This is my line of replacement display boards for Model H and Model S Skee Ball machines. These boards replace the original printed circuit boards (PCBs) that used mini-bulbs to display the game score and balls played. My completely redesigned boards are drop-in replacements for these classic games.
I have created replacement boards for both the score display and the ball count display:
(1) Skee Score: This is the score display board. It uses a micro-controller that is running software I wrote to convert the computer's serial data stream into score digits presented to the game's player. As I've tried to demonstrate in the video and photos, I thoughtfully designed this board to fit directly on the back of the original display baffle. It easily attaches into existing mounting holes on the baffle using banana clips that I provide. The wiring harness is identical to the original mini-bulb display board so you can simply unplug the old one from your machine's computer and plug in Skee Score replacement. You will need to remove the mini-bulbs from the original board to create space for the installation but you do not have to remove the original board... super easy!
(2) Skee Ball-Count: This is the ball count display board. It also uses a micro-controller running software I wrote to convert the incoming serial data stream presented to the game's player. I designed it to connect directly to either the original mini-bulb score board or to my Skee Score replacement. Simply unplug the mini-bulb ball count board and plug in the Skee Ball-Count replacement. My replacement board has mounting holes so it can be installed behind your existing baffle directly on the baffle's mounting studs or it can be snapped in to my redesigned Skee Ball-Count Baffle and installed on the existing mounting studs as a unit... simplicity is good!
(3) Skee Ball-Count Baffle: This replaces the original ball count light baffle. Unfortunately the plastic in the original baffles is often brittle from years of exposure to the heat radiated from the mini-bulbs. Frustrated by my original that is literally rubber-banded together, I designed a replacement that is a perfect fit with my Skee Ball-Count board - together they are a "better than original" solution... awesome!
Some technical details - My redesigned boards use today's technologies to recreate the look and feel of the original parts. For example, my boards are micro-controller driven so they are not using the out-of-production electronic components that were used to build the originals. I wrote the software for the micro-controller instructing it to perform the conversion of the Skee computer's data stream into the 7 segment displays. I've incorporated high quality LEDs made by CREE into my designs to eliminate the fragile lamp sockets on the originals and to forever solve the problem of replacing the incandescent lamps. This also eliminates the heat from the bulbs that over time ruin the plastic baffles.
Lots of reasons:
1. The original skee ball products are no longer made. This has created a secondary market of what first appear to be overpriced used parts. No question they are used, but when you look closer they may not be overpriced. Some of the components on the originals (such as the serial to parallel shift register) are no longer manufactured and zero "old stock" supply is available from reliable sources to repair failures. Lack of supply is driving the market for the used parts.
An ancillary consequence of the rising prices in the secondary parts market is that an increasing number of these classic games get torn apart as "donor machines" which reduces the overall supply for future generations to enjoy. That's unfortunate because they are a lot of fun!
2. The lamp sockets on the original boards are fragile. When they crack they no longer reliably hold the small bulbs. The lamp sockets are still available but that's not much use if you can't (or don't want to) risk soldering your old PCBs... and they aren't cheap.
3. The bulbs for the original boards are surprisingly expensive, periodically need replaced and 80% of the energy they consume is expelled as heat. The LEDs on my boards never need replaced. Further, unlike the incandescent light bulbs the LEDs do not get hot. That's better for your baffles - over time the excess heat was making them brittle and fragile.
My Skee Score and Skee Ball-Count replacement boards offer lower cost of ownership for the long term with much less maintenance needed compared to the original parts and without wearing out your baffles. My goal is to learn about marketability so I'm using my boards in the offerings:
Front of the line package deals: I have enough of all the components to ship these complete sets right after this campaign ends. These will be shipped by March 2018
a-la-carte boards for regular delivery: If you want just a Skee Score or just a Skee Ball-Count, That's great. Choose the appropriate reward and join in... your participation will help me judge stock levels for sales after this campaign ends. These rewards will be shipped by June 2018.
Complete sets for regular delivery: You get a Skee Score, a Skee Ball-Count and the Ball-Count Baffle from the same I order for the a-la-carte reward delivered by June 2018 but at a package deal price.
Don't need a board yet but want to support my campaign? Here are three additional options:
Stand-Alone Skee Ball-Count Display: Don't have a Skee Ball machine but love the game? This reward is the Skee Ball-Count with the Ball-Count baffle adapted to execute a display demonstration program instead of code slaving it to a Skee Ball machine. This stand-alone board will be powered via USB and I will include a USB power cable. What a great way to incorporate some Skee nostalgia into your game room or office without bringing in a 13 foot long by 7 foot tall Skee Ball machine!
A KAHR.US Circuits t-shirt: If you want to support my project but aren't ready to commit to buy a board, I also have a limited supply of company shirts. Sizes are limited to Medium, Large, and XL.
A face-to-face Thank You opportunity: I will mail you a card thanking you for your support. If you bring the card to my booth at the Texas Pinball Festival in Dallas, TX or Pinfest in Allentown, PA I will thank you in person.
As you can see in the video I've got a the completed product ready for production. The demonstration on my model S Skee Ball machine are from January 2018. I have in-house limited-quantity of all the components to assemble the"front of the line" batch for on-time delivery. This campaign will help me gauge demand and size my stock levels for the Skee Score and Skee Ball Count products. The regular delivery rewards will be delivered by June 2018.
After the campaign ends and rewards are delivered the new Skee Score and Skee Ball-Count products will be available for purchase on my pinball and arcade products web site at http://www.kahr.us. I will also maintain listings for the Skee Score and Skee Ball-Count on sites such as eBay where today's secondhand parts market operates.
If you made it this far, Thanks for reading my entire writeup and if you choose to back my my campaign be sure that I greatly appreciate your trust and support.
Risks and challenges
I've been successfully delivering the products I create (e.g., the WPC Power Fix, the Pinball 2000 H+V Video Sync Combiner) for years so there is very little risk that I will not follow through and complete the project. I have literally delivered thousands of items to customers and am known for quickly filling orders.
My Skee Score scoreboard and Skee Ball-Count product designs are complete, I have the components on hand to build and deliver the March 2018 rewards. Additional components are well stocked at multiple supply houses, so there is very little risk that supply chain will fail or manufacturing would be delayed.
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