Slot machine WPC-95
It is not a pinball machine, but a slot machine!
Ultra-rare Williams model
based on WPC-95 system.
We would first of all like to thank the following people, for their invaluable help and without whom, this article would probably not have been written:
- Martin WIEST (proud owner of a Phantom Haus and manager of a German forum)
- Bill GRUPP (machine code developer)
- Scott SLOMIANY (project manager)
In 1996, to deal with the declining market for pinball machines and to continue operating its factories, Williams began manufacturing an original slot machine.
This machine, whose name "Phantom Haus" clearly reveals the targeted market, will be mainly intended for the European market and more particularly for Germany.
It will be classified in the AWP ("Amusement With Price") category, in order to circumvent the laws on gambling. In principle, it saves the player not money, but rather prizes (or tokens).
Designed by adapting the WPC-95 architecture, used at that time for pinball machines, around fifty machines will be produced in total, of which ten will remain reserved for the US market.
Although very promising, the production of the "Phantom Haus" will nevertheless be quickly stopped and will be limited to this first batch. On the European side, most of the machines sent to Berlin will be scrapped and unfortunately only a very small number will remain. On the US side, many Williams employees will seek to acquire this innovative machine in which they had invested heavily. Unfortunately for them, the small number of copies remaining did not satisfy everyone.
One of the reasons that led to the discontinuation of production was that the machine did not comply with German regulations. Indeed, the RTP (Return To Player percentage) which is regulated and regularly controlled, could too easily be adjusted between 70% and 98% (the default value being 74%).
The "Phantom Haus" is an imposing machine, packed with features and where there is hardly any unused space. There is also no need for any "general" lighting, since all the lamps (a total of 175 lamps, not counting the flashes!) are controlled by the CPU board.
The glass represents a haunted house where each window is illuminated. The coin mechanism is installed at the top right. We immediately notice the large 7-segment LED display on the left, as well as the presence of a small DOT MATRIX display in the center.
The control panel has many buttons and of course, the classic three reels of a slot machine. On the right, there is a large illuminated roulette wheel as well as the levels of the multiplier.
At startup, the serial number (stored in the SECURITY PIC) is checked and displayed. We immediately notice the unusual size and resolution of this display for a WPC-95 system.
The people who worked on the project are not unknown, since they are all people who have already been involved in the creation of pinball machines at Williams / Midway. Asked about this, the project manager (Scott SLOMIANY) named the members of his team:
- Scott SLOMIANY
- Pete PIATROWSKI
- Bill GRUPP
- Armando ZUNIGA
- Linda DEAL (aka DOANE)
We owe to the latter many other works, such as the backglass / translite of "Demolition Man", "Dr Who", "Cirqus Voltaire" or even "The Champion Pub". She must also be credited with that of the "Phantom Haus" since his signature "L. DEAL" appears at the bottom right, above the copyright 1996 Williams.
Note that these are real printed panes and not simple translites (both for the main pane and for that of the panel). Better still, these two panes have a metalization with a mirror effect on certain parts. It is quite luxurious and we are therefore very far from a low-cost realization.
According to Scott SLOMIANY, the ROI (Return On Investment) was very low and much lower than that of competing machines. The furniture is also of very good quality, made of plywood, where others used chipboard (cheaper, but also much less durable).
Bill GRUPP confirmed to us that all Bally/Williams WPCs were programmed in 6809 assembler and that they had spent a lot of time optimizing the code to get the most out of this processor. The first game subsequently developed in 'C' language being "Revenge From Mars".
He also allowed us to identify the members of the team in this nice family photo (from top to bottom, and from left to right):
- Pete PIOTROWSKI - Co-designer of the game
- Bill GRUPP - Machine Code Developer
- Scott SLOMIANY - Project Manager
- Kevin QUINN - Sounds and Music
- Linda DEAL - Art, Graphics
- Armando ZUNIGA - Mechanical
- ??? - If he recognizes himself or if you recognize him, contact us!
US and German versions
Two versions were produced, the first was a prototype designed for the US market and the second was the final version intended for the German market. There are a few small differences between these two versions.
The very first prototype had a particular arrangement of the DMD screen, mounted at the top of the machine and which will then be lowered for more readability. As a result, the main backglass was also not the same, and the one with the roulette did not yet have her final design.
Only the German version exists for the European market, but it seems that the machine was planned for seven other countries, as indicated in the declaration of conformity. Eight different codes are mentioned there: 90201 (Germany), 90401 (France), 90701 (Belgium), 91001 (England), 91301 (Holland), 91401 (Italy), 92001 (Spain), 92201 (Switzerland).
On the US prototype, the coin mechanism is configured to accept (in addition to tokens) dollars, while the German version uses Deutschmarks. Originally the machine only used two EPROMs on the AV card, which was enough to implement a single language.
The documentation only mentions two S2 and S3 EPROMs:
On the final version, 4 EPROMs are used on the "Audio video" card in order to have two languages available simultaneously.
US machine with prototype motors control board and 4 EPROMs on the A/V board:
A language change function will be added on the final version, and the console will be modified. On the prototype, only a round button "Credit X" is present. On the final version, a double square button replaces it, with both the "Credit X" and the change of language. The switch between languages can be done during the game.
Drawing of the console shown in the documentation:
It is very easy to visually identify the two versions:
Two different sets of backglass were produced, one in English, the other in German. The inscriptions are all translated, both on the main glass and on the console. The button markings are also different on each version.
Although several languages are available in the configuration, for the menus and messages displayed on the DMD, only English and German can be chosen for voice messages.
The buttons on the control panel are also translated for the German version.
The DOT 128x64 display
The Williams developers have certainly spent a lot of time on this! Indeed, depending on the combinations obtained with the wheels, several video games are then offered and use this plasma display.
It is also used for the configuration menus, which are certainly specific, but ultimately quite similar to those found on the WPC-95. The first particularity of this display is its dimensions. Its horizontal physical size is half that of 128x32 plasma displays used on other WPC-95s.
This ultra-compact display is manufactured either by Babcok (reference GP-064X128-01) or by Cherry.
Just like on other WPC-95, it can display images with multiple levels of brightness (halftones).
The second peculiarity is its vertical resolution. Unlike all displays used on WPC-95, this one has double the lines, 64 instead of 32, which makes it possible to display somewhat more complex graphics.
The Visual Audio board (A-20516)
The display is connected to a standard, unmodified "Visual Audio" board. This implies that this board was intended from the outset to drive displays of more than 32 lines, this is not the case with the video board (A-14039) used on the WPC-89 and WPC-S.
However, the "Visual Audio" board has a special feature: the circuits for the serial interface (TL16C450 and MAX239) are installed. This is rare and the only WPC-95 pinball machine where this feature has been used is the NBA-FASTBREAK.
The music produced by this board is specific to the "Phantom Haus" and completely new. There has been a real creative work at this level, Williams did not just take old pieces used on pinball machines.
|Music sample 1||Music sample 2||Music sample 3|
Voices are available in English and German.
|English / German voice sample 1||English / German voice sample 2|
Various sound effects are of course present and everything can be mixed.
|Mix with music, vocals and sound effects|
The printer output
The serial interface of the "Visual Audio" card is connected to a small separate board, mounted at the bottom, at the front of the machine. You can easily connect a control printer, accessing directly from the front panel.
This panel also gives access to the hatch of the body, located on the right, access to which is still protected by another lock.
The board has a classic DB9 connector and has only a few components. Its role is above all to protect the internal electronics (CPU / driver board) against the connections of unsuitable equipment.
Mechanics and internal views
The machine opens from the rear, which gives access to the whole. The electronic boards are mounted on the overhead door. The coin mechanism is located at the top left, so that the tokens fall by gravity.
