Stern Star Trek: Vengeance Nacelle Mod

I really enjoy my Stern Star Trek LE Pinball machine… But one of the things which has bothered me on the machine was the way the USS Vengeance shines it’s bright blue Nacelle LEDs right in the eye of the player.

This simple mod aims to correct that. I knew I wanted laser cut some blue acrylic pieces to help defuse the LEDs; so I consulted google images to give me some ideas what the Nacelles were suppose to look like:

USS Vengeance c/o TrekCollective.com

Without redesigning the whole Stern Nacelle; I decided a piece set about 1/4″in into the nacelle would be closer to film accurate. Also; in a couple of the google images; the Bussard collector looked more cylinder shaped; so I figured a deep etch in the back side of the plastic would be ideal. Here’s what my first prototype looked like in CorelDraw:

USS Vengeance Nacelle Prototype

USS Vengeance Nacelle Prototype Peices

I then proceeded to Techshop.ws and laser etched/cut these pieces out on some 1/8″ Blue acrylic.

When I got home; I used some plastic epoxy to glue the piece into the left nacelle. This piece is to be position just past the flat ridge in the nacelle:

USS Vengeance Nacelle

Here’s the Bussard collector installed with a little epoxy:

USS Vengeance Broussard collector

USS Vengeance Bussard collector

NOTE: the curved etch faces the rear of the Nacelle (etch toward LED)

In my case I found it a little easier to bevel the sides of the pieces with a file so the sides of the plastic pieces would make better contact with the sides of the warp nacelles. I put some epoxy on the sides of the piece and on the little round nub at the top of the nacelle so the piece can’t be shaken loose during the Vengeance battles.

So; How’d it turn out? I only modded the left side (right in the picture) and took this picture:

USS Vengeance Mod

USS Vengeance Mod

A close-up Before and After:

sStDSC_B4After

USS Vengeance Mod Before & After

Want to do this yourself? Have access to Acrylic and a Laser Cutter? Great; I’ve decided release this design to the public under the TAPR Non-Commercial Open Hardware License which indicates:

You may make products based upon this design, provided you do not make more than ten units in any twelve month period for your personal use.

If you agree with the license terms a PDF  is posted here under TAPR/NCL license: Vengeance Nacelle Mod Package

Posted in Arcade, CAD, Design, DIY, NCL, Pinball, TAPR | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation Klingon Bird of Prey Mod

I recently purchased a
1994 Hallmark Star Trek Klingon Bird of Prey
from a fellow Pinsider. This Ornament came ready to install into my 1996 Williams Star Trek: The Next Generation Pinball machine. However before I installed it in the machine; I wanted to make further modifications to the item. My previous installation had installed a die-cast

2005 Corgi Klingon Bird of Prey

for which I’d followed the recommended installation of putting the incandescent light bulbs under the ship:

Before – incandescent light bulb sockets- ICK!

Immediately upon this installation; I knew it wouldn’t do… but I waited several years until I got one of the hallmark ship mods. I decided back then that I was going to put some Electroluminescent panels under the wings… but then came to my senses that the EL panels loose their brightness rather quickly. So; after getting the Star Trek: Mirror Universe pinball machine to a Phase1 complete state; I returned my attention to this mod. I decided this time that I was going to use superbright surface mount LEDs to replace the light bulbs and their bulky sockets.

I started by researching the type of LEDs. A Digikey search came up with some super brights; relatively cheap but with a lot of light output. I figured I could fit about three of these LEDs under each wing; so I began the design phase of the project. I started by doing a pencil rub of the wing’s paint job. This gave me an approximate size of the PCB I needed under the wing. I scanned this pencil rub into the computer and vectorized it into a PCB using the technique posted here. With the PCB outline created; I proceeded to create the schematic of the LED board. I made a design choice to rectify the 6.3VAC GI power rail so that polarity wouldn’t matter during install. I also decided that I’d use a BJT current mirror to light the first LED and drive 20mA thru it. Then use the second leg of the current mirror to drive the remaining two LEDs. To ensure stable voltages/currents; I put a 3.3V LDO regulator and some caps on the first leg to try and keep the brightness from flickering with the 120Hz FWB power rail.

