Scared Stiff Progress

Scared Stiff cleaning and mods are coming along..  

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Shopping List

ColorDMD: http://shop.colordmd.com/colordmd-replacement-display-for-scared-stiff-pinball-machine/
Pinball Life Lit Flipper Buttons: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=3760
Mind Orbits / Cointaker Slow Color Changing Shooter: https://cointaker.com/products/led-lit-shooter-rods
New Lockdown Bar (Pinball life "Seconds"): https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=2061
New Pinball Glass: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=768
New Bat Ramp (LSOG): https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-bat-ramp-with-decal-and-hardware-a-20754/
New Bony Beast Ramp (LSOG): https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-boney-beast-ramp/
New Crate Board: https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-crate-board-ssc001
New Dancing Boogies: https://littleshopofgames.com/product/boogie-man-for-scared-stiff-eatpm/
Robert Winter Dancing Boogie Extension Arms: http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/ss/kitbm.html
Robert Winter Skull Pile LED Eyes: http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/ss/kitled.html
Scared Stiff Slingshot Plastics: https://bit.ly/2KIpqh1
Clear Warm White Comet LED: http://www.cometpinball.com/product-p/1smd5050.htm
Flame Comet LED: http://www.cometpinball.com/product-p/fire.htm
RGB Color Changer: https://cointaker.com/products/ct-color-changer
Clear Warm White Retro Cointaker LED: https://cointaker.com/products/44-47-retro
Titan Pinball Glow Rubber Kit: https://www.titanpinball.com/kits/index.php/view/id/126
LED OCD Controller: http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=22
GI OCD Controller: http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=7
Power Splitter: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=4234
Power Tap: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=5037
LED Strip with Waterproof Coating: https://amzn.to/2AZFoDO

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I tried to "warm up" the tone of the pin. It already had LEDs but many were on the cool side of the spectrum.  I tried both the Cointaker Warm Retro and the Comet Warm 1SMD and found them to be identical to my eye.  Both are still a little brighter and blown out than I'd prefer.  I have a GI OCD kit to put in the pin, which will give me better control over the GI brightness.   Contemplated putting incandescents back in the GI, even.   So far, I don't hate it but I'm not 100% satisfied.   "Needs something".   The flame flicker bulbs maybe interspersed? It would be pricey and may not play well with GI animations in the game..

Custom Paint

 My friend, Nathan provided some inspiration with his background in imagineering-level yard haunts.   He showed me plastic skeletons that he had tea-stained and melted plastic to them to appear fleshy.    Googling some resources I found these helpful:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Corpse-a-Skeleton-The-Quick-and-Dirty-Way-/
http://manningkrull.com/manningmakesstuff/making-plastic-bones-look-aged-dirty/

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I re-strung the Bony Beast spine with thin picture-hanging wire and zip tied the LED strip at every vertebrae joint, pointing downward.  Use the waterproof-type LED strips, they are more sturdy because of the plastic casing.  I used Minwax Special Walnut Stain and a bristle brush.  A light coating of spray urethane to seal in the stain.   

Skull Pile

The game was wired for LED eyes in the Skull Pile plastic on the backboard but this was not included when the game shipped.    A mountain of hot glue later, it is mounted and installed.  I went a little overboard b/c the LED and wiring seem quite delicate and I don't want them moving.

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Other Stuff

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The coffin door was a little fidgety.  The door pops open and the coffin inhabitant yells "boo!" and horizontally rotates to allow a ball to eject from beneath.  It would often hang open after ejecting a ball.   When another ball  ejects while the door is open, it ejects the ball over the lane guides into the drain.  I replaced the vertical hinge pin, straightened the horizontal hinge pin flaps and replaced the horizontal pin with a new one.

Finished it out with a color-changing LED spotlight on the sarcophogus face.

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Clips

Addendum 2/18/2019 - Powering the LEDs on the beast ramp

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Power from a DK Power Tap to an 8-way splitter and we power the LED controller from that splitter. (roughly 12v)

Scared Stiff

Well, I did it again.  I re-bought an existing title that I'd already owned.   First, it was Data East Star Wars.  (which, I intended to re-theme until I realized it was the nicest condition I'd ever seen for a DESW) .  Then, STTNG... and now, Scared Stiff.

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My list of "wanted" pins is pretty small. One day talking with a friend, he asked (mostly kidding) - "Wait, you HAD a Scared Stiff and got rid of it?" 

The short version of the story was:  I sold a Scared Stiff, Monster Bash & Woz in a multi pin deal.  Double-dumbass on me for having gotten rid of it.  Especially having sold them to ride the NIB pinball wave.

I hadn't actually searched for-sale pins for a couple of months, instead saving cash with intention to buy something at SFGE in June.    As it turns out, the only thing(s) of substance I bought as a result of SFGE were new tools as a result of the Tubby Incident.

Following the trip down pinball-memory lane, I did a quick search for Scared Stiff and found two for sale.  One was a Bryan Kelly or HEP restoration for north of $12k.   The other, was this one:   https://pinside.com/pinball/market/classifieds/archive/58351

Original photos from the pinside listing, I saved off to here: https://images.eyedyllic.com/Hobbies/Scared-Stiff-Pinside-Photos/n-nhnhFx/

Delivery / Shipping

After my last headaches with STI, I decided to give a reputable arcade & pinball mover a try, this time.   Bob Cunningham picked it up in the Rhode Island area on June 25, 2018.   It rode in his truck for about a week and landed at his warehouse in Kentucky.   He delivered it to me on July 12, 2018.      

Pros:

  • Nice Guy

  • Experience in the Industry in various capacities

  • Preps games correctly (Blankets, wrap)

  • Reasonably Priced ($275)


Cons:

  • Depending on his route, can take awhile to get your game.
    (12 days to pick up, 18 days for delivery = 30 days total)

  • He lost my game's legs
    (I had to wait another week for a pinball order to come in before I could actually start playing it.)

 

Scared Stiff at the pickup location in the Rhode Island Area

Scared Stiff at the pickup location in the Rhode Island Area

Scared Stiff, as delivered here on the Gulf Coast

Scared Stiff, as delivered here on the Gulf Coast

Despite the leg snafu, I'd definitely consider using Bob again for a pinball move - seems like a solid dude.

Initial Survey of Condition

The machine's condition was better than I expected.   The playfield and backglass are really good.  They had partially LED'd the playfield, the backglass still had burning incandescent space heaters in it. 

The inner side board on the left has a non-structural crack that will fill easily enough. The left side, side art red color is faded by around 60% but the right-side isn't.  The cabinet is solid, no real damage to speak of.  The ramps are hazy.  The haze would flame-polish out but they have ball-wear lines that probably won't polish out without something creative and potentially friction-melty.

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All switches and boards work, has all original boards which I see as a plus.  

The worst "hack" I've found if this fuse work which, honestly I respect versus the usual foil wrapped fuse or beer-tab solution to blown fuses.

The worst "hack" I've found if this fuse work which, honestly I respect versus the usual foil wrapped fuse or beer-tab solution to blown fuses.

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I normally use p21s as a playfield wax, or the meguires carnuba stuff.  I know there are Brazilians if wax options out there (dad joke) but I had some of this Mother’s cleaner wax left over from another project and I found that it actually cleaned better than Novus 2.  

Don’t know if I’m ready to jump ship to Mother’s but I liked the early results using it like a cleaner.

Now, we wait for packages..  So far, zero games played while I wait on new legs and glass from Pinball Life. Did manage to get the ColorDMD installed. Ordered warm tone retro bulbs to kill some of the LED brightness.  From there Mind orbitz style slow color changing shooter knob from CoinTaker, dancing boogies and the skull pile mod along with some new plastics should round it out.  Takes a lot to whip a game into shape but once you get them to that point- worth it.  More to come..

Now, we wait for packages..

So far, zero games played while I wait on new legs and glass from Pinball Life. Did manage to get the ColorDMD installed. Ordered warm tone retro bulbs to kill some of the LED brightness.

From there Mind orbitz style slow color changing shooter knob from CoinTaker, dancing boogies and the skull pile mod along with some new plastics should round it out.

Takes a lot to whip a game into shape but once you get them to that point- worth it.

More to come..

God of War, A Dad's Review

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God of War (PS4, 2018 Santa Monica Studio) is the best console game I've played in 20 years. 

I've loved console games for as long as there have been consoles and gamepads for my fingers to fondle.  My relationship with consoles have been largely cock-blocked by the universe to prevent me from becoming the bleary-eyed, [late-to-work because i stayed up all night playing <whatever>] gamer-addict that I'd otherwise be naturally inclined to become.   

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As a teenager, I really couldn't dedicate expansive amounts of console-gaming time because of job, chores, school, or mandatory family time.   As a young married adult, the Unreal Championship matches were thread like a needle between crazy-work hours and date-nights.  Bottle feedings instead of clan raids, tech start-ups for business equity instead of leveling up my Call Of Duty [x] stats.   

Milleniuals call this Adulting, right?..   

I do, occasionally get to eek out a mastery of a beloved title.   Played some Call Of Duty at a middle-high-level.  Tournament-level Halo before it jumped the Cortana-Terminator shark...

I think for many of us geeks-turned-dads, the barrier to entry on satisfaction for modern console games is they [have been] heavily multiplayer focused with lopsided matchmaking that requires an extensive time investment to not be frustrated.  Part of why I like arcades and pinball so much.  Coin up, play a match and move on.    For those single-player campaigns of console games that I have played, they seem shallow and a little too "on-rails" to feel any stakes for the characters.

That's what makes the 2018 PS4 release God of War such a breath of fresh air.    It feels like a game made by dads, for dads and shows a keen meta-awareness of these frustrations and solves many of them.

Don't get me wrong, I started off skeptical. 

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As a fan of the original series, the smash-and-squish-and-crush rage-monster Kratos gameplay, I immediately started to side-eye this game from the first moments.  An older, kinda craggy and slow looking Kratos hugs a tree.   

In my mind:

  Wait.  I finally get to play Kratos in 4k and he is literally a tree-hugger now?  WTF is this?  The same dude that would essentially destroy the cosmos to get       revenge.  The blood thirsty Ghost of Sparta is a peace-loving tree hugger AND he's tied up in Norse mythology now?!   I AM OUT!

Then.. I played it... and it is awesome..  

The story is epic, engaging and oh - so - good..  Krato's cringeworthy screaming-one-liners from the earlier installments have been replaced by the  vocal talents of Christopher Judge (Teal'c from Stargate SG-1).    The difference is welcome and immediately noticeable.      Chris brings Kratos into a fully developed character but still maintains the often-funny use of shortened sentences and clipped delivery.    "Indeed."    The delivery is somewhere masterfully between barely-bottled rage or zen-master calm.

The story carries you through a father-son adventure that navigates partially remixed aspects of Norse mythology.  The overall story has a ton of heart - great character beats and is a fantastic ambassador to the Norse mythos.    

I went in with an unfamiliarity with the norse mythology and left wanting to learn more.   I highly recommend Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman for those of you left with a thirst for lore in this topic.   The charming Marvel-imagined Thor is replaced with the more-ominous but equally dull equivalent from Norse myth.  More of a dumbed-down Jason Momoa than Chris Hemsworth.  In the God of War franchise, the gods are vengeful, spiteful, mean-spirited assholes.  The game remixes aspects of the mythology in service of story and it works.

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Kratos' new weapon, the Leviathon axe, is more like Jarnbjorn than Mjolnir and completely different than The Blades of Chaos.    You might say, it is not as clumsy or random as the Blades of Chaos.  An Elegant weapon... for a more civilized age..   Once you get acclimated, it is pretty awesome.  If you find yourself missing the circular-360-spastic glory of the Blades of Chaos, well: hang in there.  They have something in store for you, too. 

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The world is expansive and you are free to explore it. It includes a myriad of travel dynamics, side quests and hidden treasure.  Some of these will keep you playing even after the primary story-line.     The main story is 16 quests and took me about 6-8 hours, spread out over a week on medium-low difficulty.  Some parts had me contemplating turning it to the lowest difficulty.  I easily spent over an hour on one um, 'mini'-boss. 

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Can your kids play it?  Well, that's a parenting decision you'll have to make based on your sensibilities and the maturity of your kids.  The M rating alone, typically means No - not for kids.  If you are a strict sort of parent that shields your kids from the secular evils of the world, you won't want them playing.   If you are a "video games as a babysitter" sort of parent you'll probably let them play.  If you play video games with your kids, it is an opportunity to pass the controller back and fourth and talk casually about the violence and language when it arises and how they fit into your world view.     You do: you. :)

God of War has always been a mature franchise.    A little sexual innuendo, language and gore were staples of the franchise.  This one has no sexual content or nudity (some muscular dudity, though) some language and plenty of gore.   The majority of the language in this game comes from the blue dwarf, Brok.    I feel like the M rating is mostly attributed to a handful of F-bombs from this single character and is mostly gratuitous.   

The majority of the gore is in the creative deaths of mythical creatures and bad-guys.   Game-of-thrones inspired ice zombies spirt blue blood, etc.   There are a number of brutal hand-to-hand fistfights with powerful humanoids. There is head smashing, limb-breaking, stabbing and a particularly messy impromptu cardiac procedure with one large foe.  It doesn't "sound" like the gore is tamed down but it did "feel" a little more tame than previous games in the franchise.

