Atari pinball test program.

I own no Atari pinball myself, as a matter fact I never seen an Atari pinball…. But on demand of a few German pinball fans I made this test program. Because of the different electronic design of the Atari pinball’s they seemed to be more difficult to repair…My thanks to Frank Oeffelken how sended me the schematics as well as a complete cpu and I/O board to perform the study and the preliminary testing. The Atari pinball, only a few models where made, and the test program and the cpu board this test program will run on, is only used in the models " HERCULES and SUPERMAN"perhaps the same cpu is used in " 4X4,Road Runner and Neutron Star " but these wher more like prototypes, and the production run was very, very low... The other models " Time 2000, Middle Earth, Airborne, Space Riders and Atarians" have another type of 'whole in one ' board. Of course when i have more information on these matters i will add that to these pages. And when i can lay my hands on one , i will write a test program for the other board types as well. Atari, use as the pinball’s from Bally and Williams from the same period, the 6800 cpu chip, but they use not the input output chip 6820/21 who was specially designed by Motorola to go with the 6800 and to provide a versatile and simple in/output instrument. Because of the lack of this input output chip the Atari pinball’s have a more complicated way to deal with the in/output matters… All I/O are with specified selections and latches maintain the selection. The test program I developed will control these selection signals and make them go high (+5 volt) and low ( 0 volt) in rhythm as I did with the output signals of the classic 6821/20 on a Bally or Williams cpu board. Furthermore I test the memory chips and some specific circuits as there are the ‘ watchdog’ and hardware'interrupt' circuitery. On an Atari cpu board there are 4 leds I could use these to differentiate the results of each of these test so we have not to count a number of ‘ flashes’ to see witch ram or circuit is faulty. I still use a simple led to control the good working of the test program, this time connected at adresline 14 instead of the usual adresline 6.To control the “dancing” selection signals it will be necessary to use a logic probe, For those how do not have a logic probe, they can find a simple and good working example to build on this site. With a normal voltmeter it is also possible to control the different selection signals. The voltmeter must have a scale from 0 to 1 volt ( full scale). Because the impulse trains are very small…although the deviation of the voltmeters needle is very good visible.

The test program.

The first section of the test program will test the selection signals, These signals will be activated 128 times, than a timing where they are not activated, and so on, and so on. This results in a pulstrain, and this pulstrain is easier to observe and to follow than a single selection pulse of few microseconds…. In the same time I change constantly the data send along with the selection, that way all possible values are sended to the latches, and the resulting outputs can be followed on and trough the I/O board. If the selections are found ok, we go further with the memory test, the interrupt test and the ‘watchdog’ test. For each test that is ok one of the leds present on the cpu board will be activated. All these things and how to proceed will be explained in the user guide,as well as what to do if you find some things that don’t work at all, because just the things that don’t work are what we are looking for !!!

The cpu board

The cpu board, on the left the alimentation connector, red wire =+5 volt , yellow +12 volt and black ground. The test eprom on the right ( with the white label) The red arrow points to TP " Watchdogkill" this TP is used during the test. Up right from the alim. connector is a round black button, this is the reset button, right of it the 4 cpu leds, that will gives us information during the " memory test" .


The board is to connected at +5 volt and +12 volt. You find the connector at the left side of the board. The male pins on witch you need to connect these tensions are the same as the male pins of a power connection of an hard disk on a PC ( personal computer) so if you have an old PC by hand you can find the right female pin there…Ground comes on pin 1 , +5 volt on pin 2 and +12 volt on pin 3 , use colored leads to make a good differentiation between the voltages!!!We connect a control led between adresline 14 ( pin 24 of chip N6) and ground. As always the control led consists of a normal led in series with a resistor of 1200 ohms, at first use find out with side of this combination is + and – The + side goes to adresline 14 and the – side to ground. To start the test just place the test eprom a type 2716 in J7.

Classic connector found in old P.C.'s Use the female pins to connect the different tensions to the cpu alim. connector they fit perfectly!


The test program is ready for download here ……….  You can burn it into a eprom 2716. In case you have no eprom programmer, ask a friend or other pinball fan. And if needed you always can order one for 20 euro here ……….

User Guide


The test eprom in place and the tensions applied, the control led should blink in rhythm, ( this rhythm is rather slow, “off” for 2 seconds and “on” for 6 seconds) if the 4 leds on the board also blink than there is no great problem with your cpu board! We now can control the different selection signals. These signals are on the chips H4 and E4, On the output pins of chip H4 pin 1, pin 2, pin 3, pin 4, pin 5, pin 6 and pin 7 you will find “ dancing” signals you need a logic probe to see these signals. ATTENTION if you use a voltmeter you should connect the +lead permanently to +5 volt and use the – lead to check the selection outputs!!!The needle will move about 1/10th on the scale of 0 to 1 volt, except for pin 4 of H4 and pin 7 of E4 where you find 1 volt. Pin 9 ( of H4) is the selection of the test epom so it will be selected all the time. The same on chip E4 you see the selection signals at pin 1, pin 2, pin 3, pin 4, pin 5, pin 6 and pin 7. Here to pin 9 is an exception this selection “ intack” will be controlled during the memory test. It is the interrupt selection an it cannot be activated during this general test. If among these selection signals one or more are not ok , then you found a problem. The first thing to do is to ‘ liberate’ the missing output temporally; you lift the output pin or cut the run connected to it. If the output is still missing the chip (E4 or H4) is the cause, if the output is there than this output is grounded somewhere... Elimination by cutting or lifting will help you to find easily the chip how is the cause of this grounding...and replace that. In case that output “ IOWR” is missing at H4 pin 4, all outputs at chip E4 will be missing, so if you have this case, first repair the missing IOWR before you continue on chip E4 outputs. Still in case the control led is blinking but you do not find any output on E4 or H4 the only possibility left is the input ports of H4.This are L5 and P5 . The worst case is when the control led doesn’t blink at all… In that case we have to repair some fundamental circuitry of the cpu chip and buffers. We need indeed some fundamental circuitry to make the test program work….

No control led blinking…

The first thing to look at is the cpu chip 6800 and his signals. To do this remove all roms or eproms included the test eprom, so sockets K7, J7, L7 and M7 must be empty!! We first will look at some pins of N6 ( cpu chip) pin 2 = 5 volts,  pin 3= 2 volts , pin 4 = 0,8 volts and when you push on the reset button ( black button just above the 4 leds) your voltmeter needle will jump up to 2,5 volts , pin 5 = 4 volts , pin 6 = 5 volts ,pin 7 = 0 volt,   pin 36/37=  3 volts, pin 40 = 5 volts, if there is something wrong look at the circuit from where the missing signals comes , this is always only one or two chips in the clock circuit the reset circuit or the power reset.. In case you see the pin 40 not at a stable 5 volt , but with a "changing " signal , then connect the TP " watchdogkill" temporally to ground. If this helps leave the connection and continue, we will handle this " watchdog" reset with an appropriated test under " memory test" further down this pages. If the signals are ok then control the address and data lines. On the data lines (pin 26 to 33 ) you find ~1,5 volts, on the adreslines ( 9 to 25 except 21 ground) you find ~3 volts. Also look at the buffers of this signals L6 for the data and N7 for the addressline ( A0 to A7) generally if missing it will be the signal after the buffer. This does not mean the buffer chip is bad, it can be a grounding of the signal after the buffer, so again free the buffer output to see if the buffer is ok or not. Missing or bad value of a data or address value is caused by a grounding or bad chip connected at that line.. Again elimination by lifting of pins or by temporally cutting of runs will bring you to a solution. After this the leds on your cpu board will all blink in rythm, and we proceed with the memory test.

Memory test

The leds on your cpu are blinking now, to start the memory test we have to ground the TP " watchdogkill" temporally. We start the memorytest up via the NMI ( pin 6) on the cpu. Use a grounded lead and touch for a brief moment pin 6 of N6 . The 4 leds on the cpu will go off and if all is well go on again after a short moment. The first led indicates that the “ battery ram” (H6) is ok the second indicates that the set of two “ normal” rams are good (K6&J6), these two rams are tested as one, so if anything is wrong with one or another switch them one by one with the “ battery ram” to find out witch is causing the default. Led 3 indicate that the interrupt circuit is ok, and the 4th. led indicates that the “watchdog” circuit is ok. The 4 leds should remain lighted constantly; if they go blinking again the “watchdog” reset circuit is not ok.

The cpu prepared for "memory test" the temporally connection between " watchdogkill" and ground is made.

So if something is wrong, none, or only one, two or tree leds will go on.

