Monday, November 3, 2014

Neotec 2515c Flyback Transformer Problem

I got my new JAMMA-compatible arcade cabinet up and running with MAME via RetroArch, but I noticed that the screen is blurry and has these weird, diagonal-ish horizontal lines going across the top half of the screen:
After digging around online, it seems these are known as retrace lines, and they occur when the flyback transformer is applying too much voltage to the screen. This behavior is typically accompanied by excessive brightness, as well. Normally, the solution to this would be to find the 'screen' knob on the flyback itself and turn it down just a bit until the lines go away.

However, I also learned that my specific monitor, a Neotec 2515c, is notorious for failing flyback transformers, and the issue becomes more pronounced as the monitor warms up. It also causes the image to get excessively blurry over time, to the point that small text becomes unreadable and bright colors turn into a smeary mess.

On the bright side of this being a super-common issue is that replacements can be found pretty cheaply, like this one from Twisted Quarter ($25 for one at the time of this writing), and they're pretty easy to replace, since they're expected to fail over time. In fact, next to leaky/fried capacitors, a dicky flyback is one of the most common problems a CRT display can face.

Nevertheless, fixing it means performing surgery on a CRT, which is home to many capacitors and high-voltage loads, so it's not for the faint of heart. I intend on tapping some local expertise to prepare for the task and will post some pics as I move forward.

In the meantime, I'm just going to keep my cabinet turned off unless I'm actually playing something to minimize the issue when I'm using it.

Update (9/15/2015): I ended up not doing the repair myself. After some local (mis)adventures, I shipped my board off to Sharp Image Repair in Las Vegas at the recommendation of Jason Wilson, who owns/runs Game Galaxy Arcades in the mid-TN area. Sharp's level of communication via email wasn't stellar, but the quality of their work certainly was. I would recommend them to anyone residing in the U.S., as they were quick, thorough and very reasonably priced.

For anyone that decides to take the job on themselves, make sure you check and compare the actual thickness of the wires on the new and old flybacks rather than going by the colors of the wires, as the replacements frequently use the same colors only reversed, and getting them swapped will definitely fry some stuff... -_-

If you want to see some shots of the repaired monitor, you can check some out at the bottom of this post.

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