The Dead Battery Society
The Dead Battery Society isn't really a society at all. It's just a web page.
Membership dues are not required. ;-)
Updated 3/14/14

You may have heard the term "suicide battery" used before and wondered what the heck it meant. Several arcade game manufacturers decided it would be a good idea to put a battery on their arcade game motherboards that, when they die (and they will die), disable the game. Why they did this isn't exactly clear. Is it a way to artificially limit the lifespan of their games? Is it an anti-piracy measure? Do they want to assure that they will continue making money from the games by forcing you to send your boards to them for repair after a certain amount of time? Whatever their reasons, it sucks in a big way.

Usually the way suicide batteries work is, the batteries supply power to a bit of RAM that holds a decryption table. This table is the key to decrypting the encrypted program stored in the board's ROMs. When the battery dies, this table goes away and the program code can no longer be decrypted. The CPU no longer has valid code to execute. The board stops working.

There are several manufacturers that used these suicide batteries. Capcom and Sega are the two major ones. Capcom started using them right around 1989 with their pre-CPS games and have been using them on game after game, right on up to present day. Sega began using them around 1987 with their System 16 games.


Capcom
There are several variations on Capcom's suicide battery.

Pre-CPS games
The damage to their pre-CPS games can be completely reversed even if the battery has died, since the encryption on the code ROMs has been broken. They can be repaired by burning new program ROMs and doing a bit of hackery with a soldering iron. The games that can be completely revived are:

Mahjong Gakuen 2 Gakuen-chou no Fukushuu
Poker Ladies
Dokaben
Dokaben 2
Pang / Buster Bros / Pomping World
Capcom Baseball
Capcom World
Adventure Quiz 2 Hatena ? no Dai-Bouken
Super Pang
Super Buster Bros
Super Marukin-Ban
Quiz Tonosama no Yabou
Ashita Tenki ni Naare
Quiz Sangokushi
Block Block

They all use a single battery and a custom Z80 marked "Kabuki". (BTW, I understand that in Japan, a Kabuki is a type of theatre where men play the role of women.) The Kabuki has the RAM with the decryption table built right into it.

Click
here for step-by-step instructions on how to revive the pre-CPS boards.

CPS-1 games
In 1991, Capcom started using an all-together different application of the suicide battery on their CPS-1 hardware games. This battery, located on the "C" board (a daughterboard on the "B" board), instead of powering a bit of RAM with a decryption table, powers a custom chip marked "C.P.S.-B-XX", that displays the graphics for the game. When this battery dies, the graphics will no longer display properly. Most of these games can also be completely revived even if the battery is dead.

Here are the games that I know of that have this type of battery:

Three Wonders
King of Dragons
Knights of the Round
Captain Commando
Quiz and Dragons
Capcom World 2
Varth (Japanese version only - US and ETC have no battery)
Warriors of Fate*
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs*
Punisher*
Saturday Night Slam Masters*
Muscle Bomber*
Muscle Bomber Duo*

*Enhanced with Q-Sound

If the battery on the "C" board dies on any of these games, the game can be revived by modifying the c-board to be reset it to it's default, battery-less settings and patching the game's program ROMs to use these default values.

NOTE: The files provided on this site are intended for use in repairing broken circuit boards. They are not games and are not useable with game emulators, so don't bother downloading them if that's what you're hoping for. All the games mentioned on this page are copyrighted works and property of thier respective companies. This information here is being provided free of charge and is intended for people who rightfully own these games and want to repair them or prevent them from failing.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you hurt yourself or your hardware by performing this procedure. Don't do it if you don't know what you're doing.