The coin mechanism sorts between coins and tokens. The accepted coins fall directly into the cash register through two PVC tubes, while the tokens are put in reserve and stored in a transparent tube. To their right and halfway up, we find the block of mechanical rollers.
Thoses three wheels are powered by stepper motors, controlled by a specific board. We find here the same principle that was used on the pinball machine "Who Dunnit", the size of the rollers being different, however, as is their mounting system.
The token distribution system has an overflow.
Three loudspeakers are installed on the front.
The glass lamps are mounted on an ABS plate.
Power supply and electronic boards
The power transformer is located at the very bottom of the body. The multi-voltage adapter block is placed nearby.
All boards are mounted on the overhead door. The CPU board and the "audio video" board are those standard in the WPC-95 system. On the other hand, the "power driver" board is specific, as is the motor control board.
Motors control board (A-21342 or A-21037)
Unlike the "Who Dunnit" which has one motor control board, the "Phantom Haus" uses a single board for all three motors.
The documentation refers to two boards: A-21037 and A-21342. Both are designed to drive unipolar motors, the difference being in the control system. The A-21037 uses two signals "clock" and "direction", while the A-21342 uses two signals "A" and "B".
It seems that the A-21037 is a prototype version and the A-21342 is the finalized version. The latter although very similar, has fewer components and remains compatible with the protocol already used on the "Who Dunnit".
In the end, it is indeed the A-21342 which is installed in the machine.
The "power driver" board (A-20971)
This board was designed especially for the slot machine and is very different from the boards found on the WPC-95 (or even WPC-S and WPC-89) pinball machines.
The characteristics of board A-20971 are:
- Dual 18 volt power supply - required by the large number of lamps ordered
- Removed "coin counter" section
- Removal of the "fliptronic" part - completely unnecessary on a slot machine
- Lamp array extended to 96 lamps (instead of 64 on pinball machines)
- Double lamp matrix (a total of 192 lamps maximum)
- Wide use of ULN2803 - no TIP36C on this board
- TRIAC section replaced by ULN2803 - for optional meters
The number of rows of the lamp matrix thus goes from 8 to 12:
- LMP ROW controls the first 8 rows of matrix A
- DIS2 commands the first 8 rows of matrix B
- DIS1 controls at the same time, the 4 other lines of the matrix A and the 4 other lines of the matrix B
The coin mechanism
Beside the coin mechanism are installed the two buttons "Collect Token" (SW21) and "Transfert Credit" (SW22), as well as the associated lamps (lamps A132 "Cash Out" and A98 "Transfer Credit").
The coin mechanism is a C435 model, which is much more complex than the C220s usually found on pinball machines.
The C435 accepts up to five types of coins (or tokens) and has 4 separate outlets (+ one reject). It is possible to combine it with a more complex sorter (CS4000), but here it is only used in its simplest configuration with the passive sorter.
The coins and tokens are then simply directed to funnels and fall directly into the tubes. The coin mechanism is connected by a 21 pin connector to the A-21245 "Coin Door" board.
The box at the bottom of the machine has three compartments. The first receives the coins coming out of the paths A and D, the second those coming out of the path B, finally the third receives the tokens which overflow from the overflow (and which leave the path C).
The legislation does not allow the redistribution of money, the machine was originally designed to give only tokens for replay.
The coin acceptor can learn to recognize any token model. In practice, those used in Germany were of a type well known from casinos ("Weiterspiel Marke" - brass - 14.6 gr - & Oslash; 28.5 mm).
Williams has also produced a series of tokens bearing the image of this machine.
Two keys are mounted on the front, just above the payout bin. The one on the right activates the configuration menu which is accessible without having to open the machine. The one on the left is used to fill the reserve with tokens, using the coin mechanism.
The "Phantom Haus" is an extremely rare machine, little known outside the world of "real" collectors. Its unique history and atypical "gameplay" make it a highly sought-after model.
Needless to say, it is not for sale!