Code & Script Library
U.H.A.C.C. (Unix Club)
Blinky Useless Technology
Fun With Telemarketers
McLaren Turbo Grand Prix
Coin-op Project Notes
Arcade Building Rehab
Chuck's Most Wanted
Arcade Terms/Tech Glossary
Useful Coin-op Links
Glossary of Arcade Terminology
Last Revised: 11 November 2006
Coming soon: O-Scope, Molex Connector.
AC: "Alternating Current"
AQUADAG: A colloidal suspension of electrically conductive graphite that is applied to the inner and outer surfaces of a CRT. The inner coating has a HV charge applied when powered, which facilitates acceleration of the electron beam as well as a safeguard against "secondary emission" (keeps "used" electrons from ricocheting off the back of the tube). The inner and outer coatings also act as capacitor plates, using the glass as a dielectric. This capacitance is used as a HV filter, supplying smooth DC voltage to the tube.
BEZEL: Glass, plexi or cardboard, usually printed with artwork and installed over the monitor. Also called "monitor glass/plexi." Side Note: It has been brought to my attention that technically, the "bezel" is actually the same thing as the monitor surround, but since the term has been misused so often by so many, the definition listed above is correct in de facto. If you want to be unambiguous and/or ultra-proper, call it a "monitor glass."
BIT ROT: Phenomenon that occurs within game ROMs where the software instructions stored in the ROM lose their integrity over time. ie: Alzheimers for electronics - time to burn a new set of ROMS :)
BURNER: Short for "ROM Burner"; See DEVICE PROGRAMMER.
CABARET: Cabaret refers to a specific cabinet style, where the cabinet is a smaller, shorter version of the upright. Also refered to as a "mini."
CAP KIT: Short for "Capacitor Kit." A cap kit is a set of capacitors matched to a specific monitor chassis type. When electrolytic capacitors get old, the electrolyte tends to dry up and render them incapacitated (HA! I made a funny.). Since the monitors in arcade games aren't getting any younger, installing a cap kit can cure a whole boatload of ills, including but not limited to wavy monitors, "jail bars," dim output, no output, foldover or curl. Al Warner and Rodger Boots have written up a nice FAQ on the subject.
CHASSIS: Even though this refers literally to the monitor boards and the metal frame they bolt to, the common usage of the term "chassis" usually refers to only the electronic components of the monitor.
COCKPIT: Refers to the "sit-in" style cabinet; one that contains its own seat.
COCKTAIL: Refers to the sit-down-at table-type machines. Also have heard them called "tabletops."
COIN DOOR: Metal door that contains the coin input mechanisms ("mechs") and sometimes counters. ie: Where you lose your change :)
CONTROL PANEL: This is the panel that contains all of the player controls such as buttons, joysticks, trackballs, yokes etc etc. Don't call this a "dash" or "dashboard" unless you want people to laugh at you.
CONTROL PANEL OVERLAY: This refers to the artwork that is applied to the control panel, labeling the controls. This is not to be confused with "C3PO" which is a protocol droid with a british actor inside.
CONVERSION: Conversion is the act of installing game "X" into an older game "Y," ofttimes destroying some of the components of game "X" in the process. Conversion refers to either an occurance of conversion or to the actual thing that was converted. Conversion often includes painting over original sideart, hacking control panels and wiring harnesses. Operators often converted older games when they fell in popularity.
CPO: "Control Panel Overlay"; See CONTROL PANEL OVERLAY
CRT: "Cathode Ray Tube"; Or more commonly, the picture screen.
CT: "Cocktail"; See COCKTAIL
DC: "Direct Current."
DEVICE PROGRAMMER: Often referred to as "burners," device programmers are used by technicians and advanced hobbyists to perform ROM dumps and ROM "burns." A dump is taking an existing ROM image and using the programmer to transfer it to another media such as magnetic disk. A burn is the reverse: taking a stored ROM image and writing it to a blank chip.
DIP: "Dual Inline Package"; This is an electronic component found on PCB's that contains tiny switches that are manipulable by the game owner. Commonly used to set free/coin play, difficulty, cocktail mode, and other settings.
DMM: "Digital Multimeter"; See MULTIMETER
DVM: "Digital Volt Meter"; See MULTIMETER
EEPROM: See ROM
EPROM: See ROM
FLYBACK TRANSFORMER: Or simply called "the flyback," this monitor chassis part is responsible for clearing the tube of all the already emitted electrons by hoovering them up with a wicked high voltage charge on the anode.
HEATER: The heater is a CRT component (found in the neck) that is designed to maintain proper cathode temperature (1100-1200 deg. C). I won't go into a ton of theory, but when someone tells you to check to see if you have "neck glow" you are actually checking to see if the heater in the CRT is activated.
HIGH VOLTAGE (HV) TRANSFORMER: See FLYBACK TRANSFORMER
HORIZONTAL OUTPUT TRANSISTOR: Electronic monitor chassis component. This is a huge transistor (T03 or similar) that drives the yoke. If it goes, your monitor will not operate very nicely, not even with a cap kit :) Often referred to as simply "the HOT."
HOT: See HORIZONTAL OUTPUT TRANSISTOR
IC: Integrated Circuit. IC's are the "chips" on a PCB. These chips contain internal micro circuitry designed for a specific purpose such as data processing or data storage. Examples of IC's are RAM, ROM, microprocessors, and DIPs
ISO(LATION) TRANSFORMER: The Iso Xformer isolates AC power going to the monitor from the AC feed, thus buffering the monitor from possible damage. It also prevents episodes such as you inadvertently reversing the polarity of the feed and creating a 110VAC potential on the metal monitor frame (which would jolt the heck outta you if you happened to touch it).
JAMMA: A standard for PCB pinouts that trivializes game conversion.
JOYSTICK: Stick-type game control that controls movement. There are many types including 2-way, 4-way, 8-way, 49-way, rotary, hall effect, optical and pistol-grip. Contacts may be leaf switches or microswitches (except on optical and hall-effect where movement is not translated mechanically).
KIT: A game kit is the PCB with one or more items. A complete kit would contain everything but the game cabinet proper (PCB, CPO, Side Art, Marquee, Bezel, wiring harness). Partial kits are the norm, usually a PCB and a marquee.
MARQUEE: Sometimes referred to as a "header," the marquee is the signage that displays the name or the game at the top of the machine. It is usually Glass, mylar, or plexi. Often backlit.
MINI: See CABARET
MINT: Item is in perfect original condition, exhibiting no signs of wear, use, damage or discoloration. eBay sellers overuse this term almost as much as they overuse the term "RARE." ie: "tTHISS GAME RULESZ d00d. ITZ MINT AND RARE!!!!!!!!!"
MONITOR SURROUND: Plastic or cardboard piece mounted in-between the bezel and the monitor
MULTIMETER: Instrument used to probe and measure electrical states in circuitry. Basic functionality includes measurement of potential in volts, resistance in ohms, and current in amps. Advanced units come with more bells and whistles, such as capacitor, diode and IC testing modes. Multimeters can be either analog (needle-type) or digital (LCD display).
NOS: "New Old Stock" Means item is old, but was never used. These items often are still in their original container or still have their protective covering. NOS items may exhibit defects due to age, or may be MINT.
OPERATOR: Often shortened to "Op." The Operator has what you want: Arcade games. You have what the op wants (hopefully it's $$$). Your mission is to get the op to take money for his old games. Some ops would rather throw all their old games in a pile and torch them rather than deal with collectors. Even though this may be true, if their were no ops, there would be no warehouse raids. Be nice to the ops.
PCB: "Printed Circiut Board" Most often refers to the main logic board holding the game ROMs, but can refer to any printed circiut board including monitor chassis boards, sound boards, etc etc.
POWER SUPPLY: The power supply provides all the necessary voltages to the arcade PCB, sound system and any other system that requires DC voltages. The usual voltages are +12V, +5V and -5V, although some supplies carry other voltages, such as the +30V feed found on a Q-Bert PS which powers the knocker. Older games were usually equipped with linear power supplies, whereas newer games usually come equipped with switching power supplies. Don't ask me which is better, you'll start a flame war :)
PSU: "Power Supply Unit." See POWER SUPPLY
RAID: A raid is where a collector finds and scores a whole lot of games. It is a glorious thing and should be revered as such, as they are few and far between. If you were looking for info on a redundant array of inexpensive disks, you're looking in the wrong place :)
RAM: "Random Access Memory"; IC's that hold data and software instructions only while they are powered. (ie: they lose all such data when they are powered down)
RASTER: Monitor signal generation defined by scanning the whole screen in, line by line, from top to bottom. This is the most common method, as opposed to vector signal generation.
REPRO: Reproduction. Many repro parts for classic games are being made and may be purchased from vendors. This includes marquees, side art, CPO's, bezels and more. The thing to remember is that the quality and price may differ greatly between vendors. I won't mention names, but there are some vendors out there printing out fuzzy non-color matched repro stuff using water soluable, Non-UV inks on raster inkjet printers. It is shit. Don't buy it. Conversely there are other vendors who make product that is either indistiguishable from or better than the original OEM pieces using vector art files, UV resistant inks, quality substrate and color-matched to the original. Buy from them and you will probably be a lot happier. Tell em Chuck sent ya :)
RINGER: Monitor diagnostic tool. A flyback ringer checks for proper impedance by sending a pulse into the flyback coil. An oscilloscope can then be used to observe the "ringing"(oscillating) waveform caused by the self-resonance of the coil. (Thanks to Roy "Jeepfreak" for the explanation)
RGB: "Red - Green - Blue" Additive color scheme used by virtually all color monitors. In the context of analog electronic display, refers specifically the individual cathode guns within a color CRT, one each for red, green, and blue wavelengths.
R.G.V.A.C.: Usenet group: rec.games.video.arcade.collecting. Where collectors get together to discuss tech issues, collecting, sell/trade items, look for parts and post other arcade-related foo.
ROM: "Read Only Memory" (also: EPROM, EEPROM) Chips that hold software instructions in a non-volatile state.
SIDE ART: The graphics adorning the side of the cabinet. These can be stenciled on or stickers.
SPINNER: Arcade control that spins 360 degrees, eg. Tempest, Tron et al.
STANDOFF: A small hardware item used to mount or posit a PCB such that it is raised off of the mounting surface by a small margin.
TOP GLASS: This term usually refers to the sometimes-printed glass top of a cocktail table game.
TRACK BALL: Arcade control consisting of a ball that is manipulated by the players hand. This ball actuates 2 rollers corresponding to X and Y position. Optical sensors sense movement of the rollers and deliver the signals to the PCB controller inputs. Used on Centipede, Quantum, Missile Command, et al.
UNDERLAY: An underlay is artwork printed on a clear material. One would position and underlay under glass. Most common underlays: cocktail art and marquees.
VECTOR: In arcade parlance, vector refers to a type of monitor signal generation. This special method distinguishes itself by drawing and refeshing the picture to the screen precisely rather than scanning in the whole screen from side to side (rastering). Vector monitors of note are the WG 19K6100 (Tempest), Electrohome's G08 (Star Trek) and G05 (Asteroids), and Amplifone monitors (Star Wars cockpit IIRC). These monitors are no longer manufactured, so maintaining the remaining ones is very important as they cannot be replaced.
WAREHOUSE: The place where operators store their games for years and years. Also the place that the arcade collector most wants to raid.
WIRING HARNESS: Wire bundle that connects all of the control i/o, coin door and RGB monitor inputs to the PCB interface edge connector(s).
XY: See VECTOR
As always, if you see something wrong, half wrong, half-baked, omitted, or otherwise boned up, send your errata notes to me and I'll fix it. Thanks! CG