Below are a list of common questions and answers from Valley-Dynamo regarding their Air Hockey Tables:
HOW OLD IS MY TABLE?
Dynamo Air Hockey tables were meticulously tracked in an ancient IBM-AS/400 style mainframe computer system we long ago lost the ability to access. As tables have been modified and updated through the years, the version of PCB in your table, coin mechanism, scoring mechanism or even the cosmetic appearance will not reveal the age. Your table may have a v7.0 PCB and a magnetic coin switch, but those may not have been original equipment. “This axe is 30 years old. I replaced the handle 10 years ago and the blade 7 years ago.” If your table has mechanical scoring switches in the goals, it was probably built before 1993. If your table uses a push chute coin system, it was probably built before 2005 (although we still make Push Chute tables occasionally to order)
MY AIR HOCKEY TABLE IS A “MODEL DH-100,” DOES THAT HELP?
No. Technically, for certification purposes, any Dynamo product that floats a puck on air, whether they are home model, professional-grade home tables, or coin operated, built yesterday, last year, or 30 years ago is a model DH-100. What’s important to know when looking for any parts are if the table is or is not coin operated, and if any Model Name (NOT NUMBER) is shown or known. Again, the Parts Breakdown links at the top of this page are your most valuable resource.
“MY AIR HOCKEY TABLE IS A MODEL 02040_ _ _ _, DOES THAT HELP?”
We do not have historical records of model numbers and years built. Remember that ancient mainframe computer we mentioned that had the Serial Numbers?
“MY AIR HOCKEY TABLE LOOKS LIKE THIS ONE AND SAYS “VALLEY-DYNAMO” ON THE PLAYFIELD, DOES THAT HELP?”
Note the distinct, squared-off corners. This table was briefly built around 20 years ago in a cooperative deal with Sam’s Club. Some parts are shared with the ProStyle, but many are unique and no longer available. Contact Tech support to inquire about specific items, and keep your expectations low.
WHAT’S THE CFM RATING ON YOUR BLOWER MOTORS?
This is asked on occasion and before we reveal the answer, understand it is absolutely impossible to make a simple apples-to-apples comparison. The blower sends air into the air chambers in the playfield, and then that air is forced out through the holes in the laminate. If the blower is the source of air, think of the playfield as a giant air filter. The ultimate goal is to have uniform pressure throughout the playfield – whether directly over the blower or in the corner furthest away. Does a blower motor with more CFM need to force the air out through larger holes? Does a blower motor with fewer CFM have a playfield with narrower chambers? The point is: more CFM is not immediately better, fewer CFM is not immediately worse, and “upgrading” a motor is probably not going to make any difference.
IS THE PLAY CONSISTENT? ARE THERE DEAD SPOTS?
30+ years of Dynamo tables still working and earning in the field are testimony to us having “got it right.”
Coin and ProStyle blower motors have an output of approx. 375 CFM Arctic Wind, Crafted Wood and Short Shot motors output approx. 130 CFM . Even this is WAY more than the playfield can process, so expect some air bleed. That means hot-rodding a table with a stronger blower won’t help.
IF THERE’S GONNA BE AIR BLEED, WHY WOULD I NEED A BLOWER MOTOR GASKET?
For vibration dampening. It helps the motor run more quietly.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY PLAYFIELD?
The simple explanation is to turn the blower on, apply Isopropyl alcohol to a clean cloth and wipe down the playfield. It will clean and evaporate quickly. Use only Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol – literally like from the drug store. Oh sure, we could bottle up some “Official Certified Dynamo Playfield cleaner” and sell it, but it’d just be relabeled rubbing alcohol.
- NEVER pour any liquid directly onto the playfield, it will warp the playfield.
- NEVER use water as it will not evaporate quickly enough and warp the playfield.
- NEVER use furniture polish or protectants. The wonderful shine they give leaves a film that will slow play, collect grime even faster and possibly never completely come off.
MY PLAYFIELD IS CLEAN, BUT THE GAME PLAY IS STILL SLOW.
Microscopic puck and mallet dents over time will interfere with the air cushion. Replace your pucks and mallets, or sand them with 240 grit sandpaper.
WHAT MAKES DYNAMO PUCKS AND MALLETS SPECIAL?
We use our own proprietary plastic formula. Our HEAVIER pucks tend to stay on the table and not fly off, but our pucks and mallets also have some FLEXIBILITY for better playing action. Imagine the difference between hitting something solid with a ball-peen hammer vs. a rubber mallet. The mallet has more give, and your wrist won’t hurt as quickly or as much. Do our pucks and mallets cost a little more? Yes. Are they better? We think so. Our Webstore offers Dynamo mallets; and Dynamo pucks in 3¼” size for coin operated and Pro-Style tables, and 2½” for the Short Shot, Crafted Wood and Arctic Wind tables.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FLUORESCENT AND WHITE PUCKS?
The greenish-yellowish fluorescent pucks are a harder compound, they play faster but can be noisy. The white pucks are a softer compound, they do not play as fast but will be quieter and are easier to bend out of shape.
Typically, the fluorescent pucks provide the superior play experience and the Quiet White pucks are better suited only for an environment where noise is likely to be an issue. The exception is the Quiet White pucks are best for the Polycarbonate playfield of the Cosmic Thunder. 3¼” fluorescent pucks weigh approximately 40 grams 3¼” Quiet White pucks weigh approximately 34.5 grams 2½” fluorescent pucks weigh approximately 18.5 grams 2½” Quiet White pucks weigh approximately 15.5 grams.
MY MALLETS DID NOT COME WITH FELT PADS FOR THE BOTTOM, WHERE CAN I ORDER THEM FROM YOU?
Dynamo Mallets have NEVER included felt pads, which degrade the playing experience without truly protecting the playfield. While it would be easier on a basketball court if you played in house slippers, the basketball game would be awful. You wouldn’t want to play there!! The BEST WAY to prevent playfield damage is to keep the surface clean and free of dust and particles. With bits on the playfield, it doesn't matter if there are felt pads or not, the dust will be the abrasive that damages the surface.
Always keep the bottom of your mallets sanded smooth with the included 240-grit sandpaper. Finally, no extra points are awarded if you press the mallet REAL HARD onto the playfield. Use a light touch. After this, assuming you did still want to add Felt Pads, nobody has found a felt pad that will stay stuck to mallets more than a few weeks. You'll be forever chasing down additional sticky pads for the mallets.
MY PLAYFIELD IS DAMAGED BEYOND ANY HOPE OF REPAIR, CAN I PURCHASE A REPLACEMENT?
The answer is yes for coin-operated and Pro Style 8-foot and 7-foot tables, no for smaller tables except the current model Short Shot. Playfields are available in the Webstore, but are the most expensive part of the table, and they are expensive to send because they weigh over 180 pounds and must be shipped flat (shipping to non-residential addresses typically runs in the range of $200, automatically added to the playfield price). Be forewarned: an Air Hockey table that is “in great shape, but just needs a new playfield” might not be as good a deal as it sounds.
COULD I JUST CUT DOWN A LARGER PLAYFIELD TO FIT A 6 FOOT TABLE?
Definitely not, and this photo of an unlaminated playfield explains why. You would end up removing the outer framing. The rail bolts (note yellow arrows) would lack a solid anchor, and the inner air chambers (those long grooves) would be opened. It would be like trimming a few inches from a fish tank to make it smaller. All the water’s going to get out unless you build all new walls. Consider replacing a 6-foot table in need of a new playfield with our Dynamo Short Shot.
WOW, PLAYFIELDS ARE KIND OF EXPENSIVE; COULD I JUST PUT A NEW LAMINATE ON MINE?
In theory it would be possible, but on an 8-foot table that also means precisely drilling 4186 holes for airflow and carefully mounting that drilled laminate onto the air chambers to guarantee uniform pressure throughout the playfield. It’s not as easy as it looks; only a machine has the accuracy and attention span. And before you ask, we do not sell drilled laminates separate from the playfield.
YOUR COMPETITORS’ TABLES HAVE POLYCARBONATE AND STAINLESS STEEL PLAYFIELDS, WHY DO YOU STILL USE LAMINATE?
An excellent question. Every company has their solutions to the playfield issue; we have looked into both playfields.
While a stainless steel surface would take longer to wear through, it is still susceptible to scratching. We also found a stainless steel surface more susceptible to small dents (dents that cannot be ‘pounded out’ because you cannot get behind them with the surface mounted on the playfield) and these small dents interrupt the uniform air cushion essential to good hockey play. Finally, the stainless steel surface is no better at resisting moisture than a laminate playfield because it is still mounted on wood. While the steel won’t bubble like a laminate, the wood will still swell and result in an uneven surface.
