So you want to buy arcade PCBs? Things I learned along the way.

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    • So you want to buy arcade PCBs? Things I learned along the way.

      I'm fairly new into acquiring PCBs. I got my first candy cab only a couple years ago. I had a supergun previously and was focused on Capcom's Street Fighter 2 Super Turbo pretty much. The goal of posting are some things I learned recently about the various types of pitfalls about purchasing PCBs. I hope others add onto this so we as a community continue to make more informed decisions.

      Here are things to consider.

      1.. Is the board tested? Understanding the difference between tested and untested. A tested board is one that the seller has stated that it powers up and should be working. An untested board is just that, not tested. Untested boards may not be completely intact as well. It would be prudent to ask a seller to provide a couple photos of the board in question. There are multiple sites with board images for comparison. Here are a couple: "http://www.arcaderestoration.com/FindPcbs.aspx" and "https://www.crazykong.com/pcbs/"

      2.. Is a board original or bootleg? Both will function. Some people care if a board is original or not. I personally like the idea of having an original board, there is usually more documentation on how to fix original stuff. If it doensn't matter a bootleg may save you a bunch of money.

      3. Be clear about shipping and insurance. Some of this stuff is very expensive. It may be worth the extra 10% or so to get the item insured to cover damages.

      4. Payment and etc. I personally prefer to pay with PayPal for merchant services whenever possible. I don't mind covering the fees. From my own experience, I had paid for a completely restored Super Neo 29. The seller had images of it and I believe he had all the intentions of shipping me the machine. Somehow things in the sellers' life got complicated and it kept getting delayed and delayed. I waited a very long time for this machine as this was and is something I really wanted. The seller suddenly stopped communication with me. I was fortunate enough to submit a claim with PayPal and was refunded the full amount.

      5. Getting images of boards and cartridges really help with one's expectations as well. I've bought CPS2 boards sight unseen and I received cracked cases, broken pieces. It's understandable, some of these items have been in service for a long time. It's just good to know so your expectations are set.

      6. Maybe learn to solder.I forced myself to learn to solder and it's been fun. I picked up a MVS-1FS board and the sound wasn't working. I noticed the board had capacitors on it. I did a search and found that there's a "cap" kit for that board. It's like 30 capacitors but I got it done. It took me like over 2 hours to get this done as I'm not very fast at it. It fixed the issue. I'm not saying all boards will be this easy to fix but I found it very rewarding to do.

      7. Ask questions and read up on the various board platforms. Some boards may be susceptible to specific failures that might be easily addressed.

      I'm by no means an expert and I welcome advice!

      Thanks and good luck!

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Solmin ().

    • Ah ah, not my intention to be condescending with you but you still have few things to learn. ;)

      1. Not tested most often means fucked to the core, sellers know it but use this "alternative" description as a bait for naive/dreamer/inexperienced buyers. Then buyers can't complain.

      Many collectors will confirm it.

      As a golden rule always be suspicious.
      Looking for:
      - OutRun boardset even untested or not working



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    • Apocalypse wrote:

      Ah ah, not my intention to be condescending with you but you still have few things to learn. ;)

      1. Not tested most often means fucked to the core, sellers know it but use this "alternative" description as a bait for naive/dreamer/inexperienced buyers. Then buyers can't complain.

      Many collectors will confirm it.

      As a golden rule always be suspicious.
      I appreciate the info. Like I said, the more info the better it helps everyone.

      I think an addendum would be to avoid untested stuff unless you really feel comfortable with troubleshooting and repairs?
    • untested can sometimes be true if it is a PCB that is not jamma. e.g. the seller does not have the equipment to hook it up. If it is a jamma board it definitively is broken when listed as untested. A lot of times the previous owner tried to fix it and broken even more stuff in the process.
    • Good point @nnap.
      Also most sellers selling "untested" JAMMA PCBs also have functional ones in their listings. What stopped them from doing a quick test? :cursing:
      Looking for:
      - OutRun boardset even untested or not working



      01010011 01000101 01000011 01010010 01000101 01010100 00100000 01001101 01000101 01001110 01010101 00100000 01000111 01010101 01011001
    • The golden rule of buying arcade PCBs from eBay:

      It's more than likely overpriced, dead, or both. Be prepared for disappointment.

