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Working With Nintendo Arcade Games

Working With Nintendo Arcade Games

While most standard arcade games run 120 VAC to the various parts inside the cabinet, Nintendo arcade games are somewhat different. Nintendo is a Japanese company and as such uses the Japanese AC voltage specification which is 100 VAC. This difference may seem small at first glance but it can wreak havoc on your repair and restoration efforts. In this post, we are going to discuss some tips to keep in mind when working on Nintendo arcade games.

Working With Nintendo Arcade Games

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When you look into the back of your Nintendo arcade cabinet, you might think that it looks pretty much the same as any other cabinet and you would be right for the most part. The main difference is that the power cord runs to a transformer that converts our 120 VAC from the wall to 100 VAC for use inside the cabinet. Most everything inside the cabinet derives it’s power from this transformer. This includes the monitor (or monitors if you have a dual screen), power supply and even the marquee light. Also, some of these cabinets have power plugs in the bottom. Be very wary of these plugs as they also tend to put out 100 VAC which can cause problems with anything you plug into them (such as tools).

You might have heard some horror stories of people trying to replace an arcade monitor in a Nintendo arcade cabinet with another major brand such as Wells-Gardner. This is because most monitors here in the states are made to take the 120 VAC instead of the 100 VAC and will not receive the correct power depending on how you hook them up. In the video for this post, we have a similar dilemma with a power supply. The best way to guarantee that you are getting 120 VAC to the parts that require it is to tap into the power cord itself.

The easiest way to tap into the power cord on many Nintendo arcade games is to locate the connector between the power cord and the transformer. From here you can use a pin pusher to remove the pins from the connector. You can then cut and strip these wires to get them ready to be repinned. Take some spare wiring and twist it together with the existing wires you just stripped from the connector. It is a good idea to use the same color wires to tie into with so that you can keep your AC lines consistent. Once that is done, repin the wires and insert them into the connector. Reconnect the connector and you should now have two wires protruding that contain the 120 VAC necessary to power the non-Nintendo parts in your arcade cabinet.

Nintendo has made some great arcade games over the years. From Donkey Kong to Playchoice 10, seems like everyone either owns or has wanted to own one of their great classics. Just keep in mind that the power scheme that lies within them is foreign and as such can be difficult to work with sometimes. Knowing up front that Nintendo arcade games run off of 100 VAC instead of the standard 120 VAC will save you a lot of time in your future repair endeavors. Please feel free to leave any questions or suggestions in the comments section below.

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Comments
  1. paul juary

    good video, that 100 vlts can be a pain somtimes,just a note for nintendo owners, the marquee light also runs on 100v, and has an oddball light. walmart has a whole light assembly for about 7 bucks, its 120v. but works fine in all three of my nintendo cabs.

  2. Kingwood Greg

    Tim,
    Thanks for posting this article. I wonder if it was inspired by our conversation at the HAAG expo:) After our conversation I went back home and looked at my isoation transformer more closely, and I found out that it has 3 different voltage outputs (105, 115, and 125 volts). It even has a small terminal block incase I want to switch the voltage output. So, I guess the next step is repairing the G07 that was in the cabinet. Give me a shout next time your in town, so we can troubleshoot and fix up the G07 properly.
    Thanks for everything!
    Kingwood Greg

  3. Tom

    Hey Tim,
    I just picked up a Donkey Kong cocktail with a power issue. When I power it on, I hear the fan turn on but nothing else. The power supply is a PP-7B. Any help would be great!

    Thanks, Tom

  4. Jonathan Leung

    Tom,

    From what you described, it definitely sounds like a power issue. It could be either a monitor or a board issue. We would recommend checking the power at the harness of the Donkey Kong board first to see if it’s getting power. Please see our post on Checking A Classic Power Supply for more information. You will also need the pinouts for Donkey Kong to do this. These can be obtained from MikesArcade.com. Start off with this check and follow up by making sure your monitor is getting power as well. If everything is getting power then your monitor chassis or board could be bad.

    We have also featured your question on episode 21 of our Q&A podcast. Please listen to it for more of our thoughts on your question. Thank you for your question and good luck with your repair.

