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  Conchess Repairs (?) Live
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   Author  Topic: Conchess Repairs (?) Live  (Read 1957 times)
Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« on: March 4, 2006, 02:39AM »
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Hi All

The final episode of the Conchess repairs - Buttons.

In my limited experience Button switches, even in front of reed switches and LEDs, are the worst weakness of the Conchess machines. Reed switches can go on any auto sensory board, the older they are the more vulnerable. So apart from the Auto Response Board (Applied Concepts 1980) Conchess Chess Computers were amongst the first auto sensory boards released and you would expect the occasional reed switch to fail. However the button switches are weaker than on other machines I have looked at.

I managed to mend two buttons on the Fidelity Elegance with no problem but on the Conchess Monarchs I tried several and only managed to mend one. This put Monarch (B) back in full working order though.

This is the Monarch (C) board showing, on the right edge of the PCB, the metal button return springs :-



and a spring removed with the tiny "post" underneath :-



You press the button and the spring makes contact with the post. You release the button and the contact is broken. What can go wrong?

Well I found three things. Firstly the soldered connections can fail. You may get an unreliable result, or no result, from pressing the button in this case. Secondly there may be foreign matter between spring and post as was the case with Monarch (B) where adhesive or flux was preventing proper contact. This was probably an original manufacturing fault. Being the King button it did not matter too much apart from preventing position set up. Thirdly and the most likely for the old machines is a build up of small amounts of corrosion (oxidation) between the spring and post. This can be solved by just scrapping the corrosion off, which is what I did with the two Fidelity Elegance switches.

However on a Conchess the "posts" are tiny and comparatively fragile. It is quite easy to damage one and fiddly to solder into the PCB. My Monarch (C) had obviously had problems in the past and repairs had been attempted. The top off one post came off immediately I touched it with the soldering iron. Three other buttons did not work. I made no progress and without replacement bits I decided to leave it alone. Anyway the machine still plays chess and has a few levels available.

If anyone knows where to get similar button switches I would be grateful to know.

Just to finish off here is a gadget to help in getting the correct LED for your machine.



Yes Chris the Ambassador has the correct LED now, and yet another reed switch repaired.

Happy repairs
Mike



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Chris
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2006, 02:39PM »
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Congratulations Mike!  - I quite like the brighter version!

'Relieved' regards

Chris
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2006, 02:29PM »
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No problem Chris, you just beat me to it. Thank you very much for your efforts to get the reed switches. I need some more before attempting the ARB repair.

But for now back to the Ambassador Led.

My dear old grandmother did not stay around long but one thing she did teach me, before she left, was that - If you don't at first succeed Try, Try again.

So I took the useless Led out and tried another one. No reason I could see why this should work any better, but it did. 

So here it is :-



g7 brightly illuminated.

Those with an observant nature will notice that g7 is rather too brightly illuminated. When I got the Leds I asked the guy in Maplins which he thought would be the best type for this job. He mentioned that there is a High Efficiency 3mm red Led or a Super Bright 3mm red Led. No, I got the High Efficiency ones Part No. WL34M.



They are still too bright, but I am so relieved it is working I really do not care. I have now personalised the Ambassor. If I have to take the back off again I shall try to find the correct Led but for now it's fine.

Next a Fidelity Voice Sensory Led I think. What are the chances?

Caio
Mike
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Chris
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2006, 05:19AM »
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Hi Mike 


Quote:


That's great Chris thank you very much. I was going to do you a PM.



Sorry I tend to fire off responses before thinking - PM would be better - I will send you a PM with full details of progress.

Best wishes

Chris
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2006, 02:47AM »
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So I soldered in the new Led. I was so confident it was going to work fine that I completely reassembled the Ambassdor, switched on and started adding the chess pieces. Whoops. Bad move!!

Having got the pieces on the board the g7 light stays on. I take the piece off and the light goes out. It's the wrong way around.

Confidence dented I take the Ambassador apart again, mark the Led and take it out. For want of a better idea  I turn it round and solder it back in. Worries start to mount. Too much solder, have I short circuited anything. Whoops could I break a track?

