(Topic ID: 153216)

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


By acebathound

3 years ago



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#51 3 years ago

Hi Pini,

I like your willingness in creating such an option, but I 'm a bit critic about the real market interest and result.
Why I'm telling you that?
Because I did the same for Zaccaria pinballs, I have produced a full set of PCBs for all Zaccaria Generations with which you can modify your original displays and you can buy them from me via Ebay or other sources.
20150904_191652_(resized).jpg

You find an example here:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-product-zaccaria-led-displays

Where is the problem?
For a single display to modify I estimate 1h work in order to remove few resistors and create the 5v jumper and so on...
When you consider the economical investment, then you add on top that result is aesthetically not perfect, on a term of power consumption not the best, I'm not sure that this would be the best choice.
From my position I can tell you that I sold few of them but of course Zaccaria market potentials is not the same as Bally.

The PCB for the Bally 7 digits is more or less the same I made for Zaccaria because 7 digits display used the same Beckmann gas display.

Now I add something more, after producing the modification kits I produced the full led displays which are plug & play, nicely finished, with new features, brightness control, etc. etc. and there I found some important market interest, because not everyone has all that time to spend in applying modifications on 5 different boards.

Finally I exploited my experience with led displays and I built my first prototype for Bally/Stern and here you can see the Candidate Release of a new Bally LED display.

Why I'm saying all of this? Because I think you produce very nice tools and you have to keep doing that, but I'm scared you're putting a bit too many energies on this projects which comes after tons of LED displays for Bally available on the market and from all kind of prices. There are more or less 5 different producers for the same display model.

You were thinking of 100$ for a 5 displays kit, I don't know if with orange or red led displays.
You can find new led displays with orange leds from 30€/piece already assembled and ready to use.
As someone said before "Why would I do all this work to save few $$" ???
The new ones have also brightness regulation and low power consumption.
I think therefore that in order to gather market interest, the price of your kit should be much lower and justify the work needed and the missing new features.

Please take this post as my honest opinion and suggestion to you and not as a try to criticize your work.

Good luck for all your work
Gianfri

20160213_100918_(resized).jpg

#52 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

You were thinking of 100$ for a 5 displays kit, I don't know if with orange or red led displays.
You can find new led displays with orange leds from 30€/piece already assembled and ready to use.
As someone said before "Why would I do all this work to save few $$" ???
The new ones have also brightness regulation and low power consumption.
I think therefore that in order to gather market interest, the price of your kit should be much lower and justify the work needed and the missing new features.
Please take this post as my honest opinion and suggestion to you and not as a try to criticize your work.
Good luck for all your work
Gianfri
20160213_100918_(resized).jpg

I'll let others be the judge of the pricing and whether it's worth their time. Personally, I think $90 for a set of conversion kits for 5x displays (in RED) or around $95-100 (in WHITE, that gives the ability of using led gels) is pretty fair. Your Zaccaria display conversion kits that you linked are 29 EUR (about $31.75) and I see you're selling those for 25 EUR (about $27ea) on eBay. How is $20 USD (or $18-19ea if buying a set) not low enough to gain market interest? Much lower and there's not much profit at all to go through the trouble of doing this kind of thing.

As far as whether people want to spend the time.. there seems to be a good amount of interest in this thread. I dunno, I like the idea of not throwing out the old boards. This was a neat project and it's cool to see some other people liked the idea too.

On power consumption.. I've been testing a lot and also doing general load testing on machines, and this would "play nice" with the 5v regulator. Maybe not as much as some of the aftermarket displays out there, but certainly much better than one of the "less efficient" ones. Most machines probably use 1.6-1.8A. Even the 3A regulator seems to have enough headroom to support another 1-1.5A, especially with it being multiplexed.

#53 3 years ago

Well, the cheapest alternative in low end pricing I could find were the Wolffpac product which is still a kit and requires assembly. $139.95 for 4 7 digit display kits plus $35.95 for the 6 digit kit. = $175.90USD.

