Jan 012020

Next up in the box of brokenness is a Pacland.

Visual inspection revealed the amp had blown up

I also saw the usual corrosion on the legs of some of the customs

and the socket didn’t look too great either

As you would expect there were some pins missing from the chip when I removed it

I soldered legs on best I could and opted to fire the board up.

This is a good start and using the error code list compiled by my good friend cmonkey I knew that this was a RAM fault.
Checking RAM 9N I found several address lines were dead

Using the schematics I could see those address lines came from a 74LS32 @ 10J

I confirmed the outputs were bad and replaced the chip.
Now I get this when booting

Game is booting but some scroll issues and some jailbars too.
I could affect the scroll issues by pressing on that custom chip I resoldered at the start. I removed it again and attempted to further clean the legs but I just made it all worse. In the end I opted to solder it into a socket.
It looks crappy but it got the job done

Scroll issues fixed I now turned to those jailbars.
This ended up being an easy fix. I removed the ROM at 6T and checked it in my programmer. Bit 5 was stuck high so I replaced the ROM which fixed the jailbars.

Last thing to deal with was the sound. Obviously I wasn’t going to get far without an amp and I don’t have any spares. Lucky for me, my friend Smarty sent me a replacement gratis which fixed the sound and completed the repair.

Thanks very much to Smarty for the amp.

 Posted by at 10:08 pm
Dec 302019

Bought a cheap Desert Breaker for my collection which the seller declared as having no sound.


This game is running on system18 hardware. Since the sound was totally missing I first tested the z80 which was good and then I desoldered the SRAM which was

a Toshiba @IC79 , normally very unreliable in comparison to other makers and infact it was faulty.

It fixed the sound but playing I noticed that some sprites had missing lines


This problem could be either the custom chip 315-5361 ( sprite generator ) or the srams connected to it ( IC21 and 22)

Since all the address line were good, I proceeded to desolder and test the srams which were infact bad bad.


Game was fixed totally


Dec 202019

A fresh box of broken boards from Muddymusic arrived recently and Asterix was the first one I pulled out.
Here is the picture I was sent of what it does on boot up

That’s reporting a couple of bad RAM chips but when I did the visual inspection I saw what looks to me like some reflow work has been done in the past and been done badly too. Excess solder and a couple of lifted traces. There were also some bent pins.

I straightened out the best I could and patch a couple of traces too.
The game now passes it POST but I get this in game

At first glance this looks OK and I initially missed it until I ran the MASKROM check from the test menu and it reported a failure at 7K (no picture of this, sorry). If you look at the “ASTERIX” logo there are a few issues around the outline with blue parts.
Going back over those customs and checking all the pins individually I found one pin that needed reflowing. Doing this fixed all the issues.

 Posted by at 9:23 am
Oct 222019

Another board from Mr Muddymusic and this ones a pain.
It was reported that this one has a short and sure enough when I checked resistance between GND and VCC I got pretty much a short

Using a Polar Toneohm micro-ohm meter I quickly found that the capacitor next to the edge connector had a lower reistance than at any other place on the board. Removing it cleared the short.

With that clear I could fire the board up and it was dead.
Checking the 68000 CPU I found I had a dead clock input.
The clock comes from the lower PCB and using the schematics show it coming in through a nearby 244.

Replacing it gave me my clock back but now we have some watchdogging.
Again I probed the CPU but all seemed fine so moving out I started checking the line drivers and buffers on the address and data pins until I came to a 74LS244 @ 15F with dead outputs.

Replacing this gave me a kind of booting game

Watching MAME run through the game it seemed to me that this was getting to the screen where it displays the POST results and then hangs. I confirmed in MAME that if a test fails then the board will hang at this screen.
I pulled all the ROM’s and they all checked out good so I turned my attention to the RAM.
The main RAM appeared to be good so I moved on to the other RAM that gets checked at startup.
The schematics show a 138 used for selecting different RAM. I found pin 15 was very weak

The enable was now fixed but it didn’t really change anything

As all the chars were a mess I decided to start looking at the character RAM section.
After a bit of probing I found that all the address lines to the 4416 DRAM’s were stuck high a lot of the time. I traced these back to another 244 over in the top corner of the CPU board.

Finally I had a booting game.

Instantly I see the colours are off and the sound doesn’t work. Starting a game also revealed the game started itself on coin up and I was unable to control anything. The ship also fired on its own.
Time to boot into test mode and see what was going on.
Test mode is invoked by switching DIP 3 on DIP bank 3 but the game just booted as normal.
I confirmed the switch was actually working using a multimeter but somewhere along the line it was going missing.

I traced it back using schematics to the 253 @ location 3F.

As the outputs of this chip are on the databus I struggled to see if it had real outputs or not so I just opted to replace it and it paid off, I could now access test mode

A couple of buttons seem to be stuck. Long story short all of the PS2401 octocouplers had some issue on one way or another so replaced them all with ones I found on a few scrap boards

Next, the dodgy colours.
Looking at the schematics there are a few LS09’s the output into the passive components that give the RGB outputs.
The 09 at location 3L had all its outputs stuck high.

I didn’t have any of these spare so I removed the offending chip, which failed an out of circuit test, and moved on to the sound fault.

The sound is stuck in this constant loop. I started probing the Z80 in the sound section and all the pins appeared to be doing what they should.
I moved on to the EPROM and while all the usual pins seemed to be doing their thing, the VCC pin wasn’t what it should have been.
Checking the pin of the socket showed +5v

but checking the pin of the actual EPROM in the socket showed I had logic low on there.

Wedging the logic probe tip between the socket and EPROM brought the sound back so I replaced the socket and the sound is fixed.

The 74LS09 replacement came the day after that and replaced it to fix this up

 Posted by at 4:52 pm
Oct 152019

Got K1ngarth3r’s Mega-Tech PCB here.

On these boards there is a daughterboard present which houses the Z80 used for the menu.

This daughterboard is used for book keeping and isn’t really required so to save space I fitted the Z80 directly into the slot the daughterboard previously occupied.

The fault was the board didn’t see slots 4, 6 or 7 as shown in the picture he sent

Initial inspection showed the EPROM for the menu was fitted upside down but it wasn’t dead and the menu wouldn’t work at all if this were the actual fault.

Using the partial schematics I made a few years ago I could quickly pinpoint an area to start checking from.

Using my latest favorite tool, Slice, I could easily see that for some reason the 3 aforementioned cartridge slots were never being addressed.

This is a bit weird as on initial look at the disassembled code it seemed that it just counted through the slots.
A bit more code scrutinizing revealed that the CXD1095 chips are read back between slot addressing.
Using the Fluke 9010 I could now see that at certain output configuration on the CXD1095’s would lock up the chip and skip whatever it was doing.
I wasn’t really surprised at this because every single Mega-Tech PCB I’ve looked at has had issues with these chips.
I ordered a couple of these chips up and waited….. and waited……… and waited until I got hit with a lovely little letter from Royal Mail telling me I owed them money for customs fee’s.
I paid this and a couple of days later I received my items.
I removed the old and fitted the new

Pleased to say this board is now working again

 Posted by at 8:40 pm