Tools needed to repair arcade games

Interesting post from the Klov arcade game forum from the week, tools for repairing arcade games.

The original post was titled ‘Which tools should be on the ultimate test bench?‘ and there were some awesome contributions for tools that are needed for diagnosing and repairing arcade games from monitors, to power supplies to PCB (game boards).

Have suggestions to add to this list?

  • Should it be broken up by section – meaning should we list the tools needed under ‘Monitors’, ‘PCBs’, etc.
  • Should it be categorized by beginner, intermediate or advanced?
  • What tools are missing?
  • Can we add links for best place to buy these tools?
  • Can we add definitions of the tools and how they’re used?

Even tools you might make yourself. Leave a comment and I’ll add your suggestions so we can fill out this list for anyone interested in trying to repair their own favorite classic arcade.

The list of necessary tools for arcade game repair

Probably not completely comprehensive, but probably a good start, here is a list that was generated by collectors with many different levels of expertise in repairing games. In the end the most important things to possess are excellent troubleshooting skills and in-depth knowledge of electronics, so keep that in mind.

Stock of Reference Materials
  • Game Manuals
  • Game Documents
General diagnostic / repair tools
  • CRT Rejuvenator – Sencore CR70 or CR7000 – A rejuvenator is a useful tool if you go through many games, otherwise it is not something you will use often even if you own dozens of machines.
  • Variac
  • NTSC Pattern Generator – (Wico, Bench-Mate) If you have enough games to warrant owning one, you will already have a test bench with board tester rigs that can do the job better.
  • Multimeter – Fluke brand is best
  • High Voltage Probe (Discharge Tool)
  • Multimeter
  • Good DVM – Need a set of very fine isolated points – Helpful to prevent cross over or bridged points when looking at IC pins
  • Anolog DVM – Great for checking the burst of voltage a degauss circuit generates
  • Good Dual Trace Scope – Tek or HP/Agilent
  • RGB Generators – RGB and Composite Video.
  • Isolation transformer(s) for your test equipment – To prevent different potentials when going to measure a pulse on a monitor chassis.
  • Transistor checker – Recommended brand – Cricket
  • Cap Checker
  • Leak Seeker – This device helps find shorts on non active circuit boards. ex; B+ line is being dragged down by a bad part rather than go threw the circuit and start lifting legs on parts to isolate the problem area this device uses an audible tone as you get closer to the part that is closest to ground the pitch increases.
  • Assortment of TV Alignment Tools
    • Dental Picks
    • Surgical Clamps
    • Color coded test leads
      • Alligator
      • Push & Hook
  • Micro Scope – With a variable light ring
  • Magnifier Light – With a light ring.
  • Sheet Music Stand – For manuals and schematics
  • Shop cart
  • Outlet Strip – To quickly shut the power down
  • TTL Logic Cook Book – Paperback
  • Silver Solder – For reflowing the high heat areas of a board
  • Tube of White Heat paste
  • Assorted sizes of solder wick
  • Manual De-solder Stick
  • Freeze Mist – For finding components that fail or work after they heat up.
  • Solder / De-solder Stations – Metcal = best, though Hakko or Weller are fine
  • Logic Analyzer – Often not all that useful to even the more advanced techs (if you’re asking about one, you probably don’t need one), but an HP 16500x should be more than enough for most people.
  • Logic Probe
  • Logic Injector
  • Substitution / Comparator Box
  • Hot Air Solder Station
  • Flux Smoke Removal / Filter Fan
  • High Voltage Probe – With built-in meter – Suggested B&K – Model 44
  • Flyback Checker
  • Variable DC Power Supply – With an inline breaker
  • Tin of Flux
  • Tip Cleaner – Looks like a gold Brillo pad
  • Degauss Coils – Large and small
  • De-magnetizer
  • Surface Mount Component Solder Station
  • Button Wrenches
  • Fuse Clips – S shaped pieces of metal that allow you to clip over a solder in fuse and use a regular fuse. Great for trouble shooting boards with a shorted component
  • EPROM Eraser – Spectroline Brand Recommended
  • Wrist Ground Strap – Static from your hands can ruin an IC
  • Helper Clip Stand – Small metal stand with movable alligator clips on it. Great for holding two pieces of wire together in a straight line as you solder them or components in place before you solder.
  • Quality Crimp Tool – With assortment of dyes for connector pins and another for spade/butt connects
  • Decent Device Programmer(s) – Data I/O, Needhams, Xeltek
PCB Repair – General
  • Midway Universal test rigs – For benching most PCBs
  • Kurz-Kasch TF-650
  • Atari PAT 9000
  • 13″ Monitor for testing PCBs
  • PCB Holder – For soldering and working on both sides of the game board
  • Good stock of cataloged / organized parts and components
PCB Repair – Specialized
  • Cinematronics Exorcisor
  • Atari CAT Box – Or a Fluke Micro System Troubleshooter
  • 9010A with many pods – Best is a 9100a with editor station
  • Jamma / Cherry Master Test Box – With a monitor somewhere up on your bench so that you can test all of the functions of a boards
Specialty items / Special Functions
  • 100VAC (output) Isolation Transformer – For testing a 100VAC monitor
Related Tools / Items
  • Heat Gun
  • Laptop – Internet ready
  • Printer on a movable / swingable arm
  • Cordless Screwdriver – Long shaft security bits as well as the regular assortment
  • Shrink Tube Assortment
  • Wire Ties
  • Wire – Different sizes and colors
  • Rags
  • Chemicals
  • Glue(s)
  • Cleaners
    • Contact cleaner
    • Component cleaner
  • Synthetic Grease – Does not dry up and stiffen
  • Manila Tags with String – For setting a project aside so you can ID all of the parts and what you did so far
  • Ziplock Baggies – For storing parts
  • Plastic Dishes – For parts that have been removed
  • Sharpie Markers – Fine and thick tip for labeling connectors on a board and for marking their position on a board when there are spare pins sticking out
  • Dremel Tool
  • Paint Easel
  • Mirrors in frames – Assortment – You can use a rope attached to the top of my large mirror to tilt it while it is on the easel and see the monitor from the back of the game, turning on the pots.
  • Sand Paper
  • Pinball Files
  • Bulb Socket Cleaner
  • Bulb Removal Tool
  • Quality Excilite Cutters
  • Quality Needle Nose Pliers
  • Spade / Butt Connectors
Cleanup Items
  • Isophraphal 90%+ Alcohol – Cleaning the flux off the board when you are done soldering. Flux is a mild acid and is conductive. Down the road it can cause weird problems with your game.
  • Tooth brush
  • Plastic Straight Brush
  • Air Compressor with Spray Nozzel – Blowing off bench
  • Paint Brushes – Wide and narrow for cleaning the dirt off of boards and monitor chassis
  • Compressed Air
  • Small Shop Vac
Here are some similar arcade posts

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.

User Gravatar

Thank you so much for the information…

User Gravatar


You’re welcome. I know there are some people who read this arcade game blog who don’t participate on the forums, so I wanted to provide this list of arcade tools for them as well.

User Gravatar

Thanks for the tips, very useful. What brand and model of 13″ monitor is useful for pcb repair? I will be building a pcb repair station and gathering all the basic tools now. Just don’t know what kind of monitor to use. Any info will be appreciated.

Leave a comment

Your email address is never displayed and cannot be spammed. If your comments are excessively self-promotional you will be banned from commenting. Read our comment privacy policy.



Pingbacks / Trackbacks