(Topic ID: 122627)

DMD Saver from German-Pinball - Vid's Review

By vid1900

7 years ago

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  • Latest reply 2 years ago by C_S_S
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    Post #1 DMD Saver Purpose Posted by vid1900 (7 years ago)

    Post #2 Individual games supported by each of the 3 versions Posted by vid1900 (7 years ago)

    Post #6 DMD Saver Install - Williams WPC (DMD Saver Version 2) Posted by vid1900 (7 years ago)

    Post #27 DMD Saver Install - WPC95 Version Posted by vid1900 (7 years ago)

    Topic indices are generated from key posts and maintained by Pinside Editors. For more information, or to become an editor yourself read this post!

    There are 99 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 7 years ago

    As plasma DMDs continue to spiral upwards in price, it starts to make serious sense to make them last longer - as in 20x longer.

    Some DMDs are approaching $500 to replace (like the 192x64 Segas).

    If we lower the operating voltage with a replaced diode, we can make them last longer; but sometimes we have to try different diodes on older displays to find "just" enough voltage to light them up.

    Another way to achieve the same effect is to alter the "duty cycle" of the display. Each pixel cell is lit for less time. This allows us to dial in the exact lowest voltage, just before the display blinks out.

    Unlike the diode trick, as the display ages and needs more voltage to light up, you can just turn up the cycle a little more.


    Remember, the DMD Saver can't fix an already dead, completely outgassed display. Nothing can fix that. But it can keep a working DMD going "forever".


    When bright LEDs first started appearing on the market, pinheads went crazy bragging "I did my whole backbox in ULTRABRIGHTS !!!!!!!!11". Of course all that glare on the playfield glass made the games impossible to play.

    So another advantage of these devices is that you can turn down the brightness and get way less glare on the glass from the DMD - very cool.

    $25 USD from:


    #2 7 years ago

    The DMD Savers come in 3 models.

    The one you choose depends on the games you are installing them on.

    VERSION 1:

    MPU Sega/Stern Whitestar
    Apollo 13
    Austin Powers
    High Roller Casino
    Independence Day
    Irons & Woods
    Lost In Space
    RollerCoaster Tycoon
    Sharkey's Shootout
    South Park
    Space Jam
    Star Wars Trilogy
    Starship Troopers
    Striker Xtreme
    Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines
    The Brain
    The Lost World Jurassic Park
    The Simpsons Pinball Party
    The X Files
    Viper Night Drivin'

    MPU Stern Whitestar (modified)
    Grand Prix
    Ripley's Believe It or Not!
    The Lord of the Rings
    The Sopranos

    Stern S.A.M. Board System
    AC/DC (LUCI Premium)
    AC/DC (Premium)
    AC/DC (Pro)
    AC/DC Back In Black Limited Edition
    AC/DC Let There Be Rock Limited Edition
    Batman (Standard Model)
    Big Buck Hunter Pro
    Black Spider-Man
    Disney TRON Legacy
    Disney TRON Legacy (3rd Edition)
    Disney TRON Legacy (4th Edition)
    Disney TRON Legacy (Limited Edition)
    Family Guy
    Good Morning America
    Indiana Jones
    Iron Man
    Iron Man (Pro Vault Edition)
    Iron Man Classic
    James Cameron’s Avatar
    James Cameron’s Avatar (Limited Edition)
    Metallica (Premium Monsters)
    Metallica (Premium Road Case)
    Metallica (Pro LED)
    Metallica (Pro)
    Metallica Master of Puppets (Limited Edition)
    Mustang (Limited Edition)
    Mustang (Premium "Boss")
    Mustang (Pro)
    Pirates of the Caribbean
    Star Trek (Enterprise Limited Edition)
    Star Trek (Starfleet Pro)
    Star Trek (Vengeance Premium)
    The Avengers (Limited Edition) Stern
    The Avengers (Premium)
    The Avengers (Pro) Stern
    The Avengers Hulk (Limited Edition)
    The Lord of the Rings (Limited Edition)
    The Rolling Stones
    The Rolling Stones (Limited Edition)
    The Walking Dead (Limited Edition)
    The Walking Dead (Pro)
    Transformers The Pin™
    Transformers™ (Pro)
    Transformers™ Autobot Crimson Limited Edition
    Transformers™ Decepticon Violet Limited Edition
    Transformers™ Limited Edition ("Combo")
    Wheel Of Fortune
    World Poker Tour
    X-Men (Pro)
    X-Men Magneto LE
    X-Men Wolverine LE


