Galaxian (Midway) cocktail information and service log

When I moved back to Silicon Valley I had to leave my Pole Position upright (MAME conversion) at my parent's house a couple hours away.  It was too tall to clear the doorway of the rental truck by about an inch.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise since I incorrectly measured some things in the apartment and I wouldn't have had space for the machine anyway.  On top of not having the space, I really didn't have the desire to lug it upstairs - Pole Position uprights are notorious for their bulk and weight.  Rather than get rid of it I moved it to an extra room at my parent's and covered it up for the day I'll have a larger - and land level - residence.

However since leaving it I've genuinely missed having an arcade cabinet in the home, so when California Extreme 2008 rolled around I was on the lookout for affordable arcade cabinets that had a smaller profile.  California Extreme is the west coast arcade and pinball expo run 100% by arcade game and pinball machine collectors.  I had been tossing e-mails back and forth about a Klax cabaret that was listed on craigslist the week before but CAX would give me the chance to really give a possible purchase a hard playthrough and a two day stability test.  Sadly the Bosconian cabaret there wasn't for sale but there was a Gyruss upright for less than $300.00 that peaked my interest.  It had very small sprite glitches in the center of the screen and needed a little work but was in decent shape.  However the bulk was the problem - for the current situation of my girlfriend and myself hauling the thing upstairs, a cabaret would have to be the target size, or a cocktail...  yeah right, a cocktail in good shape I could afford...

As the show wound down on Sunday night I made myself comfortable at the lone Galaxian cocktail at the show, a game that didn't get much play that weekend.  I sat there and played the elegant space battle while listening to 80's music videos on the giant screen behind.  My girlfriend joined me soon after and we sat there for almost two hours playing against one another.  The machine was in beautiful shape and a little while later I mumbled out longingly, "this is really what I would like to have."  However the price was more than double what the Gyruss cabinet was stickered at, and we had to work hard to budget the Gyruss price to begin with.  I figured if anything I'd write down the contact information and maybe give the owner a call in a week or so once I had a better idea of what I could spend.

With about an hour to go in the event the owner showed up to pick up his machine.  We got to talking and I basically was honest in what beautiful condition it was in but that I just couldn't afford it right now.  He offered to work down the price a little but I told him I couldn't do it right on the spot.  We took down his phone number and I told him I'd let him know later in the week.  I sold some Japanese comics that had been packed away for almost ten years and were only taking up space to quickly raise the cash for the cocktail.  After a couple phone calls it was all finalized, I would soon be the owner of a Galaxian cocktail table.

The gentleman that sold it to me was a class act and delivered it, even helped me carry it upstairs!  He also made sure it was working properly, gave me the contact information of the person he uses for repair on his PCB's, went over any problems the machine has had since he owned it and went over basic usage.  It is amazingly clean inside and has the cleanest power supply, monitor, board, wiring loom and other internals that I have ever seen on a vintage cabinet.  He also sent me PDF's of the operations and troubleshooting manuals.  Galaxian cocktail table #0367 now resided with me and I couldn't have been happier.  I've wanted a cocktail table since the day I first stepped into an arcade and I finally owned one.  Best $500.00 I had spent in quite some time.

07/29/2008 - Machine Arrival

Of course the first night the machine was in the apartment it got plenty of play from both my girlfriend and myself.  The picture is beautiful and beneath the smoked plexi (which is also in amazing shape) there is zero burn in.  I may have a new piece of glass cut later on down the road since this one is pretty scratched up, but it's no big deal right now.  The underlay is an after market replacement since it's not silk-screened onto the glass.  It's also missing a two of the glass clips, but again, that's no big deal.  The player 2 control knob is a replacement made out of metal - it's actually a pretty crafty replacement part, you can tell someone spent some time fabricating it.  It also needs a new coin mech since it doesn't have one.  The switch is there, slot, rejection button, etc. just no coin verifier.  I'll probably put one of those in and splice the external credit switch leads so that it can operate both via the credit switch and coins.  I'll also probably replace the player 2 control knob, just to get everything equal on both sides.

There are few things as satisfying as when you bring an arcade cabinet into the home for the first time.

Here one can see the custom made replacement knob on the Player 2 control panel.  I plan on replacing
it with an original Galaxian cocktail knob eventually.

For a cabinet made in 1980, this one is exceptionally clean and untouched inside.  The wiring loom and
power board really are in excellent shape.

If I thought the internals were clean then the board is spectacular.
This is easily the cleanest Galaxian board I have ever seen.

Of course a shot of the gameplay is a requirement in these logs.

Midway really did make the most beautiful cocktail cabinets, coated with lights and classic style.

After a couple days of giving the cabinet a good scrubbing and over all cleaning I decided to take a look at the light next to the coin slot.  When I had bought the cabinet the previous owner said that it was disconnected when he purchased the cabinet.  In preparation for the show he reconnected the lamp but found that it would flash in an erratic state and decided to leave it disconnected.  I figured reconnecting it for analysis would be the best first step, so that's what I did and that's where things get odd.  It flashes, which is no big deal, I remember that from plenty of games.  However when it flashes it causes the control panel lamps to dim, every time it lights it seems to pull power from the other lamps.  That ends up being a distraction so I disconnected the coin lamp again.  I'm going to wait until the cocktail documents arrive from an eBay auction before moving on.

08/01/2008 - Coin Door Lamp Replacement

That coin door lamp issue was bothering me so I took a reading at the leads and got 12.3V, which makes me assume it should be using a 14V lamp just like the control panel lamps.  That seems to be the way most cocktails and coin doors are after all.  I have some 14V wedge base lamps (left over from my Pole Position MAME conversion, although I ended up using xenon lamps in there to throw more light through the thick coin reject buttons) but no spare sockets.  However I also have 14V screw base lamps, I usually keep a few on hand since that's what I use in my vintage pachinko machine.  Looking through my parts I had a single one left as well as a single matching screw base socket.  So I removed the old socket and installed the new one, then screwed in the lamp and pulled out the line voltage safety switch.  Everything started up fine, the coin door lamp burns steadily and at the proper brightness (known from looking at them in the pachinko machine for so long), and there's no odd drain from the control panel lamps.

The newly installed coin door lamp gives the machine a finished look.

I'll admit, for some reason I get a kick out of the single slot coin door on the Galaxian cocktails with the "25 CENTS" insert spelled out like that.  Just need to order myself a coin mech and the machine should be good to go for 100% functionality and coin-op play, although I am leaving the credit switch on the door.  It's past 3am though so I should call it a night.  I bet the tenants below me just loved me tonight.  I was quiet but still walking around here and there and going through parts, etc.  My girlfriend was driving out to see her parents and I have a thing where I don't go to sleep until she gets there, so working on the coin door gave me something to do until getting the message about half an hour ago that she was in fine.

...still dunno what the hell was up with that original coin door lamp... it just seems out of place, especially since the guy I bought the machine from left it disconnected and told me the guy he bought it from had it disconnected as well.

08/05/2008 - Coin Mech Installation

A couple days ago I ordered a coin mech off eBay.  A guy on there was listing a bunch of surplus mechs in pairs for $3.33 but I didn't want to wait a week for the auctions to end.  I asked if he'd set up a Buy It Now for me for a single one.  We e-mailed back and forth and researched if the mechs would work and after confirming my suspicions at Bob Roberts we figured it was all the same.  He agreed to set up a BIN for a Happ Ultimech and didn't slam me with the price either, $3.50 and it has the posts in the correct locations.  He ended up shipping same day and it just arrived along with a Galaxian cocktail manual I had ordered earlier.

While the documentation for almost every arcade cabinet can be found online, I prefer to have
a physical book that I can thumb through for reference and troubleshooting.

The mech slipped in no problem but the quarters were getting jammed between the coin chute and where they dropped into the mech.  They'd make it through the coin chute alone fine and through the mech alone fine, so the problem must have been where they met in the middle.  I removed a small piece of plastic from the top of the mech, the little tab on the left at the top that diverts the coin around.  After that the quarters passed freely and the mech works 100% properly.

Coin door completely rebuilt for functionality.

