About 3 months ago; we announced on Pinside that we entered into a distorbution agreement with Pinball.Center to begin carrying their Frosted Clear drop targets for modern Stern, retro Williams, and old school Data East Pinball machines.
You can use these Drop targets anywhere you want to backlight them with LEDs but they have much better resiliency than the 3D varieties which were available a couple of years ago. Unlike the 3D printed varieties; these are injection molded out of Polycarbonate (Lexan) in Germany for maximum resilience until man can mass produce Transparent Aluminum.
To answer the question of ultimate resiliency; we sent a set of these drop targets to @vid1900 on Pinside to put them thru some checks. He reports that after 2 months of heavy commercial use, and over 900 games none of the sample drops have been damaged. You can read more about his honest review on Pinside.
We currently offer three styles of these “clear” drop targets in our store:
Already in Vid1900’s thread, several customers have begun to show how these drop targets enhance normally dark areas of their pinball machines: Fytr on Pinside outfitted his Iron Maiden with our Clear drops. See more on Pinside. roar on Pinside outfitted his The Walking Dead with our Clear drops but he went the added route of installing the stock decals over the drops. See more of Roar’s work on Pinside.
As expected; these drop targets are available for immediate shipment in our webstore: Pinball Drop Targets
When I first got my Revenge From Mars from a local Pinhead; the fan was clogged with dust and grime. At the time; I simply cleaned the fan, removed the sticker, and added some oil to the bearings. This lasted about 3months before the fan began to make some horrible noises because the bearings were shot. I “lived with it”; but it remained on my todo list.
For years; I had watched threads about Pin2k in Pinside… always feeling a little guilty I had not eliminated the risk that my CPU fan would die… overheat the cpu… and put my RFM in jeopardy of force converting to NuCore or Pinbox. Today was the day I vowed to resolve that noisy fan.
First; I did not want to buy NOS (new old stock) of some 50mm fan made back in 2000 or some china knockoff that wouldn’t last another 18 years. I wanted a high quality fan with very little noise; but a good performer. I’ve grown to like the Noctura brand of fans because they aren’t cookie cut china knock offs. Noctura does not sell a drop-in-replacement for 50mm fans. Going smaller usually means less air flow with a higher “whine” because the fan blades have to go much faster to move more air. So I decided that I was going to try and use the NF-A6x25 FLX 60mm fan:
and build an adapter to fit the larger fan over the existing heatsink. This blog entry documents my solution, provides a TAPR/NCLed DXF for my adapter, and links to a Shapeways implementation of my adapter my fellow pinball enthusiasts to use.
First, I removed the CPU box from my RFM and pulled out the existing CPU heatsink:
Once I had the CPU heatsink free; I unscrewed the old FAN from the heatsink. This was done for two reasons;
I need the heatsink to take caliper measurements in order design a 60mm to 50mm bracket.
Eventually; I’d toss the worthless 50mm fan – but wanted to keep it incase I couldn’t find a working solution.
Obviously; the 60mm fan wouldn’t fit within the 50mm cavity of the heatsink; so I knew I wanted to use some 1/4inch clear Acrylic as an “adapter”. I went into qCAD resulting in a DXF file which I could then send to my laser cutter. I wanted to reuse the 50mm fan/heatsink screws and the 4 qty Vibration-Compensators provided in the Noctura kit. My second proto resulted in success and looked like this:
Reusing the 4 qty 50mm countersunk heatsink screws; I attached the clear acrylic bracket to the top of the heatsink. Then I put the 4 qty Vibration-Compensators provided in the Noctura kit thru the acrylic bracket and into the NF-A6x25 fan. The whole assembly fit together quiet nicely.
I carefully; reinstalled the fan-sink combo back onto the cpu and socket. This was a little tricky because the 60mm fan is bigger; but as you can see the whole contraption fits well:
Conveniently; my Pinball 2000 motherboard had a FAN header right next to the cpu socket; so I simply attached the CPU fan’s 3pin PWM connector to that unused mobo connection:
I powered up the Pin2k system on my bench with both the original and the new fan connected. !That old fan really needed to be replaced! This new fan is ultra quiet; I don’t think you can hear the fan over the PSU fan even when the box is open. You won’t be able to hear the fan at all when its in the backbox behind the backglass. Success!
The Data East Chase rope lights used in two Data East Pinball machines (Star Trek: 25th) and Hook) are a huge problem on the game. So much so; that my Ebay-purchased game came with no rope lights at all. 🙁 This blog series walks thru my intention of recreating the chase rope lights – but made out of LEDs so they use less current, generate less heat, and can be used for decades without any issues.
My game has no chase lights to repair; so I’m going to have to replicate the chase lights. I decided that I didn’t want to try and re-configure a standard off the shelf rope light because they likely don’t support doing a +12VDC common with three ground leads as discussed in Patofnaud’s post #1. Additionally; I don’t have exact specs of the rope light w/ regards to light spacing, diameter of the rope, ect. Since I’m going to have to recreate the lamps; I have decided to do a conversion to LEDs… specifically, using some “fairy light LEDs” which have recently become available on the market. I started by going to Hobby Lobby and buying a set of their battery operated lights using a 40% off coupon. Amazon has a whole bunch of alternate versions of this product… so you might be better off looking at Amazon if you don’t have a Hobby Lobby near you. B072NH2FQ1 seems to be a nearly identical match to what I got from Hobby Lobby.
These strings appear to be made of discreet 603 Warm White LEDs soldered to a common anode and common cathode. The LEDs are encased in a hot-glue like product to protect the LEDs from mechanical stress and help with water proofing. The fact that all LEDs are in parallel might end up being an issue because you can’t control the current into each LED. LEDs wired this way means that any variance in forward voltage drop (Vf) between the diodes in a series may mean that LEDs with low Vf would get more current that LEDs with higher Vf and could lead to premature failure of those leds. We’ll see long term if this becomes an issue with this project.
Taking apart the battery pack of the fairy LED light uncovered what I thought… A power switch and a 1/4W series current resistor of 15ohms. 3AA batteries supply 4.5V which is current limited by that 15ohm resistor. I did some quick measurements of the entire string and IIRC; the whole string took around 113mA with the 15ohm current limiter. I don’t recall what the series Vf was for the whole string.
Because the LEDs are powered with a 4.5V source; it becomes rather obvious that I can’t use these as a drop in for the 12V incandescent rope light originally in the machine. I’m going to need a conditioning circuit which will drop the 12V down to ~4.5V and provide some current limiting. I started by measuring my machine’s ramp to determine the approximate length of the chase lights. I measured with a piece of string to be about 15inches. The fairy LED lights have spacing of about 3inches which means that my largest segment would be about 15/3 = 6 leds, max. These 6 will become important for the series resistor calculations in the future.
Before I got to far into designing a voltage level shifter and current limiter; I looked at my machine. I couldn’t find the chase light connector shown in post #6 of pat’s thread. I couldn’t find it because the previous owner connected the left and right .156 connectors together with a Z-connector. That may mean there is now an issue with the chase light board (DE #520-5054-00 or #520-5054-01) in my backbox but I’m thinking connecting them together did no future damage since they are wired together in a OR configuration in the schematic manual. Meaning OUT1A is tied to OUT2A via the Orange/Black wire in the cabinet (See post #7, picture 1). I decided that Zconnector is a good place to put my Incandescent to LED converter circuit. My plan is to replace the Zconnector with a board which does the conditioning.
I decided I was going to abuse a LM1117 style +5V regulator to voltage shift the +12V common down to +5V common then use a series resistor to current limit for the LEDs. Since +12V is the common; I’d need to do a wired-OR configuration with a set of fast Recovery SCHOTTKY diodes to the OUT connections on the chase light board. I have no idea if the LM1117 vreg can operate properly with a v+ common connection; but I suspect it will have no issue given the frequency a which the lamps operate. Additionally, given the previous incandescent lamps had issues blowing the NPN Darlington arrays on the lamp chase board; I figured putting in a PTC resettable fuse would be a nice addition. My circuit took shape in eaglecad using Digikey as a part reference.
Here’s my original Fab A circuit, keeping in mind this is untested – but I retain all rights to this circuit for the moment:
Some theory of operation:
D1&D2 provide some polarity protection – for paranoia. D3-D8 are the Schottky diodes which provide wired-OR back from the ground of the +5V regulator (U1) back to the chase light board’s OUT* connections.
C1, C2, C3 provide some filtering for the +5Vreg to help it maintain stability with the wired-OR configuration. D9 provides some additional protection for the Vreg – probably not needed; but extra insurance. R2 – R7 provide the series current-limiting resistors for the various LED strings. Why the different values of 13.3 vs 16.9? Well; my quick napkin calculations shows that there may be 5 or 6LEDs on the longest string and then one less on the shorter strings. I plan on connecting the longest string on the 1A & 1B lines while the shorter strings (with the higher resistors) will be on the others. F1-F6 are the resettable PTC fuses. The bidirectional LEDs at the bottom are monitoring the output of the chase light board to give me an indication the chase board is working properly. They will chase green if working properly. I basically created a small “Z-connector” board to condition these LEDs but also added some small connector boards to help me interface from the LED strings to a simple 4 pin 0.1″ pitch latchable connector. The idea is these smaller connector boards would be fixed to the end of the “rope lights” and allow for a quick connection.
A little background on the Series resistor calculations. Basically; Vf isn’t known for the parallel LED strings. You can’t measure Vf with the diode setting of a Digital volt meter which btw; my favorite is a Fluke 87 series meter. Vf according to my DVM is around 2.4V and we know that no current white leds operate at 2.4V for 20mA. Since I don’t know which LED the chinese put in these strips; I had to make an educated guess. To do this I went to digikey.com and drilled down on warm white 603 LEDs, downloaded the table (using the button near the bottom of the page) and then imported the data into excel so I could get an average of the Voltage – Forward (Vf) (Typ) column. I calculated Vf ~= 3.23V. Armed with Vf, and the knowledge I wanted to operate the LEDs near their 20mA operational current so they would be their brightest I was able to calculate a theoretical series resistor. Here are the “knowns”:
Vf = 3.23.
Each LED should operate at ~18mA.
With the ground diode in the Vreg path… assume Vfdiode = 0.4V. This would cause Vout of Vreg to be 5+0.4V, or 5.4V.
“ground” will be thru the UL2003A darlington on the chase driver board. VCEsat = 0.9 min.
Assume 5 leds needed for longest string and solve using Ohms Law. R=V/I.
V = 5.4 – Vfled – VCEsat
I = 18mA * numOfLEDs in string or 18mA * 5
R = (5.4 – 3.23 – 0.9) / (5 * 18mA ) = 14.11 ohms
Subtract off typical Fuse resistance of 0.9ohms and you arrive at ~13.3ohms. Repeat the calculation for a 4 led string and you arrive at ~16.9ohms.
The only “gotcha” with this theoretical calculation is that what happens to the LED if we are drawing near 18mA? There’s no real ground plane or PCB to draw heat away from the LED. The only “heat sink” is the hot glue used to encase the LED and the wire LEDs connecting the LEDs. I’m hoping the low duty cycle of the LEDs will help keep thermal runaway in check. This is something I’ll have to watch in the final assembly. If LEDs start dying… we’ll know it’s either getting too hot… or the parallel LED VF vs current is a problem.
Here’s the Fab A boards as committed to OSHPark. This is their render of the boards as I don’t have them back from fabrication yet:
I’ll post more on the circuit boards in Part 2 when I get them back from OSH Park and have them built. We’ll see if my little experiment bears fruit.
Now onto the actual chase lights themselves. I thought about using polyurethane blue tubing from Granger.com as I posted in Pat’s Pinside thread on post #19. But honestly, I don’t really feel like the blue rope light fits the ST:25th theme very well. To me; it looks like some attention getting feature to draw in the eyes of a would be quarter-dropper in an Arcade. Not that is a bad thing; I just figure since I’m not going to an have original rope light assembly with the proper Light spacing… I might as well try to make it fit the theme a little better. If not blue, then what? Well Clear is definitely an option… but it won’t really hide the led wiring very well. I had a lot of extra 1/2″OD, 1/4″ID rigid Acrylic tubing left over from the guide plastics from Star Trek: The Mirror Universe custom pinball project. I was thinking of doing that with some custom Acrylic etches on the tubing. The problem is that Techshop.ws failed due to piss-poor-Management so I can’t really go there to use their rotary attachment on the Tortec. My new-to-me Epilog Laser doesn’t have a rotary Attachment, yet. Not sure what I’m going to do about that yet… Even if I get a Rotary… what would I put on the Tubing? Then there’s the issue of bending it properly… which shouldn’t be too hard given the Youtube videos for Hard Tubing in water cooled case tutorials.
Then I stumbled across ENT Corp on Ebay who seems to have colored versions of this rigid tubing available in cut-to-order. I went ahead and ordered 6 pieces of the smoke acrylic tubing custom cut to 15.25inches. After I experiment with the etching and try my hand at the clear tube bending… I’ll proably finalize the chase lights using the smoke tubing on the final machine.
That’s it for Part 1 of this blog series… I’ll start Part 2 when I get some tubing experiments done and/or when I get the PCBs back from OSHPark. For now, Peace and Long life…
We are pleased to announce the official launch and immediate availability of our Nebula Backbox lighting kit for the Stern Star Trek Pinball Machines. While the product has been available on our site for almost a month; we just completed our detailed step-by-step instructions to aid you in installing it in any Stern Star Trek Pinball machine – enabling us to make the product official with this announcement.
This kit comes with a set of three Printed circuit Board Assemblies (PBAs) which you snap apart and install behind the stock nebula plastics on a Pro, Premium, or Limited Edition pinball machine’s Back board. Like our Kelvin product; it is 100% compatible with the PWM circuitry on our GI Dimmer so the customer can dim or control the Nebula lighting for both Normal and Klingon MultiBall modes.
Pinball-Mods.com is pleased to announce the immediate availability of a Laser upgrade kit for your Stern Star Trek Premium or Limited Edition pinball machine. We offer a higher power Red laser module if you wish to remain “stock” but have just a little more “punch” so it can be seen. We also have a green laser module similar to other offerings. However, what sets us apart from the competition is we are the first to offer a blue laser module for these machines. Why blue; well I think it’s a better match to the LE machines and the Playfield graphics.
Our kits come with the laser module, a custom cable harness with bolts into the stock harness – no alligator clips, no fuss, no mess. Our harness has a built-in Voltage Regulator Modules to power our custom-designed modules.
Not sure which color you want? Check out our Youtube videos comparing the three colors against the stock red laser pointer. Please note: These videos were taken without our Stern GI Dimmer installed; so the General Illumination is at 100% as it came from Stern. These videos are 1920×1080 HD; so feel free to click thru to Youtube and/or go full screen.
I’m excited to announce the immediate availability of the C904 Housings and C905 buttons in 10 different pinball friendly translucent colors. The Colors are intended to closely match the colors of many pinball plastics such as lane guides, star posts, and switched inserts and are intended to be back-lit with LEDs. These new buttons are replacement parts for the following manufacturers / Part numbers:
The Gottlieb BUSHING FOR DOUBLE PUSHBUTTON #B-21018 is not currently available; however, it should be possible to modify our buttons easily to replicate them. I’ll try to spend some time in the future to publish a how-to-modify here in this blog if there is interest.
These buttons are available in the following translucent colors:
Additionally we’ve created some unique custom colors which should be of interest to the pinball community:
and Smoke Black.
We also have some limited stock of:
and Light Purple.
Colors are show below and should represent the colors available. Please Note:Keep in mind your monitor and my camera’s color balance will throw the colors off a bit from the actual product you receive so use these as an approximation of what will be shipped to you.
Both the Housings and Buttons are made out of PMMA (Acrylic) so they can be easily laser etched and paint filled like I did on my Original Bally Star Trek Restoration.
Please let us know if there is a color not represented here… or if you’d like to see some opaque colors made.
I’d also like to call Attention to a product we’ve had on the website for a couple of months… The Bally Flipper Mod was designed by myself several years ago for the Bally Star Trek Restoration. Each PCB features 12 LEDs in either Red or Green and rotated the LEDs to simulate a rotating pattern. I’ve held off announcing them here because I wanted to get the companion buttons on the website so fellow Pinheads would have the option of buying them with the colored button of their choice – IE one stop shopping.
This Flipper button mod is available as a 2 PCB set and looks like this in Green:
One of the items that somewhat bugged me about my new Stern Star Trek LE Pinball machine, was the LED in the warp ramp popup insignia. Specifically; I always thought the two SMD red LED didn’t quite fit where it was placed in the machine.
The plan was to “replace” the LED round lens with a laser cut lense which duplicated the artwork on the insignia’s plastic. To this I disassembled the plastic by removing the four screws… and took the plastic to my HP scanner where I scanned the art into my computer. Then using Corel Draw, I traced the Red Arrow from the plastic art:
I recreated the arrow using red; then added the black border around the plastic to block light and give a round area to mount the new LED. Once I had the recreated arrow; I broke it into two laser cut pieces. One would be cut out of the matte/diffused Red acrylic which was used on the Stern Star Trek Pop Undercaps. The second would be cut out of 1/8″ opaque black acrylic – this piece serving as an outline for the red piece and support from the LED.
I took these files to Techshop.ws where I laser cut several of each piece for experimentation later at home. Once the laser cutting was complete; I used the black cad files to laser etch some 1/4″ plywood to act as an assembling aid/surface. When I got home; I used the plywood and some wooden toothpicks to clamp the two pieces together:
With the pieces together; I used some acrylic bonding solvent to glue the two pieces together. I let the acrylic bond overnight.
The next afternoon; My Comet Pinball Red LEDs had not come in the mail – so I decided to go ahead and use the original LED for experimentation. I cut the round lens off the original LED using a new XACTO knife and then using some two part 5minute epoxy; I glued the lamp to the new lense:
I allowed the epoxy to cure for about an hour. I then reinstalled the plastics and the new LED assembly:
I’m really quite happy with the way this turned out. It defiantly spruces up the warp assembly.
Where possible; Original Pinside thread / announcement should be included.
If the mod is specific to a particular flavor of machine; it must be noted.
Mods the cease manufacturing and are permanently out of stock may be removed from list without warning.
Mods must be accurate to the JJAbrams universe.
Additional rules or changes to the rules may be added as the community provides feedback.
Manufacturer’s are free to request addition, provide corrective input, or request to be removed from this comprehensive list. Suggestions to improve this list are welcome. Post here or by private IM.
For the moment; this list is a living shared spreadsheet on a google drive. Only I have editing rights; for the time being. Eventually I’d like to figure out a way to post this list here in the thread for easier first pass glance.
Announcing immediate availability of better-than-NOS (new old stock) Data East ribbon cables. This cable set includes gold connectors with integrated strain relief and pull tabs. Each cable receives 100% electrical test (e-test) after assembly here in the USA for Pinball-Mods.com.
Works with all 128×16 DMDs contained in the following games:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (6/91),
Star Trek 25th Anniversary (9/91),
Guns N’ Roses (7/94)
Suspected to work in All Data East games after Laser War(3/87) based upon Schematic examination. This includes the alphanumeric displays, the large 128×32 DMDs, and the huge 128×64 DMD. Cable length may be the only issue – if in doubt; measure your existing cable. This includes: