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Back to the Arcade Neon Sign

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Back to the Arcade neon sign, turned off
Back to the Arcade neon sign, turned off

What says game room more than a neon sign?  And what could be better than a retro Back to the Future sign rethemed to an arcade sign?  I picked this up a while back off a custom neon sign shop, but unfortunately they no longer sell them.  Luckily, they sell them now on ebay.  As far as quality goes, the light sometimes doesn’t turn on the first time but after that it works fine.

Back to the Arcade neon sign, turned on
Back to the Arcade neon sign, turned on

It’s one of my favorite decorations in my game room, and my only neon sign currently.  Hopefully that will change someday.

Searching for “Back to the Arcade Neon Sign” on ebay brings the sign up if you’re interested in buying one.

Movie poster lighted wall alcoves

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Movie poster single lighted wall alcove
Movie poster single lighted wall alcove

When I was building my basement, one of the ideas I had came from a picture I saw online, which was of a lighted alcove with a vase in it.  Looking at it, I thought I could expand the concept to some movie poster lighted wall alcoves.  I’ve got a picture of them below:

Movie poster lighted wall alcoves
Movie poster lighted wall alcoves

I think the frames I was using were some 40″ x 27″ movie poster frames from Bed Bath and Beyond I believe.  They’ve worked pretty well so far.  The downside of doing the alcoves is that in most situations you have to extend out the wall to make space for the posters.  In this situation, I’ve got a GU20 50w can light for the top light, and the spaces are framed out by 2″ x 6″ boards.  The curve was done with some bendable 1/4″ or 1/8″ wood in two separate pieces.

Nebraska Cornhusker Pub Table

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Nebraska Cornhusker Pub Table
Nebraska Cornhusker Pub Table

I got this Nebraska Cornhusker Pub table a while back.  I was running into an issue where people playing ping pong or watching TV needed a table for their drink or a place to sit, and this was the best answer:

nebraska-cornhusker-pub-table-pic-2-large

Obviously I got a Cornhusker one but there are ones for all the major NCAA teams.

Nebraska Cornhusker Bottlecap Sign

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Nebraska Cornhusker Bottlecap Sign
Nebraska Cornhusker Bottlecap Sign

Hope you like Nebraska stuff, because here’s another one, lol.  I got this a while back.  Some stores carry it but it’s probably easiest to order it off ebay here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/301441961747?lpid=82&chn=ps&ul_noapp=true

All the other teams are available as well, but obviously being a Cornhusker fan I gravitate towards them.  Of course, being a Cornhusker fan has been a little bit harder lately after the beatdown we got from Ohio State.

Upgrading your Super CHEXX Bubble Hockey Lighting

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The original bulb that came in the original CHEXX game and the Super CHEXX game had one major issue—it produced a large amount of heat, that could cause plastic warping or other heat related issues.  The cover of my bubble hockey light was warped from heat.  If you read below, I’ll go through the steps you need to upgrade your bubble hockey lighting.

I had seen some suggestions in online forums to try doing some LED lighting in the game instead, now that LED’s were more affordable.  Some people had used LED strips (which seemed a little hacky although effective) and others had used LED bulbs, almost all of which were no longer available since the posts were older.

I decided to go and try and figure out some good bulbs on my own, keeping in mind the wattage for the original bulb to make sure that I didn’t overdraw the circuit.  The bulbs I found were these:

new led bulbs from amazon

I ordered the bulbs from Amazon through this link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HI7D4VY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

To install the bulbs, I had lift up the dome so I could see the underside of the scoreboard.  From there, you can see the four screws that need to be unscrewed to access the bulbs.

bubble hockey underneath scoreboard

After removing the screws, inserting the bulbs is pretty easy.  Here is a picture after they are already installed. 

led bulbs installed in bubble hockey

This is what the old bulbs look like (1156 bulbs):

old bubble hockey 1156 bulbs

It ended working great.  Here’s the before picture:

bubble hockey old lamp

And here’s the after picture:

bubble hockey after LED picture

If you look at the pictures, the biggest difference is in how much light is out by the edges of the playfield, the center is largely the same.  Obviously the biggest advantage is one you can’t even see, the amount of heat being way less than before. 

If you have other bubble hockey questions, check out my guide here:

Bubble Hockey Guide

Or look for other bubble hockey articles I’ll be posting in the coming months.

