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Bally Arcade (Montgomery-Ward edition) full restore

Discussion in 'SIG: 8-Bit Hardware' started by M.D.Baker, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    Though I now have the means of making full-fledged videos of a restoration process, like the one @Timothy Kline posted in this sub-forum on the Speccy+ 3, I'm not ready to try running cameras at the same time as attempting to work on a restoration. So it's still, still shots and step-by-step instructions in text, etc. from me, you spoiled bloody bastards!

    This month's installment (term used only as to cover my ass if I don't get back 'round to it for a while) is disassembly and cleaning!

    Step 1: Take pictures of unit, comment on disgusting condition of unit
    Step 2: Clean unit, possibly with comments and list of tools and products used
    Step 3:disassemble unit
    Step 4: Post all the pictures and never get 'round to the details in steps 1-3 above

    Below are pictures of the unit before initial cleaning.

    DirtyUnit.jpg 20200217_003402.jpg 20200217_003828.jpg 20200217_003803.jpg 20200217_003416.jpg 20200217_003856.jpg 20200217_003609.jpg
     
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  2. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    Here are images after initial cleaning with Windex and a shop cloth, tool for corners and crevices and toothbrush for same as well.

    20200217_004639.jpg 20200217_004649.jpg 20200217_005945.jpg 20200217_003636.jpg 20200217_003647.jpg CleanUnit.jpg
     
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  3. by M.D.Baker
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    Here are some misc. images of controllers, what's left of the PSU, broken pieces that fell out, etc.

    20200217_004356.jpg 20200217_004409.jpg 20200217_003739.jpg 20200217_003338.jpg
     
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  4. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

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    I don't recall ever even hearing of this console (right?), Matt.

    Is it an Atari 2600 clone or one-off? What's the story behind it— and how in the world did you come by one, much less decide to restore one?

    --Tim
     
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  5. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    Here are some interior images of the Bally Arcade. As far as I know, from when this unit was put into storage a decade ago, it's in working order except for the lack of a working PSU. I will clean it all up, make a PSU for the unit similar to the dual-power PSU I made for my CA-20001 drive (thread on AS) and I will be removing the RF modulator (which easily unplugs from the mother board!), and do a video mod to the unit. IIRC, I think this unit has RGB output I can tap into!

    If you are unfamiliar with Bally Arcade/Astrocade consoles, and would like to know more, here is a link to the Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bally_Astrocade

    20200217_010015.jpg 20200217_010056.jpg 20200217_010147.jpg 20200217_010230.jpg 20200217_010242.jpg 20200217_010251.jpg 20200217_010306.jpg 20200217_010316.jpg 20200217_010334.jpg 20200217_010359.jpg
     
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  6. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    I've had to start this thread with several different posts due to a 10 picture limit to each posting. With the next post I'll get more into the details of cosmetic restoration needed to the case, with before and after close-ups. Then I'll jump into interior restoration and repair after that.
     
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  7. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    It originally came out just after the Atari VCS and was a much more powerful console, with some graphics that worked a lot like Atari's with 256 color palette and display line interrupts similar to Atari's VCS and 8-bits. It was never sold in major chain stores like other consoles, only computer stores or Montgomery Wards. It was sold at different times and in different configurations as both a computer and a console.

    A contemporary of the VCS and Magnovox Odyssey 2. I had a friend in college who grew up with one and showed it to me years ago, then I picked this unit up with boxes of old electronics I purchased as a lot about 15 years ago. It had the best graphics for the day, with a near-arcade perfect port of Gorf, for example, but only 28 games were ever released for the console and nothing earth-shattering beyond Gorf. But it can be programmed as a computer, has a BASIC and machine language cartridges, andis expandable.

    The cartridges were made to look almost exactly like cassette tapes, and a holder was built into the unit for a dozen or so cartridges (I have about half a dozen games, but they are still hidden in storage somewhere).

    It used upto 4 controllers, like the Atari 400/800, but each controller was numbered 1-4 as were the ports, and each controller ONLY works in the port it is specified for! So if I wanted to get 2 more controllers, I have to find ones labeled 3 and 4 which are ULTRA RARE! Or I'd have to modify controllers numbered 1 and 2 to work in ports 3 and 4.

    I highly recommend a read of the Wikipedia link I provided above, it's a very interesting machine with a unique history and was actually in production and sold up to '85, but by another company that changed it's name to Astrocade.
     
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  8. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

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    Ah, we can adjust that limit, actually!

    (The fun of being in the beta phase of the board, eh?)

    --Tim
     
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  9. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

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    What does it run for a CPU? Same as a VCS?

    And how were they able to generate the graphics? Separate graphics chip? Different approach to the display output?

    --Tim
     
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  10. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

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    I've adjusted the limit to 30 now. Let's see if that helps. :)

    --Tim
     
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  11. by M.D.Baker
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    The CPU is a Z80, like the ZX81 and Spectrum. It runs at 1.79Mhz just like NTSC Atari 400/800. I don't know all the specs by heart myself yet, so using the link I provided (see post #5) to info for it on Wikipedia is recommended.
     
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  12. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

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    __________
    What?! This sounds completely unique and VERY fascinating!! :

    From the Wikipedia article:
     
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  13. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    I didn't recall that, if I ever new it. That is a strange and fascinating way they designed it. I studied up on the Bally Arcade about 15 years ago when I first got this console. Back then I was attempting to get a replacement power supply, which I found impossible, mainly because the PSU is normally a permanent cord out of the system to the wall-wort PSU, so I put it away in storage until now. I'll be building my own PSU for the unit while restoring it.
     
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  14. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    Some pics of different versions and expansions

    Astrocade-Gen-01_small.jpg Bally_Arcade_with_Keyboard.jpg Bally_Keyboard_(Color).jpg bally-astrocade-right-1.jpg Hi-Res Astrocade 002_tn.jpg

    [
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. by Timothy Kline
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    __________

    15 years, though!? Man, they must have a bunch more information available now, given the internet and reach! Schematics and more, right? Besides Wikipedia, I mean.

    And where all the other Bally Arcade owners?

    Any plans on dabbling with its BASIC? I still can't wrap my head around a system that works by interleaving data, but it sounds brilliant! :cool:

    --Tim
     
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  16. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

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    Attached Files:

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  17. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    Thanks for the PDF's! I do actually have the original manual and box for it, but the box became totally destroyed due to water damage and mice.It was in poor condition ever since I've had it though and barely worth saving before years in storage.

    I will have to look at the additional information, but IIRC, the interleaving data was only necessary with the base model with 4K(?) ram. That if you expanded it to a full computer or at least expanded the memory to a certain point, and up to 64K, (I think with add-ons through it's PBI port in the back), that wouldn't be necessary. However, maybe they never changed the BASIC interpreter to not interleave data, or it was a "what's done is done" thing, even if it's no longer necessary with extra memory.

    Once I relearn BASIC on the Atari with BASIC XE and Turbo BASIC XL, I may look into learning Bally's BASIC. But Honestly, besides GORF and WIZARD of WAR (both? Renamed for the console, but direct arcade ports?) there isn't much in it's library to get excited about, and getting into the computer and programming side of it may be the only way to really enjoy the system. Most of the games that came out for it didn't look much better than VCS games, and played much worse, except for the few real Ballt/Midway arcade game ports (that used the same tech as the Bally Arcade).
     
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  18. by Timothy Kline
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    __________

    The title I listed as hardcore looked like Bally's version of De Re Atari, so you may want to check that one out before the others, even, and see what you think of it.

    Great stuff, though. The restoration photos you share are always eye-catching, Matt, and I appreciate you sharing them! And that woodgrain! Sooooo 70's, when I discovered music, and remember riding as a kid around in a wood-grain station wagon with the pop-up rear seat so we could look at other drivers as we faced backward going down the road. The VCS enjoyed its run with woodgrain, too, of course. It was the style of the time, and it still looks amazing, especially when someone who appreciates the diamonds that just so happen to be in the rough, and are willing to give them a little buff.

    Looking forward to the next installment, man!

    --Tim
     
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  19. by M.D.Baker
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    That is hilarious @Timothy Kline ! When I was a kid, we had a 1973 Ford LTD station wagon, metallic olive-green with wood-grain sides and a reverse 3rd row seat just like you describe!

    Not unlike the station wagon in National Lampoon's 'Vacation.' And we used to take cross-country vacation road-trips from Chicago to visit relatives in California and Disney Land, just like the movie, except it was 'Wally World' in the movie! Though my father wasn't nearly as hilarious and no crazy accidents with the car.

    The LTD was initially purchased too, with a family road trip in mind, just like the movie! My family even got a swimming pool for Christmas one year with my father's Christmas bonus, just like 'Christmas Vacation!' I always really related to those movies, we were the typical, middle-class, American family like the 'Vacation' movies portrayed! We had that Ford LTD until about 1980, when my dad traded it in for a Dodge Maxi-van custom for the family, and the road-trips continued...every summer.

    Well, back on topic, the next part will be cleaning the motherboard and polishing up the metal shielding, cleaning out the inside of the case, and restoring the cases exterior (mainly the chrome and gold trim) while the motherboard is removed and being restored and modified, possibly upgraded in some way.

