ICE Chexx Hockey, Super Chexx Hockey
Repair Guide and Game History.

11/05/05

Description: Chexx Hockey and Super Chexx Hockey (bubble hockey dome hockey), ICE, 1983 to present.

If you have a Chexx Hockey for sale or any Chexx hockey parts for sale, please contact me at cfh@provide.net.

Introduction.
Ralph Coppola and Jack Willert called their company "Innovative Concepts in Entertainment", hence the acronym "ICE". The very first Chexx hockey table shipped from ICE's suburban Buffalo plant Feb 3, 1983. ICE sold over 5000 Chexx tables in the first year (7000 in the first 18 months). This was quite a feat as the amusement business in 1983 was very much video dominated. At the time the Buffalo NY company built and sold its games from a shop located in the township of Tonawanda NY, not far from American Wurlitzer's fabled jukebox factory in North Tonawanda.

Chexx Hockey is still in production today in its "Super Chexx" form. Counting all the improvements done on the basic game, (1983 Chexx, 1988 Chexx, 1993 Super Chexx, 2001 Super Chexx), ICE has sold close to 20,000 domed ice hockey tables. It even made its way into the home sports retail market with a non-coin operated version. The first Chexx version was blue (well except in Canada which got a red version) and had a long CPU board and was known as "Chexx Hockey". This had the USA (or Canada) versus Russian/USSR hockey teams, taking advantage of the US/Russian hockey rivalry of the 1980 olympics. When the Berlin Wall fell November 9, 1989 (and torn down by end of 1990), ICE decided to go with a USA versus Canada theme on their new red Super Chexx model. The current flavor of Chexx games has "home vs. away", which is more generic and less appealing to me personally.

Interestingly, Chexx hockey may have been copied from a 1970s Sega game called Face-Off (these two games are just too similar).

As a side note, in 1985 ICE sold a Kixx soccer version of their Chexx hockey, but it didn't sell like Chexx Hockey sold.

The Super Chexx version had some improvements over the original Chexx Hockey. The main improvement is time counts for each period and "shots on goal" is tracked in the dome's scoreboard. The original blue game used three "ICE" lights to indicate the period, where the red Super Chexx used an actual LED to count down time in the period. The puck is magnetic, and in front of each goal is a set of reed switches underneath the plastic playfield. As the puck goes over the switches it closes the switches. This gives a "shot on goal" read-out on the score board, and the crowd produces an "OHHHH" noise (the "OHHHH" noise though is present in all versions of Chexx hockey right from 1983). On Super Chexx any time the reed switch in front of the goal is closed, the shot on goal LED increments. If the puck goes into the goal, it rolls down an aluminum rail and passes another magnetic switch. This is what scores the goal and of course the crowd noise responds to the goal. A moment later a solenoid automatically kicks the puck up from under center ice and onto the playing field to continue play (the Boo button can also be pressed anytime to eject the puck manually). The game is timed (adjustable), but will continue to play past the set time until a goal is scored.

On Chexx/Super Chexx there is always a winner. The game continues play even after game time has run out until a goal is scored (the game is purely mechanical in regards to the players and puck, and can not stop play if the puck is on the ice). If a goal is scored tying the game after the end of the game time (even though by NHL hockey rules the game would be over and the winner declared when time ran out), sudden death is played (this is indicated by the period number flashing on the score board or the ICE lamp cycling left to right). If the game is 'over' (time has run out) and say the score is 2-to-1, and the losing team scores tying the game, the puck is returned to the ice and the game continues. This is sudden death. The reason the game does this is because there is no way to stop a game when time runs out unless a goal is scored and the puck is not kicked out to the ice. The machine wants to ensure there is never a tie.

All Chexx hockey games play the U.S. national anthem (Super Chexx can also play the Canadian anthem) at the beginning of the game (2001 and later games the anthem actually sounds good - earlier games and the singer sounds sick!) There is even a "boo" button to get the crowd to make a "BOOOO" noise (used to eject the puck too), and to abbreviate the national anthem and eject the puck at the beginning of the game.

USA vs. Canada (or Home vs. Away) Super Chexx. Notice the Canadian team is red and white.
The wrong side decal is installed on this 1994 version (it should be a white strip decal).

The original USA vs. Russia blue Chexx game (with a newer Super Chexx playfield).
The Russian team is pure red.

In Canada the 1983 style (long Moog CPU board) Chexx game was
marketed with a RED base and Canada vs. Russia. Also it plays the
Canadian national anthem.

Chexx Hockey Size.
The Chexx hockeys have a footprint of 36" square and 31" tall. Most home doors are 29" to 31" wide. So to get a Chexx hockey into the house, the playfield needs to be removed and the base turned sideways so the 31" width can make it between the door pillars. This creates significant problems as most doors are 30" wide. Why Chexx used this height dimension probably made sense to them, but for an average home owner, it creates difficulties getting the game in the house. Because of this in the last few years the Chexx hockey has been available with a split-base, which splits into two pieces.

The "USA Hockey Team" decal is available for download. This is a 10.25" x 8.5" decal in photoshop 6.0 format available here (ZIP'ed file, 650k).

Dating a Chexx Machines.
There is no easy way to get an exact manufacturer date for a Chexx hockey machine. The best way I have found is using date codes from the parts in the game. For example, on 1988 and later Chexx machines, I look at the large transformer in the upper left corner of the CPU board. It will have a date code stamp in WWYY format. WW is the week (01 to 52) that the transformer was made, and YY is the year. So a date code of 0396 means the transformer was made during the 3rd week of 1996, and the Chexx game was made sometime during 1996 (the serial number on this game was started with 9E6, so perhaps that indicates 1996 also, but I am not sure). A date code of 5093 means the transformer was made during the 50th week of 1993, and the Chexx machine was made sometime during 1994 (remember this date code will be a bit earlier than the actual manufacturer of the machine).

On the long CPU board Chexx hockey games I use the manufacturer code of the chips on the CPU board. I use the date codes from the 6502 processor and the 6810 RAM. These date codes are in YYWW format (8304 means the chip was made during the 4th week of 1983, and the game was made sometimes during 1983).

Chexx Hockey Problems.
As for problems with the Chexx Hockey game, often the gearbox for the hockey players strips, wears or binds. At $14 to $30 per gearbox (depending where it's bought), it can be expensive to replace all 10 gearboxes, but it is often needed. If opposing players touch and the control sticks are turned, neither player should be able to turn ("strip") the gears easily. If they can, the gearbox is worn and needs to be replaced. There are also clear plastic washers that hold the player to the gearbox, and often these are missing or broken. The plastic playfield can wear its blue and red lines due to puck movement, and generally look bad or even crack. The playfield is replacable at about $115. And of course the plastic dome can scratch or crack, usually starting to crack around the allenhead bolt attachment points. Again the dome is replacable but it is really expensive. Lastly the scoreboard's digital readouts can lose segments or even entire digits, and need replacement or repair.

Advice: if you have a broken Chexx game, don't bother calling ICE and asking for help, as they are not helpful. When I have called (and I am an experienced tech working part time for a shop that sells ICE products), these guys were useless with even simple questions unless you taked to JP in the Tech department (he seemed to be the only person that knew much about these games). So basically if you buy a Chexx game you're on your own. So make sure you get it from a shop that will support you. Because of this I hassitate to recommend ICE products for home use unless you know a good repair person.

The 2001 to present Super Chexx CPU board. No pictures available.

The 1993 to 2000 style Super Chexx CPU board. This board is from a
1994 Super Chexx (due to the 5093 date code on the transformer). Notice
the large transformer, which provides power to the board. The small
transformer is the scoreboard's florescent light ballast.

A 1988 to 1993 "small" Chexx CPU board using a 6502, 6522, 6116 RAM and 2732 EPROM.
Note the ballast transformer for the florescent scoreboard, different power supply
section, no ticket dispensor connector, and the 6502 processor (pre-68HC11).
The "CAN" on the one ROM indicating this is a Canadian Chexx that plays the Canadian
national anthem. Notice the 4 position DIP switch and volume at the right.

The Moog-made and designed 1983 to 1988 Chexx CPU board.
This board is mounted to a metal door the width of the coin
door, but the height of two coin doors. On the outside of the
door is a large heatsink. This door is on the opposite side
compared to the coin door. It uses a 6502 processor and 6522
PIA chips, a 2716 program EPROM, a 6810 RAM, eight 52164 64k
bit sound ROM chips, and custom Moog 40 pin sound chip.

