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Is this normal? I just bought a Vectrex...


dino999
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I just bought a Vectrex. The shipper placed two thin layers of bubble wrap around it. I was surprised the thing arrived without some giant crack in the case.

However, as I examined the screen, I noticed the top end was leaning further back than the lower end, creating a gap between the case and the top end. Is this normal?

While unboxing the system, I found two small loose pieces of black plastic that had broken off of something. I looked all around the console and found nothing snapped off, even nothing behind the controller.

I did not power on the system yet, nor clean it up. I had planned to open up the back and dust inside while avoiding the monitor since I do not have and resistors or gator clips with wires to properly discharge it. Now I fear I must discharge it properly if these two pieces somehow held the monitor in place. Damn't!

I attached a few pictures. You can click on them to get a bigger view. The two small pieces of plastic appear in the lower right corner of the first pic.

IMG_5181.jpg IMG_5182.jpg IMG_5183.jpg

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No, that's totally not normal. Some kind of support must have given way during shipment. The screen does normally tilt back at a slight angle, but it is the same angle as the bezel of the case--very shallow.

 

If you choose to open the case, be careful of discharge from the CRT. You can still get shocked if the unit has been recently plugged in. http://www.playvectrex.com/shoptalk/discharge/discharge_f.htm

 

It's a shame that sellers don't know how to pack these old, fragile items correctly. Unless you have the original foam, the box should be oversized, and there should be at least a couple of inches of foam peanuts between the unit and the box on every side.

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Something that frustrates / confounds me is that the person who sold it has owned it since 1987. He scrawled his name and high scores in all the manuals. Something that survived this long got destroyed in a two day trip across the US.

 

Regarding discharging, I've seen that page but I've also seen this post on AA ( http://atariage.com/forums/topic/125974-safe-way-to-discharge-a-crt/?p=1523047&hl=discharge ) as well as a much older post here which states that I should use a discharging probe which has integrated resistors ( http://rec.games.vectrex.narkive.com/y4RLshi7/someone-who-has-re-capped-a-vectrex ).

 

It seems like doing it the simple way with two screwdrivers can damage the screen coating and the ability of the monitor to hold a charge. I haven't done circuitry math since high school. Would the following work?

Using three screwdrivers, resistors from my radioshack, and some loose wire stripped at both ends:

 

First screwdriver, touch gold-colored metal box at base of Vectrex.

A wire stripped at both ends wrapped around metal shaft of first screwdriver, the other stripped end wrapped around

a string of resistors twist-tied together.

A second wire with stripped ends wrapped around terminal side of string of resistors with the other end of second wire wrapped around metal shaft of second screwdriver.

The second screwdriver touching third screwdriver metal shaft.

The third screwdriver wedged underneath the cup on the backside of the tube

Large diagram (click on the picture to enlarge it)

gZ1KsX6m.jpg

 

I don't have gator clip jumper cables and my Radioshack (RS) does not. I am unsure which resistors to buy (again last time I did on paper math with voltage, resistance, etc. was high school). I have the following links to RS items which are in stock. My plan is to buy one of these packs and twist tie the resistors together.

5-Pack of 1M ohm 1/2W 5% Carbon Film Resistor

https://www.radioshack.com/products/radioshack-1m-ohm-1-2w-5-carbon-film-resistor-pk-5?variant=5717284613

OR

5-Pack of 1M Ohm 1/4-Watt Carbon Film Resistor

https://www.radioshack.com/products/radioshack-100k-ohm-1-4-watt-carbon-film-resistor-5-pack?variant=5717290373

OR

I assume I need two of the following since the post I referred to said I needed ten 100K resistors.

5-Pack of 100K Ohm 1/4-Watt 5% tolerance carbon-film resistors

https://www.radioshack.com/products/radioshack-100k-ohm-1-4-watt-carbon-film-resistor-5-pack?variant=5717290373

OR

Again I assume I would need two of these

5-Pack of 100K Ohm 1/2 Watt 5% Carbon Film Resistor

https://www.radioshack.com/products/radioshack-100k-ohm-1-2w-5-carbon-film-resistor-pk-5?variant=5717283717

 

If stringing together five of the 1M resistors would work, I guess that would be easier.

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Yes, it's perfectly normal for a Vectrex to be harmed in transit. Almost doesn't matter how well it gets packed either as they'll still find a way. :mad:

 

My personal experience... 3 out of 4 Vectrex's "destroyed" within the past 10 years. Amazingly, the one I sold that went up to Canada arrived safe and sound. :ponder:

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Never heard of possible screen damage because of discharging too fast - but I guess I learned something. I've heard of people getting shocked when messing around with that with both hans though.
There's a factory sticker inside (my Vectrex at least) saying you should only discharge to the cage around the flyback transformer IIRC. It's the metal where the wire goes on from the "suction cup".
I discharged mine today directly after having it on (back cover was off, took maximum 2 minutes) there was a puny spark.

