The History of the "Any Coin"
In October of 2009, I finally got around to cleaning up my token machine that I picked up from my friend John Butler, and wired it up to dispense tokens. I worked out a way to modify existing coin mechs to take my .900 sized tokens.
So why did I do that? Well the primary reason for that was that I wanted all my games to run on tokens so people could experience what a real arcade was like. In addition to that, games set to "Free Play" also had a few things that I didn't like.
For example, games like Pacman and Ms Pacman would stay on the "Start" screen and you would never see the attract mode and screen burn in would happen much faster. Second a lot of games would not play their attract music, which took away from the ambiance of the arcade. Some of my fondest memories were of the sounds of the arcade.
There were several problems with using the original coin mechs:
- They have to be tweaked all the time to keep them accepting the tokens
- They jammed a lot. It wasn't uncommon to find 5 - 10 tokens stuck in the mech.
- You could only use coins that were close to what they were adjusted for.
- If you changed coin/token sizes you had to adjust ALL of them which is very time consuming.
So in April of 2011 I invented the "Any Coin" mech. It was a mech that would be a drop in replacement for the the existing coin mechs. It had several advantages over the original coin mechs.
- Never had to make an adjustment
- Never jammed
- Accepted anything round that would fit in the coin slot. From a .984 token to a dime!
However, the big problem with them was the price. My cost to make them was about $13 each. This meant that I would have to spend around $26 per game. Not too bad, but when you have close to 50 games it adds up. I tried selling them at $15 each, but not may takers due to the price.
So fast forward to April, 2013 and I picked up my first 3D printer. It was a Solidoodle 3, single extruder with an 8x8x8 build area. I then proceeded to design a new version of the "Any Coin" mech. Long story short, the limitations of the printer at the time prevented me from making the mech I wanted. I spent more time fighting the printer then printing so, frustrated, I took a year off from messing with it.
In Feb 2014, my friend Rob picked up the dual extruder FlashForge Creator Pro printer which is a lot better then the Solidoodle 3. To be fair, that's what 2 years of progress in 3D printing does! At the time the Solidoodle 3 was an excellent printer for it's time.
The dual extruder allows for printing with 2 materials at a time. One of the materials that can be used is a support material that can be easily removed from the part when completed. With that in mind I sat down and redesigned the Any Coin mech for the Dual Extruder and support material in mind.
I created a single piece version of the mech that would use the support material for the creating the tunnel. The support material is removed with a liquid called D-Limonene. The problem I ran into was that it was messy and it made everything smell like oranges. It also added to the time it took produce a mech since it would take a long time to dissolve the support material.
I had Rob print me a couple of them and after I saw the results, I pulled the trigger and bought my own FlashForge Creator Pro.
At that point, I decided to take the advice from my friend Jawhn, and redesigned it once again as a snap together design. I had designed it before as a snap together, but it was a horrible design and didn't work very well. The new design required very little support material initially and didn't require bathing in D-Limonene. Win! Win! After some testing it turned out that my design didn't work 100% of the time for games like Mrs. Pacman.
So why is that? Well, certain games are very picky about coining up. It's all a matter of timing. If the coin goes through too fast, then the game never registers a credit. The original coin mechs where made out of metal and when a coin went through it, the metal absorbed more of the coins energy, slowing it down. The plastic version however, didn't absorb enough of the coins energy and didn't slow it down enough.
All the Bally/Midway games I've tested these in show the same issue. Other games made by Stern also have issues with the speed at which the switch is triggered.
So about 20 revisions later, I finally came up with a design that works very well in all the games. It slows the coin down enough that Ms Pacman is happy and it works fine in all the other games.
The main advantages to 3D printing these are:
- They are inexpensive
- I can print them as needed
- They can be different colors (Yellow for Pacman, Pink for Ms Pacman, Blue for Robotron, or what ever you want)
- I can print them with the Pegs already on them (saves $4 in additional parts)
- I can change the design at any time to improve the product.
If you are interested in purchasing an Any Coin mech, please visit the Any Coin page on Arcade Plastics.