My First Space Duel Machine:

This was the fourth machine that I added to my collection. I wish I'd taken photos of it while working on it so you could see how it was done but I didn't. A few folks said I was stupid to pay so much for it since it didn't even work, but Space Duel machines do not come up within reasonable driving distance very often. Now that the game is all fixed up and is working great, nobody is saying "Why did you buy this POC?" They're all saying "Hey, what a cool machine, where'd you get it?"

I bought the Space Duel machine ($250 US) on Ebay on Oct.31, 2005 from a guy in Rochester Hills, MI. I drove down there with a friend and his trailer hitched to my car and picked up the machine. We took the Port Lambton ferry across and on the way back had a nice conversation with the borderguard guys who had nothing better to do than yack about cool arcades, the old days, and how they new a guy who was into restoring them. They let me go without paying a cent for duty.

The first thing that I did was thoroughly & painstakingly clean the monitor since it wasn't working when I got the machine. then I rebuilt the boards with all available parts from "The Real Bob Roberts". I replaced all chassis transistors and more than 50 parts on the deflection & HV PCB's. While I was at it, I added all known "enhancements" except for the "input signal protection daughterboard" or "LV2000" shown below. The monitor is now working like new. A few months later, I converted this Space Duel to a Black Widow because I bought another Soace Duel that has good side art. I rebuilt its monitor the same way as the first one except that I did install the LV2000 board. It works great but so far I have never had a problem with either of the two monitors.


View Space Duel on KLOV

Atari 1982: Color Vector, 1 or 2 player

Here's a peak into the interior showing the rebuilt monitor...

The interior smelled like wet dog so it got a very thorough cleanout as well. The front of the machine was a wreck. The entire original laminate was pealing off and chunks of it were ripped off. The coindoors were wrecked by what appeared to be a crowbar. The coinmechs were gone, the wiring hacked and connectors missing, the utility panel was hanging on a screw somewhere inside, and the upper coindoor was held in the hole by screws installed from the inside. Each front speaker was hanging by only one screw. I decided to resurface the entire front face of the cab and to replace the entire coindoor assembly.

I repaired the front by removing the original laminate and applying new Formica using contact cement. I carved out the holes for the speakers and coindoor using a router. The new coindoor assembly is from Happ Controls. Here it is all fixed up. Man, the flash really brings out those dirty finger prints and the scuff along the bottom edge of the CPO. It looks a lot cleaner in normal light. The control panel overlay was eventually replaced with a brand new one.

Since the original speaker grills were rivited on and since I had no way to replace them, I had to drill them out. I wanted to re-install the original speaker grills so I used 10-32 x 3/4" stainless steel Phillips machine screws. They screw into T-nuts pressed into the inside surface of the front panel. Nothing can stick out on the inside because it would interfere with the speakers once they're mounted. To dress up the screw heads on the front, I added black plastic screw-caps. Not quite the original look but good enough for me.

Here's the T-nuts before the speakers went back in. I installed these by pressing them in with a big C-clamp. I didn't hammer them.

I was able to use the original coindoor wiring harness but I had to replace some connectors (using all original types). The coindoor assembly is a HAPP unit. I tossed aside the Happ coinbox and bucket and I installed the original Atari box. It's larger and looks better (is actually factory painted) and it supports the internal utility panel which I patiently cleaned and rebuilt and rewired. All it needs now is a counter (on order). This photo shows some sawdust that fell when I installed the speakers, but all that's cleaned out now.

The rear door was damaged in several places, the lock missing, and the upper rear cab panel was gone. I made a new one from a very nice walnut plank, laminated it with black formica, routed new vent holes, and installed it with 3 new carriage bolts. I repaired the rear door and also laminated it and installed a new lock. It's amazing how much my new upper rear panel looks like an original Atari assembly. Granted, an Atari has one long vent hole and I made two shorter ones, but the assembly method is extremely similar. The only real deviation is that I applied a formica surface instead of just painting it black or covering it in thin vinyl. I don't care, I like mine just fine.

I also really scrubbed the control panel to remove years of scuzz. I was going to replace but it came up so well after using 6 different cleaners on it that I decided to leave it for the time being. The control panel hinge was mounted upside down so the panel wouldn't swing open. I had to replace some carriage bolts for the hinge before I could re-mount it. Now it's great. I also replaced all of the control panel buttons and all of the leaf-switch contact sets. Some of the quik-connects came off in my hands so I replaced them all. Except for one minor scrape along its right side, the machine is near perfect.

My total investment after repairing everything is about $450 US. Now the machine plays like new, sounds like new, and it is my fave of all of the machines that I have. A friend of mine was saying that I should redo the sides in white and add sideart. Sideart is rare because the woodgrain was the standard for this machine in N.A. Still, the Atari sideart for this game looks great and might be a nice addition.

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Related: Major Havoc Conversion Files, Gravitar Adapter , Black Widow Adapter

Space Duel is an interesting cabinet to own mainly because the same general platform was used to support other games. The Space Duel cabinet can be used to play games such as Gravitar, Black Widow, Major Havoc, and Quantum.

To convert a Space Duel to Gravitar, all you do is swap the main game board and plug a simple wiring adapter into the control panel harness. The game is then played using the green ship controls. To see how to make your own wiring adapter, go here.

Converting to Major Havoc is much more complicated. You can download the original Atari conversion documentation here.

Converting to Black Widow requires swapping the game board and changing the control panel because it has joysticks. Some people have hacked their control panels to support joysticks and buttons in order to support multiple games, but unless you go to a lot of trouble to install a multigame control panel overlay, it'll look awful. I found it preferrable to just get two Space Duel machines and set one of them up as Black Widow permanently. All I had to do was reorder the control panel wires and install the BW board.