      If the listing says "untested" and the seller has multiple listings of arcade hardware, see golden rule

      If it says "it worked the last time I plugged it in but I no longer have any means to test it" - see golden rule.

      If it has photos with lens flares in it, request additional photos, if they also have lens flares, see golden rule.

      If it has no photos, see golden rule

      If it's non JAMMA, see golden rule

      If its genuinely a rare PCB, see golden rule

      There's probably others but you get the idea
    • Solmin wrote:

      I think an addendum would be to avoid untested stuff unless you really feel comfortable with troubleshooting and repairs?
      My experience is different. I am fairly new to the hobby myself. But I became Harvard educated in the school of arcade gaming because my 3rd pick-up was this and I had to learn fast with so much on my plate. Basically I was in over my head. I was fortunate in that when I came into the hobby, the market was still bottoming out and this forum here was just starting up. It's a great place for beginners and I am proof of that (used to be a MAME/HyperSpin guy).

      I find there is a ton of value in the untested/non-working arena. But you better be slick and educate yourself if you make any forays into the untested/non-working arena. But I would say 95% of my untested/non-working pick-ups have been successful. That more than makes up for the times when I have been on the short end.

      I realize now how fortunate I am for getting into this hobby when I did. Someone getting into this hobby even 1.5 years ago is no where near as lucky as the barrier for entry is so much higher now and so is the risk. So here is some wisdom I gained for approaching untested/non-working listings:
      • I'll pass on untested/non-working stuff when:
        • I see other PCB listings from same seller being sold as tested/working
          • Why if other PCB's are tested working is one being sold as untested?
        • It's the seller's single listing on eBay and he/she hasn't sold anything else in a long long time
        • I look at the pictures for tell tale signs of a workbench setting, tools of the trade, lighting, optical magnification stuff, etc.
          • Good chance it is tested/dead
        • If it is an expensive or hard to acquire game being sold as untested, I'll pass generally but there are exceptions (see below)
          • No one gives up such a thing without tinkering
        • Listing is too descriptive
        • It's from China
        • If it is a cab and the setting is indoors in comfy man-cave looking environment
          • Usually this is a collector and knows it is time to dump a non-working/untested cab
      • With the caveat of having the right price, I'll buy when:
        • I don't care to lose the money and am willing to take some risk
        • Seller's other auction listings are vintage shoes or whatever and the one or two PCB's are untested
          • Likely, the seller picked it up in storage raid
        • All items for sale are random PCB's listed as untested
          • Likely, the seller came up on a storage/operator raid and just wants a quick ROI and doesn't have a cab or know anyone that can test them fully
        • Seller is listing multiple PCB's of the same game as untested
          • Again, probably an operator/storage raid. This tells me the PCB's are from an operator that removed several of the same games from circulation after they stopped making money and moved them to storage where they were raided years later
        • I know the game is non-JAMMA standard and requires an adapter to test
          • Tells me legit, the seller didn't/can't test it
        • I need parts
        • It's in a garage next to the laundry machine
          • Probably been sitting there for years and the wife gave the man an ultimatum
        • If buying a whole cab non-working cab for a PCB, I weigh out the equity of the parts to determine if I can break even on the gamble
      There is a ton of value if you go into the untested/non-working arena. Example(s):
      1. My buddy @Kidkaos swooped up a UMK3 mint cab for pennies. Tuned out the fuse on the monitor was displaced.
      2. I got a working Naomi NetDIMM set for $10 bucks, the local seller threw in what turned out to be Tekken 3 for free
      3. After buying a working Sega Sports Shooting cab from a storage raider (older gentleman and his wife), he called me back and told me he had a twin set of Cruisin' USA cabs that wouldn't turn on. After talking and turning down his offer because I wasn't into the game, he ended up delivering them to me free a few weeks later because he needed to get rid of them. Turns out the AC cable was loose inside both cabs. I flipped them for $500 because I had to get rid of them. But gave the storage raider back $300 because I am a good guy.
      4. I picked up two no sound SF2CE PCB's for $40 a piece over on KLOV. Both just required the Z80 to be replaced ($15 in parts)
      5. I picked up an MvC2 Dynamo cab for $175. It had a loose power cable
      6. I am also sitting on about $2k worth in JVS I/O boards which I got for $140 bucks with aun untested NAOMI Club Kart setup which turned out to be working after all
      Just don't be a sucker (like this guy). Educate yourself on the games you want (or cabs) and when they turn up, you are prepared to take the risk. Helps a ton to meet people IRL that are into the hobby as a hobby. With some exception, be weary of the guys that are in the hobby as a business. Sometimes you meet cool people IRL in this hobby and make new friends along the way (@'jugu', @streetlights, @Kidkaos, @300wins).
      Arcade Multi Systems:
      • Sega: ST-V, Naomi w/Net Dimm, Naomi w/CF Boot (DIY and OG versions), Taito: G Net, Taito F3, Taito Type X², Capcom CPS2, Capcom CPS3, Neo Geo MVS 4-Slot
      Favorite Arcade Genres (in order):
      • Fighting games, Shmups, Light-gun, Puzzlers, Driving
    • I've picked up some great deals from eBay and I've also been badly burned more than once.

