Guardians / Denjinmakai II repair log

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Jan 142019

Received today from Germany this Guardians PCB, also known as Denjinmakai II, a horizontally-scrolling beat-em-up released by Banpresto in 1995)

According to the owner the game played totally ‘bind’.I could confirm it as soon as I powered the board up :

Board playing ‘blind’

But, as you can see from above video, I was able to restore some graphics by pressing down this surface mounted custom ASIC (QFP 208 pins)

Judging from the heatsink on its top this custom ASIC acts as a GPU generating most of the graphics and video signals too.At a closer inspection I found many lifted pins on all four sides.An example :

I promptly reflowed the IC, this gave me a steady picture but all the graphics were scrambled and, judging from the blueish screen, the RED color was missing too :

Looking at solder side of the PCB I noticed a long and quite deep scratch passing across some traces:

Scratch on solder side

Inspecting the area with a microscope and doing a continuity check with my multimeter confirmed that some traces were severed and other caused unstable contact:

I patched and reinforced the traces with some AWG30 wire :

Traces repair

This lead to few improvements, graphics were still scrambled so I moved on to troubleshoot the lack of RED color.This was pretty easy to fix as the board had a quite clear damage that broke the trace which carries the signal to JAMMA edge connector :

Damage on PCB

As for bad graphics, I decided to double-check the previously reflowed custom ASIC and found a solder bridge shorting two pins:

Solder bridge on reflowed ASIC

Removing it fixed the issue and board completely.Repair accomplished.

Board finally fixed
 Posted by at 10:34 pm

64th Street – A Detective Story repair log #2

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Dec 212018

Got from Portugal this mint 64th Street – A Detective Story PCB, a beat ’em up released by Jaleco in 1991 :

The board simply booted to a static garbage screen:

At a deeper analysis both 68000 CPUs were not resetting properly on power up :

On the main one there was no transition from LOW to HIGH state, /RESET line went staight HIGH :

On the sound CPU both /HALT and /RESET lines were stuck LOW:

I traced back the lines to a typical power-on reset circuit based on the TL7705 voltage monitor IC which I replaced with no luck:

The circuit is made of few other components, specifically there are two 0.1uF mylar capacitors connected to pin 1 (REF) and pin 7 (SENSE)

I got few Ohms when I measured resistance across their terminals (after detached one leg from circuit), they were almost shorted :

I replaced them :

Board successfully booted into game with no further issue :

Repair accomplished.

 Posted by at 11:08 pm
Dec 192018

Got from Portugal this Out Zone PCB, actually a low-budget korean version :

At visual inspection the board lacked of two 6116 SRAMs (but sockets were installed)

After fitting them I powered the board up and I got the usual black/white wavy striped screen but no boot into game, 68000 main CPU got stalled right after :

Multiple could be the reasons, in particular this Toplan hardware requires the sound circuit to be running otherwise the whole system can’t be initialized.A Z80A rules the sound system :

Z80A audio CPU

When I did piggybacking on it I got a ‘SUB CPU ERROR’ message on screen :

Once removed the IC I had confirm that it was really bad.With a good Z80 the board successfully booted into game but sprites were all blocky (it seems this is a common issue of this hardware…)

Sprites data are stored in four 1Mbit 28 pin MASK ROMs :

Sprite MASK ROMs

Devices were soldered in on my board and not socketed like usual so I was forced to remove all of them for dumping.Two of them gave different CRCs at each reading :

Specifically the ones marked ‘ROM1’ @1B and ‘ROM4’ @1L :

Faulty 1Mbit 28 pin MASK ROMs

I replaced them with two 32 pin 1Mbit non-JEDEC EPROM devices.All seemed fine but while playing the game I noticed some sprites (like explosions) had lines through :

Looking at hardware I figured out that the sprite line buffer is made of four 6116 (2k x 8-bit) static RAMs:

 Probing them with a scope revealed some dead outputs of the one @12L :

On the right no activity on some data lines of 6116 SRAM @12L Good signals on the left for comparison

The chip failed the out-of-circuit testing:

Installing a good RAM chip finished the job.Repair accomplished.

 Posted by at 9:17 pm
Dec 022018

I have two Toki pcbs in storage, both with sprite errors. I saw a video from lukemorse1 (who actually inspired me to start repairing arcade pcbs) on youtube where he worked on a Toki pcb, also with sprite errors.

Here’s how the error on board #1 looked like:

So there are blocks surrounding the sprites.

From Luke’s video ( I identified the area responsible for sprite handling and I quickly found a 74LS273 with a stuck output at pin 19:

Checking with the multimeter, I found that this pin was almost shorted to ground:

I quickly desoldered the IC and tested it with my VP-398

Replacing it with a working 74LS273 made the sprites appear as they should:


So a big thanks to lukemorse1 and also as always to caius for always helping out 🙂

Wonder Boy III – Monster Lair repair log

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Nov 072018

Received for repair this original Wonder Boy III – Monster Lair PCB (on Sega System16B hardware)

Board booted into game but sound was missing and some objects glitched :

I decided to troubleshoot for first the lack of sound.The amplifier was previously replaced as well as some electrolytic capacitors:

Using my audio probe I could figure out that the lack of sound was not caused by a fault in the analog circuit but it had a digital nature so I went to check the relevant circuit made of a Z80B CPU, a 6264 SRAM, a ROM and a YM2151 (plus a UPD7759 for speech samples) and I found that pin 13 (data line D5) of the RAM was silent as well as on the respective data bit of the Z80 and the YM2151 :

But it was toggling on the ROM (a 27C512 EPROM) which lies on ROM board :

 There was clearly a broken trace somewhere so I run a jumper wire from the RAM to the ROM:


This restored the sound.

Now the sprites issue.Relevant data are stored in eight 27C512 on ROM board :

I dumped the devices and my programmer complained about a bad contact on pin 9 of the EPROM @B2 and pin 16 of the one @B7:

At a closer inspection it turned out the pins were cut so they didn’t make a good contact into sockets:

I rebuilt the pins and this fixed the sprite issue.Board fixed.

 Posted by at 7:56 pm