So now the coin door is totally rebuilt and functioning as it should, along with the exterior credit switch.  I had rewired the coin switch so it will work with coins or via the credit button awhile back, I was just waiting for a mech.  Over 65,000 plays on the meter,  that's over $15,000 in quarters during the 30 years this machine has been in operation!

08/12/2008 - Monitor Convergence Adjustment

Now that I've had my cocktail for about a month I noticed something odd about some of the sprites.  It seems that pretty much all the sprites have a slight adjustment problem with how their colors line up.  It was like this when I played it at the show and the game has absolutely no operational errors, but I'm curious just the same.  Text and shots look fine but the enemies as well as the Galaxip seem to have parts of their sprites shifted over a half pixel or so...

Looking at the enemies, one can see that the convergence adjustment is off.

It shows most with the flagship, either the yellow and red is a hair over to the right or the blue is a hair over to the left.  This is how it always is but is not replicated exactly when the display flips for player two.  Aside from that there are no odd glitches when the sprites are moving around or anything.  If you take a close look you can see that some of this carries over onto the other enemies.  After getting some advice over at the Digital Press arcade forums it seems that this is a convergence issue.   I'm good with most electronic repairs but I really do get nervous messing around a live monitor neck.  Just the same I built up the confidence that I could adjust the convergence and fix the graphics problem.  Adjusting convergence means setting the arcade board into a convergence test pattern mode (a white grid sometimes called a crosshatch grid), this is accomplished in Galaxian via the board's test mode.  A series of plastic rings on the monitor neck are rotated to control convergence.

The most important thing when doing this adjustment, other than not touching something that will kill you, is to give the tube time to warm up first.  After that consulting the manual is the way to go.  The Electrohome G07 manual walks you through the adjustment.  The second set of rings is red / blue and the third set of rings is magenta (averaged from the red / blue rings) / green.  Having a second set of eyes watch the pattern was very helpful as well.  After a couple hours one morning I fixed it, well, as much as I could...

Adjusted convergence returned the sprites to their proper shapes.

There's a tiny bit of green that bleeds through red here and there but I couldn't get it to file back away completely without messing other stuff up.  I can live with that.  The big problems are fixed however, the flagships look correct as does the Galaxip and the aliens don't look lopsided anymore.  Also I got some nail polish from my girlfriend and resealed the convergence rings.

Funny enough though the power switch broke, as in came apart in two pieces.  Says it's rated for 6A and I don't have a switch rated for that so I popped it back together as best as possible and I'm using an in-line extension cord switch for power on/off now.

While I was inside the cabinet I also performed a couple more tweaks.  I widened the playfield a little more, basically to the max that my monitor will allow yet still keep the image centered.  It seems to be missing a few adjustment points that most Electrohome G07's have.  For a 28 year old display though, it's about nice as it's going to be.

The scoring screen with monitor adjustments complete.

And a close-up of all the enemy sprites during the attract screen, much better...

I'm really glad I bought the cocktail manual and looked up the manual for my monitor since the Galaxian upright manual shows all this monitor adjustment crap that made absolutely no sense.  Shows a whole bunch of adjustment controls that I couldn't find.  Turns out the monitor it was talking about was one of those old WG's that a lot of games had.  The cocktail Galaxian manual omits the detailed monitor instructions, instead providing general information.  I used a PDF of the G07 manual to learn what was what.  My monitor doesn't have a "screen" knob (only focus), no horizontal centering jumper, and no V-Lin adjustment.  So centering and filling the screen had to basically be done with one hand tied behind my back.  It's not like those parts are missing, they're just not present on the board my monitor has.  For these reasons I decided to leave the monitor adjustments alone after the most recent repairs.

The extreme lower right corner (facing player 1) curves out a tiny bit, but can only be seen if you put the Galaxip over there and then look really close for it on the extreme lower outside edge.  I don't want to mess with the monitor yoke and it's something no one notices (including me) so that's how it will remain.  If I wanted to be picky I could also say that the screen isn't perfectly aligned with the cabinet, but again, it's like 1/16th of an inch off and one of those anal details that are no big deal.  You learn to leave things alone with vintage machines.

I'm done messing around inside the cabinet for awhile, I actually smacked my elbow into the monitor neck board when I was installing the new power switch.  Thankfully the cabinet was off and I didn't break anything.  I ended up buying an off the shelf switch from Radio Shack and grinding the switch mounting plate larger to accommodate the wider body of the switch.  It works great and now if I need to replace the switch again I can easily swap it with one I can buy anywhere.

10/08/2008 - Control Knob Replacement

An eBay auction for a pair of Galaxian cocktail control knobs finally popped up and I bought them instantly.  While the homemade player 2 control knob on my cocktail worked fine, it was still something that I wanted to replace as a restoration step.  I got a pair of knobs for less than $15.00 shipped, which means I have a spare if one breaks.  The knobs arrived with a little rust on the shafts but that's something I was expecting.  The first thing to do was remove the existing control knob.

The original replacement knob (left) and the homemade knob my machine came with (right).

I cleaned out the area around the control knob shaft and gave it a very light lubrication with some 3 in 1 oil on a cotton swab.  I actually also did this with the player 1 control panel for the heck of it.  Galaxian cocktail control panels are very shallow compared to every other cocktail control panel box, which is why these special control knobs are used rather than joysticks.  After installing the new knob the control panel looks factory stock.

Player 2 control panel with replacement control knob installed.

With this last external repair the machine's restoration is now complete.  The cocktail functions via coins or the credit switch and both control panels are populated properly.  At the start I thought this would be the most difficult part to find but I was pleasantly surprised to find these knobs.

12/19/2008 - Background Audio Problem

When I turned on my Galaxian table this morning to play a few rounds I was met with an odd tone rather than the familiar background droning.

Instead of "UHMmm.. UHMmm.. UHMmm.." as the invaders move back and forth, I get a steady "UHHHH" sound.  I switched into test mode to test the sound effects and they all sound perfect.  So I popped the board out, gave it a quick inspection (which revealed nothing), made sure all the socketed IC's were seated properly and popped it back in - same problem.

The game plays fine and all other sound effects work fine from coining up to getting the flagship bonus.  The background droning is the only problem.  True to form, it changes tone when only a couple invaders are left at the end of a stage, and goes away when the last invader is destroyed - beginning again when the next wave comes up.  After realizing this my guess was that something was wrong with a timer and the background droning was for all purposes stuck.

Galaxian Troubleshooting Logic Board Part I has an error listing for "Game Plays - Effects Background sound which is a steady tone" and lists the 555 timer at position 9-R as the culprit.  Now there are a handful of 555's on the board that have to do with sound but to me that description sounds like my problem.  After Christmas I'll take a look at replacing those timers and see what happens.

01/06/2009 - Background Audio Problem (Continued)

Well I replaced the three 555 timers that the troubleshooting manual says are attached to the background sound - no change.  I also looked over the board closely and redid a couple solder points that looked suspect - no change.  In fact, it's all pretty damn clean, the components that lead up to those IC's check out as well.  At least as far as I can test them that is.  Right now I'm leaning toward just buying a multi Galaxian board (four game variety) which I was thinking about months ago anyway.  There was one up on eBay that ended for like $50.00 but I was piss broke at the time.

01/11/2009 - Background Audio Problem (Continued, Again)

I got an offer from a member of the Digital Press video game forums that does arcade repairs to send him my board and $30.00 and he would send me a refurbished board.  I decided I wouldn't find a better offer so I went for it.  Once he received the board an odd thing happened, it worked fine.  However after leaving it running overnight the problem returned.  Since my board was so clean and original to my machine, he decided he'd try to repair it rather than swap it with a refurbished board.  With his increased experience in electronics troubleshooting he was able to trace the problem back to an IC that oscillates current between a pair of transistors that then send that current to the 555 timers that I had been replacing.  The IC was shorting out, which is what was making the audio hang at that first note.  In addition he was able to find alternate transistors for the board to further repair knowledge since the two that were in the chain are no longer manufactured.