  5. Harry

    I have a nintendo vs. It’s worked fine for ever then one day no monitor. I found a fuse blown, replaced it, smelled and then seen smoke near what I believe is the fly back. Looks like a coil, with a red wire leading out to the monitor. Smoke comes from that area, then the fuse pops again. I’ve watched a few videos you posted, I managed to discharge the monitor, got in their, and just really not sure how to approach it. Should I remove the whole the hole monitor, I really don’t feel that comfortable, and I can’t seem to find anybody around that wants to work on it. Any leads, tips, suggestion for a new monitor perhaps? I don’t like messing with things I’m not skilled in, but I really like to learn! Thanks everybody, Harry

  6. Ruben

    i see that you have a 12V line (the blue and orange wires) on that machine. do you know what the wiring scheme is? like which wires go to the +5v line? cause im trying to get mine working. it has an outside switcher, i did the 120V rewire. and its still coming up with two blank screens. and there doesnt seem to be any power on the board. ive exausted all the options that are available to me. any help would be amazing. this darn machines almost got me beat.

  7. Mike

    Hi! I’m new to repairing/troubleshooting problems with games in general so please excuse my novice question.

    I have a DKJR and everything works fine except the marquee light. I know now that the outlet inside the game runs out at 100 vac. It appears that the light fixture has been replaced so the 100 vac will not power the light, I’m assuming that since the light fixture has been replaced it requires 120 vac. The light works fine if I plug directly into the wall so I know its functional.

    So my question is: can I splice the power cable from the light fixture directly into the main power cord so that the monitor and the marquee lite at the same time?

    Hope that makes sense.

    Thanks for your help.

    Mike

  8. Jonathan Leung

    Harry,

    The location where you’re seeing the smoke is definitely the flyback. In order to repair this you will need to remove the chassis. Check out our post on Removing And Installing A Monitor Chassis for more information. Since this is a Nintendo cabinet, you more than likely have a Sanyo 20EZ monitor. We recommend replacing the flyback for sure. While you’re working on it, it’s probably a good idea to replace the HOT (Horizontal Output Transistor) and install a cap kit as well. We have a post on Installing A Cap Kit and a video on our Volume 2 DVD about replacing the HOT which you can buy from our online store. The parts can be obtained from arcadecup.com and Bob Roberts. If you do not feel comfortable doing these type of repairs yourself, you can always ship it off to Chad at arcadecup.com and he’ll repair it for a fee.

    We have also featured your question on episode 22 of our Q&A podcast. Please listen to it for more of our thoughts on your question. Thank you for your question and good luck with your repair.

  9. Jonathan Leung

    Ruben,

    In this particular video, the switching power supply was installed in the machine before we began working on it. If you take a look at the pinouts from MikesArcade (http://www.mikesarcade.com/cgi-bin/spies.cgi?action=url&type=pinout&page=PlayChoice10.txt), you’ll see exactly where to put the voltage wires from your switching power supply. Looks like you’ll have to run voltage and grounds to both harnesses to get it working.

    Just a note of advice, don’t go by wire colors. Your cabinets wire colors might be different than the cabinet we were using. If you still cannot figure it out after looking at the pinouts, send us a couple of pictures and we’ll try to help you further.

    We have also featured your question on episode 22 of our Q&A podcast. Please listen to it for more of our thoughts on your question. Thank you for your question and keep us updated on your progress.

  10. Jonathan Leung

    Mike,

    You’re exactly on the right track! If you can splice your marquee light wires into your cord from the wall, it should give you the 120 VAC that you require for your marquee light. Great job on troubleshooting!

    We have also featured your question on episode 23 of our Q&A podcast. Please listen to it for more of our thoughts on your question. Thank you for your question and good luck with your repair.

  11. Andy

    A Nintendo Killer Instinct (v1.5d) just fell into my lap. The only problem with it is that when I turn it on it will stay on for a couple minutes and then everything will shut off and restart. Marquee Light, Monitor and Game. Since there is limited resources online to help troubleshoot Arcade Machines any help would be welcomed. Thanks

  12. Jonathan Leung

    Andy,

    Sounds like your power supply might be having some issues. You could try rebuilding it but it would probably be better just to replace it. Check out our post on Checking And Replacing A Power Supply for more information. This post only goes over the smaller 15 amp power supplies. If you have a newer style (ATX) power supply, it should be a matter of just replacing the original with the new one and hooking up a couple of connectors to get it to work.

    We have also featured your question on episode 24 of our Q&A podcast. Please listen to it for more of our thoughts on your question. Thank you for your question and keep us updated on your progress.

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