JAMMA Harness Saga

Jamma Harness

by Bob Roberts

Update 3/11/2008

K... as many of you know already our harnesses have always been sold at a loss, but with several more wire increases due to the escalating copper prices... soon to overtake gold... we can no longer hold the price line. I'm embarrassed to say just how much we lose on wire & harnesses, but suffice it to say that the wire it takes to make a full JAMMA harness costs more than we charge for the completed harness at this time :-( We've held prices for you the past couple years after having to layoff one harness maker with the last increase we were forced to make after the 3rd wholesale price increase in a row, but now it is to the point of not being practical to even continue with harness making at all if we don't close the gap.

Since there are no other quality harnesses available for those who want them over the imports that are not worth the spaghetti they use to insulate them, and without labeling other than "Parts Side", we are going to attempt to keep making them with as little increases as possible. I know we could do away with labels, use cheaper imported connectors, pins, wire, reduce wire gauges to 22 & 24 and sparsely populate the connector with the bare minimum of wires to be competitive, but wait, those harnesses are already available at a huge number of places, so there would be no point!

I really hate to do this because I know there will be many hobbyist who cannot afford a quality harness or wire for their project, but I don't want to let this game cornerstone go by the wayside when I know it is an essential item on which to build.


My recent price hike on the JAMMA harnesses has generated the second largest email feedback since I've been here helping out, so I thought I would address this issue here for the sake of time. I guess I should just start from the beginning... as opposed to this last hike.

When I sold my mfr'g company in 1998 while in the process of retiring, I kept my own JAMMA harnesses out of the deal because I knew it was something that y'all could use. I sold them at a fraction of what it had cost me to build them as I was just trying to clear them out & had no intentions of being here at this time. Of course, those intentions were kicked to the curb along the way when the decision to stay on & help out was made.

Once my supply of harnesses was depleted everyone kept asking me to restock them. I didn't want to get back into harness making again due to the amount of time it takes, to say nothing of the wire, connector & pin inventory, so I went looking for ready mades. What I found was that all the major suppliers are selling basically the same imported harnesses that no one seemed to be satisfied with. Here's a pic of one.

Y'all were use to my harness with 18ga power wires & 20ga I/O wires with every position being labeled & populated with 5 feet of "real" wire... an ABC harness. With the one pic'd above... to keep costs down... they use all 22ga wire, populate only the basic needs & the "label" is only to distinquish the parts side from the solder side & is not a destinations label. They remind me of the ones that were used at the onset of JAMMA games with 4 amp switchers. Seemed like everyone in the industry was promoting heavier power supplies to correct all the game woes. You need a 5 amp PS... then it was you need a 7 amp PS... 10 amp... 12 amp... 15 amp :-( Well... I wasn't happy with those harnesses & began making my own with good "made in the USA" wire & using a gauge of wire that made more sense, rather than keeping costs down. What I found was that I could easily use the 4 amp switchers without a hitch and was using them long after other builders. I used them until they became hard to find & just always lagged behind using up each size supply as it, in turn, was blamed for the continuing game woes... all of which I had escaped. [ I'll concede here that as time went on some boards did require a larger amp supply... Double Dragon being the 1st, as I recall.]

Needless to say, I was getting a lot of email about these imported harnesses which retail from $15 to $20, so I solicited bids from other harness makers using my specs. Good Lord! One bid was for $35 per in lots of 500!@# The others were a tad better, but still way above the import's price :-( I got a couple leads on much cheaper harnesses, but they turned out to be either ones soldered to a PC tail connector, or ones that were still utilizing 22ga wire & even less populated, if you can believe that! Here's a pic of one of them:

They neglected to say that it was not populated for player 2 controls :-( This is about the time I caved & decided I had to make them in order to keep prices reasonable. Actually, I cannot fault them in their pricing & can see it is reasonable & most likely what I would have to charge for them if I were depending on them to make a living. Anyway, I ended up making harnesses again & one of the expense problems with doing JAMMA harnesses is that you really need to go to using a striped wire rather than trying to do a repeat solid color utilizing the 10 basic colors. You can get away with this on 18/36 & 22/44 harnesses, but when you're filling a 28/56 it can be hard to pinpoint any problems that might arise with that many repeated colors. Luckily, I found a supplier of this striped wire in precuts ready to roll, making it possible to hold the $17 per harness price.

That pretty much brings us up to the recent price increases that started the email ball rolling. What's happened? How come they are so expensive now? What's going on with the harnesses? What are all the different harnesses for and numerous others, some I will never repeat :-()

What happened was that I lost my supplier of cheap striped precuts. I did not want to return to the inadequate harnesses still on the market today, and I could not go to paying the almost double price per foot for the same number of striped wires as I was using, so I opted for a compromise. I bought in another 100,000 feet of the 10 basic colors & had them stripe it. This not only increases the price of half the wire used in the harness, but I had to build a rack large enough to hold double the wire... which also means that I now have to maintain double the wire inventory. It's starting to seem like work, again :-( I'll have to send all this AARP mail back :-)

Yes... for every reel there is a like reel in the back row now with a stripe painted on the wire :-() Shipping? I can tell you that it is much cheaper to have a game shipped to me than a pallet of wire :-( The rack above weighs nearly as much as Alice's automobile!

As to why the harnesses are so expensive I can only tell you that they are about half of what I charged them off at in new game cabs & I really don't think they are expensive. Just do the math on components only from your favorite catalog....

From the Parts Page...

Hmmmm... I thought I was breaking even on the harnesses... looks like I'm paying for the privilege of building them :-)

Different harnesses? K... many were asking to have a label they supplied put on the JAMMA for their Neo Geo games. I've been told that the label was provided to them from the hardMVS.com site. Since so many wanted this label I just made it an optional way to get the harness on the Parts Page. Some people asked for the harnesses without being fully populated since they didn't need all positions filled, so in order to accommodate their needs & shave off the added $3 cost for the new harnesses I elimated the unwanted wires & cut the -5 volt & 12 volt lines to 20ga wire... the "Economy" harness.

Well... all the Qs should be answered even with all my interjected ramblings & hopefully it'll help you decide which harness you need.

JAMMA Harnesses