MK3 Boardset Troubleshooting

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PlayerTwo
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MK3 Boardset Troubleshooting

Post by PlayerTwo » Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:22 pm

Hey, all.

I've got a PiU SD cab with a MK3 boardset running Premiere 3. Unfortunately, it's proving to be problematic. So far it seems prone to overheating. Despite new fans on the boardset case and the cab, it'll occasionally get hot then crash with varying results (blank screen, frozen screen, 'lock error' error, etc.) The other problem is loading times. When it's getting ready to load the next song, the screen goes black with no indication of what's taking place. I'm guessing that during this time the system is loading the music, steps and animation from the CD. If the load is successful, it goes on and all's well. With this particular machine being on location, I receive frequent trouble calls that the machine has "crashed" which it has done, though I'm finding frequently that it only seemed to have crashed due to a lengthy load time, or that a customer attempted to coin up during this period. I'm hopeful that some of the resident pros (Ho, Mon, Amp) might have some insight into the hardware and how to maximize its performance. The main board seems to be a somewhat standard Celeron PC mobo, albeit with some modifications. I can't seem to find any reference to the board and its settings, dipswitches, etc. other than to not touch them (as per the manual). I've got another MK3 boardset that won't boot but it's difficult to troubleshoot something when you can't get a bios screen or verify settings let alone basic operation.

I know, I know... upgrading would be best. Yes, a MK5 or better would be far preferable. Unfortunately it's simply not an option right now. Just trying to make the most of what we currently have on-hand.

Alright, that's more than enough rambling from me. Any insights the IndyDDR crew could provide would be welcomed.

Very respectfully,
Kristopher Sandrick
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Re: MK3 Boardset Troubleshooting

Post by MonMotha » Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:41 pm

What seems to happen with these is that various parts overheat and end up getting permanently damaged before anybody notices. Video RAM seems to be a common culprit.

About the only troubleshooting measure I can give is the swap out all the electrolytic caps. They will be old and from the era of bad ones. Make sure to find suitable replacements; for SMPS stuff (where most of them will be), you'll probably need a low ESR type. If you see any "bulgy" caps or ones that have leaked, then that's a definite possibility as to cause of failure.

Long load times may be caused by a dodgy CD-ROM. Replace it. MK3s shouldn't be very picky about what they use. Also, burn a new copy of the CD on high-quality media such as Verbatim AZO (dark blue). Just use your existing disc as the source. Chances are it's still readable by a drive that isn't so tired, and the new disc will help reduce read retries.
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Re: MK3 Boardset Troubleshooting

Post by PlayerTwo » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:09 pm

MonMotha wrote:What seems to happen with these is that various parts overheat and end up getting permanently damaged before anybody notices. Video RAM seems to be a common culprit.

About the only troubleshooting measure I can give is the swap out all the electrolytic caps. They will be old and from the era of bad ones. Make sure to find suitable replacements; for SMPS stuff (where most of them will be), you'll probably need a low ESR type. If you see any "bulgy" caps or ones that have leaked, then that's a definite possibility as to cause of failure.
That's a very good idea. I hadn't considered actually treating it like the vintage mobo it is. I'll definitely give replacing the caps a try.
MonMotha wrote:Long load times may be caused by a dodgy CD-ROM. Replace it. MK3s shouldn't be very picky about what they use. Also, burn a new copy of the CD on high-quality media such as Verbatim AZO (dark blue). Just use your existing disc as the source. Chances are it's still readable by a drive that isn't so tired, and the new disc will help reduce read retries.
Both of these items, we've already done. Tried a variety of different drives in there with different specs, speeds, etc. and they all seem to perform the same. The machine is currently running a copy of the CD because the original was a bit scratched up. I figured anything I could eliminate as a cause would help.

One thing we've been having success with in some of our hard drive-based games is replacing the HDD with a CF card and IDE adapter. Makes for relatively blazingly fast boot and load times. And, so long as the game doesn't incur a lot of write cycles, they've proven to be quite reliable. I know, replacing a CD-Rom isn't quite the same but I thought I'd give it a try. CD audio out, aside, I thought I'd at least see if it would boot and run from an imaged CF. So far, no luck despite a variety of methods. Under Linux, it's fairly straightforward to do a bit-by-bit imaging. In this case, we had already created an ISO when we copied the CD, so we used that as our input file, then used the drive device (not mounted) as our output file. Seems to work fine when we're imaging the hard drives as it brings everything over: filesystem, partitions, etc. I know, the bootable CD filesystem is a bit different than an HDD. Still, figured it might be worth a shot. Ah well.

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Re: MK3 Boardset Troubleshooting

Post by MonMotha » Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:52 pm

IIRC, these old versions of PIU actually run under DOS (!). Replacing the CD-ROM with a hard drive (or a lookalike such as a CF card in an adapter running in TrueIDE mode) is not likely to work as CD-ROMs and HDDs look very different in DOS.

Your intermitent lock-up problems sound like power issues (replace caps) or overheating, but long load times sounds more like a media issue. If you've already replaced the CD-ROM drive and the media, then I don't know much more that would help there. As for overheating, the only things I can really suggest are to make sure all heatsinks are on tight and are clean, and make sure that all fans are clean and turning freely at expected speeds. The video RAM is known to toast itself, but that wouldn't likely lead to random failures other than video nonsense. If your video RAM is toast, it's not worth fixing: the chips are hard to find and I taking the time to swap small surface mount chips like that isn't likely worth the effort as a MK6 + NX2 is about $1850 from most distributors.

In addition to checking caps on the mobo, also check all the various power supplies. MK3s are powered from external DC supplies in the giant "box 'o power". These are your standard formfactor SMPSs as found in most arcades. If you doubt them, just replace them. Note that you wouldn't need these if you upgrade to a MK6, so if you are really doubtful as to fixing, it may be worth just springing for the MK6 and software update at that point.
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Re: MK3 Boardset Troubleshooting

Post by PlayerTwo » Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:54 pm

MonMotha wrote:IIRC, these old versions of PIU actually run under DOS (!). Replacing the CD-ROM with a hard drive (or a lookalike such as a CF card in an adapter running in TrueIDE mode) is not likely to work as CD-ROMs and HDDs look very different in DOS.
Actually, I accidentally booted from the Premiere 3 CD in my PC and learned a bit more about how it works. When it first boots, you're greeted with an Andamiro Bootloader MK5 screen which shows load progress of, apparently, a disk image. It then goes into XP and tries to start D:/PIU/PIU32.EXE and fails. Ran a version check and it's actually running XP. That must be what the bootloader is loading up at the start, a ramdrive running XP. Might be XPe, haven't investigated further. However, despite all this, can't seem to figure out how to format or otherwise prep a drive to boot into the Andamiro bootloader. I'll need to poke around a bit more. At this point, the problem is just an academic curiosity but I can't help but feel it's possible to run from something like a CF card and likely we're close. I think it would resolve a lot of issues if I could make this work.

Kris
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