"Suction cup" is fastened with a metal clamp, two wire hooks, you have to reach that metal clamp with your discharge equipment, just stuffing some screwdriver under there doesn't guarantee it will be discharged, best way is if you can peek in while putting the screwdriver in there, while having your other hand in your back pocket - so you don't shoot your heart if anything goes wrong.

There was a long article about this procedure not being lethal - the lethal part can be what you spasmodically do if you get a jolt, you may fall or twitch and hurt yourself on something else. Vectrex has a very small screen, I'd say it's a good start if you haven't discharged anything before. A 28 inch TV has a lot more voltage there.

If it hasn't been used it's likely to be discharged, and you won't see anything or hear anything, so may not be really be sure if it's discharged or if you failed at discharging it. If you do the procedure be careful anway - as if it wasn't discharged. The capacitors on the power board can also keep some voltage, quite unpleasant.
I also recommend you remove crocodile clip from screwdriver after discharge and clip it to the metal clamp in the middle of the suction cup, you may get a slight jolt anyway after a while, it's safest to keep it grounded.


EDIT:
Aha... this could be an interesting part (from second link above):

That is ALL there is to it. Do NOT try this on a mono vector monitor,
you will blow the HV diode (expensive). This method is FINE for ALL
colour raster monitors. For vector monitors, get yourself a HV probe,
this has integrated resistors to trickle the voltage discharge and
prevent a big spike from killing the junction on the HV diode.

 

I'm getting a HV probe...

Edited by e5frog
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There shouldn't be any issue discharging with just a screwdriver and a wire/clips. The way I do it when I work on my Vectrex is to power it on, turn it off and then discharge. You'll definitely hear the noise that way, I've found even if the unit is off for a few hours you won't hear anything and thus unable to guarantee it's fully discharged. That said, unless you plan on reaching in near the monitor you wouldn't even need a discharge, hopefully no plastic is broken inside the unit.

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It does discharge pretty fast, is the warning about the HV diode in vector monitors just fantasies, or is the CRT so small in the Vectrex that it's pretty much safe to do a direct discharge? It may seem safe until the 20th discharge or whatever when that diode breaks...

Powering it on just to discharge it doesn't seem very smart, better to just clip the "suction cup" clamp with a croc wire (if there's no visible or audible spark - or there after) to the cage surrounding the HV transformer (knows as flyback, LOPT etc) - as mentioned on the sticker inside of the last three I worked on - that's the only position you should discharge to. As many others have explained it can still hold a charge if not shorting the CRT, an uncomfortable charge.

When poking around in frustration trying to plug the speaker cable or whatever and accidentally touching something with arm or tool - may not be very nice, if you get a spark in the wrong place you may damage components, a croc clip is a simple and easy insurance, just as unplugging it from mains before doing anything inside.

Everything is near the "monitor", it's a Vectrex... ;-)

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Yes, it's perfectly normal for a Vectrex to be harmed in transit. Almost doesn't matter how well it gets packed either as they'll still find a way. :mad:

Thanks, you smart aleck :)

 

Discharging it the fast way with two screwdrivers became less frightening after reading this article written by some professor at Stanford University:

http://lowendmac.com/2007/the-truth-about-crts-and-shock-danger/

 

I have another question.

I was cleaning the system and detached the power / volume knob to clean around and behind that area. Re-attaching it is giving me issues and I don't want to press to hard. Any idea how I should line the knob up to the post on the system before pressing the knob back onto the post?

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Discharging it the fast way with two screwdrivers became less frightening after reading this article written by some professor at Stanford University:

http://lowendmac.com/2007/the-truth-about-crts-and-shock-danger/

 

I have another question.

I was cleaning the system and detached the power / volume knob to clean around and behind that area. Re-attaching it is giving me issues and I don't want to press to hard. Any idea how I should line the knob up to the post on the system before pressing the knob back onto the post?

Yeah, it's crazy how Internet lore has turned discharging CRTs into a brush with death. Sure you have to be careful, but the whole process has been blown out of proportion.

 

Been awhile since I've taken mine apart, but generally any time you've got a knob of any sort in any device there will be a flat side on the shaft that matches up with a flat side inside the knob. Assuming everything is lined up, just push it on.

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The back side of the knob is just a cylindrical hole. It does not have the same semi-circle shape as the post unfortunately.

 

I do see two triangular prism shapes running down the inside of this hole and I would bet they have something to do with staying latched onto the post, but I have tried pressing with some strength with it rotated in several positions and the knob just won't secure fully. I don't want to press too hard and break something.

 

There is a mark on the top side of the knob used to indicate where it is pointing. If someone can tell me how that is lined up on theirs in the off position, I think I would be set.

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And remind them you get a full refund if the item arrives damaged and you open a case on eBay.

