Pinitech Blog


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Black Friday = SUCCESS :)
Posted on 11/29/2016

Seriously.  Thank you to everyone that purchased from PINITECH over Black Friday Weekend.  This was the first time we were able to offer a Black Friday Sale & it was a lot of fun!  A lot went into prep'ing, a solid couple of weeks building out inventory.. needless to say a bit exhausting.  But worth the effort!  We'll be digging out of orders for the next few days, but just want to give a BIG THANKS!! to the people that have supported PINITECH from day one.. and also to any new customers that just placed their first order!  The website's already getting decorated some for Christmas -- and once we have a chance to get ahead of inventory again, you'll see a few of the items that haven't been in-stock for a while come back.  You should also start seeing some Holiday sales offered around the 1st or 2nd week in December.  And it's *very likely* we'll run another "VERY MERRY GIVEAWAY" contest like we did last year where we'll be giving away all kinds of cool prizes.   And who knows what other kind of crazy stuff we'll think of between now and the New Year.  Tis the season! :)

Future of Diagnostic Equipment
Posted on 10/30/2016

For about 3yrs now Pinitech has been designing and selling diagnostic tools for pinball machines.  We've enjoyed helping others find easier ways to repair their boards and machines -- and appreciate all the support from the community & positive feedback from customers over these years!  While we don't plan to stop creating or offering diagnostic equipment entirely, we do expect some delays in availability of some items going forward as focus changes to less-niche types of products.  What does this mean for the future of diagnostic equipment from PINITECH?  Read on for more discussion..

Every project no matter how big or small is a gamble.  Risk versus reward.  And if it's a new idea -- it requires a lot more R&D than something someone else has already figured out.  There's wasted materials just getting to the "final" product, there's tons of time spent working through issues, creating a solid product, developing documentation.  It doesn't matter if it's a product with a market of millions or a market of 5 people, the same amount of time and effort could go into each -- but with *very* different financial outcomes and chance for growth.

Some people won't execute any idea unless there's at least 50x units spoken from the start.

I can see why.  Especially on niche products.  There has to be a guarantee that initial costs can be recouped almost immediately, otherwise you've got funds tied up -- space tied up for bulk materials / inventory that may take decades to sell through or may never sell.  After a few years of developing some of the most niche products you could offer an already niche pinball community (ie. diagnostic tools) and hoping I could grow demand over time -- I've realized it's still such an incredibly small market being appealed to.  The products are a once-and-done sale.. most repair techs will only need one of any diagnostic tool.  The limited market also limits the chance for people to spread-the-word as would happen with a product selling in larger volume with many more happy customers.  Since it's the same amount of work to develop something niche with an incredibly small market that gets tapped out quickly or a less-niche product that can sell multiple times to the same person, it makes sense to be heading in a less-niche direction.

So starting in 2016 I've began to focus more on products/ideas that can provide growth.  I'll be continuing to do that going forward.  This doesn't mean I won't still be working on some diagnostic tools -- either things I've already mentioned or new ideas, but those types of products definitely won't receive the same focus as products that will have greater market appeal.

So what does this mean for you?  Well, if you're interested in diagnostic equipment for WINTER 2016 you may want to pick a few things up sooner-than-later.  I expect to be looking at sales numbers in the last few years for various products & anything with very low sales will have shopping cart links replaced with a waitlist link.  Until there are a dozen or more people signed up, showing commitment to purchase.. I'll hold off on restocking materials/pcbs for that item. Offering the really niche products in "batches" like this should prevent excessive funds from being tied up in one-off materials for items that only sell a few times a year.

So the bad news is.. expect to start seeing delays in availability of some items.  The good news is, as I put more focus on the items that have greater sales potential -- I'll have funding to bring the community more new products & will continue stream-lining those products to offer competitive pricing.  All this and there's still a way to get what you need by signing up on the waitlist(s) and encouraging others to sign up!

Thank you to everyone that has supported PINITECH and these *very* niche products over the years.  We look forward to bringing you more new & exciting products, just maybe a little less niche this time around :)

Classic Bally/Stern Plasma to LED Display Conversions
Posted on 09/11/2016

One of the main projects that's kept me busy this year is finally in BETA TESTING.  It's a conversion kit for converting out-gassed, burnt digit or otherwise bad plasma displays for Classic Bally/Stern games into LED Displays.  I'm calling them RETROFIT DIY LED Displays.  They require an existing [but dead/dying] Bally or Stern display and the kit will include a new LED panel PCB to replace the plasma glass & the components that need to be swapped out on the old Bally/Stern display's "component board" to convert to LED.  What you get in the end is an efficient LED display that pretty much matches efficiency of any of the aftermarket displays & at a price that's much more friendly on the wallet.  Read on for more details..

