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(Update 24. May 2018)

Starhawk Upright (Vectorbeam 1978) - Restore at 85%

Current status as of  13. October 2007

15. May 2005 - Starhawk arrived from the U.S.
The game arrived safely as an import from www.coinopwarehouse.com in the U.S. It is a very early b/w Vector Game from the Company Vectorbeam which separated from Cinematronics. The picture is "borrowed" from the Internet. My machine is in a not so good condition, especially the bottom corners and the sideart is damaged. Many thanks go to Paul from Pauls 50's here in Germany who helped me with the customs and shipping.

A first inspection showed that the game is technically wise complete, which is very important. The cab is pretty solid and the monitor and all other electronics is very clean, nothing burned or "repairs" done. Mine is missing the top artwork on the sides, but it seems it has never been there.

9. October 2005
- Repair of the electronics

Yesterday I removed all the electronics incl. monitor and the Control Panel from the machine and began to inspect the electronics. Vectorbeam/Cinematronics games from this age are so called Vector Games. The electron beam on the picture tube is deflected by two coils in x (horizontal) and y (vertical) direction. That's why you will often see the term XY game. The PCB's do not run on a normal Raster Scan Monitor.

On the picture to the left you can see the large green CPU board which is made by far more than a 100 TTL chips, two 2k Roms and some TTL PROMS. There is no "CPU" Chip on there, instead some of the TTL chips form an ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) which performs all the calculations and input/output. The whole game program is only 4K in size. The RAM ist 12 bits wide and made by 3 * 9101 static RAM chips. The CPU board can be used on other games like Speed  Freak or Space War(s) by using other game PROMs and another sound board. Checking the CPU board did not reveal too much of interest. All of the chips wer in place, no signs of previous repairs. One socket was empty, which I found is ok, by comparing with an image on the Internet. Other than removing the dust with a soft brush I did nothing.

The smaller PCB on the right is the Sound Board. Again, like the CPU board, no large scale integrated chips (like synthesizers). The handful of sounds are created by discrete Logic and their generation is triggered by the CPU via the output registers. On the sound board located is also a driving circuit for the speaker. The ispection of this board showed two 'exploded' 2.2uF/35V Tantalum Caps.  Those were filtering the +/- 25V from the Powersupply. I replaced them by two 'normal' electrolytic caps with a low ESR.

In the background you can see the (linear) Power Supply. It generates the +5V for the CPU board, +/-25V unregulated for the sound board and the monitor and it also has some fuses to protect. Here I did a good checking. WIth a defective powersupply you can really harm the PCB's and the Monitor.  I measured all of the diodes, the bridge rectifier and the transistor (2N3055). After that I checked the fuses and rewired the transformer for 230V (Europe!!!). Retightening the screws on the large electrolytic caps is always a good idea. After that I powered up the P.S. (w/o attaching the wiring harness and measured all the voltages according to the schematics - everything fine.

Now it's time to check the Monitor. It is very well built (Vectorbeam) and the PCB is of a good quality. I also gave it a good clean and inspected it. Again, no repair was done, nothing burned and nothing obviously broken. The monitor takes two 12bit inputs from the CPU board, applies each of the 12 bit words to an DAC80 (D/A Converter) and after some amplification drives the two deflection coils on the tube's neck. Also the board generates the High Voltages for the picture tube. Scrolling thru some articles on the Internet I decided to apply two modifications that were strongly suggested the keep the delicate chips on the monitor board "alive".

Next item to look at was the Control Panel. Hey! The joysticks can never be broken. They are made of steel and I would say 'indestructible". No microswitches but good old leaf switches. No obvious problem visible - very good.

Now, it's time to test the stuff !!!!!

  • First step - attach the power supply to the CPU Board. No fuse blows....and check the +5Volts.... everything fine
  • Second step - attach the Sound Board (w/speaker) to the CPU board and to power and measure +/-15 Volts.... everything ok, the two new caps on the sound board are staying quiet.
  • Third step - Attach the monitor to the CPU board and to power. After powering up the xy 'experienced" immediately recognizes the "chatter" of the deflection coils. I really couldn't believe that this baby is working. But then, no picture....hmm just a little fiddling with the brightness and the picture was there.  Good stuff, really :-) . ... everything ok
  • Last step is attaching the Control Panel. Well this revealed that some movements could not be made. All three input latches 74LS151 had some bad inputs, they were stuck low. Well the first repair, put in there good sockets and the 74LS151's and ... 
  • wow, I can coin it up and play: a 27 year old game is back to life.

31. August 2007
- Cabinet rebuild

Two days ago I started to rebuild the cab, as the electronics needed a new 'home'. This was necessary because the bottom of the cab had some damage and on the sideart which I did not like and after my good results from rebuilding a Tempest I decided to give it a go. BTW, I still do not have any idea who will reproduce the sideart and kickplate art for me.

