Step Two: Fixing a Blank Pacman Screen
The most common problem an owner will face is a blank Pacman screen. This happens when you plug the game in and nothing happens. There are no sights or sounds coming from your machine, or there’s nothing showing on the screen–it seems as if the entire game is either off, dead, or just not plugged in at all. If this is your problem then continue reading. However, if when you plug the game in or turn it on, you have a picture (whether garbled or not), power, lights, or when you coin the game you can hear sounds etc then you have main power getting to the game so you can skip on ahead to Step Three: Pacman Fuses & Power Supplies Repair.
If you’re still here proceed through the following steps:
First—Check to make sure that the game is in fact plugged in and is plugged into a working receptacle that has not been “kicked off” by some sort of surge of electricity, bad breaker, or a tripped GFCI plug. To test it, simply plug something else into the socket like a lamp or a drill or anything that can confirm that the electrical outlet is in fact working. (The reason I started here is I once worked hours on a game only to find out that breaker had been tripped to the plug—and yes I didn’t tell anyone I did that:)
Second- Once you’ve confirmed your plug receptacle is working and with the game still plugged in, check the On/Off switch located on the top of the game cabinet. If you stand on a chair and look at the top (roof) of your game you’ll see the On/Off switch. (Some cabinets might be different if not an original Pacman cabinet and the On/Off switch maybe found below the back door or in a different location.) Please find the On/Off switch and press it to the “On” position. If nothing happens when pressed on, please toggle it back and forth just to make sure.
Third– If still nothing powers up, leave this game switch in the “On” position and simply unplug the game when directed to turn the game “Off” or plug it back in in order to turn the game “On” while working on it.—Now it’s time to open the back door. To open a Pacman or Ms Pacman back door, first unplug the game and slide the game away from the wall and then turn it around so that you’re looking at the back of the machine.
There should be a back door lock located top middle of the door and somewhere inside your game there should be the key to unlock it. Most of us coin-op guys or techs used to hang the back door key inside a hook on the coin door. The person you bought your game from might have simply left the key inside the back door lock since they knew it would be used solely for your own purposes therefore no need to hide the key. (The back door key may even be the same key used to unlock the front coin door so try that one first if in doubt.) If no key is found there, then look around inside the game as the key might of fallen down to the ground floor of the game. Use a flash light through the open coin door and see if you can locate it first. (You might have to look underneath or inside the cash box as many techs leave them there.) Once you have the key simply unlock the back door and remove it from your machine which will expose the entire inside of the game from the rear.
*If you can’t find the key don’t despair. I’ve had to “break in” many times to my own games through the back door. First check and make sure the door is not screwed shut in other places to further secure it. Look around the edges of the back door to find any possible signs of screws; if you see any then take them out one at a time or the door won’t come open. Next, take a strong flat head screw driver or flat bar and wedge it in between the lock and wood; slowly pushing the door further out each time, This will bend the metal of the lock until the door will come loose. Those locks are usually not that strong.
Fourth—Once you have the back door open. Make sure that the On/Off button located at the top of the machine is still in the “On” position. Now without touching anything plug the game back in and look for any signs of life within the game. Look for any LED lights coming on from the power supply, coin door lights coming on, or the best evidence is the popping and crackling of the monitor warming up etc.
Fifth—If you don’t see or hear anything still then this next simple step usually fixes 90% of all blank screen problems on the Pacman machine. The reason is that no power to the game is the best sign that there is usually nothing wrong with your entire pacman game— it’s just simply isn’t getting power to it in order to work. Most people don’t realize that there is another On/Off switch that powers the entire Pacman machine which is located inside the game. It is called the interlock switch and it should be located on the right inside of the machine side wall pointing toward the back door. If You can’t locate it refer to the Pacman manual here or the Ms Pacman Manual here.
The purpose of this interlock switch is so that if the back door comes opened, then the entire game shuts down in order to prevent someone from getting shocked; this was especially important during the arcade era where kids were all around. Now locate this switch. It is usually black or white plastic and it will have a button coming from it in the middle.
With the game plugged back in and with the On/Off switch at the top of the game in the “On” position pull the cabinet switch button to the out position or you can simply push it all the way in and hold it there manually. (However it will not stay “On” in this position as the purpose of this button is for the back door to hold it in place—when the door comes open; the switch pops out; or turns itself “off.”) If your Pacman comes back to life when the interlock switch is pulled to the “out” position or held in then congrats you’ve just fixed your game!
*Many of us coin operators throughout the 80’s and 90’s got annoyed with these cabinet switches and either hot wired them to the “On” position permanently or used some duct taped to hold the switch down. If your cabinet switch is pointed downward away from the door then this was the reason and it just must have popped itself into the “OFF” position over time through moving or jarring. What you may want to do now is with the game unplugged, point it downward away from the back door. Leave the switch button pulled all the way out for good. Just make sure when you put the back door on, it doesn’t toggle itself back off again.
Six– If still not working, Unplug the game again and with your eyes now check for any loose wires from either the “On/Off” switches on the top of the game and/or from the cabinet interlock back door switch you’ve just checked. If so, solder them back on with a soldering iron while unplugged. Finally check and make sure your plug chord itself doesn’t have any breaks or shorts in it and make sure that it goes from the wall socket to the power supply within the game without any hindrance. If everything is OK and your machine is still not powering up proceed to Step Three: Fuse & Power Supplies Repair.