So let’s say you finally caved and setup that game room or arcade business you’ve always dreamed of; awesome, right? Now that you’re basically living the dream, you can sit back and enjoy of all those sweet games and amusements alongside your friends or loved ones. However, for some people that finally invest in a game room, their urge to play and collect their beloved classic games is replaced by a newfound horror: now that I have all these machines, how the heck am I going to take care of them?
Arcade machines, like any other piece of engineering, require periodic maintenance in order to keep them operating at peak performance. This is especially true for the ones that have many moving parts, or that are mostly mechanical in their operations. Without proper care, they will start to succumb to general wear and tear, and eventually break down if left unchecked, requiring expensive repairs or replacement parts than are much more costly than simply performing regular maintenance.
In this article, we are going to explain some basic tips or tricks that can help ensure the proper functioning of your game room, and to keep your machines operating at top shape, at all times.
Like most electronic appliances, arcade machines require a simple wall outlet of 120V AC to function properly. By simply plugging the machine to the wall, it is ready to be played. However, as much as we at PrimeTime Amusements enjoy walking into a sea of colors, adorned with the characteristic beeps and boops of retro arcade gaming, we strongly recommend unplugging your machine from the outlet when not in use. Furthermore, when you’re actually using them, please consider investing on a surge protector for each machine, or at least a strong protector that can accommodate multiple appliances. Some refurbished machines might come with their own protector built into the cabinet, so feel free to inquire if a machine, in particular, includes this amenity.
If you’re using a surge protector, and the power goes out, always remember to either unplug the protector from the wall if it doesn’t have a power switch, or simply switch it off if it does. This is to ensure the longevity of both the protector and the machine, should the power surge back unexpectedly.
Performing Maintenance to the Machines
While we don’t really recommend trying your hand at performing maintenance on your machines if you’re not sure of what you’re doing, it is not a difficult task to learn depending on what it is. With some time and certain tools, you can learn the basic know-how of how to clean electronic components.
You may access the interior of most machines by removing the service door, and then unlatching the control panel by sticking your hand inside and reaching up top to behind where the controls are located. This is a bit tricky and will vary slightly per machine, but you’ll want to look for one or two latches which can be snapped open, releasing the controls and granting access to the printed circuit board (PCB) within. With the controls removed, you may proceed to thoroughly clean the PCB using a brush and a can of compressed air. It also doesn’t hurt to wear a dust mask when performing this task, especially if you have to do it indoors. You may also want to clean the power supply located near the PCB, as well as the cables resting at the bottom of the cabinet. In most cases, dust is usually one of the worst enemies of any electronic component. Excessive amounts of this substance will cut airflow within the cabinet and cause the components to heat up when in use. This extra heat may damage the components if left unchecked.
While dust is usually what you’ll be removing when you perform periodic maintenance to your machine, there are still a bit more to cleaning your machine than that. For a better explanation on how to perform maintenance on your arcade cabinet, feel free to consult our article on the subject.
Booting Up Your Machine
If you had help from your seller to setup your game room, odds are that you’re not familiar with the booting process of the machine since someone else might have done it for you. If at first after plugging it into the wall, you’re not seeing your game yet, don’t fret; this is just part of the bootup process which, depending on the size and complexity of the machine, will vary in length. You can usually spot a progress bar on one corner of the screen, which can be used to gauge how much longer the process will take. In the case of multicade machines (or even in some regular machines), you will need to press any button to access the list of games, or boot options. By using the joysticks, you may select you desired game or simply choose to complete the bootup process. Once you hit accept, your game will be ready to play. However, remember that if it’s not set to freeplay, you will still be required to insert one or several quarters to begin play. This setting can be changed in the boot menu of most machines.
Mind the Marquee!
Most machines, especially the old ones can come with a fluorescent backlight built into the marquee. Though this addition can help to illuminate the screen, or give it a nice psychedelic style, fluorescent lamps have been obsolete for quite some time as arcade cabinet components due to several reasons. These lamps require a starter and a transformer in order to function properly, and the failure of any of these elements can cause several consequences of varying magnitude. If the starter is malfunctioning, the ensuing electrical interference can disrupt of even permanently damage the machine’s PCB. If the transformer is failing, it might overheat, smoke, and eventually burst a big hole in your cabinet. The lamp itself is also very hot during operation, which can discolor the marquee, crack it, and fall into the screen of the arcade cabinet. A good solution to this predicament is to switch the fluorescent lamp for a LED alternative, which can operate at much cooler temperatures, and will not damage your machine in any way.
Do keep in mind that LED bulbs need to be inserted in specific ways (as opposed to fluorescents which can go in either way). As always, check the instructions first!
Always Consult the Manual
Most, if not all arcade machines, come packaged with their user manual where you may find all sorts of machine about it, including the electrical and wiring layout. If your didn’t come with the manual, your seller can usually provide you with a digital copy, or even mail you a physical one, should you require it. Make sure to always keep it on hand when performing maintenance on your machines; you never know when you might run into a snag with the software that could be easily solved by consulting the manual.
Here at PrimeTime Amusements, we like to keep ahead of the curve in arcade game rental and sales and pride ourselves in providing the best service in the country. If you’re looking for a game in particular, or have a few questions about the industry, feel free to give us a call at 1.800.550.0090 or to swing by at 5300 Powerline Rd. Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33309.