    Big Bang Bar
    Breakshot Capcom
    Flipper Football
    Pinball Magic


    WPC (DCS)

    Demolition Man
    Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure
    Judge Dredd
    Popeye Saves the Earth
    Star Trek: The Next Generation

    WPC (DOT Matrix)

    Gilligan's Island
    Hot Shot Midway
    Hurricane Williams
    SlugFest (First Model)
    SlugFest (Second Model)
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    The Party Zone

    WPC (Fliptronics 1)

    The Addams Family

    WPC (Fliptronics 2)

    Black Rose
    Bram Stoker's Dracula
    Creature from the Black Lagoon
    Doctor Who
    Fish Tales Williams
    The Addams Family Special Collectors Edition
    The Getaway: High Speed II
    Twilight Zone
    White Water


    Dirty Harry
    Indianapolis 500
    Jack·Bot Williams
    Johnny Mnemonic
    No Fear: Dangerous Sports
    Red & Ted's Road Show
    The Flintstones
    The Pinball Circus
    The Shadow
    Theatre of Magic
    WHO dunnit
    World Cup Soccer

    GOTTLIEB System 3 (machines with DMD-Displays)
    Super Mario Bros.
    Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World
    Cue Ball Wizard
    Street Fighter II
    Tee'd Off
    Wipe Out
    World Challenge Soccer
    Rescue 911
    Freddy A Nightmare on Elm Street
    Shaq Attaq
    Frank Thomas' Big Hurt
    Strikes 'N Spares
    Mario Andretti
    Barb Wire Premier
    Brooks & Dunn

    Does NOT work in the following GOTTLIEB System 3 machines (these machines do NOT have a DMD-Display):
    Bullseye, Caribbean Cruise, Lights...Camera...Action!, Silver Slugger, Vegas, Deadly Weapon, Title Fight Premier, Bell Ringer, Nudge-It, Car Hop, Hoops, Cactus Jack's, Class of 1812, Surf 'n Safari, Operation: Thunder

    MPU DataEast/Sega Version 3

    Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends
    Back to the Future
    Batman Data East
    Guns N' Roses
    Jurassic Park
    Last Action Hero
    Lethal Weapon 3
    Star Trek Data East
    Star Wars
    Tales from the Crypt Data East
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The Simpsons
    The Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard
    WWF Royal Rumble

    MPU DataEast/Sega Version 3b

    Batman Forever
    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
    Roach Racers


    Attack from Mars
    Cactus Canyon
    Cirqus Voltaire
    Junk Yard Williams
    Medieval Madness
    Monster Bash
    NBA Fastbreak
    No Good Gofers
    Safe Cracker
    Scared Stiff
    Tales of the Arabian Nights
    The Champion Pub Midway
    Ticket Tac Toe


    So right now it looks like there is no model to support the 128x16 DMD games:

    Star Trek 25th Anniversary
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    I'll update this thread if this changes.


    #3 7 years ago

    Here are the backsides of all 3 versions of the boards.

    You can see how the connectors are different.


    #4 7 years ago

    Here is what you get in the kit.

    The PCB, a 5v lead, and a Scotchlock connector.

    A Scotchlock connector lets you tap into an existing wire lead without stripping, without soldering and without a messy bunch of electrical tape. They are used in automotive jobs all the time, like car alarms or stereos.


    #5 7 years ago

    The PCB is all through hole construction, so servicing will be easy if it is ever needed.


    #6 7 years ago

    Here we are going to install on a WPC Williams game - so we are using VERSION 2 for this job.


    (I'll document some other installations latter in this thread)


    #7 7 years ago

    We start by removing the Ribbon Cable leading to the DMD display.

    Note that Pin 1 on the Ribbon Cable has a red stripe.


    #8 7 years ago

    Next, the DMD Saver plugs right into the header that the Ribbon Cable was attached to.


    #9 7 years ago

    The Ribbon Cable plugs into the DMD Saver in the same orientation that it was on the board.

    Pin one matches up to the red stripe.


    #10 7 years ago

    We, of course, want a clean looking installation, so fish the 5v lead behind the boards and cables.

