Jan 092017

Received this Wild West C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa PCB for repair:

PCB was very dirty with flux residual and rust so I first washed it.After dried I powered it up and was greeted by this screen:

The initial self-test reported a bad ROM @T5 and a bad RAM @J4, obviously the board didn’t boot up but kept resetting.Usually Konami testing routines are very reliable so I went to dump the four program ROMs and actually the one @T5 showed at offset 0x3FFB4 a difference  of only one byte (well, one nibble..) compared to the MAME dump:

I reprogrammed the EPROM (a 27C020) and error was cleared but obviously the one regarding the RAM @J4 was still present:

RAM @J4 was one of the three RGB 2K x 8-bit palette RAMs :

Piggybacking it had not effect so, before removing the chip in order to test it out-of-circuit, I checked its connections with a multimeter.All was fine until  I could measure a short between pin 21 (/WE) of the RAM and VCC :

This explained why the RAM was reported as bad as it was never be written (write enable signal is active low).The /WE signals of the other two RAMs are generated by the near ‘054338’ custom :

so I went to inspect it with a digital microscope and found two bridged pins:

I removed the bridge and board successfully booted but sound was totally missing:

This is a common issue on these Konami board that use the ‘infamous’ hybrid audio module.This board has the ‘054986A’ one :

Usually you can fix this issue by replacing the capacitors but I opted for a drastic solution removing the module and installing two rounded machine-tooled strips with 1.778mm of pitch:

Lastly I used one of my ready module:

Job done.

 Posted by at 10:27 pm
Jan 072017

Another Namco System 1 CPU board on the bench after the past one :

Board (coupled with a good ROM board) gave only a black screen with some green lines, watchdog was active :

I checked the three colors outputs and only the green was active, the other two were dead:

We saw in the past repair that there are three 6264 static RAMs, each one for a color, they are addressed by the custom ‘C120’ and data are processed by the custom ‘C116’  which generates the different shades (then formed into a single color and converted to analog signals from some resistor arrays)

Probing the RAMs revealed stuck signals on data pins of the ones @B2 (RED related) and E2 (BLUE).I removed them :

But during desoldering I decided to remove also the GREEN one @D2.They all failed when tested out-of-circuit:

But also with good RAMs I got no improvement, watchdog was no longer active but all three colors still dead.Probing the other RAMs on board, I found no data coming out the two 6264 @D6 and E6 despite address lines were active:

When tested both out-of-circuit actually only the one @E6 failed:

Finally the board booted but with missing sprites and music (ony FXs were present).Here’s a video using a World Stadium ’89 ROM board:

I noticed that if I piggybacked the 6264 RAM @L3 ( used by the custom ’30’ which controls the sound), the rustling sound I had instead of the music disappeared:

So I removed the RAM and it failed the test:

This restored full sound.Now the sprites issue.I noticed that, when using this CPU board with a Galaga88 ROM board, the sprites (that were competely missing when using the World Stadium ’89 one) were visible but garbled and blocky:

The two customs related to objects (the sprites address generator ’48’ and the sprites generator ’39’ ) were good but probing the two 74LS377 @A3 and A4 revealed stuck outputs:

I promptly removed them and they both failed when tested out-of-circuit:

Replacing them restored the sprites and fixed completely the board.Five RAMs and two TTL replaced to achieve this, a nice booty…

 Posted by at 10:43 am
Jan 042017

Received this faulty Konami Aliens PCB for repair :

Board was in poor condition, dirty, custom ASICs were full of flux residual, four GFX 4Mbit MASK ROMs were removed and socketed most likey using improperly an heat gun judging from bubbles on solderside of the PCB:

For first I washed the board.Once dried, I powered it up and I was greeted by this repeating screen :

This should be the self-test report but graphics was all messed up sign that there was some problem in the tiles generation (the red characthers most likey referred to some RAMs reported as bad).Therefore I went to inspected the reworked area on solderside and found that a couple of rivets were ripped off during the desoldering operation, these should have tied to VCC since they were pin 31 (/BYTE) of two 4Mbit MASK ROMs

I checked all the connections on the reworked area against schematics :

I found some poor contact between the two tile generators ‘052109’ –  ‘051962’ and MASK ROMs/ RAMs

This allowed the board to succesfully boot but some tiles had bad colors:

MASK ROMs test reported three bad devices:

Since they were socketed I dumped them and compared against MAME.They resulted good but I realized they were put in wrong sockets!I swapped them and MASK ROM test succesfully passed :

No other issue was found so also this board was declared as 100% working.

