Welcome to the Al's Arcade Tech pages. While I KNOW that I don't know nearly as much as others out there, there is a ton of information that I'd like to pass on to everyone.
While discussing this new section with an operator friend of mine, he said something along the lines of "so you do this out of the kindness of your heart, right? Why Bother?". Interesting thought. It would be easier to NOT do this kind of thing and just spend more time with my own games and friends and stuff. But the thing is, the web page and documenting my successes and failures is what I like to do.
In my past I ran a couple of bulletin board systems (BBS). These were computers that you could call in to with your modem and leave a message on them for other people. There were public forums and private e-mails. Since it wasn't the internet, it was more closely related. People were geographically closer. But this kept the people who called in more in touch with each other. Friendships were formed and everyone gained something. I miss the days of the BBS, but now we can do so much more for so many more people. The Video Game and Pinball people who are really "In" this hobby, sometimes forget just how confusing this all can be. I know I was.
The first thing I did was to find the specs for the JAMMA wiring and figured out that video games are just a collection parts wired together. You basically have a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) that controls everything, a power supply, a monitor, a control panel with buttos, sticks, trakball, etc., coin box, and a marquee light (I ALWAYS fix these). JAMMA games are simple to work on as long as you have a good PCB and monitor. I "Restored" two converted games back to thier converted glory. I learned a lot about cabinet work and the basic electronics. But my first real restoration was my Atari Battlezone. BZ was THE game I played in College. I was never the best there was, but I knew enough about it to always have high scores on machines I walked away from. I found a dead one and this started me down the road of "Classic Restoration". Vector games like BZ are more confusing because you can have a PCB problem that will manifest itself as a monitor problem so I would suggest that newbies make them thier second or third project if possible.
Newbies should also remember that there are dangers inside of these machines. Figure that the 20K volts running through the picture tube on your monitor requires your respect. I still use caution when adjusting a monitor on one of these things. Nothing is as important as your safety. I've felt the 110 AC on a few occasions when I remembered that turning off the machine is not the same as unplugging it. So use the information here with care and read everthing you can find. Some links follow that will aid you in your quest.