We love buying tools as much as we like buying arcade games, but its easy to over do it, especially when you’re first starting out in the arcade business. To help out any operators who are just starting (or those who are playing along at home), we’ve compiled a list of the top ten tools that we use most, when fixing up our broken arcade games.
Multimeter – At the top if the list is the digital multimeter. You don’t need an expensive one, but it is worth paying more if you plan on using it every day. You’ll need this to do everything from diagnosing monitor repairs to troubleshooting bad connections.
Security bit set – If I had a quarter for every game that we’ve fixed because of a security screw issue, we’d have at least a couple of bucks saved up by now. Typically what happens is that something goes wrong with the controls and the home user cant get into the game. Once you unscrew the control panel, you can clean and repair the game and presto you have an easy fix.
1/4″ Nut driver – We use a nut driver so often, I’ve thought about carrying one on a tool belt. Quarter inch hex nuts are used to hold all kinds of pieces together, most notable it attaches the monitor’s chassis to it’s from. This one comes in so handy we have 3 of them.
Soldering Iron – You won’t be able to do any component level repairs without a good soldering (and desoldering) iron. Whether you need to change bad capacitors or fix a quick hack that a former operator did to a game, you won’t get very far without one.
Heat Shrink – We use heat shrink like its going extinct and we’re leading the charge. Sure you can wire nut, two wires together, but good luck noticing it when it falls apart while you move it and then you’ve got a broken game to troubleshoot. Just about every broken game we restore needs some wiring work done to it.
Wire Crimpers – Whether you need to repin a connection or you want to put quick disconnects on a signal wire, you’re going to need a good set of crushers. Don’t get the flimsy kind or else you’ll regret it. Look for something beefy and durable.
Power Drill – When we first started, we used to spend an hour on each game trying to pick the old locks so we could get into them. Now we hook up the power drill and drill though it in a minute. The power drill is also useful for working with the acrylic that we use for the control panels on games.
Paint Sprayer – I’d estimate that about half of our games need to be repainted before they are ready to go out. You can use rollers, but it looks a lot nicer if you use a sprayer with an oil based paint.
Utility Knife – Between installing t-molding to trimming artwork, this is another tool we use everyday. Get extra blades, they work much better when they are sharp.
Wire Brush – We keep a good stiff wire brush on hand for when we need to clean rusty chips. A good scrubbing can solve half of your pcb problems.