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I got this to take apart for our entertainment. It's a serially controlled coin payout hopper that uses the CCtalk serial protocol used in gaming equipment for simple serial addressing of coin handling equipment.
This particular unit has just three wires connected. 24V, 0V and data.
The CCtalk protocol was originally developed by coin controls to minimise wiring. It has a single line which any device on the network can pull to the zero volt rail with a simple NPN transistor. Each device can have an address set locally by wire links, and when asked on that address will identify itself and allow control of coin acceptance, payout or fault indication. There's also an option for loading new firmware via the serial connection. Speed is typically 9600 baud.
Not having anything that can generate the correct control data locally, I experimentally hot-wired the motor PCB and its associated shunt relay.
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This is a common style of payout hopper used in gaming equipment. When you win your prize, it's this of equipment that the money will actually be counted out of, and this particular one is a is set for pound coins and it's made by money controls which used to be coin controls, and it's only got technically speaking. It's got a lot of connections, but the machine that's a being used with this, because this is a used. One only has three connections going out and that's not just one device, it potentially controlling two hoppers and the three connections are 24 volts: zero, volts and data.

Bi-Directional data and you've got an option of three addresses here that by setting links you can actually set, i guess up to eight devices of the eight versus these hoppers, but that same communication protocol can also be used for the coin and note acceptors. Let's start taking this to bits, so i'm going to stay. Take this off first. This is where the money goes in.

This uh funnels the money into the machine and when it detects there's enough money in it either the money will back up to here into upper hopper and then slide down or shoot, or it can actually signal back to. It's got enough money and it will divert the money elsewhere. Let's take this cover off. So when i take this off, it reveals the actual disc inside that actually rotates uh.

I shall point a light in here, so we can see there is the rotating disc and those two metal plates in there just literally connect to these spade terminals in the back and when there's enough money in it, it knows it's empty. If the there's no electrical conductivity across those plates, so let's start by giving that a test. So instead this just rotates in here like this right, tell you what i've got a tub of money. I've got a meter hold on.

Let's put the meter to continuity that i'll use this one, because it's got a fairly loud paper and we'll hook it across there and just see how many coins it takes to actually indicate that it's got enough money inside it right where's, my plastic tub of money. Just like in the music arcades, so one two, three four: five: six, seven, eight nine ten eleven twelve saw glitch there. 13 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. uh 20 coins and it bridges.

But if you suggest it can actually make that intermittent, it's really. I guess it must. The circuitry must just actually just continuously monitor for uh continuously, monitor and just understand that it's going to get a bit glitchy at times, because it is coins and they're they're, not exactly what i'd call a solid electrical connection, but they're good enough. In this instance, i shall tip that out so to open this everything's modular it clips together.

So i'm going to clip the sides out and hinge this up like that. This hinges up and just pops off, and that reveals the whole uh rotating mechanism. I shall grab some coins. I shall also take this shoot off.

Part of the reason for this is to divert the coins, because the pinged out was quite a bit of force, but it also acts as a light shield. Can i get this off here? I should be able to get it off. It acts as a light shield, because uh this is an optical sensor in here to detect and the coins have been paid out. So let's pop some coins in and the coins would normally be just lying across here and they kind of shuffled and churned with these little spikes as it rotates, but as it rotates the coins come up here and there's little red plastic tabs here.

That can hinge back when the thing rotates around those deflect the coin up the way and then ping it forcibly out through the side and when they ping it. It goes through an optical sensor which i'll show you in a moment if you've got several coins. On top of each other have been carried up, it will just ping one out and the others will just ride on by so it can kind of stock up in coins and each rotation. Oh, this is also very modular.

This comes out if i know what, let's just take it out and i'll undo this connector things where they load here. That's quite interesting, they've put a hot melt glue in the back of these connectors. That's interesting! I wonder if they've had issues with the pins popping out or it's just a bit of extra strain relief right here, let's pop this out of the way and go deeper, so the communication protocol that these use the cctalk - it is a ttl logic, level, uh data Communication standard 9600, open standard, developed quite by coin controls and used quite widely. There are two common standards i think used in the entertainment industry.

One was by mars, but now mars, i've also seem to have merged with this crane. This crane company seems to have just basically bought up. Everybody uh tell you what, let's, while i'm talking, i shall take more stuff to bits. Let's take the disc off, but the communication protocol uh uses uh floating ttl line while floating it's pulled up high by a resistor and any device on that line can pull it low.

