(Topic ID: 153216)

RETROFIT Classic Bally/Stern DIY Plasma-to-LED Conversion Display Kits

By acebathound

5 years ago


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#701 4 years ago
Quoted from Inkochnito:

I've been working on the original Bally schematics.

Peter, again thank you very much for the contribution!

If you don't mind I'll get these added as links in the instructions once you're finished, they'll be a nice reference for people to see the changes occurring.

#702 4 years ago

Starting the process on a set of blue 7-digit displays for my Star Gazer project. Couldn't wait, and tested the first one out in my Catacomb. I love the look of these--the numbers are nice and beefy compared to the anemic outputs of Rottendog's product.

I'll update as the process moves forward.

20170517_182622 (resized).jpg

#703 4 years ago
Quoted from spiroagnew:

Starting the process on a set of blue 7-digit displays for my Star Gazer project. Couldn't wait, and tested the first one out in my Catacomb. I love the look of these--the numbers are nice and beefy compared to the anemic outputs of Rottendog's product.
I'll update as the process moves forward.

Looking good!! The thicker digits definitely were something that grew on me as well. Now the other brands look a bit too thin IMO.

#704 4 years ago

Any interest in some PCB "seconds" with some silkscreen issues for $10 off per set? I have a few handfuls of of 6-digit and 7-digit sets available like this. When I get the board orders in I allow for some very small silkscreen issues not really affecting aesthetics since it comes with the territory. Anything more major.. larger smears, missing silkscreen on identification markings, etc .. gets set aside. Generally they aren't too bad and with a full set if there's any header markings missing you can refer to a different board. I was going to use them up myself, but have accumulated enough I doubt that will happen. Probably 4x sets of 6-digit and 4x sets of 7-digit available for the discount. LMK here or via PM if interested.

#705 4 years ago

I've had people asking if I still have these conversion kits available, I guess since the thread is a bit long. Figure now's a good time to update on everything going on with these including availability, schematics, finalized instructions, etc.

Here's where things are at:

  • I still have 6-digit sets available, they should ship in 1-2 business days from when an order is placed. Those are available directly from the website @ http://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_conversion_led_display.php
  • I do have a few 7-digit sets still available, but removed those from the website since I'm down to my last 1-2x sets of pcbs for them. PM if interested in a set. Will get more PCBs ordered soon.
  • Peter Koch graciously whipped up some updated schematics for the conversion sets. I've linked these over @ http://www.pinitech.com/retrofit/schematics.php and also referenced this link in the instructions. The PDFs with depopulation and parallel resistors were also added to the instructions.
  • I'll be updating the instructions a bit more over the next month or so and may create more of a step-by-step breakout guide for assembly. No ETA yet on this but that's at this point the only other nice-to-have I see happening. Any additional suggestions/feedback is welcome!
  • I'll be trying to throw a PCB tool to aid with testing of these displays (and future display kits) into a PCB order soon. Something fairly cheap/basic that makes it easier to test at the bench.

I'm also getting back to a full display kit that got derailed earlier this year several times. Will be putting full focus on this over the next week and will start posting a few updates either here or my website as that progresses. Funding is tight as always, so I really do appreciate people supporting these products and hope to offer a great FULL display kit at a very attractive price sometime in the June/July time-frame!

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

#706 4 years ago

Anyone have 2 X 7 digit Bally glass displays in working order? Gonna go the other way with the bits and pieces from other conversions.

#707 4 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

Any interest in some PCB "seconds" with some silkscreen issues for $10 off per set? I have a few handfuls of of 6-digit and 7-digit sets available like this. When I get the board orders in I allow for some very small silkscreen issues not really affecting aesthetics since it comes with the territory. Anything more major.. larger smears, missing silkscreen on identification markings, etc .. gets set aside. Generally they aren't too bad and with a full set if there's any header markings missing you can refer to a different board. I was going to use them up myself, but have accumulated enough I doubt that will happen. Probably 4x sets of 6-digit and 4x sets of 7-digit available for the discount. LMK here or via PM if interested.

I'm interested in the lot Wayne, please send me a PM with a total price.

1 week later
#708 4 years ago

In retrospect, I should have experimented--white digits with different filters for a unique look--because blue is the obvious choice for this game.  However, I think my Star Gazer looks really good with the Retrofit 7-Digit Kit in blue.

