Candy 25 cabinets — hell on Earth, part 2

In late 2013 I wrote a blog post describing the negatives of owning one of SNK’s Candy 25 cabinets. I wanted to follow up to that with an incident that happened today, adding further justification.

For the first time in almost 10 years I had an interested buyer in the cab. A mutual friend introduced us, and both of them visited. The potential buyer seemed incredibly interested. Said mutual friend wanted to try out (or demonstrate) the fact that the cabinet had a rotatable monitor, and proceeded to do exactly that. This is something I had done before (maybe back in 2001) without issue, but I was very very careful about it, but since then had always run my display horizontally, not vertically. So I hadn’t rotated it for a very long time.

What happened today: a mounting bolt on the rotating chassis (which holds the CRT) didn’t have full clearance, and ended up smacking into the Toei TC-RM25T CRT chassis (this is what contains all electronics that drives the CRT), specifically the large transformer (not the flyback) — and it bent/tilted quite severely. It was with enough force that something between the transformer and PCB became damaged; that is to say, the force used likely broke or damaged one of the pins that kept the transformer on the PCB. The clearance was short by about 1/16th of an inch.

Upon powering on, the CRT or its electrical circuit emits a very high pitch yet slightly variable-frequency noise, and nothing happens past that point.

Visual inspection showed no actual damage to the transformer or the pins, but very close examination showed that the PCB itself may have cracked as well (2 traces showed signs of possible cracking). We verified continuity with a multimeter that those traces were OK (but that’s just continuity — the damage may be enough that voltage flowing across those traces is no longer reliable). We also tried re-flowing a couple of the solder points on the PCB relating to those traces. No improvement.

Accidents happen, and I consider this exactly that. But how could it have been avoided? Surely SNK wouldn’t make a cabinet prone to this type of problem, would they? No, they wouldn’t. How was that bolt too long for clearance? I hadn’t changed a single thing about the CRT or related parts since I bought it. We’ve only been able to reach two conclusions:

1. The previous owner of the cabinet was an arcade or gaming operator himself. As we began to inspect the CRT chassis itself, we found that the bolt had been put on backwards — that is to say, the long end of the bolt was facing towards the TC-RM25T, rather than the other way around. In fact, several bolts and screws were found to be like this. Additionally, several screws looked to be non-standard (as in the previous owner had likely lost screws and found makeshift screws/bolts/whatever that fit the threading but were never cut down to proper lengths).

2. When I bought the cabinet, it was shipped to me via freight from southern California. It arrived at my workplace, which is where it sat (and got used). This was also the place where we tested the monitor rotation capability (without issue or clearance problems). Since then, the cabinet has been moved twice: once to my apartment, and later from there to the garage of my current abode. It’s very likely that the cabinet (especially during the 2nd move, which is how and when I threw my back out) had been jostled severely and shifted around, maybe just enough where clearance became a problem. Since I’d never rotated the monitor since that one time, it wasn’t something I ever discovered or came across.

So I now have a non-working Candy 25 cabinet due to a somehow-badly-damaged Toei TC-RM25T CRT chassis.

Finding a replacement CRT chassis is, needless to say, a serious pain in the fucking ass. First of all, nobody I can find sells the TC-RM25T. Instead, the only one you can find is the (older) TC-RM251S. Next, is it fully compatible with my tube? I don’t know. Does it need or use a different flyback than the TC-RM25T? I don’t know. Next, how much does a TC-RM251S cost? The guy who runs sells them for US$150 (or US$175 if you need the flyback), plus shipping. And then: how easy it is to replace/install? It’s not an issue of easy vs. hard, it’s an issue of safety: the CRT chassis directly connects to the CRT tube via an anode and anode cup, which is literally the most dangerous aspect of a CRT (runner up is high-voltage circuitry and capacitors that hold charge for months even after being powered off). There is no way in hell I would attempt to disconnect the anode cup because of the danger — I could literally die. Considering I’ve had bad luck nearly my entire life, yeah, NOT doing this myself is the obvious and safe choice. Leave it to a professional. These are just a few of the complications.

In other words: replacing the CRT chassis would require me to spend probably US$175 for the chassis, then pay someone for the labour (which is expensive, especially considering I live in Silicon Valley). If I chose to have the TC-RM25T repaired (vs. replaced), I’d have to pay for that labour *twice* — once for removal (of the damaged chassis), and once for installation (post-repair).

So what am I going to do? I don’t know. Financially it doesn’t make any sense to have anything repaired or replaced. For about as much as I could sell the cabinet for (I was hoping for US$300), it’d cost me to have the parts repaired or replaced and labour (maybe even a bit more than that). In short, I don’t know what I’m going to do. To be honest, it’s actually more cost-savvy to just pay someone to pick the thing up and haul it to a landfill and pay the enormous dumping fee. Seriously.

This is just another example of why these things are a fucking money sink. They’re only plausible (and economical) to own if you have the capability to get parts *and* know how to repair them yourself. Fuck arcade cabinets. Never again.