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Game Power Conversion:
Converting your game for use with power/voltage in a foreign country.
NOTICE: For some very important information, please read the Technical Article Notice and Disclaimer, found on our Technical Articles Index page before performing any of the work described below. The information given below assumes you have read the Notice and Disclaimer first.
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If your game is set up for use with power/voltage that is different than what is used in your country, there are a few things you will need to change in your game in order to get it to work properly.
This article is not designed to be a "comprehensive" guide that will give you every possible specific detail that you might need, so you are encouraged to consult with your game's operation manual and schematic manual/diagrams for exact specifics, where required. When all else fails, we recommend consulting with a qualified pinball repair/service person that has experience with this type of work.
NOTE: The information given below may or may not apply to the exact game you have. Improper or incomplete conversion of your game for different power/voltage may result in damage to your game, you, or your property, so any instruction and/or information given in this guide is to be used only at your own risk.
Required Conversion Settings & Modifications:
- Main Power Cord & Plug: A new power plug (for wall outlet) and possibly a new power cord may need to be obtained for your game- of the type used in your country. This plug/cord can be wired into the power interface box or to the EMI filter box in your particular game. If using just a plug end (re-using old cord), then the new plug end can simply be connected to newly-stripped wires in the original power cord. Be sure to observe correct polarity of the wires in your game/cord/plug otherwise you may do damage to your game, yourself, or your home/location. Consult a qualified electrician or repair person if you have any doubt about proper wiring of your game's power cord and plug end.
- Transformer Wiring: The input wiring to your game's main transformer will have to be changed, according to the game's specific power wiring diagrams, in order to set it up for the power/voltage that you have in your home/location/country.
If you have a newer game (approx. late 1980's-up), then your game may use a wiring harness connector ahead of the main transformer that has jumper wires or "loops" in one side of it. These jumper wires or "loops" are usually changed (moved around to other positions in the connector) in order to set the game up for the voltage you have at the wall plug.
If you have an older game where the wires connect directly to lugs on the transformer, then some of those wires will need to be moved to other lugs on the transformer to set the proper power/voltage that the game will use.
This step requires you to consult with the game manual and/or schematic wiring diagrams for your specific game, as voltage settings for the transformer/jumpers will vary from game to game depending on the age and manufacturer of the game, and the voltage you are setting it up for. Game manual wiring diagrams will show the proper settings for wiring harness jumpers or transformer lug connections for the various voltages that the game can be set up for.
Use extreme caution and care in this step- any errors or incomplete work here may cause damage to your game. Consult with a qualified service person if you have any questions or doubts in this process.
- Varistor (Surge Protector) Replacement: Most all pinball games will use a metal-oxide varistor (MOV) or "surge protector" to protect the game from surges or spikes in the incoming power that could otherwise damage the circuit boards and other electronics in the game itself.
A varistor is a device that will short itself out at a specific voltage, thus preventing voltage from going inside to the rest of the game. For games made/used in the U.S. at 120vac, a 130vac varistor is used. If incoming voltage reaches 130vac, the varistor will short itself out (usually with a very loud "bang" and some subsequent smoke), and should blow the game's main line fuse. If fuse is incorrect (too high of an amperage rating) or has been bypassed, then the shorted varistor may cause the circuit breaker or fuse in your home's fusebox/breaker panel to blow.
For games used outside the U.S. at 240vac, a 275vac varistor is typically used. For games used in Japan at lower voltages (100vac or 105 vac), a lower varistor is used- something like 120vac.
When obtaining a varistor for your game, be sure to get the proper voltage that your game/voltage requires, and make sure the varistor you are getting is an "AC" varistor, rather than a "DC" varistor.
The varistor in most pinball games is located at the end of the main power cord that goes into the game.
In older games, the power cord may terminate near the back of the main cabinet at a small silver "EMI" filter box. The varistor is connected (soldered) to the two lugs on the filter box where the 2 power wires (hot and neutral) from the power cord connect (3rd wire- ground/earth- if used- will usually connect to the body of the filter box or ground braid nearby).
In later-model games, the power cord may go directly into a larger metal box ("power interface box") near the front of the main cabinet. This box needs to be removed (held in place by several screws) which will allow access to it's internal parts- including the varistor that is attached at or near the terminating end of the main power cord.
- Main Power Line Fuse: The main power fuse in most games will either be an 8-amp fuse for 120vac applications (U.S. for example), or will be a 5-amp fuse for 240vac applications (Europe, etc.) Sega and new Stern pinball games will use a slow-blow version of the 8 or 5 amp fuse for the main line fuse. Other games may just use a standard fast-blow fuse.
If not obvious, please consult your game manual for location and type of the main line fuse that is used/required in your game.
- Game Software Settings/Defaults: Some later-model games will use a bank of DIP switches on the main (MPU) circuit board in the backbox that can be configured for the specific country that the game is being used in. These DIP switches will tell the game what country settings (currencies, languages, pricing, etc.) it should use when it is turned on, or when it has it's memory/settings reset to "factory settings".
Further game-specific settings may need to be made manually, within the game's audits/settings/diagnostics menus, after doing a factory reset and/or setting the DIP switches to a new selection.
Consult your game's operation manual for these DIP switch settings- they will vary from game to game and manufacturer to manufacturer.
The above is a very generic/simplified "guide" to the actual work that may need to be done, which can vary depending on the age and manufacturer of your game, and what exact voltage you are working with in your home or location.
If you have any questions about converting your game or run into any problems or are unsure about any specific aspect of the conversion, please consult with a qualified pinball repair/service person for help. Any incomplete or incorrect work done in the conversion process can cause damage to your game when power is applied, or worse- damage to yourself or your property. All information given in this article is intended for your use at your own risk. We (Action Pinball) are not responsible for any errors, omissions, or other problems with the information provided in this article, or problems that arise on your behalf, that might be the cause of problems or damage to your game, yourself, or your location and property. Please read the disclaimer on the index page of our Technical Articles section for more information.
NOTE: Please do not contact us with questions unless the game you are converting was purchased directly from our shop. We simply don't have time or resources to provide free technical support/help for games that were not purchased directly from our shop by our own customers.
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