What to do if no led turn on;

This means that the ram in H6 is not working, first replace this ram with a 2101 that you find in K6 or J6, these are pin compatible and suited for the test propose, in real game play you need a 5101 because the 2101 has an higher power consumption and drain your battery in tree days by this higher power consumption. After the change you restart the memory test ( ground pin 6 of N6 again a brief moment) Another good thing of the test is that as long as the test reads “ ram not ok” it will continue to test that same ram and we can now control the signals coming on the ram chip. This gives us plenty of time to check these signals on the ram . I did this for you and you have to find these results:

As the test is turning around on the bad ram, the signals you find are stable, aboutb 50% of the working voltage and easy to measure with a voltmeter,

Pin 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, all these are 2,5 volts

Pin 6 and 7 about 3 to3,5 volts

Pin 17, 19, 20 = 4 volts

Pin 18 and 21 = 2 volts

Pin 8 is ground and pīn 22 is + 5 volts.

If only one led is ‘on’ the fault is with the rams at K6 or J6 . Try them one by one in socket H6, to see witch is the bad one, if both are found ‘good’ test the signals on these rams you have to find the same values as for the " battery backed ram" ( H6)

If only two led are ‘on’ the interrupt circuit is faulty. In that case the cpu will go into a ‘ wait’ state, and all activity will stop. .. To solve this problem it is needed to repair the interrupt circuit, this circuit is build around 3 chips, the first one is E4 ( output “ intack” pin 9) as we have already controlled ALL of his outputs, it is probably not this chip that will cause troubles. Over to number two and tree, L5 and M1. The only thing we can do in a first stage is to control the connections between the tree chips and look for cuts or shorts on the runs. The signal “ intack” starts at pin 9 of E4 to pin1 of L5 comes out of L5 at pin 3 to  pin 13 of M1 and comes out again at pin 8. You cannot follow the signal dynamically because the cpu is “halted” ….  That is why I indicate the way the signal flows and advise to look at the connections. If you don’t find anything there, you have to replace L5 or/and M1and in the last stage E4.

Test watchdog reset.

Together with led 3, led 4 will go ‘on’.This is the control of the circuit " watchdog" Now we MUST remove the temporally connection between TP " watchdogkill" and ground, the 4 leds have to stay "on", "watchdog is dynamicly resetted by the program ( instead of by an external connection.) this is the end of the test. If the 4 leds start blinking again there is something wrong… The watchdog made a reset and the test program restarts with the normal first stage of the test program. This gives us now the opportunity to test this watchdog circuit. First we connect the test point “ watchdog kill “ temporally to ground, now the normal test routine will run, as the “watchdog” is out of service , we follow the signal..The circuit is made off, E4, L5, F6, N5, M2, . We start at pin9 of L5 , use the logic probe, from there to pin 8 L5,the signal now comes to pin 13 of F6, pin 12 of F6, pin 3 of M5, pin1 of M5, pin 1 of N5, pin2 of N5 pin 12 of M2 . if the signal flow is interrupted somewhere on this road the chip where it comes “in” but not comes “ out is faulty.

Test watchdog set

The last thing to control is " watchdog set " signal. Undo the connection between TP " watchdogkill" and ground, start the memory test in the normal way. The 4 leds MUST blink. If they stay "on" permanently the set circuit is bad. To repair this follow this procedure.

Remove ram chip K6 , start the memory test , WITHOUT the connection TP "watchdogkill " to ground. The signal "watchdog set" will appear on pin 14 of R2, follow this signal with the logic probe along the foillowing points, L2 pin 1, L2 pin 8, M2 pin 1, M2 pin 6 , M2 pin 13 , there it resets M2 that will cuase a complete reset. If the signal is missing somewhere , the chip where it goes "in" and do not come "out" is bad. Whenever it reaches M2 at pin 13 , and the leds are not blinking , M2 itself is broken.

If all testing is ok now the cpu board will work fine, and we can follow the signals to and on the I/O board now.

The I/O board.

If you have some doubt on your I/O board we can check that to, using the test eprom. All signals towards the I/O board use connector J4. But before the signals leave the cpu they pass true extra chips to give them more power. It is good to check at J4 if the signals have the right strenght as they leave the cpu board. So we check the signals on J4, and take the I/O board on the bench afther this final check.. We find at J4;


If there are missing or weak signals, look at the schematic wich of 4 chips it comes from and replace that one.

To repair of I/O board Atari……………..

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