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And On The Eighth Day...
4.27.2006 - 10:29 AM | permalink

God created Stevie Nicks. Or at least that was the contention of the bumper sticker I passed on the way to the Metro this morning. Gave me a chuckle. Thought I would share.

So, are you like me in that you have a bunch of old hard drives sitting round that you don't know what to do with? Then I have a recommendation for you. Stop by your local computer store and pick up a Netgear Storage Central (SC-101). What is it you ask? It's a Network Attached Storage device (NAS) that you can pop up to two drives in, plug into your router and have instant storage on your home network... and who couldn't use more of that. It allows you to divide the storage up into many different "drives" - maybe one for every member of your family - or one big "drive". It also can do disc "mirroring" if you are paranoid (like me) of loosing data. The device is simple to set up and CompUSA has them on sale for $99 right now. Hard to go wrong for that price.

In other news, RadioVOU is about to undergo a format flip from Adult Contemporary to Classic Hits of the 80's and 90's. I have been ripping my library for about a week now and have about a thousand songs in all ready to go in rotation. Only remaining task is to figure out how to get some of my classic vinyl to digital form. Give me a few days... then tune in at http://www.radiovou.com. Should be a hoot.
 
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Baby Pac Man Comes Alive!
4.06.2006 - 9:58 AM | permalink

Well, it was a lot quicker than I expected. A little over a week ago, I took delivery on a Baby Pac Man arcade machine. Baby Pac Man was something of an oddity in the arcade world - half video game, half pinball machine. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I had room for one more game in our "arcade", and I wanted a classic like pacman, but also really wanted a pinball machine (and didn't have the room for one). Baby Pac puts both into what is a fairly standard sized arcade cabinet. However, because it's a cross between the two worlds, fixing it can be doubly hard.

I had purchased it on eBay for around $240. It was not in complete working order. The monitor would light up and run a color bar test, and the playfield would illuminate, but that was it. So, I started on my quest to find answers on Google and stumbled across something called the Ultimate MPU Board. Essentially, it is a replacement board for the brains of the computer. These old MPU boards used to have a battery soldered directly to them to store the high scores and such. Problem is, I guess the engineers didn't figure they would be around 20 or 30 years later... and the batteries would leak, corroding the board and the Vidiot (Video) board that was mounted directly below it. My guess was that the MPU was hosed, so I ordered the NEW replacement board.

In the meantime, I took to cleaning the thing up. As with my tron game, Baby Pac hadn't seen much love in that area and there was a ton of grime... but the playfield cleaned up very well. I also ordered about 100 type 555 lightbulbs to replace every light on the play field and coin door, rubber post caps to hold plastic pieces on the board down, and a brand new bumper kit to replace the existing ones that were crumbling away. Things were looking pretty nice, but the game still wasn't working - as I waited for the MPU.

Then two days ago, something wierd happened. A day before the MPU arrived, on a damp evening in the garage, I flicked the switch and the video portion of the game started working. It sort of freaked me out - but I enjoyed playing pac sans the pinball portion which I couldn't figure out.

Yesterday, the MPU came in the mail. After checking a few readings with a digital multimeter, I popped it in and fired the game up. Video came right up but still no pinball. Took a second and cleared the high scores and totals as they had been corrupted at some point, and set off to check connections and fuses on the pinball board. After a few hours, it still wasn't working, and I was a little frustrated but figured this was part of the process.

My eyes then fell to the power supply that has 5 fuses in it. It appeared one was dark. I thought to myself... it couldn't be that simple. I reached down, pulled out the fuse and sure enough... it was fried. So, I grabbed a new fuse, popped it in and fired the game up. Immediately, I knew something was different - as I could here the solenoids on the pinball board snap into place.

Baby Pac Man Was Alive!!

I spent the next few hours playing the game and being yelled at once by my wife for yelling too loud... as it was late at night and inky, blinky and clide killed my Pac. The cool part is I can move on to restoring the cabinet much quicker than I anticipated, and this thing might be complete by May. I'll keep you posted!
 
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