 Posted by at 4:43 pm
Jan 042017

Got this Namco System 1 CPU board from my friend (and member here) Corrado:

He told me the board developed a color issue, the GREEN was missing at all.He troubleshooted it and was sure that it was due a faulty custom ‘C116’ which generates the RGB video output:

but he had no spare of it so decided to send me the board.Once received I could see myself the issue trying the board with a Galaga88 ROM board:

Besides the missing GREEN color, the board behaved strangely.You could not coin-up with both players but only with the SERVICE button but, once started a game, a “TEST PROGRAM INITIALIZE ERROR” message was displayed.I probed the outputs of this custom ‘C116’ and all the ones related to the GREEN color were stuck low:

I removed the faulty one:

The spare was taken from a Point Blank donor board (this custom is present also on Namco System 2 hardware)

I carefully soldered the IC on the faulty PCB:

Powered up the boardset and :

No more issues!Board 100% fixed.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Jan 012017

Had this faulty Pac-Mania boardset in a trade some years ago :

As many of you know, this game runs on Namco System 1 hardware (made of a CPU and ROM board) which features some classic titles like Splatterhouse, Galaga88 and others.Here are the tech specs :


  • Main CPU: Motorola M6809 @ 2.048 MHz
  • Sub CPU: Motorola M6809 @ 2.048 MHz
  • Sound CPU: Motorola M6809 @ 1.536 MHz
  • MCU: Hitachi HD63701 @ 1.536 MHz


  • Yamaha YM2151 FM sound chip @ 3.57958 MHz
  • Custom 8-channel wavetable stereo PSG @ 96 kHz
  • 2-channel DAC

My board had two noticeable faults : the sprites had wrong colors in certain positions and music was missing, only some FXs were present :

For first I swapped the boards with a good set and could narrow the fault in the CPU one (the smaller one) :

As you can see , hardware uses many custom ICs each of which with different functions, here are the ones used on CPU  board (taken from MAME source)

  • CUS27 clock divider
  • CUS30 sound control
  • CUS39 sprite generator
  • CUS48 sprite address generator
  • CUS95(x5) I/O interface
  • CUS99(x2) sound volume
  • CUS116 display output generator
  • CUS117 main/sub CPU MMU
  • CUS120 sprite/tilemap mixer and palette address interface
  • CUS121 sound CPU address decoder
  • CUS123 scrolling tilemap address generator
  • CUS133 tilemap generator

The sprites are generated by the custom ’39’ which I test as good in another board (as well as all the other customs).This IC addresses two 8K x 8-bit static RAMs @D4 and E4:

Checking this ares against schematics I found a broken trace between pin 1 (address line A7) of both RAMs:

Patching the trace restored the sprites so I went to troubleshoot the sound issue.As said music was missing and game behaved strangely since I was not able to really enter in game, the  selection screen was repeating in an endless loop:

The music is generated by the YM2151 sound synthesis IC but probing its bus revealed no data coming to/from I/O lines:

The custom ‘121’ sits between the data bus of the 6809 audio CPU and YM2151:

I replaced it :

but this didn’t fix the issue, music was still missing.The TEST mode gave me a “SOUND RAM2 ERROR” which is not covered in the service manual:

Looking at MAME sound memory map :

static ADDRESS_MAP_START( sound_map, AS_PROGRAM, 8, namcos1_state )
	AM_RANGE(0x0000, 0x3fff) AM_ROMBANK("soundbank")   /* Banked ROMs */
	AM_RANGE(0x4000, 0x4001) AM_DEVREAD("ymsnd", ym2151_device, status_r)
	AM_RANGE(0x4000, 0x4001) AM_DEVREADWRITE("ymsnd", ym2151_device, read, write)
	AM_RANGE(0x5000, 0x53ff) AM_DEVREADWRITE("namco", namco_cus30_device, namcos1_cus30_r, namcos1_cus30_w) AM_MIRROR(0x400) /* PSG ( Shared ) */
	AM_RANGE(0x7000, 0x77ff) AM_RAM AM_SHARE("triram")
	AM_RANGE(0x8000, 0x9fff) AM_RAM /* Sound RAM 3 */
	AM_RANGE(0xc000, 0xc001) AM_WRITE(sound_bankswitch_w) /* ROM bank selector */
	AM_RANGE(0xd001, 0xd001) AM_DEVWRITE("c117", namco_c117_device, sound_watchdog_w)
	AM_RANGE(0xe000, 0xe000) AM_WRITE(irq_ack_w)
	AM_RANGE(0xc000, 0xffff) AM_ROM AM_REGION("audiocpu", 0)

this error is related to the part of circuit called ‘TRI PORT RAM’ in schematics :

I  checked connections, probing the ICs in-circuit with a logic comparator, all was fine.The ony IC I had doubts about was a 74HC646 @P1 :

Its signal transitions didn’t seem regular to me :

I decided to remove it anyway and test it out-of-circuit.It failed:

Since it’s an unusual IC (it’s a CMOS device, sensitive to ESD, this could explain the fault) , I took the spare from another faulty Namco System 1 CPU board.This restored the music so I could declare the board as 100% working.


 Posted by at 10:45 am