Space Encounters Strobe Light PCB Repair Log

This is the strobe light PCB - DOA.

The strobe tube and reflector are melted together but the lens was salvageable.  This seems to be a very common failure with this game and I’m sure caused many problems for route owners who liked to keep their games in tip top shape.

I thought a quick Internet search would allow me to acquire the necessary replacement parts and enable me to get my strobe PCB running...boy was I wrong!  I did find the strobe light was a component in Bally's Flash Gordon Pinball machine, however the part was out of stock and has yet to be reproduced.  Bummer!  I like to keep everything original as possible so hearing this was like running into a brick wall.   I still kept searching for a viable  replacement and ultimately focused on old cameras.  All had strobe lights but nothing near the size I was looking for.  Enter the Polaroid camera!

I actually found one of these cameras in the strangest of own basement!  They also can be picked up very cheap (note the price tag) from your local thrift store.  The lens looks to be the exact size I have been looking for!  Yipeeee!

A quick tip on how to take apart the camera and get what you need.  Just insert a small flat blade screwdriver into both snap fit ends of the flash bar.  You can then easily pull the two halves of the flash bar apart.

*Caution*  If you are unfamiliar with the danger of electronics please consult an expert to help you with this step

Upon opening the flash bar you will immediately notice a large black capacitor staring you right in the face.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS assume it is fully charged and therefore must be discharged before removing the strobe light assembly.  I used the old school bulb discharge method and it worked fine. 

Here is a close up of the discharge method with the strobe light assembly removed for picture purposes only.  The positive and negative terminals are clearly marked.  Be sure to wait a bit and repeat the discharge procedure until you are sure the capacitor is fully discharged.

With the capacitor fully discharged, the strobe light assembly can easily be removed.

Now here is the amazing part.  You can unsnap the lens from the Polaroid strobe assembly and snap it right onto the original housing! The finished assembly looks completely NOS!  Solder the leads which for this application was black in place of red, blue in place of white and the trigger wire....well that stays as the trigger wire.

This strobe PCB is now repaired and ready for some great flashing effects!  I have repaired two different boards with this technique and they have been happily flashing away without problems!  Good luck with your restoration and don’t forget to do whatever it takes to save these classic arcade machines!