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Brunswick foul line detector signal?


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  • Brunswick foul line detector signal?

    I'm new here but I hope you can help me out with a technical question. I'm supporting a bowling center in Germany. I am trying to rebuild the foul line detector since it was missing for no given reason on all lanes. Only the infrared light sensors are still in place. They are using Brunswick Nexgen controller boxes for lane control / pinsetters.
    Controlling the sensors is easy. But they provided me a handmade circuit diagram for a foul line detector that only shorts the two wires that go to the Nexgen controller. Digging through the web I understood, that I need a signal on those two wires in order to let the scoring system detect the foul.
    I was unable to find out the specifications for that signal (waveform, amplitude, frequency, runtime). Can anyone help me out with these technical details? That would be great.
    Since the bowling center is in Corona lockdown for more than 6 month now, there is not much money but much time to do those fixtures.

    Best regards


  • #2
    Brunswick foul lights only provide a switch closure on a foul.
    There is no voltage provided from the foul unit.

    What you need to find out is what signal your Nexgen is looking for, and provide that thru the foul unit switch.
    It should be programmable for just the switch closure the unit provides, but im not positive on that.
    Maybe someone else can chime in about the Nexgen.


    • #3
      that's what I tried regarding the schematics provided to me but that didn't work. The Nexgen documentation says that there is some kind of signal on the wire.
      Nexgen ( on page 28 says "A foot or some other object will interrupt this beam and a signal is sent to the Pinsetter CPU to make the pinsetter set ten new pins if the machine is in a first ball foul situation while bowling a ten pin game format."
      So if the Brunswick foul lights circuit doesn't provide the signal and the Nexgen doesn't generate the signal itself where does it come from?
      If I can trust the block diagram on page 4 in that document, the foul line detect is parallel with the ball detect near the pin setters. I will check with an oscilloscope if I can see any signal on the two wires from that circuit to the Nexgen controller.
      Maybe someone here has a solution for this since it is not very easy to climb around in front of the pin setter with an oscilloscope ;-)

      Best regards



      • #4
        The signal that gets sent to the controller likely originates at either the Nexgen or at the ball detector. The dry contacts at the foul unit just returns the signal back to the Nexgen.

        Based on the document you referenced, Figure 4 does appear to show that the foul and ball detector switches are parallel. However, I think this is confusing. If you look at the cable pinout shown below, you can see that the ball detect and foul each have their cables.

        cable pinout.JPG

        If you look at the layout diagram shown below, you can see that the foul signal ties into the ball detect and then the signals are sent back to the Nexgen in a single cable per lane. I think this is what Fig 4 is trying to convey is that they are in the same cable.


        There are a few other things you need to check. There is a setting that tells the Nexgen to ignore or accept the foul signal. This can be found on page 3-21 of your document and is shown below. You need to make sure this is set to accept the foul signal.


        Finally, there is a diagnostic tool built into the controller to test these switches. This can be found on page 3-23 and is summarized below.

        Swtch closure.JPG

        This should give a good start. I would look at the ball detect where the foul unit ties in and test with a meter between the two terminals leading to the foul unit for a voltage.

        Let us know what you find and we can help further if needed.


        • #5
          Hi again,
          from my technical perspective it doesn't make much sense to generate a special signal / waveform at the foul line detector. Maybe a defined resistor could make sense in order to protext the system against an unwanted short circuit.
          We will once again check the settings of the Nexgen and will also take a look at the self test.
          Thank you for your assistance.



          • #6
            "from my technical perspective it doesn't make much sense to generate a special signal / waveform at the foul line detector."

            I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. AMF foul units generally provide a 12 volt signal that is sent from the foul lights to the scoring or pinspotter when a foul occurs. An optical circuit then converts this to a signal to be used by the chassis or scoring. Newer systems may use optocouplers or relays while the old 5 board chassis actually used a light and and ldr. This will be dependent on what manufacturers equipment it is plugging into but that equipment needs to be capable of receiving a 12 VAC signal.

            Brunswick foul units on the other hand provide a set of relay contacts. When the relay triggers, the contacts close and completes the circuit similar to a light switch in your house except electronically controlled. Below is the part of the schematic for the Brunswick Tele-foul lights mentioned in your previous document that shows exactly this. K-1 and K-2 are separate relays and are activated depending on if the right or left lane foul is indicated. The wires then go on to the ball detector, pinsetter or scoring depending on the bowling center configuration. In you case it appears this goes to the Nexgen via the ball detection.


