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Most ‘modern’ vending machines made in the USA use coin mechanisms. The more you use these coin mechanisms, the more dirt and grime that will accumulate on the coin tracks. Some cleaning tips are provided later in this article. (These units are sometimes referred to as ‘changers’, ‘coin changers’, ‘coin mechs’, or ‘electronic changer’, etc.)
TYPES OF MODERN STYLE COIN MECHANISMS, MAKES AND MODELS
There have been many types of coin mechanisms made over the years. Here are some of the more popular types, and the type of machines that they are generally used in over the last twenty years. With minor maintenance these coin mechanisms will keep functioning in most cases for many years without repairs, and unlike bill validators, do not have rubber parts that wear and cause regular replacement.
SINGLE PRICE COIN MECHANISMS
Coinco, this company has been making coin mechanisms for a long time. Their most popular single price mechs for ‘modern era machines’ were made in the 1980s and 1990s. There are two different series of mechs that Coinco produced during that time period. The 3000 series and 9000 series. In the 3000 series, the two most popular models made were the 3340S and the 3341S. The main difference between the two models is in the number of dollar interface plugs that each unit has. The 3340S has one basic six pin dollar interface plug. This is to accommodate a basic ‘pulse’ type bill validator. The 3341S has two dollar interface plugs. The six pin mentioned above, and also a twelve pin which with a harness can be hooked directly into a Mars type bill validator such as a VFM3, or VN2511 for direct power and what Coinco refers to as a non standard bill interface. The main drawback to the 3000 series mechs is, they cannot be tuned once they become ‘picky’ accepting coins. The ‘heads’ on these two series of units cannot be interchanged.
The 9000 series works similar to the 3000 series listed above, many of them have the two interface plugs for the bill validators. The 9000 series on the other hand can be tuned. This is an advantage when newer coin styles are introduced or if tuning for Canadian coins or tokens. These models could include 9340S, 9360S, 9370S. Many times the 9370S will also have a DEX plug included.
Mars Electronics (now called MEI) model TRC6800H, made during the same time period as the Coinco. This unit has dual interfaces on all coin mechanisms, and can also be tuned. Its tuning features have made this a popular model for use in Canada, and for custom tuning for pesos for use in Mexico as well.
24 VOLT AND 110 VOLT LOGIC COIN MECHANISMS
Coinco 9302L and 9302LF, Mars Electronics TRC6010X or TRC6010XV, are mainly used on snack machines. The basic difference in these two models is, that one has a twelve pin plug and one has a fifteen pin plug. This is very important to note. Originally when logic style machines were made, they used 110 volt coin mechanisms. Over time, to take this high voltage away from the operator, they made 24 volt twelve pin coin mechanisms. The only problem with this was, that you could accidentally plug a 24 volt unit into a 110 volt twelve pin plug. Due to this fact, the twelve pin 24 volt coin mechanisms were not made for very long and that is why they went to a fifteen pin 24 volt unit, to make a clear difference for the operator between the 110 volt and 24 volt coin mechanisms. Use caution whenever plugging in a 24 volt twelve pin unit to make sure that your machine is wired for 24 volts and not for 110 volts.
Many early models of snack machines use a 110 volt unit, such as a Mars TRC6000, and older coin mechanisms such as MC5000 or a Coinco 9300L. A Coinco 9340L is also used in some machines that were not originally equipped with dollar bill validators, so they need this unit to add that ability.
MDB COIN MECHANISMS (MULTI DROP BUS)
These coin mechanisms use a small six pin plug that will also interface to an MDB bill validator on the same harness. MDB coin mechanisms and protocols have changed many times over the years, but most coin mechanisms are ‘backward’ compatible with older MDB machines. Almost all ‘modern’ machines made in the last ten years use these MDB style coin mechanisms. Early three tube MDB coin mechanisms can include Coinco 9302GX and Mars Electronics TRC6510MDB. Later coin mechanisms include Coinco Coin Pro 3 and Mars Electronics TRC6512. Three tube coin mechanisms are popular when using a $1 only bill validator and high capacity change is not required.
