Walk Like An Egyptian – Takasago “Egyptian Madness” slot machine

Grabbed a slice of Las Vegas’ past today. One Takasago, AKA TDC, model PSL-005 stepper driven computerised slot machine. I’ve read these were common in the airport and certain casinos at one time before the rise of IGT and Bally/Williams in the market. It showed up on Craigslist, described as non-working, and cheap enough to be worth the gamble to me…

The seller saw a lot of interest, but was honest enough to run their sale first come first served without striking up a bidding war, and I happened to have been the first person to respond the night the ad went up. I picked it up the next day (paid a bit more than asking since I appreciate a straight shooter on Craigslist…). After wrangling the beast out of the van and onto a cart (I forgot how big these things are… They look pretty small in their normal casino context, but they’re actually pretty big, use a lot of metal parts, and weigh a few hundred pounds) I set to work diagnosing what was going on.

Applying power, I saw cabinet fluorescent lamps come on, but no sign of life from any of the computer controlled modules. The reel assembly was loose and the main board was floating on its mounting rails, so someone had opened this thing up before. I reseated everything and tried again, with the same result…

Unfortunately, there is precious little information on these machines on the Internet, so I started digging in. Pulling out the module with the credit meters and and reset switches presented me with a tray with a switching power supply and some bridge rectifiers attached. Tracing out the outputs from the switcher let me know which of the front panel connections provided logic power to the rest of the machine, and gave me points to test with a multimeter to verify voltages. When I put the probes to the logic power pins, I got a big zero… So, that was the first issue uncovered.

The power supply installed in the machine is similar to what’s used in a lot of arcade games, but provides -12V which is a bit unusual. The only new power supply I had on hand only output +5V, -5V, and +12V, but I traced things out and to me it looked like the -12V output was only used by the electromechanical counting units. So I installed my new power supply, left the -12V lead off, and powered things up… And the machine came up and worked just fine!

The sound track is pretty minimal, just some beeps and boops typical of the era. The onboard diagnostics are pretty robust, with a lot of self test routines and audit value recording that are very reminiscent of the arcade stuff of the same vintage. There are some notes about networking machines for progressive jackpot payouts in the manuals I’ve found, and I believe I have the extra board installed required for this but I haven’t investigated yet.

After getting the new power supply installed I messed around with it for a while and it promptly stopped being able to count coin hopper output, so I’m not out of the woods yet! Need to order some new locks, too, but even after spending a little money on parts it’ll end up being a solid deal on a rather rare machine.

Ghost Signs – Jefferson West Apartments (Cordova Hotel)

The businesses in this building at SW 11th and Jefferson began to dwindle and vanish right around the time I moved to Portland. The cheap apartments above the storefronts emptied out as well, being replaced by units in the Jeffrey a few blocks away.

Formerly home to the divey River City Saloon, a salon, a mail center, and a copy shop, one of the corner storefronts also served as an art and civic space called Field Work during the years between the closing of the businesses and the end of the story for the building.

I noticed a big bite had been taken out of the corner of the block in late August, exposing the interiors of some of the old apartments.

The rest has been coming down throughout September. Eventually the lot will be cleared and a new 15-story student housing development will be erected. Unfortunately, it follows the trend in private student housing of being heinously overpriced at a thousand a month for a shared room, and three hundred more if you’d like a private studio.

Whether or not the new development will be particularly useful to anyone other than transfer students with wealthy parents, it’s good to see the block redeveloped. If nothing else the luxury accommodations should soak up the moneyed kids and leave more of the older and/or PSU owned cheaper housing stock available for others; and the new construction will revitalize several block faces that have been empty and moribund for the better part of a decade.

The demolition exposed a painted sign on one of the formerly hidden walls of one of the original buildings in the conglomorate. Presumably this advertised the Cordova Hotel that was a historical occupant of the site. Besides the hotel, the building also played past host to Reed’s classrooms, several music venues, and a porno theater.

The Cars of Others – 196x Austin Seven, 1968 Plymouth Valiant, 199x Nissan NX

I’m not quite sure what year this lovely right hand drive Austin Seven (better known as the Morris Mini) is. Given its branding it predates 1962 since that year is when the Seven brand was dropped. The interior switch panel visible inside through the rear window places it as a 1960 or later model since the 1959 had a flat stamped panel rather than the later recessed one.

The 1959 Mini Registry site was very helpful in narrowing the year range, but unfortunately there’s not such an exhaustive reference for 1960-1961 models so I couldn’t peg it exactly.

It took me a while to identify this one, I placed it as mid-60s initially but it’s actually a 1968 model. A 1968 Plymouth Valiant Signet, to be exact. Neat to see something like this still on the road today, given the lack of collectibility such a mundane people mover has compared to its sportier contemporaries.

The strange looking Nissan NX was a flash in the pan for the North American market, only being sold between 1991 and 1993. I’d never seen one before and figured it must have been a grey market import at first. No idea what the exact year is since there’s precious little information available about this model’s variations over the years online.