(Topic ID: 98819)

Classic Bally/Stern LED Adapter Kit - Vid's Review

By vid1900

7 years ago

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  • 63 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by northvibe
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    #27 7 years ago

    Wow, great review vid! If you ever want to review anything I'm selling, let me know and I'll hook you up with some discounts! Maybe you'll become the go-to person for new product reviews. Vid's Guides & Product Reviews

    I'm surprised none of the pinball led manufacturers have created a line of leds with parallel SMD resistors built into them specifically for these classic Bally/Stern machines. Seems like there would be enough of a market there to pay for initial tooling efforts pretty quick -- especially for the first manufacturer that does it & offers them for sale at even just a single Pinball show. *HINT HINT*

    Anyway, nice to see some pcbs made up for this! I may be adding to the pile later this year -- have a few different ideas in mind to possibly combine it with LDB tester so it has dual functionality, but $5 per board is darn good for these in what it saves in time versus soldering resistors on each lamp socket. It was painful to see the amount of work others were doing in converting just a single machine over with perf boarded stuff or soldering to individual lamps. Nice job Hans!

    One other DIY method that wasn't mentioned above is soldering SIP resistors soldered directly to the back of the board (Vid had posted a picture of this in another thread). You're out total cost of some SIP resistors & wire, so probably looking at $1.20-1.50 per header that way. Common pin on the SIPs get bent up or snipped higher than the board (so they aren't shorting to anything), then those pins are tied together with wire running between them & the wire then ties into the feature lamp bus. The other pins on the SIPs (individual resistors) get soldered to the 2.54mm header positions. It has the benefit that you're looking at & re-soldering practically every header pin on the board, which is usually needed anyway since there are almost always a few cracked/cold solder joints on those headers. I thought that was pretty clever, not sure Vid if you came up with that or someone else did.. but a great DIY method IMO.

    bally lamp driver mod.jpg

    http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
    Kits, upgrades and test equipment for pinball machines

    1 month later
    #46 7 years ago

    I'd find it much too hard to develop for a board or machine I don't have hands-on access to. Often I've printed the silkscreen mask of circuit board designs on paper and held them up where they go inside a machine and realized I don't have enough clearance around a connector, adjacent board, or there's another component that would otherwise interfere with placement. In some cases a higher heat area that I don't want my board sitting on top of. I'm fortunate in that I have access to a lot of older games around to test on -- my biggest issue is too many ideas and not enough time

    I may add leds to a Mr & Ms Pac-man machine over the winter that's currently folded up. I could develop something for the aux lamp board on that machine as I enjoy playing it and would like to see what it looks like with leds.

    Honestly I was hoping a product like this got more interest as it's something I had wanted to add to my product line-up. Mostly though hoping to see decent sales because the Classic Bally/Stern test equipment I've been selling has only received a light amount of sales. It'd be nice to know there's some products that could sell in larger volumes for these classic games if they're a product/mod that could be added to every machine in a collection. And it being related to LEDs, it's actually pretty surprising it's not selling more even as bare boards or kits.

    http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
    Kits, upgrades and test equipment for pinball machines

    #50 7 years ago

    Looks like the Aux Lamp Drivers use primarily [perhaps exclusively judging from the schematic] MCR106-1 whereas the regular Lamp Driver Boards use a combination of MCR106-1 (multiple lamps) and 2N5060 (single lamps). Maybe the MCR106-1 doesn't experience the same issues with needing the additional load resistor to prevent flickering as the 2N5060's. Or probably the more likely scenario, if the MCR106's are there to drive multiple lamps, then even with LEDs they are then adding more load than a single LED would and preventing flicker because of that additional load. So we'll go with that for now

    1 year later
    #124 5 years ago
    Quoted from Sinbad:

    Turns out that I had installed the 23 pin connector upside down with the pins facing inwards towards the lamp board. I've corrected this mistake by installing the a new pin where i had snipped incorrectly, and cutting the now correct pin.
    I fear i have caused some damage to the 23pin board as this does not correct my problem with flashing LEDs.
    Also with these boards installed there are 10 lamps (I can list them if it helps) which do not work, but do work when boards are removed.
    When boards are removed there are only 2 lamps which do not work. I traced these in the manual and tested their respective transistors and they appear to be fine. Might be time to repin a few connectors.
    Can anyone assist?