HIGH CAPACITY MDB COIN MECHANISMS (MULTI DROP BUS)
These coin mechanisms usually have four or five coin tubes, or high capacity hoppers and can hold as much as $90 in change. Coinco early coin mechanisms include Quantum (Q700) four tube coin mechanisms, or Mars Electronics VN4510 four tube coin mechanisms. Later coin mechanisms include Coinco Vortex, a three hopper coin mechanism, Mars Electronics CF7512, a five tube unit and Conlux CCM5G, a five tube coin mechanism. When using a $5 bill validator on your machine, it is suggested to use one of these high capacity coin mechanisms to eliminate ‘out of change’ responses that will shut down bill validation.
MAINTENANCE OF COIN MECHANISMS
Older single price coin mechanisms, 24 volt, 110 volt logic coin mechanisms, and early MDB coin mechanisms have coin paths that will get dirty over time due to the coins simply passing down the chute. This should be cleaned if the acceptance rate of the coins starts to decline, or you start to see a noticeable buildup of dirt or grime in this area, or the backside of the ‘flight deck lid’. Be careful when opening the ‘flight deck lid’ for cleaning to not bend it too far backwards, as it can be broken. A soft cloth and a mild solution is usually recommended by the manufacturers of the coin mechanisms. For complete cleaning instructions please refer to the original manuals provided by the manufacturers.
Newer ‘high capacity’ coin mechanisms have their own unique areas to clean, and each unit is different. Please refer to the cleaning instructions of each unit before starting to clean.
We hope this article has given you more information about your coin mechanisms, and helps you in choosing coin mechanisms that are right for your vending machine needs. Only the coin mechanisms mentioned above can be easily repaired or exchanged at most repair facilities. If you are currently using any of the older coin mechanisms not mentioned in this article and have them fail, you might decide it is worth it to move up to a newer style of vending machine.
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UNDERSTANDING DOLLAR BILL VALIDATORS ON A VENDING MACHINE
Many people that buy vending machines don’t realize that the dollar bill validators have to be serviced on a regular basis. Dollar bill validators have rubber parts, such as belts, tires or wheels that wear out or slip over time. A good comparison as to how long these units will last is to compare them to the tires on your car. Do you drive 5,000 miles a year or 25,000 miles per year? The more you use these units the more wear that occurs on the rubber parts. Another factor is what environment or type of location these are used in. If you drive your car down a dirt or gravel road the tires will wear out much sooner than if you drive on smooth asphalt, the same principal applies to the rubber parts in the validators. More about this later when we discuss the types of locations.
HOW LONG DO THEY LAST
Based on our data from repairing hundreds of bill validators every year we have found some overall trends. The average life of all bill validators has proven to be about fourteen months in an average location with medium volume. We have large vending companies that bring in validators for repair in as little as five months in high volume accounts. We have had small vendors bring in validators for repair after three years in a slow office type account with low volume. Once again the above numbers are only averages based on ‘all’ validators returned for repair over a period of time.
TYPES OF LOCATIONS
Locations that seem to be ‘hard’ on dollar validators can include but are not limited to laundromats, metal grinding facilities, paint and body shops, stone or masonry facilities, work areas with spray booths or other airborne matter. Locations that are ‘easier’ on dollar bill validators usually include offices, retail outlets such as auto dealerships, pet stores, department stores etc. You do not want to choose a location based on the wear and tear on the dollar bill validators. Many of the locations that have the most wear and tear are also some of the best locations.
Many of our customers purchase cleaning cards in an effort to extend the life of their validators. These cards do not reduce wear of the rubber parts. The way these cards work is to clean the dirt and grime that might build up on the belts and other rubber parts. When this buildup occurs it makes the belts ‘slick’ and therefore they do not grab the bill properly. While I have never personally used any of these cards we do have customers that buy these cards from us by the box, so I can only assume they work. I was told by one customer that using a card can extend the life of the validator up to one month. I have learned that if you use these cards make sure to buy the ‘non alcohol’ type cards, as they will not harm the surface areas of the belts and will not ‘fog’ optical sensors.
TYPES OF VALIDATORS, MAKES AND MODELS
There have been many types of validators made over the years. Here are some of the more popular types and the pros and cons that we have found with these units.