Buying a Universal Remote for your Home Theater

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Logitech Harmony 650 remote
Logitech Harmony 650 remote

One of the challenges of constructing a home theater is controlling everything that’s in that home theater. Enter the Logitech Harmony 650 remote:

Logitech Harmony 650 remote
Logitech Harmony 650 remote

https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmony-Infrared-Universal-Programmable/dp/B004OVECU0

I bought this quite a while ago, but there should be newer models of the same remote, and the concept is still the same, which is being able to control everything in your home theater. In a typical home theater, you’ll need to control:

  • projector or tv
  • receiver or sound bar
  • blu ray player
  • lights

These can all be controlled by the Harmony or some other universal remote, if you so desire.  The screen makes it really easy to navigate those items, which is one of the downfalls of a lot of other universal remotes.  One other thing that it does that a lot of universal remotes don’t is store its settings through power cycles.

I would recommend a universal remote if:

  • you don’t like lots of remotes around
  • you don’t mind not having access to some fringe functions

I would not recommend it if:

  • you have a lot of equipment from specialized brands
  • you value speed over organization

A universal remote is almost always slower than a regular remote.  For my home theater, I use the universal remote for the lights but still use the other remotes most of the time.  The normal light remotes didn’t store the presets I wanted correctly but the Harmony did.

Hopefully this rundown helps.

Turning on the Blinders, Tommy Pinball Machine

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A lot of people don’t know this, but there’s a way you can turn on the blinders to be on for the entire game.  I made a short video to show this below:

It comes in really handy when playing against your friends, kind of a nice changeup from the usual playing.

Nebraska Cornhusker Canvas

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Nebraska Football National Championship Canvas
Nebraska Football Canvas Featuring the 5 National Championships and the two legendary coaches, Osborne and Devaney

I thought I would post up a pretty awesome Nebraska Cornhusker Canvas I picked up a couple years ago.

Nebraska Football National Championship Canvas
Nebraska Football Canvas Featuring the 5 National Championships and the two legendary coaches, Osborne and Devaney

It’s still available through here:

http://www.bestofbigred.com/3-Panel-Champions-Mural

It’s one of my favorite things in my basement, I’ve attached a picture to this article.  The dimensions are 6.5 feet by 4 feet.

Even if you don’t like the Cornhuskers, I’m sure there are similar things for every sports team.  It’s a nice alternative to posters and other cheaper items, it really brings an air of classiness to the basement.

Pinball 2000

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Pinball 2000 was a technology developed by Williams pinball in the late 1990’s when the pinball industry was facing major contraction due to the amount of arcades that were gradually disappearing due to the rise of home consoles.  Two games were developed from this technology before Williams closed their pinball division, Revenge from Mars and Star Wars Episode One.

Revenge from Mars, the first Pinball 2000

Revenge from Mars was the first game developed on the pinball 2000 platform, released in January of 1999.  It took the pinball industry by storm, the biggest innovation in pinball since it went to digital scoring in the late 70’s.  Instead of shooting at the usual targets, video targets were now ‘displayed’ on the playfield.  This led to some very cool effects, as instead of just hitting the lit arrow and getting a flash and sound effect, the target would now explode or do some other cool animation.  New players in particular were really impressed with the new gameplay, while more traditional players weren’t as enthused by the new changes, feeling it wasn’t ‘real’ pinball.  Operators really liked it though because the games brought in more money that the previous games Williams had released, plus had a lot of things that made operating easier like swappable playfields and in depth diagnostics.

The general consensus on RFM (acronym for Revenge from Mars) is that it was a great initial game for the Pinball 2000 platform but as good of a game as some of Williams earlier efforts (at least in the eyes of pinball fans).  New players really liked the video integration though.  If you check out the game at the Internation pinball database here:

http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=4446

You’ll see a lot more pictures and information about the game, including a bunch of user reviews.

Star Wars Episode One, the second Pinball 2000 game

The second game developed for the Pinball 2000 platform was Star Wars Episode One.  It came out in June of 1999, hoping to ride the wave of Star Wars Mania that was sweeping the nation at that time.  Unfortunately, the movie didn’t quite meet expectations and neither did the game, as a result.  Williams was hoping that after they sold more than 6800 Revenge from Mars, they could sell even more Star Wars.  The combination though of the movie not being great plus a price increase caused a lot of people to cancel their orders, leading to a production that was significantly less than Revenge from Mars.

