Atari Black Widow / Gravitar

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A Bit of background history.

Atari's Gravitar was released in June of 1982 and was by alot of peoples standards a hard game and takes a commited type of game player to master it.
Because of this the game didn't perform in the Arcades the way it was hoped and so the Black Widow Conversion Kit was released in February of 1983.
This kit was sent out to operators not happy with the revenue Gravitar was taking and composed of Game board, Marquee, Control Panel and Wiring Loom.
Eventually Atari themself converted Gravitar cabs at the factory and actually placed Black Widow side art over the original Gravitar artwork.
The two games are completely different in gameplay and this is immediately noticable when you look at the control panel layout.

Finding a Black Widow.

Well as i live in the U.K. finding a Black Widow is not an easy thing, in fact its near on impossible.
U.K. or Euro (made in Atari Ireland) versions of Black Widow or Gravitar are as rare as hens teeth, in fact there are only 2 known UK Black Widows in existance (unless you know different) and both are owned by friends of mine, so going down that route was a no no.
I decided to go for a U.S. version instead and even though easier to source, not easy to source over here in the U.K.

With all my projects i like to acquire the cabs either 1. missing bits 2. as a box of parts or 3. not working.
This way i save myself alot of money, but also get to do what i love most, making them work again !
After talking with other collectors, it was decided that trying to source a non working U.S. model Black Widow was still going to be a heck of a task and that it would be easier to try and source a U.S. model Gravitar instead and convert it myself, just as Atari would of done.
So i started to collect Black Widow parts and put the word about to try and find a Gravitar cab.


Gravitar cab #2 .

As the sub title suggests, this isnt the first one i got offer'd. The first one i went to look at was in a very bad state and not worth the money being asked for it, by now I was getting to the point where i thought i would have to give up and admit defeat on finding one untill another collector friend of mine (Cheers Oll) rang round a few places and managed to track this one down, which was not only in alot better condition than the first one,
but it was complete bar the Gravitar game pcb and was also 200 quid cheaper !!
Thanx go to Archer Maclean for supplying me with the cab which was an ideal base for the project.

As the cab and all the Gravitar bits were so tidy i decided to do a Black Widow/Gravitar project instead, so that i sorta get a 2 games for the price of one
and just swop between game pcb and cp, when i want to change games.


Where to start.

As the cab came from the States it obviously wont run on U.K. voltage, so i decided to start here. First thing i did was cut off the U.S. style plug (pic on left) and fitted a U.K. style one, now not only do they use a different voltage in the States but they also use different coloured wires on their 3 core, instead of :
(L), Blue (N), Yellow/Green (E)
they use
Black (L), White (N), Green (E)
I then had to turn my attention to the votage selector plug (pic on right) which is mounted on the power brick in the bottom of the cab, the manual states that the different colours are Blue 220v, Violet 100v, Brown 240v depending on which country the cab was destined for. But this one had Yellow wires, so no idea which voltage it was for. I got a small flat bladed screwdriver and un-pinned it so the wires were free from the connector block and then re-pinned it for U.K. voltage, using the one out of my Atari Star Wars for comparison.

Audio Regulator pcb (ARII).

This is Atari's Audio Regulator pcb (pic on left) and it controls alot of the voltages going to the cabinet, but specifically it controls the voltages supplied to the game pcb and the audio circuit, this looked like it had never been removed from the cab and so all the compnents on it are well past there sell by date. So i installed one of my ARII rebuild kits available here and a page on how to install it and more importantly why is here

Pic on right shows ARII after new parts fitted.

Wells Gardner 6100 monitor HV cage.

The monitor which is a Wells Gardner 6100 was supplied out of the cab and had some Space Duel screen burn, as i didnt know if it was working or not, the first thing i did was meter all the chasis mounted transistors and these were ok, the Deflection pcb already had a LV2000 fitted, so once i was happy that the cabinet was getting correct mains voltage in and the ARII was putting out the correct voltages the game needed ( i checked with a multimeter first ) i then fitted the BW game board and hooked up the monitor outside the cab and turned it on, but it had no HV, so i removed the HV cage to the workbench.

HV cage replacing parts.

Removing the Farraday cage off the top of the HV unit showed several reasons why it wasnt producing High Voltage, the MPSA06 transistor at Q901 was blown apart which usually means the external BU207 transistor at Q906 has gone also, resistors R903, R904, R920, R906 were all burnt and even though a couple gave good readings on the meter, would probably fail under load.

Pic left shows soldering in of new parts

Pic right shows a burnt resistor next to what it should look like

Black Widow control panel.

Fresh in from the States was my Black Widow control panel which along with the Black Widow marquee turned out to be really hard bits to find !
Watching U.S. Ebay every day got me the marquee in the end, but when it turned up it did have a fair bit of scratching unlike the "Great condition" it was described as, but it'll do for now till i find another.
The CP was another kettle of fish though and after a year of watching U.S. Ebay and getting outbid on one i changed tactics and posted on the Vector mailing list and on Google Groups to which a diamond geezer by the name of Utahtaper came to the rescue with a complete, tidy and working CP, so a BIG THANKYOU goes out to Jason for supplying a much needed part of the project !

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