Chexx CPU board General Information.
Above is an Ultra Chexx logic CPU board. The newest (2001 and later) Super Chexx CPU board is just slightly different than this board. Basically the same board, but there is a small daughter board with two 27040 EPROM chips and two TTL chips to support the additional ROM. The newest version of the Super Chexx CPU board with the daughter board which appeared around 2001 has much better sound and speech (hence the bigger ROMs to hold the improved sound/speech). On the newer CPU board for example, the U.S. national anthem is much more clear and doesn't sound like the singer is sick(!), as in the earlier Chexx and Super Chexx games. Also on the 2001 and later CPU board version the Buffalo Sabers hockey team's announcer was hired to do voice overs for the latest Chexx CPU board's sound. The older square 1993 and later Chexx CPU board can be sent back to Chexx and for about $100 they will upgrade it to the latest version. Unfortunately the first generation long and skinny CPU board can not be upgraded.

Notice the +5 volt and +12 volt LEDS at the top. The power supply is part of the CPU board on the smaller Chexx CPU boards. A bridge rectifier makes 12 volts DC and then uses voltage regulators across the top of the CPU board to make regulated 5 and 12 volts (Ultra Chexx and later CPU boards). This is unlike the first generation Chexx "long and skinny" CPU boards where the power supply was a separate unit mounted in the bottom of the base. This original pre-1988 power supply makes 5, 8 and 12 volts DC, plus 18 volts DC for the solenoid coil. The 18 volts came from a "soleniod power board" which has a 120 to 18 volt transformer, a bridge rectifier, a 2N3906 pre-driver transistor, and two TIP120 driver transistors. The main CPU board used a TIP110 too as part of this circuit. On the 1988 and later Chexx CPU board Q1 is a single TIP120 used for the puck solenoid.

The eject solenoid should be 3 or 4 ohms and no less, or the driving TIP120 transistor will fail. The solenoid power is 12 volts which can be sensed at the coil as a pulse. On 1993 and later Chexx games, U9 is the ampflier chip (TDA2002), which is an older 8 watt amp chip as used in early Bally pinball games. If the game will not "coin up", sometimes the CZ5 cap on the logic board has failed.

There are four switches across the bottom of the 1993 and later Chexx logic board: PGM (Program), SEL (Select), STEP and TEST. These allow for programming and testing of the CPU board. Notice the "old" and "new" jumper setting at the lower right. This allows the new CPU board to work with the old style MOOG score board (no shots on goal). The pre-1988 long skinny CPU board has no test switches unfortunately. The far left plug is for the base wiring, the center plug for the cabinet (playfield) wiring, and the right plug (not installed here) is for a ticket dispenser. The base plug brings line voltage, 12 volts DC, coin switches and speaker in/out of the board. The cabinet plug brings all the playfield switches and 12 volts DC in/out of the board. The top .156" and ribbon cables is for the dome scoreboard. Probably the biggest problem I have seen on Chexx games is connector cold and broken solder joints.

Chexx CPU Board Architecture.
The earlier long and skinny Chexx CPU board is completely different architecture than the late 1988 and after small and square CPU board. The pre-1988 CPU board was not even made by Chexx - Moog the synthesizer company made the CPU board for ICE from 1983 to 1988. Moog was located near ICE in western NY, but went out of business in 1993. Hence ICE's change to a different style CPU board. The "long and skinny" Moog CPU used a 6502 for the processor, a 6522 for the PIA, a 6810 static RAM, eight 52164 64k bit sound ROM chips (not compatible with a 2764 EPROM as the EPROM is 28 pins and the 52164 is 24 pins), a 40 pin custom Moog sound chip, and a single 2716 CPU EPROM (the 2716 EPROM file from a 1983 Chexx was labeled 1983 version 1.1. The sound on the Moog CPU board is rather cool because Moog (a synthesizer company) made the the Chexx CPU board to sound like a cheap mini-Moog synthesizer! The standard organ music of a hockey game is done very well on the Moog CPU board. Game time and pricing is adjusted with two switches at the top edge of the CPU board. The scoreboard used dual digit LED displays driven by 74LS47 and 74LS164 chips. Schematics and parts lists are available here: Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6 (good luck getting those schematics from ICE!)

The second generation Chexx CPU came about in 1988 when Chexx updated the CPU board to a smaller package. The power supply was no longer a separate box in the bottom of the cabinet, but was put right on the main CPU board. This new CPU board was also much smaller and square. The eight sound ROMs into a single 54104 ROM (not compatible with a 27040 EPROM). The main game EPROM was upgraded to a 2732 and the RAM changed to a 6116. The 6502/6522 processor package was still used on this board. A 4-position DIP switch was added to the CPU board that allowed pricing and game time changes, including a free play setting (pre-1988 Moog CPU boards do not have a free play option). The scoreboard was essentially the same as the 1983-1988 Moog scoreboard using 74LS47 and 74LS164 chips, but later models were changed to the newer scoreboard (MAX7219CNG and 74HC14 chips) with shots on goal. The CPU's DIP switch has the following settings:

