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(Topic ID: 171786)

ColorDMD - LCD versus LED?

By goatdan

4 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 818 posts
  • 261 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 day ago by Markharris2000
  • Topic is favorited by 96 Pinsiders


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5 key posts have been marked in this topic

Display key post list sorted by: Post date | Keypost summary | User name

Post #3 Vendor update on available combinations Posted by Dmod (4 years ago)

Post #23 Vendor update on hardware revision for future display boards Posted by Dmod (4 years ago)

Post #30 Led displays take less power than lcd setups Posted by Dmod (4 years ago)

Post #64 Discussion on smoothing algorithm Posted by Dmod (4 years ago)

Post #90 Video of the led display in spiderman Posted by bobukcat (4 years ago)

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#3 4 years ago

All game ROMs will be available soon for both LED and LCD on the SUPPORT page, but the store won't list configurations with problematic installations. This doesn't mean you can't Macguyver something if you really want to, but it won't be supported.

Examples of problematic installations: LCD will not work for CV (space is too small) or T3 (game mechanisms are in the way). LCD is also not recommended for DE games with plastic speaker panels as the LCD sits too far back in the cabinet unless you permanently modify the speaker panel.


LED: 128x32 discrete RGB LEDs. Small form factor. Brighter and more vivid colors. Fixed smaller size dots - can't take advantage of smoothing or other rendering modes. Susceptible to ghosting artifacts due to undesirable capacitive effects.

LCD: 1920x1080 backlit LCD screen (only a portion of the screen is used). Original proven design sold since early 2012. Pixels are used to draw dots. Six rendering modes (DOTS, DOTXL, TILE, 8BIT, SCAN, and HIRES). Large dots and smoothing modes minimize black space making text easier to read. Smoothing modes are popular for cartoon-like animation.

#23 4 years ago

SIGMA 3.1 added spike functionality in single color mode but you will need a power converter to get 5V/12V from the game.

For all new displays starting with the October production release (and also including the August LED pilot run), we've updated the controller board so you'll only need 12V.

#30 4 years ago
Quoted from PinJump:

How do they compare as far as power consumption?

LED requires less power than LCD.

#31 4 years ago
Quoted from Guinnesstime:

What is best for TSPP? Any in stock?

LEDs are available now though titles won't be listed in the shop until firmware has been ported. LCDs should be back in stock within the next week or two.

#64 4 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

It's not about analyzing every frame. It's about what looks right and what looks wrong. I think if their High res filter was able to interpret things in the way some video game emulator settings do, I might be interested...until then, I'm sticking w/ DotsXL. For instance, this filter on Super Mario World makes the game look like "hand drawn" type art with perfectly curved lines. ColorDMD doesn't do that. I wonder if future updates could be capable of offering a smoother smoothing mode.

This paper was an inspiration for trying to add upscaling to the ColorDMD but the example of SMW graphics is a bit optimistic. The problem with the curve fitting in this algorithm is that it makes everything look curvy... which is kind of cool but it makes text look weird.

The dark little secret of pinball animation is that most of the time you're looking at text. If the text is goofy, people hate it no matter how the graphics look... and one of the main reason people like the smoothing in the ColorDMD is that (most of the time) it makes the text less "pixellated" and more pleasant to look at.

When I first unveiled our upscaler in March of 2013 the feedback I got was the text look blobby. I spent several months tweaking the custom scaling algorithm (it doesn't use curve fitting and does incorporate specific features of the original round dot artwork) just to try to make it look good across text of varying sizes and fonts.

If you're interested in the SMW scaler, here's a reference to the paper and some associated comparisons:

It looks great on the curvy bits but really screws up anything that's supposted to have a sharp angle. Also notice that on the turtle shell above, it turnes the lines in the shell into polka dots... looking more like a lady bug.

The challenge is trying to find a tradeoff that handles both text and animation reasonably well while still being implementable with available hadware resources. Newer/larger FPGAs help.

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#67 4 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

That's where we've always differed on this topic. You're interested in the text. I'm interested in the character art. Is ColorDMD capable of doing a curvy algorithm? If so, I'd love to see how that looks!!!

I don't think the algorithm they have in the paper is designed to run in real-time hardware. It requires a lot of processing power. There were some videos but I think they were captured, rendered off-line, and then played back in real time.

I'm not sure if there are simplifications or more recent algorithms that can produce similar results more efficiently.

#80 4 years ago
Quoted from rooftop:

installed an led display in got today looks great, super easy to a install in spike game, just need a clear screen, an off set kit, both for sale on the color dmd web site, and with the led display you can plug right into the back box, with a power pig tail, no need for converter boards like with the lcd version.

Thanks for the post! Starting with this production cycle, new LCDs are now shipping with the same Chroma controller board used in the LED display. Both displays now only require a single 12V supply, and the same power solution can be used with both displays.

For more information:

1 month later
#211 4 years ago
Quoted from j_m_:

there are 3 problems with the ColorDMD LED version in my opinion
- the first is that the face of the panel appears to be a glossy black in between the discreet 4096 LEDs and they catch a lot of both ambient light as well as anything that is thrown off of the playfield (like the sling spotlights that are directed up field towards the back box)
- the second is that the LEDs themselves do not have any sort of diffuser on them, but rather a crystal clear window. if they had a milky-white diffuser, it would eliminate a lot of harshness that people are talking about (however, I have not seen any P2.5 panels that have something like this (see image below)

- and finally, the elements themselves seem to be somewhat of a cross between what's known and an "indoor" and "outdoor" display panel. on an outdoor panel, the elements are smaller with a lot of black or "dead" space between them. on an indoor panel, the elements are larger with less black or dead space

this semi-outdoor effect means that it's more like a DOTS mini mode, rather than the DOTS or DOTS XL modes that are selectable options on the LCD ColorDMD panels.
I'm going to try and find some sort of diffuser panel to install in front of the LED panels and see if that helps with mine

These are indoor panels. The glossiness is due to reflections from the clear windows themselves as opposed to the black package or pcb. They are individually packaged RGB LEDs which requires three small LEDs to fit within the same area normally used by a single monochrome LED. The package size is 2mmx2mm and the board spacing is 2.5mm. The packages are virtually butted up against one another.

The extra black space is due to the smaller LEDs and the individual packaging (versus the 8x8 co-packaged monochrome LED modules). The issue is not as obvious on larger RGB LED displays where the ratio of LED to package size is larger.

The vendors of these panels however have seem to solved the problem with misalignment between the 8x8 packages which plagued earlier monochrome LED screens.

1 month later
#280 3 years ago
Quoted from chalkup8:

Putting the LED display in TAF means you keep the THING light board in place?
The Thing light board gives more brightness than using an LCD display?
Is this correct?

You use the original lamp board for both LCD and LED. LCD sticks up above the speaker panel so you'll need to lower the speaker panel before opening/closing the backbox door.

3 months later
#344 3 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

Is it normal to see edge of frame on the LCD on a WPC95 game?
If so, I guess black tape on the silver edge will hide it? Or beer seal tape?

It is normal for WPC95 speaker panels and SAM metal speaker panels, due to the LCD sitting back from the speaker panel. It's usually only visible when viewed from an angle. From the player position, it shouldn't be visible.

You can use weatherstripping foam from the hardware store to help conceal it.

1 month later
#407 3 years ago
Quoted from NonStopSwagger:

My colorDMD LED arrived yesterday from the latest run. I had to use 4 different USB sticks to get it to update. The stick that worked I bought back in 2004, was 128 MB capacity. I formatted them all to Fat 32 beforehand. Anyway took about an hour of trial and error and searching - that old stick was in a box in storage I hadn't touched in years.
Maybe the website could benefit from providing a list of know compatible USB drives?
LED DMD looks great BTW. I have the Brightness and Contrast up high, bent plastic stops the reflection.

Sorry you had so much trouble. I'm not aware of any specific drives that are incompatible with the ColorDMD.

We have some troubleshooting information on the SUPPORT page. The issue with USB drives is generally due to formatting, or due to an error reading the file allocation table. Quick format may not correct the issue and a full reformat may be required. Often the easiest solution is just using a new USB drive.

If using a Mac to do the formatting, please be aware there are different variants of FAT32. The drive must be formatted using Microsoft FAT32 (MS-FAT).

1 month later
#441 3 years ago
Quoted from Lamprey:

Does anyone know if there are different revisions of the LED boards?

There is a new revision of the LED board. The new ones that we have been purchasing do not exhibit the ghosting that the earlier modules showed. However other than rotating the LEDs 90 degrees on the new boards, appearance is basically the same.

The size of the "dots" relative to the spacing is a function of display brightness. Bright LEDs appear larger than dim LEDs. The dots on Williams and Whitestar games (that have only three moderately bright levels), can appear brighter/larger than SAM and SPIKE games which make greater use of the lower brightness levels.

The CONTRAST control on the ColorDMD can be used to boost the lower brightness levels, at the expense of reducing contrast between the levels.

#444 3 years ago
Quoted from Bay78:

Hello there. I would like to install my colordmd (led) into my Safecracker. It shows an alternate mounting position to correct the top two lines not easily being visible. I was excited to put it in Safecracker then I go grab it from the other game it's currently in and it doesn't have the longer mounting holes at the bottom like the instructions show. Am I missing something or have an early version that didn't have that? I guess I can drill it but don't want to do to much.

That's an earlier version of the LED mounting bracket. The elongated holes were added later to support Safecracker.

#445 3 years ago
Quoted from Dopes214tx:

Wondering if you can install a ColorDMD in a Stargate? Didnt see anything about Gottlieb on the website but I figure it never hurts to ask. I know there are no color dots for it yet but being able to change the color would be nice. Thanks.

It's been done, but SIGMA support for Gottlieb isn't 100% yet.

1 month later
#467 3 years ago
Quoted from Soulrider911:

I have a question. If I want to move my LED from my POTC to my Indy (williams), is all I need is new cable kit for WPC?

That's correct.

Quoted from Soulrider911:

Additionally, if I order a new LCD for my POTC... Could I just order an LCD for a WPC machine and then just swap the cables from my LED for the new LCD right? Sorry, that probably super confusing.

Yes, you can do that too. The installation cables are the same for LCD and LED displays.

5 months later
#524 2 years ago
Quoted from John_I:

OK, so how do I know which way to set it?

The menus should be orange when set correctly (instead of magenta).

#528 2 years ago
Quoted from John_I:

Thanks, and yes, I had it correct on at least this last go around. My friends and I have switched this thing around a dozen times and played with the brightness and contrast in all combinations and can't get happy compared to the LCD version.

Brightness doesn't affect the rendering or picture quality.

Contrast applies a different nonlinear mapping to the brightness levels. Lower contrast settings give better darks (closer to black). Higher contrast gives more contrast relative to black (OFF) but compresses the levels toward maximum brightness.

6 months later
#564 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

LCD brightness and contrast can be set from 0-9. Is there an optimal setting or does each situation require different settings?
Seems on typical LCD screens I go high contrast and dial down the brightness until the black levels look good.

For best results, I recommend keeping contrast between 3-5. The default setting of 5 is good for most games and approximates the graylevels of the original factory DMD. For games that have video content, a lower contrast setting can help to improve the results as it drops the lower graylevels toward black and results in more spacing between gray levels.

Brightness only affects the backlight setting and can be set wherever you like.

#567 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballManiac40:

I understand that the Stern ACDC LED display has 16 shades of red to the animations. Being the game was colored for the LCD, looks like the color ROM may need to be tweaked for the LED.
The LED looks great in CV, Corvette, and LAH.

The SAM display driver outputs 13 shades. The ColorDMD board maps this to 18-bit color and drives either LED and LCD.

With contrast setting of 5 the ColorDMD LED running in SIGMA (single-color) mode, and the original factory LED should appear similar. The main difference is the dot size. The original factory display has larger dots with less black space between them. It's the tradeoff for trying to fit 3 LED emitters (red, green, blue) in the same space as a single red emitter.

By tweaking the contrast setting, you can boost the 13 levels above black (which also compresses the spacing between then), or lower the darker levels toward black and increase the spacing.

#570 2 years ago

Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

2 months later
#598 2 years ago
Quoted from wxforecaster:

Long time listener, first time caller (hopefully of many). My TWD came with a ColorDMD (LCD) and I'm in love with it, but a local friend bought an LED version for his SPIKE system and didn't care for it and sold it to me at a very nice discount.
Two questions:
1.) Is the ColorDMD interchangeable among Spike, Sam and WPC games?
2.) Which of these games do you think the LED version would look best in (assuming the above is true?)
TZ, ToM, AC/DC Premium, LOTR, Metallica (need to wait for update to 1.8), X-Men, Star Trek

With the SPIKE install kit, you can install into any of your other Stern games. For newer Stern games with metal speaker panels, you'll need a clear display shield to replace the red one that shipped with the game.

TZ and ToM will need a WPC installation kit (available on the ACCESSORIES page of our store site).

#601 2 years ago
Quoted from wxforecaster:

From the horses mouth, do you side with the opinion that the LEDs are preferred on older games w/ limited brightness levels as opposed to newer games w/ substantially more brightness levels and more full animation art?

Most people probably wouldn't notice a difference in LED characteristics between older and newer games unless it was pointed out. Even then, it's unlikely the number of brightness levels output by the game would be a deciding factor in choosing LED or LCD. Customers who start with one display type tend to stick with it across all their supported games.

6 months later
#646 1 year ago

That wasn’t a ColorDMD. There are no 8x8 blocks on any of our displays.

There were a number of early single color LED displays from other manufacturers that did use 8x8 blocks. What you saw was likely one of those.

#649 1 year ago
Quoted from camcamaro1991:

I own both ColorDMD's, 1x LED (my 1st ColorDMD purchase for Whitestar) and 2x LCD's ( 2-3 purchase for Sam & Spike) ColorDMD's, This as been discussed many times. I feel what you are saying about the segments, since the LED uses a RGB 3 color emitter's in a single node "Y" pattern, in some colors you can see the single emitter produce light, which can off center a cluster of LED's, in addition to the block/pack of LED's, they can have slightly larger gap or separation or angled slightly towards or away from the user, between the blocks to them adding to a misalignment, which the factory Stern LED suffer from as well, which I do notice it drove me crazy on my factory Stern LED on my GB.
I prefer the LCD for the most consistent & even look, esp... since DOTs & DOTXL (<-my favorite) delivers on a very accurate DMD experience, color, perfect alignment. ColorDMD demo's their YouTube videos with LCD pattern for obvious reasons, you get exactly what you see in the videos on your pin.
Regardless which you choose. IMO, ColorDMD is the single most important mod I have done on my pins, they are worth every penny. ColorDMD please color HD, you could knock out 2 brand pins, Sega and Stern!

The LEDs on the RGB modules used by ColorDMD are individually pick-and-placed so there isn't any clustering between groups of LEDs within a module. When fabricated, the surface tension on each of the solder pads helps to pull all the LEDs into position so they appear extremely uniform.

To get 128x32, two 64x32 modules are combined. At worst you would see a vertical seam midway between the two modules but this should be almost invisible. It's possible the modules shift during shipping and they can be adjusted by loosening the screws on the rear of the display and realigning them back into position.

The red, green, and blue emitters in each LED are actually in a row (or column) rather than a Y pattern. (A Y pattern would be better in my opinion). The separation for some colors (usually magenta or purple) may be visible when only the two outer LEDs are lit. Color convergence for LCD is better where the position of the red, green, blue pixels is much closer than the LED emitters.

1 year later
#808 4 months ago
Quoted from Alamo_Pin:

I just installed the LED version on my I500. Any idea how to get rid of the line of light across the top? It is not present on my other ColorDMDs (LED or LCD).
[quoted image][quoted image]

That's light shining down from the backbox and hitting the top of the LED modules. Foam weatherstripping (from the hardware store) placed between the top of the metal bracket and speaker panel works great for blocking the light.

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