Here are some current pictures of things.. WHITE displays with color filters being tested & a native BLUE digit set in a Black Beauty Shuffle Alley.

RETROFIT Displays in WHITEPicture: WHITE "RETROFIT LED Displays" (players 1-4, not the credit display)

RETROFIT LED Displays - BLUEPicture: BLUE "RETROFIT" LED Displays

These are a great budget-friendly way to upgrade to LED displays for people that have the right soldering/desoldering tools & technique that don't mind a weekend project to create something cool out of old, otherwise unusable (except for spare parts) dead Bally/Stern display boards.  For less than the cost of 2x aftermarket displays you can upgrade an entire machine to LED displays.  Best of all, you finally have something to do with those dead displays you've been saving for spare parts.  Breathe new life into old technology & save a few bucks at the same time!

More info on these conversion displays:

http://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_conversion_led_display.php

July 2016 Updates
Posted on 07/21/2016

It's been a busy couple of months.  If you've visited the website in June/July you probably saw a notice that shopping cart links were down or there was a possibility of shipping delays on orders due to a large house project that's taken up most of my time.  The good news is, that's wrapping up and I'll have some time to get caught up some.. addressing some products that I've run low on inventory & have had to remove bulk discounts on.  NVRAM is one of the affected items, since I took most of the small amount of remaining inventory of boards I had to the Allentown show and haven't had a chance to reorder PCBs & materials to continue with offering bulk discounts on those.  Should have bulk discounts available again in 3-4 weeks when I get some more materials in for those.  I'll also be getting back into a few projects I was working on earlier in 2016 and there will likely even be a few new products available soon!  More on that in the coming weeks..

Allentown Pinfest
Posted on 05/02/2016

Back from Allentown Pinfest.  It was my first time ever attending Allentown and first time showing any of what I've been up to in-person at a venue.  Exhausting lead-up to the show scrambling to prepare some things, which was amplified a bit by the hurry-up-and-wait on Thursday with leaving for Allentown early and finding out we would need to wait another 4hrs or so to get into the flea market area because a seminar was going on in that building.  I didn't really know what to expect on Friday being set up in the flea market area, but had quite a bit of interest & about a 4-5 hour solid marathon of talking to person after person which was great to see.  Much better than sitting there without anyone really taking a look, but definitely exhausting!  I'm glad people were so excited in what they were seeing because it helped keep me going too! =)

It was great meeting so many people.. lots of big names in the hobby that I didn't even realize until mid-way through or the end of a conversation which was a neat surprise in itself.  Lots of people took cards, many people said they saw the website or bought something from me in the past.  It was a neat experience for sure that I was somewhat on-the-fence about even doing, because I hadn't had much of a chance of getting inventory prepared due to a busy few months leading up to the show.  I'm glad I went though.  I got to show some things in-person to everyone from people just starting out in the hobby and wanting to learn solid state pinball machines.. to people that design and create circuit boards themselves.  Despite not bringing much inventory with me, I had some of the testing tools out to show people what I was offering on the website.  Lots of people took business cards & it was neat hearing all the comments, good feedback and many times excitement from people in what they were seeing.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by and said hi, talked shop or in many cases about other neat things they were working on.  Sorry if I missed talking to you or you couldn't catch me with a free moment.. much of it was a blur for me and I'm not quite used to a marathon of talking like that, but it was truly awesome seeing and hearing all of the interest.  Met many passionate people in the hobby, like-minded people, DIY'ers, people just starting out.  All the positive comments, excitement and feedback from people was rewarding in itself!