To fix your game, download one of the patched sets below and take a look at the file names. Find the EPROMs on your board that correspond to the file names and burn the new data onto an EPROM that is the same size as the original. Remove the original EPROM(s) and put the freshly programmed EPROM in thier place. Now you'll need to make some modifications to your c-board. First remove the battery. Next, locate pins 45 and 46 on the CPS-B-21 chip. You'll notice there are tiny traces connecting these two pins to ground. Carefully cut these traces with an exact-o knife or whatever works. Don't cut the nearby traces. After cutting, it would be a good idea to measure resistance from ground to these pins with a volt meter's ohms setting. If there's still a connection, you'll get a reading of near zero ohms resistance to ground. However, once severed, the pins still won't read open because of the CPS-B chip's internal connections. You should read a few mega-ohms of resistance to ground. If you are working on 3 Wonders, or a similar c-board, you may think there are no traces connected to pins 45 and 46 to cut. They are still there, they are just connected to the pins from under the chip where you can't see them. You will have to snip the bottoms off those pins, leaving enough to solder to. Do not connect +5v to these pins until you are sure they're no longer connected to ground or you will be making a very short path from +5v to ground and smoke and fire will be sure to follow if you apply power. Once these pins are cut, add a blob of solder to the two pins and run a wire to a nearby source of +5v to pull them high. Here's a picture. If your game works but the graphics drop out and disappear at certain points, you might want to test pin 40 to make sure it's also being pulled high. This is the pin that formerly was supplied power by the suicide battery. It should normally be pulled high when the game is on, but you may have a bad diode or something causing it to not get pulled high.

 
Game Status Notes
Warriors of Fate (US 921031) - (16bit, 40 pin EPROM) Tested, working.  
Warriors of Fate (ETC 921031) - (16bit, 40 pin EPROM) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch.  
Tenchi Wo Kurau II (Japanese Warriors of Fate) (JP 921031) Tested, working. Thanks to James Greenhalgh
Captain Commando (US 910928) Tested, working.  
Captain Commando (Japan 911202) Not tested by me but should work. Thanks to 谭凌晖.
King of Dragons (US 910910) - (16bit, 40 pin EPROM) Tested, working. Use this if you have a 27c4096 in socket 34. There is currently no patch for the Japanese version so your only choice to revive one is to convert it to US or ETC until someone has time to do the work to make a patch.
King of Dragons (US 910910) - (8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch. Use this if you have 27c010's in sockets 30, 31, 37 and 38. There is currently no patch for the Japanese version so your only choice to revive one is to convert it to US or ETC until someone has time to do the work to make a patch.
King of Dragons (ETC 910711) - (16bit, 40 pin EPROM) Tested working. Use this if you have a 27c4096 in socket 34. There is currently no patch for the Japanese version so your only choice to revive one is to convert it to US or ETC until someone has time to do the work to make a patch.
King of Dragons (ETC 910711) - (8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch. Use this if you have 27c010s in 30, 31, 37 and 38. There is currently no patch for the Japanese version so your only choice to revive one is to convert it to US or ETC until someone has time to do the work to make a patch.
King of Dragons (ETC 910805) - (8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch. Use this if you have 27c010s in 30, 31, 37 and 38.
Saturday Night Slam Masters (US 930713) Tested, working.  
Muscle Bomber The Body Explosion (Japan 930713) Not tested by me, but 谭凌晖 says it works. Thanks to 谭凌晖.
Three Wonders (US 910520) Tested, working.  
Three Wonders (JP 950520) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch.  
Three Wonders (ETC 950520) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch.  
Capcom World 2 (JP) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch.  
Knights of the Round (US 911127) Tested, working.  
Knights of the Round (JAPAN 911127) (with 8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Not tested by me, but 谭凌晖 says it works. Thanks to 谭凌晖.
Knights of the Round (JAPAN 911127) (with 16bit, 40 pin EPROMs) Not tested by me, but 谭凌晖 says it works. Thanks to 谭凌晖.
Punisher (US 930422) (with 8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Tested, working. If your board has any 32 pin EPROMs in sockets 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31, use this set.
Punisher (US 930422) (with 16bit, 40 pin EPROMs) Tested, working. If your board has 40 pin EPROMs in sockets 21, 22 and 23, use this set. 21 may be identical to your existing set.
Punisher (ETC 930422) (with 8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Thanks to Dlfrsilver for the patch. If your board has any 32 pin EPROMs in sockets 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31, use this set.
Punisher (HISPANIC 930422) (with 8bit, 32 pin EPROMs) Thanks to Artemio Urbina for the patch. If your board has any 32 pin EPROMs in sockets 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31, use this set.
Punisher (HISPANIC 930422) (with 16bit, 40 pin EPROMs) Thanks to Artemio Urbina for the patch. If your board has 40 pin EPROMs in sockets 21, 22 and 23, use this set. 21 may be identical to your existing set.
Punisher (JP 930422) Not tested by me but folks tell me it works. Thanks to 谭凌晖.
Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (ETC 930201) Tested, working. This is for the "World" ROM set.
Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (US 930201) Thanks to Artemio Urbina for the patch. This is the for the USA ROM set.
Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (JP 930201) Not tested by me but should work. Thanks to 谭凌晖.
Quiz and Dragons Not tested by me but should work. Thanks to Aje_Fr.
Varth (JP) Not tested by me but should work. Thanks to Aje_Fr.