I do just enough reassembling to test it. Nothing.
g7 does not even flicker. Any ideas?

Mike
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2006, 03:02PM »
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OK the Ambassador Led. This is as far as I have got. The Ambassador board is a miniature of the Monarch and just as easy to work on.

I have taken out the g7 Led which was not working. The screwdriver points to the spot. The little plastic holders are just there to support the board with the Leds at the right height.



The other side of the PCB. The screwdriver points to the holes for the Led.



and here is the old Led and the one I shall try to replace it with.



Mike
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2006, 02:33PM »
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That's great Chris thank you very much. I was going to do you a PM.

I put in a special order but I was quoted "at least 7 days, but they are coming in rather slowly". In other words don't call us.........

The part is on Page 924 of the catalogue and it is called a Micro Reed Switch CL37. The ones I had were CL 37S but it does not make a difference.

If they are like our branch they seem to have a policy of stocking them in threes. Up to a dozen would be great.

Many thanks
Mike
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Chris
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2006, 02:17PM »
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Hi Mike 


Quote:


I have ordered a lot of reed switches  but I am also going to take advantage of Chris's offer to go down his local Maplin's as well.



Ready and willing  - At the risk of displaying my lack of technical knowledge - what are the magic words?  'reed switch with 1.4cm bullb'? - I don't want to get the wrong size 

Any particular number in mind, or shall I clean them out? 

I'll see if I can pop down in my lunch hour tomorrow (Friday).

'Reed hunter' regards

Chris
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2006, 02:02PM »
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Many thanks for the congrats. I shall chance my luck with the Ambassador repair tomorrow. The Led is already out and a supply of new ones is ready.

Alain, just for you, this is what a broken ARB reed switch looks like.



There is another component, a diode?, soldered to the reed switch and the pair are bent like a hairpin  so that the switch sits inside the chessboard.

So to mend this one I have to unsolder the diode from the broken reed switch and solder it back onto the new reed switch. 

I have ordered a lot of reed switches but I am also going to take advantage of Chris's offer to go down his local Maplin's as well.

All the best
Mike
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Alain Zanchetta
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2006, 12:22PM »
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Congratulations Mike !

can you give me again the address where I can send my ARB ?

just kidding regards,

Alain
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Chris
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2006, 11:45AM »
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Hi Mike 

Congratulations on this successful repair - it is a beautiful looking (working  ) machine!

Best wishes

Chris
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Robert Weck
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2006, 06:16AM »
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Quote from: Mike Watters on February 15, 2006, 12:12PM   

Very good job, Mike!

It is good to see such a computer coming back to life!

When i was young, i always wanted an Escorter or Ambassador, but i couldn't afford it in these days!


Robert
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Ismenio
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2006, 08:23PM »
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Very well done Mike!!! 

I'll start saving these pictorial Do-it-yourself chess computer repairs we are seeing here!

Interestingly, I got an email from a visitor who seems to want to repair a Tasc board and was asking me for the pictures from the Tasc repair thread! So we may be helping others revive some of the good old computers!

(I'll have to locate those pictures, apparently they're now showing up on the thread anymore)

Great to see collectors taking that step! And sharing with the community 

Ismenio

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Bazza_Rook
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2006, 06:38PM »
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Hi. Mike.
Congratulations in the fixing of the old Conchess, I purchased one of these a number of years ago and being a Test Engineer took great delight in replacing about 5 of these Reed Switches to get it going and turned a 4.99 (charity shop) Chess Computer into a nice piece of kit, mind you I do own a D.M.M. (Sorry Digital Multi Meter). Since then I seem to have repaired quite a few and some different ones including a GGM Boris Sargon.  The reason for the failing switches is as I said, if the glass is not broken or cracked then the Contacts can become oxidised due to no current or very low current running through them, even if you place a magnet very close to them you may hear the contacts change state but the oxidisation will prevent the current flow. I am glad you were careful with it, I would have hated it to have gone the same way as the  CC10.    P.S.  It is nice to see more Wood.
Salutations Barrie.
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2006, 12:12PM »
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Hi All

Well having learnt about the care needed in dealing with reed switches I soldered in the replacement reed switch with no further problems. Quite fiddly though.