  • Switch 1 and 2 relate to coins per game:
  •     1,2 need to be off for a free play
  • Switch 3 and 4 relate to the time per game:
  •     2 minutes: 3 on, 4 on
  •     3 minutes: 3 off, 4 on
  •     4 minutes: 3 on, 4 off
  •     5 minutes: 3 off, 4 off

The third generation Chexx CPU board came about in late 1993, and again was a small square board. It used a 68HC11, which is a powerful 8-bit data, 16-bit address microcontroller from Motorola with an instruction set that is similar to the older 68xx (6800, 6802, 6809) parts. Depending on the variety, the 68HC11 has built-in EEPROM/OTPROM, RAM, digital I/O, timers, A/D converter, PWM generator, and synchronous and ansynchronous communications channels (RS232 and SPI). There is an 27040 EPROM on the Chexx CPU board so the 68HC11 used in Chexx hockey is probably the simplest form available. The 68HC11 is typically a "one-chip" solution since it includes such items as A/D, PWM, and many I/O lines. It is widely used since it is very inexpensive and has a wide range of development tools available (both freeware and commercial). Development language support and tools include Assembler, Basic, Forth, C, so it is fairly easy to program for the 68HC11. The scoreboard has "shots on goal" and used MAX7219CNG and 74HC14 chips. Download the 27040 EPROM file from a 1996 Super Chexx UCX 1.2.

The fourth generation Chexx CPU board came about around 2001. It was basically exactly like the 1993-2001 version but a small daughter board was added to the 27040 EPROM socket. This doubled the game's EPROM size to have two 27040 EPROMs. In turn this game the game much better audio with actual voice recordings and more realistic sound. Older CPUs can be upgraded with some cuts and jumps and an added ROM daughter board.

Chexx CPU board Boot-Up Protocol.
The long skinny Chexx CPU board powers on with a short "Charge!" hockey anthem ("dadadatdadah...YEAAAA"). The scoreboard will shows "0" for USA and Russian scores immediately at power on while the bootup Charge anthem plays. None of the period ICE lights will come on. There are no CPU board test buttons so no tests can be run.

After a game is started on the long skinny CPU board, the first ICE ("I") light will illuminate signifying the first period. When the first period is finished, the Charge! anthem will play and the second (middle) ICE ("C") light will turn on (and the first "I" light will go off). Again the same thing will happen with the change from second to third period with the "E" lamp turning on. At the end of the third period, if the puck is still in play, all three "ICE" period lights will flash together signifying the game time is over. If when a goal is made the score is tied, the ICE lights will cycle I-C-E repeatedly left to right and the hockey Dah-Dah-Dah-Dah organ tune will play. This lets the players know the game is in sudden death overtime (the next goal wins - there is never a tie game in Chexx).

Super Chexx (small CPU board with "shots on goal", late 1993 and after) boot up is different. The top score displays will show all "88" for about a second, and then the bottom score displays show all "88". After another second all displays will show "00" with the time display flashing "00". The CPU board 5 volt and 12 volt LEDs will immediately lite at power-on. There is no boot-up tune or sound.

After the Super Chexx CPU board has booted, the Test button on the CPU board can be pressed. This will cycle all game sounds to play, and the puck solenoid to energize every 20 seconds or so. The score board will show "12 34 56" on both the Shots on Goal/Time and Home/Away/Period LEDs, alternating between the two sets of LED displays. Go exit test mode press the Test button again.

Note if the Super Chexx game is set to free-play, the Boo/Eject button starts a game (the coin switch do nothing!) Pressing Boo/Eject a second time will abort the national anthem and eject the puck.

The Score Board.
The score board on Chexx games can be quite problematic. On the first generation score board there is only USA and Russia LED scoring, and the ICE lights that signify the period being played. The ICE 12 volt lamps are driven by one 74LS164 and TIP120 transistor on the center PCB inside the scoreboard. The other two PCBs hold the LED displays and six chips per board.

The score printed circuit boards. The top board has a single 74LS164 and three TIP120 transistor
which control the six 12 volt "ICE" lamps (two lamps per TIP120). The othre two PCCs control the home and
away scores. Two 74LS47 chips and one 74LS164 chip controls each score LED (the three chips closest to
any LED are the controlling logic). This is from a 1983 Chexx (no 'shots on goal').

Obviously this score PCB had a bit of a problem as the 74LS164 burned! This is from a 1983 Chexx.