Regarding polycarbonate, we’ve dipped our toe in the water with the Cosmic Thunder table. During the extensive Research & Development process for that we quickly learned that they are expensive, and for all the effort needed to make a polycarbonate playfield that’d retrofit to an existing Dynamo table, buying a new table with current electronics and updated parts would make far better sense. As far as whether to expand our offerings of polycarbonate playfield tables, let’s see what happens.
While our laminate playfields are, we admit, the most expensive part of our tables; we’ve priced the Stainless Steel replacement playfields and they were considerably more expensive. Regarding polycarbonate, we were unable to find a manufacturer who offered replacements, but from what it costs us to buy them direct from the supplier for the Cosmic Thunder, it can’t be good. Meaning if you plan to put a hockey table in a location for a few years and replace the table when the playfield wears, these tables might be attractive to you. If you want to INVEST in a table that you can keep in service for decades… and hundreds of Dynamo tables are decades old and still in service… and it might require a replacement playfield or two over the course of those decades, Dynamo is the table for you.
ARE PLAYFIELDS AVAILBLE FOR THE CONSUMER TABLES SUCH AS THE ARCTIC FLASH, ARCTIC STAR, CLUB PRO AND ARCTIC WIND?
Replacing the playfield on these tables would require disassembling them to a point that they would lose their structural integrity and could never be correctly reassembled again. Threaded nails and wood adhesives are used to build the cabinets. We do not offer playfields for the Consumer Grade tables and would recommend replacing the table if the playfield is sufficiently damaged to require replacement.
I CAN’T PLUG IN MY COIN HOCKEY, DO YOU SELL A POWER CORD?
Newer tables use a power cord that looks like the photo. It’s called a C13 plug and is readily available in numerous lengths from just about anyone out there who sells extension cords because a ton of computer hardware (CPU, Printers, Monitors, etc.) uses this same format.
We went to this because in older tables the cord was hard-wired to the table, in which case any cord like the one shown in the second photo with the exposed ends in the length of your choice—also available from many places-- can be attached to your table by someone who knows what they are doing with electrical work. Otherwise, we urge you to consult with our Tech Support department before attempting this repair on your own – if done incorrectly you could damage your table… or yourself!!
NOW I PLUGGED IN MY COIN HOCKEY AND IT’S NOT WORKING, EVEN WHEN I PUT IN COINS.
Coin games have a power on-off switch. On most older tables this can be found inside the service door (door on side of table secured with two locks). On newer tables it can be found underneath the cabinet (so there’s no need to unlock the service door every time you want to turn it on or off). If you cannot find the switch, PLEASE contact Tech Support before you start ordering and replacing parts.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN MY COIN OR PRO STYLE TABLE DISPLAYS THIS CODE?
We are working on an updated Troubleshooting list for some of the older boards, but these handy tips may be very helpful
- A display flashing “01” or “22” indicates a problem with the LEFT goal end sensor
- A display flashing “10” or “11” indicates a problem with the RIGHT goal end sensor Remove the cover and look for a foreign object or puck stuck in the goal area
- A display flashing “08” indicates a problem with a Coin Switch – contact us for more information.
WHY DOES MY TABLE SHUT DOWN AUTOMATICALLY?
The current v7.2 PCB defaults to a 7-point game, it can be set as low as a 2-point game or as high as a 9-point game. It also has a timer built in that defaults to a 7-minute game. The times can be set to as high as a 16-minute game, or even to play only by score without regard to time. Both features are built in to keep your table from running for hours if the players wander off. We have posted the Programming Parameters for the v7.2 and v9.0 boards currently used, and the recently discontinued but still popular v7.01 PCB. On new tables these instructions are attached to the inside of the Service Door.
CAN I ADD A BILL ACCEPTOR TO A TABLE WITH A PUSH CHUTE COIN MECH?
CAN I INSTALL COIN OPERATION ON MY NON-COIN TABLE?
Coin tables are built from the ground up to accommodate the coin door and electronics. In a situation where you are torn between a coin and non-coin table, it’s easier to set up a coin table for free play than to convert a non-coin table to coin operation. A lot like it is easier to turn a garage into a spare bedroom than a spare bedroom into a garage.
CAN I PURCHASE A HARDWARE KIT WITH ALL THE FASTENERS PREPACKAGED?
We kit-as-needed for overheads so there is no “Complete Hardware Kit” available for any Dynamo (or Valley or Tornado) product. We list the proper measurements and dimensions whenever possible in the instruction manual as you can probably source these items locally for less than it would cost to get them shipped from us.
DO YOU CARRY TOUCH UP PAINT FOR THE FLUORESCENT TRIM PIECES ON MY HOT FLASH, FIRE STORM OR BLACK HOLE AIR HOCKEY?
The UV reactive surface on these pieces is powder coated, not painted. Finish flaws that may not be noticed under normal light are extremely obvious when the black light is used.
The problem when trying to touch up is that a finish that looks good under normal light can look bad under the black light and a finish that looks good under the black light can look bad under normal light. Unfortunately, the best solution will be to replace any damaged rail or goal end. Obviously, that is expensive, but it will be the only complete solution with no guesswork or unknown problems. If you choose to try to find some sort of touch-up paint (which we do not stock), decide if it is more important that the part looks good under the black light, or in normal light. If black light is more important, you must get "UV reactive" paint and use care when painting as even the slightest flaw or change in paint thickness will be very obvious under the black light.
I WANT TO MAKE MY WORN OLD HOT FLASH II LOOK LIKE THAT BRAND NEW MODEL – BUT THOSE DECALS AREN’T LISTED.
For the time being, the only way to get the new-style Hot Flash decals will be on a new Hot Flash. If that table is looking worn it’s from making you a lot of money for a lot of years, maybe it’s time for a new table?
HOW CAN I MOVE MY TABLE, AND SHOULD I DISASSEMBLE IT?
It is preferable to simply remove the legs and overhead and move the table intact. When moving the table on a truck, move the table on its side, service door up, strapped to the wall of the truck, with thick cardboard wedged beneath to provide support. No matter how you move the table, always place something between the rail and floor to prevent damage, and ALWAYS take great care to protect the playfield from scratches or dents. As discussed earlier, the playfield is the most expensive part of the table and while we really like selling replacement playfields, you won’t like paying for one if damaged in an avoidable accident. The playfield can be removed, contact us for detailed instructions.
Further disassembly is STONGLY DISCOURAGED. The wood sections are secured with wood glue AND staples AND glued spiral nails. Dynamo Hockey tables are sturdy and solid with good reason. Take our word for it, but PLEASE DON’T TRY IT: the table was designed to be dropped from shoulder height without falling apart. Again, please don’t do this to prove a point; dropping the table from shoulder height is not covered under Warranty, no how, no way, not in anyone’s wildest dreams.
If you absolutely insist on taking it apart or have no other choice (such as the rec room was built around the table and now you have to get it out—yes, it’s happened), to have any hopes of putting it back together you will need a pry bar, rubber mallet, large hammer, grinder, and all new wooden cleats. Have some Bondo handy to fill in the plywood that comes apart. It's a full day’s work if done correctly. We have no official directions or guide so you are pretty much on your own. Take good notes and don’t lose any parts.
WHAT KIND OF LIGHT BULBS GO IN THE ARENA OVERHEAD?
A 24 watt “2G11” Base Compact Fluorescent, available at many Home Improvement and Lighting suppliers.
WHAT KIND OF LIGHT BULBS GO IN THE EMERGENCY BEACONS USED ON THE LATER ARENA OVERHEADS?
Use a 25 watt, 120v T-8 “25T8C” Clear Tube Bulb. We do not stock this bulb but many specialty lighting suppliers do.
WHAT KIND OF LIGHT BULBS GO IN THE BLUE STREAK/PRO STYLE OVERHEAD?
Use 15 watt “T-8” 18-inch Fluorescent bulbs, also available at many hardware stores and specialty lighting suppliers
THE 8-FOOT TABLE OVERHEADS JUST USE THE EXACT SAME 48” FLUORESCENT BULBS LIKE IN MY KITCHEN AND GARAGE?
Like my kitchen and garage, maybe yours too, but yes, nothing exotic or unusual about them. Currently T-8’s, older tables may still use T-12’s.
WHY DON’T YOU SELL THEM?:
Experience has shown half the bulbs we ever tried to ship arrived broken. A trip to the local hardware, discount or even grocery store will have them in your hands quicker, cheaper, and intact.
WHERE CAN I FIND BLACKLIGHT BULBS FOR MY HOT FLASH OR FIRE STORM OVERHEAD?
This is just a standard 48” Fluorescent lamp in a Blacklight. Many hardware stores, and even some discount stores, and even a certain Mart whose name starts with a “W” all carry these lamps. While any “UV” or “Ultraviolet” lamp ought to bring out the glow, we’ve found the purple-coated bulbs do so a lot better.