Thanks to Dr. Nicola Salmoria for explaining so logically what would need to be done to create these fixes.

If your game still doesn't work, and it is one of the Q-Sound games, you may need to do the fix for the second battery (see below). If it is not a Q-Sound game, double check your work. Make sure the new EPROMs you used are good. Make sure you didn't plug them in backwards or bend any pins. Your c-board might be bad. You can test it on a Street Fighter 2 CE or Turbo, UN Squadron/Area 88 or a Strider (c-boards from these games are interchangable, mostly (UN Squadron/Area 88 and Strider won't have the connector for the kick buttons on SF2 but work otherwise)). Reseat all connections. If everything checks out, then something other than a dead battery is wrong and you're on your own.

CPS-1 games with Q-Sound
In 1992, Capcom released an enhanced version of the CPS-1 hardware that featured Q-Sound. With these boards they actually used two suicide batteries. In addition to the one on the C-board like regular CPS-1 games, there's also one on the Q-Sound board. (They really, really wanted to make sure these stop working.) =P

The battery on the Q-Sound board powers our old friend, the Kabuki, and can be repaired in nearly the same way as the pre-CPS games.

Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to repair a dead battery on the Q-Sound board.

If you do not have the tools to perform the fixes, you can still replace the batteries for longer board life. (Make sure you maintain power to the battery contact points at all times when replacing the battery)
***WARNING*** These batteries may contain lithium, which is an extremely volitile substance. If you puncture the battery, it will spray nasty liquid on you, your board and the surrounding area. In a matter of seconds, it will start eating whatever it landed on. Skin, PCB, clothes, eyes, whatever! That said, just be careful not to cut the battery off the board too close to the battery and you'll be fine.

Click here for a list of all CPS-1 games. (Please email me with any CPS-B chip and PAL numbers I'm missing.)

CPS-2 games
In 1993 Capcom came out with their CPS-2 hardware which incorporated another suicide battery. It uses a custom 68000 with some RAM with another decryption table used to decrypt the main program ROMs. If your battery dies, you'll be greeted with a solid green or blue screen and that's it. The fix for CPS-2 games are a bit more complex than CPS-1 games. Razoola from CPS2Shock developed a fix, but he made alot of other changes to the games and wanted to charge people for the fixes, which isn't much better than Capcom wanting to charge people for the fixes. Fortunately, other people have developed less intrusive and free fixes which you can get here.

CPS-3 games
In 1996 Capcom released their CPS-3 hardware. The arcade game industry was starting to slump by then and, up to now, there have only been a few games released on the system. The system contains a suicide battery in the security cart. Finally, someone has come up with a way to revive them after they're dead. http://64darksoft.blogspot.com/.

It is a 3VDC Lithium cell. If you are going to attempt to replace the battery, it must be changed with the power on using an isolated soldering iron (perhaps a battery or propane soldering tool). Picture 1. Picture 2. (large pictures)

Sega
Sega also made use of suicide batteries on a great deal of their games starting around 1987. They, too, use their battery to back up a bit of RAM that holds a table for decrypting the program ROMs. They implemented them a little bit differently, however. They encased both the battery and the CPU in a little black epoxy block that plugs right into the CPU socket. They had two versions: a Z80 block and a 68000 block. The Z80 CPU is usually the sound CPU, so when it died, the game would still work, but you'd get no sound. The 68000 is usually the main CPU and when it's dead, the game doesn't work at all.

