Berzek Repair Log

The game was 100% dead upon arrival.  The ZPU was heavily acid damaged and produced zero 'test beeps.'  The test light on the ZPU came but just stayed on and did not flash.  It was visually obvious the reset circuit was in horrible shape and this was confirmed when I verified pin #26 on the Z80 processor was stuck low.  I neutralized all the acid damage with a vinegar rinse and hand scrapped each individual trace to remove all of the corrosion. I replaced the 7G and 8G chips, all the transistors in the reset circuit, a few bad diodes, and repaired many bad traces with jumper wires.  The reset switch button was a corroded blob underneath so the entire button was replaced.  I cleaned the ROM's and replaced all of the socketed RAM at 1E & 2E. Be sure to use the correct RAM depending on how your board is jumpered (mine is jumpered at W11).  I have a 2114 in the 2E position and a 6514 in the 1E position. I couldn't find 6514's for sale but 5114's work just fine as a replacement. After all of these repairs the only thing I had to show for it was the reset line now correctly flipped from low to high upon game power up - so the reset line was fixed!  A Kester 186 flux pen was my savior when dealing with corrosion on critical solder points.  Without it the crusty solder would not flow.  The goal in a Berzerk PCB boardset repair is to get at least 3 beeps/flashes with only the ZPU running before hooking up any of the other boards.

Low and behold after much frustration of the little red light not flashing I replaced the Z-80 and immediately got 3 flashes and 3 beeps!  Flash and beep counting is very critical to determine where you are at in your repairs.  After much investigation I 100% confirmed the flash/beep that occurs at game power up counts as the first flash/beep.  Knowing this little tip will keep you from getting confused during your repair progress. The original Berzerk manual is a must have as it details problems associated with each of the flashes/beeps.  In terms of game life I now have a rolling image on the screen that goes between a mosaic of colored garbage to a garbled version of the RAM map on the VFB.  Even garbage on the screen was considered progress! Click here to see a movie of the error screen.

The next board after the ZPU is the BSC board and it had extensive damage as well.  The 23 count header pins for the ribbon cables had heavy corrosion and took me quite a bit of time to get it cleaned up.  Be sure to check every trace and bad one leaves you stuck in your repair progress.  I replaced all the RAM on the BSC board and replaced a few of the sockets that were well beyond repair.

Interconnect cables.  At this point of the repair you almost have to assume your cables are bad and need to be replaced.  Many faulty connections are directly traced back to bad cables.  With a bright light you can actually look into the ends of the cables and see the crimp connector spring tabs which have failed.  Another quick way to check a cable is to shake it.....if it rattles throw it away.  Replacement cables are no longer available but I was able to find an 8 connector 50 pin SCSI cable and cut it up to make some brand new cables!  They took a little bit of sanding on the ends to get them to mount side by side but once they were in my confidence in the cable connection between boards was now very high.

I started to get more test flashes/beeps after the cable repair and followed the Berzerk manual to determine that my RAM was bad on the VFB.  Direct replacement RAM was not available for the sixteen 4027 RAM chips but you can replace half the amount with 4116's. I filled rows 10 and 11 with eight 4116's and it seemed to work just fine.  Make sure to check for bad sockets, as they are often problematic.  I found that the two chips which comprise the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) at 10C & 12C (74LS181) were as bad as were their sockets. Finally, the 74LS75's located at 10D and 11D along with their sockets were bad  - so be sure to check those too! All header pins on the power board were cracked and had to be re-flowed.

After all these repairs I finally had 8 flashes and 8 beeps!  "Coins Detected In Pocket!"
The final repair was to get the high score circuit working by replacing the original corroded battery that ruined the ZPU board.  I used an Energizer cordless phone battery (ER-P510 - Nickel Metal Hydride Battery) which is rated at 3.6volts and 700MAH.  I soldered leads to the ZPU and remote located the battery on the bottom of my cabinet - no more leakage down the ZPU board!  It seems to be working just perfectly and the high scores are now saved!  The total repair took me about 5-6 weeks so don't get discouraged if this is your first or 100th attempt at repairing this game!

After 40 years of being chased by Evil Otto the "Humanoid" would no longer move to the right. It appeared that the original Berzerk optical bat joystick was in need of repair. A close inspection of the PRU-1000 board revealed many cracked solder joints on the header pins. I removed all the old solder and carefully reflowed new solder. At this time it would be a good idea to look at the RCR-1000 board for cracked solder and if necessary perform similar repairs. The board is located in the lower right hand corner of the board set as it is mounted in the game. Many times cracked or weak solder joints will cause erratic joystick movements or in this case, no movement at all.  

After reflowing all the header pins the performance of the joystick improved but still had no movement to the right. The next step in the repair was to make sure the reflective side of the washer covering the opto was clean and both were properly aligned.  If the joystick still doesn't move in the desired direction it is time to replace the opto itself. I ended up replacing the opto sensor at the U3 location, which is for right movement. The part number is  OPB707A and they are readily available online.

With the new opto in place I once again installed the joystick and gave it a test. Success! Evil Otto and the robots will have a much more difficult time catching the "Humanoid" now!

The cordless phone battery, that had powered the high score circuit since the game was restored in 2009, finally died. Instead of replacing the battery with another battery I decided to go with a 5114 NVRAM module. There are several to choose from but I selected the one from Pinitech, which is available here. The 6514 RAM is removed from 1E and the module is installed. No soldering is required. After installation you must go into bookkeeping and zero everything out in order for the game to operate correctly.