    There are a hundred places to steal 5v from in a WPC backbox, but it makes sense to grab it from the connector on the lower left hand side of the board.

    2 of the pins have 5v available (you can do a sanity check with your volt meter if you want).


    #11 7 years ago

    There are only 3 long wires leading off of J606 and the gray one in the center has 5v running through it.

    Clip the Scotchlock onto the 5v gray wire.

    Slip the end of the 5v lead into the "dead end" of the Scotchlock.


    #12 7 years ago

    Making sure the 5v lead does not slip out of the dead end, squeeze the blade through the insulation of the 5v lead and the gray 5v wire.


    #13 7 years ago

    Lock down the cover over the blade.

    That way there is no need for electrical tape and nothing can short out against the now energized blade.


    #14 7 years ago

    Plug 5v lead into the DMD Saver and your installation is complete.


    #15 7 years ago

    Turn the game on.

    Don't panic if there is nothing on the DMD, as you may have to turn up the brightness to see anything.

    Using a small screwdriver, turn the brightness up until you find the magic spot where the display comes on.

    The dimmer the display, the less glare and of course, the longer it will last.

    The little switch on the DMD Saver will turn on all the pixels. If you used an alligator clip to a 5v test point instead of a Scotchlock, you could test a game's display before you bought it. Another cool feature. (the lines in the picture below are the camera's shutter capturing the refresh of the display. In person, the display looks perfect)


    #17 7 years ago

    This looks like a great product to save some money in the long run.
    But how to order, and what is the price?
    Can you make a guide on that as well Vid?


    #18 7 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    3.jpg (Click image to enlarge)

    Shouldn't the text say 5V lead, not 12V?

    #19 7 years ago

    Bought these already years ago for TZ and STTNG (both sold so nu current experience). Great product, works fine. If yiu see the design it looks really durable and solid. He also makes the best replacemetn baord for TZ-clock

    #20 7 years ago

    Very cool but i do not like the scotch latch one bit. An easy pass through connector should be built to eliminate user error and a cleaner install, just my opinion.

    #21 7 years ago
    Quoted from dgpinball:

    Shouldn't the text say 5V lead, not 12V?

    Fixed, thanks!!!

    #22 7 years ago
    Quoted from Rock914:

    Very cool but i do not like the scotch latch one bit. An easy pass through connector should be built to eliminate user error and a cleaner install, just my opinion.

    Us car audio enthusiasts love Scotchlock connectors, but you are right, there are a dozen ways to skin that cat.

    There are so many game models and brands that this PCB works with, that is could be expensive to include a pass through connector for all of them.

    Off the top of my head:

    You could use an insulated alligator clip and grab power from a 5v test point on the board.

    You could crimp a new J606 female connector, and include the 5v lead.

    You could make a stacking connector.

    Add some pics to this thread if you guys come up with anything clever!

    #23 7 years ago
    Quoted from Axl:

    This looks like a great product to save some money in the long run.
    But how to order, and what is the price?
    Can you make a guide on that as well Vid?

    Sorry about that. I did not know what the price was in USD yesterday.

    It's $25 and I've updated the first post to reflect that.

    Until the USA distributors pick this up, order directly from German-Pinball.

    #24 7 years ago

    @vid: You are and will remain the greatest - many many thanks so much. Anybody in the world could have written a review better than you ....

    #25 7 years ago

    Thanks for doing this review. I read all your reviews and they are always incredibly helpful!

    #26 7 years ago

    Awesome review vid, and awesome product Ingo!!

    I'm really excited that I'll be offering these here in the US for Ingo, and as a pre-order/show special, Ingo and I will be offering them for only $20 with any anyPin purchase at a show. They will ship in about 2-3 weeks.

    Look for them on my site soon for US orders and across the country at a pinball show near you!

    Rob Anthony
    Pinball Classics
    Quality Board Work - In Home Service
    borygard at gmail dot com

    1 week later
    #27 7 years ago

    This time lets do a WPC-95 installation.


    #28 7 years ago

    First we remove the cable that runs to the DMD.


    #29 7 years ago

    Next we install the DMD-Saver. There is a version specifically for the WPC-95 systems.

    Although the DMD-Saver says "This side down" you need to install it with that side up. It intends to say that the bottom edge of the Saver, aligns with the bottom edge of the video board.


    #30 7 years ago

    Now re-install the DMD cable. Remember the Red Stripe aligns with Pin 1.


