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Member Since 30 Jul 2004
Offline Last Active Jul 17 2018 10:03 AM

#319243 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Manufacturing

Posted by edwardb on 17 July 2018 - 10:04 AM

Yeah I think Shades are still around, and Wave Design in South Wales. I used to use Wave to print art for my own export games when I was freelance. Good bunch of guys.

#319162 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Manufacturing

Posted by edwardb on 10 July 2018 - 03:46 PM

Hi All


I thought I'd write some info about the manufacturing process of AWP machines. Obviously, this differed by manufacturer but you might find it interesting to know how machines were made, how some companies different in production methods and some of the cock ups that were made.





Carcass cabinets used to be made in-house at most companies until the late 1990s/early 2000s. Barcrest, Maygay and Bell Fruit all had "cab shops" where CNC routers would cut cabinet parts from sheets of MDF or chipboard, which were then bolted together to make the bare carcass. Later, companies such as Cabinet Developments ("cabdev") or Postern Cabinet Co started to take over as running a cab shop was a cost that could be done without.

Cabinets and all the tooling that goes into making them is VERY expensive (in the hundreds of thousands), and so changes to cabinets designs were not frequent. Modifications to payout systems to combat fraud were fairly common, and some necessitate a change in cabinet design to amend coin routing, to stop rodding etc.

A fun fact is that BFM used to use their CNC routers overnight to make kitchen cabinets for MFI back in the 90s. Might as well earn some money from your machinery when it's not needed.


Wiring & Vac Forms


All the big companies made the majority of wiring harnesses in-house until the late 90s. Barcrest and Bell Fruit used to hand-wire lampboards (the plastic vacuum formed panels behind the glass) using a machine that would illuminate a sequence of lamps, and the operators would follow with a wire and insertion tool, and then crimp the wire, put it in the plug and do the next lamp row/column.


For complex games with lots of multicoloured lamps this was a pain, and a laborious process, so it eventually got outsourced too.


It wasn't uncommon to have mistakes where pins on a plug were misplaced, and so the wrong lamps lit, and you would have to go through and figure out which ones were wrong and change them over.





With the exception of Barcrest (until MPU5 days) all companies outsourced MPU manufacture. I think Maygay might have done some in house but PCB pick & place machines are very expensive. Far easier to get someone else to do it.


A fun fact is that Heber, based near Stroud (Glos) who made MPUs used in many of the smaller & foreign manufacturer's machines, also designed custom hardware for some of the bigger manufacturers. They did a video board for Barcrest. They also make shower and washing machine controllers. Good bunch of guys, always like seeing them.


Reels & Buttons



Reels and buttons were almost exclusively supplied by Gamesman and Starpoint. They would arrive in large boxes, and someone would have the fun job of fitting reel strips and inserting button decals. 

Barcrest (I think) used to make their own reel assemblies in the MPU4 days, before moving to off the shelf reels.





I started when screen printing was dying off. The artists would send a file (over an ISDN line, or often a CD sent via post!) to the print company who would produce a test batch of 5 glasses, normally. It wasn't uncommon to see them being "off register" - that is, with one of the 4 colours (CMYK) being slightly off and the art looking smudged as a result. 


One of the funniest things I saw was the Hi Lo reel aperture being filled with a solid red - should be clear/transparent - which resulted in all glasses being scrapped. Bang goes a few hundred quid.


BFM used to print their own glasses in-house, but they stopped in the mid 90s as digital printing took off. No more 4 colour seps, just a large format inkjet printer, which printed to a film which was then stuck to the glass. A black backing was added to stop light bleeding out.


Glasses arrives on pallets and were built up into the finished doors, complete with gas struts and lampboard, ready to be hung on the cabinet.






Barcrest and Maygay had their "flow line" - akin to a car factory, where a carcass cabinet was put on the line at one end, and operatives would fit parts as it rolled down the line, leaving a finished machine at the end. This was efficient, they could manage 2k/3k machines a month with ease.


Bell Fruit used to make everything on "stills" - literally a box on which the machine sat, and then one person would build up an entire machine. Not as efficient but often better quality.


During busy periods it was not uncommon to have the factory working 24/7 on three shifts, and sods law you would have a hit machine in the UK at the same time as you had a hit machine in say Holland or Germany, resulting in a high demand for machines. UK normally got priority.


Conversely lean periods meant people sat around doing nothing, so a lot of factory staff were temps, which meant that quality could be hit and miss until they were trained up properly.