So, unless I am missing another product out there, that's still a big savings to me. But it will all depend on how easily the conversion to the original PCB ends up being that I think will dictate final interest.

#54 3 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Well, the cheapest alternative in low end pricing I could find were the Wolffpac product which is still a kit and requires assembly. $139.95 for 4 7 digit display kits plus $35.95 for the 6 digit kit. = $175.90USD.
So, unless I am missing another product out there, that's still a big savings to me. But it will all depend on how easily the conversion to the original PCB ends up being that I think will dictate final interest.

Have to admit, I'm pretty interested in this as well.

Looks pretty easy/less time-consuming.

#55 3 years ago

I think there's just some concern over competition with people doing similar things. And that's understandable, but I'm not sure the comments against a conversion display favor a full-blown kit (more on that below). I think there's probably much more of a market [in the US anyway] for Bally conversion displays than there would be for Zaccaria. And maybe price is a factor there too as it looks like the conversion Zaccaria display kits are about $27 USD at their cheapest, whereas a full-blown kit is $48. Perhaps if the conversion displays were $20, then compared to the other option of $48 full-blown displays they would get more attention.

Anyway, I'll address some of the other thoughts..

1. Cheaper Assembled Displays. If there's $30ea assembled displays somewhere as mentioned, I'd love to see a link. But this would make any of the current full-blown display kits out there not worth selling too.

2. Cost. From what I've seen, even at $20 per conversion display -- that's still cheaper than anything else out there. This makes up for lacking a few features I think. And it would very likely be less than $20 if a full set was purchased (ie. $90-95 for a set of 5x which puts the per display cost at about $18-19ea). I did have thoughts of offering these several different ways too.. if people wanted to source components themselves. I figure people wouldn't mind having options both ways though, just like I'm sure these kits won't be for *everyone* as some people would rather shiny new boards for the entire display or something already assembled & completely plug-and-play.

3. Build time. Obviously it depends on experience and tools, but I don't see labor/time involved in a conversion kit being any more than with a full-blown kit that would likely take 45-60min build time per display. I actually think a conversion kit could go pretty fast after someone did a few of them.. probably 20-30 minutes each. Maybe closer to 1hr if you wanted to completely remove components instead of soldering many of the resistors in parallel on the back of the board.

4. Aesthetics. The display would look as-nice as other kits out there when installed in a machine. Most people aren't looking at the component boards and the component board would still look nice enough as well. On the back, worst case there's a jumper wire and some resistors soldered in parallel. The drawback as with most DIY displays is no commas (or custom digits). Plenty of people seem fine with no commas though if the price is right.

5. No Dimming / PWM. Yeah, that's a feature this wouldn't have. But if someone wants to adjust the brightness they could swap out resistors on the segments easy enough.. or even use 1pos SIP sockets on those resistors for the first display and swap resistors around until they found what brightness worked. I'm pretty sure even on displays that have a dimmer, most people are just going to set the level initially when installed & it's never going to be touched again. It's a nice "feature" but to me kind of unnecessary after the initial install. These are DIY, so it's easy enough for someone to swap out resistor values if they want to achieve a different brightness.. and once you find what works you could use that as the model for other displays being built.

6. Power Consumption. I've seen mentioned *over and over* how led displays could tax the 3A 5v regulator. Instead of guessing what load was being added, I did both analysis on the machine load without led displays & then again with a few aftermarket led displays added. Only one of the aftermarket displays hit the regulator hard (about 220-230mA additional load per display added). I used these tests while working with this conversion display idea & it looks like they'll be about 80-95mA measurable load per display in the worst-case of all 8s held on the display. I need to verify that again, but that's considerably less than 220mA from the "less efficient" aftermarket display that has been sold & used in many games. None of this is an argument against adding power saving components (ie. PWM, regulator) on full led display kits.. but there are plenty without them and the machines can support it because of multiplexing & the head-room even on a 3A 5v regulator. At least from what I have seen with the load, there appears to be plenty of head-room.