Star Wars was made to cater more to the beginner crowd, which led to a lot of veteran players being disappointed with the game.  In fact, if you read the reviews at http://www.ipdb.org you’ll see that the reviews are mainly negative on the game compared to Revenge from Mars.  I personally find the game decently fun but it does seem like you shoot up the middle a lot.  I like the neon light saber on the right side, I think that was a really nice touch on the game.

Pinball 2000 now

After Williams closed the pinball division in late 1999, no new Pinball 2000 games were ever released.  One of the biggest disappointments people had about that was that the third game, Wizard Blocks, was never released.  There are pictures and video of the game circulating around the web, this video on youtube shows Wizard Blocks:

It was supposed to be the first game that really took the technology to the next level, so it’s unfortunate that it never made it to production.

One of the biggest issues that Pinball 2000 owners had was that if the computer in the game went bad, there were no longer replacements because it was PC based rather than the normal custom board.  This was solved for a while when a product called Nucore came out, it allowed owners with broken computer boards to get their games back up and running.  Production of Nucore was suspend though and has not resumed as far as I know.

Buying a Pinball 2000 machine

If you’re going to buy a Pinball 2000 machine, the biggest thing to watch out for is to make sure that the game works (basically that the computer is good) and that the monitor is good.  There are replacements for the monitor now that are LCD based, but the computer can be harder to find or repair.  The prices aren’t too bad for the games, traditional collectors haven’t really gone of them.  Star Wars Episode One swappable playfields are even available occasionally so you can have two games (if you swap them) and only need one cabinet.

Wrapup

Hopefully this has been helpful for those of you looking for Pinball 2000 information.  If you have any questions, please email or check out some of the links I gave in the article.  Tilt! the battle to save pinball is also a good documentary if you really want the whole story.  I bought the film and really enjoyed it.

Pinball Buying Checklist

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World Cup Soccer and Iron Man pinball machines
World Cup Soccer and Iron Man pinball machines

I was thinking about this as I was driving home today, what I would need if I was new to the hobby and wanted to buy a pinball machine.  So I thought a pinball buying checklist would be a good thing to type up for those new players to the hobby.  Here’s the list:

  • Make sure the game powers on.  If the guy has it in his garage not plugged in and says trust me it works, don’t believe it, try it yourself.
  • If it powers on, there are various states of working.  If it lights up but none of the displays work, this generally means there is an electronic problem.  If it starts up but won’t play a game, there are probably missing balls, a switch issue, or electronic board issue.
  • If it powers on and plays, the next step is to start making sure things on the playfield work.  This may be difficult if you’re not familiar with the game, but things to verify are usually:
    • do the flippers work and have enough power for the all of the shots?
    • do all the lights appear to work?
    • do all the displays appear to work?
    • do all the main features appear to work?
    • are there any major broken things?
  • Next it’s time to look at the cosmetics of the machine.  Look at the cabinet first.  Are there any major scratches or dings?  Is there any water damage or fading?  One of the most common things people miss is that a lot of cabinets are heavily faded, especially in the red color.  You can check for fading by having a picture of a perfect machine on your phone when you examine the new game.
  • Next move onto the playfield.  If the game is from the early 80’s, there’s a good chance there may be significant paint loss on the playfield.  90’s games and later usually don’t have playfield wear except for heavily used outholes.
  • If you’ve made it this far, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how functional the game is.  This means that it’s time to figure out how much the game is worth.  This is kind of a grey area, but the first place to start is probably the pinball price guide.  If you don’t have one of those, then the archived ads on http://www.pinside.com can be of pretty good use.  You’ll need to kind of classify each game into it’s own category.  I usually classify games into these:
    • non-working projects.  These games don’t work at all, and usually worth like 50% of what an average game would be worth.
    • partially working games.  These games work partially, but have weak flippers or things not working to some degree.  These games are usually worth like 75% of what an average game would be worth
    • fully working game, very dirty.  These games are usually worth like 90% of what an average game would be worth.
    • fully working and clean game.  These games are your average priced games.
    • fully restored.  These games may have new cabinet art, new playfields, etc.  These games can vary anywhere from 110% to 150% of the value of an average game.

Hopefully this pinball buying checklist is helpful for new pinball buyers.  Please contact me if you have any questions.