01/28/2009 - Repaired Board Returns

The refurbished board arrived today, thankfully after I had returned from a weekend away and not while I wasn't home.  I got it reinstalled and it's working great!  30,000 points on my first credit - it's good to have her up and running again.  The background droning also seems to start faster than it did before, which leads me to believe that the bad chip had been starting to go for awhile.  Check out the website of the gentleman that repaired my board at, I fully endorse his repair services - thanks again!

03/07/2009 - Through The Paces

The machine has been working excellently since the board repair in January and it gets heavy play at least a few times a week.  The other nice thing is the longer it is in the apartment, the smaller it seems it is.  That is to say, it doesn't feel like it's in the way at all.  If anything it's a very useful piece of furniture when not being played as I use it as a secondary table now and then.  Of course the real pleasure of a cocktail is owning a unique version of a game you love.  My current high score is 41,180 at the time of this writing.  My goal is to break into the top ten in the world record table for the game.  50,000 points is my next short term goal.

My current high score as of 3/7/2009 - 41,180.

Getting one more game in late at night.  The unique control knobs really make the cocktail version stand out.

I'm glad that my second arcade purchase covered a few different criteria.  The first of course is a game that I love.  The second a game that's actually in good working condition.  The third a cocktail table.  All three of these things in one and I really hit it out of the park with this addition to my home arcade.  I still look forward to the day when my Galaxian cocktail can co-exist with my Pole Position MAME conversion but until then I'm quite happy with the current arrangement.  I've learned a lot about arcade repair and restoration with this cocktail.  I can approach repairs with less hesitation and I'm far less terrified about arcade monitors than I was before (don't get me wrong, I'm still not 100% comfortable around them, nowhere near that).

01/29/2012 - Current Information...

This is a strange update to write on this arcade journey but I can say with all certainty that this will be the final update for this particular service and operation log.  I suppose it is simply part of the video game collecting hobby to part ways with games, sell and trade, all that stuff.  In the summer of 2011 I began to think about the video game items I had acquired, how often I actually play or use them, and about passing them onto another party.  A big part of this had to do with a larger living space falling through and re-evaluating the situation of the amount of stuff I had been hauling around for years.  Granted, I had massively downsized a few years before but I thought more could be done and I didn't regret the earlier purge.  By the time September 2011 had come around I had decided what to get rid of, what to keep, and a few ways of reorganizing what I was keeping for better usage.  After a month of enjoying my new setup I started to think bigger and by the end of October I had decided to sell the Galaxian cocktail table.

There were a number of reasons that I came to this conclusion.  The first being I had pretty much plateaued my score at 50,000 points.  No matter how much I played that was pretty much where things would end and I didn't have enough of a drive to continue forward and get better.  Second the machine was 99% all original, including the monitor and power supply.  While I'm not above doing my own repairs I really don't have the space to rebuild a monitor or the funds on hand to do it at a moment's notice.  A big, heavy, expensive piece of furniture that is really nothing more than a table if it developed a big problem, was something not very appealing to me.  Third I needed the space.  I still have my Klax machine, I play that all the time, but the Galaxian table really ended up becoming more and more of a space inconvenience.  Lastly a little extra cash going into the Christmas season would be nice.

I posted the machine for sale on the local craigslist for a couple hundred dollars.  In my mind it was a very fair price for the machine, a couple hundred dollars less than I had paid for it years before but I knew full on I was paying retail price.  I wasn't going to list it for full retail nor for a complete bargain, just the more or less "good price" for this original machine.  A week or so later I got in touch with a serious buyer.  He came and took a look at the machine, paid cash and hauled it away.  It was his first arcade machine and he wanted to keep it all original.  It's been a couple months since and I can say, in all honesty, that I don't miss the machine a single bit.  That's not to say I didn't love owning the machine when I actually did own it but I guess it's part of the arcade hobby.  Rotating machines around isn't unheard of and I was never really super attached to Galaxian although I really do enjoy the game.  My other dedicated machine, Klax, is my all time favorite puzzle game so that's a little different.

Anyway, now at the end of this Galaxian journey I can say that it was a lot of fun and got me back into the hobby proper.  Maybe I'll pick another one up down the line, who knows.  However for the time being I feel the machine is in good hands and hopefully it got another person started on this enjoyable hobby.

Written on 01-29-2012 by David,

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