Introduction
Have you found yourself restoring or repairing a game and you encounter the problem where a fuse in the game keeps blowing?  Well, this page is about creating a fuse "breaker" so that you don't have to keep replacing blown fuses as you troubleshoot the game and don't quite solve the problem the first time you attempt to fix it.  You use the steps I show below to solder a miniature "breaker" to a fuse. When you plug the fuse breaker into the fuse holder and then fire up the game to test your repairs, instead of the fuse blowing again, the breaker "blows" which is easy to reset by just pushing a button in. If the breaker blows, just turn off the game, reset the breaker, and try a different repair to stop the breaker from blowing. This can save you some money if the problem is a little more difficult to find than you first expected.

Fuse Breaker Values
Some folks might only use a miniature breaker that is lower amperage, but I make fuse breakers that are 1/2A, 1A, 2A, 2.5A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 8A, 10A, and 20A. I also make several of each amperage rating. Primarily the 2A, 4A, 8A, and 10A fuse breakers.  The pictures below involve a 2.5A, 4A, and 5A breaker.

When To Use A Fuse Breaker
If I find a game that has a blown fuse I just replace it and see if the problem is fixed. But, if I turn the game on when first checking voltages and I see a fuse blow (a flash will occur or it will glow red and then blow), I go straight for the fuse breaker. No sense in wasting a good fuse when I already know what will happen. If I find that lights suddenly quit working when turning a game on that used to work, I find the fuse that blew and replace it with a fuse breaker and begin troubleshooting. So these are the cases where I would use a fuse breaker.

How To Make The Fuse Breaker
First, you need to buy the miniature breakers. I bought mine at a local electronics store in Boulder, Colorado where they sometimes sell breakers that have been pulled from existing equipment. This means they are pretty cheap, although they aren't brand new. In the first picture below you will see a "used" breaker and two new ones that are still packaged. Although they have a price sticker that shows $3.95, they were marked down to $2.95. I typically buy the used ones since they can be quite cheap, but this time around all they had in the 4A and 5A breakers were new parts.

Second, you need a fuse to solder the breaker to in order to create your fuse breaker. In the past I would use a blown fuse that I had saved just for this purpose, but I learned something along the way. When a fuse is blown, the wire filament in the center of the fuse is separated. Why is this a big deal?  Because when you apply solder to the end of the fuse metal caps they can easily slide off when heated with the soldering iron. The metal expands due to the heat and you run in to a bit of a problem when applying the solder because the metal end will rotate freely. This means that as you try to apply solder the end metal cap is moving around. You don't want this to happen, so the best thing I found was to use a new fuse that still has the center conductor holding the two metal end caps together. I found some old fuses in my stockpile that weren't rated that high (a 1/4 Amp) but had different innards than a standard slow blow fuse. It made applying solder to the end metal caps easier as well as soldering the breaker to the fuse metal end caps.

Once I applied some solder to the fuse metal end caps, I bent the used breaker's "legs" outwards so that they could be soldered to the metal end caps. The other breakers had straight lugs which couldn't be bent outwards, but would still be able to be soldered to the metal end caps securely. Then with my vise holding one end of the fuse, I soldered the first lug to the metal end cap on the fuse being sure that the other lug could also be soldered to its metal end cap. I heated both the lug and the metal end cap well enough that the solder could flow and create a secure electrical connection. These breakers were rock solid when I finished soldering them.

But wait a minute, didn't I use a good fuse when making the fuse breaker? What happens when I plug the fuse breaker in to the fuse holder and current begins flowing?  Since I used good fuses that were rated much lower than the breakers, the inner fuse filament will simply blow and the breaker will still control the amount of current that flows in the circuit. Once the fuse blows the inner filament, it's the same as a blown fuse. The only reason for using the good fuse was to control the ability to solder the breaker on to the fuse a lot easier. The breaker will still function as it should and will limit the current based on its rating. If using a 4 amp fuse breaker, and if the current rises above 4 amps, the breaker will "blow" and the button will punch outwards. All you have to do to reset it is to push the button back in and you will feel a little click when it resets.

If your game is blowing a fuse and you've made a fuse breaker as I've suggested above, you can test your new fuse breaker by turning off the game, replace the blown fuse with your new fuse breaker, turn the game back on and do whatever it took to blow the fuse, and the inner filament will blow and then the breaker will also blow. Turn the game off and reset the breaker, then fix the problem you think is causing the fuse to blow and turn the game back on and see if it is still blowing the breaker. If it continues to blow the breaker, you still haven't fixed the problem. Note that after this first time of testing it your new fuse breaker will be nothing more than a miniature breaker mounted to a blown fuse. All the current will go through the breaker from then on.

Another Way To Make A Fuse Breaker
Another thing you can do is to solder a lead to each end of the miniature breaker lugs and solder an alligator clip to the end of each lead. This way you can attach the breaker to the fuse holder using alligator clips. I usually don't bother with this since I've found that my fuse breakers simply plug in to the fuse holder. Where you might want to use the leads with alligator clips is a case where you have a broken fuse holder and you plan to fix that later. In the meantime you could use the alligator clips to connect to each end of the fuse holder that will need to be replaced. Just watch out that your breaker doesn't rest or fall over on another part of the circuit since a lot of times where you find one fuse, you'll find others. Another reason to solder leads with alligator clips to a breaker is where you have an "inline" fuse holder. In that case you would open the inline fuse holder and push the wires through so that you could attach the fuse breaker alligator clips to each wire end.

Fuse Breaker Pictures

Here are three miniature breakers.



A fuse that is soldered on both ends.
Note that I use an older fuse that is still good
but has a low amp rating.

 
These are two fuse "breakers" that I made.
It took maybe 5 minutes total to make these.
You could also solder leads to the circuit breaker lugs
with alligator clips attached to the end of the leads
if you don't want to solder directly to the fuse.

 

Thanks go to my pinhead buddy Ryan who first turned me on to this idea of using fuse breakers and saving fuses that continue to blow due to not quite having the problem fixed. The idea of using a good small amperage fuse to solder the breaker to is my idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Graphics & Text Steve Corley

The pictures you see were created by Steve Corley unless otherwise noted.
Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited