vs. Excitebike to Donkey Kong: Part 1

Due to being a complete novice at this, I decided the first “conversion” I should tackle would be putting one of the vs. Unisystems back to Donkey Kong. The intention long term is to restore the arcades completely to put them back as close to factory finish as possible, but I needed to start small and simple.

As the vs. Unisystems were after factory conversions, the theory was that I should be able to take out all of the parts that were included in the conversion packs (or Nintendo-Pak as Nintendo refers to them) and replace the original parts. Now I’d spent over 12 months collecting all of the parts to scratch build a Donkey Kong arcade (with the intention of using a reproduction cabinet), so decided to dismantle the cleanest looking of the two arcades and return it to Donkey Kong. This would give me a working arcade to play, whilst I restored the other cabinet that I imported at the same time.

So I began the process of “un-converting” vs. Excitebike. Opening up the back of the arcade revealed all the parts that would need removing or adjusting:


Despite the instructions in the “pak” kits, the person converting the arcade to the vs. Unisystem had removed the original serial plate meaning there was no way of knowing what the arcade left the factory as (it could have been Donkey Kong, Popeye or a couple of less likely other options). Luckily for me, the original adjustments sheet was still stapled to the back of the door. The sheet was sporting the code “TKG-UP”, which is the code for Donkey Kong:


At some point in the games life, the original power supply had been bypassed using a modern switching power supply. To get the game up and running in the first instance, I decided to continue the use of the switcher and would investigate the original power supply later.

The monitor had had it’s orientation changed as part of the conversion, so had been moved from a vertical layout to a horizontal one:


This needed changing back as well to ensure that Donkey Kong could be played the right way up. If I’m completely honest, this was the part that frightened me the most. I’d read all of the horror stories of the amount of power (or kick) that these monitors had, especially as all of the components are fully on show with no covers:


Now that I’d opened up the cabinet and scoped out the work involved, it was time to start  stripping out the vs. Unisystem kit.


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