    On a side note, it's ironic, don't you think, that I dreamed of having an ATR-8000 for CP/M etc. like yours Tim, attached to my Atari, since the 80's and now I have a CA-2001 Indus clone drive for my 1200XL, ready to go with CP/M, 2 Indus GT's I could upgrade one for CP/M on my 800, and also this Bally Arcade that I can upgrade for CP/M too! If that isn't the definition of irony, then maybe the fact that I thought I'd left the Z80 processor behind for good, with my Timex/Sinclair 1000, for a 6502, when I got my Atari 130XE, and here I am, 35 years later with 3 Z80 processors connected to 2 Atari's and a 4th in a rare vintage computer-come-console-come-computer IS the definition of irony! Needless to say, an ATR-8000 has dropped off my wants list
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  20. by M.D.Baker
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    Having removed the case entirely, and the shielding and RF modulator, I'm down to the bare motherboard. I also removed lids on the crystal oscillator board and power input box, just to take a peak.

    I'll be using 91% Isopropyl alcohol, a toothbrush and disposable shop cloth to clean off the motherboard. The top shielding also doubles as a heat-sink for one of the custom IC's, and I'll be cleaning off the old lithium grease and replacing it.

    Next I'll use a steal wool S.O.S. pad to scrub the rust and tarnish off of the metal shielding and get it looking as new as possible. and clean out the inside of the case bottom which has rust from the ground shield on it too. The RF modulator will probably not be re-installed and instead I'll do a S-video (or RGB if possible) modification.

    I'll also be working on case restoration in parallel, mainly a deep cleaning of the black textured plastic and repairing the gold chrome trim as best I can. Right now, I will probably make it look the best I can using a gold paint pen to redo the trim, but later on, when I get my hands on some real gold chrome leaf or decal tape or something to redo it more properly. In the mean time, the gold paint will be used sparingly only where the original gold chrome is damaged (which does include the entire outer trim that a previous owner already attempted to repair, poorly, with silver paint.)

    The PSU I will probably still build my own custom one out of two separate ones like I did with my CA-2001 disk drive.

    I will also replace the two large capacitors on the motherboard before anything else, just in case and so it doesn't have to be done later down the road.

    IMG_20200218_110750.jpg IMG_20200218_105718.jpg IMG_20200218_110800.jpg IMG_20200218_105622.jpg IMG_20200218_105628.jpg IMG_20200218_105645.jpg IMG_20200218_105851.jpg
     
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  21. by Andy Barr
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    This beast looks absolutely amazing, Matt.
    I for one have NEVER heard of it.
    I bet you know what I did think it was when I first read the thread title and a refurb/restore of some machine with the manufacturer name BALLY...

    [​IMG]

    Yep, I thought WOW - coincidence city - I was only drooling over a retro 1960s vintage PINBALL myself last night (fantasising that one day I might own one) and here's Matt restoring one back to full health!

    As it turns out, it's something even more exotic by the sounds of it.

    Good luck with getting the rare bird up and running... with the full complement of 4 controllers and eventually tracking down a healthy ratio of that 28 game cart library, fella.

    As Tim so rightly points out, you always put your heart and soul into showing us the full works when you go to work on your projects, matey.

    Excellent work so far and a really interesting W.I.P.
     
  22. by M.D.Baker
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    I hadn't realized what a rare bird it was. I knew it was possible you Brits hadn't heard of it, but it caught me by surprise when @Timothy Kline said he had never heard of it. When I first saw my friend's Astrocade back in college, I remembered I'd seen it once before at someone else's house years before and I at least knew of the existence of a Bally/Miday home console from back in the day, Bally is a big and diverse company name here in the States, I knew them of course from pinball and video game machines and also in relation to bowling and bowling alleys as they manufactured the big machines and tables and screens, etc. in American bowling alley's forever. Bally having released a home console in the golden age made sense to me, but trying to sell it as a computer with so little ram and only a keypad sounds ridiculous to me, though upgrading to one with a real keyboard,etc., made sense, after all, Coleco did it with the Colecovision and Adam computer, Atari almost did it with the VCS/Graduate and almost releasing the 400 as a console-become-computer, and 7800 and finally XEGS.

    I also hadn't realized the coloured history of failed launches, relaunches, sales and re-relaunches, AND still being supported (very poorly) as an active entity from 1977-1985! And in all that time, still only have 28 cartridges released?!?!? Another curiosity in my recent re-familiarization of this rare beast, is that although it has Wizard of War, under a home-version name, that I can find absolutely no sign or reference to a version of GORF, and I clearly remember playing GORF on my friends Astrocade back in the 90's! And it was on one of the cassette-looking cartridges with the Bally Videocade label!!! I know GORF. I have it on the A8, I have an arcade perfect remake on the Jaguar CD, and it was an early favorite of mine in the old arcades. So what gives?!? Is my memory that "wacked?" Until now, I was absolutely sure I had GORF among the half-dozen Bally Videocade cartridges I own and was looking forward to playing that version! I still have to locate the cartridges. I remember playing Wizard of War that same evening on my friends Bally Astrocade too, I clearly remember it being identical to the one I have, but labeled Astrocade instead of Professional Arcade, and it didn't have the Montgomery Wards logo, so I thought it was the version Bally sold, and under a different name through MW, just like Atari used to do with Sears and the Sears Video Arcade and Tele-games cartridges. Now I find it was called that when sold by some Spectravision/Spectracade company, and I could swear that the name of that company is also the name of a different game/computer console too! So I'm re-questioning all my beliefs at this point!