20170530_141157 (resized).jpg

#709 4 years ago
Quoted from spiroagnew:

In retrospect, I should have experimented--white digits with different filters for a unique look--because blue is the obvious choice for this game.  However, I think my Star Gazer looks really good with the Retrofit 7-Digit Kit in blue.

Looks awesome in blue! I bet you would have gone with blue either way!

#710 4 years ago

Just recently got my set of 6-digit displays. Put one of them together tonight and popped it into my Smokey and the Bandit pin. Went with the white digits with deep amber filter. Wanted to have the option of changing colours. Pictures don't do it justice, but it looks great, even though I screwed up with the surrounding foam.

Conversion went almost perfectly except I screwed up on one of the transistors and reversed the legs. Surprisingly easy to do if you aren't careful. After re-reversing (?) the legs, voila !

I really do like the look of the thicker segments. Compared to my other skinny ass display, this looks great, IMO.

IMG_4809 (resized).JPG

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1 week later
#711 4 years ago
Quoted from schmoo:

Just recently got my set of 6-digit displays. Put one of them together tonight and popped it into my Smokey and the Bandit pin.

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the playfield when you get them taken! It's cool to know the conversion kits are being used in a re-theme like that And thanks for the feedback, glad to be hearing from everyone that they enjoy the kits!

#712 4 years ago

Good News! More 7-digit conversion PCBs have been ordered, so should have plenty of stock of those soon. I'll be ordering more 6-digit conversion PCBs as well since I'm lower on those too.

These are still by far the cheapest way to get nice-looking and low-current usage LED displays in your machine right now. Very BUDGET friendly! That is, if you have some old displays kicking around and don't mind a bit of soldering work $79.95 to upgrade 5x 6-digit plasma displays to AMBER LED displays that look fantastic once completed. Have had multiple people telling me their 2nd set goes together much faster because they're now pros at it. That's pretty cool to hear!

In other news, the full display kits are coming along! From the front they should look very similar to these RETROFIT kits & should also match brightness / current consumption. What that means is you'll be able to mix-and-match the full display kits with the RETROFIT conversion kits and they'll both look & function the same (ie. the digit panel design will look the same, but use different headers). No high current usage or over-driving of components (even the leds) like some displays being sold..just like the conversion kits you'll get a full set that plays along nicely with the 5v regulator.

Lots of ideas in the works. June/July is going to be an expensive couple of months for board and material orders But it's always cool creating some new things and hearing what people think!

Thanks again to all that bought a set of these & if you haven't already done so -- if you could take some pictures I'd love to add more machines to the RETROFIT GALLERY. Post them here or send an email/PM.

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

#713 4 years ago

Very cool. Thanks again for making these available! I imagine I'll be ordering a set later this year. (If all goes according to schedule, which occasionally does happen...)

-Brian

#714 4 years ago

It's coming folks! Just placed the first set of PCB orders for the full display.

display_sneakpeek.jpg

Will have a very limited quantity available when they come in & assuming everything checks out with them I'll make those available to anyone that wants to try them out for a bit of a discount.

I'm pretty excited, this is a project I've wanted to do for years. The boards look awesome I think & they should compliment the conversion displays as well. These will be offered at an attractive price-point, both as DIY Kits and Fully Assembled. That's all I'll say on that for now

Stay tuned & thanks for being patient! I'll have to start a new thread up on the full display kits, but just wanted to show a sneak peek and how they'll compliment the plasma-to-led conversion kit displays in this thread!!

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

#715 4 years ago

Nice that you're using ICs in place of driver transistors. Hopefully they're cheap. So easy to replace if one goes bad down the road.

Do you plan to do a run of larger boards to replace the Stern DA-300s? I'm tempted to buy some full kits seeing how I keep buying junk displays and they end up having bad boards, but the glass is good. I can't bring myself to tear them apart for the conversion.

#716 4 years ago
Quoted from dothedoo:

Nice that you're using ICs in place of driver transistors. Hopefully they're cheap. So easy to replace if one goes bad down the road.

They aren't too bad cost-wise. A bit more expensive than going with individual components for the drivers, but less components to assemble which is always good.

Quoted from dothedoo:

Do you plan to do a run of larger boards to replace the Stern DA-300s? I'm tempted to buy some full kits seeing how I keep buying junk displays and they end up having bad boards, but the glass is good. I can't bring myself to tear them apart for the conversion.

