How to Repair a Blank Screen on an Arcade Game
By Karen Adams
Updated September 22, 2017
Items you will need
Good soldering iron
ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance) meter
Insulated alligator clips (jumper cables)
Insulated flat-head screwdriver
An arcade game is a great classic way to spend time with friends and family. However, these vintage video games do have their drawbacks, including old fuses and faulty wires as a result of aging. The days of Pac-Man and his lady Ms. Pac-Man are not over simply because your game's monitor suddenly turns black. There are many reasons that your dear arcade game could be on the fritz, but there are also many solutions to saving your high score from the scrap heap.
Preparation: Discharging the Arcade Monitor
Turn the power switch off and make sure the game is unplugged before attempting to repair inside the arcade cabinet.
Assemble your monitor discharging tools. The arcade game's monitor must be discharged before attempting to repair it. To do this, you will need a wire resistor, insulated alligator clips and an insulated flat-head screwdriver.
Clamp a jumper on each end of the resistor, using two jumpers from the alligator clips. Then clip a free end of the jump to the flat edge of the screwdriver with an insulated handle.
Attach the last jumper to the unpainted metal portion of the arcade monitor.
Move the other end of the screwdriver towards the suction cup and anode inside the arcade cabinet, with insulated flat-head screwdriver in hand. The anode is a wire-covered part by the suction cup inside the monitor tube. Slide the flat part of the screwdriver underneath the suction.
Remove the screwdriver then wait a few minutes and repeat, after you touch the anode with the screwdriver. You should hear a loud pop or see a blue flash across the monitor. These results may vary. You should repeat this step in case of a residual charge. Now you can repair your monitor safely.
Test for a Bad Fuse
Check the power supply to make sure it is not the source of your blank screen, after the arcade monitor is discharged.
Follow the power chord from connector to chassis. Once you find the primary power supply, then see if there is a fuse.
Check the fuse to see if it is working properly, with a digital multimeter. Place the multimeter on the continuity test mode icon or diode test icon. Then take the probes and touch them to both ends of the fuse.
Check the reading. A good fuse beeps or reads 0 ohm. Any other reading, including none at all, indicates the fuse is bad or blown and needs to be replaced. Also, continuous fuse problems may be the result of bad power supply and wiring.
Other Issues: Flyback and Capacitors
Check the HOT (Horizontal Output Transistor) with a digital multimeter to see if it is shorted. If so, you probably have a bad flyback. The suction cup from when you discharged the monitor contains anodes that go to the monitor tube. The wire coming out of the suction cup attaches to a flyback. A flyback puts out a large amount of volts, which vary depending on the chassis size.
LIsten for a hissing noise. If you hear a hissing noise around the flyback, then your casing could be cracked. You should replace the flyback. Flybacks are available at many online arcade game shops, such as Flippers.com
Consider replacing capacitors. A faulty capacitor could also be the source of your monitor's bad behavior. Cap kits are also sold at arcade game shops and are expressly made for fixing problems in old game monitors. Cap kits include instructions on how to replace bad capacitors, but you will need a soldering iron to solder the new capacitors in place.
Consider replaicng the monitor entirely. There are many new monitor models for older arcade games that might improve your game's performance and screen clarity.
Cap kits also repair other problems, such as distortions, flicking images or lights, strange lines or double-imaging.
You must be comfortable working around electrical equipment. Please consult professional help if this is not the case.
Be sure to wear rubber gloves and remove all metal objects, such as jewelry, from your person.
Karen Adams has been writing professionally since 2003. At the University of Florida, she worked on the school's newspaper while earning her Bachelor of Arts in English. She contributes to many different publications regularly. Currently she lives and works in Florida and is a member of Florida University's Fiction Collective and "Tea Magazine."