The Original CCPU Exorciser :

Cinematronics games (and Vectorbeam) that are based on the C.C.P.U. platform :

The C.C.P.U. (Cinematronics Central Processing Unit) board is the heart of several games produced by Cinematronics. While I was restoring my first Cinematronics game (Star Castle), I became interested in troubleshooting and repairing all of the major sections of the game machine including the power supply, audio board, CCPU board, and the monitor. In my opinion, the CCPU board is by far the most difficult part of the game machine to diagnose when things go wrong. It should come as no surprise then that 99.9% of people send their broken CCPU boards to a professional when repairs are required.

The average game owner's typical first response when attempting to get a CCPU back up and running is to check the power supply voltages, perform an overall visual inspection, reseat the connectors, reseat socketed chips, swap out a board, and so on. However, if the problem is more serious than that, say a bad chip somewhere, then somehow the offending chip will have to be weeded out and replaced. That's not easy considering that there's more than 100 chips on the board. Complicating matters is that the normal operation of the CCPU board is to run the game and this is generally not a troubleshooting friendly behavior because such behavior changes from moment to moment as the game runs.

For the purposes of troubleshooting and repairing the CCPU board on the bench (without the audio board or monitor connected), Cinematronics developed the CCPU Exorciser circuitry. The original equipment supplied by Cinematronics is shown below.

Original Cinematronics CPU Exorciser

The CCPU Exorciser is basically a digital 16-bit parallel counter combined with some simple gates. The circuit is connected to the CCPU board to be repaired or tested. The CCPU Exorciser injects a very specific set of logical inputs to the CCPU board. This makes the CCPU board behave in a cyclic way that is very predictable and repeatable. For the purposes of troubleshooting the CCPU board, that's exactly what we need.

Once the CCPU is powered up and running with the Exorciser connected to it, you will want to know what chips are running properly and which ones are not. You could search around the circuits using an oscilloscope, but all that will do for you practically is tell you if chip pins are active or not and if the levels are logically and electrically legal. Whether or not the chip pins are toggling their states at the proper times is another question entirely and knowing that from pin to pin as you probe them is critical to the task of diagnosing the root cause of failure. In order to accomplish this, another piece of equipment called a Signature Analyzer is required.


HP 5006A Signature Analyzer :
Note: An HP5004A will also work.

The HP 5006A signature analyzer has a probe similar to that of an oscilloscope but instead of showing a trace, it shows a 4 character code. The 4 character code shown on the display represents the active logical behavior (the so-called signature of the signal) seen at the point being measured. You will know when things are working okay at any specific chip pin when you see its correct 4 character code on the display.

To work with the system, the signature analyzer requires a few inputs, namely start, stop, and clock. The CCPU Exorciser produces these signals specifcally for connection to the signature analyzer. Once you have your CCPU board to be tested running with the signature analyzer and CCPU Exorciser connected, you must probe the pins of the chips and visually verify the 4 character signature for each one. To accomplish this, you'll need a list of the signatures for a known good board. Alternatively, you can probe a known-good board and record all of the signatures first and then use the list as a reference when testing the unknown board.


The New CinExor Board by Biltronix:

I kept my eyes on eBay and the arcade forums for a few years hoping to buy my on CCPU Exorciser, but I had no luck. I was able to collect several useful files from the internet, such as a schematic, board layout, hookup drawings, cable wiring drawings, and a user's manual. With all of this documentation available, I decided to just go ahead and build my very own version of the CCPU Exorciser. The CinExor board is the result of my recent efforts.

The CinExor board is essentially the same as the original Cinematronics version. I kept the PCB layout and connector pinouts as close to the original design as possible so that the original documentation would remain relevant. However, I decided to include a few enhancements such as adding a power LED, more robust terminals for power and the signature analyzer outputs, and the ability to populate the three standard DIP headers with 0.1" pitch dual row headers. I also converted the discrete capacitors and resistors to surface mount packages. I left the chips as through-hole DIPs so that it would be easy to change them if something ever fails.



The CinExor Board Connected to the CCPU:

Excuse my messy bench. The setup consists of the CinExor, the target CCPU, one power supply, and the HP5006A.



Useful Widgets that you can make to use with the exorciser setup:

For more information about these homemade "adapters" refer to the Cinematronics Exorciser manual (download at bottom of page). To purchase components, see the Accessories List.

For the "No-op" Test:


For the "Load Loop Timer" Test:


Useful Parts That You Can Purchase Yourself :

If you buy a CinExor board, you will have to make your own wiring harnesses. If you already have the materials to do this, that's great, but if you do not, then these items will prove invaluable.

Accessories List


Purchase your own CinExor board:

If you decide that you would like to own one of the CinExor boards shown above, I'm selling them assembled and tested for $100 USD each. Just email your request for it here along with your full name and shipping address. I'll respond to you with a total including shipping. You have the option of paying using PayPal (add 4.1% to cover their fee) or by mailing me a check or money order in Canadian funds.

You may choose one of three header options for your CinExor board. Pick one and let me know your preference.

CinExor Header Options

Be aware that you get the logic board only. You will have to make your own wiring harnesses and supply your own DIP-clips, widgets, connectors, and so forth. There is a hookup cable drawing below that you can use as a guide to making your own cables. The drawing shows the original Cinematronics set of cables that include the intermediate connectors on the wall of the plastic enclosure box. I chose to build mine without an enclosure so I skipped the intermediate connectors and made my cables go straight from the exorciser board to the end DIP-plugs and DIP-clips.


Troubleshooting tip for the exorciser setup:

If you have performed the "standard" test, the "no-op" test, and the "load loop timer" test, and all of the signatures everywhere on the board are 100% correct, but your CCPU board still doesn't run, the root cause of failure is most likely one or more faulty static ram chips at L14, M14, and N14. The 2101/9101 static ram chips are not able to be tested by the signature analysis procedures. Unless you have some sort of separate standalone ram chip tester available, the only way to know if your ram chips are bad is to replace all 3 chips with known good chips. If doing so makes your board run correctly, you can then swap back one chip at a time in order to figure out which one or more of them is bad. During my newbie phase (with respect to repairing CCPU boards using signature analysis), I had 3 boards out of 12 that passed 100% of all signatures in all test configurations. Of those 3, all had faulty ram chips and all of them operated correctly after replacing the ram chips.

If you need to buy some 22-pin 0.4" wide DIP sockets, I suggest Digikey part ED3422-ND.



Cinematronics Exorciser Documentation:

Here for your interest are the files that I used to learn all about the Cinematronics Exorciser (I found these elsewhere on the internet).

Manual 1: Cine_Exorciser_Final.pdf  
Manual 2: Cinematronics_Exorciser_Manual.pdf  
Manual 3: Exorciser Manual V1.0 1997-10-14 courtesy of David Fish  
Schematic: Exorciser_Schematic.pdf courtesy of David Fish exorcis.pdf from
PCB Layout: Exorciser_Layout.pdf courtesy of David Fish layout.pdf from
Hookup Cable Drawing: Exorciser_Cables.pdf courtesy of David Fish cables.pdf from

Other troubleshooting help: Cinematronics Repair Hints
Tony's Arcade Star Castle Info
Andy's Arcade Space War Info


Arcade Menu ---- or ---- Biltronix Homepage


A Reproduction by William Boucher

Last updated: Aug. 5, 2015

Buy a CinExor Board