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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

stern-ballasts

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.

 

Making Pinball Machines Accept The New £1 Coins?

With over £45 million worth of fake £1 coins currently circulating in the UK, forgery can be an expensive business for arcade owners. Enter: the new 12-sided bimetallic coin, based on the old predecimal ‘thruppenny bit’ and supposedly one of the hardest coins in the world to forge thanks to a built-in ‘hidden high security feature’ intended to protect it from counterfeiting in the future. And while a more secure coin is certainly welcome, it comes at a price: all machines using coin mechanisms will need to be taken apart and adapted in order to accept the new coins.
Royal Mint came right out and said it: the switch could potentially cost the country up to £20 million, and the body is urging businesses everywhere to get ready now or risk problems later. It’s not just pinball machine and vintage video game slots that will need changing, every self-service checkout, vending machine and parking ticket meter across the UK will be affected. Does the situation sound familiar? That’s probably because it is! Just five years ago, businesses were faced with exactly the same dilemma following the introduction of the new 5p and 10p coins in 2012.
Those who frequented amusement arcades in the ‘60s and ‘70s may remember that the coins were judged by size rather than weight, so thrifty gamers could use a certain size of washer to dupe the machine and get a free game. It was because of this that game manufacturers started fitting magnets into the mechanisms to catch the fakes—so it’s hardly surprising that the newly magnetic steel coins didn’t go down too well with arcade owners.
It may be a more secure solution in the long run, but it’s small businesses who are likely to suffer initially as they struggle to keep up with the government’s changes; arcades specialising in retro gamester already expecting to take the biggest hit. But is it really worth it? In the long term, absolutely. The new resistance to counterfeit coins will undoubtedly outweigh the cost of changing the slots—and with Pinball Heaven’s own in-house coin mechanism conversion service, bringing your machines up-to-date couldn’t be easier.
We’re here to help make sure you’re prepared for the introduction of the new £1 coin on 28th March. We can convert your C220, C120 and SR3 pinball machine coin mechanisms in just 24 hours after receiving your parts. This covers almost all Stern, Jersey Jack, Bally and Williams machines currently being played in the UK.  Although both the old and new coins will co-circulate for a time, by mid-October this year the old coin will be completely demonetised—so act fast! Select a mechanism type and order your conversion in a matter of minutes by clicking here.
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