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This page documents the controller schematics and other wiring details for the Solar Ride game.

At this time I donít have the schematics available. I have drawn some or parts of them using the ExpressSCH tool from

All electronics have been built on solderless breadboards. This makes it very fast to wire circuits up and test, but is not intended for long term usage. Also it is not easily possible to connect components that have lead spacing different from .1 inches, such as .156 inch header connectors. Plus breadboards and the 22gauge wiring used on them are not intended to carry high currents.

Thus I utilized perf boards or prototyping boards where I needed to interface to .156 inch connectors such as Gottlieb used on Solar Ride and other System 1 games. See the dev log for details on some of this.

I took the easy way out when soldering the relay connector board. I used the small copper traces and 22-gauge wire there. In fact it should have heavier wire and larger traces. But I wanted a simple job for a change. This problem is corrected by getting boards made up with the proper specs.

Update April 2005: Switched over to using CADSoft's Eagle in order to be able to get boards made up at one of several places. It doesn't have a great Windows gui and requires a learning curve but at the end of the day it gets the job done.

Power Supplies

For the work done, the following DC voltages are used:

  • 5V for powering all micro controller circuitry
  • 12-15V for powering lamps and for reading switches
  • 24V for powering the solenoid coils and relays.

The standard Gottlieb transformer has several taps and two bridge rectifiers. It thus supplies the playfield with 24V for non-controlled coils (flippers, pop bumpers and slingshots), plus 6V for non-controlled lamps (general illumination or GI). The other taps that would be used for displays, etc. are unused in this project (such as 69V and 42V).

For now a single "wall wart" transformer rated at 12VC and 1 amp is used to power all boards. The regulated 5V supply is obtained through LM7805 voltage regulators. The 12-15V of actual output from the transformer is used for lamps and switches. Unloaded the transformer puts out over 15V. Under load Iím sure itís closer to 12V.

The lamps are of the 6V number 47 variety. However as they are strobed in the matrix, it is ok to power them by 12V and up, as the strobes last only 1 or 2 milliseconds. Williams and Sega actually use 18-20V when strobing. The lights are not overly bright, but that is ok with me. The matrix only ever powers four number 47 bulbs concurrently, which keeps current consumption within the boundaries of the transformer.

If the wall wart was not deemed good enough, I would probably use an 18VAC transformer rated at 2 or 3 amps, rectify to DC via a bridge with some smoothing capacitors, then feed to the regulators.

Solar Ride Playfield Wiring Mods

In the process of connecting up the physical playfield to the custom electronics, one goal was to try to make as few modifications to the playfield wiring as possible. A related goal was to utilize the existing Gottlieb edge connectors without modification as well.

These goals were met fairly well. All existing Gottlieb connectors were used and the number of wiring hacks were few.

Refer to the dev log for specifics. Essentially, wiring changes were made to support the lamp matrix. Gottlieb did not employ a matrix for System 1 games. So there were a few changes to the wiring to support matrixed strobes.

For relay support, it was necessary to move the connectors for the Q and T relay wires from A3J5 to two open slots on A3J4. All other wires on A3J5 were used for the lamp wiring.

So in summary, I think it's fair to say that one could take a System 1 playfield (or at worst a Solar Ride playfield specifically) and make wiring mods in an hour or less.

Last updated: September 26, 2008


© Terry Cumming, 2004-2008