While I cannot say that it gets extremely hot at the monastery, ahead of monsoon season it does get quite warm. When those days come, I welcome the wandering Tibetan breezes that whisper through the halls of my chosen home and personal quarters, cooling them while also bringing the fragrant gift of Tibetan Summer Bells, reminding me of the proverb that says Goodness speaks in a whisper.
Life experiences have a way of influencing disparate events in unexpected ways, and that karmic jackpot paid out for me when I was playing Stranger Things on a warm afternoon and having trouble hitting the TeleKenesis lock consistently late in a game. At the beginning of the game, I could sometimes hit it, but as the game continued, it became seemingly impossible until it actually WAS impossible. That is when the realization came to me that the problem may be flippers fading as the coils that drive them became overheated, an evil that handily completes of the other half of the proverb the breeze reminded me of – “Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts.” And, my flippers were making my ears hurt from the incessant shouting.
Pleased that the concept of cooling overheating coils finally returned to me a full 20 years after Lord of the Rings pinball, and unwilling to let grace pass me by, I hurriedly went to my work area and retrieved a temperature gauge, installed a probe on each coil, then continued playing. After another thirty minutes of play, the left coil was over 65c (150F) and was clearly faded, and the right wasn’t far behind.
It was at this moment the room seemed to come to life as a Tibetan breeze swelled through the teak frames of my quarter’s open windows, filling the room with the scent of Summer Bells and cooling it. Then it hit me. Why not create an artificial Tibetan breeze to blow “good whispers” across the coil constantly, keeping the temperature below the threshold at which fade begins, preventing the evil from showing its uncooperative self? Of course! It was such a simple concept, but once more I had to be humbled by nature to see it.
Over the next few weeks, I perhaps unwisely cut corners on my meditation to scratch out some extra time to work on a design that would make my idea a reality. And, before long, I had it! A harness that used the ticket interface connector on every Spike2 machine to power two fans mounted on custom brackets so that they could keep the flipper coils well below the fade threshold for as long as you wanted to play – ensuring essentially first-flip performance of the flipper coils while the machine was on, no matter how long you played. I was overcome with pride as I realized that it was a breakthrough idea that actually worked in the real world exactly as my brilliant mind had imagined it! I was truly the genius this monastery deserved!
(As soon as I had that thought, I realized that perhaps my abbreviated meditation time had allowed a boastful and ugly spirit to take hold of my heart. Shamed, I firmly resolved to return to full meditation times once again. Cutting spiritual corners was perhaps not the best way to arrive at my goal, after all.)
The final Tibetan Breeze Pro Coil Cooling Kit for a two-flipper Spike2 game consists of two fans secured to two custom brackets with 4 button top screws and 4 square nuts, as well as a two part, modular wiring harness with a fuse and bleed-back protection by means of a rectifier diode. It also includes instructions that make installation a...breeze.
Now that this kit exists, the benefit is yours to claim. All you need to do is purchase a kit and spend 10-15 minutes installing it in your Pro, Premium, LE or Super LE Spike2 pinball machine. I have tested it on Stranger Things, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Iron Maiden and all benefit from the breezes it creates. As time progresses, I will test them all with my temperature probes and report my findings. The chart in the pictures shows the results of the machines as I test them. I have no doubt that I will eventually find that this kit will provide benefit on all Spike2 machines, but some more than others based on how their uncooled flipper coils perform.
NOTE: This reconfigured v1.5 kit now features fans with 50% higher CFM (airflow) than the original.
Each 2 Flipper Kit Spike contains:
2 Angled fan brackets
1 Fused power adapter with rectifier diode
1 7.5 foot cable to connect fans to power adapter
8 Zipties for a clean installation
1 Complete illustrated instructions for installation
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 and 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.
DO ALL STERN/SPOOKY/SPIKE MACHINES HAVE FLIPPER COIL FADE?
All Spike and Spooky machines are being tested and so far there is a range of fade, from none (Star Wars) to severe (Stranger Things) with most pins in-between (JJP 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 flipper cooling kits available for all Spike2 machines, Rick and Morty machines, and JJP GnR machines. The new Tibetan Breeze ZEN kits allow for a mounting on formerly "impossible" machines where the clearance was too tight for the standard kits. So ZEN kits work on all Spike2, Spooky, CGC, Big Lebowski and soon Legends of Valhalla. Stern SAM and Whitestar ZEN kits are up next.