    One day I hope to have room for a pinball machine or two, and an arcade cabinet or two, but I'll have to put that stuff on the 5-10 year plan.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  23. by Andy Barr
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    Brilliant, Matt.

    I enjoyed meandering with you down that golden greats avenue, and subsequent side streets, of retro memories and I'm just the same at times... I swear something has definitely happened... think about it... go over it all in my mind's eye again... then begin to doubt my memory when something occurs which suddenly seems to question salient facts or switches events around in my mind so I begin to suspect I've suddenly got things a little mixed-up... somehow... yet our long term memories are surely more reliable than our short term ones so we think "Hell, I'm losing the plot here!!"

    I'm trying to recall a case in point for me which is just like your example of this particular game cart GORF and the label types/not being able to locate it. It becomes so frustrating as you feel that if only we could lay our hands on it then suddenly we would be able to validate and confirm our memories as being accurate.

    For me it's a long-lost SONY C-90 tape from 82-84 which was 1 of a pack of 3. I sometimes find 1-2 of the others and I half know what's on them... long lost recordings of the Chart Show and a tape to tape unreliable recording of Dracula's Revenge for the Oric... but can I as hell rediscover the completely vanished cassette which had all my Tenfoot Adventures on which I wrote for the Oric. They were a mini-series of maybe 4-5 of these multi-screen simple BASIC games but my mates and I, back then, got a great buzz out of designing the graphics and scenarios whereby we would be in the game battling against "old grumpy" characters/neighbours who lived nearby/down our alley way and as we were always getting into trouble with them in real life as kids, it seemed the best way to "beat them" was in a video game!

    The maddening thing is that of all my "treasures" from back then, this is probably the dearest and most valuable and I try to remember the challenges on the games and I recall a few details but I long to chance upon the tape and get it reloaded on my Oric for the 1st time in... god, 36 years... it would be amazing to play it again and see those poor basic BASIC graphics and gameplay but it would so verify all my wayward teenage kicks but can I find it?

    CAN I HELL!

    ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.................... etc
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
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  24. by M.D.Baker
    M.D.Baker

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    For me, the blood, sweat and tears I put into my Atari and lost are a few floppy disks full of my artwork I made with Rambrandt, Diamond GOS Paint and Technicolor Dreams art programs, everything else lost was recoverable, including all the programs I typed in from magazines, but that graphic art is lost forever.

    But my plans are, eventually, to start doing my own programs and new art on the Atari again, though I have an incredible amount of art programs using all the standard and software mixed-mode resolutions on the Atari to choose from these days, that I might just find new favorite art programs. I'll at least have fun trying, and there are a bunch these days that are mouse and/or Atari touch tablet compatible too.

    I used to start with Diamond GOS Paint in four colors, basically the same as Micro illustrator, so I could draw with the mouse, then I would load that art up into Rambrandt and use a joystick, but still have all the features needed in the program that I could only use with a joystick (not touch tablet at the time and Rambrandt didn't support the mouse), to add DLI's and more color, or transfer them into a GTIA mode that Diamond Paint didn't use.

    Now I have a mouse and a touch tablet and a bunch more programs that use both, so I won't have to use multiple art programs for a composition again, just so I can have a quality input device for drawing, besides a joystick. Also more graphic modes and color options to choose from.
     
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  25. by M.D.Baker
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    I've finished cleaning the motherboard, and now that I can see it clearly, it looks to be in excellent overall condition and it's a high-quality PCB with heavy-duty circuit traces. There is no obvious physical evidence of any damage or burnout, short or open circuit, no corrosion or cold solder points. It appears the rust all occurred only to the shielding and RF box and the motherboard was protected within, except from years of dust.

    I pulled the three custom IC's that have sockets, and re-seated them. The keypad board is hard-wired and glued to the motherboard. The keypad contacts appear to be bubble contacts very similar to those found in the common CX-40 joystick. and they all feel to be in good condition, hinting at little use of the keypad, so I'm hopeful it works and will continue to do so for a long time.

    As I continue to repair and restore this console, I plan to remove the plastic covering the expansion ports so they are ready to be connected to what ever I can lay my hands on or build myself.


    IMG_20200218_122025.jpg IMG_20200218_122006.jpg IMG_20200218_122125 - Copy.jpg 20200218_214754.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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