Game Board Repair Terminology

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Here we have a brief description of what the jargon used in board repair actually means. Some are self-explanatory, whereas others warrant further reading. The internet (particularly Wikipedia) holds hundreds of pages of information on most of the items listed here, so we will not replicate this. Use Google!

  • PCB - Printed Circuit Board. Simply put, this is the game board.
  • TRACES - These are literally the "traces" of the circuit on a PCB; i.e. thin metal lines on the surface of the board which connect all the components together.
  • TRACKS - see traces.
  • CHIP - Generic term for any microchip on a board, usually used to refer to ROM, RAM or EPROM.
  • ROM - Read Only Memory
  • RAM - Random Access memory
  • GPU - Graphical Processing Unit - a Type of IC, this is responsible for the overall running of the graphics stage of a board.
  • CPU - Central Processing Unit - a type of IC, this is responsible for the overall running of a board.
  • EPROM - Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory is a type of memory chip that retains its data when its power supply is switched off. These can only be erased using a strong UV light.
  • PROM - Programmable Read Only Memory
  • EEPROM - Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory - functionally the same as an EPROM, but these can erase their own data electronically without the need for UV light.
  • PAL - Programmable Array Logic -
  • SIP - Single Inline Package - a type of chip which is used to package multiple components together.
  • TTL - Transistor-Transistor Logic - a class of digital circuits built from bipolar junction transistors (BJT) and resistors. It is called transistor–transistor logic because both the logic gating function (e.g., AND) and the amplifying function are performed by transistors.
  • CUSTOM - To save money on the chip count the makers made their own custom chips that combined dozens of other chips into one monster chip. They are usually surface mount, usually have upwards of 50 microscopic legs, and are a total pain in the balls if they go wrong.
  • HYBRID - Similar to a custom, these chips are usually unique to a particular hardware, but are sometimes game-unique. Quite often they are a lumpy collection of components coated in matt black epoxy. If one of these is dead or damaged on your board often your only hope is to try and find a replacement of the same type from another of the same game (also dead) or similar hardware model. That said, with serious patience and dedication the epoxy on the chip can be scraped back and the components underneath metered/replaced; and it isn't unheard of for someone to actually hand-build a new custom themselves based on whatever info they eke out of the old damaged chip!
  • DIP Switch -
  • DIP - Dual Inline Package. Not to be confused with Dip switches.
  • PDIP -
  • SPDIP -
  • CAP - Capacitor
  • BUS - This can mean one of two things depending upon the context.
    • A physical electrical connection.
    • A subsystem that transfers data between computer components.
  • MASK ROM (MROM) - is a type of read-only memory (ROM) whose contents are pre-programmed by the integrated circuit manufacturer (rather than by the user).
  • DRAM - Dynamic Random Access Memory
  • SRAM - Static Random Access Memory is a type of semiconductor memory where the word static indicates that, unlike dynamic RAM (DRAM), it does not need to be periodically refreshed.
  • HIGH - Most digital circuits use two voltage levels labelled "Low"(0) and "High"(1). Often "Low" will be near zero volts and "High" will be at a higher level depending on the supply voltage in use. All standardized common TTL circuits operate with a 5-volt power supply. A TTL input signal is defined as "low" when between 0 V and 0.8 V with respect to the ground terminal, and "high" when between 2.2 V and 5 V (precise logic levels vary slightly between sub-types).
  • LOW - See High
  • IC - Integrated Circuit
  • PIC - Programmable Integrated Circuit
  • BOOT - This literally refers to whether or not the board will start and run, i.e. "boot up". Not to be confused with the abbreviation of Bootleg.
  • BOOTLEG - a dodgy illegal copy of a game board made by pirates. Ahaaar me hearty!
  • SYNC - shorthand for synchronisation, SYNC is a signal used in video systems to coordinate the timings of lines, fields and frames, i.e. those output to the monitor.
  • SCOPE - Shorthand for "Oscilloscope". See Advanced Board Repair Tools for details.
  • ARTEFACTS - Glitches in graphical output. "My board is running fine, but there are some artefacts around the main sprites".
  • FLOATING PIN - A pin on a chip that is neither high nor low when probed with the logic probe.
  • LA - Shorthand for "Logic Analyser". See advanced Board Repair Tools for details.