So the machine itself can toggle that low this machine can toggle it load to send data back and uh. If there's maybe a coin acceptor, it can also toggle it load to actually send data and uh the items on the network can, if you communicate with it, you say: what's the address number two and if there's something address number two it'll reply, it'll say: i'm a Coin payout mechanism - and this particular type - and it means that the equipment, the gaming equipment, can actually identify what all these items are. It's very simple. It's very nice! There is also a des data encryption standard involved in later releases.

This comes off revealing the motor. It reveals the motor what looks like a little suppression, capacitor and also it's got four connections going on here, but it's also got a relay with a protection diode across the coil. I presume it's a protection doubt across the coil and if i recall correctly the really, i don't think it controls this. I think it purely it's a enable because i'm sure that's switched by transistors um and maybe the relay is just a safe extra safety device.

In case one of the transistors fails and it keeps turning around and it keeps it basically pays out all the money. Maybe that's just a safety thing that the relay will energize but uh, it's uh. Maybe it energizes only under extreme conditions, or maybe it just energizes. Then it energizes the transistors and it means that the relay contacts never actually take much load.

They certainly don't see the switching of the uh, the contacts, the motor. Technically speaking, i wonder if this is uh polarized. I could actually power this up. Let's power up at 12 volts, so, let's pop that there oh it doesn't like that, or is it because it's uh hold on: let's try the other way around.

Oh, maybe no! That's like a dead short circuit. Maybe this really is shunting that that's interesting! Oh, you know it might be dc breaking on it. Oh that's kind of interesting right here, yeah that that's hold on one way to find out, let's see if they, if that is basically just a dead short circuit across that then yes, it is. The relay is shunting it out for dc.

Braking, that's odd, so the sequence operations is that this really has to be energized. Oh, let's energize the relay. So what voltage is that really going to be? I shall turn this down to 12 volts f5 volts. Initially, i think it's probably going to be higher.

It might be a 24 volt really and we'll put this on to that connection and that there nothing happening not much current turn it up. Oh, i think that's a that is 24 volt, really right. Okay, anyway, continuing on with the teardown. If i take these two screws out, it reveals the coin payout sensor the optical sensor, and it is quite interesting in its own right because it has this optical guide and underneath this spacer on the same circuit board.

As all the control, electronics i'll show you that in a moment are three infrared receiver, leds and two emitter leds and the emitter leds actually fire up into this light guide. That then diverts the light across and back down again, so that i guess that just means they can have on the circuit board without actually having to have them facing each other. Can i show you this happening? Can i is it going to show i'll put it against a black background? This would be a good idea, so i'll get a bit of black card in i'll zoom up just a little bit and if i uh say, select a lower light level all right. Okay, yes, you can see that that is diverting, so this one is feeding both those uh sensor sides and this one uh is feeding those two sort of uh reflectors okay, so they basically bounce the light across and down, and the coin is detected when it breaks That beam and because it's a a wide, it's a series of um.

Where is it three points? It means that even the coins with holes in them, because this is a universal mechanism. It means that uh, no matter the size of coin or the uh. If it's got the holes in it, it's always going to theoretically detect the coin right. Let's keep taking it to bits, those uh little things.

That's talked about. They just basically kick back like that. If the coin doesn't come out, it would jam. I would expect the machine to be able to reverse the motor in the event of a jam.

Most of them do so. If it stalls you'll see it just reverse briefly, and then it goes tries again and if it fails after a certain amount of time, i'd guess it would also send a signal back saying either no money has been paid out or that that the motors stalled and It would send a fault code back, so let's take more screws out. There's the bit that's going to go ping, it is going to go ping. It will go ping.

These things always go pink, oh screwdrivers, all scoping. Apparently so this screw can come out this one come out. Is this where the gearbox is just going to disintegrate explosively, it's possible. I could have turned my bench supply up to 24 volt, for this really is this going to come out? Oh, you know what i think it said that spring-loaded bit has just pinged heavy heavy gears.

They look like the i'm going to be all av here and say they look like sintered gears. Just because that's what eve says, i think they're centered gears. They look like the ones that are basically just a compressed metal powder. That's then heated up and all fuses together.

It's just a very easy way of making stuff like that. There's the uh the bit that goes ping, oh and there's the spring that was attached to it. That's gon na be fun getting back in and the motor assemblats it's covered in grease. It's absolutely.

I really didn't expect it for this much grease in it, but not to worry. There is so. Let's take this screw out, it's very very serviceable, it's very modular. Ultimately i guess that uh, it's just you know the best.

It's the best way to get machines going quickly. If something goes, wrong is just make them super modular yeah there is that little capacitor, presumably the capacitors across the uh windings right. Tell you what i'm just going to give this 24 volts and just see if it goes that it make, takes the bridge off uh when i do that one moment, please yeah, so that really is a shunt really you'll see the resistance which is very low, because It's shunting the motor at the moment when i energize the relay it takes that shunt off and you can hear me click and there you, then you can see the resistance of the motor. At that point, i should be able to drive the motor except i'd, then have to bridge both the motor and bring the relay and the motor on simultaneously.

It's a bit of a juggling act. Um but, and also the motor is out now, which is a bit late to do it, so i can't really shoot p out coins, but i'm sure i could budge it. I will budget right, so that is uh at this point in time. That's how far we're into it kind of want to see it paying out coins at high speed, so i will bodge that now uh, even if that means um actually do i do this i'll just bring some wires out.

That's the best bet, because i'm pretty sure some of these connections may be common, not sure, but i shall play about with it and put it all back together and then we'll see if by hot wiring i can actually get it to run. One moment please before i put this back together: let's take a look initially at the circuitry on the output. We have what appears to be a dual mosfet pair, possibly providing an h bridge to drive the motion both directions. There are current sensing resistors here to detect when the motor has stalled.

There is a ptc thermistor fuse for overcurrent protection motor again we've got. Presumably one of these transistors is switching the relay on the control side over here we have a little five volt regulator down here. We have a pic microcontroller, because the demand, the actual the cc talk, isn't a terribly process or demanding protocol. So it can be done with a simple microcontroller, with some serial memory attached to it and then just a smattering of other components in its vicinity.

It's a very minimalist circuit board. It's also got an option for something to be programmed with the solder link here and that's also got a shunt resistor sorted in, so that's just an option as they have many options. I would guess right. Tell you what the next thing we'll take a look at before i put it together again, i'm going to zoom out here is the motor assembly, because i've made a little hot wire connector for it, which uh has the two pairs of wires.

It's got the red and black going to the relay that takes the shunt off the motor, the dc braking it doesn't feel terribly dc brake, but with that inertia would be, and if i power that up a now up, you might hear a quick click. It just clicked that is now taking the shunt off and i can then use this wire to actually power the motor, so that is now uh controllable externally. But i have to remember to actually power the uh. Well, i've got the blacks commoned here, but i have to remember to power the relay up.

First before you can actually power the motor right back together. It goes and then we'll uh run it without any of its control. Circuitry doing anything, just purely uh direct control. Over the motor one moment, please, okay, hot wiring in place, i think we're ready to play so just to show you what's happened in the moment, i've got a 20 volt supply here, just over 20 volts, not the full 24.

I could go up to the full 24.: let's go to the full 24.: oh, the 25. uh, even uh 24 volts when i touch the red wire that brings in the bypass really this this of a the dc braking really and also the shunt relay that's designed To stop this uh over paying out if one of the transistors fails or something goes wrong, so uh, i can activate that and that has to be like left activated. But then, when you touch that it makes quite a lot of noise and it spins the hopper uh motor, so let's put the hopper back on the actual container for the money, so hinge that one like that clip it down into place making sure i don't trap That wire, and also making sure this snaps back properly into the correct position there we go and we'll fill it with money and then we'll see how fast the money shoots out the side, lots of noise lots of clients. This will, technically speaking, just shoot them all over the place.

Probably so i'm not even going to try that, let's see what speed it happens at so uh, i'm forgetting that you guys can't see down there hold on. I shall add some extra illumination down there, mm-hmm i'll just hold this there. Not you can see much it's a blur, so i wonder what voltage that would operate down to what there's the current uh the current offload. It's only about a quarter of an amp.

Let's try loading it up with coins and see what the current goes to. It will depend ultimately on how many coins so just to help punch them back in and just see what the current draw is. Current draw is about 350 milliamps when it's up at full tilt, but that's a that's quite fast. That's noisy, oh, and it's also.

It is jamming, so it really needs it needs that uh ability to unclog itself. It needs to be able to wind backwards when it jams. Yes, it does uh, so the circuitry would all be needed. Hot wiring is probably not an option, otherwise it will stall unless you actually just replaced all the circuitry completely, but there we have it uh.

The money controls that used to be coin controls and does now crane, uh and their speciality is the money management uh systems for vending. But an interesting thing to take apart, certainly quite enjoyed taking that apart. It was interesting what was inside quite neat very minimalist in a way, but then that's what makes things reliable.

18 thoughts on “Coin payout hopper teardown”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ted McFadden says:

    Just occurred to me I've never actually seen a pound coin until now. Quite pretty. We don't have any coins like that in the 'States.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Michael Archer says:

    I worked with these hoppers for years in a large superstore, they were in the self scan tills and it was my job to service them with coins .
    Mostly they were very little bother, but when a coin jammed inside then it was a right pain to get out.
    Retired now so this brought back many memories.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars bluerizlagirl says:

    I suppose any piece of coin-operated machinery, whether it's an amusement machine, a vending machine or a supermarket self-service checkout, has to be as super reliable as possible, as it literally is only making money for its owners as long as it's in working order. If it pays out too little, or misrecognises inserted coins as lower values, customers complain; if it pays out too much, or misrecognises inserted coins as higher values, operators lose money; either way, it ends up looking bad for the manufacturers of the equipment, since there is pressure from both directions for it to be accurate.

    It would certainly take a lot of testing to ensure any proposed change to the manufacturing process was really going to make a definite improvement. You would have to run a payout device continuously with a full hopper in a thermostatically-controlled chamber to ensure it was reliable at low and high temperatures, and probably arrange for it to be physically vibrated to ensure the machine could not be tricked into dispensing extra coins with a well-timed kick ….. I've worked in that sort of testing! Doing things like cycle relays continuously switching heavy tungsten filament lamp loads on and off until you could see daylight through the contacts …..

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars John Moore says:

    The light bar multi sensor combination is also a security feature. If the coin fails to break the beams in the right order and time the hopper will throw an error. People will stick LED wands up the dispenser and cause the hopper not to count three coins. By having three lights this complicated defeating the counter. Prior to casinos going countless it was a big problem. The locking hopper motor is also a partial security feature because with enough effort and time you'd be able to spin the hopper disk manually and get coins.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Owlman says:

    The old universal hoppers that predated the compact hoppers were conssiderably simpler, being a motor control input and a photocell output. The internals used a plastic chain belt rather than the disc used these days by compact hoppers, so they could take pretty much any coin that would generate a wide enough pulse for the host system to read; their size also meant that they could hold several hundered pounds or a couple of thousand with the extension box that fitted on top (this predates the 2 quid coin) but obviously required a much larger armoured cabinet, hence the popularity of the compact hoppers. Interestingly, the same old pair of plates were used to detect the hopper getting low… I doubt anyone paid any attention to the signal, I certainly never did.

    The CCTalk protocol was pretty involved with some fairly gnarly looking encryption of a cycling payout 'token' in conjunction with the payout amount that would prevent an attacker who gained access to the serial bus from replaying payout commands to get arbitrary payouts. You had to sign an NDA to get access to the intimate details and be from a company that had a reason to know.

    In a similar move, the old style Mars coinmechs were superceded by intelligent mechs that communicated over serial rather than simply pulsing coin lines – they are all quite interesting inside though, with the various cutting blades and baffles to prevent stringing with fishing line and coils to detect metal stringing and coins going backwards through the mech.

    Fake notes and coins were always interesting, the great thing being that you always end up with an example to give to the manufacturers for the next countermeasure – some old note acceptors could be fooled by a piece of paper with the appropriate strip of note attached, allowing two fakes to be made (since notes can be presented in any orientation)… multiple simultaneous scanning stopped that. One of the most labour intensive fake fivers I remember being told about (we made the control electronics for change machines so I got to write the software) was a B&W photocopy of each face onto tracing paper sandwiched around blue paper and a couple of metal strips – I think I would prefer a real job, it was a lot of effort for a fiver.🤔

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars arcadeuk says:

    OK so for some reason the mighty "algorithm" won't let me tell the story of working at CRANE back in the day as my comment keeps getting deleted a few seconds later 😡

    But I did, and for some reason it has angered Susan WikiWiki

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars James says:

    Seems over complicated, my old 70s fruit machine was much simpler but essentially did the same thing, with a tube of coins a solenoid operated pay out sledge thing and a couple of contacts.

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Phino K.M. says:

    Well, I presume the relay would be shorting out the motor mainly as a form of tamper protection. Obviously it's not particularly difficult to defeat. But still, just energizing the motor itself without energizing the relay won't do it. I doubt the mechanism will experienced a lot of torque from the coins, since their weight is distributed evenly. But I guess a little more mechanical resistance when the motor is turned off (and shorted) would also make potential mechanical tampering more difficult…?

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars David says:

    That was very interesting Clive… many years ago I made my own gambling machine from a modified windscreen wiper motor a old timer and cam switch plus a load of 24 volt relays & diodes , had to weaken the return springs on the relays so they would work on 12 Volts it was all so very amateurish but it did work just couldn’t afford to buy the extra mes bulbs needed to complete the “roulette” wheel of fortune the payout was a tube full of 2 pence coins with a slide mechanism to pulse out the winnings it had different payout values and the odds were random chance. Spend many hours in the shed as a 18 year odd but boy was that fun to built and it worked!

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Rodney Hedger says:

    Don't think I've ever seen the coin rotator go in reverse by itself. The metal disks in the hopper when connected to the bus will report coin levels I believe though resistance levels that get translated to a number via a table. An additional bit of metal on an edge is used for a hopper full trigger.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Frazer Prii says:

    I work in the gaming industry and use these hoppers widely.

    The machine counts the coins and it’s upto the coin mech to divert the coins. The operator needs to press “hopper top up” and the machine will tell the coin mech to divert the coin into the hopper or cash box

    The low coin pads are in the event the operator did not press the hopper top up so if the hopper is running dry, it will make sure coins go into the hopper. A feature not often used in the gaming industry.

    Mars or MEi used a protocol called Hii or Hi2. Cctalk is industry standard now and used by every manufacturer and part of the technical standard.

    The hot glue is to stop “sniffing” the data line and inject commands. Quite common at one point where fraudsters would try and latch on the data line before encryption was popular. We had to heat shrink all looms years as these started to hold more money.

    The hopper does reverse. The red “things” are called hopper release fingers and can still be purchased.

    You can rotate the hopper 90 deg and it will pay out the side if you wanted too rather than use the chute.

    They do a 4 pin parallel version of this hopper which is even simpler. Just 24v, gnd,opto gnd and coin out

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars TRIPPLE JAY says:

    I use to work for Gala Bingo on the machines and they have security mods over the year's. With the relay on the motor is to stop people poking wires up to power the motor. People also would stick a certain light up the money chute to trick the machine to unable to count money being despenced paying out more money. Also people would make a small E.M.P. with 9v battery to trick sensors in coin slot to get free credit's. Fantastic hacking just like the old magnet trick to turn metal reels now they are plastic.

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars mysock351C says:

    The DC braking is probably to stop the little red plastic detents from paying out extra coins. The motor is geared down and with all the coins in their respective holes, it has a fair bit of inertia, so you want to stop it before it overshoots and dispenses an extra coin.

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars K J W says:

    Very reliable hopper, only time they usually jam is when some dented coin has got through coin mech …. I miss Mars(the chocolate company) they made great electronic coin mechanicals.

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars IIGrayfoxII says:

    Their will be a "Coin Validator" and a "Coin Sorter" before the hopper.
    The Coin Validator verifies that that coin inserted is correct(ie cant use fake coins or coins from another country)
    The Coin sorter(used on paymachine type devices) will sort the coins into their correct hopper by using some gates so 50p coins go into the hopper for 50p coins and £1 coins go into the £1 hopper and their will be a divert to the coin safe as well as return tray.

    Hoppers like those found in payment machines.
    Will have photodiodes for "Low" level and a "High" level.
    When the level is low a message is sent to the control computer to tell the operator that the levels are low.
    When the level is high, normally no message is displayed on the computer(nothing really wrong) but the control software in the machine will send the coin to the coin safe as the hoppers dont need any more money

    This method allows change to be paid out by the hopper, any money added by customers will be added to the hopper so the levels dont go down quickly and if more customers pay by coins than normal, the coins can be stored in the safe for retrieval by the money services.

  16. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Michael Williams says:

    AVE’s work here is done.
    You have a high speed healing bench, you can analyse the construction of mechanical gears and once you have a Stanley knife to cut into the plastic to determine if there is glass fibre content, AVE can retire with a clear conscience.
    Perhaps if you sent the mechanism to him he could see if it could dispense small munitions at the same high speed as it does coins. That would be fun 😁
    A very interesting video, I had never seen inside one of those mechanisms before

  17. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Laurence Bois says:

    I used to work on fruit machines, still got a massive hopper that holds around £1200 in pound coins that I modified and used as a turbo coin counter

  18. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars mysock351C says:

    The ccTalk is very much like the original J1850 VPW communications standard used by Delphi/GM for their first generation OBD-II vehicles. Only real difference is the use of +12V instead of +5V in regards to the actual signal itself. Speed was quite limited (~10/41 kbps) since its basically open collector so the waveform had very sluggish transitions. Still it was nice to program with since there was a dedicated IC in the modules that handled the coms, and it only required a single yellow 16 AWG wire running around the car for the network.

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