2nd PCB Order of 2016 Made!
Posted on 03/18/2016

It's been about 2 months in the making, but I finally wrapped up a 2nd PCB order for 2016.  Projects that made the cut are the PIGGYDEUX (Gottlieb Sys80B Piggyback Alternative) and Bally/Stern 6-digit and 7-digit Conversion Display PCBs I've been working hard on the last few months.  Also some more 5101 NVRAM Adapters with a slight design change that should hopefully make assembly a bit easier. There's also another small piece of diagnostic equipment for Williams WPC I haven't mentioned yet. With any luck, most or all of these boards will be good to sell!  I need the funds to continue creating some neat things.. as the last few PCB orders I've done haven't stirred up the sales I had expected (I'm looking at you, Bally SDB Testers!).  I'd like to continue creating some neat things, but won't be able to for long without finding a few items that draw more interest, more sales & provide the necessary funds for development costs and board orders.  Here's hoping this latest PCB order pans out!

Down The Rabbit Hole, And Back Again?
Posted on 03/09/2016

Lots of new projects underway!  I already had a handful of new projects I was working on toward the end of last year, but while working on wrapping up a 2nd PCB order that I expected to get sent off early February.. some new ideas came about for some even more interesting projects.  I've been thinking of it as "falling down the rabbit hole" in Alice In Wonderland -- and sometimes falling into something new and unknown isn't a bad thing at all.  It can be exciting, actually.

One of the new ideas is what I'm calling Retrofit LED Displays for Classic Bally/Stern machines to convert an old out-gassed 6-digit or 7-digit display into an LED display.  I wanted to do something with full replacement LED displays for Bally/Stern at some point, as far back as 2011, but due to much higher PCB costs back then I wrote off the project.  There was no way I'd be able to get it right the first time and prototyping would have cost a small fortune.  So I shrunk the design down & created the Bally/Stern Bench LED Display from those efforts.  Still.. over the years, I kept coming back to a full-blown replacement LED display design.  I'd done multiple designs in CAD, but just never pulled the trigger on ordering boards.. there always seemed to be something that could be tweaked & I still wasn't sure just how much I had to worry about being "low power" because I'd never done any actual load testing before and after adding led displays -- and no one else had put that information out there either.

So LED displays for those machines have continued to be an item on my list of possible projects & I keep coming back to the designs because I really want to create my own set, even if just for my own use.  In addition, there was also a separate project for finding an easier way to convert an old out-gassed display board to LED by utilizing the component board.

Fast forward to 2016 and I decided it was time to start working on the LED displays.  In preparation, I did some load-testing to figure out once-and-for-all just what kind of typical load one of these machines had on its 5v regulator.  Then I could see what additional load was being added by led displays and see just how much of a concern it is to design with lowest possible power consumption.  This was a project of its own, setting up various tests with both a switching regulator and linear regulator and attempting to get some decent data, but it helped me to get of things & feel more comfortable about creating led displays since I'd have some way to gauge the additional load they were putting on a machine.

So I already had a CAD design for led displays I had worked on even toward the end of 2015.. nearly ready to go for a prototype, when I look over my project list & see "figure out a nicer way to convert an old Bally/Stern component board to LED" that has been there *for years*.  I have seen a handful of people question if it was possible, then look into it and write it off because no one had come up with an easy way to do the conversion.  So.. I figured, lets revisit it again and maybe once-and-for-all figure out if there's a way to do the conversion.  And better yet, check the additional load a design like that might put on the 5v regulator (now that I had some way to test that).

So.. down the rabbit hole, but with an exciting new project to possibly have a less expensive way to put LED displays in a machine by figuring out a way to streamline conversion of old out-gassed display boards into something new.  And it's been a LONG couple of weeks designing, testing, tweaking.. both the electronics & then the pcb layout itself, but if what I've come up with works out -- an exciting new kit should come out of it!  For me, this particular project is more exciting than many of the other things I've developed because it's something I can put in a machine that completely changes the look of it.  I've been wanting to put Blue LED Displays in my Stern Black Beauty Shuffle Alley for a few years now, and just to be able to get that out of this project would be rewarding.

Lots Of Stuff Back In Stock!
Posted on 01/30/2016

PCB order from a few weeks ago came in, so a lot of things are now back-in-stock and there's even a few new items popping up! The Stern MPU-200 NVRAM Adapter boards are once again available as bare boards or kits -- and there's some new sale pricing there too & quantity discounts as well. So definitely check them out if you have any Stern MPU-200 based games. The WPC Dedicated Switch Tester is once again available as a kit. I've added some bare/board kit pricing on the eprom adapters. There's also some quantity discounts on pinball wire harnesses. There's a new 3rd-party logic chip tester (mostly 74XX series) too. Some other sales and products not mentioned, so definitely take a look around!

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