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Troubleshooting Williams/Bally WPC System & System 11. 

Namco Race On, freezing or not powering up.

An innovative driving game from Namco (twin cabinet), which captures a photo of the player and puts the picture on the screen. The player can see his or her face and the face of the fellow racer next to the car. The camera is also used in the game over mode where periodically a live picture is displayed on the monitor screen to the surprise of many bystanders who did not expect to see themselves on the screen. The game utilizes color CCD camera mounted above the monitor. All what is connected to the camera is the supply voltage and the composite video output runs straight to the game board.


This can happen very intermittently. At the beginning, maybe every few days and you may not worry about it. Switching the machine off/on will fix it. But progressively it occurs more frequently, say every few hours and you'll be forced to look for solution. As with all intermittent problems it is harder to work out what is wrong. We usually start checking the simple things first such as the PSU and the +5V on the board. We can check the game board for some bad connections (rare in Namco games), an abuse such as spilt drinks or a problem related to heat. However, everything looked okay and it was impossible to induce this problem. We can also take the advantage of the twin cabinets as we have two identical games and this allows us to swap things around to work out what part of the machine fails. However, you may be unlucky as I was, as both the player one and two exhibited the same problem. The machine would either not finish the power up sequence and would freeze before getting to the game over mode, or it would freeze in a few hours during the game over.


The culprit turns out to be the camera. The game board cannot cope with the loss of the composite video signal. I would try to  replace the camera, they are not expensive nowadays but I could not get NTSC one. We are geared for PAL in Australia and such camera would not work in this game. I had no option other than to try to fix the original one. It is hard because the circuitry is miniature and you need some kind of magnification to work with it. Luckily the problem was simple, I did not need any special components just two surface mount tantalum capacitors (part of the on board switching PSU) had to be replaced. See Figure 1 and Figure 2. One of them I replaced with ordinary electrolytic cap, I did not have a surface mount version on hand. I did take these two shots for future reference but did not note the value of the caps but you can get it from the original caps if you ever strike this problem.




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