Mr. Do! (Universal, 1981)
September 10th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I got Mr. Do! from Dan at Classic Arcade Resource. I had my eye on it for a while. I’d casually flip through the new stuff… take a look at the photos… and then, boom, at the end, Mr. Do!. $100, $200 “shopped.” I eventually pulled the trigger with some money I got being on a jury in February 2007.

It’s a converted Qix. Someone had helpfully eliminated the word, “Taito” from the sides of the cabinet to keep you guessing. This was unnecessary! I would not have minded. I am really into my games holding high scores permanently. To me, it always gives you something to shoot for. It’s nice when guests come over and manage to get on the high score tables, and that sort of thing. Having gone through a personal attempt to make my Gyruss board save high scores (and failing miserably, on my own) I asked Dan if he could install the high score mod for Mr. Do!. He agreed, and gave me a call a few days later when it was all set.

Getting it home proved to be the biggest debacle so far. It should not have been – the cab is the smallest and lightest I’d bought at that time. However, two main issues arose.

1) It has a hinge on the back. When I am moving the cabinet by myself down the stairs, I tend to put them on their backs and slide them down. This was the first with a hinge on the back door, and it scuffed the floor a bit. (Not a big deal, as I was probably going to re-do that anyway, thanks to the enormous amount of cat vomit the cats have vomited onto that area.)

2) It got stuck on the stairs, and the bottom separated from the rest of the cabinet. Just ripped right out.

Whoops! There were a few wires that were going from the bottom to the sides, as well. Interlock wires. Power connectors. Ground wires. Shit.

I disconnected everything before going any further. I couldn’t take photos, which proved to be problematic, but more on that later. I got the cabinet into a situation where I was able to re-attach the bottom of the cab (where the power brick is). The nails were a little off, but I pulled the ones that stuck out badly. I should have added some gorilla glue at that point. I was able to get it back together physically, and I got it down the stairs the rest of the way. This just left me with wires that were completely undone, but it proved to be a blessing.

I was able to determine where some of the stuff needed to go. Here’s what I learned:

Interlock switches, or “kill switches” are designed to turn the game off when certain things are opened. Dan had set the interlock switches back from the coin door and back door, and then pulled the switch “up” to keep it in “always on” mode. Cool. I had no idea where the wires were supposed to go, however. I am, by trade, a programmer, and in software it’s OK to try a bunch of solutions and see what works. Not so with electricity! I ended up attaching the wires to the interlock switch on the back wrong, and (although I didn’t immediately know it) fried a fuse.

I got some help through the arcade newsgroup. I did take some pictures, and Brien King told me thewires were off. I rewired the game according to his instructions, but it didn’t solve the problem. I had to run to Radio Shack to get some more fuses. (I also got some help on the ifMud that set me straight about fuses. Nick Montfort and my dad reiterated something that I probably knew if I had sat down and thought about it: you can’t put a 20 amp fuse on something that took a 4. The 4 amp fuse is designed to blow if you do something stupid, like I did with the interlock switch. You can maybe put a smaller fuse on… but not a bigger one. Otherwise, the dumb crap you did propagates through and fries something else.)

Well, with the interlock switches properly wired, it still wasn’t working. I went to bed Saturday fairly depressed, as I had worked on this (and other issues with the game stemming from the separation) for twelve hours and gotten nowhere.

I woke up and was determined to get some help. Everyone told me to get a multimeter. I had a multimeter, but it had died on me and the 9-volt battery had leaked. No problem: it was old and I wanted a new one. I went down to Lowe’s and got a replacement.

From there I did some tests. It was finally dawning on me. And here’s the other hilarious thing: the game BioShock helped me visualize the flow of electricity, and what fuses do and such. There is a “hacking” sub-game to BioShock, and I don’t know, it just sort of helped me sort things out when I tried looking for voltages in Mr. Do!.

I determined that electricity was coming from the wall to the power supply OK. (Which set straight in my mind that you want to unplug these things from the wall during an electric storm. Current is still going in there – the main circuit is complete when you throw a toggle switch, but the juice is live in there.) It was getting to the interlock switches, but no further.

I finally said, “Screw this” and decided to eliminate the interlock switches themselves. All they do is form a loop, after all!

There’s nothing difficult going on in there. So I cut the wires between the “start” and the switch up there, and then from “end” to about halfway down. I threw my multimeter into the power brick (it had a handy free spot for just this sort of thing). I taped up the wires and turned the game on to look at the reading. Suddenly, I got a loud sound and the monitor came to life! I quickly turned everything off from the power strip because it startled me. A second later I realized, Hey dummy, you got it to work. Apparently the interlock switch had become damaged. It must have worked at one point to let me ruin the fuse in the power supply, but eliminating it completely and looping the wires back on themselves let me complete the circuit. (I looped both interlock switches so I don’t know which one was the problem. But like Tommy Lee Jones saying to Dr. Richard Kimble as he states that he did not kill his wife, Ah don’t care!)