With the DA-300s you should be able to just reverse the display holder to the other side of the insert door, then they'll be the same depth as the Bally machines when inserting displays that aren't over-sized beasts like the DA-300

#717 4 years ago

Finally got to work on a simple display tester design I've been wanting to hammer out. This will attach to the J1 display header. It'll be aimed to just test the PINITECH displays. I'll probably offer it up as a DIY Kit as long as there's interest in it. Theoretically it could be used with other displays, but some displays are over-driving components and/or the leds themselves so connecting things at the bench like this without multiplexing would be bad news without any limiting of the supply current (ie. burning up leds or stressing driver ICs). So I'm not going to advertise it as working with anything else. It'll be a "use with caution" type of thing with any other displays.

Set the BCD data via DIP switch. Set which digit to turn on via the other DIP switch. Press the button. Keeping it simple.

display_tester.jpg

Could go with a decade counter at some point and then have button to increment through the numbers. For testing purposes, I'll probably mostly use it quick to throw an "8" at each digit. So this fits the bill & allows you to change the number displayed if desired. A meter can be connected in-series with the +5v supply to measure amperage.

This should be much nicer than the current wire harness / alligator mess I have right now. I think it'll be useful to anyone building out a lot of the conversion displays for sure.

Feedback is welcome. Haven't submitted this yet, probably next week. LMK if it's something you'd be interested in. Should be around/under a $15 price-point as a kit.

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

#718 4 years ago

Instead of adding a counter to change the number displayed, why not use a counter to strobe the digits so they are driven in a more natural state (pulsed). Then it could be compatible with other LED displays.

Without looking, I am pretty sure there is a chip that combines the 4 bit counter with the BCD decoder with 10 outputs? Add a 555 timer for the clock source.

Dipswitch selection of the numeral should be sufficient for static testing.

#719 4 years ago

I'd be interested in this.

#720 4 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Instead of adding a counter to change the number displayed, why not use a counter to strobe the digits so they are driven in a more natural state (pulsed). Then it could be compatible with other LED displays.
Without looking, I am pretty sure there is a chip that combines the 4 bit counter with the BCD decoder with 10 outputs? Add a 555 timer for the clock source.
Dipswitch selection of the numeral should be sufficient for static testing.

Yeah, that's not a bad suggestion. I think I'm still going to order this as-is for right now and get a small handful of prototype boards in just to verify the design works as intended. That'll clean up my wires and give me something to test with in the way I'd like with "actual" load with an "8" locked on a single digit. Then if there's enough interest in further development, take your suggestion (and any others that come in) and develop it further. Thanks for the feedback!

#721 4 years ago

Nice work!

#722 4 years ago

The new kits and the tester look sweet! Count me in when they are available

#723 4 years ago

More 7-digit RETROFIT conversion PCBs came in last week, plenty of stock of those now.

The more exciting news is the PCBs for the full display kits are actually due here today. They weren't supposed to come in until Wednesday, so I'm stoked. No doubt in my mind within 5 minutes of getting the package I'm going to be soldering one together and will likely update here later today with the results

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

#724 4 years ago

Cool, I'm very much looking forward to putting together some of these full kits.

#725 4 years ago

Heh.. glad I tested on my bench power supply first. Reversed a tantalum cap and it was eating up a ton of current. Long lead = positive, despite some V+ marking on the other lead. Turned it around and all is good.

display1 (resized).jpg

display2 (resized).jpg

Couple of minor tweaks I'm seeing for the next run of boards, but this round is definitely usable and I'll be offering up some kits for grabs at a discount starting later this week most likely. Already have a few people interested that I know of, but will likely be looking for at least another 5-8x people to send some out to.

display3 (resized).jpg

I'll discuss some of the minor tweaks in the next few days after I've had a chance to evaluate things more and give a bit more info for anyone interested in trying a set from this first run.

Woohoo! Time to build out a 7-digit set for Xenon!

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

#726 4 years ago

Very Nice!

#727 4 years ago

Some info on the first revision boards for the full display kits (including "minor tweaks" mentioned):
http://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_display_kit.php

I'll be following up with some of the people that had expressed interest in the REV1 full display kits soon. Or if you check out the link above and are definitely interested, you can let me know via PM if you were wanting a 6-digit or 7-digit set and led color preference. Just wanted to make sure I noted the minor issues with REV1 boards and tweaks I'll be making in the next revision. NO INSTRUCTIONS on these for right now, just a list of components & some general tips for the assembly. You'll need familiarity with assembling components on PCBs or building kits. Full Instructions will be coming later..

