Location: Lone Tree, Colorado.
Symptoms: Kept losing track of balls.
I have worked on more ST:TNG pinball machines than any other model. Which is kind of cool since it is one of my favorite games to play.
This machine needed cleaning and tuning up. It also suffered from broken wires on one of the cannons, which is a problem I’ve seen with every ST:TNG I’ve worked on. The rotation of the cannons causes the wires to flex. Eventually after a thousand flexes, a wire will break. Somebody should supply replacement wiring harnesses — connectors on one end and bare wires on the other — to make replacement easier.
Usually what I do is identify which wire is broken and run a replacement beside the original harness. So far, there has always been more than one wire broken.
The biggest problem with diagnosing these broken wires is that when the cannon is sitting in its normal home position, everything is fine. Usually the wires open when the cannon rotates out to the playfield. And the problem with the diagnostics is that you can’t test the solenoid, light and opto-sensor while the cannon is moving.
This machine had an interesting symptom where during game play, the ball would load in the the cannon, then it would swing out, but it wouldn’t shoot until it was back in the home position. This would fire the ball back down below the playfield on top of an existing ball. There is a limit switch that is supposed to keep you from shooting the ball anywhere other than the open playfield. Apparently this limit switch is ignored if the solenoid wires break open when the cannon rotates out.
After I repaired the broken wire to the solenoid, I noticed the cannon was shooting during start-up. This symptom I had learned about on a previous repair. One of the wires to the opto-sensor was broken. The machine thinks there is a ball there and tries to get rid of it.
After fixing the cannon, the machine would still lose track of the balls under the playfield. I discovered the ball diverters under the playfield were sticking. I cleaned those, as well as the opto-sensors and it seems to have solved all of the problems.
Although the game is working fine, the right outlane switch is bad and will be replaced on a subsequent visit.