Ultimately, the themes of the game story are about family, honoring those we've lost and aspiring to be better than we have been.  Excellent work Sony Santa Monica Studios.    Speaking on behalf of all of the Dads I can speak for - you rock and I'm looking forward to the next installment in the franchise.

My Dome / Environmental Game Pod - 4 years later

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Just floating this out there..

Thinking about parting with my Prototype Dome Environmental setup in order to re-arrange the space a little / make it less cramped. I'm pricing it at $2800 obo.. Partial trade for games on my list:

(DK Cabaret, Ms Pac Cabaret, Galaga, Tempest, Ice Cold Beer or Zeke's Peak, Street Fighter II)

I'm also considering just stowing it away for a season and picking it back up as a version-2 enhancement down the road... but where does one store a 60+" Dome? :)  

The backstory was, I left from a Dave & Busters and after playing Mach Storm and Star Wars BattlePod - I got the wild hair to try to build something like it but that would support any HDMI input source.  

The dome was formed and cut to my specifications by SSD Plastics and Design in Denver, CO.
 

Projection

Mach Storm and The Star Wars Battle Pods both use an NEC NP-PE401H 4000 Lumen 1080p projector.  They use direct-projection through what is essentially a planetarium fisheye lens.  The design  is nice because it puts the projection booth above the player and frees the floor of the cabinet from obstructions.    The downside is that a Hemistar 180degree planetarium lens starts at about USD$8500.  The lens reduces the brightness by a factor of ~40% and limits the projectable area.    This means the projector is essentially 2400 lumen and the resolution is downscaled to 720p.

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My dome operates off of reflected-projection.   The wonderful concept of light traveling directionally in vectors means that if you'd like to project onto a 180degree surface, you can bounce the light off of a 180 degree reflective curve.   The light bends and reflects back in proportion to the angles and VOILA! - science is awesome.

Upsides to this:

  • Very little reduction in light intensity

  • Very little reduction in projected size

  • Cost. 180 degree mirrors are cheaper than planetarium fisheye lenses.

Downsides to this:

  • Mirror and Light at your feet.

  • You can't sit with your knees closed without making leg-shadow-puppets in the projector reflection.

  • Image quality is directly related to mirror cleanliness, especially on white scenes

More about my dome

The seat, is from a Mercedes sports car, the enclosure was hand built. Prototype-level woodworking, not spit-and-polish of a commercial product but about as good as most arcade cabinets we encounter in this hobby.

A couple videos:

Hydro Thunder Gameplay Example

High Res Photo Gallery:

https://images.eyedyllic.com/Hobbies/The-Dome/n-89bNkQ/

Game Systems / Interior Capability

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Electronics:

Optoma 3D 1080p 3200 Lumen Projector
Klipsch ProMedia THX Speaker System
Wii U
PS3
xBox 360
Spare Circular Mirrors
Experimental Lens (for direct projection prototype, future enhancement)

Seeing the World through a GoPro

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If you've ever been to an IMAX, you know somethings translate well to the dome distortion and other things: not so much. 180degree dome distortion works great for flight-type applications, especially in cases where the horizon is expected to curve.    Space-stuff is awesome.   Walk-around-type 1st or third person games are hit-or-miss.

I, umm.. piloted a drone once from inside the dome and that was... surreal.

Logistics and Qualification

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I've observed that folks that are prone to motion sickness can't last in the dome for very long.  On the other hand, I've seen kids disappear into the dome for hours on end.   If you are prone to motion sickness, this probably isn't for you.

This is not a completely novice ownership experience.    It measures about 60" deep by 75" wide.

The Death of Tubby

The universe is cyclical.  Fail, win, fail, win.  Fail fail, win win.   There are patterns.   The Buddha put forth that we find meaning in life through struggle. I found a little meaning this week.

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The last minute, packing for Southern Fried Gameroom Expo, I decided to remove some key tools from my usual toolbag and carry a tote with some essential pinball-arcade repair tools to the show.     Stuff like:

A Hakko Soldering Tool
A Hakko Desoldering Tool
A Fluke 7x Series Auto-sensing DMM
Glass Puller
Deoxit
Cleaner, a Solder Sucker
A Wreck-it-Ralph Nesquick containter with hot glue implements
Nut Drivers
Various and Sundry other hand tools

Somewhere in the madness of packing up - the tub evidently was left behind at the hotel near the loading dock.   This is my fault.

