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Donkey Kong Arcade Machine Restore

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Back in 2008 I was getting in to MAME arcade machines. I think I even have a few posts on this blog about the Dig Dug machine that I gutted and made into a MAME.
Seeing the film “The King of Kong – A fistfull of quarters” really solidified my want for a REAL Donkey Kong cabinet. One reason being that after I saw the movie I initially played on my MAME Dig Dug machine until I got to 21st place in the world back in 2008 at 184,000.   So I happen to come across the machine on craigslist. A buddy of mine found it on the Janesville, WI craigslist site and sent me the link. The guy was asking $300 for a fair quality Donkey Kong cabinet. I got him to let it go for $280. The only problem was the red color no longer output to the monitor properly.

So I got it home and powered it up, and took the geekiest picture I could think of.


Here are some pics showing the general state that the machine was in, bad t-molding, chips, cigarette burns, etc.

I got the machine out to my garage and got to work.  :)

Note the monitor chassis bolts.

And the blue-ness………Why Red??!?! That’s my favorite color.

The first order of business was installing the Cap kit.  A cap kit is where you desolder and resolder in new capacitors on the monitor board.  Over time the sweet goodness in the capacitors can dry out, leading to dull colors and even colors missing completely. 😉

I was really worried about stopping my heard and being unable to start it up again, so I read this site many times on the precautions and used speaker wire with a clip to ground out the NODE (cathode or anode..I’m blank right now).

Bingo, now that I’m not dead (thank you friends) here is the removed monitor board:

A shot of the 4-board version of my DK board.  This is the one where it says “Nintendo” on the main screen, not “Nintendo of America”.  So I was able to use the ladder hack and never have a barrel land on me as long as my hand was at the top of the ladder.  Unfortunately, twin galaxies does not recognize scores submitted using this board! So I need to find a 2-board version. TKG-03 is the current board.

So guess what? The cap-kit on the monitor did NOT fix my issue with the Red color not being displayed.  I found this site: which shows screens of each chip being disabled, so you can locate your problem.  I had a bad 2J PROM chip, yaaaaay!  So what did I do? I ordered a new PROM set to replace the bad one on my 4-board version, and also ordered a 2-board version that is recognized for setting official scores.  So now I can sell my 4-board, because the 2-board is now in the cab and working great.  The 4-board is fixed too!

Look at that! I beat my previous record on an official 2-board dedicated Donkey Kong cabinet!

Now to fix up the machine.
Here’s what I ordered:
-New white t-molding all ’round
-New overlays and instructions
-New coin sticker
-New joystick repair parts
-New buttons (stupid smokers)
-New plexy with art for the control panel
-New Side-art
-Donkey Kong Blue paint bucket
-Replacement LED backlight for marquee

I started out by sanding the crap out of the machine until it was smooth, then bondo on all of the imperfections.  Most of the corners were pretty beat up so I had to use some shims and nail them in to make perfect corners.

Shot of the underside of the control panel.


All taped up and sanded.
I went with 3 coats of primer paint white, and 4 coats of Donkey Kong blue.  Turned out AMAZING.

Here’s after all 7 coats:

Sand blasting the coin door and repainting made all the difference.


I had a blast.

The back looks soo much better without the chew marks. lol


All in all, I had a blast on this project, and LOVE playing this machine.

Final Pics:


I think it looks great in my (old dining room) Arcade.  :)

Thanks for checking this out! Let me know if you have any questions.