There would be no need for a full refund especially since ebay pretty much forces the hand of the buyer and seller to return an item if a case is open nowadays. Ebay has changed their case system. Now it tells the buyer to request a return (an implied outcome) instead of just opening a case (a neutral term). The seller's options seem to be more disturbing, locking them into a one-time partial refund offer if the seller chooses that option or locking the buyer into returning the item if the seller chooses the option. I'd rather resolve everything through e-mail before opening up a case. There was no malcontent or deception here.

 

Save2600 brought up a good point. I've thought about how you would even ship a Vectrex safely. This seller could have used more foam. Even then, the CRT is still suspended by brittle 30 year-old plastic. I'm thinking you would have to ship it face up and stuff the inside of the case tightly with plenty of newspaper or foam to prevent any movement. Face down might seem an obvious choice at first, but an impact on the bottom of the box (where it's facing) might cause damage to those screw mounts more easily. It's a good question nonetheless.

 

I have to fix the harness. That takes some effort. I'm considering getting something like JB Weld for plastics to maybe enhance the Loctite super glue I have. It may be an unnecessary step, but I'm worried the CRT might drop during play.

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There would be no need for a full refund especially since ebay pretty much forces the hand of the buyer and seller to return an item if a case is open nowadays. Ebay has changed their case system. Now it tells the buyer to request a return (an implied outcome) instead of just opening a case (a neutral term). The seller's options seem to be more disturbing, locking them into a one-time partial refund offer if the seller chooses that option or locking the buyer into returning the item if the seller chooses the option. I'd rather resolve everything through e-mail before opening up a case. There was no malcontent or deception here.

 

You need to say the item was not as described i.e. it was described as working and pictured in one complete piece, and it arrived not working or in broken pieces. It is irrelevant where it got damaged. The seller can offer a partial refund where the buyer keeps the item. The buyer can accept or reject the partial refund. Then the buyer is asked to return the item for a full refund. The seller pays for return shipping. Sometimes sellers don't want to pay for return shipping, so they give a full refund and let the buyer keep the item.

 

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I know how these things work. I've been on both sides of these cases throughout the years. What I was commenting on was the fact that the opening a case interface had changed. When opening a case now, it says "Request a return" rather than simply "Open a case." I'd rather communicate with the seller via e-mail first to resolve issues and get a partial refund via the Paypal order itself rather than simply opening a case and hope that the seller chooses to offer a partial refund and select an amount which is satisfactory to me. I understand you may not be familiar with the new case layout as it has changed within the last half year or so.

 

Either way, this is far off topic. I'm only concerned with getting a pic of the power / volume button in its off position so I can be sure that with the amount of force I exert to secure the button, the shaft and its connected internals won't be damaged.

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You need to verify the screwdriver touches the metal prong under the cap on/at the CRT. And do it again a few minutes later or let it sit there shorting it out. CRTs still hold a residual charge on them after the first loud snap!

 

When I shipped a vectrex out once I compressed some foam blocks inside it to ensure nothing moves around. In addition to a minimum of 8" padding in the box.

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Either way, this is far off topic. I'm only concerned with getting a pic of the power / volume button in its off position so I can be sure that with the amount of force I exert to secure the button, the shaft and its connected internals won't be damaged.

Can you take a photo of the inside of your power knob? I'm really confused what the issue is if your knob doesn't contain the metal D shaped piece, it should go on any way you want. There shouldn't be anything preventing you from sliding it on if it's circular. In fact if the knob isn't molded in a D shape and doesn't contain the metal piece inside, I'm not sure how exactly it would turn the shaft.

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Sometimes the heavy tubes just slip a bit within the metal straps during shipping and just need some repositioning. I never discharge my tubes, unless I remove the suction cup, which is not necessary for repositioning.

Look how the Vectrex CRT is mounted:

post-32856-0-49507000-1452898030_thumb.jpg

 

My power knob does not have any mark at all. There is only one possibility to push it onto the shaft (D-shaped metal part). Probably yours fell out of the knob and is missing?

But you can take any 6mm knob of course.

 

 

 

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Not bad Richard H. if wanting it to look like the real thing it still has some work left to do but it would work fine as a replacement.

Smaller ridges on the side - which is also slightly cone shaped, these don't go all the way down as there's a solid ring before the grip part ends, the part with the ridges is a bit thinner on the real button, embossed ring on top is a bit high, original has a sponge-like pattern inside the ring on the top, there are two embossed lines on the angled collar part at the flat part of the D indicating direction and finally there's a slight smaller cylindrical shape under the cone shaped collar part.

But I guess it's just cosmetic.
My Vectrex knob is actually cracked, goes from about the middle of the top, out to the edge, along the side and ends at the lower collar part, I recall putting some glue somewhere there a few years ago., still holds up.

 

I guess that metal D-clamp must have gotten loose at some time and fallen off unless it's still on the potentiometer shaft, on you floor or in the box...

Edited by e5frog
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