Flying High Again

Back in September of last year I picked up this Atari System 1 cabinet from a guy down in Salem.

Originally an Indiana Jones, at some point it received a Hydra conversion kit. The two axis flight yoke controller installed for that is similar to the one used in several other Atari games, Star Wars most famously. It uses a 5k potentiometer for each axis, and has a trigger and button in each hand grip, which makes it one of the more versatile yoke style controllers (others lack the second axis or the thumb buttons). The Hydra kit also added a foot pedal with another 5k pot which adds to the games the cabinet can potentially support.

I decided I’d like to wire it up so it could easily be swapped between different games using the Hydra yoke and pedal. I started out with installing a new unhacked JAMMA wiring harness, and running the wiring for player 1 and 2, and the pedal, straight up to the control panel area.

Then I built some adapters I could place in line between the control panel and pedal wiring and the JAMMA harness to adjust the pinout for different games.

I struggled with the wiring for the potentiometers initially. Not having worked with them before I didn’t realize that they need to have power run across them and then have a reading taken from the wiper. I tried wiring them up with just wiper and ground pins and was stymied for an embarrassingly long time by the odd values I was getting trying to calibrate the controls.

Once I ran a 5V feed up to the control panel and modified my adapters to accommodate power I got things working as expected. Then I turned my attention to the yoke controller itself. It’s definitely seen some hard use and questionable maintenance. I reworked the wiring inside the yoke and fixed the shameful soldering quickly enough.

The bad part was this bodge job. At some point the original screws holding the left handgrip in place were broken or lost, and replaced with square drive carpentry screws, one of which itself ended up breaking off. Messed around with that situation for too damn long, in the end I couldn’t remove the broken screw and just drilled out enough of it to allow the handgrip to come off.

Unsurprisingly, wood screws left the assembly with considerable play allowing the parts to abrade horribly.

I put it back together as best I could and greased the bushings and springs. The hex head screw isn’t exactly what belongs there but at least the threading and length are right. Good enough for now. I need to take the whole thing apart more thoroughly later on to rewire the left handgrip buttons and replace the broken centering spring. That was a little bit more project than I cared to bite off at the moment though since none of the remaining flaws impede gameplay.

Did some testing with the new adapter for Hydra, all looks good…

…then with Road Riot 4wd which runs on very similar hardware.

Success! That takes care of the major to do item for this cabinet. I still need to fabricate a new front door for the compartment with the power supply and PCB, and perform the rest of the yoke repairs. After that I want to build another adapter for the Vapor TRX board I have, and set up that PCB with a flash drive replacement for the failing Quantum Fireball hard drive it came with.

The things you’ll find

Going through Badlands I discovered a couple interesting things. One, it was either originally a Peter Pack Rat or was converted using a kit. The control panel has the right part number for that game. With production under a thousand that makes parts of it at least rather rare.

I also found a neat bit of ephemera under the coin box.

Three quarter slugs. There are some ghostly markings on the faces that make me think they’re probably nickels that were hammered thin and then shaved down to finish. Kinda interesting to see, one of them even passes through the coin mechs successfully.

I also failed miserably in my goal to avoid acquiring any more games until my car would fit in the garage again. Someone posted a link to a Hydra for sale in an Atari System 1 cabinet like the one Badlands inhabits. It looked pretty solid from the ad and had side art. I also thought I saw what looked like the corner of Stargate side art in one of the ad photos… So I went and checked it out.

Long story short, I brought home a fully functioning Hydra for $75. The cabinet is missing the front door, but otherwise there’s little wrong with it. I’m told the door was lost due to an overzealous cop when a warrant was served on the venue the game was in. Either way, I’m happy with the find. The cabinet was originally an Indiana Jones, from the serial and operator tags on it.

I’m thinking I’ll repair the door and keep it as is for the time being. Hydra itself isn’t that common of a game and is pretty fun.

I drove back for the second cabinet today. Got it thrown in for $50 more since I was taking the two of them. It’s a Stargate cabinet, converted to Golden Axe. It looked like this when I first brought it home…

A little tugging…

The crappy leatherette vinyl came right off, revealing nice Stargate art underneath. Very cool.

The cabinet is a little thrashed around the bottom. It’s been missing the levelers for a long time I suspect, and the plywood took the punishment. Still quite solid though, the MDF back doors had some bad swelling but the rest was spared. The game didn’t come up, seems like there’s something wrong with the monitor. The game board came with a JAMMA adapter though, so I plugged it into another cab and it works great.

I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with this one yet. It’s a nice enough conversion with mostly solid wiring work. On the other hand, original Stargate cab. I’m thinking a multi-Williams setup will win out in the end.

Getting a bit crowded…