Site Hacked!

This came out of nowhere! I enter my url into a browser to find that I’ve won some prizes! Totally unexpected….

Usually, when crap like this happens, it’s Cloud at Cost trashing my VM, but this was different.

Turns out an exploit in WordPress’ Duplicator plugin (which I use for backups) allowed hackers to upload and modify PHP scripts to the HTML root and so they inserted some code to redirect a user to the site of their choice.

All I have to do now is to collect my prize….

Seriously though… the joke’s on them. I usually make a backup after each modification so I just simply restored it, disabled some plugins, and we were back in business. I may have lost some minor updates in the process, but nothing serious.

Based on what I saw though, the hacker also installed a backdoor and made a ton of changes to the WordPress core scripts. It would have been a drag cleaning this up without a full restore.

Mid Year Project Updates.

Wow… 2020 has been an interesting year so far. From the threats of war, to the COVID outbreak, the tension now reaches a boiling point with the riots in the US. Hopefully we will all stay healthy, fix what’s wrong and overcome our differences and resume our normal boring lives… but this isn’t a political blog.

Many of my projects were supposed to be completed now, but with these hiccups resulting in delayed production and shipping, I’m once again behind.

Things are moving forward though. Here’s an update:

Raspberry Pi to JAMMA adapter – Currently in beta testing with a number of people. Still early to call, but I’m waiting of feedback on some functionality issues, and reliability data.

JAMMA Test Card – In beta testing as well. No major issues reported. Will probably be going into production soon.

Arcade Video Tester – In beta testing. Feedback good so far. Soon to be in production.

JAMMA Mate – Issues with the latest hardware design, may need to back to fabrication for another revision. Very close to being completed.

As this was going on, I decided to make arcade cabinet adapters. A lot of people have asked me for these, and here we are. These are basically the opposite of a JAMMA adapter. Instead of converting non JAMMA games to be playable on a JAMMA setup, these will allow you to play your JAMMA boards in one the non JAMMA cabinets listed below.

Many have already been completed and some have been properly tested are ready to be sold. Here’s a list of what’s here and the status:

  • Capcom – tested
  • Sega System 8 – tested
  • Sega System 16 – tested
  • Konami – tested
  • Data East – tested
  • Tehkan – testing
  • Taito – beta testing
  • Irem – testing
  • Universal Mr. Do – design completed
  • Namco Galaga – design completed
  • Nintendo – design completed

Also, three generic type cabinet adapters have been designed to wire up your own cabinet adapter. These will allow you to use you JAMMA game in practicly any cabinet with either a 36, 44 or 56 pin harness.

  • 36 Pin Generic Cabinet Adapter
  • 44 Pin Generic Cabinet Adapter
  • 56 Pin Generic Cabinet Adapter

IC Pin Label Generator Live!

I decided to spend the last couple of days working on completing the IC Pin Label / Sticker project and it is now online.

The tool will allow you to create an IC or a connector pinout label, on your label printer or a regular household printer, that will actually fit! The tool needs your printer’s DPI, pin list and pin spacing and it will generate any arbitrary pinout label. When printing you will need to disable scaling and print actual size for the label to fit.

Two sets of images can be created. A single image for small label makers, or tiled version for larger label maker (4×6″ or larger) so that labels can be fully utilized.

Thermal label printouts of Z80, 2732 ROM and 6116 RAM labels for my Dig Dug repair.

Once you create a label you can bookmark the URL and reprint it when needed without having to recreate it each time.

There is also a pretty comprehensive list of already predefined devices for you to use here. These can be edited before the labels are created.

There is a couple of bugs and missing functionality that still needs to be dealt with but 95%+ of the work has been done. Not bad for a couple of day’s effort.

IC Pinout Stickers

Made a small program to generate IC pinouts that can be stuck on a chip for easy pin identification. The difficult part here is to get the image to come out the correct size.

Information on this can be found here.

I may end up putting together a online tool to make these and to generate these for the common chips on arcade PCBs.

End of Year Project Status

People have been asking me about the current projects that I’ve posted about here. Here’s a more detailed look at where things are with the projects that are work in progress or not currently available:

Major Arcade Projects:

  • PJ – Pi to Jamma – mostly tested working, last revision in fabrication
  • JammaTest – mostly tested working, last revision in fabrication
  • JammaMate – mostly tested working, last revision in fabrication
  • JammaMinigun – working on video conversion issues, release unknown at this point.

JAMMA Adapters – Here’s a list of the adapters that are work in progress and status:

  • Midway Space Invaders – avaliable at limited quantities
  • Alpha Denshi – available but unlisted
  • Gottlieb – testing (need Qbert sound and Krull / Mad Planets pcb)
  • Rally-X – available but unlisted
  • Taito – available but unlisted
  • Tecfri – available but unlisted
  • Atari DigDug – testing (my Digdug board is busted)
  • Nintendo Playchoice 10 Single – tested working
  • Nichibutsu A (Frisky Tom, Seicross, Radical Radial) – tested working
  • Taiyo – available but unlisted
  • Bagman – in fabrication
  • Taito Space Invaders – in fabrication

Miscellaneous Arcade – Projects for the modular supergun or misc arcade boards.

  • JAMMA Generic Adapter PCB – available but unlisted
  • Fingerboard – available but unlisted
  • JAMMA to Headers – available but unlisted
  • Genesis Controller Module – available but unlisted

Video Testers:

  • Arcade Monitor Tester – last revision in fabrication
  • VGA Monitor Dongle – last revision in fabrication
  • TV Tester – last revision in fabrication

Logic Analyzer Probes – I have had difficulty manufacturing these while making them reasonable priced. As a result I am not selling these at the moment until I come up with a good strategy on how to do this. May involve gettin a pick and place machine and making them myself.

Other Electronics:

  • Reflow Oven Controller – available, contact me for details

As you can see I piled a bunch of outstanding stuff with the goal of wrapping up most of these at the end of the year. While most of these are completed and ready to be released it will take the next few weeks (January and February) to document everything and get it out there. Stay tuned for more info.

Arcade cabinets and gameroom.

I ended up buying a few arcade cabinets recently. These were a bulk purchase that were sitting in a barn for too long. I’ll spare you the details.

This was in preparation for setting up my gameroom in the new place, and to give me something to do over the winter and spring. In the end, I ended up trading some of these cabinets and plan to restore the rest. In the process I made a video on a Wei Ya Chinese monitor chassis that decided to put into one on these cabs.

I also pretty much perfected my monitor testers (featured in the video) that I’ve been working on for the last few months, and I think these are ready to go. The last hardware updates have been sent to the PCB fabrication place and I’m just waiting for the boards to come back to start putting the final product together.

I’ll update this page with more information soon. There has been a number of new developments on various projects that I haven’t had a chance to document yet.

PCB to JAMMA List

I took some time to compile a list of games that I designed JAMMA adapters for. This list is a searchable and sortable list should make it easy to find the adapter for your game.

Here is the link to the list. Let me know if there are any additional adapters that you would like to see available.

I will be making a post about the status of the adapters that I am currently developing, so check back for that as well.

A JAMMA adapter milestone, 50 unique designs, 500 games converted.

I have submitted a couple of new adapter designs and they are currently in production. With these two new designs, I have now created exactly 50 unique designs that cover approximately 500 unique PCBs. This took about 2 years, so that averages about one new adapter every two weeks. Not too bad considering all the other stuff going on.

The two new adapters are:

  • Taiyo – for games like Chinese Hero and Shanghai Kid
  • Nichibutsu Type A – for Frisky Tom, Seicross, Radical Radial

A few more designs and the project is pretty much completed. On the immediate to do list we now have:

  • Atari – for the most popular Atari games. Unfortunately most of those are unique
  • Taito Space Invaders – to complement the Midway boardset
  • Zaccaria – for some old faves like Money Money and Jackrabbit
  • Bally MCR – for Tapper, Tron and the other Midway games
  • Bally Sente SAC – For Night Stocker, Hat Trick, etc…

… and maybe a few others that are not on the top of my mind. After that it’s requests only, for not uncommon games.

Monitor / TV test dongle update

I’ve been in the field, testing these dongles, make sure they perform as intended. This mainly involves going thrifting and plugging these things into TVs and monitors while curious people stop to look at me like I’m up to something . It combines two things that I like, looking for electronics and playing with electronics.

It turns out that the VGA dongle is a little too big to fit a small percentage of the monitors. The TV monitor dongle needs to have its RCA jacks relocated for easier connection. 

While working on this, I decided to create a similar board for arcade monitor testing, which may come in handy when testing arcade monitors in the field. Hardware and software is similar across the 3 devices. 

More info on the project can be found here. The project page will have more information on these, and will be updated when these become available.

Modular Supergun project

If you have been following my blog, you know that I’ve been building a single board supergun device which I named the Minigun. Project page can be found here.

While I’ve been developing this product, I realized that there may be a need for a simplified device, or rather a set of smaller, distinct components that can be easily integrated together to create a supergun like device that is customized to the user’s need. 

This became very apparent when I began to build an arcade / JAMMA test rig for my new lab. A test rig may not require fancy features like autofire or button mapping, but may require the ability to output video in several formats, or more than one way to add controls to a game.

The result of this is a set of boards that can be easily connected via inexpensive dupont cables, that create the required functionality. The current set of boards include:

  • JAMMA to pin headers board – this is the hub of the system. Plenty of 2.54mm dupont headers allow other boards to be connected. Screw in headers for power rails for easy power supply.
  • RGB to Component board – allows RGB video to be displayed on a 240p capable TV that can accept component video.
  • RGB to Composite / S-Video board – allows RGB video to be displayed on a TV that can accept Composite and S-Video signals. Due to the difficulty in creating proper chroma signals from non standard arcade RGB video, this may not be viable for all arcade boards and televisions. 
  • DB9 controller board. Allows you to use a DB9 joystick or Sega genesis controllers as inputs. 
  • USB controller board. Allows you to use a USB joystick as your inputs.

Pick and chose the functionality you need and connect the boards together to create a custom test rig or supergun device. 

These boards will eventually be sold either as already assembled or low cost DIY kits. More information on this project will be available soon.