Monthly Archives: January 2018

Converting a USA Stern pinball to 230v 50hz

Converting a Stern Pinball machine from USA 110v 60hz to EU 230v 50hz.

If you have a USA specification Stern pinball machine (SAM system pre Family Guy) then its quite easy to convert it to UK/EU specification.

The first step would be to change the power cord to standard EU/UK colours, when fitting the cord to the line filter box you will need to change the varistor, you can use the one we stock here, then you need to swap the jumper wires on the transformer plug (the manual will show you exactly which pins need swapping), this is extremely difficult without the correct Molex pin extractor and you may be best cutting the wires and joining the new wires (cut 4 wires, rejoin 2, leave 2 unconnected).

Then the next step would be to swap the ballast as the USA games have a 60hz ballast which will blow itself, then the flo tube, so just swap it before it blows the flo tube, which it will.  Use this ballast as its a 50/60hz version.  You can see the 2 versions of ballast below.  One is 60hz only, the other is 50/60hz


Then for all games pre Family Guy, thats pretty much it.  However, games Family Guy onwards Stern decided to stop the parallel importing of games which was becoming a problem for them they would install a frequency checker into the software so a 60hz game would only work on 60hz line frequency.  If not you get this message – “THIS MACHINE WONT OPERATE IN THIS COUNTRY.  PLEASE CONTACT YOUR DISTRIBUTOR“.

So, you can ask Stern to unlock the CPU and send them the board or you can install a 50hz modification board which tricks the CPU to thinking it is getting the correct frequency.

For the newer SPIKE system, its completely different and the above modification board is not suitable.  We know people are working on cracking this 50/60hz problem, just because they can.  But the easiest thing to do is just to buy a Stern Pinball Machine from the correct region, if you import a USA game into the UK then it wont be CE certified.