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Bally Arcade Bullet Proofing

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Hi All,


I just signed up with AtariAge and really appreciate all the good information about the Bally Professional Arcade. I just got a really nice one. With all the talk about the problems, do I really need to open up this working machine and start taking out shields, gluing in new heat sinks, replacing capacitors, etc? My plan was just to use a laptop cooling table (has 4 fans @ 1200 rpm) under my Bally. Also I thought maybe to check the actual voltages coming out of the power supply block to make sure they are with in range of normal. For a new owner of this historic system, I'd like to preserve it. But I'm only going to run it a few minutes here and there. Not like I'm going to run this thing for hours on end. Advice is greatly appreciated. I've seen many posts that say opening it up and messing with the heat shields can actually make things worse!

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If it works, don't screw with it! Chances are, your laptop cooling stand will be more than adequate. Heed the common sense advice and don't place on a plush carpet while playing. :lol:


IF the machine starts to flake out on your during extended periods of play, then I'd crack her open to remove old heatsink compound and reapply new. May even remove the RF shield and glue heatsinks on the chips that get warm.

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Welcome to AtariAge and the obscure but cozy little corner of classic gaming that is the Bally Arcade. :)

Sounds like you've done some reading through a few of the posts here; you may know, then, that I'm one of those people who had perfectly working Bally systems that bought the farm after removing the RF shielding. :(

That said, my advice is that if it works, leave it alone. Run the system for a few minutes, put it through its paces, and keep an eye out for any graphical abnormalities that may start to crop up. (Note: garbled graphics patterns on powerup or reset are normal.) Look for things like stray/dead pixels, fading color, garbling during play, or anything out of the ordinary. Now, some of those things *can* happen on normally working systems, but don't take any chances. Fading color or the graphics going B/W is usually bad news.

A good way to test it is to let the Scribble program run by itself (0 players) for a while. Note that the Bally has a screensaver feature where the screen blacks out if no input is performed for x minutes, so you need to keep an eye on it. If it runs for an hour without any problems, you should be golden.

Also, everything save2600 said. If it works, just use common sense to keep it working. A cooling fan *probably* isn't really necessary on a working system, unless it's starting to show signs of failing, but it can't hurt in any case; if in doubt, use it.

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I just signed up with AtariAge and really appreciate all the good information about the Bally Professional Arcade.


The Bally Alley Yahoo discussion group has been around since 2001. There are currently 14,047 messages there. It's a real pain to read those older messages online. If you use the Yahoo group, then I recommend reading past messages with PG Offline reader. It's great!


With all the talk about the problems, do I really need to open up this working machine and start taking out shields, gluing in new heat sinks, replacing capacitors, etc?


I used to be very pro-open the Astrocade to remove the heat shield. I've opened up many Astrocades and never had an issue doing this... but some people have opened perfectly good Astrocades to remove the heat shield and then ended up with a non-working unit. I can't explain this, but I guess the best way to avoid this possibility would be not to open the system. Which is a shame, as removing the heat shield works wonders-- especially on the older original Bally Arcade units (which are pretty-much completely enclosed in metal).


My plan was just to use a laptop cooling table (has 4 fans @ 1200 rpm) under my Bally.

I've read that people have done this with great success. However, if the shielding is still in the unit, then I don't expect that it would make any difference at all. If you look at the underside of the Astrocade, then you'll notice a couple of air vents. Great, right? Not really. If the unit it wrapped in the metal shielding, then there is no ventilation even with a fan.



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I appreciate everyone's feedback. I guess if the machine works currently and I don't over heat it on carpet or run it a long time, that may be safer than removing the shielding and taking a chance on messing things up. One thought - If all the metal shielding prevents air flow no matter what, then it would also mean that running the machine on a carpet makes no difference. But clearly everyone says not to do that, so one would think air flow does play a role. I went ahead and got a $20 laptop cooling table from Amazon that has 4 fans runing @ 1200 rpm. It looks neat and couldn't hurt - only help. Even if I'm just cooling the shielding, that's something helpful. I may end up pulling the bottom plastic off the console and drilling more air vent holes into it.





Tree New Bee cooling table

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Got the cooling table and the fans are very quite. (4) of them. They run off a 5vdc usb power supply - which happens to be an available socket on my HDTV. I will probably shoot a youtube video of this table with the Bally on it and will post a link in a few days. I might also insert a digital temperature probe against the RF shield and take some before and after temp readings.

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I'm also a newbie to this. I've followed a lot of the "classic" advice including working with a wise old wizard of the Bally world. I bought two units blind (one worked and one did not), pirated the best parts into the better shell, removed RF armored tank-level shield, got a cheap laptop cooler underneath, and it works great! I do have some level of graphic ghosts/sometimes dulled color, but I've never had any serious issue working it. Strangely, my channel switch flips out if I have it on channel 3, so that's the only real issue. I cleaned the entire "guts" and removed the old paste off of the custom chips. I'm in love with my machine--you can see it in my profile picture!

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Okay so I got my Bally Arcade from an eBay seller. Very nice condition, works great, low use. I am COMPLETELY new to the whole Bally Arcade / Astrocade thing, so excuse me for saying anything that is really old news or flat out wrong.


Based on the feedback of several people, here's what I did (with some pictures to follow):


  1. opened up the unit per the Bally Fun and Brains service guide for replacing the main board, did only steps 1,2,3, & 4.
  2. made a template of 1/4" circles spaced 1" apart in a sort of grid pattern using MS PowerPoint
  3. drilled holes in the bottom of the console case - note - should drill from the outside toward inside. I tried at first drilling from the inside toward outside and it was fracturing the plastic badly!
  4. cleaned up all the drill holes.
  5. set up a "Tree New Bee" laptop cooling pad, $20 from Amazon. It runs on a 5V USB plug and I set it next to my HDTV that has a USB jack on it. It runs whenever the tv is on and is very quiet.
  6. put the Bally back together. I did not remove any RF shielding since many people report this can suddenly kill the device for one reason or another.
  7. I also removed the data port "plug panel" on the back of the console since it is easy to remove and provides a large open air hole directly to the main board.
  8. put the unit on the new laptop cooling pad.
  9. used a digital thermometer - not a scientific test but at least this shows something - the starting room temp was 72F
  10. inserted the thermometer probe carefully into the dataport on the back of the console. I carefully put it BETWEEN the fish paper and the inside of the RF shield (lower panel). This places the probe near the center of the console between the board and the shielding. True, it is not really checking the temperature of CPU or RAM which surely gets really hot. Just checking the general air temperature. Anyhow it is at least some sort of a test.
  11. ran the Bally on Scribble, 0 players for 1 hour with cooling fans off. The air temp at thetest spot was 90F. Not that hot, but shows it is getting warm in there.
  12. turned on the cooling fans and temperature soon dropped to 77F, just a little above room temp.


Based on this, I would say that drilling the holes in the bottom case and adding the laptop cooling table does indeed cool the lower RF shield panel and even the air between the lower panel and the main board.

An additional observation is that the cassette rack on the top of the Bally has small vents in it that are directly above the main board. But if you have the clear plastic cover on, there's again even less air cooling. I would suggest keeping the clear plastic cover off the top of the machine while it is in use for maximum ability of the heat to escape out the top.


Bally Arcade (Astrocade) cooling project1

Edited by calico1997
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  • 3 years later...
7 hours ago, stringfellow said:

sadly none of the cooling project pictures will display.


I get the following error when I try to view the pictures:


"Sorry, there is a problem
You do not have permission to view this content.

Error code: 2G188/1"


Does anyone know what that means?



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