put the board back in to see if the bent leg chip was the cause of my graphics problem. Yep, that fixed it. After 17 years of searching
I now had a working Pole Position! I don't know how long it will last before breaking again but at least it was playable now:
Since I had a working PP boardset, I turned my attention back to the non-working PPII. I needed to neutralize the battery acid (actually, it is a base but everyone
says acid) so I used a 5% concentration of white vinegar. I removed several chips from the board and sprayed the vinegar in the affected area on the front and back of the pcb.
Next, I washed the area I sprayed with water, blew the moisture off with compressed air and set it out in the sun to dry for an hour:
I wanted to reflow all the solder in the affected area (circled with a sharpie) but the solder was so messed up it was hard to get it to reflow. I coated the area
with flux but it didn't help much. I was going to dig through my parts drawers to get supplies to replace all the damaged parts but I ended up buying a pre-made
"battery repair kit" from Ian Kellogg. It will take a few days for the parts to come in so I guess I'll just go back to playing Joust and wait for the package to arrive:
I used my desoldering iron (one of the best tools I have ever purchased) to remove all the suspect components from the pcb:
After installing all the new stuff from the kit I put the boards in and fired the game up. It worked just fine:
After getting the PPII boards to work I pulled them back out and put PP back in. Yes, it still worked (three days and counting). I turned my attention to the
control panel. The shifter was really hard to move so I wanted to find out what was wrong:
Judging from the broken plastic it must have been hard to shift for quite a while:
There is the problem. All the grease has dried up. I slapped some white lithium grease in there and lubbed everything. It is working fine now:
Now that I had the game kind of working I wanted to try to make sure it would stay working. One common fix is to tie all the power lugs on the boards together, tie
all the ground lugs together, and then hook them into the wiring harness. This helps save the edge connectors from getting burnt up when the AR-II boards see resistance. It also makes the game more stable and
keeps a lot of the graphic problems at bay. I ordered some 90 degree female spade connectors from China and a month later when they came in (yes, shipping is
slow but you can't beat $10 total for 150 connectors) I got to work:
The first thing I did was make a map of each board so I could route the wires neatly:
Even though I used my map it still turned into spaghetti:
After running the wires I metered the harness for each board to find where +5V and GND were. I used spade connectors for these too. I colored the red plastic
black for the GND connections and put yellow tape around the wires for the video board to make sure I didn't cross up my wires. Doing so would have certainly spelled
the end of my PP game:
After doing the wiring I replaced the 6116 CMOS RAM located at 7E on the CPU board with a Dallas DS1220AD-200IND+ SRAM chip. This would enable me to keep high scores on the game without resorting to using
a normal battery on the board:
Yes, high scores now working:
Note - You are probably seeing missing links to some pictures above and some junk below. I still use Notepad to create the html code and have a template with
plenty of extra references to pictures to save on typing. As I continue the page I will add pictures and descriptions and these missing links will disappear.
Link to another page:
Sippy (Geo Metro Convertible)
Watch the video here (the fun starts around the 20 second mark):