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Project:Screw Loose
Project Started:4/4/2004Project Status:Current Collection

Goal of Project:
How I made the first ever Screw Loose cab
Current High Score: 62,165 4th level

One day I was wandering round Tom McLintock's site and happened across a prototype game called 'Screw Loose' that happened to be the last game designed by Tim Skelly from his days at Gottlieb/Mylstar. I started playing this game a lot in MAME and found it to be pretty fun to play, so, the Screw Loose project began! Many months of research and almost a dozen fellow collectors help later the machine is nearly complete! This page chronicles the journey from prototype rom to working upright cabinet!
a MAME screenshot
This project started seriously when Jeff Dybul, a local collector, made a couple reproduction Q*Bert cabinets. Being that I had already contacted Tim Skelly and asked the question, I knew Screw Loose was intended for this style of cabinet. I purchased a cabinet from Jeff who did an incredible job making an exact copy of the cabinet. All the hardware in the cabinet came from an original Q*Bert. The cabinet itself is made of 3/4 inch MDF fiberboard as were original cabinets.
After exchanging a couple emails with Tim Skelly, he advised me that his vision for the cabinet was to have White sides and images of the characters of the game depicted on the sideart. At this point I painted the cabinet and started to make vector artwork to fit the cabinet. I also began searching for a control panel and appropriate Joysticks to use with the game. I have found out that there are 2 versions of the game. One uses two Joysticks and two fire buttons and plays very similar to Robotron: 2084, while the other (which happens to be Tim's preference) consisted of ONE joystick and a Tron/Mad Planets style spinner!
The Screw Loose CPO
Screw Loose Sideart
Now that the cabinet is complete I started seeking a Q*Bert control panel to modify for the game. Another great local collector Bob Anderson donated the panel I wound up using! You can see i repaired the Qbert joystick hole and drilled the panel to fit the 2 joysticks that Screw Loose requires. The 'energize' buttons will double as player 1 and 2 start buttons. Thanks to a Spinner from Erik Jerue I will be attempting to get the game to play with that as well.
Eventually I settled in on a design for the control panel and located 2 Wico green handled joysticks for the panel. These sticks were harder to find than I expected! Thanks to Jon Exidy and Erik Jerue I have a nice set, funny that they came from opposite sides of the country :) The cabinet artistically was complete at this point, so I mounted the monitor and applied all of the artwork (which is changing yet again!). I also at this time installed a switching power supply, the AC wiring (including lockout and power switches) and the Iso transformer for the monitor. The monitor is also mounted. Chris Walker traded his Happ monitor for my Imperial to get the board to sync up right.
Q*Bert Board Mods
This board is a rev 2 Q*Bert
 board with NO jumper wires

These roms are different from MAME:


Q1 has been replaced with a MPSU45.
 It is installed upside down. The leg towards
 A8 and the middle leg are reversed.
 (this should be unnecessary.)

BG0 is replaced with a 6116 RAM

a 10uf cap across C32 (the trace that goes to 
Q1-4) and R31 (the trace that goes to Q1)
 (this should be unnecessary.)

a wire from +5v to the positive side of D4 
(dont do this on a rev 1 Q*Bert board!!!) 
(this should be unnecessary.)

JP9 and 10 open. JP11 and 12 closed. 
Others identical to Q*Bert

So with all this in mind do the following:

Replace the roms with my set.
Replace BG0 with a 6116 RAM
Move JP9 and JP10 to JP11 and JP12
Play Screw Loose

--Joe bachmann
Thanks to the help of Joe Bachmann who managed to get his hands on a prototype Screw Loose pcb a fully working board is on it's way to me! The roms on this board are different from any other known roms for the game. Steve Zeuner lent me a rom burner that helped do a lot of troubleshooting while the effort to figure out what the hardware should do was underway. Being that the pinouts were only partially documented, and even those differed from the roms ultimately used it took some time to get things reacting as expected.. Stephen Beall and JROK have also been a great help in determining what hardware this game needs to run on as Stephen patiently tested the SL roms on many of the variants of the hardware found in his Gottlieb collection and Jrok answered many questions as I struggled with trying to get a board running
All I can say is WOW! Thanks to some very creative work done by Craig Yarborough my idea for an 'interactive' feature for the cabinet is a reality! For me a couple things that always stood out about gottlieb cabinets was their use of unusual items. From bat style sticks in Krull and wraparound playfield art to the pinball knocker in qbert etc. gottlieb always tended to do things slightly differently to add a touch of dimension to their games. For Screw Loose I imagined how cool it would be if when you pressed the Energize button during a ggame if a small fan were to blow air at the player.. Thanks to Craig and the custom pcb pictured below, it's a reality. This is really neat. When the energize button is pressed this board (with adjustable fanspeed and time) fires up a small brushless fan mounted in the back of the cabinet.
The Screw Loose board is here! Finally, pictures of a complete and working Screw Loose upright!
Here is a hand drawn sketch of the Screw Loose characters that Tim Skelly sent me. He drew this for Joystik Magazine in the 80's
Visit Tom Mclintock's Screw Loose Page
Download a Quicktime Movie of gameplay recorded on the real machine!
Tim Skelly recently sent me this document: It's the blue-pencil drawing I did on grid paper so that I could check the number of characters I would need to build the screen.
Brian Jones - 7/31/2005 12:14:32 AM
Check out the cool video!
Dan - 3/3/2007 7:02:09 PM
Awesome job, you've some talent :)
Unknown - 7/20/2007 5:12:57 PM

GameTalk about this project!