      If you buy anything that isn't listed with photos as 100% working, and even if it is, prepare yourself for disappointment first if it's not from a known good seller. And don't wait to argue for a refund or go to PayPal if need be.

      If you're prepared for disappointment and it works out perfectly then you'll be even happier :)
    • Last but no least:

      Conversions, Cps2 Mostly.
      During these years pcb conversions has grown up, some are even able to replicate proms/cart labels in a way that they look pretty much the real deal.
      There's plenty of them, going from mvs to konami, irem, data east, naomi carts...

      Asia versions (Korea, Taiwan, China) those are cheaper than Japanese/Us counterparts, i've saw many Irem korean boards being counterfeit with japanese code and labels, sold for higher prices.

      Repairs. No matter what, those will affect the price, specially when there's visibile work on it like wires, custom pcbs, replacements, solders... and so on

      Those are important
    • Apocalypse wrote:

      Good point @nnap.
      Also most sellers selling "untested" JAMMA PCBs also have functional ones in their listings. What stopped them from doing a quick test? :cursing:
      You hit the nail on the head. Sometimes their nerve is outrageously disgraceful. As @Apocalypse said, non tested means 99% of the cases BAD and the seller knows about it.
      * Arcade-projects, the site where you get the most of your arcade games.
      * If you want Drama go to Neo-Geo forum ---Darksoft
    • There's a lot to know and is not meant to discourage people. I think the biggest point is "Caveat Emptor" - Let the buyer beware. As a buyer you have the ability to control and inspect the product as much as you can.

      What may be considered expensive for one person is not for another. Prices are subjective as well. Retro arcade stuff is impacted by market forces. I find that I am asking myself if I really want to track down an M72 board for use as a M72 multi, are the games of that much value to me?

      Guess I'll have to figure that out on my own :)
    • Beware of sellers adding "fake" flaws to the boards in order to sell them. I don't have proof of this but...

      I bought a clean looking Raiden 2 board as not working with graphical errors, but in the photos you could see a deep gouge/scratch clearly cutting a couple traces. I fixed the traces but it still had graphical issues. This made me think that some sellers might do this on purpose when they have a board that has no obvious physical flaws, but probably has some bad chips.. simply make a clean obvious trace cut and show it in photos. This prompts people like me to assume I've spotted the problem and it will be an easy fix. Sneaky.

      On the other hand, I bought two non-working System 11 boards dirt cheap because it was obvious from the photos that the top capacitors were missing. Sure enough, that was the problem and such an easy fix. So you never know...
    • Apocalypse wrote:

      Good point @nnap.
      Also most sellers selling "untested" JAMMA PCBs also have functional ones in their listings. What stopped them from doing a quick test? :cursing:
      THIS
      Darksoft Multi's : CPS2 / Taito F3
      Apocalypse Multi's : Irem M72
      Superguns : HAS v3.1
      Scalers : OSSC v1.6 / XRGB Mini Freimeister / RetroTINK-2X
      Scart switch : Gscartsw V5.2
      JNX: Spitfire

      My Arcade Stuff

      [nes-101] [pce] [genesis] [segacd] [neogeo] [snes] [saturn] [psx] [n64] [gamecube] [dreamcast_ss]
    • Solmin wrote:

      What may be considered expensive for one person is not for another. Prices are subjective as well. Retro arcade stuff is impacted by market forces. I find that I am asking myself if I really want to track down an M72 board for use as a M72 multi, are the games of that much value to me?
      I am in this boat.

