Though the original Tibetan Breeze has been very effective at providing cool flipper coils and fade-free gameplay for pinball machines worldwide, it became clear that due to space or arrangement limitations of the hardware on some machines, the current solution would not work – there simply was no room for an optimal arrangement of the existing bracket design. And so, on a balmy summer evening in the year of the ox during Zamling Chisang festival, I sat near the open window in my quarters enjoying the view and the warm air full with the scent of festival incense and meditated on the problem.
I lost track of time during my meditation, but at some point it came to me that in strength there is a serenity borne of confidence, and I could perhaps transfer that idea to a new kind of bracket by changing materials. This new bracket material could take a cue from and derive strength and calm from the existing flipper plate! This revelation was truly divine!
And so, I set about making a new kind of bracket that would be stronger, and take up less space than the existing one so it could fit on even more machines. After some trial and error, I had my first prototype – a fire-forged stainless steel bracket that replaced the EOS stand on Bally/Williams style flipper plates used in JJP, CGC, Spooky, and many other manufacturer machines, and another related design that supplements the EOS switch stub on Spike machines. This was not an easy endeavor, and in the end, I made, tested and rejected more than a dozen designs over the course of the next year. Laysah and Jampo felt neglected, and I am embarrassed to say, probably rightly so. But I was a monk possessed by the task of solving this problem.
In the end, the solution was a 25% larger fan for better cooling coverage and two discrete kinds of stainless steel brackets. To get beyond the right/left bracket orientation issue on Spike machines, the base for those now has three mounting holes and the user picks the two mounting holes that most closely aligns the bracket with the coil for the side they’re mounting on. The Bally/Williams EOS stand bracket is a straightforward direct replacement.
One of the niceties of the new bracket is the return spring connector is not a closed circle, but a kind of hook built into the stand, so you can now just hook the flipper return spring without having to unwind the ends. A convenience that is long overdue.
And finally, the new fan and bracket combination plus the karma-glide mounts mean this is now substantially quieter than anything else before. For example, in a 3 bracket installation the total noise of all fans is an impressive 6dB less than 3 of the smaller original brackets installed together. Since decibels are not linear, that’s a substantial decrease in sound. Some of the monks who also enjoy silverball liaisons in my quarters have even questioned if the new fans are on at since they couldn’t hear them.
The new Tibetan Breeze:ZEN kit comes in a redesigned deluxe logoed box that is slightly larger than the existing kit with a new foam insert as well. Given that the polished stainless steel brackets are prone to fingerprints from installation, I have also included a microfiber cloth in the new kit. The same popular components from the other kit like precision cutters are also included with the new kit. Examine the pictures and I think you will agree that for the first time the brackets now look like they are factory-installed and not add-ons, matching the flipper components under the playfield perfectly.
For the machines that formerly did not have the smaller fan kits available due to space or other limitations, the Tibetan Breeze:ZEN is finally available to solve your fade issues. If your machine has the smaller brackets available already, you can choose the original less expensive Tibetan Breeze kit or go for ultimate quiet, presentation, and cool performance with the new Tibetan Breeze:ZEN. I will leave that choice to you.
Tibetan Breeze:ZEN plug-n-play kit contents:
2 x Custom Stainless Steel brackets with Karma Glide mounts
2 x Ultra quiet fans
1 x Power adapter
1 x Y harness
1 x Loctite Ampule
1 x Microfiber cloth
1 x Precision cutter
8 x zip ties
WHAT CAUSES FLIPPER COIL FADE?
In general, with coils you're fighting the laws of thermodynamics. Energy (power) sent to the coil is converted to action and heat, and if there's not enough time between pulses to let the heat dissipate, the heat continues building, which increases electrical resistance of the coil windings, requiring more power for the same work which increases heat, in a loop. Unlike the other coils in the game, the flippers are firing all the time with few pauses of more than a few seconds, so they just build up heat, which affects their performance over time. Some games are better at building pauses into the action that gives the coils time to cool for short bursts. These fans help continuously dissipate the heat to prevent heat buildup and in turn, keep electrical resistance to a minimum while maximizing performance to approximately a "first flip" level.
