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Afterburner Deluxe - Repair and Restore Log

  • 13-01-2022 4:24pm
    Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭

    So after years of contemplating whether to get my dream/ grail of all grail cabinets or not, finally it felt like it was the right time to purchase one after selling a few other cabinets. These only come up for sale maybe once a year or maybe slightly more than that but usually are not very feasible as most of the remaining ones are all in the US and come up in varying conditions. This one too was in the US, but given it's in fairly good condition (rust-free, artwork mostly fairly intact, all parts there) and after working out a plan to ship it (since it's huge and weighs just under half a tonne), I decided it was now or never and took the plunge. It's very rare and it's even more rare one comes up in decent shape structurally without been stripped of parts. It's very solid, the minor rust under it seems to be surface rust and the shell is almost fully rust-free, along with the hydraulics, bearings and electrics looking in fairly good shape. Got a decent deal on it as they often go for crazy money now but when adding in the price of shipping and everything it certainly wasn't cheap either, I'm keeping it in temperature-controlled storage at the minute. I've tested a couple of bits on it and it takes power (needs a big step down as is 1000w 110v), has some of its lights working, CRT thankfully works (as you can see in the photo I've upped the brightness for testing) along with it seems some of the boards in it are working, power supply and a few other bits seem okay.

    The Restore

    So restoration wise, it needs the following: New Bezel (bezel is cracked), New Cashbox/ Coin Tower, Warning Lights (inside the cockpit) repro, Front Artwork (apparently tore when storing something on top of it), Some Stickers (warning stickers), Paint in one or two spots and an investigation into the board. There's a few other pieces of artwork that I may touch up (a little bit of the art on the side from the rolling motion has faded a little) and a few other bits and pieces but are not my main focus for now.

    The board lights up takes power and has lights on, my concern is that there are some Custom IC's on it, once they are dead it's often game over for the board as parts are difficult to find, I know of only 2 people repair these boards still, if anyone has a Sega X Board (Afterburner, Standard or DLX, Thunerblade, Super Monico GP) that is working (or even not working, I could combine the chips off both boards) and is willing to sell me it let me know!

    Another issue is the fact there are so few still left, I don't know of many people with these and with everything in perfect/ very good condition on it, getting the art scanned in high quality has been an issue, I have instead tried edit and repro the art myself (splicing images and my own photos together) + recreating parts. They're a work in progress but look decent, I may end up going with these.

    So yes, there's still a good bit of work needed on repro'ing each but it's definitely a start, anyone I've asked hasn't provided a decent scan or haven't had a decent looking machine to begin with so I've decided to open up Photoshop and do my best, I think with a few more hours work they'll turn out okay, if anyone else does have one please let me know as a fresh scan would be appreciated! The warning lights are going to be difficult to repro as I don't have a clear image of them anywhere, and very little remains of the original casing. I will probably LED the warning lights on it too as I have no idea what type of Bulbs fit it (may be in the manual), I will leave the light casing there anyway in case I ever want to go back.

    I found this cool, TV outputs for operators back in the day. I suppose considering they cost $6500 brand new (15k in today's money adjusted for inflation), they'd have to have features like that, just never seen it on a cab before.

    As for the coin tower, if anyone has one (also found on other DLX cabinets like rad mobile I believe), please let me know if it's for sale or if not measurements would be great! I plan to repro this too if not (3D printer will be used).

    I'll update the thread whenever I make more progress! Should be an interesting read and helpful for anyone why goes down this route down the line, if anyone reading this has one and ever needs anything measured, scanned, or anything at all just ask!



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,690 ✭✭✭The Last Bandit

    Looking forward to it :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,816 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    If anyone ever tells me my arcade machines are too big I'm going to direct them to this thread!

    Can't wait to see how you progress with this. Any plans as to where it'll eventually end up?

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Very true, measured it today about 173 height by 120 by 200cm length I believe!

    Honestly I don't know! When I eventually and get a mortgage/buy a house I guess there. Have thought about bringing it to Level Up maybe but probably couldn't be a permanent thing due to its size and fragile electronics, but maybe temporarily have it there potentially some day in the future. I'm not sure if it'd fit in the doors though! If anyone is ever in Limerick City and wants a spin on it for the time being (when it's finished) I'm sure we could arrange something, just DM me haha, would be a waste keeping it just for myself, have a few other cabs stored with it that are working.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,780 ✭✭✭eddhorse

    Oh yeah i love a good restore thread, best of luck with it

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,646 ✭✭✭geotrig

    top stuff dav😎 , will be keenly following, but overall as you say cab seem in decent condition and from your description and pics all seems doable.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 34,441 CMod ✭✭✭✭CiDeRmAn

    Looks amazing and it sounds like you've all the skills you'll need to complete the restore.

    Hopefully you'll find everything out there to replace and repair.

    Few geniuses on here I'm sure will help!

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,816 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Ah right so you're working on it in a storage unit at the moment? Is there scope to keep it there and maybe get a few more machines in? Turn it into a mini arcade?

    I'd thoughts on doing that a few years back with a storage unit I used to have, was unsure how the owners of the complex would look on it though!

    It's definitely a machine that would be lovely for you to show off once it's finished, would really go down a treat at any location but yeah, such an absolute monster to move - your next investment will need to be a truck to cart it around :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Thanks all! It is very doable, my only main fear is the board repair if needed, it looks like it will need to be repaired and surface mount stuff is not in my skillset nor do I have the spare custom ICs. If anyone here can help with anything it would be much appreciated. I have a guy which looks like he can do it board wise, but otherwise it's going to have to be a mame approach, I just hope if so the motor control board takes analog inputs for motion, not digital as I would potentially need to rework this board if so.

    Yeah have a unit for it at the moment, as yes that is the plan! Anything that's not been used in Level Up or anywhere else, for the time being, is being moved into the unit, probably over the next week or so (although some are projects so won't look this nice initially anyway). Will make it a lot handier to do repairs too as I will have plenty of space by shimy-ing just 2 machines around. I've actually mapped out the unit's dimensions on Sketchup (as it has accurate drawings and dimensions of each cab) and the collection I have so it should comfortably fit about 14/15 machines, although have another few elsewhere and a few from the states on the way so will have to move on a few at some stage. Bought a nice 2400 watt step down transformer too should cover a lot of games. Would definitely recommend doing that if you want your own mini-arcade for relatively cheap renatal space.

    Yeah, it would definitely be something cool to operate somewhere down the line, I hate the idea of hoarding machines just for yourself, especially super rare machines. Either for a special few days at the arcade or a convention or something. And yes that is true, luckily I have had a few friends who have had a van so far for some items, but the weight and size of the thing is not much less than my own car an 03' Toyota Yaris so I have some hope of transporting it in that! 😀

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,646 ✭✭✭geotrig

    I've no idea if its still there but vaguely remember a great restore thread on either arcade Belgium or Dragon lair fans or maybe neoarcadia of a Dlx almost certain it was europe anyway :think: ,

    I reckon a replacement board is easier than some items (drive boards etc )ever the optimist , iirc the boardset isn't different for the dlx or upright ? so should be quiet a few around although I do remember people holding spares as it wasn't hugely in demand either a few years back. my main gripe would be if any wiring loom was missing .....thats just a tedious ballache at times.

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Yeah I've actually came across that thread, to me the machine in it was pretty much a write off, too much rust, missing parts, etc. Literally everything you'd want working/there was not there on it, snapped neck, missing roll motor, major rust on the chassis.

    The one thing that stuck out to me in that thread was "All the super-interesting AB-restoration-threads stop in the middle how it looks" lol, seems like most don't get finished but honestly shouldn't be too difficult to finish this one all going well, it has cost too much not to get finished really now.

    The guy who fixes the PCBs in the UK (not the usual guy as he doesn't do Sega X boards anymore) has done the triac drive boards and has about 15 spare X boards (for parts) so fingers crossed if I send him them we'll be good. It's good to know the boards are the same, does it have a different romset for the dlx do you know? As I have no idea if I have a working romset or not should I just buy/find a new board. If not maybe I'll just go that route if I can track one down, willing to pay decent money if anyone has one here.

    Yeah rust or wiring loom or missing major parts would be a major gripe for me too, I can deal with aesthetics no problem. Wiring loom looks very good but I do see a repair needed on part of the loom underneath for the left to right motion, but looks an easy fix with a new edge connector.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,646 ✭✭✭geotrig

    Haha didn't remember it being that bad, there was also a great pic of tones of these in a yard In Japan on Twitter In recent times.

    I could be wrong on the boards but was fairly sure they were the same, going on crap memory here!! Easy way to check is see if a dlx romset is listed anywhere in mame I suppose but don't remember none either

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,233 ✭✭✭Inviere

    Incredible machine to own, a real showstopper. Hat firmly doffed for the investment and dedication good sir!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,994 ✭✭✭Shapey Fiend

    It's hardly that big. I wanna get onto The Last Gamer see what's he's doing with his Virtua Formula. Just need to build a house extension then I'm good to go.

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Yeah I suppose that's true, although my thinking would be dlx support Rom probably wouldn't be included in mame as it mightn't work with the motor test.

    Cheers! Its a fantastic game, I suppose it was probably now or never for it but a bit of a risky investment as cabs are sky high at the minute!

    I suppose depends what your definition of big is, i.e. big as in Afterburner like the size of 3 or 4 regular cabs, or big as in feck I need to double the size of the arcade to squeeze this one extra game in like Virtual Formula or Ridge Racer Full Scale or that Initial D huge simulator in Joyopolis! Does someone actually have one here? Crazy if so

    Moved a few more stuff in too into the unit too this eve, starting to come together

    Post edited by dav09 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭BGOllie

    very nice project man.

    Re the board ,today I received an early build of the SmartyPi :

    It's a pie based drop in replacement for the PCB and should run stuff like, Outrun, Space Harrier, Thunder Blade, Power Drift , Hang On ... all these super scaller games. I runs great and offers to switch (although prob needed in your case) games using the service button. It handles all the analog inputs and even the outputs like flashers and all the motors (on the sit down Out Run for now, but more is in the works ) . I'm finishing a video on it so I should have it out on YT some time this weekend

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Thank you, sweet! Looking forward to the video on it, I love FPGA and similar type solutions (I know this isn't exactly FPGA) but the idea of drop-in replacements for hardware that will continue to fail more and more to preserve these things. I've actually been on to Marty/ Smarty recently, unfortunately he did plan on doing it but it's probably out of the equation now.

    "I don't think After burner and Space Harrier via MAME have DLX support built into the existing drivers so I'm not too sure if these will happen. I have tweaked the drivers to suit SmartyPi, but am not sure I have the skill to add the DLX support. I'm not saying its a no, but the other DLX games are at the back of the queue until I have time to investigate, which will only be after SmartyPi's general release and support for the full range of uprights are complete. "

    I would have been happy out with this to be honest, it's a real pity. My day job is actually as a Software Engineer but I think something like this approach is out of my expertise and I don't think there's enough of these left for people to develop mame support for the DLX cab, may take a look at it though to see if I can make sense of it (but I presume this is probably unfortunately built-in Assembly).

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,646 ✭✭✭geotrig

    Am normal cabs are big in house settings never mind an afterburner ,just put it this was you wouldn't fit it into or get it into 90%* of houses.

    *figure pulled out of my arsenal but probably half true 😅

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,757 ✭✭✭Jack burton

    I can recreate some of those smaller graphics on illustrator if you need. Once there's an image and I can get the idea of it shouldn't be a bother.

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    I might take you up on that offer! I know Arcade Art Shop has a few bits and pieces done but anything else I need like the warning lights graphics maybe once I get some sort of photo of them, thanks!

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    I think I've answered my own question today, couldn't find anywhere whether there was a different romset or not for DLX cabinets. Spoke to one of the other guys at Level Up who operated some Outrun DLX's in Ireland back in the day along with one or two others and mentioned that most DLX cabinets had the same board just used different settings. Looks the same for Afterburner by looking up the dip switch options, I'm afraid how much a repair would be so a new board may be the way I go now

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,994 ✭✭✭Shapey Fiend

    Ah yeah I was kind of joking about the cabinet size. I think Virtua Formula was the game that finally broke The Last Gamer and made him start selling everything off. When you start getting into building reinforced floors to house your collection its probably gone too far.

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Haha that's for sure mental stuff, just checked that out and yeah it's crazy what he's done, couldn't imagine trying to keep something like that running and the weight + size of that

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,816 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Just reading up on this now, apparently his house was hit by lightning and it fried everything? Really sad if that's the case.

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    A little bit of a side quest to the restore, last friday I found a video and reached out to the guy behind the project. I showed him the SmartyPi project too mentioned here too. There is definitely some hope for SmartyPi or another solution being supported here down the line for mame emulation. I've even been looking into potentially writing my own project, I would (at least attempt to) take a different approach to Stefan likely as his is very good but very complicated, trying to maybe write and map I/O directly through mame (if that is possible).

    A lot of the work for DLX support is already done in the mame driver for afterburner.

    The aburner_motor_power_w attribute seems to be set to give power/speed to the motor.

    0x4 (up, fast) - 0x7 (up, slow)

    0x8 (idle)

    0x9 (down, slow) - 0xc (down, fast)

    I do wonder how do-able this is, some extension to the aburner.c library is required to get this working but the base is there for it, but would be an interesting side project down the line.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,513 ✭✭✭SuperBowserWorld

    I am amazed, and a little bit jealous by what your are doing here.

    Fantastic work @dav09

    SEGA really showed who's boss back in the day.

    Hope you restore it fully.

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,816 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Jesus man, you're doing god's work - that is quite literally amazing. I'd say you almost had a heart attack when the board booted up, no graphical gliches too, absolute madness.

    Did the monitor fire up on it's own account or did you need to do any work on it?

  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Absolutely, almost in shock! I didn't think a clean would do the trick, and the fact the roms could easily have been corrupted/ custom ICs could have gone, damaged traces, etc. I was expecting best case scenario something either graphics or sound glitches which I would have been happy with as there was no picture or sound before, so the fact I have neither is fantastic!

    Monitor fired up fine first time! I had tweaked it slightly to up the max brightness previously for testing but just needed refocusing and looks pretty much perfect now, nice Philips tube on it great color, not quite sure what the chassis it reminds me of a G07 but don't think it is, adjustments are on the neck card but has a nice picture.

    And cheers! It's been a really fun project in all honesty but definitely got lucky with the CRT and PCB, don't think there's a mountain of work left needed besides artwork, a bit of paint or clean for the front where the PCB is, new door needed there too, new warning lights repro and motion fix.

    Post edited by dav09 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,816 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Between getting the cabinet for a good price and having both the game PCB and monitor fire up without any issues you've officially used up all of your good luck for the rest of your days 😁

    I'd love to know how many of these there are still out there that are working, would imagine you're in a very small club of owners.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 566 ✭✭✭dav09

    Lol don't say that, I've actually bought another mental project that's on its way, something similar to this and I'm going to need all the luck in the world on that too! That arriving has spurred me on to fix this up as will have even less space and time, although I might commit to finishing this first.

    As for remaining cabinets, I've always wondered. I once read there was 800 Afterburner DLX made, but I don't know if that was an estimate or where I read it a while back, could be way off. Most have been scrapped or parted for sure, operators hated storing big cabinets. Since I started collecting 5 years ago, I've only ever seen 3 come up for sale in Europe, one near Hungary, one in the UK and one in Italy. There's plenty more in the US. I almost bought one previously but had to stop myself as they were either too expensive, had serious amounts of rust, or other issues. But functional cabinets that aren't completely ruined, I would say probably around 100 as a guestimate, 80% of which are in the US I reckon, I know of 4 or 5 in the UK still and reckon there's another few more.