When I finished rounds of unloading back at home and sat down to set up my pin in it's home, I realized the tub of tools was missing.   I put up a few feelers with the hotel lost and found and after getting hung up on a couple times and getting barely comprehendible responses other times it was clear to me that hotel was not going to be my best bet.   (Although I did send a small gift basket to the hotel Loss Team manager to try to encourage better service.  Looking back and with full-knowledge of events, that turns out to have been ineffective)

Tubby, Rescued
 

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The show organizers and volunteers of SFGE on the other hand are superheroes.  They work their butts off at this show and every year it's bigger, better and still feels like a big family.    I really.. really didn't want to impose on them with my careless tubby-handling..

But, alas I swallowed my pride and engaged the game bringer and facebook groups to sleuth out what happened.


Between facebook groups, facebook messenger and GAPAS email list, the fate of the tub was quickly brought to light.   

A well-meaning game bringer saw it as he left and placed it on the inside stairwell near the freight elevator.   Even though the hotel claimed they looked, they really didn't.   One of the event volunteers went back days later and found Tubby, all alone at the bottom of the stairwell.

 

 

I was already feeling shitty about having imposed on the group and beyond appreciative that Joe took time out of his day to go fetch Tubby.   When he asked about my shipping preference, honestly I was more worried about not inconveniencing him with finding a box that it would fit in.   "Whatever's easiest!"

As the week passes, we have these running conversations about "Where's Tubby?" and "How's Tubby?" and I try to find some small way to show my appreciation for his efforts in getting the tub shipped back.  The tracking info starts showing some sketchy entries but I chalk it up to our local Mayberry-like split-postal arrangement between two post offices.   

Eventually, though - a box arrives..  and tubby's corpse is inside it.
 

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The contents of the tub were mostly gone.   Both Hakko's, the DMM, all tools but one screwdriver and a glass puller. Really, the loss feels quite surgical.  Anything of a certain dollar amount - gone.  I'm not implying that there's a postal worker, soldering enthusiast running amok with my tools, though.    I can smell bureaucratic bullshit 300 miles away and this case reeks of risk mitigation by part of the post office.    

I've spent hours traversing the postal service phone tree trying to follow these directions.  Sadly, the phone tree literally had no series of options that would allow me to speak with the Mail Recovery Center or to initiate a search. Lots and lots of frustrating dead-ends and no humans.

I've since filled out all of the relevant stacks of forms and have set my expectations appropriately low for what comes next.   I've started shopping for tools to replace the missing ones... cha-ching, stimulatin' some economics.

Take-Aways:

  • Atlanta Renaissance Waverly Lost & Found - They don't find lost things. 
  • SFGE Organizers, Volunteers, Fellow Game bringers - Are awesome examples of humanity
  • US Postal Service Phone System - Makes me want to break things.
  • US Postal Service Web Portal - 6/13/2018 isn't a valid date?   Dead Links.  Horrible.

Finally..  hold on to your Tubby's and tell your Hakko's you love them.  You never know, one day they m they may not be there. 




RIP Tubby
2015-2018

Moving On in Memory of Tubby

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Slowly, I'll start replacing the lost tools.    To replace the Fluke Multimeter, I upgraded slightly from the 73 series Fluke to the Brymen BM235.    For the soldering iron, I'm sticking with the Hakko 888D.   

The hakko desoldering gun is the most bitter financial pill to swallow.  I'm going to wait until I have an impending need or the off-chance USPS actually finds the other one before I commit to that $325 Amazon Cart.  I see cheaper options that are compelling but I loved the other tool, probably best the save up and buy the one I know I'll like versus buying something that might be a let-down.

Update 2 Weeks Later

After painstakingly recounting the contents of tubby in both the "search for lost mail" and "file a claim" areas of the USPS website, this arrived in the mail a couple of days later..

No, "My bad." or "Sorry for your loss."&nbsp; &nbsp; Just the cold, calculated efficiency of a government bureaucracy accounting and indemnification department. :)

No, "My bad." or "Sorry for your loss."    Just the cold, calculated efficiency of a government bureaucracy accounting and indemnification department. :)

As  I look to add on the missing de-soldering pump to the toolbag, it looks like at the time of this writing, https://www.tequipment.net/hakko/ is the place to get it.  

Ordered the Soldiering station and the FR-30x from Tequipment.&nbsp; &nbsp; Happy with the price point and fast shipping.

Ordered the Soldiering station and the FR-30x from Tequipment.    Happy with the price point and fast shipping.