HeliFire Cocktail: Part 1

Writing this post now seems a little disingenuous as I collected this cocktail nearly nine months ago now, but things happen and life doesn’t always go to plan!

I bought this HeliFire cocktail from a fellow forum member who had picked it up as part of a bundle he’d purchased from an operator. It was described as ‘not working’ and ‘ok condition’. Now the ‘not working’ part was right. The game would boot and you’d be greeted with a nice half red, half blue screen, but not much else:


You could see the tops of the waves and the stars that all scrolled nicely from right to left, but importantly, no sprites. I was following a repair thread at the time of another collector who’d picked up another HeliFire cocktail. His game was showing similar symptoms, believed to have been damaged by the power supply (I think at one point the power supply was supply 11v down the 5v line!). With this in mind, I set about swapping out the power supply to start the process of elimination.

I’d picked up a switching power supply for my Donkey Kong build (that never happened after buying a real one!) that came with a board supplying the correct pin outs for DK. After going through the HeliFire power schematics I rigged up the new switcher to the cab:


Not the neatest of installs I know, but this was just for testing purposes. I switched on the original plug (as this was still powering the monitor) and then the plug for the switcher. After a few seconds waiting for the monitor to warm and display a picture, I got the below:


Progress, but not great. I knew at this point, I wasn’t going to get lucky with this and had to rely on the professionals to help me bring this cab back to life.

Now the second part of the description from when I bought the cabinet, ‘ok condition’, I didn’t agree with. The cabinet was in great condition considering it’s age. I opened the coin door with a little disappointment as the metal coin box that would normally sit inside was missing. This did give a great view of the coin counter, which showed a tiny 17,524 plays:


The monitor itself showed brilliant colours (well red, green and blue!) and had no visible burn at all:


Even the original paper instruction sheets were still attached to the inside of the lid (although with very rusty staples):


The control panels are also in great condition. The main side has a couple of scratches, and the ball top on the joystick needs replacing, but all in all a lot better than most cocktails I’ve seen. There does appear to have been a button mixup at somepoint as the main control panel is missing the normal green P2 button and instead has a red button (the fire button colour):


As I mentioned earlier, I was following the progress of another UK collector with his HeliFire restoration. One of the pictures he showed was of the serial plate of his cabinet, showing the serial number of 02997. It’s only when I started photographing all of the key areas of mine that I noticed the serial number:


Not the best photo I appreciate, but if you can’t make out the number, it’s 02998, the next number on from his. Just an odd coincidence I thought that two (normally unseen) cabinets show up within weeks of each other and have sequential serial numbers. I can’t find any documentation anywhere of how many HeliFire cocktails landed in the UK, but from my internet scouring, there are only five known worldwide at this moment!

So, the next step for HeliFire is to pull the board and send off for repair and then start to strip the cabinet ready for sand blasting and powder coating.

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