    Do you mean you installed the 23-pin led adapter board onto the lamp board header, then may have reversed the 23-pin connector when plugging that into the led adapter board? I wouldn't think that would matter -- it'd connect to SCRs either way, just that the wrong lamps would be lighting up.

    Have you checked solder points on all the headers on the back of the lamp driver board? Often those are cracked/cold and you can actually wiggle the pins. The lamps can still work since the solder is hugging the pin, but any temp changes in the backbox will make/break the connection. Just a thought of something to check, even though you said without the adapter board in place the lamps light.

    #133 5 years ago
    Quoted from Sinbad:

    Why would a selection of globes not work with the boards in place, yet work when removed?

    It's a difference in the "on current" needed for each SCR.. some take more current than others to latch fully on. They weren't really meant for such low current lamps. Using regular lamps there's no issue since they use plenty of current.. over 100ma I think. LEDs use far less current. The adapter boards help in most cases by adding a bit of additional load to help the SCR latch, but some SCRs may still require even more load than what the resistor network is providing. Switching the SCR out gets you a different SCR that may not take as much current to latch.. that's why that works for some people still seeing a few lamps flicker. You could also add additional load by wiring a resistor at the socket for the problem lamps.

    #135 5 years ago
    Quoted from Sinbad:

    Thanks for the above that makes sense, I just wonder why others haven't reported this issue prior.
    I did some investigating and have concluded that U1 and connector J1 are probably the culprits here...see attachment.


    It's come up some.. even on old RGP threads & Pinside threads where people were adding resistors to lamp sockets. Basically where these adapters came from was years of people discussing fixing lamp flicker by soldering resistors to lamp sockets to add additional parallel load for the SCR to latch fully on. Eventually someone (Pac-Fan) decided to perf board adapters that connected onto the LDB, to get around soldering a huge number of resistors under the playfield and instead move them to a plug-in adapter board. Then these adapters (Siegecraft) were born from that. Through the evolution, there was never a one-shot resistance value that solved the problem in all cases. It's a compromise. Some people solved it with 1k resistors, some people said 470ohm did the trick. I think these adapters are using 1k ohm? Not 100% sure on that. But in any case, there was never a perfect science to it. A few SCRs sometimes don't play nice and either need to be replaced or have additional load added to them (via resistor on the lamp socket). Bad headers, cracked solder joints at the headers, fatigued pins could also cause problems not fixable by a plug-in adapter.

    I hadn't realized U1-U4 could partially work as others had mentioned. I'd have thought those would either work or not, but then I haven't fixed up 100s of these boards either to know all the failure points.

    #138 5 years ago
    Quoted from dothedoo:

    Try this. With the boards installed, replace the non-working LEDs with regular bulbs. If they work, you'll need to replace the associated SCRs, then try the LEDs again.

    Very true, instant resistance/load added via regular bulbs.

    #145 5 years ago
    Quoted from Sinbad:

    U2 or U1 or both?

    Try replacing the affected led lamps with regular lamps first (with the adapters still plugged in) and see if the lamps then work.

    From your spreadsheet it looks like a good mix of U1/U2 driven lamps.. you may just be dealing with solder joints on headers and/or just differences in SCRs due to manufacturing or age -- as far as the amount of current they take to stay latched on. Of course you can also try a resistor at the lamp socket with the led bulb in there (470ohm or so).

    It'd look like this..

    You could probably just hold onto the resistor body itself and have the leads touch like in the picture & see if it stops the flickering. Then you know just slightly more current for that SCR helped it to latch.

