Jump to content

Should I try to fix my Vectrex myself?


Recommended Posts

Hi there!

I have a Vectrex I bought from ebay around '98 that used to work, but when I checked it 10 years ago it wouldn't power up. 

I have done some soldering in the past--nothing advanced, but I've swapped out capacitors without killing myself. So I was thinking maybe I'll just get a cap kit for this thing and everything will magically work again.


But then I watched a few videos about it and all the warnings about getting killed by the crt discharge have me a little freaked out. I'm watching people shove screwdrivers under that cap and thinking, hmmmm. I don't really want to do that. How can I be sure I discharged the thing? It's been off for at least 10 years so I feel pretty safe there, but if I needed to turn it on to test it and then still had to work on it, I'd need to discharge it, right?


So what's your opinion? Is the danger overstated and I should just take precautions and give it a shot?

Or send it to someone else to fix it for me?

And if it's the later, does anyone have any recommendations for a good person for vectrex repairs? 

I'm in the SF bay area.


Thanks for any advice, recommendations, horror stories, or opinions! :D 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, quohog said:

people shove screwdrivers under that cap and thinking, hmmmm. I don't really want to do that. How can I be sure I discharged the thing? It's been off for at least 10 years so I feel pretty safe there, but if I needed to turn it on to test it and then still had to work on it, I'd need to discharge it, right?

if it has literally been off for 10 years and you didn't plug it in recently just to check if it is working then there is a vanishingly small likelihood of it retaining any charge.  But a lawyer would say go through the discharge procedure anyway, just in case.  And as you say as soon as you've made a change and want to test, if the change didn't work then you'll have to discharge again anyway, so might as well do it from the start.  I used to do this sort of thing myself with reckless abandon, but ever since getting a pacemaker fitted I've been super wary of anything above 5v... I understand your reluctance to poke a screwdriver into an HV circuit regardless of how well earthed you believe it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^ what he said.. Easy peasy, piece 'o cake! A test lead with alligator clips on both ends is highly recommended.. Clip one end to the metal band surrounding the tube, & clip the other on a big flathead screwdriver. Carefully shove the screwdriver under the rubber cup to make contact with the two pins and you're good to go. You may or may not see & hear a spark and then you're golden.

Keep in mind though, once you get it going, you'll have to have it powered on to make any centering adjustments, using the 2 rings on the back of the yoke. Just make sure the yoke clamp is loosened up and there's no hot glue preventing anything from spinning, but worry about that stuff later.. Getting it up and running is the first M.O. ;) Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

But seriously Folks, with normal functioning tv or Vectrex, tube is NOT charging after tv is turned off! all basic principles of electricity causes the charge to go to ground when the Vectrex is turned off. it's true that tube has a capacitor purpose too,but ALL capacitors are in a discharging state once the power is gone....ALL of them! real dangerous parts are HV transformer(tens of thousands of volts,not big currents) and mains sections(mains voltage and all the current that supply/mains outlet can give..heh..let me tell you,not a pleasant trip if you touch a "phase" by accident...but the floor was wood...if i touched phase with one arm and "null" with another i woldn't be here now...).... but why should you touch ANYTHING with your bare arms while the Vectrex is on??? you can measure it with insulated scope/meter probes! your arms a poor voltage measuring instrument anyhow (lol!) i've changed few HV  transformers("line output") and i never experienced charge leftovers...(you solder with mains disconnected!!!) what kind of precautions one takes? don't touch chassis with your arms if the power is applied,don't unplug HV cable and don't connect it to your tongue(hehe),if you worked on critical stages,don't hold your head too close when turning tv on....sometimes the fuse won't blow,but the mains transformer is shorted anyhow...THAT will cause you few problems(luckily such flaws are VERY rare...) a few might make some smoke....)
knowledge is the best precaution;knowledge to know what NOT TO TOUCH!this applies to all things electric... if you're gonna fix something,then first familiarize yourself with the working principles,from books or web....TV is a dangerous device;if you're real "lucky" it'll kill you! (and i'm not joking!) don't poke around unless you know what are you doing! if something plugs into mains,RESPECT IT! if you don't respect it,it can kill!



Edited by colecovisionary
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it's not powering up, first thing to do is check that the power switch is actually working. They are known to get dirty and fail.

The vectrex is a double pole switch that switches the two wires from the secondary side of the transformer. Which is around 18vac I think, I don't recall exactly off hand. Which means the 120vac is always live to the transformer, and 18vac is always live to the switch. The switch then controls the 18vac to the vertical power board. 


In the lower corner of the vertical power board you should have 3 wires soldered on coming in from the bottom of the vectrex (red, white, red). The reds are the outer ends of the winding, and the white is the center tap in the middle of the winding. So if you switch it on and measure red to red, you should see the full 18vac. If you measure from each red to white, you will see half the voltage, around 9vac.

If voltage looks good at those wires, your problem lies somewhere else in the circuit. If you don't have the voltage there, then trace the red wires back to the switch. Check the Two red wires on the other side of the switch. If you have the 18vac on the other side of the switch, you need to clean/repair your switch. If you don't, then the issue is your transformer, or maybe the fuse. 

Edited by nick3092
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...