Sega – Star Wars Arcade Astro City Conversion

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A few years ago I decided the purge 99% of my collection. The reason? – Too many projects, not enough time, not enough enjoyment. I think that everyone gets to a point where you have accumulated too much ‘shit’ and find yourself with not enough time. The next few posts are going to be looking at the ghosts of the past – projects that I had worked on previously and taught me a great deal.

So breaking with the trend of me posting PCB pictures first, I decided to show you the near final product – A ‘genuine’ Sega Model 1 Star Wars Arcade running in an Astro City. Now when I say genuine, I only mean in the sense that it is running on official hardware. According to urban legend, Sega only secured the rights to use the Star Wars IP for a short period of time. After a period of time, Sega had to destroy all of the existing Model 1 Star Wars Arcade boards to honour the contract with Sega. What this meant was that very few survived – apparently only the ones that were on-sold to other operators. If you can either confirm on deny this then send me a message. I’d love to hear more.

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Around 2003, I was able to snag a complete Wing War Model 1 setup, including the cage. (Hobbit foot included for size reference). The cage has three main components; the main stack (top of the picture) IO board (bottom right) and the filter board (bottom left, on the side of the cage).




Before working on a conversion, I needed to test it out. I also knew that if the board was going to fit in to as Astro, it would need to be removed from the cage . This involved two things – making a Model 1 to Jamma harness for all of the key elements, power, sound, video, digital controls AND making a custom ‘cage’ to house the board easily in the Astro’s frame.

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Above is an image of how it turned out. Note that the metal cross sections are designed so that the sound boards (s) could sit on top of the board stack in a multi-layer arrangement. This leads me to the next point – Star Wars arcade had MPEG sound! This meant that the awesome John Williams soundtrack could be blasted in all of it’s glory to support the on-screen action. Unfortunately, no other Model 1 board uses this hardware configuration which meant that I needed to source one. The only issue being that I had to cannibalize a Daytona to do it. Given the popularity of Daytona, the MPEG board alone costs as much as the rest of the Model 1 board stack.  Luckily though it wasn’t much. Probably less than $50.


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During my years of hoarding, I had also managed to snag the control panel from Wing War, including the wiring harness. This then meant that hooking in to the Model 1 filter board was pain-less and didn’t require any hacking. Unfortunately, this is where the project ended. I re-programmed the board stack successfully, including the sound boards using the MAME roms. The only part of the project which remained unfinished was the fibreglass work required to make a bespoke Astro control panel for the flight controls. The board ended up going to someone who owns an authentic Star Wars Arcade cabinet so it was a good end to the story. Hopefully this post gives folks an idea of how to perform the conversion yourselves. It’s very time consuming, requires a quite a few EPROMs but is a very doable conversion.




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