If you're curious to see what's inside one of these blocks, click here and here.

The good news is that it should be possible to revive a lot of the Sega boards equiped with suicide batteries from the dead. For whatever reason, on a lot of their games, Sega released two versions of their games. One with the battery (encrypted program ROMs) and one without (unencryped program ROMs). For many of the rest, bootleggers succeeded in breaking the encryption.

The way to fix Sega boards is to replace the epoxy block with a regular CPU (a 68000 or a Z80B) and burn a new set of unencrypted program ROMs.

Unfortunately, some of the bootleg sets, like Moonwalker, won't work on an original board as-is, since the bootleg board was made from scratch, and doesn't match the original 100%. Someone with a better knowledge of 68000 assembly and the System 16/18 hardware might be able to make them work, but it's over my head.

You can also replace the battery in these. Just peel the top thin metal cover off the epoxy block to expose the battery. Be carefull that any extra adheasive doesn't stick to the battery and pull it loose. If you lose power, it's over. (Make sure you maintain power to the battery contact points at all times when replacing the battery)
***WARNING*** These batteries may contain lithium, which is an extremely volitile substance. If you puncture the battery, it will spray nasty liquid on you, your board and the surrounding area. In a matter of seconds, it will start eating whatever it landed on. Skin, PCB, clothes, eyes, whatever! That said, just be careful not to cut the battery off the board too close to the battery and you'll be fine.

The most up-to-date list of fixes for suicided Sega games can be found here:

JAMMArcade.net

If you have a Sega game not on this list with a big black epoxy block, please email me.

Sega/Nihon System
There was another smaller company called Nihon System that developed a couple of games for Sega. Free Kick and Counter Run.
Sega must have told them they needed to use a suicide battery on their games, bless them. They developed an earlier game on nearly the same hardware, Perfect Billiard, and it has some kind of Sega custom thingy on it, but it's not clear whether it's a suicide device. I also noticed from a picture on eBay that Gigas looks like the same boardset as Perfect Billiard. The picture was not clear enough to see if there was a custom CPU.
Free Kick and Counter Run have big black potted modules that contain the main CPU and the main program code within them. The program is probably held inside a RAM chip powered by the batteries and there's probably a 74245 on the data bus blocking access to the RAM from outside the module.
At least they made it easy to change the battery on these. The Counter Run I have actually has three batteries. One is mounted outside the module near the sound section. This is the backup battery. There are two additional batteries inside the module under the top cover. If the batteries inside the module still have power, it should be safe to change the one on the outside without worrying about keeping power to the module at all times.
I bought a bootleg version of Free Kick from an eBay'er in Canada. The bootleg didn't have the potted module and the code from inside was on a regular EPROM. I dumped that and so you can check it out in MAME. I still don't see an easy way to revive a dead one with this code, though, since there's no socket to put the main CPU or EPROM into. I suppose if you were handy with such things, you could dissolve the module with fuming nitric acid, leaving the bare circuit and then just replace the RAM with an EPROM containing the code from the bootleg. I'd rather not get into that myself however. If you do it, take pics! ;-)

Orca
Orca was a smaller company that also used a suicide battery on their games inside a potted module, similar to Sega's method. Almost all of these can be fixed by burning a new ROM that contains the data formerly held in the battery-backed RAM and replacing the potted module with a Z80A. Click on the game name to download the new ROM (if available).

Marine Boy
Changes
Looper (same as Changes)
Springer
Bounty

I'm still researching the following to see if they have batteries, and if so if replacement ROMs are available.

Wanted

UPL
UPL was another small company that used a suicide battery here and there... The only one I've verified is
Ninja Kid II (Rad Action)
They used one on the sound CPU. You can repair yours with the info found here.

