(Topic ID: 97850)

GI OCD - Installation into my TOM - mini review

By caker137

5 years ago

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  • 13 posts
  • 9 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by Geocab
  • Topic is favorited by 11 Pinsiders


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wire bundle-413.jpg

#1 5 years ago

I have been waiting anxiously to get my hands on one of herg's new GI OCD boards ever since I heard he was planning on releasing it as a product. Like every Theatre of Magic owner, I was faced with a choice: keep incandescent bulbs in the GI, or install LEDs and turn off the dimming effects (which are used extensively and quite well in the game). Up to this point I've stuck with incandescent, but I really wanted to change the GI to a cool white LED. Now I can without sacrificing the light show!

Here is the product link; I purchased this on the day it became available:
The kit comes with the PCB, mounting hardware, all cables, including a nice long USB cable you can run to the coin door for configuration changes (more on that later).

In the first video you can see a “before” sequence with incandescent GI that uses a slow GI dimming light show for multiball start:

Step one is to convert your GI to LED if you haven’t already; then test to make sure that everything is still working before starting on the GI OCD installation. In the second video you can see how the LEDs flicker badly when the machine tries to dim WITHOUT the GI OCD installed.

Now that this was all working, I started on the GI OCD installation. The instructions on the website are very good with pics for each step. A few things were different on my game that I had to deal with (TOM was listed as a ‘should work’ so I expected some minor differences). First there was a ground braid running on the side of the backbox where the board is to be installed. I covered this with some duct tape (probably not necessary, but now I know it can’t short out. Second, I discovered that the position I chose to screw the board into was interfering with the display bracket that hooks on to secure the display. I had to move the board deeper into the backbox, which made it impossible to install 1 of the 5 screws. I think it will be okay though, with my flexible nut driver extension I was able to install the 4 in the corners.
Here is my final installation position with the display installed:

After that I simply followed along the instructions on the website for installing the 4 or 5 cables that are required for the board to do its job. All cables were keyed and completely mistake proofed. The only cable that requires extra scrutiny is the CPU ribbon cable, but that was pretty easy if you pay attention. I then chose to install the USB cable permanently so that I could configure the lighting from the coin door with my laptop. I just routed it down the same path that the playfield harness took and I utilized the existing wire clips to make it to the front of the cab.

You’ll have an extra pile of wires in the backbox to secure for all the required cabling. No worries though, there is plenty of room for everything, just make sure you secure the new cables in the existing wire clips so that no connectors can rub, pinch or short.
wire bundle-413.jpg

Power up the first time went fine; the board has activity and power indicator LEDs and the GI fired right up no problem. As the website said, since my game was not a WPC95, it would require some initial configuration to make it fully work. This took only a few minutes and I was up and running. I also took this opportunity to tweak the standard settings to even out the brightness ramp on my particular machine / LED setup. There is a nice test mode built into the device so you can tune brightness settings for all 8 GI brightnesses.
Here are the settings I decided on:

And here what you’ve been waiting for, the final results:

The videos really don’t do justice to how well this works. The LEDs behave just like the incandescent bulbs (and often quite a bit better) but have the nice modern lighting look of LEDs. The colors on TOM work very well with cool white LEDs, or you could go multi-color if that is more to your taste. I am very happy with the performance of this product. The price is very reasonable for what you get. Bottom line: it just works; and it works perfectly. 5 stars.

#2 5 years ago

Thanks for the review. Seeing them installed in other people's machines is great, and it helps me see what can be improved.

The tight space the board has to fit in and all the cables are the biggest challenge with them. It's aggravating to know that if the board would physically fit in the area at the bottom left of the power driver board, the yellow, blue, and white cables, along with all the Z connectors would be unnecessary.

The bright side is that you only have to install it once, and once you do, it really does work.

#3 5 years ago

Sweet, thanks for the review! I am looking forward to trying one out!

