June 24, 2016

Up from the Crypt! - Bally Professional Arcade / Astrocade


About 20 years ago, my cousin gave me a Bally Professional Arcade system (or as I usually call it an Astrocade) he had dug out of someones trash. It included about 10 cartridges and 2 controllers. My memory of it was pretty cloudy, but I seemed to remember hooking it up back then and not having any video.

Well... flash forward to present day. I was rummaging through my stuff I have stashed away at my folks house and found this old dusty beauty. It took some time trying to find the controllers. One had fallen to the floor and was buried behind some boxes and the other was on my dad's workbench(luckily my folks know how important these things are to me and didn't toss it! lol).

So, I brought it home with me and hooked it up. It just put out garbled lines/artifacts when I powered it on. My memory was that it wouldn't even power on, so I felt like there was some hope here maybe. I didn't take a photo of the screen before I started working on this, but it was similar to this photo I found online. Only on my system, the garbled madness was completely covering the screen.

My first thought was to open the system up and do a visual inspection of the components. While doing this, I noticed the C6 capacitor was leaking and totally shot.

I ended up getting a cap kit from Console5 and a few days later was back inside the Bally of the beast. I was a bit disappointed that they send Radial caps instead of Axial, but it wasn't a big deal really. For the C6, since it's so large, I had to add a wire to extend the terminal. Wasn't pretty, but it worked.

I replaced the C10 capacitor as well, but all the others looked ok, so I left them alone and fired the system up...

Ta-Da! It worked!

I couldn't believe I was able to get this thing going again. I have heard that Astrocade's are notorious for dying, so having it work for me was quite a thrill. I played some Incredible Wizard first, since Wizard of Wor is one of my favorite arcade games and was blown away by the audio! It's the closest to the arcade of any Wizard of Wor home port, sound wise. It's truly incredible!

While my system was disassembled, I removed the old white thermal paste in-between the heatsink on U18 and replaced it with a BB sized dab of Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste.

You can see that the heatsink separates when the case is open, but I did a test and found that the case presses these two sinks together when closed.

After finishing up on everything, I let the Scribble program run for about an hour using the "0" players trick and it ran without a hitch.

So there you have it! My Bally Professional Arcade is back from the grave! Muahahaha!

Getting this sucker running sparked an interest with this system and I found out there are hundreds of programs available through cassette tapes and that there has been quite a large homebrew type scene throughout the years. I think I'll save all that for a future post though.

Thanks for reading!


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1 comment:

  1. Well worth the effort. The machine was a step ahead for it's time. Congrats and enjoy!


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