Pachinko Card Reader Emulator System
July 2006 to August 2006 - Reverse Engineering of Electrical Connections
The electrical connections to the pachinko machine were reverse engineered in mid 2006. This was done by dismantling several machines and tracing the connections back to the buttons, display and payout control microprocessor, but this only gave the information about how to read the buttons and light the digits on the credit display.
This connection information has been compiled into our Card Reader Technical Information page.
September 2006 to December 2006 - Reverse Engineering of Communication Protocol
The complicated part was working out the communication protocol needed to make the pachinko pay out balls on demand, as if a genuine prepaid card unit was connected to the machine.
This was achieved by monitoring various points within the pachinko machine, while using a computer to apply various signals to the card reader interface connections, until an error response was generated by the pachinko machine. By a long process of trial and error, changing the composition and timing of the signals to try and delay the error signal for as long as possible, the communication protocol was eventually discovered.
December 2006 to January 2007 - First prototype
Once the communications were fully understood, work could begin on designing the hardware and software necessary to make the card reader emulator system.
The first engineering prototype was built on stripboard, and a basic version of the internal software was written to check it's operation.
February 2007 - Sample units
Satisfied with the operation of this prototype, the software was refined and a small run of sample units were built. A number of beta testers were recruited from the members of the PachiTalk forums and the sample units were sent out for them to check that the system was compatible with as many machines as possible.
March 2007 - Production Hardware
The production hardware design was completed, and the software changes that were needed after feedback from the beta testers were added and retested. Software support for the smartcard reader option (which was still a prototype design) was also added during this time.
April 2007 - Card Reader Emulators Released
April 2007 to May 2007 - Smartcard Option developed
Once the production Card Reader Emulator units had been finished, work began on the production PCB design for the smartcard reader option. The smartcard option was slightly delayed while the equipment needed to print the artwork on the smartcards was obtained, and the smartcard reader was made available for sale at the end of May 2007.
April 2010 - Last Rev.1 unit manufactured
The final batch of Rev.1 Card Reader Emulators were manufactured. These used up the last of the original design circuit boards, making a redesign necessary.
April 2010 to July 2010 - Development of new Rev.2 design
Work on the new design was started. The original plan was to make as few changes to the design as was necessary to get full compatibility with all CR enabled pachinko machines (including Sanyo), and to improve the circuit board layout for ease of manufacturing.
During the time the original Card Reader Emulator was on sale, the microcontroller chip it used was replaced by a new version, so the new design was optimised for this newer chip. This chip needed fewer external support components, so extra I/O signals were now available and these were brought out to the expansion connector so they could be utilised by new accessories that were yet to be designed. This new microcontroller also had the benefit of a larger memory capacity, and a faster clock speed.
The software was ported over to the new hardware, and several new adjustments and features were added to the 'Rev 2' versions to enhance the user experience and to allow the emulation to be more accurate to the card units used in Japanese pachinko parlours.
July 2010 to September 2010 - Testing of Rev.2 design
A sample batch of these new units were built and more volunteers from the PachiTalk forums were sent these samples to beta test this new design.
August 2010 - Prototype of standalone smartcard reader produced
A prototype hardware design for a battery operated smartcard reader terminal was built. This would allow the smartcards to have their credit values viewed and edited without having to use a card reader on a pachinko machine.
The software for this design will be developed over the remaining months of 2010 for a planned release in late 2010/early 2011
October 2010 - Rev.2 Card Reader Emulator released
October 2010 - Enclosure Kit for Smartcard Readers made available
A common request from customers was for an enclosed smartcard reader board. So the equipment needed to cut the necessary holes and smartcard slot in an enclosure was obtained in August 2010, and a number of plastic enclosures were evaluated.
The resulting Enclosure kit was made available for sale in October 2010.
August 2019 - Development of Rev.3 Card Reader Emulator
As the printed circuit boards for Rev.2 Card Reader Emulators had all been used, a new batch of PCBs were required. This gave the opportunity to re-layout the board and replace components that were getting harder to source.
Also to aid firmware debugging, the microcontrollers serial port pins were routed to the expansion connector. This pinout change required a corresponding firmware update. As it was no longer compatible with the r2.1 firmware, it was decided to name this version Rev.3