Here's a really easy to understand explanation of electrical resistance with an experiment:
SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT FLIPPER COIL FADE?
If your playing time is sessions of 30 minutes or less, you don't have to worry about fade, and these fans are completely unnecessary. It only happens over time and usually isn’t noticeable for 40 minutes or more if you start with a “cold” game (there are games that get hot enough to fade faster than this, but they are not the majority). However, once the fade starts, it only gets worse unless you let the machine rest (allowing time for the heat of the coils dissipate). This fan kit prevents the coils from heating up past about 100-110F, staying well below the threshold where fade begins, no matter how long you play.
WHAT TEMPERATURE DOES FADE BEGIN?
There really isn't a hard answer for this because the player perceiving weakness is well after fade has actually started. It initially manifests as missed or bricked shots that you can easily make earlier in the game. It also depends on the size of the coil and whether or not it's dual wound. Larger coils can get hotter before they feel weak to the player because they're powering through the electrical resistance. However, larger coils are more destructive to the playfield because cold, they have much more power to launch the ball at targets, ramps, and plastics and that can damage them faster. But, generally speaking for all but the largest coils (most Sterns) fade starts around 130F, and the flippers begin feeling weak to the player around the high 140s to low 150s. Spooky/DUTCH/JJP can go higher before showing signs if they're using larger coils, but fade for long play sessions is a problem for all of them. We're learning that on older Stern systems like SAM and WHITESTAR that are testing now, fade seems to begin around 100F.
DO ALL STERN/SPOOKY/JJP/DUTCH/CGC/AP MACHINES HAVE FLIPPER COIL FADE?
So far there is a range of fade, from none (Star Wars) to severe (Stranger Things) with most pins in-between (JJP, Dutch, and AP machines have been tested and definitely have fade for long sessions). Check the chart we have provided for the machines we’ve tested. Each machine is rated from “None” to “Severe.” If you don’t see your machine on the list and aren’t sure if you have it, we will eventually have them all tested, keep checking back or ask around. If you feel the effects of fade, no need to wait for us to confirm it.
WHY IS FLIPPER FADE SO BAD ON NEW MACHINES? WHY DON'T THEY FIX IT?
Flipper fade is not new. Games as far back as 1989 have been noted to have flipper fade by tournament players playing them in tournaments where the games are played for days straight. In general, though, the older pins are less deep, and were rarely in homes where they were played sometimes for hours at a time, so people didn't experience fade unless they were tournament players, and the smart ones got on the machines early because they knew the machine would be "tired" later in the tournament.
The first well-known pin with severe fade that people had at home was Lord of the Rings, in the early 2000s, which notoriously had fade so severe you often couldn't make the important ring shot after 45 minutes or so, which was a problem given that it was a KEY shot in the game.
Flipper fade isn't a defect, per se. It's physics at work. Programmers can minimize or delay the buildup of heat, but because of physics, heat will always be an issue, it's just a question of how much and how fast. These fans constantly dissipate the heat from the flipper coils, solving the problem.
ARE THESE MAGIC FLIPPER-FIXING DEVICES?
No. These kits are ONLY designed to keep the flipper performance consistent for as long as you play by keeping the temperature of the coils around 100-110F, well below the beginning-of-fade threshold of about 130F. They will not give you magical pinball skills or let you fire off laser-focused shots suddenly. They will only let you play as well as you do on a "fresh" machine, even if your machine has been played for hours with these installed.
ARE THESE AVAILABLE FOR <insert pinball machine here>?
Currently there are plug and play Pinmonk standard Tibetan Breeze or ZEN flipper cooling kits available for all Spike2 machines, Spooky Rick and Morty machines, Chicago Gaming, Dutch Pinball, JJP, and Legends of Valhalla. Stern SAM and Whitestar ZEN kits are up next.