7. Savings/Economics. People seem okay with saving $35-40 by buying a set of displays as a kit over assembled displays that have custom digits. I'm a bit surprised by that, but everyone likes something different & saving money is still saving money if you don't mind putting in the time. Saving near $100 by converting old displays (while also having the positive benefit of helping the environment) should then be all the more appealing.

--

I hope that addresses some of the things mentioned. It really isn't a big deal even if there wasn't interest in this any more than for my own use, but it's looking like there's enough interest to justify having some of these made up and not having to worry too much about getting "stuck" with materials.

For me, $150 for kits is too close to $185-195 for an assembled display that's plug-and-play and uses custom digits, not enough to motivate me to go the kit route. I'd rather save the time and buy assembled. A $90-95 conversion display set though.. if the labor isn't too bad and the end result is nice -- now that has my interest. And the reason why is that many of these older Bally/Stern games are sub-$1000 machines. It's easier spending $200 for a new display on the later System 11, WPC, etc games when the games are $1500-2500+. But putting an additional $200 into a $600-800 Bally/Stern, that's too high a percentage I think. That doesn't really make sense to me, unless it's a long-term keeper or you only have a few machines. But a way to upgrade to LED displays for $90-95 per machine.. now you've got my attention. Now the numbers work out (with respect to machine value versus display cost).

#56 3 years ago

I was just checking out the Zaccaria conversion display pictures a bit more. It's actually quite remarkable to have arrived at a similar design on the one conversion display that requires connection via a plasma footprint. I didn't even notice that design until now, and that's the honest truth. But it looks like there was the same idea -- where recreating the plasma footprint 3.18 pitch footprint & having it so you'd use jumper wires between the displays. Then having screw-holes to allow for brackets to be used between the boards, that would both align the plasma footprints & add support. It's just interesting now that I see it.. how similar the thought was there.

I have had things like that happen before -- like my Bally "bench led display" where I thought I was doing something totally different with having a jumpers & momentary buttons to switch between the different players & credit/match. A year later I tripped across an old project page from Leon where he used a big rotary switch for something like that. It's really weird when that happens

#57 3 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

I'll let others be the judge of the pricing and whether it's worth their time. Personally, I think $90 for a set of conversion kits for 5x displays (in RED) or around $95-100 (in WHITE, that gives the ability of using led gels) is pretty fair.

Oooh I'm totally in for a set of white! I want to try some different colored gels.

#58 3 years ago
Quoted from dothedoo:

Oooh I'm totally in for a set of white! I want to try some different colored gels.

Yeah I'm really leaning on just going with WHITE / RED digits on these, unless for some reason the led gel idea doesn't work out. RED because they're significantly cheaper than any of the other colors and could be reflected in the display set price. WHITE because it would be the most versatile.. and you could get led gels to arrive to an "AMBER" that was to your liking -- or create any other color. Since white is similar in cost to other colors, it makes more sense just to limit to the cheapest option & the most versatile option.

#59 3 years ago

Could someone explain me how to activate email notifications on new replies? I could not find the option

Let's start from the point that we did exactly the same work, you for Bally and me for Zaccaria. We both wanted to recycle the old boards and that's just nice and green attitude.
This comes certainly from Leon's Borré researches from Belgium who already 10y ago produced the first LED modification guides for all the Pinball marchines (Bally, Zaccaria, etc so on).
You find the Bally project here:
http://home.scarlet.be/~cv006274/ledbal/eled.htm

Quoted from acebathound:

I'll let others be the judge of the pricing and whether it's worth their time. Personally, I think $90 for a set of conversion kits for 5x displays (in RED) or around $95-100 (in WHITE, that gives the ability of using led gels) is pretty fair. Your Zaccaria display conversion kits that you linked are 29 EUR (about $31.75) and I see you're selling those for 25 EUR (about $27ea) on eBay. How is $20 USD (or $18-19ea if buying a set) not low enough to gain market interest? Much lower and there's not much profit at all to go through the trouble of doing this kind of thing.