Even though it completely took up half my weekend to solve, I feel better about the experience of getting it back together. Arcade games were built during a time when things were meant to make sense, be simple, and be serviced if something did go wrong. I never got any real instruction on how electricity worked, or basic shop techniques in high school or college. Things are starting to come together for me. I think the stuff that’s out of my league are just PCB issues and stuff with the monitor.

As it was only two hundred bucks, the game is obviously not mint or what not. There were a few things missing:

– It had a red control panel overlay. Someone had typed up instructions and taped them to the thing. Kind of ugly.
– There is no bezel.
– The marquee is just a sticker on a Qix marquee and the ballast for the lamp behind the marquee is not hooked up
– Qix required two buttons with the joystick, Mr. Do! just one. So I needed to remove the second button.
– The game has two buttons on the front of the control panel for credits. It would be nice to change those to be “one player” and “two player”-iconned buttons.

And that’s where we are for now.

UPDATE! I did change the fire button from a red leaf button to a nice white cherry switched button that I had around. I’m developing a MAME cabinet, so I’ve got no shortage of buttons from the Real Bob Roberts. I built my own joystick out of wood last year (which worked great until Frobozz jumped on it and it smashed into pieces) so I was able to switch that button out, no sweat. I’m happier with it, I like the microswitch feel better, and with the game already a conversion before I got a hold of it, I feel OK in customizing it. (For instance, I wouldn’t modify Ms. Pac to have a microswitched joystick, or convert an I, Robot into an Arkanoid.)

I also switched out the credit buttons last week, so that’s set. They look a lot better. I think the thing I’ll tackle next is the marquee, as I need to buy a new ballast for Spy Hunter anyway.

Oh yeah – the game itself is fantastic. I love Mr. Do! – I had it in the low 20s on the top 100 list I did a while back on my bulletin board. There’s so much going on, every board is fun and tense. It’s definitely not as approachable as Gyruss (which everyone who comes over seems to love) but there are some games you get for your friends to enjoy when they come over and some you get because you are a goddamn video game nerd and appreciate the difficult and deep stuff. Mr. Do! is that kind of game.

10/25/07 UPDATE! The area behind the marquee was never lit, and in trying to fix the thing after I nearly ruined it coming down the stairs, I saw that there were no lights behind the marquee glass. Qix (which this originally was) does not have a fluorescent lamp behind the marquee, like all my other games. Rather, it has spots for a bunch of #47 bulbs. (According to the manual, it also takes some #455 bulbs, which apparently flicker.)

Years ago, when the only game I had was Crystal Castles, I placed an order with The Real Bob Roberts to get some replacement bulbs for the Player Two trackball. It did not blink… and I wanted it to blink! I tried ordering the bulbs from memory while at work, which was a debacle. It did not take the kind I ordered. The reason I mention this is because I did not throw them away in a fit of me-cursing rage, but instead put them in an “arcade box” filled with miscellaneous items. I got home tonight and checked the box… sure enough, I had ordered #47 bulbs all those years ago. I had the whole package there.

I plugged them into the Do!. To do this, I of course had to remove the marquee — for the first time I really took a look at it. Dan Gutchess had told me that a previous owner had placed the Mr. Do! sticker over the marquee, and sure enough upon close inspection you can see the original Qix art from the reverse side. He did not put lamps in the marquee area because, with the thing being a sticker, the light would not come through.

I was under the impression that the whole lamp area did not have power going to it, and I was wondering where I was going to get a cord. I turned it on anyway with the lights in… and they came up! Fucking awesome. Doesn’t speak well to my abilty to follow a circuit, but I don’t care. One of the bulbs died right away, which was odd. And sure enough, the light does not really come through, except in a couple blotchy areas.

But with that in mind, I’ll get a custom-made Mr. Do! marquee made from at some point and just pop that in there. MAME Marquees did my Polybius marquee and it looks great – all I need to do is provide measurements and the thing will be lit properly. A shining marquee really is one of those things that makes the whole experience of playing a standup game seem like more fun.

4/6/2008 UPDATE! Dayna bought me a Mr. Do! marquee from MAME Marquees. Awwww!

7/1/2008 UPDATE! So, the thing had been going crazy and distorting the high score table. Long story short – where it should have had +5, it had like 4.35. I’m amazed it worked at all. Once I gave it +5 volts properly (I think 5.05 was as close as I could get) it ran perfectly, and has done so for the past two months. It was previously distorting itself within a few hours of operation.

7/31/2008 UPDATE! I bought a control panel overlay from TexasHotShot on the KLOV forum. I applied it using the “wet” method, and in the photo that I took immediately thereafter it looks like there is a bulge. I got it sorted out and it’s fine now. Consider the bulge in the photo up top to be like when a girl gets a tattoo and immediately takes a photo with her skin still all red and puffy.

5/18/2009 UPDATE! The thing’s been working perfectly. My friend Fodge has the high score, of about 171K. I’ve got a week off coming up, so I may have the time to try to take that down.

Leave a Reply must be logged in to post a comment.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa