Universal Adapter Tutorial

By far, the best thing about this adapter, is how little time it take to configure it for your game. The process could not be any easier.

There are two ends of the adapter. The JAMMA side that plugs into your cabinet, and the GAME side into which you plug your non-JAMMA game.

You don’t need to know anything about the JAMMA side, like for example which pin is responsible for which function. What you do need to know however, is what each pin on the GAME side is for. You can find this pinout information on various sites or just google for it.

In order to hook up a game pin to a specific JAMMA function, physically locate the pin in question on the GAME end. Then, simply solder the jumper pad that lines up with the column where the pin resides, and the row that corresponds to the required JAMMA function.

The picture below illustrates how the 6th pin from the left can be wired to COIN1 on the JAMMA harness if the pad circled in red is jumpered.

Solder the pad where the pin column and JAMMA function row intersect.

Repeat this process for all the pins you want to map and you’re done!

If you notice, the game side pins are not labeled or numbered. This is because there are a number of ways manufacturers label the pins on the connector. Some are left to right, some are reversed. It will be up to you to figure out the physical location of the pin and its function.

As an example, let’s assume that you’re wiring up Pengo using the 44 pin universal adapter. The pinout information is as follows:

              COMPONENT  |  SOLDER
               GND   | 1 | A |   GND
               GND   | 2 | B |   GND
               +5V   | 3 | C |   +5V
               +5V   | 4 | D |   +5V
               +5V   | 5 | E |   +5V
      Coin Meter 2   | 6 | F |   1P.Button
      Coin Meter 1   | 7 | G |   2P.Button
            Coin 2   | 8 | H |   Coin 1
           Service   | 9 | I |   Test
          2P Start   |10 | J |   1P.Start
          1P.Right   |11 | K |   1P.Left
             2P.Up   |12 | L |   1P.Up
          2P.Right   |13 | M |   2P.Left
           1P.Down   |14 | N |   
               GND   |15 | O |   GND
             Green   |16 | P |   Red
              Sync   |17 | Q |   Blue
           Speaker   |18 | R |   2P.Down
              +12V   |19 | S |   +12V
            Volume   |20 | T |   Volume
               GND   |21 | U |   GND
               GND   |22 | V |   GND

We can determine from looking at the game board, that the tree consecutive power pins for +5 V are on the right.

We can then confirm that the pinout is ordered right to left when looking at the parts side of the adapter board. We can now begin soldering the jumper pads.

The picture below shows the component-side pads that need to be soldered to wire up half of the adapter. From right to left, it will be GND, GND, +5V, +5V, +5V, COUNT1, COUNT2, COIN2, SVC, etc…

Once that’s done flip the adapter over and connect all the solder side pins in the same manner. Keep in mind that once flipped the pinout order will be reversed.

If you make a mistake, gently run the tip of the soldering iron across the jumper pad to break the connection, and try again. The pads can be cleaned up further with some wick. Be careful with the pads though, don’t use to much heat or pressure, and don’t try to scrape the solder off, as the pads may lift.

As you can see, it won’t take long at all to complete the process. Certainly it will be much faster than using other types of adapters.

When the soldering is done, you can use a permanent marker to label the adapter in the white rectangle provided specifically for that purpose.

I created 3 types of these adapters for games with different pin counts. These are 36 pin, 44 pin and 56 pin. Having three variants means there are fewer pads on the 44 and 36 pin adapters which makes the process easier. Those are also smaller and can carry more current due to the increased trace width.

As always, these adapters are available for purchase on Ebay.



















Compared to other universal adapters, that typically require cutting and soldering wires, this one will allow you to complete the entire process of building an adapter in about 10% of the time. All you need is a soldering iron.

Here are some of the design features of this adapter board.

  • Simplicity

In order to route a pin from the game edge connector to the JAMMA side, you simply bridge one solder pad that lines up with the corresponding JAMMA function. You repeat that process for all the pins that you want to map, and you’re done.

Detailed instructions for building an adapter can be found here.

  • Durability & Reliability

Once the adapter is completed, it will be last forever since there are no loose wires to break off.

  • Re-usability

If ever you want to change the routing or even reuse the same board for a different game, simply run the soldering iron tip across the jumper pads to break the connection. To clean up the pad you can use solder wick, but that’s totally optional.

You can then solder across different pads for completely a different routing.

  • Prototyping

You can also use this board for prototyping as well, as it allows you to quickly try different routes in order to discover the function of a pin. Once you find the function you can mark the correct solder pad on the board to bridge, or if you have a soldering iron ready, bridge it right there. This is by far the fastest way to build an adapter without having the correct pinout handy for those super rare games.

  • Price

I’m planning to make this adapter available at price lower than that of any competition. Combine this with a superior design, and ease of use, there is no reason to try anything else.

Now that we’ve covered the positive aspects of this design,  let’s discuss some of the limitations as well.

  • Large board size

This is a very complex board. The 56 pin version has on it over 2000 jumper pads, at least 4000 vias, and a large grid of intertwined traces all tightly packed together. In order to allow for this complexity while also providing large enough solder pads, the board had to be of this size. Typically, it is smaller than a similar hand made wired design, but not as small as a custom made adapter or some universal conversion adapter boards that require the soldering of wires.

  • Limited current capacity.

While this shouldn’t be an issue with most games, there is limited space on this board for thick traces to carry a large amount of current to either the controls or the power rails. The maximum power handling for this adapter is about 12A for the +5V rail and about 2A each for the +12V an -5V rails. This is perfectly suitable for most games given how a typical arcade power supply usually provides a maximum current of 15A for +5V and 1A for the +12V and -5V rails. Traces for the control panel, audio and video should be able to handle up to 1A of current.

If you were planning to use this board for a conversion that requires a lot of current, you may want to keep this in mind. When you connect the adapter for the first time, check the adapter board for any signs of excessive heat.

Also, if you you have a faulty board with a short, or keep repeatedly shorting the control panel pins, be aware that in the process you’ll likely damage this adapter first.

The universal adapter will be available in 3 flavours depending on the pin count of the game board that is being converted.

  • 36 Pin Universal JAMMA Adapter
  • 44 Pin Universal JAMMA Adapter
  • 56 Pin Universal JAMMA Adapter