1 week later
#4 5 years ago

Well done, Caker! I'm leaning even further towards getting an OCD LED board now.

#5 5 years ago

I put one in my TOTAN and it's a new game. One of the best upgrades you can do for TOTAN. Not all WPC games do the same level of GI effects, for example, I'm not bothering with IJ.

9 months later
#6 4 years ago

So I haven't looked, but is there a setting in the menu to the dimming in the game? My TOM came with led already and im wondering if they had just turned this function off? I am getting one of these boards.
Point me to the setting so I know where to change them.

#7 4 years ago
Quoted from Magicchiz:

So I haven't looked, but is there a setting in the menu to the dimming in the game? My TOM came with led already and im wondering if they had just turned this function off? I am getting one of these boards.
Point me to the setting so I know where to change them.


Most people who put LEDs in their games turn off "Dim Illumination" and "GI Power Saver" to avoid flickering and strobing. These can be re-enabled in the menu if you would like. You will find them under "Standard Adjustments" (options 25 and 29). You may find that the dimming effects look good even with LEDs installed. It really depends on the game and what LEDs were used. I can't see any logical reason to enable the power save mode if you are using LEDs, though. It was designed to prolong the life of incandescent bulbs, but this obviously isn't relevant when using LEDs.

#8 4 years ago

Thanks I went down and found the A1 25 allow dim

4 months later
#9 4 years ago

Just completed the install in my own ToM.

I had a little trouble with the breakout board because my J120/J121 GI string connectors had one fewer pin than the breakout board. I was having some difficulty with the Inputs matching the Strings as I expected, so I started playing with the connectors.

Ultimately, for me, it seemed to work right once I attached the J121 string to J3 and the J120 string to J4, with the J3 connector married to the left side of the string connector and the J4 connector married to the right side.

I realize none of this should matter, but since it works, I figured I'd post it anyway! Here's a photo:


#10 4 years ago
Quoted from jsa:

I had a little trouble with the breakout board because my J120/J121 GI string connectors had one fewer pin than the breakout board.

Yeah, somebody set you up for difficulty there. The connectors have been rebuilt, and they used too small of connectors AND no keys. If they had at least used either the correct connector size or keys, it would have been more obvious. They WERE nice enough to mark it with a Sharpie, though. There's also a bunch of crimp terminals with no wires in there. I'm not sure why they'd do that other than to provide a tighter fit (more friction) for the connector.

Anyway, I'm glad you got it figured out.

#11 4 years ago
Quoted from herg:

Anyway, I'm glad you got it figured out.

The game is a totally different (better) game with the GI OCD.

When I purchased the game, it had already been retrofitted with LEDs some time in the past ten years. I don't remember playing one that wasn't partially retrofitted, so I can't say if I've seen these effects. The dimming is super dramatic.

This is a very clever approach to get the intended effect from the designers.

Do you have any thoughts on good techniques for identifying the ideal values for the configuration? I realize there is a personal taste element here but I'm curious.

#12 4 years ago

Personal taste, LED choice, and game differences make it very difficult to give general tips, and I've already done my best to set good defaults. That said, here are things to look at:

1. If the game seems dimmer than you'd like, you can increase the top end (B8) brightness. The default is very conservative, but there is a minor possibility that if you set it too high you may damage LEDs. This differs with the design of different LEDs, so there is no single "best" setting that works for all cases. For reference, I run most of my games at around 60% with Comet 5050 SMD Frosted bulbs, while others have reported running at 100% with no issues.

2. If you see flicker when the bulbs are dim, try slightly increasing the low end (B1) brightness.

3. If you see fades that are not as smooth as you'd like (for example, it looks like it stops at multiple steps), you can increase the max fade delay. TOTAN has a lot of these, so I have that game set to 25. TOM might be similar... maybe.

4. I also like to dim the backbox during gameplay. There is information on how to do this on the website.

#13 4 years ago

Great review, thanks for posting.

I have one in my DM and it works great. Very happy.

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