      I'll definitely buy the multi, but I can afford to wait for a good deal on the M72 because there is perfect port R-Type I/II on the PS1 holding me over. I have the PS1 running a PSIO hooked up to a New Net City cab so I am not losing much in terms of the arcade experience. Their is one killer app that is in that system that I want to play and that is R-Type II. I downloaded other games on the M72 and didn't like them much. Not the first time I bought a multi for one game. Radiant Silvergun comes to mind.
      Arcade Multi Systems:
      • Sega: ST-V, Naomi w/Net Dimm, Naomi w/CF Boot (DIY and OG versions), Taito: G Net, Taito F3, Taito Type X², Capcom CPS2, Capcom CPS3, Neo Geo MVS 4-Slot
      Favorite Arcade Genres (in order):
      • Fighting games, Shmups, Light-gun, Puzzlers, Driving

      The post was edited 1 time, last by acblunden2 ().

    • TheDeath wrote:

      Repairs. No matter what, those will affect the price, specially when there's visibile work on it like wires, custom pcbs, replacements, solders... and so on


      Those are important
      Absolutely but this also doesn't mean you must walk away from them.
      I'd prefer to buy a board with all Fujitsu TTL chips replaced than an original ticking bomb.
      Same goes for the brown Elna caps on Irem hardware: if they've already been replaced that's less work for you.
      One last thing, you don't ecpect your car to run on its original parts forever, do you? With time there will be less and less working boards with no sign of repair.
      Looking for:
      - OutRun boardset even untested or not working



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    • Darksoft wrote:

      Apocalypse wrote:

      Good point @nnap.
      Also most sellers selling "untested" JAMMA PCBs also have functional ones in their listings. What stopped them from doing a quick test? :cursing:
      You hit the nail on the head. Sometimes their nerve is outrageously disgraceful. As @Apocalypse said, non tested means 99% of the cases BAD and the seller knows about it.
      It takes some time to learn to identify those kinds of sellers from the ones who honesty don't know. I have picked up quite a few good boards over the years that were sold as untested. It's really a gamble, but if you're a gambling man sometimes you win! A while back I got poorly listed Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam pcbs from one guy for $20 each and they both worked.
    • Solmin wrote:

      2.. Is a board original or bootleg? Both will function. Some people care if a board is original or not. I personally like the idea of having an original board, there is usually more documentation on how to fix original stuff. If it doensn't matter a bootleg may save you a bunch of money.
      Most bootlegs have sound issues, graphical differences, and are manufactured poorly which causes glitches and sync issues (in my experience). Really not worth your time no matter how cheap. If they played identical to original, I wouldn't mind boots.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by streetfighterken ().

    • Are failing Fujitsu TTL chips prone to causing failures in other components? if so I'll consider replacing them in one of my beloved boards using quality sockets and replacement chips.

      I'd one this:

      - Look for corroded tracks and corroded IC legs, specially in custom chips.

      The post was edited 2 times, last by rsignal: noise ().

    • Silly_B wrote:

      It's really a gamble, but if you're a gambling man sometimes you win!
      To me always mean I lose... :(
      Well, I've learnt my lesson. What's funny is some people read my repair logs and then make me what they think are very good offers for their faulty stuff with the pattern sentence "Should be an easy fix for you". Then I turn them down and get anger from those sellers, like I became a kind of snob now, terribly picky. :D

      So yes, luck is a very important factor too.
      Looking for:
      - OutRun boardset even untested or not working



      01010011 01000101 01000011 01010010 01000101 01010100 00100000 01001101 01000101 01001110 01010101 00100000 01000111 01010101 01011001