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Video Game Repair/Ms. PacMan/Galaga Upright arcade machine


I recently bought a Ms. pacman/galaga arcade machine which was working until recently. I turned it on yesterday and almost immediately it started making this buzzing/sparking sound, so i turned it off right away. I opened up the back to see if there was anything visibly damaged, but did not see anything so I decided to turn it on again. Again almost immediately I saw sparks. I uploaded a video of it here:

Do you know what could be wrong with it? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

ANSWER: Gray Alex,

Wow that video actually made my weekend on a number of levels.  (It actually refreshing that someone gave me something to look at instead of a description.)

Monitors store about 20,000 volts enough to do major damage.  When in doubt leave it alone.

Well your monitor is arcing by the looks of it from the wire going from the flyback transformer to the anode cap (The thing that looks like a suction cup on the back of the monitor) I possibly guess the wire is not insulated somewhere/damaged exposing bare wire and is arcing on the monitor frame.  I would check the red wire for any damage and if it is wrap in electrical tape.  (this might have occurred in vibration if the machine has been moved, the cable rubbing on the metal frame)  

If it not that I guess it might be anode is not inserted into the monitor properly and instead of charging the tube it is putting on a light show.  This also may be caused by moisture or dirt on the monitor.  (to fix that you have to discharge the monitor)

Please bear in mind these old tube monitors can be replaced with a computer flatscreen and a $30 RGB/CGA/EGA to VGA board.  (If you rather not mess with it)

hope this helps


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Octabe,
Sorry for the late response. I haven't had a chance to look at the machine until today. I checked the red wire today and it does not seem to have any damage to it. I will wait a couple hours to make sure the monitor is discharged to check the anode connection.

I made another video showing the back after I pulled the red wire back a little and it seems its only arcing to the red wire. I also included a shot of the screen. Haha it's definitely easier for me to make a video than try to explain whats going on.
Does it seem like this is a easy fix?

If not, is replacing it with a lcd screen pretty straight forward?

Thank You!

Gday Again Alex,

Again I thank for the video makes it easy for me to see what is going on.

NB MONITORS DO NOT DISCHARGE after being left off for an hour or so they can store a charge in them for a very long time, months if not years.  Do not go poking about with the Anode connection, unless it is properly discharged or you will risk electrocution.  (Pull up how to discharge a monitor on youtube and see if you really want to do it)

What you have there, seeing what the screen is showing, is commonly referred to as a vertical collapse in the monitor.  (Because Pacman the screen is mounted Horizontally you get the line straight down the middle)

Usually it is a problem with a failed component on the monitor chassis, usually a capacitor or a number of capacitors.  Sometimes it is a bad solder joint on something on the monitor.  Because it is also arcing I say it a failed joint on the flyback transformer on the monitor chassis.

Most often you have to install a cap kit and maybe a bit of reflowing on some of the solder joints.  (Usually you can see which ones as they may look burnt)  Unfortunately this also requires you to take out and discharge the monitor.  (Which is not something a novice should attempt unless you are sure what your are doing)  Most good TV repairmen can fix the problem.  If you know the model of the monitor you should be able to find a pre-made up cap kit rather than individually buying the capacitors yourself.  Cost of parts is usually under $10-$20 it just the time to solder them back in.  (and the discharging the monitor which again is dangerous to do)

Replacing the screen with an LCD monitor is easy.  You'll need a Monitor/TV that is capable of VGA output as well as a RGB/CGA/EGA to VGA board.  So cost will be well under $150.  Because of it being monitor your not dealing with another transformer just straight thru power.  (Wire power into the power going into the machine before the transformer)  Really the hardest part is physically mounting the monitor into the machine, you need a bit of woodworking skills or maybe trash the old monitor but keep the frame to make it easy to mount.

Again be careful with the old monitor as it really just a big capacitor waiting for you fleshy hand to touch the wrong place.  Especially since it is arcing like it is.  (I guess that it not actually holding the charge in the monitor but I still play it on the safe side)

Hope this helps you out.


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I can answer questions on Arcade or Home Console repair or modification.


Repair, rewire, modification, rebuild, restore. (I repair numerous business and private arcade/pinball machines in my area of the state. I partner with a shop that stocks older console based systems and games, I am the one that repairs them back to working order.)

Have been building, customizing and repairing all types of arcade games since 2004. I have been repairing and modifying video games since the late 80's. (Most of my knowledge is self learnt and following others that have trailblazed in the industry.)

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