Sigma Slot Machine

Sigma Slot Machine – First of all, I would like to state that, regarding Sigma slot machines, no one seems to be archiving any information about them. It’s really too bad as these are *great* slot machines for the home. Excellent graphics and gameplay with good bonus games. And they’re pretty cheap compared to the Williams and IGT models, but they have all the same features (if not more).

Sigma was bought by Mikohn around 2003 and then sold to Multimedia Gaming in 2005 where the UV1700 was shelved. Therefore, most Sigma uv1700 video slots were made between 1999 and 2003. Because of Mikohn’s purchase, the uv1700’s history is a bit difficult to trace, hence this webpage. While most pinball people hate slot machines, I find them interesting (especially given their reasonable price). I mean comparing a Sigma uv1700 video slot with the industry leader (at the time), the Williams 550 video slot. They are very similar, maybe the Sigma is even superior (better animation, easier to work with). But the Sigma is 1/4 the price of a Williams 550 slot machine. For “bang per buck” the Sigma UV1700 is hard to beat.

Sigma Slot Machine

Sigma 1700 slots are generally pre-TITO machines (TITO is “ticket in, ticket out”). Which means they take coins and paper money and have a funnel for payment coins. Sadly, Sigma was the innovator of coinless slot machines, and this appeared on the Sigma uv1700 slot machines (TITO with ticket printer and no hopper). Generally speaking, most new slots after 2003 are TITO and do not accept coins, only paper money and tickets. So it makes sense that some of the newer Sigma 1700 models don’t have funnels. The first coinless slot machines to be installed in a large casino was the Sigma Derby horse racing machine. But for me, TITO machines aren’t a good home slot machine, and it’s not really the kind of slot machine I would want to have in my gaming room at home. (Although I really want to “withdraw” 800 credits in coins at home? No, but maybe it’s just the idea that I could do that.)

Japan’s Poker Game Heritage

Sigma Gaming was founded in Tokyo (Japan) in 1984. They were the first non-US slot machine manufacturers to obtain certification from the Nevada Gaming Commission. They moved to Las Vegas in 1996, but the Japanese flair remained. Sigma was known for technical innovations, and Sigma aggressively marketed its slot machines and poker machines. This spurred competition and IGT (International Gaming Technologies) decided to take Sigma to court for copyright. (Sound familiar? See Williams’ slot history for details.) In 1989, IGT claimed that Japanese Sigma Gaming was stealing IGT’s patented game designs. This was eventually resolved out of court. Sigma is one of the few manufacturers to hold an unrestricted license to use Telnaes technology (which IGT owns the patent) which allows for virtual reels and unlimited odds. (Spinning reel only, does not apply to video slots, see Williams slots for more on this.) Telnaes technology allows Sigma to offer the ability to deliver high quality payouts and progressive jackpots without limitations.

In 1990, Sigma released the first “slot top” slot machines. While not a good format for slot machines due to their size, they were very popular in casinos (and still are today). Gamers loved the comfort of sitting down to play. In 1991, they were honored with the Nevada State Governor’s Industry Appreciation Award for their continued contribution to Nevada’s growth. Again in 1996 Sigma received the award again.

Sigma was also the first company to incorporate a dollar bill validator into their slot machines, which made playing a Sigma slot machine a one stop shop. For casinos, it wasn’t about comfort, it was about keeping players on a machine for an extended period of time. There would be no breaks to sit down and there would be no need to run to the ATM. The ideas worked and soon IGT was copying Sigma Games. Sigma wanted to build slot machines that were easy to use. They made their slots easier to use and more comfortable to play, hoping this would lead to player loyalty.

Sigma also released the first red, white and blue themed game (Patriot) and a patented lockable case extractor. The cash extractor featured a licensed design used by two other leading slot machine manufacturers (Bally and Wms), and was offered by JCM.

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Sigma Gaming has also made other innovations in the slot game. Although not invented, from the beginning they were part of the trend of increasing the game using big credit bonuses. If you paid full price to play (all game credits except for one spin, which in some cases was up to 50 credits), the bonus structure made it worth it. This is standard nowadays.

Around 1999, Sigma jumped on the bandwagon of video slot machines with the Sigma uv1700 slot machine. Video slot was a market largely developed by Williams (Wms), and which Wms excelled. Sigma met and I would say it surpassed Wms with the uv1700. Animation is more refined in Sigma, and machines are much easier to repair.

As for repairs, Sigma slots were easier for casinos to repair (and for us too, since they are now in our homes!) standard 168 pin 256 meg SDRAM DIMM pc100 or pc133 memory cards and CD-ROM drives. But the printed circuit board is a little different from those seen in your home computer. Instead of a board with a zillion connectors, the Sigma 1700 slot uses a DPX-80 board from Densitron Technologies and Gamingboads.com, using a single “ConnectBus” connector. This board eliminates the need to connect and disconnect different power connectors, HDD, FDD, monitor, etc. That is, all power, I/O and interface signals are routed to a single ConnectBus connector. This makes the board literally “plug and play”, allowing casinos to easily swap out a motherboard to fix a machine. Everything is on one board, so it’s pretty painless. (Although “clean” hardware is still required to change a game.)

Unfortunately this all ended in 2005 when Sigma (called Mikohn since 2003) was bought by Progressive Gaming International (PGI). At that time, PGI stopped selling the Simga UV1700, and nothing else came from the Sigma 1700 platform.

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The guts of a Sigma 1700. Sounds like a regular PC, huh? That’s because it’s practically a regular PC.

The motherboard used in the Sigma 1700 slots was a Densitron Technologies DPX-80 “ConnectBus” board, with a single connector for all power and hardware. This allowed a technician to replace a motherboard in about 10 seconds. The processor is a Cyrix MII-333GP (clock speed 333mHz with an 83mHz 3.0x bus, 2.9 volts.), depending on the age of the DPX-80 motherboard. Interestingly, many games can run with 64 meg or 128 meg of RAM (although Kiss requires the full 384 meg, Garfield runs at 288 meg or above.) The Densitron Technologies DPX-80 card supports up to 450 mHz clock speed using a Socket-7 compatible processor. Design features include PCI-accelerated Fast Ethernet LAN controller, PCI-accelerated 64-bit LCD/CRT graphics controller with LVDS/PaneLink digital interface, PCI Ultra DMA/33 EIDE controller, expansion to PCI/ISA buses, input port display, touch screen controller, DiskOnChip flash disk socket for 144 Mbytes, 16-bit stereo sound system, two USB ports, two parallel, four serial, MIDI, mouse, keyboard and two floppy ports.

Densitron Technologies DPX-80 as used in Sigma 1700. Shown is board loaded with 256 meg pc133 RAM DIMM.

In 2002, Densitron Technologies introduced the DPX-91 motherboard, which is compatible with their DPX-80 and DPX-81 ConnectBus motherboards. While I have never seen this used on a Sigma uv1700 slot machine, there is a chance it will work.

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The really cool thing about the Sigma uv1700 is the 17″ color touchscreen. Great resolution and graphics, and a touchscreen to boot. It’s a nice feature, especially considering the price the Sigma 1700 sells. The touchscreen is well implemented in the game too (some games use it more than others.)

All Sigma uv1700 games have a single RAM DIMM socket, usually equipped with SDram PC133 256meg 168 pin. This is the maximum size of RAM that will fit in this socket (although some older games may only have a 128 meg SDRAM card). Either the game will crash at startup (no startup “beep”) or beep constantly (signifying a RAM problem). Reinstalling the SDRAM or replacing it usually fixes this problem. Note that Garfield requires PC133 DIMM RAM with Serial Presence Detect (SPD) also known as Low Density. This is indicated by a second notch cut into the ram on the sides (the second notch is above the stock notch seen

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