I have decided to release the schematics to the public under the TAPR Non-Commercial Open Hardware License which indicates:

You may make products based upon this design, provided you do not make more than ten units in any twelve month period for your personal use.

If you agree with the license terms the resultant schematic is posted here under TAPR/NCL license:

STNG KBOP LED schematic

STNG KBOP LED schematic

You can buy the bare PCBs from OSHPark from here. Total cost to build this board in single unit quantities as of 6/15/2014 was $14.55 / a pair of boards.

The entire project package is here: STNG_KBOP TAPR Package
It contains the schematic, NCL license, Bill of Materials.

This project requires SMT soldering skills so be prepared. I used a syringe with solder paste to populate the PCBs then used a skillet to reflow the solder. Here’s the assembled PCBs:

Then I assembled tested the circuit first with my 5V bench supply; then with a 6.3VAC transformer from RadioShack:

With the boards tested; I began refitting the Hallmark KBOP mod which looked like this:

I removed the green heatshrink hiding the LED wing guns and cut the red & black wires as I had recreated the wires in the PCB and had embedded the resistors hidden under the black heatshrink near the guns:

Originally and in the PCB file; I had decided that I wanted to use 2 qty #0 self taping screws to hold the PCBs in place. These were speced at McMaster Carr as #94209a005; but I didn’t want to pay for S&H for that single box of 50. Instead I drilled out the holes a little larger and used #2-56 @ 3/16 of a length. I carefully marked drilled the wings of the KBOP and taped them with my #2-56 tap set. You MUST be careful here not to drill through the wings. Here’s the PCBs mounted:

I then proceeded to solder the cut GI wires for the wing guns to the Jin connections on the PCB. I also connected the Guns to the JWing connection at the edge of the PCBs with a short piece of red rework wire after removing the inline resistors at the LEDs. I secured the electrical connections at the gun LEDs with some liquid black electrical tape:

I then proceeded to attach the GI connection from my machine along with the bracket. Reusing the older wireing harness as desoldered from the bulb socket assembly made sure the under wing LEDs lit in the same was as the bulbs:

With that the modification of this mod is complete. Here are some mandatory money shots to encourage you to do the same to your machine:

Overall I’m very happy with the results; the Red LEDs really light up the Playfield and I do not have to look at those light bulbs any more. The only thing I noticed with this mod is that my machine doesn’t seem to give me enough voltage at the GI connector to fully lite the two LEDs on the second leg of the current mirror. I think this is because the STNG controls GI; which means there is an extra silcon device between the 6.3VAC transformer and the GI lamps. This is evident when running the shuttle craft missions when all the PF lights are of in this video mode. In a future revision of this mod; I might try directly hooking the second leg of the current mirror straight to the GI input (not FWB rectified) to see if I could coach more voltage across these two LEDs in series.

This PCB obviously fits the 1994 Hallmark ornament seen here and it also seems to fit the Corgi 2005 Klingon Bird of Prey also used in modding these machines.

Enjoy Modding!

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EagleCAD Tutorial: Custom shaped PCBs

As seen in the Worklogs for the Star Trek: Mirror Universe Pinball project; Making custom shaped PCBs in EagleCad isn’t all that difficult. With a CAD file; one can make some pretty unique shapes to fit the project you’re working on. This tutorial aims to show just how easy it to create the perfect shaped PCB. The Author used this technique to create custom LED boards in the Mirror Universe project which replaced all the Switched Illumination sockets on the underside of the Playfield.

Pre-Requisites:

  1. EagleCad 5.11 or higher (tutorial written for 5.11).
  2. DXF2SCR from micromagic systems. (It’s Free and Awesome)
  3. A DXF file to convert. Scroll down for a .ZIP file containing files used in this Tutorial.
  4. About 10 minutes to do your first PCB outline.

Making the PCB shape

Please click the pictures below to be taken to a higher rez screen capture/picture.

1) The toughest part of this tutorial is creating the CAD file (DXF) which will serve as an input to the DXF2SCR tool. The author uses the Free  GPLed version of QCAD to create DXF files. Teaching QCAD is beyond the scope of this document; but the basic principle is that you want to create the outline of the PCB in CAD via a series of curves or lines. Make sure you put in any mounting holes you want … and maybe even some documentation layers; like a center line or critical component locations. This allows your PCB to be “exact” without having to move holes, lines, or arcs in EagleCad.

Once you have the CAD (DXF) file; you can proceed to covert the file using the DXF2SCR tool. Start by opening the tool and selecting the input DXF file and the output .scr file. The SCR file is used later to “draw” on a blank PCB canvas. More on that in a bit. Make sure you match the units in which you created the DXF file. In my case; I almost always use inches. At this point I basically leave everything else at defaults of 1mil (0.001 inches) line widths and no offset. I leave the line with at 1mil because I can change the width in eaglecad based upon whatever I’m trying to accomplish. For much of the file; it’ll be an outline – and most people recommend you leave the outline as a “hairline” so the fab house doesn’t “charge” you for the additional 8mil width of the outline.  Once you have the setup complete; click the Convert button on the left.

PCB Tutorial: DXF2SCR screen shots

If the conversion is successful; you should see the number of lines, arcs, circles, converted along with a Complete message. If you get that, you can move on to the next step.

2) I start by opening EagleCad and Selecting File/New/Board… This gives me a blank canvas to create the outline on. I’m fairly sure I’ve done this on an already created board; you just have to be careful how you move the outlines and such with components are in the way. By far tho; it’s easiest that you either create the Schematic after the PCB outline, or at least make sure you don’t place parts “inside” the normal rectangle when creating the PCB from schematic.
You need to run the script created in step 1 above. This is done from the File / Script… dialog. Select the SCR you created in step 1 (or in our case rollover2k.scr) and hit open.

PCB Tutorial: Run Script

3)At this point EagleCad should begin executing the script drawing your arcs/lines/circles on the  Dimension layer (layer 20).

PCB Tutorial: Custom Shaped PCB

At this point you should begin to move the documentation shapes to either tDoc or bDoc and then later move them to tSilk / bSilk if necessary. You want to leave the outline and any mounting holes as 20 Dimension Layer… as that is what the gerber generator uses to generate the .oln file when you commit this design to the PCB Fab houses like OSHPark.

If you do transfer some of the lines to a silkscreen layer or even a copper layer; you should remember to change it’s width to the minimum tolerance allowed by your FAB house. In the case of a 2layer OSHPark file… it’s probably 8mils (0.008 inch).

With the steps outline above; you can basically use the CAD file as an input to even align LEDs on a evenly spaced spoke pattern or really any desirable orientation.

I’m providing the input files here for you to follow along with the steps above. Download it here:
Shaped PCB Tutorial Files

This PCB outline was used in the Star Trek: Mirror Universe as the GI lighting for the Star Rollovers. The star plunger fits inside the center hole and the two holes on the side provide mounting to the underside of the playfield.  These PCBs light the Rollover from the underside with Red LEDs.


Hope this tutorial helps!
John

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Star Trek: The Mirror Universe will be at Texas Pinball Fesitival

Phase 1 of the Star Trek Mirror Universe project is complete and will be on display at this year’s Texas Pinball Festival.

You can visit the details here on this blog… or visit the worklogs at KLOV forums or Pinside forums.

Give me a thumbs up Karma Point or Reputation point when visiting these forums.

Posted in Arcade, DIY, Pinball, Star Trek: Mirror Universe Pinball | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Austin, TX: Star Trek Into The Darkness Charity Arcade

Alamo Drafthouse‘s Summer of 1983 and showings of Star Trek Into The Darkness hosted the Star Trek Charity Arcade during the month or so that STID was in theaters.

Each Austin Alamo hosted a Star Trek pinball machine
Alamo Drafthouse @Slaughter had the Star Trek: The Next Generation
@Village had the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

@Lake Creek had the Bally Star Trek

In parallel, The Ritz hosted the Summer of 1983 Arcade with:
Pacman 25th (pacman, mrs pac, galaga)
Joust + Robotron
Defender / Defender 2 machine

It took me a while to count all those quarters. TBH; I gave up after rolling $400 in quarters. I talked with my bank and got them to feed it into their counter.

The Charity Arcade made $1092 for the <ahref=”

Dell Childrens’ Medical Center. I’m working with them to figure out where and how to deliver the money to them.

Thanks go out to the Alamo Drafthouse Team for making the Star Trek Charity Arcade an even better success – this wouldn’t have been possible without their support.

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Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Pinball – Cabinet work (Part 3)

Previous work on this Cabinet: part 1 and 2

Now my attention turns to the stenciling of the side cabinet. First color… yellow:
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Once the yellow dried overnight; I pulled the stencil up:
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Yeap; that’s right… The use of the waterslide decal came back and bit me in the butt. The stencil pulled the toner right off label.
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

:sigh:

After many choice explicatives; I decided there wasn’t much I could do now… so I went ahead and continued stenciling the grey; opting to see what (if anything) the Enterprise would cover. Ofcourse; I designed the decal location to be where the Klingons were; so I knew it wouldn’t cover jack… but it made me feel better. I also figured if the next stencil pulled up more; I could fix it once and be done.

Down goes the Enterprise stencil..
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

This time I left the protective backing on the section which went over the waterslide decal.
I sprayed the grey primer and let it dry overnight. The backing protect the label; so I proceeded to cover the paper areas with the black stain to match the color of the cabinet. I then re-airbrushed to blend the new black with the background image. I then re-sprayed the holographic flake and clear coat as best I could with airbrush.
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet
Good as new? no. but, not too bad I guess.

Now for the orange stencil.
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

The orange wasn’t Red enough for my Nacelles… so I sprayed them with cherry red.
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

And finally; the blue phasers:
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

Ofcourse; the blue phasers crossed over the nebula – I had to use some of the stencil to prevent paint bleed. At this point more toner came off; so I had to do some more repair.

The result:
Star Trek: Mirror Cabinet

I’m 100% happy with the blue phasers; they tend to not show up well on the black without a grey border. Not sure what if anything I’m going to do.

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Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Pinball – Head work (Part 4)

Previous work on this Head: part 1, 2, and 3

A couple of days ago; my custom stencils came in from TwistedPins. I started with the head because it was still on the hydraulic table from the fan installation. I decided I wanted to use the same head stencils as the original bally; just change up the colors a bit.

I started by laying down the yellow stencil:

At this point; an improvement I’d suggest to these stencils is that for the first layer… the “red” covers should be removed. IE the planetoids shouldn’t have any masks “inside” the oval shapes. That way you lay down a solid color and the second color (red) goes over the yellow so there are no registration offsets. This is what I did; I went ahead and removed all the squiggly shapes from the planetoids.

With the stencil ready; I taped off the surround areas with newspaper and put down some grey primer. This was done mainly to get the “grey” which I had chosen for the enterprise. Yellow generally goes over light grey than black so I sprayed everything.

I waited overnight for the grey primer to cure then masked off the enterprise grey and sprayed down some “Gold yellow” spray paint. I decided to use spray paint as it is easier to clean up than trying to spray the sign lettering enamel I used for the Bally Star Trek playfield repair many years ago.

I let the yellow dry about an hour before carefully removing the masking. Here’s how the first stencil turned out:

Another night time cure to let the paint harden before I put down the red-orange stencil. I decided I wanted the planetoid to be the same colors as original. The difference was in the Enterprise as you’ll see in a moment. I sprayed the planets and then the Enterprise-shadows as “Driver blue”.