Ardac, USA15/3. Pro; this compact validator opens easily to clear the bill path unlike other makes of the same vintage that do not. Bi-directional acceptance. Con; small drive belts that come off the drive wheels easily if the customer tries to cheat the unit by pulling on the bill after it has been inserted. Weak drive motors on the earlier units go bad quite a bit of the time and are very expensive to replace. Accepts $1 bills only.
Maka (now called Conlux) NB10/15 model. Pro, validator opens easily to clear the bill path unlike other makes of the same vintage that do not. Bi-directional acceptance. Good bill acceptance rates. Con; accepts $1 bills only, except its age, many of these units still in service functioning well. Mars VFM1/3. Pro, bi-directional acceptance, VFM3, high level, low level interface. Snack bezel allows use in many snack machines. Con; validator does not open to clear bill path, should jam occur the validator has to be partially disassembled to clear the jam. Due to its age the magnetic heads have become worn on many of these units and causes them to have poor bill acceptance rates, accepts $1 bills only.
Coinco CBA2. Pro, long belts give the unit a very long life. Con; one way acceptance, validator does not open to clear bill path, should jam occur the validator has to be partially disassembled to clear the jam. 110 volt, Single price only interface.
Coinco BA30. Pro; validator opens easily to clear the bill path unlike other makes of the same vintage that do not. Bi-directional acceptance. Quick bill acceptance. Flash codes to diagnose trouble with the validator. Dual interfaces, can use with 24 volt MDB machines as well as single price units. One of the most popular dollar validators ever made. Con; when new would accepts $1,$5,$10,$20 bills, due to its age and the board being non upgradeable it now only basically accepts $1 bills.
Coinco Mag50, similar to BA30. Pro; validator opens easily to clear the bill path unlike other makes of the same vintage that do not. Bi-directional acceptance. Quick bill acceptance. Flash codes to diagnose trouble with the validator. Dual interfaces, can use with 24 volt MDB machines as well as single price units. Con; when new would accepts $1, $5, $10, $20 bills. Due to its age and the board being non upgradeable it now only basically accepts $1 bills, unless made after around 2003.
Coinco Mag Pro, similar to Mag50. Pro; validator opens easily to clear the bill path unlike other makes of the same vintage that do not. Bi-directional acceptance. Quick bill acceptance. Flash codes to diagnose trouble with the validator. Dual interfaces, can use with 24 volt MDB machines as well as single price units. Flashing lights give visual appeal. Con; when new would accepts $1, $5, $10, $20 bills, due to its age and the board being non upgradeable it now only basically accepts $1 bills, unless made after around 2003.
Coinco Bill Pro. Pro; validator opens easily to clear the bill path unlike other makes of the same vintage that do not. Bi-directional acceptance. No control box for flexible mounting. MDB splitter harness built it. Most Bill Pro BP2 units can be updated to take the newer $5 bills. BP4 models can be updated to accept $1,$5,$!0,$20. Con; weak drive motor, minimal flash codes.
MEI VN2000 series validators. Pro; very reliable bill acceptance. Bi-directional acceptance. Compact size with soda bezel installed. Validator opens easily to clear the bill path. ‘Flash Port’ models can be updated to accept the new $5 bills. This unit has now become the new standard of the industry. Con; separate power harness, expensive kit required to install ‘snack’ style bezel to replace VFM3.
Conlux NBM3000 series validators. Pro; very reliable bill acceptance. Bi-directional acceptance. Validator opens easily to clear the bill path. Flashing lights on the newer models. Most of these can be updated to accept the new $5 bills. Built in splitter MDB harness. Con; a little noisy when accepting bills, large bill box too deep to fit many soda machines.
We hope this article has given you more information about your bill validators and helps you in choosing units that are right for your vending machine needs. If you are currently using any of the older validators mentioned in this article that have major cons and have them fail, you might decide it is worth it to move up to a newer, more reliable style of validator.
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Vending Machines business is 100% against Cash only business. All you just need is a nominal initial investment and it does not require any degrees or previous experience either. The success or failure of this business is you. You don’t need anybody else in the Vending Machine Business other than yourself. You are the boss and you alone will decide as to what kind of a vending machine you need, what do you want to stock and sell and where do you want to place the vending machine.