            In the case of the Brunswick foul lights the signal has to be generated elsewhere and the foul light simply activates a relay to complete the circuit. The signal doesn't have to be anything fancy and many times can simply be 5 or 12 VDC or maybe even 24 VAC. Since this is simply a switch you can measure the voltage at the relay contacts when they are open to see what the signal is. Again this is dependent on the equipment it ties into. On older Brunswick model A/A2 machines this signal wasn't used and so the foul unit was generally tied into the scoring system which then handled triggering the machine for a foul.

            Other foul units like ZOT or Bowl-tronics can provide both. They will provide a 12 volt signal to be sent to AMF compatible equipment and at the same time provide a set of relay contacts to be used by Brunswick compatible equipment. Most third party scoring systems have the capability to accept either the 12 VAC signal or use the relay contacts depending on which foul unit they are connecting to.

            Based on your comments about the hand drawn note you are working from, it is assumed you are using a Brunswick foul unit with relay contacts. However, you haven't really said what foul unit you are using so we can only make that assumption until you are more specific with regards to your actual equipment.

            In general and a quick summary, AMF foul units will produce a 12 VAC signal when a foul occurs while Brunswick foul units will close a set of relay contacts.


            • #7
              Hi again,
              thank you very much for this great explanation. Maybe a stupid question: if I just shorten the two wires that come from P4 or P20 at the Nexgen controller, the foul should be detected since it is a Brunswick system, that only needs a switch that does the job in case of a foul, right?
              So maybe there is still something that wasn't activated right now. When we started with the tests we found out that the foul detection was disabled everywhere in the control software.
              I'm not an expert for bowling lane systems I just try to develop a working solution for the missing foul line detection so my questions might be a little bit "unprofessional" for the experts.
              Below you can see my current work. The two wires coming from the Nexgen are switched by the two relais but the Nexgen doesn't recognize that.

              Best regards




              • #8
                Your questions are fine. They are neither stupid or unprofessional. This site isn't like those that find whatever reason, no matter how silly the reason, to belittle the poster. Feel free to ask whatever question you have.

                To answer your question, yes. If you short wires 4 & 5 from either P4 or P20, the Nexgen should recognize the foul. I would suggest using the Contact Closure Diagnostics detailed above and on page 3-23 of your document. Go down to the EXT SW (Left) or EXT SW (Right) depending on the lane your testing. When you short the wires you should see this indicate on the display if the Nexgen recognizes the switch.

                If the machine doesn't recognize the switch then check between these wires for a voltage with a multi meter. You may want to check multiple machines in the event that there is a problem with the one machine you are working on.

                Looks like you are using the AT Tiny to build your own foul lights. Are the original units missing?


                • #9
                  as far as I know the bowling lanes were a replacement many years ago. Before the brunswick system there was one from a different manufacturer with foul line detection. The last owner decided not to buy any foul line detection system from brunswick to save some money. In order to allow league games, the regular technician built a very simple system with only sound and lights at the foul line but without any connectivity to the "new" brunswick Nexgen system. Due to the pandemic lockdown there is enough time for renovation and I try to bring this foul line thing to life. I love to build such things from time to time and I love bowling. That's why I'm doing all that...
                  The "heart" of my development is an ATtiny. It is cheap and easy to handle. The rest is for controlling the infrared sensor and the relais. Not too difficult and the ATtiny does all the in- and output controls.
                  I will have a look at the hardware test tomorrow or on friday (I have a regular job too that has priority). Thank you for the great information that the "Ext switch test" is for the foul lines. I found the hardware testing but this information was missing or bad described for someone like me. Maybe everything at the backend works fine and we have a problem between the Nexgen controllers and the lane computers.
                  I will keep you informed.

                  Best regards



                  • #10
                    In the end it was a layer 8 problem. With the information provided here we were able to check the Nexgen function. And then we were sure that something must have been configured wrong. The sync between the control workstation and the lane pcs was missing (I didn't know until today that it is needed).
                    Now I can assemble the other circuit boards. Thank you very much for your help!

                    Best regards




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