I put the PCB back in the board and connected the power up. A bundle of nerves I expected the d1 square would still be playing up. As the last chess piece went on amazingly it wasn't playing up. I made my first move..................................................and the Monarch replied with its tiny beep and the d7 light on. I moved the piece. Perfect.

Off I went on a lap of honour round the lounge punching the air and the wife came in to see what all the fuss was about.

This is the Monarch back in full working order.



and this is the culprit



There is no way of knowing from looking at it that it is faulty. Passing a magnet over it, you still hear a tiny click. I think I will take Gerards advice and buy a Multimeter. Can you blow components using one of those things?

The Ambassador Led next.

Mike

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Chris
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2006, 10:01AM »
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Hi Mike, 

Whoahh! - this looks like some major surgery (at least to the untrained eye of this simple Boris surgeon!).

Good luck officer on this hazardous mission!  - it is fascinating to see the insides of these different computers and all the pictures are not excellent but very informative also.


Quote:

I am hoping that this is just a failed reed switch at d1. Maplin Electronics had the same size reed switches and I have bought their entire stock.......3.


If you need any more of these, let me know I can easily pop along to my local Maplin which is down the road and re-supply as required. At least I know what they look like now!



'Counted them (reed switches) all out and counted them back in' regards


Chris
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Mike Watters
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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2006, 09:17AM »
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Thank you Gerard I think I am going to need it.

This is what a Conchess type reed switch looks like.



They have a 1.4 cm. bulb. Only cost 99 pence as Barrie said.

This is what happens to one when you don't treat it with enough care.    One end of the switch is pulled out of the bulb.



Now down to two switches.

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Re:Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2006, 07:56AM »
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Hello Mike

One of the tubular switch is in short-circuit! 
Check which with your multimetre ...

Good Luke 
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Mike Watters
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Conchess Repairs (?) Live
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2006, 06:23AM »
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Hi All

I have been spending the last two months sorting out my collection, cataloguing it in lots of detail, and testing every machine. Now I have reached the point where I think I should do something about the faulty ones.

When you are talking about faulty chess computers the name of Conchess quickly rears its pretty head. They do seem prone to various failures, reed switches, buttons, Leds etc? Or is it just mine?

I have 3 Monarchs (please don't ask why ), an Ambassador and an Escorter. The Escorter could be the last one ever sold brand new? 49 August 2005 from Eric Hallsworth. So that one is alright. I also have a mint Monarch(A). The Ambassador has an LED out. One of the Monarchs(B) has what I hope is only a reed switch failure. Another Monarch(C) was the subject of the thread "The Old Monarch Lives"

http://users.boardnation.com/~chesscomputers/index.php?board=1;action=display;threadid=92

That plays well but some of the buttons require a hard long push and some do not work. Not necessarily such a bad thing as the Conchess buttons are so confusing it is best not to touch them at all.

Anyway for your entertainment I am going to try to mend Monarch(B). Thanks Barrie for the information and tips.

This is the Monarchs current condition :-



The PCB is held down by four wood rails which are screwed to the chessboard. Crude but effective. It is easily disassembled. You can clearly see the reed switches (on the diagonals), Leds and the metallic switch return springs for the buttons.




The other side of the PCB.



Definitely not SingleChip. The program cassettes fit into the grey thingies.

The fault symptons are that you set the pieces up as usual but as soon as you make any move the d1 Led flashes and the board does not register any move you make. You can get d1 to stop flashing by pressing a few buttons but as soon as you pick up a piece, on it comes again.

In this state the Monarch is useless for chess.

I am hoping that this is just a failed reed switch at d1. Maplin Electronics had the same size reed switches and I have bought their entire stock.......3.

I shall try to remove the d1 reed switch and fit a new one. As I have not used a soldering iron more than a dozen times in my life this could be traumatic. Wish me luck.

Mike
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