A SIGHT FOR SAW EYES

Review by Phil Docker.

Well – the idea seems great. A Theatre of Magic tiger saw blade modification that takes minutes to install – that’s what Pinball Pro promise us with this kit.

As a keen mod'er of pinball machines I decided to give this one a go.

I have installed the other kit for the ToM saw blade before, and was not really impressed with that one. Lots of drilling and fiddling around, soldering wires onto PCBs under the main playfield and also having a great big motor stuck on the back of the tiger doesn’t look good when you look closely at the machine.

From PayPal-ing the money to the USA and getting the kit only took a few days. Customs gave me no issues this time, but be warned - you could get a customs duty/VAT charge land on your door mat when the kit arrives.

I must admit the first thing I did when I opened the box was check the packaging to make sure there are no other parts. I thought some controller PCB had fallen out of the packing – this was not the case. What I saw was everything required.

On first inspection the blade looks fantastic, gold in colour and very well made.

The blade is turned by what looks like a fan unit, similar to what is used to cool down an older Pentium CPU. The fan is screwed onto the PCB and then another bit of PCB is used as the back part. So to install the blade all you do is take the old one off and sit this one in its place.

I found it easier to first remove the mirror on the right, then loosen the right hand side bolt on the tiger saw plastic. As per the kit instructions you remove the existing left hand side screw and spacer. Do not throw this bolt or spacer away yet.

Next thing to be done is feed the wire carefully through the hole that is pre-drilled. Easy!

Now, with the supplied nut, use the newly supplied spacer and the existing one to space out the plastic to the bracket.

What I would like to ask is why don’t they supply a spacer big enough so you can throw the old one out. At the moment I have two different coloured spacers, which I feel looks a bit unfinished and unprofessional.

Next you clip the wire using the nut and nylon clip to the back of this bolt. I think they should supply a sticky pad with a tie wrap to tidy up this wire.

That’s the mechanical part done, so after refixing the mirror, I turn my attention to the electronics.

The wire splits into four parts: Two connectors, one crocodile clip and one crimp lug.

At this point it is good practice to turn off your pinball machine.

The earth connection (the black wire) on the spade connector can be taken from any screw on the back box as that carries a zero volt supply. I choose to use the screw pictured on the instructions.

Next up are two connectors which go onto the CPU board.

This was quite fiddly to do, as the connectors are not big enough to fit over all the pins on the connector, so if you are not careful you can put these on wrong. I would have preferred to see the Bally/Williams style connectors on these wires.

Last but not least is the 12v connector.

This is a crocodile clip. I do not like this connection. It clips onto the test point for the 12V supply (TP 12V) on the power driver board. I find it hard to believe there is not a 12V supply spare on this PCB to run a very low power circuit. My vote for this connection would be another plug rather than the clip. I think this could come off (especially in transport) and possibly short out a vital connection in the back box. The clip is insulated but sorry, I do not trust this!

One powering up the machine I tested the captive ball shot with a ball -the motor started turning. As per the instructions – the more I hit the captive ball, the faster the motor would spin.

Nowadays on the IPDB site there is a new eprom made, so the tiger saw can be fed from the power driver board. With the proper eprom – the tiger saw blade does turn where Bally WANTED the original to turn. In TIGER SAW mode. This kit works all thru the game, whenever the captive ball is hit.

There is a way to get a mod kit working in the tiger saw mode – it would not take much to make a kit which worked the way the prototype did.

GOOD PARTS:

1. Ease of installing – only took 5 minutes maximum for me to fit. I would imagine a ‘non-techy’ person would do the job in 20 minutes.
2. The blade is nice, and looks good in gold.
3. First time it spins you realise how good it looks!
4. No need for any soldering.
5. No EPROM upgrade.
6. Good, clear instructions with quality pictures.


BAD PARTS:

1. Crocodile clip to pick up 12V power. I am tempted to find a spare supply on the power driver board, or at least glue gun the crocodile clip in place.
2. The connectors on the CPU board should be full size connectors to make sure they can not go on the wrong way.
3. Maybe some graphic should be printed on the blade, so when its moving it looks even more impressive.
4. Could do with some cable ties in the kit
5. Wire from blade between back of playfield and backbox gets sometimes ‘trapped’ when lowering playfield. Again – cable ties can help this problem.

This kit cost me $110 USD, which is what - £60? I love the idea of using a easy fix blade, but I am tempted to put some glue on it to hold it in place when the playfield is up (thank God for glue guns).

At present this is the BEST KIT on the market to do this modification. BUT – it could be a lot better. Sort out the connectors, or even send it out with the new eprom upgrade and feed it via the power driver board as it should be. The motor driver PCB could fit on the PCB where the electronics are to run this.

I was a bit worried about the fan style motor, but it works really well. In a few years if the motor fails, you can go to a local electronic supplier, put another fan in and use some double sided tape to refix the blade. This will require a tiny bit of soldering.

Pictured is Aid Cooper who helped me by holding the light, supplying coffee and regular banter….

Changing the subject Aid, I can see by the last picture where my bar towels go – and it is obvious now your high scores creep up when I am not in the room….

To conclude:
I would give this kit 8 out of 10 overall. Room for improvement, but still a great modification.

Take care all…..

Phil Docker
www.jukedock.co.uk
jukedock@blueyonder.co.uk

Kit supplied by PINBALL PRO
www.decoratorsupply.com/pinball
The kit is not currently on this website, so you will need to contact them via email.


Editor's Note:

We put the points raised in the review to Decorator Supply and they said they are working on a new version of the tiger saw mod with improved connectors on the CPU board as Phil suggested.

They also plan to produce a board to produce lighting effects on the pop bumper mirror. Check on their website for details when this product become available.

 

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