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Q*Bert is the first complete, dedicated coin-op arcade game that I owned. Long in the past, a Donkey Kong 3 machine was almost mine, but when you're 12, your parents frown on buying you something so big, so I had to wait until I could get something like this on my own (my mom told me she feels bad about not buying it now that I'm a collector ;). I found this one completely randomly; it was on someone's porch at a yard sale, and I just happened to be driving by. It was pretty dirty (outside and in-- I don't think that the inside had ever been cleaned), but the controls seemed to be in pretty good shape and the monitor seemed bright and colorful, and best of all, it was only $100! (But no sound). I took it home and after breaking both mine and a friend's back getting it downstairs, I started in on cleaning.

It was a daunting task, as 20 years worth of grime, cigarette smoke, and kicking feet had taken their toll. But the paint job was in good shape and even with the grime, it seemed colorful. The sides and front took some glass/surface cleaner and hard scrubbing to come clean, but the CPO (Control Panel Overlay) needed something stronger. I got the suggestion that I should try Soft Scrub bathroom cleaner on it. I was skeptical at first, but was quickly converted. After a little bit of furious scrubbing, the CPO looked as good as the day it was printed! (except for two small cigarette burns :( After the outside had been given a good scrubbing, I looked it over. The side art was damaged on both sides, although the left side was in better shape than the right. On the right side of the cabinet, there were telltale marks (and holes) of an ashtray that had been previously attached :( The on/off switch that belongs on the top had been detached, and although the CPO looked really good, there were still cracks on the front and top edges. So there was still a little work to be done on the exterior.

Next, I unplugged the machine and opened the back of the cabinet. First I cleaned out all the dust that had built up inside the machine. Later after the first sweep, I removed the monitor assembly and the marquee to clean them off. Removing 20 years of dust from a monitor really makes a huge difference in the picture quality! (That's a good piece of advice, before you assume that a monitor is bad, clean it! It might just be built-up dust distorting the picture!) After reassembling the machine (and breaking the monitor shroud(Grr!), it was like playing a brand new cabinet, relatively speaking ;)

I've since done quite a bit of work on this cab, since it was my first, and it's a great game. The CPO and side art have been replaced with high quality reproductions. And the electronics have had a bit of work too: I replaced the battery and moved it off the main PCB to reduce the risk of leaking battery damage. I replaced a fuse holder on the power supply, and the capacitors on the main PCB.

To do list:

Here are some pics of the cab from when I first got it to today (click to enlarge):

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In these pictures, you can see some of the problems I've had with the game. Components that went bad on the power supply board caused a fuse holder on the PS to go bad, and also burnt out a connector on the filter board. I still need to replace a few components on the PS board to get the voltages back to normal, so I can play again.

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In these last pictures, you can see the game in it's current state: with reproduction CPO and sideart!

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