Material for the cab is 3/4" (19mm) particle board, coated with black Melamin. I used black because no painting is required for the inner parts of the cab. Using the original side panels as a reference the measures were transferred to the new sides and then cut with a router.  Luckily the bottom and the rear were at a 90° angle. For the rounded corner at the top and the front bottom I made two templates.

The next step was the grooving of slots where the kickplate, the top, the bottom and some other boards shall go to. It was quite difficult to transfer the angles onto the new pieces. On the picture to the left you can see  the two sides of the cab already finished with one original side in the front. 

Now it was time to cut the various other boards with holes for venting or the speaker. Sadly some boards' edges needed an angle as well, very time consuming....

It was a pretty dusty work that I carried out in our garage. There's maybe one or two days more to work until all wooden parts are rebuild and until I can move with the work into my basement.

22. September 2007
- Cabinet rebuild continues

Work has made good progress. To the right you can see the construction / assembling of the cabinet in my basement. The principle of connecting the various pieces together is very similar to the original. Just that I use screws ( a lot of screws :) ), instead of glue and nails. The most difficult part is the attachment of pieces at a non-rightangle.

To the left, the cab is built together. A little dusty, I admit, but the construction is very solid. The outer sides will get a white sticker with the artwork (work-in-progress).

The attachment of the controlpanel (pic on the right) is different than the original version. That used screws through the cabinet sides, ouch! I really wanted to avoid drilling holes thru my new cabinet sides, so I decided to use clamps as they are known from pinballs securing the head. BTW, have a look at the massive joysticks. It is really hard work to play the games with this iron thingie.

Now I fitted the marquee , the lighting behind it and the plexi in front of the monitor. Well, it starts to look more completely.

Here, to the right, the monitor, power supply and PCBs have been fitted. The coin mechs are lying around, because the coin door is not yet painted. Now it was time to test that stuff. I checked all wiring twice and flipped  the power switch ......

... and it works.  For all of you, who have followed the story until here, there is a small video (9Mbyte) with the Starhawk gameplay and sounds : starhawk.mpg

5. October 2007
- Sideart reproduction starts

Now it's time to redo the artwork. For the Starhawk we have three different pieces. Two different pieces for the Sideart and then also the Kickplate has some beautiful art. Starting with the sides I scanned the graphics with an HP 4600 Scanjet. This scanner is ideally suited because it has a rectangular shape and you can see through the glass, how it is positioned on the original. In total it required 11 scans for the large piece and 4 scans for the smaller one. All in all ~450Mbyte of raw data. To the right you cab see the actual scanning process. BTW it is worth noting to use some kind of ruler/guide so that you can move the scanner allways in parallel motion. The it is lateron easier to combine the individual scans..

To the left, eleven scans have been stitched together into one large file, it was no that difficult. As software I used I-PhotoPlus which I got together with one of my first scanners. Kind of cheap and I am sure ther are many others like GIMP.

Now it is time for vectorizing the pictures. Luckily I got an offer for assistance by Mathieu G. from France. So he is tackling the larger piece and making good progress....

Now I am trying the smaller pieces of the sideart myself and the results are not that bad. Software used is CorelDraw! Colors do not match yet, but I have to check for that with Mathieu...

6. October 2007 - Bad news: One Sideart piece is missing

Oh dear, this piece is missing :-(

If you have good quality pictures of this piece of art, let me know. Click here to Privacy Policy me.

13. October 2007 -
Recording sounds for MAME

While work on the sideart continues, I was made aware that in MAME the sounds of Starhawk are missing. So this is not a problem, I will record it. The sound file required are noted in MAME are those listed, but they are empty. As an appetizer you can hear the explode and laser fire (open in a new window):
As a first try to find out how it works in MAME, I extracted the complete soundtrack from my existing video with NERO WAVE EDITOR (picture on the right). The sounds are unfortunately mixed somehow, so even by cutting/blending the appropriate sections, they did not came out perfectly. Then I saved them as .wav files in mono and 44100 sample rate, added all together in a zip file "starhawk.zip", throwed them in the 'Samples' Directory of MAME and voilá, it works. Small glitch is that both, explosion and lasers, only start the sound when they already supposed to end :-) , I think this is a small issue in the MAME source. Now knowing that it basically works, I will get a good recording and then supply it to the MAME folks.

» Starhawk - Links
Starhawk Manual (2.6MByte) - I wish other manufacturers had such good manuals
starhawk.mpg - Starhawk game video incl. sounds
Cinematronics Monitor FAQ 0.96 - Good introduction for Monitor & Game Repair
History of Cinematronics - title says it all
Cinematronics Repair hints
Cinematronics Monitor Repair hints - from crazykong
Cinematronics HV Tech - Repairing the HV Unit
Tim Skelly's History of Cinematronics and Vectorbeam
Cinematronics on ionpool.net - ROMS and various other good stuff.

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