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New stern pinball MPU system

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lilshawn:


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.

--- End quote ---

pbj:
I'm shocked they're still in business at this point, to be perfectly honest.

lilshawn:
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:
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.



Fursphere:

--- Quote from: lilshawn on January 09, 2015, 12:07:09 pm ---not sure if this is good or bad.

--- End quote ---

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.

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