I let the orange/blue combo cure in the TX sun for a few hours; then removed the masking.
The Result:

There were some slight registration issues with the blue and grey; but really not that bad. Again; If it were me; I’d have created the stencils with the entire Enterprise in “yellow” and then have the “red” overlay cover the yellow to avoid the registration issues. I’m guessing TwistedPin did the stencils that way so someone could just do a single color… but really; the Red fades long before the yellow; so in my mind the yellow stencil should cover all the areas Red+yellow.

Anyway; I’m digging the custom Enterprise colors. Thoughts?

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Bally (AS-2518) Audio Card tester

For the past week or so; I’ve been working on the Audio solution for the Star Trek: Mirror Universe project. I’ve decided I want to combine a Raspberry Pi with the guts of a Bally AS-2518-32 soundcard. These cards are not yet rare; but the PROMs and the 4bit counter on them are rare. As a result; I’m going to be trying my luck with the first Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) project I’ve ever embarked on. More on that later tho.

Given I’ve designed a replacement sound card out of new components; I wanted the ability to test the card outside of the machine… because I don’t want to risk burning up a perfectly good Bally CPU board with a risky design.

I spent quiet a bit of time looking at the schematics of the AS-2518 Bally sound cards to understand it’s functionality so it can be duplicated. The result is that I decided to design simple micro-controller-based tester which would sequence my new design thru all 32 tones generated by the on-board logic.  Since I already had a Arduino Nano (purchased from FRYs) for the Pinball Nixie Display project – I re-purposed it for the Pinball Audio Tester.

I began by rewiring the cables for the Audio board as follows:

J1
(Audio)

Arduino
Nano (PAD)

Color

Cable

NAME
(AUDIO)

12

D2

Orange

1

SOL_E

11

 

 

 

<KEY>

10

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

8

D8

Yellow

2

sol_bus_sel

7

 

 

 

NC

6

GND

Bare

2

BARE(GND)

5

+5V

Red

2

+5v

4

D11

purple

2

SOL_D

3

D12

brown

2

SOL_C

2

D13

grey

2

SOL_B

1

D7

blk

2

SOL_A

I’ve decided to share the Source code so that other Pinball hackers can take advantage of my work. You can download the source code from here:

PinAudioTester.ino Rev 0.1

The source is simple and should be easy to understand – please consider sharing any improvements you decide to make.

To power the Arduino and the soundcard; I created a 4pin Power cable which plugs into my debug ATX powersupply with color-coded aligator clips. I attach the Red (+5V) to the TP1 test point, Yellow (+12V) to the ?TP3? testpoint, and Ground (Black) to the TP2 testpoint. The design does not currently test the 43V to 12V linear supply as ATX doesn’t output that high of a voltage.

I’ve tested the source on my original AS-2518-32 sound card and it outputs 30 tones and two silences as implemented in the pROM. I now await the new soundcard PCBs from OSHPark to do some final testing.

Posted in Arcade, Arduino, audio amp, DIY, Pinball, Star Trek: Mirror Universe Pinball | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dell Latitude: Consumer Weakness

I’ve been eyeing the Dell Latitude 10 tablets for quiet some time. For those that don’t know; they are full PCs running a Dual Core (4 thread) Atom processor. Battery life is ~8hrs. While I really wanted to upgrade my Apple iPhone 4 to a Atom based cell phone like the Lenovo K900; I just don’t have 600 bucks lying around to experminet with (on the ATT network)… so I convinced myself the Dell tablet would be a good distraction for a while.

I bought a refurb unit from the Dell outlet for $360 shipped using a SlickDeals.net 30% off coupon. I went with the non-Esscential version because I wanted the pen digitizer AND the 64GB of solid state memory. The tablet arrived yesterday and so far; I like it. I’ve installed CorelDraw X6 for emergency use while at Techshop.ws.

Because this may be used as a CAD station if there are not spare systems available at Techshop.ws… I think I want the pen interface; sadly the refurb unit did not come with a stylus. Research on the Interwebs led me to the following product:
Wacom Stylus for Windows Tablets

Why not buy direct from Dell? Well; honestly – they are running $40-$60 from their site… I want a cheaper alternative.

I also want a tablet cover… again Dell’s accessories seem to be on the expensive side so I’m going to try:
Poetic Slimbook Case for Dell Latitude 10 ST2 Window 8 Pro Tablet Black

Finally, I think I’m proably going to want a bluetooth keyboard for the tablet; as I hate long term typing on the screen. So:
Logitech Tablet BlueTooth Keyboard and Stand

Update 6/30/14: I’m pleased to report that all three work with the Dell Tablet. Keyboard paired with the tablet without issue and the pen worked out of the box. The case works fine as well; no complaints.

I also went ahead and ordered the K900 a few months ago. It’s now my daily phone; replacing the Apple iPhone4. Nice, thin, and speedy. App compatibility seems spot on. Haven’t installed an app yet from google play which did not work on the Intel(r) Atom(tm)-based phone.

  

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Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Pinball – Head work (Part 3)

As Seen in part 1 and 2; I’ve been working on the cabinet for the Star Trek Mirror Universe.

This past weekend; I intended to wrap up the Impulse Engine modification to the Mirror Universe pinball head. Unfortunatly it spilled over to Monday; mainly because I couldn’t get my Laser cutter into a completely operational state. :(

Anywho; The intent was to make the vent holes to look like the Enterprise’s Impulse Engine. To do this I created a stencil using the same scale and rendering as before. Since My laser cutter only has a 12×24 table; I had to only do 1/2 the stencil opting to flip it for the opposite side. Here’s the stencil I created:

I laser cut this out of dry erase poster board and sprayed it lightly with some stencil spray adhesive. Here it is positioned for the left Impulse Engine vent:

Since I didn’t have any grey spray paint on hand… and it was near or after midnight; I opted to spray with primer grey:

I then flipped the stencil (after the primer had dried for a couple of hours) and sprayed the other side with light stencil adhesive and then grey primer:

Now I needed to do some shading of the upper piece; So I used the drop pieces cut from the stencil as a stencil. Adhesive and some transparent black airbrush paint:

Next I needed to stencil the center panel lines. I had already laser etched the panel lines into the wood; but I decided attempting to hand paint the etch lines would be problematic. Cue Stencil number 2:

Adhesive, positioned:

Sprayed with Black Opaque Airbrush paint:

With the Stenciling complete; my attention returned to the Vents themselves. When I CNCed the wood; I also Laser cut a grill based upon the original render of the engines. The CorelDraw file looked like so:

As you can see; there are two grills (finger guards if you like) and two 60mm Fan brackets. The grills were a particular bitch to cut… The heat would cause the grills to warp. I went ahead and cut them; only to find that one of the long lines broke on one of the grills. The result of these grills it pictured here:

Upon reflection; I determined that the cause of the warpage was proably the amount of heat “transferred” during the long cut lines. The “spaces” between the grill lines were about 0.1″… while the solid part of the grill was ~0.8″. This ratio was critical to the look I wanted (and to match reference photo). I also knew that the long runs were just too flimsy; so I had to modify the grill design to keep more “solid” acrylic in place. This would strengthen the grill and should help reduce the heat-induced warping. Design Rev#3:

I also changed the order of cut on the file. I opted to do the periphery outline AFTER the center grill portions were cut. Again in an effort to minimize heat transfer and aid in preventing cutting mishaps if I had to restart the cut.

Here’s the Laser At Techshop.ws cutting the Rev3 grills:

With the new grills complete; it’s time to begin the assembly of the fan brackets:

Installed:

And the Test fit along with overall shot:

And a Closeup of the grills:

With that the back of the Star Trek: Mirror Universe head is complete. The grills were wrapped up and stored safely until the final stenciling is done on the sides and the whole piece is clear coated.

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