Written by Doug Jefferys

Power Supplies:

Firefox cabinets were shipped with both linear and switching power supplies. Power conditioning on the boards was controlled by a little bit of cutting and jumpering.

If you've just picked up a Firefox board set from some operator's house, you MUST verify that your board is jumpered appropriately for your machine's power supply. Failure to do so may risk your board set, power supply, or both.

Firefox comes on three boards in a card cage. Depending on the type of power supply used by the cabinet from which your board set came, it will be configured as follows:

Whenever installing a new board set, ensure that it is properly strapped for the power supply in the cabinet in which you are about to install it.

The LD Player:

Firefox used the Philips VP931, an industrial model with an exceptionally fast seek time for its era. The player is also capable of playing both CAV and CLV discs. (The Firefox disc, like all discs used in video games, is CAV.)

Its most common failure mode was due to the magnets that control the radial and tangential servo mirrors. These are mirrors that control the tracking of the beam across the surface of the disc. On the back of each mirror is glued a pair magnets; the mirrors are then mounted on pivots inside a housing surrounded by a coil. A feedback mechanism passes a current through the coil, inducing a magnetic field, which attracts or repels the magnets, allowing the mirror to pivot and accurately follow the track on the disc.

Over time, the glue used on the magnets tended to lose its adhesive properties. Eventually, the magnets on the backs of the mirrors would either slide towards the edges of the mirror, either jamming against the sides of the housing or detaching from the mirror altogether and sticking directly to the housing. Either way, the result was a toasted player.

This condition is fixable, and I now have got beta-quality documentation for the fix in the next little while.

Opening the Player:

One of life's great mysteries to new Firefox owners is how the heck you're supposed to open the damn player in the first place.

For those of you who've never seen one of these beasts, imagine a conventional LD player, but without any buttons on it. Not even an EJECT button. But there's this curious little hole down on the bottom half of the player, which begs further inspection. What you do is to insert a flat-headed screwdriver into the hole at about a 45-degree angle and twiddle around until (magically) the lid pops open.

The following diagram should help (click for full-size version):

Testing the Player:

Although opening the Philips is confusing, testing is relatively easy. Just remove it from the Firefox machine, throw in a disc, glom the audio and video outputs to a TV set, and power it up. The player should automatically spin up and play the laserdisc from beginning to end.

You won't have any control over the player. Sadly, due to the timing-critical nature of the control protocol, building an interface to the Philips is a non-trivial task. One of these days I'll get around to it, but until then, my Philips will remain interfaceless and act as a simple straight-through LD player.

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