Category Archives: Hobbies

Twilight Zone Pinball Machine

Well, last Wednesday Kristin and I picked up the pinball machine that I always wanted, Twilight Zone.  The great thing about it was that it was only about 1 1/2 hours away from our house.  The story goes like this:  I was reading the newsgroup rec.games.pinball when I came across an add for a Twilight Zone that the guy had to move quickly and was prices exceptionally good, better than I’ve seen in about 9 months.  After talking it over with Kristin, we decided that it was something that we were willing to get, so I gave the guy a call around 6:00.  The guy let me know it was a first come, first serve.  He already had someone from Columbus, OH coming Thursday, someone from Tennesee was coming Friday, and someone from North Carolina was going to stop by Saturday Morning.  It had to be out by Saturday afternoon because he had another shipment of pinball machines coming in for him to repair and he had no room for some of them if the Twilight Zone was there.  He had kept it from the last round 6 months ago when he had a shipment come in to fix up.  He said the only way I would be able to get it is to come up that night, which we did.  We finally made it down to Georgetown, KY around 8:00 and checked it out.  The machine was in excellent condition, so we bought it.  Believe it or not, but it actually fit in Kristin’s jeep liberty perfectly.  I’m planning on adding a few mods to make it look nice.  The pictures I took didn’t come out too well, so I’ll post some pictures of it once I get some good ones.

Long over due update

Been a long time since I’ve done a post, so here is a quick update to what’s been going on with me.

I’ve been hired on as an employee at Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions, which I’m very excited about.  I have been a contractor there for a little over a year, so I knew what I was getting into.  Great place to work, with really great people.  I’m a Unix Systems Engineer II.  Basically do a lot of stuff, from installing systems to installing software, to mostly writing a lot of software to connect all these systems with a lot of seperate development projects.

It’s gotten too cold to go out on the jet skis anymore.  Kristin’s jetski (’94 SPX) is pretty much ready to go for winterization.  Just need to run the last of the gas that’s in the lines, run anti-freeze through the cooling system, remove the battery to the garage, put a little oil in each chamber, and spray down the all the metal parts with wd-40 so nothing rusts.  Then I will be taking it up to my parents new place to store in their huge barn for the winter.  Mine (’99 GS) has a little more work that needs to be done to it.  I’m going to be doing the same thing that I’m doing to Kristin’s to mine.  In addition to that, I will be rebuilding the jet pump, which I have all the parts to do.  Once I’m done with mine and it’s been moved to the parents, I’m going to be moving the double trailer into the garage to work on that.  Just needs one (or more) of the boards replaced, some touch up sanding / painting on the bottom side, and the rails to be moved to the correct location for the jet skis.  We’ll be moving the jet ski’s to the double next year.

The double trailer brings on the next update, my car.  We found out that with both jet skis on the double trailer, that the total tongue and gross weight of the trailer was too much for my Class I hitch.  We had to buy a new Class I hitch for my car and install it.  Installation was not too bad since this would be my third time installing a hitch on a car.  Thanks to some help from my father-in-law, we were also able to get the independant tow light converter on my car.  For anybody that is planning on adding a hitch and lights to your vehicle, I highly recommend just getting the tow lights converter on it’s own circuit instead of buying a converter that ties it directly to your lights.  Just remember, if you get one that isn’t on it’s own circuit and you have a short in your trailer somewhere (which always seems to happen at one time or another), you will lose your cars taillights.  Moral of the story, spend a little bit more money (about 20 bucks) and get an independant tow light converter.

Now on to another exciting project, which is where all my time has currently been spent.  Kristin and I headed up to Columbus, OH for the coin-op auction that I found out about a little while ago. We went up with the intention of getting a pinball machine for me. We did bid on a couple and ended up getting the Creature from the Black Lagoon”. Once we got home, we did notice that it had a few issues that we didn’t notice when we got it, but what can you do. I’ve already tore the playfield apart for the most part, cleaned it big time, waxed it, and almost have it entirely put back together.  It’s in a mostly playable condition.  The plunger still needs to be fixed and installed and the multiball ramp doesn’t have the metal ramp to the bowl, so in the rare case that you get the ball up there, it just falls back to the playfield.  Should have it completely working in about a week.  Will always have things to work on it, but atleast it will be playable as I work on it.  I’m also doing a mod on it by installed a LED in each of the pop bumpers that will run off the general illumination circuit.  Decided to do giant LED so that they require less power (less strain on the power system) and because they will stay cooler in the pop bumpers since they will be on all the time.

That’s about all the stuff I’ve done.  Been so busy with everything else, I really haven’t had time to do much cool stuff in regards to computers and programming.  With the new release of Gentoo 2006.1, I’m planning on getting back to installing Gentoo on my Xserve, which will hopefully work out better this time since a number of issues have been fixed. 

Got a ’99 Sea Doo GS

We just got another jet ski.  This one is a ’99 Sea Doo GS.  I took it out all day yesterday and it runs great.  This is not really an addition to our collection but a replacement.  We’re planning on selling the ’90 SP as soon as we can, which will likely be next spring.  We have a part ordered for it that is already 1 month back ordered.

The ’94 is also in non-working condition.  It just needs a little exhaust boot / seal which has been on order for about 3 weeks.  I just ordered it from another company.  It’s a little $15 piece.  From what I hear, it’s the fault of the place I ordered it, Lodders.  The amount of time they said it would take (3 days) and the amount of time is has taken and still not in (3 weeks) is horrible.  This time around I used Beechmont Motor Sports, so hopefully I’ll get it in before the end of the season happens.

James on the 99 Sea Doo GS   James on the 99 Sea Doo GS

’90 Sea Doo SP almost ready and running

Ended up working on the ’90 yesterday (Thursday). I put the new battery in it and it started up. It was pretty rough to get it started and from there it ran really rough. I actually had water hooked up to it and everything.

I had it run for a good 5 minutes at what I felt was idle and then started to rev it up. That’s where the issues started to happen. When it was reved up at higher speeds, it started to backfire through the carborator. My Dad and I decided that it was the rotary valve timing that was off, and needed to be timed correctly.

Now I’ve found two different ways for setting the timing. One way was the shop manual way and the other was found on the forums at stbonthweb.com. The forums guide pointed out not to do it the way the shop manual said. Seeing that I didn’t have a timing degree wheel, which is needed to do it the forums way, I tried to set it correctly according to the shop manual. After setting it the way the shop manual said, it was near impossible to get the jet ski to run. We did manage to get it running once, but it was running super rough and would not idle without dying.

I’m calling around to different jet ski locations today to find out if they have a timing degree wheel for sale. I’m going to try setting the rotary valve timing as the forums says this time.  So far, the two places I’ve talked to said they need to order the part (which I would just do at stbontheweb.com for cheaper).  I have one more place to try before I just order and wait.

1994 Sea Doo SPX Working

On Monday, we took the SPX out to the Greater Miami River to test to see how it did on the water.  Up to this point, we were only able to verify that it worked by running it out of the water.  From past experience, we knew that because it works out of water does not mean it works in the water.  It ran GREAT.  That little thing has a lot of power (compared to our old Wet Jet).  We ran it for about an hour with no problems at all.  The only issue that we had was that it kept bouncing in the water, even the there were no waves.  This only happened when both of us were on it though.  Side note, the river still makes everything it touches stink horribly.

On the ’90, we changed out the starter on it after we tested the SPX.  From looking at the old starter, it was definitely bad.  Not sure if that was the only thing wrong with the jet ski though.  We didn’t think about charging the batteries before I showed up at my parents, so the battery only had an hour charge on it, which really wasn’t enough to try to get it started.  I’m going to head over Friday after work to work on it a bit more with a fully charged battery.

Another SeaDoo Jet Ski

Earlier this month we got another SeaDoo jet ski.  This time around it is a 1994 SPX.  It actually runs when I bought it too, which is always a great thing.  There were some issues with it though.  The venturi on the back had a few rust holes only the side, so I had to buy a new one.  Luckily, I found one on ebay for only $20, so that worked out good.  I also bought new gaskets / seals for the back for when I change it out.  I will be changing it out today.  Like with the ’90, I’m planning on pulling the oil injector off and using premix gas.  I don’t think I’m going to be doing that anytime soon though.  I just want to get it in the water, which I haven’t done yet.  So busy with other things that it’s currently not a priority.  I think we might try to take it out next weekend to East Fork Lake sometime.

With the ’90 SP, it’s still not up and running.  That’s probably due to it still sitting at my parents without being worked on yet.  I have the new starter, so I’m going to be heading over there sometime to work on it again.

 

1994 SeaDoo SPi  1994 SeaDoo SPi  1994 SeaDoo SPi

 

1994 SeaDoo SPi  1994 SeaDoo SPi Engine  1994 SeaDoo SPi Engine

Won the Burnout Revenge Contest

So this past Saturday, I went over Justin’s house and we started playing Burnout Revenge on the Xbox 360 over there.  I have an xbox live account and nobody there does, so we loaded my account on the xbox 360 and started playing online.

Checked my email today and noticed I received an email from ea.com.  Apparently there was some Burnout Revenge 21 Days of Carnage Sweepstakes that was going on.  If you played a certain track on xbox live, then you would be entered into an hourly contest.  Looks like I won the contest.  I won a Burnout Revenge  branded Plantronics headset for an Xbox 360.  Guess when I eventually get a Xbox 360, I’ll have a nice headset to use.

MAME Input Controller

After doing a bit of research, I’ve decided that I will be using I-Pac from UltiMarc to handle the interface between the joystick / buttons and the computer.  I’ve spent about a week or two researching the different options.

For those of you that have no clue what I am talking about, here’s a little better description.  Each joystick has 8 wires and each button has 1 wire.  Each of these need to be able to send a signal to the computer when they are moved or pushed.   This is not a simple solution once you think about it, because where are you going to put these wires into the computer?  This is where teh I-Pac comes in.  You can plug each of the wires up to this controller, and then the controller plugs into the computer in the PS/2 port (where the keyboard goes) or can be plugged into a USB port (which is what I am doing).

I went with the 28 keyboard controller, which is enough for a two player system like the one that I am building.  The inputs will be for 2 joysticks, 6 buttons each player, coin slot 1, coin slot 2, player start 1, player start 2, sound up, and sound down.  That will leave me with 2 open buttons that I can use later if I find a use.

Here are some of the benefits that set this controller apart:

  • It has a fully programmable key code set which is stored even after power off unlike some other interfaces which lose all data when powered off.  This is nice for setting up the buttons to correspond to certain keys once and never have to worry about it again.
  • All joystick/button connections easily made via screw tag strip, the connections are marked on the board.  This makes life easier so that I won’t need to use a solder to get each wire on the board.
  • Does not use a matrix, so there will be no ghost keys.  This is a huge benefit.  If you hit a bunch of keys at once on a keyboard, you will notice only two or three keys will register at once.  This is a problem if playing games with two players (joystick movement x 2 + button presses x 2).  This allows for as many inputs to occur simultaneously.
  • Does not use a scanning method which causes a variable delay, each input has it’s own dedicated connection to the on-board CPU.

Once this part comes in, I will have all the pieces needed to start building the control panel.  I plan to build the control panel first, before I start building the rest of the cabinet.  This will make life easier since I can start working on the interface and the front end, without having the big clunky cabinet until more of the house is done to store the cabinet.

Starting My MAME Project

I have decided that it is about time to start my MAME project that I’ve been wanting to do.  This was set off because we are actually one day away from signing for the house we bought.  Finally, room to work on the MAME cabinet and some place to keep it.

In case you read MAME and have no clue what it is, I’ll explain.  MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator and is software to run arcade games that you would expect to find at arcades over the many many years.  The website for the software is here.  I will more than likely be running the XMAME port for linux, but I have not decided on that yet.

I’m currently in the mode of finding / modifying / tweaking cabinet plans to make the cabinet.  What I do know is that I only want it to be a 2-player machine at the time.  I have already bought 16 buttons (7-red, 7-white, 1-player, and 2-player).  The buttons are all made by Happ.  I’m thinking of going with Happ Super Joysticks next.  Also researching different ways to interface the controls to the computer.  The computer that I am planning on using is an old Dell 500 Mhz.  I’m planning on pulling everything out and just building the motherboard and everything into the cabinet.  I am also planning on using the 25" TV that we have laying around.  It’s not in the best condition (color issues in a corner) but it’s available.  Already have a tv out video card that we can use for the computer.

Goodbye Wetjet 432

The end of the Webjet 432 has come.  Last weekend my Dad cut it into pieces and threw it out.  After looking through the internet and talking to a lot of jet ski dealers, it was decided the best thing to do was to get rid of it for good.  I still have the engine (in non working condition) and some other parts laying around.  Contact me if you need parts for one.

After talking to a few repair shops that actually knew what they were, each one recommended not putting any more money into one.  They noted that the costs to repair them are more than buying a used jet ski that actually works.  One thing that was said is that the engines in these are VERY BAD.  Apparently they seize very easily and are so thin that it can seize, cool down, and then actually work for a couple more days.  If you are looking at getting one for cheap, just pass because if you do manage to get it to work it will cost you a lot more than it is worth.