Restoring a Donkey Kong Arcade Cocktail Table

This past summer I came across a listing for a Donkey Kong Arcade cocktail table that I couldn’t resist. The seller was moving and getting rid of some Arcade machines he had in his garage. He said that it “should work”, but was disassembled. He at least knew that the board was tested and was functional, but hadn’t tested the monitor. I snapped a few photos of it after picking it up with my pal Beau, who has helped me out a ton with getting this machine back in action (thanks dude!). It was purchased for $170.

After hauling it back to Seattle, we started poking around to see what needed to be done to get it up and running. The seller included a new power supply, so I searched around online for the instructions for it and luckily found them fairly easily. We soldered the power lines up and were able to turn the machine on and see the monitor power up!

Mmm… burn in. At least you know for sure that it is Donkey Kong!

Next we needed to figure out how to connect the power supply up to the board. We discovered that at some point in the past the main cable harness was cut in order to hook up to a different power supply:

This harness has seen MUCH better days.

So I searched around the web again and found some of the connectors and plugs I’d need to add the plugs back to the cut wires in order to still use the original harness with the machine.

My attempt at adding plugs to the end of the existing cable. I think in the end I needed to just push these in further, but the cables were too thick to fit into the plug any further.

In the end, my repair job only sort-of worked. The plugs were too loose and would fall off of the power supply too easily. We used electrical tape to keep them down. It was still very exciting though, when we hooked up the cables we saw Donkey Kong boot up to the monitor!

The controls and coin slot were working as well!

Beau got the official “First person to get Mario killed” honors 😉

Unfortunately the electrical tape wasn’t holding the cables down too well. So another internet search lead me to Mike’s Arcade which has loads of parts for Arcade Machines. $40 later and I had a new cable harness, and it connected up perfectly. We then found the place to adjust the monitor settings for focus and other settings like horizontal and vertical positioning. It started looking really good:

Everything is working! Controls, sound, and display.

There is a problem with one of the potentiometers that controls the horizontal scrolling. It doesn’t seem to ever stop scrolling, no matter how much you adjust it. I think we will need to replace this Pot with a new one to get it stable again.

Here’s my daughter playing Donkey Kong for the first time ever, with the top on the cabinet:

There’s still a lot more to do with it, but for now it is functioning and is a nice addition to the Automattic Seattle coworking space. Here’s some of the things on my ToDo:

  • Fix the horizontal scrolling issue I mentioned above.
  • Replace the glass on the top of the cabinet, it is really scratched up.
  • Get new locks installed, I don’t have the key for the existing ones 🙂
  • Replace the decals that are on the top of the table. Mine are sun faded.
  • Repair some of the stripped screws on the main hinges at the top of the table.

Achievement Unlocked: 4 Years at Automattic

It flew by without me even noticing, but in February I passed my fourth year working for Automattic. It is now the longest I’ve worked for any company and I hope to continue working there for many more years to come. It has been an amazing experience so far, and here’s some of the reasons why:

A Distributed Workplace

Being allowed to work from anywhere in the world is really freeing. In fact, shortly after I started at Automattic my family moved overseas to Scotland for two years. Without that freedom we would never have had so many European adventures. I’m quite jealous of my single coworkers that travel a lot more than I can!

As a Dad of young children, I also really appreciate that I can be at home and be more involved with my kids’ day-to-day upbringing. If I were in an office I would be away from them ~10 hours everyday, which just doesn’t seem like the way it should be. This week it has been especially handy as my dear wife has had a stomach bug, and I’ve been able to be flexible with my work schedule and care for the kiddos while she rests up.

Amazing People

The people at Automattic are so great to work with. The culture is very positive and upbeat. I’ve never seen a group of people so good at writing puns 😉

I’m continually blown away by the great work that Automatticians produce. My personal favorite at the moment is Cloudup, check it out!

Challenging Work

As a developer, it is an amazing place to work. There’s always new challenges to overcome and l still learn new things everyday (TIL!). We do code reviews for all pull requests, and I’ve really enjoyed learning from others on my team on how they would solve a problem in an alternative way.

Speaking of challenges, I recently joined a new team! I’ve joined up with team Simperium, which is the sync tech that powers Simplenote. I sync I’m excited for this new adventure!


The Mobile Team at the Temple of Poseidon in Greece last year.
The Mobile Team at the Temple of Poseidon in Greece last year.
Part of working for Automattic is traveling to meetups. My team typically did two of these per year, and the entire company meets once per year as well. The cool part is that you can pick anywhere in the world you want to meet as long as it has decent internet access. We work hard at meetups, but still take some time to see the surroundings and participate in fun activities during the week.

Since starting at Automattic I’ve been to Seaside (Florida), Milan, Austin, Edinburgh, Zaragoza (Spain), Budapest, Chicago, San Diego, Greece, San Francisco/Santa Cruz and Tokyo. In a few weeks, I will have a meetup with my new team in Aruba! Queue Beach Boys music.

Join Up

I was employee number fifty-something when I joined Automattic, and today we are over 250 people! We are actively hiring, so apply today if you think you’ve got what it takes to be an Automattician! Just make sure to practice up on your puns.

As for my ‘Achievement Unlocked’ post title, I get to pick up one of these bad boys now that I’ve hit the four year mark: