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Author Topic: New stern pinball MPU system  (Read 2242 times)

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lilshawn

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New stern pinball MPU system
« on: January 09, 2015, 12:07:09 pm »


looks like stern is jumping into the 30th century and redesigned their formare MPU/power boards with an integrated all in one MPU solution.

It appears to me they've adopted (perhaps) a serial interface connecting all the playfield components together and driving them with an on device driver chip type of solution. (think individually addressable LED light strips, but include solenoids.) where every component (and it's associated driver chip) are daisy chained together. This appears to reduce the amount of wiring required (as a single data line can service the entire machine)

not sure if this is good or bad.

Quote
New from Stern Pinball Inc. is SPIKE, the next generation in its line of electronic systems for pinball machines. It succeeds the company's longtime S.A.M. architecture, and is making its debut this week in Stern's booth No. 25608 in the Las Vegas Convention Center (Tech East, South Hall 2, ground level) at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Also on display at CES 2015 is Stern's newest game, WWE Wrestlemania, the first model designed around the SPIKE electronics hardware package. WWE Wrestlemania will be available in Pro and Limited Edition models.

According to Stern, SPIKE is a modern, scalable and modular electronics hardware system engineered for the rigors and complexities of pinball applications. It incorporates distributed processor architecture and an industrial-grade network protocol, which reduce product and manufacturing complexities, and enhance reliability and serviceability.

The system is designed to facilitate integration of a wider range of display technologies, such as varying size LCD displays, both on the playfield and in the backbox. SPIKE's scalability supports the integration of Wi-Fi and numerous new game-specific features and technologies.

"The modular nature of the system will allow game designers to embrace new technologies to evolve the game of pinball," said George Gomez, Stern's executive vice-president of product development. Experienced players will recognize a more engaging overall game experience and quickly appreciate the enhanced illumination effects and higher quality sound, the he predicted.

Chairman and chief executive Gary Stern said, "SPIKE is the latest step in our ongoing program to leverage technological advancements to improve the game for all segments of our customer base. Commercial customers such as operators and location owners will be particularly well-served by SPIKE."

SPIKE enables all-LED illumination. Included is support for replacement of fluorescent lights by cooler, longer-lasting and more economical LEDs.

A more powerful high-definition digital sound system improves game experience. The modern CPU and expanded memory gives designers greater freedom to create compelling new game scenarios. All these features will help attract more players and lengthen their engagement, Stern observed.

Features contributing to greater reliability include built-in automotive-grade circuit protection for LEDs, switches and solenoids, reducing circuit failures from accidental shorts and environmental faults. And lower game temperature reduces thermal stress on components, increasing longevity.

The SPIKE system also is designed to speed and simplify service in the field, Stern explained. Low-cost game modules are easy for any technician to replace and pricey circuit board repair is eliminated. Reduced wiring complexity expedites troubleshooting and component replacement. Better diagnostics make the system easy to learn and to work with.

The same attributes increase the durability and energy efficiency of new games, Stern continued. Robust new solenoid, switch and lighting protection circuitry reduce the chances of failure from environmental hazards. And SPIKE system games use less energy than older models, thus generating less heat during operation.

Rounding out the SPIKE package is controllable LED artwork backlighting, which diminishes fading and saves energy.

pbj

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2015, 12:12:31 pm »
I'm shocked they're still in business at this point, to be perfectly honest.
This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

lilshawn

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2015, 12:19:40 pm »
i'm with you there.

last i heard (mind you a few years back) they suckerd some investors to dump some money into the company to kickstart it again. That's about when stern started selling "home" versions of their games at "premium" prices.

it's must be working out for them, they've lasted longer than i'd originally thought. I'd originally thought they'd push out 3 good games and that'd be about it ... they pushed out a half dozen or so mediocre games and are still chugging along.

maybe with this new MPU, they can focus more on improving the games instead of basically starting from square one every time they start a new machine. at least this system looks like they can easily transfer 90% of the (now) current engineering to a new table and spend their time making a game worth playing for a change.

pbj

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2015, 12:24:33 pm »
I really doubt they're starting from square one on anything.  Every single one of their games has been identical since around the time Sopranos came out - ramp, toy, ramp.

Either they're bleeding money or they're pushing these things out for $500, IMO.



This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

Fursphere

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2015, 09:44:03 pm »
not sure if this is good or bad.

I think this is what Jersey Jack uses, and I know a number of Wizard of Oz owners that have a TON of problems with them.  (one guy replaced like 7 boards already?)

The problem is if one board goes out, every board after it in the chain dies.  Including simple connector problems.

jennifer

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2015, 03:09:41 am »
    I kinda like it as an idea.... As a crossover its bound to have some issues for a few years, but ultimately (in theory) the whole machine could be run on one or two MPU"s.

Fursphere

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2015, 12:15:13 pm »
I really doubt they're starting from square one on anything.  Every single one of their games has been identical since around the time Sopranos came out - ramp, toy, ramp.

Either they're bleeding money or they're pushing these things out for $500, IMO.

Nevermind the fact that Stern X-Men is a shot-for-shot, ramp-for-ramp copy of Gottlieb's Stargate.  They did a really good job on the artwork on rules, but then they took a huge steaming turd on it with the horrible cheap looking toys. 

In my opinion, it seems like every other Stern release seems to be pretty good, with an absolute stinker in between the good ones.   :dunno

Ken Layton

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2015, 12:34:32 pm »
I have yet to see decent sized pictures of any of the new game hardware boardsets. I have heard that everything on them is surface mount. That's going to make board repair on location impossible. To "repair" the machine, you'd be limited to "board swapping". So unless you just happen to have purchased complete spare boards, you could have a machine down fo several days or weeks.


nickbuol

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 09:07:15 am »
And here I thought that *I* was the only one that didn't care for Stern's games.  It always seemed to me that they spent more time in rights licensing than on game design.  Everything that they have cranked out for a while (maybe like pbj mentions, as far back as Sopranos) have so "blah" for gameplay.  You could probably take someone who has never played pinball before, remove all of the company branding from the games, and they could tell you which ones came from Stern (sure, they wouldn't know the company name, but they would be able to easily group them together).

Nephasth

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2015, 10:26:48 am »
I don't know... I sure love my Luci. But I can't say the same for any of Stern's other titles. I've often described Stern machines as "plastic-y".

pbj

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2015, 10:35:51 am »
I liked the era around Elvis, LOTR, Ripley's, and Monopoly. 

My "op buddy" (we all need an op buddy) says they earn the same no matter what it is, so he quit putting new Sterns on route.

What drives me nuts about them is every single shot does something and they're constantly flashing a ton of inserts.  People have mistaken this for 'complex' gameplay.  Cause one thing people want when they walk up to a ding ding shitbox is a complicated game.


This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

Ken Layton

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2015, 11:46:03 am »
My operator friend has games like Dirty Harry, Demo Man, Funhouse, etc on his route and they earn good money. Plus the machines are all paid for!

Sarver Systems

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2015, 03:05:20 pm »
Surface mount components arent mush harder to replace than through-hole.

Of course, some exceptions would be the ICs, and I'm sure there are a metric ---steaming pile of meadow muffin----ton of them on the boards.

But smaller parts like resistors, caps, LEDs, etc...just require a more delicate tough and maybe some tweezers.

Good news is that those parts are often much cheaper and much easier to warehouse than older through-hole parts.

I assume the connectors are still through hole, even if to just use the board as a foundation to keep it solid after plugging and unplugging mulitiple times.

Ken Layton

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2015, 04:25:48 pm »
Surface mount components aren't much harder to replace than through-hole.


Try that on location in a tavern at 8pm on a Friday night.  ::)

pbj

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2015, 04:32:10 pm »
Other than those large capacitors that warm up and bake themselves off the boards, I'd never really heard any issues with Capcom games and those were all surface mount components weren't they?

I used to be all doom and gloom on surface mount electronics but they haven't exactly been the worst thing in the world.

I have a feeling a substantial chunk of their sales are to home users that are just going to send it in for replacement either way.

This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

jennifer

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2015, 10:04:05 pm »
      Most coin -ops that I know not only have multiple of the same games (makes it easier to bench one and/or rob parts for the working one) but also carry complete board sets on route for the quick fix.

Sarver Systems

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2015, 10:28:21 pm »
Surface mount components aren't much harder to replace than through-hole.


Try that on location in a tavern at 8pm on a Friday night.  ::)

For sure. No way you're gonna be repairing boards in a dimly lit room.

lilshawn

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2015, 10:44:50 pm »
Surface mount components aren't much harder to replace than through-hole.


Try that on location in a tavern at 8pm on a Friday night.  ::)

For sure. No way you're gonna be repairing boards in a dimly lit room.

I'd most likely pull the offending part, take it back to the shop, repair it, and bring it back. no big deal. I get paid either way.

Ken Layton

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Re: New stern pinball MPU system
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2015, 02:10:13 am »
Other than those large capacitors that warm up and bake themselves off the boards, I'd never really heard any issues with Capcom games and those were all surface mount components weren't they?


Ah but Capcom games are old enough that they were soldered with normal solder and not that lead-free crap.