Intro: Fixing a Dance Pad
We recently purchased an Omega ITGX dance pad via mail-order. It seemed to be working well until suddenly it wasn't. The problem was not immediately obvious just intermittent situations where the dancer would claim they made the hit but got a miss or boo. I followed the manufacturer's instructions and opened the control box to check for any loose wiring. Other than some questionable soldering techniques the connections appeared solid to the touch.
Step 1: Going in for a Closer Look
The night before I had noticed that the two top corners had wires that appeared to attach the top pad to the bottom board. Otherwise it appears that the entire pad is attached by Velcro tape. I placed the whole thing on the table and slowly worked my way through the Velcro pulling a drop-cloth in between as each new piece was set free. Eventually I had the drop-cloth under part of the up arrow. At that point I lifted the top pad and folded it over trying not to break the wires at the front. As you can see from the pictures there's not much to these things. The first thing I noticed was the wrinkles, bubbles and black smudge all over the aluminum tape.
I cleaned the smudge off with some shop towels but found it hard to even wash it off my hands. In the end I used a sparing amount of Goo-Gone to clean the last bits that wouldn't come from just wiping. It appears to be a combination of the glue from the aluminum tape, something slightly oily (perhaps from manufacture) and dirt. There was also a lot of chunks of the fiber boards used for the dead-spaces. Looking at it more closely I realized that the wiring is all in the top pad and the base is just one big plate fed by those two wires at the corners. They are just hand wound and I separated them and had it in two pieces.
Step 2: Testing and Reassembly
I used an Ethernet jack with a small stiff wire and a multi-meter to check all the connections. I placed the wire on the first terminal of the Ethernet jack that was plugged into the plug on the pad and touched the other end of the meter to each of the pads until I got continuity. I repeated this for all 8 pins. I discovered that pins 3 and 4 connect to each other through the base plate. The other 6 are the arrows, start and back respectively.
Satisfied that there were no electrical problems I turned my focus to the wrinkles and bubbles in the aluminum tape. I used a short piece of ABS pipe like a rolling pin and attempted to flatten out any raised areas in the aluminum. It was slow going and some bubbles reappear after settling. In a pinch I might cut out bad spots and replace them but I wasn't ready to do that on this first round.
To reassemble I placed the pad upside down and carefully moved all the fiber-boards one by one preserving their orientation. The cuts look like they have been made by hand with a rusty saw so it would likely be easier to keep them in their designated spot so you can be sure they will still fit. Once that was done I put the drop-cloth over it and placed the base on it upside down. I pulled the cloth back a bit so I could hook the top on and then once everything was oriented I pulled the cloth out and the pad was back together again.
Step 3: Don't Want to Go Through That Again
I was going to test the connections with the muti-meter again but decided to get serious about it. I found an old wall jack that had two ports. I removed the one port and then used it to build a tester. A USB cable where the small end wouldn't work made the perfect power supply. I just cut the small end off and stripped the end. Use the red and black wire, cut the others off. I dead-bugged the circuit in place and covered with some hot glue to make sure nothing budged or shorted later. Now anyone can test the pad if they suspect problems.
Step 4: Dance Testing
Well, the primary user approves and says it is responding exactly as expected.