I'll try and get some introductory pricing info up on the website soon to give an idea of pricing. I'll likely not be posting the additional discounted pricing for the REV1 boards publicly. That seemed to cause confusion when I've done that before, so discounts will just be mentioned via PM/email as people contact me. Multiple sets per person are OK but I may need to limit that depending on interest.

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

#728 4 years ago

As per usual me, I'm working on instructions for the full display kits even though I said there probably wouldn't be any for the early batch of boards going out! Should have those ready by early next week. The kits are easy enough to build even without instructions but there's some polarity-sensitive components and a few tips even for people that know what they're doing. Plus they obviously need to be done to be able to sell the kit to any DIY'er.

One thing I'm not decided on yet is whether to include the foam tape like I have been for the RETROFIT kits. Seems enough people have been using it, I'm just not a big fan of the stuff since it's not easily removable and can't be positioned differently once installed. I can send it along with these early orders if people want it. May leave it as a free add-on item if you're buying a kit.. but I'll be looking for a better solution there going forward.

I should have a special announcement coming Monday if it pans out. Pretty excited, have been keeping a lid on it all this time. I'll likely be creating a new thread next week with details of everything, pricing & ordering info. Looking forward to getting some of these new kits out there, they're pretty awesome I think

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

#729 4 years ago

Tester board came in today & it's working great!

tester2 (resized).jpg

Also found a funny looking different type of board to plug it into in the same box of PCBs. Could it be part of the upcoming special announcement? Hmm..

tester1 (resized).jpg

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

#730 4 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

Also found a funny looking different type of board to plug it into in the same box of PCBs. Could it be part of the upcoming special announcement? Hmm..

That should make the system more reliable, not having to have 2 PCBs and connectors; and finally everyone can perfectly center their displays in the backglass on the old Sterns.

Great idea!

#731 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

and finally everyone can perfectly center their displays in the backglass on the old Sterns.
Great idea!

Nice job picking up on that feature Vid! I think it'll be great for more than just Sterns too. The displays being shifted too far right with the display windows in the backglass on my Xenon was the catalyst for creating something better I think games with backglasses built into the doors will benefit.. and it'll probably help just about any game if someone's OCD like me with wanting the displays centered a bit better.

So since the cat's out of the bag.. I'll be offering both a "traditional" 2-pcb style display, as well as a single PCB display. The single PCB display uses the same circuit, all the components are even marked the same. I think some people will still prefer the look of the traditional, while others will like the added benefit of being able to shift the displays with the single board design and slight cost savings it also offers.

Dubbing the single board design, the "UNO"

ballystern_led_display_single (resized).jpg

All of these displays, including the conversion kits.. could be mixed if you wanted to.

Will be discussing both display kits a bit more in the coming days in a new thread, and get some pricing info out there as well. I wanted to wait until I got the single board design in before starting to take orders or ship any display kits out so people that expressed interest could choose between the two styles.

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

1 week later
#732 4 years ago

I'm working on a Bally -15 board that does not have pull up resistors on the back of the board, so does that mean I don't need to add them?

#733 4 years ago
Quoted from Billc479:

I'm working on a Bally -15 board that does not have pull up resistors on the back of the board, so does that mean I don't need to add them?

Followed up via email, but so other people know -- on the early display boards (Bally -15 and the Stern "curvy trace" DA-100 boards) they don't have the footprint for the pull-up resistor on the 2N5401. I'm guessing at some point they started adding those to the back from the factory or some service bulletin went out, because I've seen quite a few of those boards with the pull-up resistors soldered on the back. Later revisions of the board then added a footprint for this pull-up resistor to the component board.

I've been recommending people still add the 47k pull-up if they have a -15 or early DA-100 without it. It's a good idea so the PNP stays fully off when the digit's not selected, even though in my own testing I didn't notice any display "weirdness" without the resistor.

#734 4 years ago

Forgot to update this thread with this info. On the new FULL kits mentioned in recent weeks, there's a new thread @ https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-diy-led-display-kits-for-classic-ballystern-budget-friendly -- so I'll be keeping any discussion over there on those from now on and and return you to your regularly scheduled RETRO programming.

On that note, someone visiting Vegas this week told me they saw these plasma-to-led conversion displays in a few machines at PHoF & liked them. I thought that was pretty cool. Tim bought a couple of WHITE sets, one with magenta filters and one with green. I'm going to imagine the magenta was for Playboy, but one never knows

#735 4 years ago

Attached is a pic of blue retrofits in Evel Knievel. The pic doesn't do the actual look any justice. Very cool, and thanks to Wayne for designing and selling the kits. Good Job!

IMG_3133[1] (resized).JPG

2 weeks later
#736 4 years ago

I had the chance to review the Retrofit kit, and perform an interview with acebathound about the creation and proliferation of the DIY display kit. If you've already performed a conversion, I'm sure much of this is old hat...but worth a look anyhow.

REVIEW: Pinitech’s Retrofit Conversion LED Display Kit
https://creditdotpinball.com/2017/08/04/review-pinitechs-retrofit-conversion-led-display-kit/

4 months later
#737 3 years ago

Sorry about availability on these guys!

In getting a handle on the new full display sets, I kind of ran myself out of pre-packaged kit components on these conversion displays. So I've had them removed from the website at times.. or otherwise unavailable to order.

Should have better availability in 2018, starting around February. I'm low on 6-digit sets at this time & overbought on 7-digit panels, not realizing there weren't as many 7-digit original displays out there for donor boards. I've been half-thinking of just phasing this product out, but I'm going to let it ride for the entirety of 2018.. which means I'll order in another run of 6-digit panels in January & then make sure I get plenty of component kits bagged up so I can keep these cheaper conversion sets available through 2018. Depending on how sales go through the year, I'll then make a decision at the end of 2018 whether I do any additional PCB orders on these conversion kits.

Very grateful to everyone that purchased a set, tried something "different" and saw what I did in the design! These were the catalyst toward building out a full display set of my own.. and I can't thank everyone enough for helping that to happen! Really, I'm so thankful to everyone that's supported what I've created over the years.. from the diagnostic tools to these display kits -- and beyond. Your support has helped me to do what I enjoy, being creative & offering something unique to the community. So many many thanks to all of you! =]

And since it's that time of the year..
HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you all! Here's to an awesome 2018 for everyone!

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

1 month later
#738 3 years ago

Six digit retro kit, two board using old board - Problem is100,000 six segment displays same value as ones six segment. Any help is appreciated.

Problem with Q12 or Q7?

#739 3 years ago
Quoted from Friengineer:

Six digit retro kit, two board using old board - Problem is100,000 six segment displays same value as ones six segment. Any help is appreciated.
Problem with Q12 or Q7?

Seems like a failure for the digit enable circuit on whichever digit is displaying the incorrect number. Level shifter (Q1, Q6) , 2n5401 (Q7, Q12).. or a short that's bypassing the digit enable circuit for the offending digit and keeping the digit enabled.

Is it the 1s digit or 100,000s digit that's incorrect?

#740 3 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

Seems like a failure for the digit enable circuit on whichever digit is displaying the incorrect number. Level shifter (Q1, Q6) , 2n5401 (Q7, Q12).. or a short that's bypassing the digit enable circuit for the offending digit and keeping the digit enabled.
Is it the 1s digit or 100,000s digit that's incorrect?

the 100,000s digit was incorrect. I replaced Q6 and it fixed the problem. I was going to replace Q1, Q6, Q7, Q12, one by one to see where the failure was. Q6 was the first to be replaced. The transistors tested fine.

It took me a while to finish 5 DA100s but I'm really happy with the experience. My Meteor rebuild will be all the better for having newish displays.

2 months later
#741 3 years ago

Hey there Pinside

I'd like to judge interest in continuing these conversion kits before placing another order for 6-digit boards.

WAITLIST @ http://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_display_retrofit.php

I'm not expecting high demand now that I've got the complete display kits available, but occasionally have people ask about these conversion kits still and just wanted to get something added to the thread.

I've got enough 7-digit boards as I had ordered a bulk of those when the last batch ran out, but OOS on the 6-digit boards. Would just like to make sure at least 8-10x people would be interested in buying a set before ordering another batch in.

Thanks!

3 weeks later
#742 3 years ago

Wanted to get a note on this thread as well.

Recently got some foam light blocks in for the full display sets I'm selling and they'll also work for the RETROFIT sets since the digit spacing is the same.

Note: May be best for anyone that just tossed the weather stripping foam and has been waiting for a better solution. The adhesive on the weather stripping makes a mess and would otherwise take a while to clean up with goo-gone. If you're okay getting the bulk of the weather stripping removed and leaving it "sticky" behind the foam light block, that would also work.

foam_lightblock.jpg

Contact me via PM if you're interested in ordering for a display set you already purchased from PINITECH & I'll send over a link with discounted pricing.

retrofit_foam.jpg

3 weeks later
#743 3 years ago

Finally got in a new PCB order for more 6-digit PCBs for the RETROFIT conversion kits!

So after a long hiatus...

Both 6-digit and 7-digit kits are available via shopping cart once again:
http://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_display_retrofit.php


Special Note: This may be the final board order for these kits. Demand via inquiries/waitlist has been very light, so I'm imagining even with long-term availability via shopping cart now, sales will remain light on this product. If that's the case, I'll plan on selling through existing inventory and call it a wrap =)


This project was the catalyst to some other great ideas and products. It was also one of those make-or-break moments. I've done a lot of niche projects/products, but this one was asking a lot as a DIY Kit and requiring desoldering parts on donor boards. Had only a few people bought into the idea, I might not still be creating things for the pinball community today. Investing thousands in materials gets a bit dicey at times Luckily, enough people were excited to try something different and take a chance. I'm truly grateful. It's allowed me to keep on creating, and that's the fun part!

May your converted displays make your games look amazing for years to come & shelves be forever "lightened"!
...... okay, lighter than they would have been if you hung onto worn out plasma displays anyway

Take care,
Wayne

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

2 months later
#744 3 years ago

Inventory Update **LIMITED WHITE DIGITS**
Limited WHITE digits are remaining for these kits & I'd estimate by late October / November timeframe to only have AMBER/BLUE digit options available for the RETROFIT style display sets. I'll update here again when this happens & you'll see the WHITE digit options & color filter options (except smoke/neutral) disappear from the RETROFIT product page.

RETROFIT Kits in 2019
The last few months have confirmed that even with 6-digit RETROFIT PCBs available again, sales will remain light (ie. a single handful of sets a year or less). Unfortunately on my side, these kits have always suffered from high material cost & thin margins, so I've got to make a decision to just pull-the-plug as far as what's available via shopping cart on products like this and "thin the heard" on what isn't selling much at all.

In early 2019, I'm going to remove the RETROFIT display offerings from the website. This is to help avoid confusion with the other display sets I'm offering. No sense in making it harder for people to figure out what they need when browsing the website. I'll have materials for these kits available for the next few years.. if not longer.. so I'll be able to entertain direct requests via email/PM for these going forward (as time permits & barring any other material shortages).

4 months later
#745 2 years ago

Never updated here, but I've been out of WHITE generic digits on these sets for a while. Still have some AMBER generic digits, but that'll be next to run out. BLUE generic digits, I should have stock of for a while.

I'm sure I've mentioned this in some regard, but material cost was always quite high on these kits. Just the nature of the beast. Darn near 50% of the Introductory Pricing I had setup on the AMBER sets.. so when these were priced at $80 for AMBER Kits for introductory pricing, after material costs, PP fees and taxes I'm lucky if it amounted to $20 per kit actual profits. And that's for packaging up all the individual kit contents, spending time shipping it out and COMPLETELY ignores hundreds of hours that were put into the design, instructions, etc and the customer support side of things.


I'll just throw a caution out for anyone thinking there's big money in display products from a manufacturing standpoint. It also explains the reason I'm not dead-set on getting into other display products for Williams games, etc. The Kit or Assembled pricing of display sets out there you see for most/all aftermarket LED display sets is VERY reasonable. Material costs are high & considering some of these guys have their products with distributors who expect 25-35% off retail pricing & the customer can buy a display set for $150-250. It's incredible actually. These aren't high volume products. Tons of competition keeps pricing down. The ROI for the customer is *incredible* because he/she gets to enjoy the displays for years. What's that work out to for the cost per-month or per-week? And often you free up an original display that you can sell or use in another game. Displays to me are like NVRAM, a no-brainer upgrade that you really can't lose much on. Sell the machine and it can be priced higher because it has LED displays in it... or you swap them out and the LED displays still have value.

Wolffpac sells Sys3-6 Williams display kits at $100 shipped that I wouldn't touch myself. Do people recognize the deal that is? Probably not. I've got no problem voicing a bit of opinion here on how much of a deal it actually is..

For those $100 early Williams display sets:
Priority shipping alone is $8-12
Paypal fees on $100 is another $3.30
Material costs $30.00-$40.00 most likely
---------------------------
Total cost ~$50 or more when you average in variable Priority shipping rates to different parts of the US.

So let's go with $50 gross profit per SET. That then gets taxed by fed, state, local authorities because you *ARE* a business selling anything with the intent to make profit. There's then SS/medicare of 15.3%. Even in a lower tax bracket, that's going to whittle that gross profit down to about $30.00 take-home per display kit. The kit costs time to package, ship, handle customer support, etc and you have to deal with tax paperwork other aspects of running a business.

Say you ship 100 full sets of kits a year, which is quite a few really. So you make $3k take-home. Big whoop as a manufacturer when you consider the risk in ordering in materials, the time in packaging and shipping, the added liability of having more and more products out there, customer questions when kit builds don't go right the first time. That same $3k could have been made buying/reselling a few pinball machines with considerably less work.

It's A-M-A-Z-I-N-G that there are people in this hobby willing to do this stuff at what amounts to bargain pricing.

I'm not talking about decals, anodized lock nuts, rubber rings, or stuff that otherwise comes as what it is and gets thrown in a box/envelope. That's the profitable stuff and smarter things to be selling. Niche PCB products that are often hand-assembled, not so much.


If people only knew some of the costs involved and what it actually amounted to sometimes... heh. For the guys hand-assembling PCB products and offering at competitive pricing, there's a lot more of just being thrilled offering something that helps people out and feeling you've made a mark on the world, than very large profits happening. Just some things to keep in mind when shopping for PCB products. Ask yourself, "what do I gain?" Personally, I think the upside is pretty large for the customer but that's understanding all of the costs involved and what things boil down to.

This isn't a pitch for these RETROFIT Kits. I've got no reason to pitch them any more or fight for sales because there's such thin margins on them and always have been. Once the last 20x or so kits ship out that'll be it. I was happy to make something different and prove it could be done.

My real purpose in putting out some factual info like this is just to educate some people on a real-world view of profits on niche pinball PCB products. There's assumptions made on what profits exist, when it's a bit different than most people might think. A lot of these products are *dirt cheap*. The only way to make really good money is a high volume product, with a large profit margin, that magically appears at your door ready-to-ship. That's not pinball PCBs since many of the small guys doing this stuff are hand-assembling kits or boards themselves and the labor has to be added into the price. Believe me, labor figured in is ridiculously low in most cases -- I think some people just ignore it because they're excited to be selling something of their own so they're happy making 2-3x material cost. My hats off to people building these types products or offering diy kits at reasonable prices.

Now go buy some early Williams display kits from Wolffpac for $100, it's a steal!

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

#746 2 years ago

Maybe it's too early in the morning here, but I can't find anything on Pinside when I search for Williams display kits. Can you please provide a link acebathound ?

#747 2 years ago

Right now they are only for the 6 digit Williams games. As soon as there are 7 digit DIY Williams kits, I am a buyer.

Also, you have to search for Wolffpac on Pinside with 2 FF's.

#748 2 years ago
Quoted from Pinballer73:

Maybe it's too early in the morning here, but I can't find anything on Pinside when I search for Williams display kits. Can you please provide a link acebathound ?

Sure, here's a review someone did on Pinside:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-display-kits-for-williams-games-review

Wolffpac sells them direct @ https://www.wolffpactech.com/shop-1

Since you're in Australia, I'd imagine you'd be on-the-hook for shipping in some regard. Here in the US I think it's all free domestic shipping.

Anyone that buys one and has a few working displays gains the extra displays for another game or can probably make most if not all their money back. I don't see a downside. Course you have to be able to solder for the DIY Kit, but if Wolffpac still offers assembled on his boards he's probably fairly priced that way too. Great price, get 'em while you can!

#749 2 years ago
Quoted from snyper2099:

Also, you have to search for Wolffpac on Pinside with 2 FF's.

My bad, I updated some of the spellings. Hopefully the guy doesn't mind having some more business on them hah.

#750 2 years ago

Thanks you for the replies, much appreciated. I'm in need of a few sets of Williams System 7. Hopefully @Wolffpac will expand his range and makes these as well.

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