The pre-1993 Score board as seen from the top.

Three chips (two 74LS47 chps and one 74LS164 chip) control each LED displays (total of six chips per board). The 74LS164 chips are the most problematic. I use a LBT-10 (Lil Bitty Tester) Chip Tester to test the 74LS164 chips, and I have found quite often brand new NOS 74LS164 chips to be bad. If they don't pass my LBT-10 Chip Tester, they won't work in the Chexx scoreboard! Also if you hook up the ribbon cable off by one pin you can send 12 volts to the 5 volt chips and fry every chip (13 chips in total).

The right angle .156" Molex connector which the ribbon cable attaches on the center PCB is often burned too, at the two pins which handle the 12 volts for the fan and playfield lamps. The bulbs used are a pair of #1156 lamps, which run quite hot (but do provide a good amount of light). In a pinch #89 pinball flasher bulbs can be used instead, and these will reduce the amount of heat generated (as they are not as bright). Regardless these 12 volt lamps can generate a lot of heat, and there is a thermal switch on the metal light deflector for these lamps. If the lamps get too hot, the thermal switch turns them off. There is also a fan on the top of the score board to aid in cooling. This is different than the 1988 and later Chexx which uses a small 11 watt florescent "U" lamp, which is a much better idea. I see all kinds of hacks to fix burnt pins on the ribbon cable. The best fix is to crimp eight new trifurcon .156" connector pins onto the cable and replace the housing. Use a 10 pin housing with key pins on both ends so the cable can not be hooked up "one pin off" (blowing up the scoreboard chips).

The scoreboard PCBs from the 1993 and later Chexx hockey games.
Note just two chips, a 74HC14 and a Maxim MAX7219CNG.

The scoreboard uses four of the circuit boards. They are the same board,
just daisy-chained together. The two boards used for shots on goal only use
one of the two connectors on the board, since they are the last link in
the daisy chain.

Bench Testing the Chexx CPU Board.
1988 and later Chexx games with small CPU boards are very easy to bench test (unfortunately the 1983-1988 long skinny CPU board are not so easy, as they use an external power supply). The 1988 and later small CPU board Chexx games have the power supply on-board, so it's very simple. This information applies to the 1988 small CPU board version too. Just plug a 120 volt power cord into the "base" female Molex connector on the CPU board at pins 4 and 10. Then plug a speaker into pins 11 and 12. Plug the board on and turn on the power switch. Now press the TEST button (button at bottom to the far right) and the board should play all the sounds from the game. If the score display is plugged in the numbers "12 34 56" will alternate between the shots-on-goal and score LED rows. To start a game, reboot the CPU board then press SW5 (just below left of the volume control).

Booting a 1993 and later Chexx CPU board on the work bench. Notice the power cord and
speaker plugged into the "base" Molex connector on the left.

A close up of the "base" Molex connector being used to power the CPU board on the work bench
(black wires are 120 volts, yellow wires are speakers).

The displays on a 1993 Chexx score board at boot-up. This display will move
to the "goals" score row in just a second.

The displays on a 1993 Chexx score board in attract mode.

The base of a mid-1990s Super Chexx machine with the playfield removed.
Note the lack of anything other than a coin box, the CPU board and speakers.

The base of an original 1983 Chexx machine with the playfield removed.
Note the power supply (bottom center), which is missing from 1993 and later red Super Chexx games.

A Super Chexx under-the-playfield area. Notice the new style reed switches in front of the goals.
The old style reed switches boards are larger.


Japanese Chexx and Kixx CPU board
I recently worked at someone's house on a pinball machine, and they had this Chexx game. He could not tell me the history of the game, but right off I noticed something *different* about the game. Why did it have red lights behind each goal that lite when a goal was scored?? I looked at the CPU board and saw a Japanese "Soccer" CPU board like I have never seen in a Chexx game. Apparently this is the CPU board used in the Kixx game, and it works for Chexx too. ICE used this board as a "inbetween" between their Moog Chexx and Ultra-Chexx CPU board versions around 1988. Below are some pictures, including the serial number of the game. If anyone has any info on this style of CPU board, please email me at cfh@provide.net

Upgrading a 1993-2001 Chexx CPU board for Better Sound.
If you can get a hold of the EPROM daughter board, it can be plugged into an older 1993-2001 CPU board. This will give much better sound. Below is what I *think* must be done to accomodate this.


* Email the collector cfh@provide.net
* Go to the EM Arcade History index
* Go to the Pinball Repair/History index