Final Inspection



At Mazooma, we took delivery of machines to our offices in Newark, where we would inspect each machine and correct faults. I will never forget my first big seller, Sinbad 2000 for Germany, where we had an initial small production run of 300 machines, arranged in two long rows the length of the warehouse, all with their front door open - like a guard of honour. As an 18/19 year old that was pretty cool to see.


We would install the software, and then power up each machine in turn (or 8 at a time if you were good!) and just check it fired up. Reel faults and cable snags were common. We checked they spun to the correct position and we would set the real-time clock. You would then run a few coins through it, ensuring the hopper and coin mech worked, and checked the mechanical meters were OK, before doing a RAM reset, switching it off and bagging it up for trucking to site.


Machines were loaded on a wagon and off to wherever.


Though I was a developer I always liked getting my hands dirty in whatever needed doing - every day was a school day and it set you apart from those who wouldn't get their hands dirty.


I think I've covered everything but as always, feel free to ask any questions!



#309862 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Compensation

Posted by edwardb on 18 October 2017 - 12:26 PM

So a lot of work has gone in to it, and I would love to get to know the machine inside-out now, also from a software perspective. I'm already stepping through code in MFME (want to make a proper emulation if I ever get to that), but I get stuck on the VDAI-prompt, and the corresponding input (coin alarm on SC4) should be high to get past that. It does not seem to be mapped to a button in MFME so that's my first problem.



Ah the VDAI stuff....yes this was fun. I will look again at this. I'm fairly sure there was a way to disable it. In the bottom of the cabinet there is a connector for a VDAI-drucker (printer) where the attendant can connect and print out data, cash in, cash out....etc.


I will see what I can find, but this might take a few days!


I think I have the manual for the game too, I will check. The GSM stuff was a way for us to download data from the machine. Every time the machine was switched on, if a GSM modem was fitted, it would call a PC in our office and download about 3kb of data. Obviously this was only used for testing a new machine only, because travelling to and from Germany each day is quite expensive :)
We had some problems with that system, and sometimes the modem would not disconnect....and we get a very big telecom bill..................


You can access other menus to view data by pressing the Halten 1 (left) Halten 3 and START when the machine is switched on. Press until you see "RELEASE BUTTONS" and then press the GREEN test button on the Scorp. 4, then turn the refill key (under the button panel). Then you can view the secret menu. This is also how you clear NVR, you need to press halten 1, 2 and 3 in sequence, I think. It is a long time ago!


The Ruckgabe was part of the German regulations, and there is no way to disable it. It stops at 50 Euros/DM. The games were designed to use tokens instead of cash, but you can re-program the coin acceptor "teach token mode" and use a Euro coin as a "token" - maybe 1 Euro (for 100 credits).


I will see what else I can find for you....but it is nearly 18 years ago :)


Best Regards

#309576 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 10 October 2017 - 02:32 PM

Bit OT but pushers are actually quite a remarkable bit of engineering. They stick to their payout % like glue. 


The % is set by adjusting the metal "flaps" on the sides of the bed and the screws that poke up in the middle, which build the pile of coins. There are often two channels, left and right, that coins fall off and disappear forever (into the cashbox) and you can adjust how "open" those are, and therefore how many coins fall off into the box.


Simple but effective. When we did the AWP/pushers at Mazooma, the pushers were bang on % within £100 of throughput. No chance of that with an AWP!

#309573 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Compensation

Posted by edwardb on 10 October 2017 - 02:23 PM

Hi Jochem!


Ah, BRIX - I was the programmer of that game....well, some parts of that game, anyway. I did Cashanova, Sinbad 2000, Monopoly and Broker Street for Germany when I was at Mazooma. Many fun times visiting Germany to the arcades...mostly to the Reeperbahn in Hamburg :)


Anyway, to answer your questions. you can use the "SETTINGS MENUE". Put DIP 16 (on the Scorpion main board) to the ON position, and switch on the machine with the top door open. The machine should start up as normal but then it will enter the settings menu.....



#309227 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 02 October 2017 - 09:57 AM

Club machines were a much smaller part; sales were not a volume anywhere near the number of pub machines for obvious reasons.


BFG were of course the best at club machines, really, and had a small team who pretty much just did those. Global built most of their business on club machines for a long time. You might sell 100 to 500 of a particular model.


A lot of clubs were just conversions of AWP machines, and compensated in a similar way although (more often than not) with a lot more compensators for multiple streaks and other prizes.


The "quirks" you mention were more often than not put in on purpose, i.e. the machine has already decided your maximum win, and will just engineer a way to not let you exceed that. Non max-win controlled games would do it on a random chance, but of course, if you got a large win, the compensator tightens up and the machine will just take the money back eventually.....


I never coded one, personally, although (at Mazooma at least) most of the lads who did AWPs also did the occasional club machine.


If you never noticed, Club Pacman was just Crazy Fruits - BFG gave us the code for it and we cloned it....

#308563 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 12 September 2017 - 07:49 AM

When I get a bit of time, I'll upload some more game code and fun stuff - just got a lot on right now!

#308519 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Compensation

Posted by edwardb on 11 September 2017 - 09:01 AM

Is any consideration given to reel position when the machine is on the last credit or is entirely coincidental if reels look enticing

The term used is "last credit incentive" - and since the days of the 2005 Gambling Act, no, absolutely not. Before that, it was done *sometimes* but always on a chance basis. Some manufacturers were very blatant about it and used to get letters from other manufacturers saying knock it off. Pacman Plus had a terrible one, every final credit it would spin in 2x feature symbols. Barcrest wrote us a letter of complaint, rightly so. Good old self policing industry.....sadly gone.


We updated the ROMs for that, I think. Still sold over 2500 units, Mazooma's best ever if I recall correctly...

#307985 Mazooma Manual

Posted by edwardb on 31 August 2017 - 08:24 AM

I wrote a lot of manuals for Mazooma machines - taken from a BFG tech manual and just changed the text for the specific game type and button layout.


I'll have a look and see if I have anything useful.

#307325 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 10 August 2017 - 02:36 PM

Oh my holy god............I got the Epoch compiler working.....on Windows 10!!! Rebuilt an old game, edited the code a little and.......

void InitialiseDisplays(void)
    whichalpha = ALPHA1x16Setup();                                                                    // Sets up vfd alpha driver
    DisplayDefineWindow( 1,whichalpha, 1, 1, 16, 1 );      // set up display size
    DisplaySetCurrentWindow( whichalpha );                                            // make alpha the current display
    DisplayClearWindow();                                                                                    // clear it and do std msg
//	AlphaPrintf(ALPHA_POS_0 "START UP        "); 




#307307 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 10 August 2017 - 09:03 AM

Hi all


Just a quick update, I've had a bit of a rummage around and found a load of stuff, including my Epoch dev kit! So if I can find a Windows XP PC with a parallel port, I can download bin files to an Epoch board. Might be some fun to be had here.


Got all my backup CDs of game code and a few other goodies. I'll post them in due course. Getting married in a week so a lot going on!



#306991 Will fruit machines ever go back to the golden days?

Posted by edwardb on 02 August 2017 - 03:41 PM

Not sure if you guys have been following the "Fruit Machines Inside Out" thread I started, but as someone who started out as a player, and has been in gaming for 20 years now, I can say with authority: don't blame manufacturers. Seriously - we're 100% on the players side (as we're all players ourselves!).


The blame lies almost solely with pub companies. They are the ones who buy machines, and faced with a clientele who prefer to drink coffee and not beer, as cashbox revenue declined, they wanted to keep the same £ coming in week after week, and so they basically told us to reduce the % or else. When this didn't work, in tandem they lobbied government to increase the jackpot and stake.


Of course, this creates the perfect storm of 78% payout and £100+ jackpots - you're never going to win it!


I agree things have got very stale with DOND games, but the fact is, the death of the reel based AWP started a long time ago and as much as we try to innovate, you can't do much with 78% of the stake to return and a 100:1 jackpot. Won't work.


So, no, you won't ever see the "good old days" because society is changing, pubs are changing and people prefer to play online where 96% RTP is the norm and beer from a supermarket is cheap.


Please have a read of the FMIO thread in Real Fruit Machines for a proper read up and discussion with some other industry people. As I said, the vast majority of us are/were players. We're on your side, believe me.

#306886 German emu fruit machine

Posted by edwardb on 31 July 2017 - 07:32 AM

I have some ROMs from German Scorpion 4 games somewhere, if anyone wants to make some layouts....

#306778 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 26 July 2017 - 08:37 AM

For current games, honestly, ever time I see a modern AWP I just sigh. They're just uninteresting, far too over complicated and they tear your arms off before you get a board usually. How is that fun?!

I'll write up some more stuff on compensators if I can, maybe add some stuff about floor and ceiling values with some better examples, and code too when I can. It's pretty simple stuff, really.

#306741 Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development

Posted by edwardb on 25 July 2017 - 02:11 PM

Any requests for what to write about next?


I might post some stuff with some tech info about games, some of the stuff that gets used to print glass and make vac forms etc. I should be able to dig out all the source code this weekend too (buried on CDs in my parents attic, lol) and other stuff.