Replacing Chase / Rope Light Bulbs on Bug Bash Skeeball
Author: Wayne Eggert
Bug Bash is a great little "alley" game where the goal is to knock down or kill 9 bugs with the skeeballs. It looks pretty easy to knock down all 9, but when you only have 9 skeeballs it's actually very difficult. Anyway, it's a challenging alternative to regular skeeball.
During attract mode (where an arcade game typically plays a sound or flashes lights to attract quarter-toting victims) it both plays sounds "Let's Play Bug Bash!" and also has rope lights along the top and bottom of the marquee. The rope lights in this game are actually miniature bulbs mounted on flexible PCB board that is then enclosed in a plastic tube. Neither the top or bottom rope lights were working at all. Sure it's totally unnecessary for game play, but rope lights are fun and sure look cool with the lights off!
The rope lights weren't lighting at all and visual inspection showed that several bulbs were blown. For each of the rope light PCBs there are 5 wires. One wire is ground (the middle wire/trace that one wire on all the bulbs connect to on the PCB). The other four wires are the 24v power to the bulbs. Each of the 24v wires powers 4 bulbs on the PCB, for a total of 16 bulbs. This allows the CPU to have some control over which bulbs are lighting.
The odd thing was since each bulb connected to ground and power, if only a few bulbs were blown it should not affect the working bulbs. Testing every bulb on the PCBs revealed every bulb was blown. Sortof unusual until you learn that the bulbs are only rated for 1000 hours so in an arcade they could hit that pretty fast.
I had no idea where to look for replacement bulbs since they really aren't meant to be replaced. Most companies would rather you just have to buy new rope lights. First I thought of stealing bulbs out of a regular strand of rope lights like you can buy in Walmart, etc, however the bulbs were much smaller.
First Idea: Steal bulbs out of regular strand of rope lights, but they were too small.
Top Picture: One of the blown bulbs on the Bug Bash rope light PCB. Bottom Picture: Comparison of bulb size with a bulb pulled from a regular rope light.
I was losing hope I'd ever find the right replacement bulbs, but started searching for miniature bulbs on Google and narrowed the search down to 24v miniature bulbs since the Bug Bash schematics showed the power to these bulbs was 24v. After hours of searching, I came across what turned out to be an *Exact* replacement from Bulbtronics.com.
Bulbtronics.com Item - MI2176
**Note: Now showing as discontinued at Bulbtronics.com.
Look for the part number "2176", several other manufacturers make this bulb as it appears to be relatively common for automotive use. Bulbtown has them (link below).
Bulbtown.com Item - #2176
$0.47ea, currently with free shipping
After desoldering the old bulbs & soldering in the new bulbs, the chase lights are now fully working! Not bad, since a new set of rope lights for this game would probably cost $100 or so since they plug into the MPU board and are CPU controlled.
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