So, you want to repair arcade games but you don’t know where to start? Well, it might be good to make sure that you have the tools you need before you get started. In this post, we are going to discuss what tools you will need if you plan on repairing arcade games. We are going to go into detail on each of these tools and give you links to where you can buy these items if you are interested. If you would prefer a quick overview of this post instead of reading the whole thing, you will find two videos embedded after the break. Let’s get started shall we…
Your First Arcade Toolbox (Part One)
Your First Arcade Toolbox (Part Two)
Tools Featured In Your First Arcade Toolbox (Part One)
Digital Multimeter: A digital multimeter is a must-have tool when you want to repair arcade games or any electronic devices for that matter. Make sure you get one that provides a beep when testing continuity. We’ll talk about digital multimeters and how to use them more in future posts.
Nut Drivers (SAE and Metric): Most of the arcade games that you encounter are going to use 1/4″ nuts with bolts somewhere on the cabinet. The most common place for this is on the control panel to hold down a piece of plexiglass. While SAE is more common, if an arcade game is from another country it might use metric instead which is why it’s always good to have both.
Needle Nose Pliers: Needle nose pliers are a necessity when working on arcade games. Many times you will come across a tight situation where regular pliers just won’t cut it. Make sure you have a pair of needle nose pliers in these situations as they will save you a lot of time and probably a headache as well.
Wire Cutters: The first time you open up an arcade game from an auction you never know what’s going to be in there. It’s always good to be prepared with a pair of wire cutters so you can clean up any extra wires or rewire problem areas.
Monitor Discharging Tool: The combination of a lamp/extension cord and alligator clips might seem pretty simple, however, it can save your life! Just cut and strip the cord, solder alligator clips to each end, tape up the ends where you soldered and your done! Make sure to get a long, insulated flat head screwdriver to attach this to when discharging a monitor. Watch our post on how to Safely Discharge An Arcade Monitor before trying it yourself!
Wire Strippers: From time to time you might find a wire in an arcade game that doesn’t have enough bare wire showing to reattach it to it’s correct location. Stripping the wire with a good pair of wire strippers can give you that extra bit that you need.
Molex Crimpers: Many arcade games contain Molex connectors in them. These connectors contain pins that must be crimped around the wire. These crimpers are essential to making sure that you crimp these pins around the wires correctly.
Electrical Tape / Flashlight: Remember, DO NOT get cheap electrical tape! It will come back to bite you! Stick to the good brands like Scotch or Duct and you’ll be fine. Also, remember that arcade games are dark so keep a good flashlight with you at all times.
Tools Featured In Your First Arcade Toolbox (Part Two)
Soldering Iron: Make sure that you get a decent soldering iron even if you don’t plan on using it all of the time. It’s good to stick to major brands like Weller and Metcal when selecting an iron. For the beginning arcade technician, I recommend the Weller SP40LK Soldering Iron Kit. This iron is the one I started out with and is great for basic arcade repair. The kit also comes with multiple tips to make sure the iron fits any task.
Solder (Rosin Core): When you go shopping for solder, you will notice that there are many types and sizes available. Make sure you get rosin core solder in a small diameter (preferably 0.05″ to 0.062″). The amount that you get (usually in ounces) is up to you. NEVER use acid core solder for electronics!!!
Soldering Station: It’s also a good idea to pick up a soldering station along with your soldering iron. This will give you a safe place to store your soldering iron while it’s hot. Most soldering stations also come with a sponge so you can remove excess solder from the tip. Make sure that you wet the sponge before you start using it!
Desoldering Iron: Desoldering irons can be very handy for quick removal of parts from an arcade board. They are basically the combination of a soldering iron and desoldering pump. You can buy the desoldering pump separately, however, having a desoldering iron is more convenient than having to use the soldering iron/desoldering pump combination in most cases.
Desoldering Braid (Solder Wick): When you are trying to desolder delicate parts on an arcade board, desoldering braid or solder wick typically works better than a desoldering iron. It allows you to get into tight places where a desoldering iron might be too big for the task.
Well, now you know what to put in your first arcade toolbox, however, knowing what to put in your toolbox is just the beginning. Watch for more posts and videos on how to use these tools to diagnose and repair your arcade issues. Good luck on repairing your arcade games in the future.