Gaelco
Gaelco, an arcade manufacturer in Spain, most famous in the US for World Rally and Great 1000 Miles Rally 1 & 2, made heavy use of suicide batteries. Their batteries are particularly nasty. They used a Dallas Semiconductor DS5002 microcontroller to protect their boards, which has up to 128k of battery-backed RAM containing a program for the 5002 to execute. This program actually patches bits of the main CPU's code. If the battery dies, the 5002 no longer makes the correct patches and the game won't run. Typical symptoms of a dead battery are a "coprocessor not responding" message and/or a loss of sync. The game will still show their demos, but eventually lock up. They will not be playable. The games known to have suicide batteries are:

World Rally
Alligator Hunt
World Rally 2
Touch & Go
Maniac Square
Thunder Hoop 2
Strikes Back
Glass

And the following may have batteries, but have not been verified:

Target Hits
Salter

There is currently no fix for these games other than to send them back to Spain to be fixed. You might have success replacing the batteries before they die. (Make sure you maintain power to the battery contact points at all times when replacing the battery). *update* Lutz Blasinski from .de wrote to say he successfully revived an Alligator Hunt by replacing the 2 Eproms :44n and 45n from his PCB with the MAME unprotected Roms: ahntu44n.040 and ahntu45n.040. w00t™

Seibu
Seibu also released a game that makes use of the dread battery... Zero Team. When the battery dies, the graphics leave with it. I've been told the game can survive for a short time while you change the battery, like CPS-2 games. If you would like to eliminate the battery, carefully remove the battery and replace the program ROMs with these four:

ztx.zip

You probably noticed the strange arrangement of roms! They are:

ZTEAM1              ZTEAM3
ZTEAM4              ZTEAM2
 
Some PCBs use an extra PLD (PAL or GAL) mounted on a PLD which can be removed for the battery-less program.

Thanks Afzal!

Additional info from IFKZ:

The top PAL is an AMI branded chip at board location U0310 markings
9250MEA
18CV8PC-25

You will be using the wire running on PIN 17 on this 20 PIN chip. It should have several green jumper wires all ready. Note the point on the board where it is connected. Desolder it from the board and run it to PIN 57 on the surface mount chip at board location U096 marked
SIE15O
WA30601

Power up the board and you should hear some sort of chime audio string along with a screen of mostly junk graphics. I did this several times sometimes the entire chime would play, sometimes it would get cut out. Only one time should be required. After this, you should be free to desolder the top piggy back chip and all of the jumper wire from the pads on the board. Keep the bottom one where it is or the game will not run. Graphics should now be okay.

Taiyo
Taiyo developed a game called Shanghi Kid on Data East hardware, released by Memetron, that uses suicide batteries. This one has a big black epoxy
block called the "BBX" which is plugged into a Z80 socket in the middle of the board. Inside the box is a Z80, an 8K RAM chip and a tri-state buffer. The buffer seperates the RAM from the external bus, so that only the Z80 inside the module can access it. The RAM holds the first 8K of code for the Z80, which controls music and some graphics functions. It has two batteries on the outside which keep the RAM powered. If both these batteries die, the game will boot, but report "BBX NG" and reset, forever. If this happens, the game can be revived by burning a new EPROM containing the code from inside the RAM. Download it here:

Shanghai Kid

Burn the code onto a 27128 EPROM and replace the 2764 at location IC31 (ROM labeled CR04). Then remove the BBX module and replace it with a Z80A or Z80C. Your game should now report "BBX OK" and work normally.

Non-Suicide batteries.
There are another whole group of games that have batteries, but weren't designed to intentionally kill your board if they lose power. Instead, these batteries start to leak when they get old, pouring their acidic guts all over the game's electronic circuitry and eating it away to a light green powder or sludge.

The worst offenders are the early Taito 6809 games (Zookeeper, Qix, etc)., Omega Race, and the power supplies on MCR games.

Click
here (web archive) for Lawnmowerman's excellent and detailed list of what games have batteries and what to do about them.

You can email me at: [email protected].

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