    I don't really buy replacing U1-U4 just yet.. mainly because it's not just all U1 or U2 lamps.. it's a mix.. and then there's also U3 driven lamp thrown in there.

    #158 5 years ago
    Quoted from Sinbad:

    Replaced about 12 scr's today and that solved the issue for 10 of the lamps, two still remain a problem.
    So firstly I eat my words about it being the boards at fault, clearly they work as intended.
    Secondly, how do I progress from here, 1k resistor across the lamp sockets?

    Yes, adding the 1k lamp across the socket would then create 2 resistors in parallel (the 1st being the SIP resistor @ 1k, the 2nd being the resistor across the lamp socket @ 1k). You can use this parallel resistance calculator to see that in doing that, a 500 ohm resistance value is created: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-paralresist.htm So this would put a bit extra load on the couple of remaining lamps and will likely solve the problem.

    #160 5 years ago
    Quoted from setzkor:

    My question is would a 270-300 ohm SIP work ok in the boards if I replaced the 1k ones? Or would heat/current be a concern here? For some reason my unhealthy desire to keep my crappy classic stern bulb arrays looking "clean" is trying to convince me not to just solder in the stupid 470 ohm resistors and be done with it... And when someone tells me to stop being foolish, presumably a 1/4 W 470 will be fine right?

    Well, some quick math and conversion calculators. The feature lamp bus is roughly 6vdc I believe.

    I=V/R = 6v / 300ohm = 0.02 A (20mA).

    Plug 20mA into here: http://www.convertunits.com/from/mA/to/watt/volt and it's saying 0.02watt/volt.
    That seems to indicate "watts per volt", meaning 6 * 0.02W = 0.12 Watts

    I tried another calculator here http://www.rapidtables.com/calc/electric/Amp_to_Watt_Calculator.htm and with 0.02A, 6v entered.. it's showing 0.12W.

    If those calculations are correct, then it's not really the best idea to have 0.12W going through a 1/8W (0.125W) rated 300ohm SIP resistor. You're better off putting a resistor in parallel *somewhere*.. you could do that on the adapter board with individual 1/8 watt resistors wired in parallel to the SIP (heat-shrink tubing around their leads.. one lead to common, the other to the SIP pin corresponding to the lamp you were addressing). Alternatively, you could "double up" the SIP resistor and solder the same pin count bussed 1k SIP resistor to the back of the board (matching the common pin to the common pin, etc). Either way, you'd knock down resistance to 500ohm by using a 1k parallel resistor and with wiring in parallel you'd gain extra wattage rating. Wiring the additional parallel resistance at the sockets is probably the better approach in terms of still being able to return the adapter board if it was faulty in some way and not "void your warranty" though.

    You can calculate parallel resistance here http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-paralresist.htm -- just plug in "1000" for the first resistor and then try other values for the 2nd resistor and hit calculate.

    IMHO these adapters are more likely to solve 90-95% of the problem, leaving a few additional lamps that need to be tweaked to work properly. Maybe for some people they do hit 100% of the problem and that's great. But there's likely to be a few lamps not wanting to play nice..either due to differences in SCR characteristics, connectors that need to be repinned, cracked solder joints on the LDB headers, or maybe even just different led characteristics. Seems that when people see "eliminators" they think they'll solve all of their problem and don't expect to be fiddling around, but even just judging from the history on RGP of using parallel resistors to solve lamp flickering, there was less of a "perfect science" to it.. and more just trial-and-error in finding values that worked per individual machine. Just my 2 cents.

    2 weeks later
    #167 5 years ago

    Heads Up!

    I'm running a sale on these led adapters as they haven't been moving much for me. Could be something to do with the rest of my stuff being mostly niche diagnostic equipment

    $40.00ea @ http://www.pinitech.com/products/sc_ballystern_led_adapter.php

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