    #31 7 years ago

    Double post.

    #32 7 years ago

    Again, there are many places to obtain the necessary 5v to power the DMD-Saver.

    Connector J606 is probably the most convenient.

    The Gray wires on pins 4 & 5 have 5v.

    You can sanity check with your meter.


    #33 7 years ago

    Use the included Scotchlock to tap into the 5v lead.


    #34 7 years ago

    Plug 5v lead into the DMD Saver and your installation is complete.

    Turn power back on to the game, and adjust the dial for the level of brightness you desire.


    #35 7 years ago

    This particular WPC-95 had a loud buzz, that was actually cut down quite a bit by lowering the voltage to the display.

    An unintended benefit, for sure!

    1 week later
    #36 7 years ago

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Vid. I just ordered one for the large Sega dmd my Maverick.

    I was emailing with Ingo and he explained that for my game the dmd saver will connect to the dmd controller board on the back of the dmd. I'll be able to tap into the 5v right there, too.

    Also, from what I understand, the saver board doesn't just reduce voltage it reduces the duty cycle of the pixels so they have to work less time thus increasing the life expectancy.

    This is a little than when I replaced the Zener diodes in my F-14 to reduce voltage and prolong the life of those numeric display. Same effect of prolonging the display, just a different way of doing it. At least that was my understanding.

    My current display is bright and I want to keep it that way since these large dmds are expensive to replace.

    #37 7 years ago

    Please take a bunch of pics as you install it in your Maverick; I did not have a Sega available to document the procedure.

    #38 7 years ago

    I have a Lord of the Rings Limited Edition. I thought STERN used a different system than the 2003 LOTR ? Am I wrong . If not . What type should I order ? Thanks a million .

    #39 7 years ago
    Quoted from RobKnapp:

    I have a Lord of the Rings Limited Edition. I thought STERN used a different system than the 2003 LOTR ? Am I wrong . If not . What type should I order ? Thanks a million .

    You need "Version 1" for LotR.

    I do not want to "destroy" vid´s review with my pics, because vid is a much much better photographer and writer than me. Send me a PM and I will send you some pics in advance.

    Can you make a pic of the connector on the display-board, where the flat-cable is put in?

    #40 7 years ago

    Quick question on these. Should we use them on a ColorDMD display or are they safe to last "forever" already and this product isn't necessary for them??

    #41 7 years ago

    Colordmd does not operate on high voltage.

    #42 7 years ago
    Quoted from calvin12:

    Colordmd does not operate on high voltage.

    Ah, perfect. Thank you for answering my question so simply

    #43 7 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Please take a bunch of pics as you install it in your Maverick; I did not have a Sega available to document the procedure.

    Will do!

    2 weeks later
    #44 7 years ago

    I have these and use them. They are awesome!

    3 weeks later
    #45 7 years ago

    Okay got mine installed today on Maverick. Just finishing up my shop job so I was delayed on installing it. Anway, installation was a breeze and it works perfect. Thanks, Ingo!

    Here are the pics from my install...

    Unplug ribbon cable from J2 on the DMD control board.

    Attach DMD Saver Board

    Re-connect ribbon cable to the DMD saver board

    Attach power connector.
    I got my +5v from the original 5v line that came down to the DMD. Since I had replaced it with the better connection, it was just hanging there unused...so I put put back in use.

    Full view of the back on DMD with all connections made.

    Powered on.

    Flipped the all on switch on the DMD Saver Board to get all the dots to light up. This was how it was set.

    Dialed down the brightness.



    #46 7 years ago

    Does this help eliminate hiss noise from Dmd I have a sttng and when the Dmd animations have more "on" pixels there is more of a electric hiss than the when there is less on pixels for a frame

    #47 7 years ago

    Yes the buzz seems to be less when the brightness is toned down.

    #48 7 years ago

    I'm tempted although I have a red rubylith over my Dmd and plan on putting a comet glare eliminator, so hopefully it wouldn't be too dark... the Dmd hiss is the last real thing I wish I could eliminate.

    #49 7 years ago

    trying to find a link to buy it on the german website or lockwhenlit.com not seeing a place to buy it specifically, will be contacting them via email, but if anyone knows where a page might be let me know.

    #50 7 years ago

    PM german-pinball always had the best result going directly to the MAN!

    Bump for a awesome product!

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