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how I got an Alien Poker


August 16th a friend sent me a message about someone they knew who was looking to get rid of an Alien poker machine.

Hey Steve,

I have a friend who is looking to unload his p-ball. … inball.htm

Would you be interested? Needs minor repair on some coil or something…

I shot back a message to my friend with my contact info, researched the game, played it in future pinball and visual pinball. It was an older game, but I thought it was fun to play. Some time passed and I figured they had sold it. Then October 12th they contacted me.

Being a good husband, I had entered into an agreement with Theresa about me and buying pinball machines. I still have a MAME cabinet to build and really want to make a full sized hyperpin. I had some money saved up for the hyperpin, but the Alien Poker machine was tempting me to at least check it out and see what they wanted for it. I told Theresa about it and she was alright with me looking into it.

Lots more below

When I went over to check it out. It had not been working for the last 10 years and sat in a basement covered and out of sunlight. overall the condition of it was very decent for a 30 year old game. I asked what he wanted to get out of it and offered $50 less, he agreed. It was a fair price actually. A working one in that condition would of been worth a bit more, but the pinball market is not doing that great now and it would of been hard to sell. I watch the local sales of pins and some have been for sale for 6 months or more. It worked out well for both of us.


When I agreed to the price I was under the assumption that I would have to do some major restorations on the circuit boards. The first solid state pinball machine came out in 1977 and this one is from 1980. Did we have the internets yet? They were still working the bugs out and machines back then pins had a life expectancy of around 5 years. They wanted to produce machines that were affordable and then have you get the newer model a few years down the road. The God of pinball repair has a website with the ultimate repair guides. I planned on following the guide step by step and replacing all sorts of stuff before I would turn it on and hope it worked.

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When I got it home I finally got to give it a good look over. I started seeing some things that made me smile. He had mentioned that the old guy they bought it from had restored it, and it was obvious a lot of work had been done to it. Power supply work, header pins replaced, and the dreaded 40 pin interconnect for the driver and CPU board has new female connects. A few chips and transistors had been worked on before. I got to do some board work on some things. Disconnected the fried knocker coil by unsoldering the lugs. Will have to check that transistor., and the corroded batteries had to go. They were 13 years old and that acid is like napalm to electronics. I cut the old battery holder and installed a remote pack. Since the guy I had bought it from had powered it on when I was over there I figured it would be safe for me to see if it would boot.


It booted, but into audit mode. I had seen that one of the door switches was broken. I used a knife to open the switch and power cycled the machine. It was ready to play 🙂


Over the course of the weekend I spent hours and hours playing and tweaking, playing and tweaking, …..
It is a machine in good condition, plays well, but needs so much work. The basic parts list is already $60 before I get near lights, pop bumpers, board parts, and the pricey flipper bits. I cleaned the drop targets, set the EOS switches, adjusted playfield switches, resoldered some flipper lugs, cleaned switch contacts with a flexstone, put on new leg levelers, magic sliders on the front feet, adjusted the plum tilt, cleaned all the glass, buffed the lockdown bar, new mirror pinball, and waxed the ever loving crap out of the machine. She is glistening.

It still plays so great and is much more entertaining than I thought it would be. The rule set is darn simple, but it has so much going on that it still challenges you. I set the proper playfield angle on it tonight and the game plays fast as hell.


One thing I really like about the look of the game is how deep the look of the plastic lit inserts look. They are concave on the bottom and now the top. Not sure if that is how they are made, but it makes them look like cat eyes or HAL. A big problem is that the inserts are not even with the playfield at all and it really hampers a decent control of the ball while you are playing. The playfield wood itself is 30 years old and has not been waxed as often as it should of been. So cracks are all over it. The paint that makes up the design is still there, besides what is around the inserts. So the wood itself is not perfectly smooth. The coats of wax have made a huge difference though. Now that it is in my hands that wood will never be dry or back down to the paint. All of my other machines have a mylar protectant, and those are going to be removed. Waxed painted wood is the way to go. Just how the ball acts on a perfectly waxed surface proves mylar is evil. Mylar was made for folks who do not care for their pin to extend the life of said pins paint.


This is one of the early solid state machines and had a 7 digit digit display. This and the only other 6A machine, was Algar, had a 7 digit display from Williams at that time. So when you get a million points the game is happy as crap. It places 1’s across all of the displays and sounds a special “Million Jackpot, I raise 1 million” It says the same thing every time you break a million. Sitting at 2,116,000 as my high score with 3 balls.

Another cool feature was that you could lane change on this machine. It only works on the right flipper and only cycles to the right.

The double action flipper is pretty darn cool. For some reason the right side of the game has two flippers. If you lightly press the flipper button, only the bottom flipper engages. Press harder and the second one does as well. The lane change happens on the lower flipper, so it works once per flip. I replaced that diode and got it working.

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