The question is correct and the answer is that if you take them in kit (non assembled) price is even lower but the main point is that on Bally market the difference between a complete display and the mod kit is smaller.

As I told you, but I will not publish any link to commercial websites unless you want it on private message, you can find new Bally Led Orange fully assembled and with brightness regulation displays as of 27,9€/piece and a full 5 displays set for 135€ (already assembled).
I cannot tell you more about unassembled kit but I'm sure you will agree that with the unassembled ones you'd get closer even if not as cheap as the modification kits.
That's why on my opinion the margins are too small but that's just an opinion and opinions have their objective limits.

Regarding Wolffpac, I must admit I don't like the final result therefore I'm not referring to this one in particular even if is one of the cheapest on the market but complex.

I'm not going to context your estimation in time, but for doing the Zaccaria ones, if you add resistors, jumpers, led to solder on PCB etc other small things you need between 45min and 1h. If you add on top of that that on Bally you also need to solder all the wirings from the PCB to the main board (I haven't understood if you also need to replace transistors) I don't think you're going for 20 mins.

Aesthetisc, yes, you're right, it's going to appear more or less the same, only the very expensive ones from rottendogs or xpin have special led digits with the funny comma on it.

For the power, when I tested it on my prototype, I had a bit less than 100mA per display, which is way more lower than 200 or 300mA. I'll test again with the new Release Canddate and let you know. Here you have a challenge
Zaccaria have 5A regulator which is really big, you can really play araound with it, Bally I don't know but it should be as you said 3A which leaves a bit less margins.

Btw, go haed, I don't want to stop you from doing this, I just want to warn you about some weak points I have learned from my direct experience.

Regards
Gianfri

#60 3 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

I was just checking out the Zaccaria conversion display pictures a bit more. It's actually quite remarkable to have arrived at a similar design on the one conversion display that requires connection via a plasma footprint. I didn't even notice that design until now, and that's the honest truth. But it looks like there was the same idea -- where recreating the plasma footprint 3.18 pitch footprint & having it so you'd use jumper wires between the displays. Then having screw-holes to allow for brackets to be used between the boards, that would both align the plasma footprints & add support. It's just interesting now that I see it.. how similar the thought was there.
I have had things like that happen before -- like my Bally "bench led display" where I thought I was doing something totally different with having a jumpers & momentary buttons to switch between the different players & credit/match. A year later I tripped across an old project page from Leon where he used a big rotary switch for something like that. It's really weird when that happens

that's my conversion kit for Beckmann Zaccaria board:
20150903_004931_(resized).jpg

and yes, you're right, we did almost the same things

#61 3 years ago

Some additional thoughts on the conversions (and later, getting a bit technical for the people that want to know). As far as replacing transistors. My feeling right now is that some people may be able to leave all the original digit driver transistors in the board without an issue, some people may need to replace one or more of those if they notice that a few digits are dimmer than others. I think probably the way to go is to do the conversion without replacing the digit drivers, try the display out & then swap out any transistors that are noticeably more dim -- or swap all 7x out if necessary. Ultimately I have to see how the first few sets of these I convert go.. but I don't see it 100% necessary to replace those transistors, only if needed.

I've been working to reduce power consumption on the converted display as much as possible, with consideration of the limits in the existing footprints on the board. I'm pretty sure where things are at right now, there's maybe 100mA usage per display, if that. I've had it read anywhere from 75-95mA in the machine, with all 8s being held. I need to verify that again.. and then once again after converting more of original displays over.. but that's basically where I think things will end up. I don't think that's too bad, all things considered.. and when compared to the 220mA per display that the more power hungry aftermarket display is utilizing.

As far as reducing power consumption a bit further, there's about 24 mA being used by the segment NPN's (2-3mA each) between the 4543 and base of the NPN -- since there's no current limiting resistor there. A 10k resistor between the 4543 segment lines and NPN base would remove most of that additional load. So you'd then likely be at about 50mA-70mA measurable current per display. I'm not sure it's entirely needed.. I like the idea of a resistor there, but it would mean cutting the NPN base leg.. clearing its through-hole and soldering a resistor to the NPN base & dropping the other end of the resistor in the through-hole. It's an option though if someone wants to go through the trouble. But the original design just had the 4543 tied directly to the NPN base.. and seems like it was wasting some power on its own (I measured 13mA on a 6-digit and 17mA on a 7-digit) -- with signal lines "faked" at the bench (ie. 4543 segment lines active) on a plasma display.

#62 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

As I told you, but I will not publish any link to commercial websites unless you want it on private message, you can find new Bally Led Orange fully assembled and with brightness regulation displays as of 27,9€/piece and a full 5 displays set for 135€ (already assembled).

I don't mind you posting a link to those? I'd rather know about cheaper assembled display options. Go right ahead and post a link -- if this type of project isn't worth doing because there's already very cheap assembled displays out there.. I'd rather know sooner than later.

Quoted from gianfri:

I cannot tell you more about unassembled kit but I'm sure you will agree that with the unassembled ones you'd get closer even if not as cheap as the modification kits.

I do cost analysis as I'm sure anyone designing things would. I see at least 30-40% if not more cost in materials with doing full display kits. I would think there is *a little* wiggle room in pricing there too (ie. a full display kit *might* still have some profit at $25 per) but at some point it becomes not worth the trouble. A conversion kit has more wiggle room since it drops the cost of the additional PCB & components. Still, the led digits are the more expensive part, as I'm sure you're aware. A large part of the reason I didn't do display kits earlier was because I figured for people to be interested the price would have to be $130 or less for a set. Apparently I misjudged the market there, as it seems people are perfectly happy saving just $30-40 over the cost of an assembled display by buying the displays as a kit.

Quoted from gianfri:

I'm not going to context your estimation in time, but for doing the Zaccaria ones, if you add resistors, jumpers, led to solder on PCB etc other small things you need between 45min and 1h. If you add on top of that that on Bally you also need to solder all the wirings from the PCB to the main board (I haven't understood if you also need to replace transistors) I don't think you're going for 20 mins.

I see 20-30 minutes best-case for people with experience. I assemble a lot of boards, I'm pretty sure I could hit that easily. You'd have to have the right tools & technique down.. but I'd imagine most people that bought one of these would find they become more efficient after the first few and get closer to a 30min assembly. Again though, it's going to be dependent on tools & experience. I'll have a better idea of timeframe when I get boards in and do some conversions. If I find issues or if there's no way even after doing a handful of displays to hit a 20-30 minute mark, I'll update that thought. I really don't see 1hr though. Someone without proper tools or limited experience, sure.. I could see 1hr. But there's people that built some of my other kits (ie. 64 switch tester) in 2hrs.. and others that built it in 45-60 minutes. It just depends on experience and technique. I'll be making recommendations for technique to make assembly quicker/easier when possible as I usually do with kits.

Quoted from gianfri:

For the power, when I tested it on my prototype, I had a bit less than 100mA per display, which is way more lower than 200 or 300mA. I'll test again with the new Release Canddate and let you know. Here you have a challenge.

I'm at around 100mA. I think you could probably reduce the power consumption a bit further, especially with a regulator & PWM. 100mA actually seems pretty high for having PWM and a regulator on the board if that's measurable current usage while in a machine & not with one digit locked on (with signals faked) at the bench -- ie. actual current without multiplexing. These conversion displays are nowhere near 200-300mA measurable current while in a machine -- closer to 100mA if that. The reason the "less-than-efficient" aftermarket display I keep bringing up was 220mA current usage was because of improper transistor gain, near as I can tell. When I first played around with components on these conversion displays, I was hitting near 200mA as well, until I fixed the transistor gain issue. Now it's measuring 100mA or less with all 8s held on the displays.. while in the machine, with full 5v getting to all the boards. I think that's pretty decent, considering there's no on-board PWM or regulator & I don't see 500mA additional measurable load (due to multiplexing) for 5x displays or 1A "calculated load" hitting the regulator being that big of a deal, especially considering there have been worst offenders on the market for YEARS and I've seen very few people mention having problems even with those.

Quoted from gianfri:

Btw, go haed, I don't want to stop you from doing this, I just want to warn you about some weak points I have learned from my direct experience.

I don't mind the feedback/opinions. It's all good Sometimes more than one person works on something similar. I've wanted to do some kind of full display replacements for a while. And this was a challenge finding both a sleek way to easily convert an old display board, as well as having it look nice, as well as being conscientious of power usage. It was a fun project, and as I've said.. even if for some reason it worked out that it was only going to get used in my own machines, I'm happy enough.

#63 3 years ago

I've obviously been a lot more vocal about all the technical aspects of what I'm doing here. It's just how I am, because to me.. these are neat little projects, challenges many times.. and it's cool pulling off something that works out slick. Plus it's nice educating people a bit as I learn things too. I'm not the smartest guy doing this stuff and I don't claim to be. But if I want to pull something off and have it look nice and function well, I'll find a way. Many people wouldn't have started a thread to judge interest and then started writing about the technical aspects of solving a solution like this.. but I like hearing what other people think, being able to gauge interest some on an idea & most importantly.. possibly having someone think of something I didn't to ultimately create a better design.

In regard to this link -- http://home.scarlet.be/~cv006274/ledbal/eled.htm I actually just found that again late last week *after* I had figured out I could get away without removing so many components. Would have saved me time if I found it earlier lol, instead of working through the schematic myself. 3-5 years ago I'd probably have followed the build process in those designs verbatim & thought nothing of it, but doing a conversion as outlined there adds a tremendous amount of current on the displays (and in-rush current too when powering on a machine) because of not handling transistor gain properly on the digit drivers. I think near 200mA per display measurable in the machine, and likely MUCH HIGHER actual "calculated" load if you were to just follow those steps. With some small tweaks to the components to set transistor gain, you can significantly reduce current usage. That's been part of what I've worked on.

Anyway, I don't mind any opinions, no harm done. We're just two people solving a similar solution (which is ultimately attempting to offer a lower cost way of upgrading to led displays in these machines). Really the only time opinions bother me is when someone is attacking a product or has blatantly copied someone else's work. That's not the case here. But, I do want to say.. if there was any thought that there was any copying done with this display digit panel design, then I'm sorry to give that impression. I never saw those conversion displays with the plasma footprint that you linked. It really is quite amazing how two people arrived at a very similar solution to solve the type of displays that just have a 3.18mm pitch plasma footprint for a connection. I'm not a fan of the way the board is "cut out" in order to use 2.54mm headers on it, I think wires running to the plasma footprint would be much easier and look nicer. Anyway, the idea was similar enough.. so it goes to show that logically it made sense.

#64 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

As I told you, but I will not publish any link to commercial websites unless you want it on private message, you can find new Bally Led Orange fully assembled and with brightness regulation displays as of 27,9€/piece and a full 5 displays set for 135€ (already assembled).

Ok I found possibly an example of what you're referring to, not quite *as cheap* .. yet these don't have brightness regulation & are a bit power-hungry (I'll leave it at that).

On this page:
http://www.flipperking.de/shop/ersatzteile/xaranshop_k008002s001_1.htm

PinLED 5 x Bally 6 digit Displays - 139 EUR (about $152 USD)
PinLED 4 x Bally 6 digit, 1 x 7 digit - 145 EUR (about $160 USD)

The thing is, if they aren't available from a US distributor, then there's tremendous shipping costs from EUR to import them. Probably near $30, which puts it at about the same place as what we can get inexpensive aftermarket led display sets for here. So unless there's a US distributor selling a full assembled display set for $150 USD, then there aren't any lower cost options. Only if you ignore shipping costs.

Maybe you can provide a link to the ones with brightness regulation. Or PM me with it and I'll post it even, I really don't mind someone posting a link like that & getting the facts out there. I haven't ordered any materials yet and if there's some "deal-breaker" for doing this project, as I said.. I'd rather know about it sooner than later.

#65 3 years ago

Ah here we go..

http://www.pinball.center/en/shop/pinball-parts-by-game/centaur/1518/pinballcenter-pinball-display-set-2-orange?c=2244
139 EUR / $153 USD (4x 7-digit, 1x 6-digit)

http://www.pinball.center/en/shop/pinball-parts-by-game/kiss/1517/pinballcenter-pinball-display-set-1-orange?c=2244
129 EUR / $142 USD (5x 6-digit)

http://www.pinball.center/en/shop/electronics-parts/displays/1516/pinballcenter-7-digit-pinball-led-display-for-bally-/-stern-orange?c=2244
29.9 EUR / $33 USD (7-digit)

http://www.pinball.center/en/shop/electronics-parts/displays/1515/pinballcenter-6-digit-pinball-led-display-for-bally-/-stern-orange?c=2244
27.9 EUR / $31 USD (6-digit)

See, that's all that was needed. If someone's going to throw a price out there of much cheaper assembled boards being available from somewhere, then might as well post links and get all the facts out in the open.

For *some reason* the shopping cart EUR price isn't matching the item page price. I chose the 7-digit set and it's showing as 116 EUR instead of 139 EUR (so less $$) and it looks like other products are doing that too. Not sure if there's some kind of accidental discount or what.. but anyway, at the very top of the page the "shopping bag" amount is correct. Even based on a 116 EUR price (which might not happen as checkout is completed), it looks like it'd be 39 EUR shipping to the United States. So 155.81 EUR total ($171.52 at today's rate). Considering the shopping cart is probably showing an error, it should probably actually be 178 EUR (139 EUR + 39 EUR shipping) or $195 USD at today's rate.

Those do look nice with custom digits & having brightness control, etc. Looks like someone may have contracted a Chinese company to add the extra part for a comma, as the displays otherwise look like some of the common LED digits with thicker segments that can be imported. Either that or someone had better luck than I ever had in finding those smaller digits with commas. I've seen larger digits with the commas, but not the size needed for pinball displays.

If those were available in the US assembled for that price I'm sure they'd draw some interest. Yet, considering the cost of Rottendog being maybe $30 more, it's probably not worth anyone importing them because any cost savings per display would likely be erased in shipping expenses and import charges... even for the wholesalers. They'd save a few bucks per display, but that would easily get eaten up by the costs of shipping & import duties. It's actually a bit surprising someone is selling those for that price in the EU even, unless they worked out a higher wholesale cost.

I'm still not seeing any reason why conversion display kits wouldn't look attractive to people. Even in a scenario of $150 assembled displays being available at some point in the US, saving $60 would still be worth the time for some. If there's one thing I've learned, it's not to try and base what other people might think solely on your own opinion of what is and isn't worth it. Time and time again I've been proven wrong in what people might feel is or isn't worth their time. It's actually a bit humbling sometimes, as things I've created that I think people should be thrilled with the price & time saved to diagnose issues.. sometimes have very little interest

#66 3 years ago

Hi pini,

first of all thanks for your nice words, I never tought you were copying my PCB and I 'm really surprised, like you, that we finally had the same idea. (Swear you didn't!!!)
Just one thing, I have produced the convertion kits in order to have them compatible with both soutions which was a challenge because you can use all of the conversion PBCs (they are 4 for the full Zaccaria family) either in the original modified boards or on the new electronic board I have developed.

The 7 digits PCB uses pins instead of wires because the original Beckmann module was soldered like that, there are no holes for the display leads on the 7 digits Zaccaria board, therefore I had to reproduce the way it was from factory.

Coming back to the Bally, sorry if I couldn't post it before but I was out all the day and now I have some more time since here in Europe it's 10PM.
Google was your friend and you found the right one, pinball.center.
I agree with you that the price is extremely competitive and it's funny how they made the comma out from the standard led display, but I like it and it's on my optinion much closer than the xpin or rottendog or pinled products
Btw, you can agree that the market is extremely saturated by those LED displays and I'm crazy enough to enter the same market with a new project for 6 and 7 digits.
But to be clear, I'm doing it for fun and hobby, not as a full business.

I will now go to my hobby desk and measure the consumption of the display in order to have a confirmation

talk to you soon.

#67 3 years ago

It's surprising Zaccaria changed as many things as they did through the generations of machines (even just judging from connectors and displays). The board on the Zaccaria looked like it was snipped along the through-holes for the plasma display. I didn't realize that's how it was from factory. That seems odd!

I'm not sure if the display market is saturated? I think there's probably people that have been waiting for some way to achieve displays for under $100. There's also a market for complete kits. And also a market for already assembled plug-and-play (for *many many* people that don't have soldering experience or can't be bothered).

I don't expect to sell hundreds or thousands of kits -- it really doesn't matter much to me as long as I'm not sitting on things that never sell. I have plenty of things that don't sell fast I'm just happy enough if I buy say 100x boards initially and make the investment of digits for those boards... and enough of them sell to recoup most of the investment. 20x sets shouldn't be too hard to find a home for, and I'll be using some sets myself. Beyond that, it really doesn't matter. If they sell out, I'll order some more pcbs / digits and keep it going. Worst case, I can always just sell any bare boards I have left off or use them myself. Just having some fun here too

#68 3 years ago

You're finally right! As soon as you recover your investment then the rest is just fun, I agree.

Quoted from acebathound:

It's surprising Zaccaria changed as many things as they did through the generations of machines (even just judging from connectors and displays). The board on the Zaccaria looked like it was snipped along the through-holes for the plasma display. I didn't realize that's how it was from factory. That seems odd!

They used initially the Valvo ZM1550 2 digits module in their 6 and 8 digits displays, then moved for a short period to the Beckmann 7 digits for only 5 different games and then back to 8 digits but from Philips (I think) with a new electronic board before trying the led display on their last machine before ending their activity.

Here you see my 7 digits display on both original and new electronic board:
20160305_003104_(resized).jpg
as you can see the pins are soldered like that only on the original board, the other board uses a different socket and the display has both options.

I have just tested and the new led display is between 40 and 70mA, depending if full brightness or not, with all led on and at 8 position which I think is very good.

PS
btw the most important thing is: how can I activare email notifications on new added posts?

#69 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

I have just tested and the new led display is between 40 and 70mA, depending if full brightness or not, with all led on and at 8 position which I think is very good.

Yep, that sounds much better!

Not sure how to do the email notifications..

#70 3 years ago

I'm going to finalize the led digit pcbs & get them sent off early this coming week. I'll probably just order 50x or so boards each of the 6-digit and 7-digit. And place some led digit & component orders as well. If all works out, I may have some boards in about 3 weeks. Here's hoping it works out the first time

#71 3 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

I'm going to finalize the led digit pcbs & get them sent off early this coming week. I'll probably just order 50x or so boards each of the 6-digit and 7-digit. And place some led digit & component orders as well. If all works out, I may have some boards in about 3 weeks. Here's hoping it works out the first time

You're quick!

One question, it looks ike you're using 0.8" 20mm width led digits, right?
Have you tried the 18.6mm width? They should better fit together and respect the 7 digits aspect. (6 digits do not have this problem because you have enough space in between)

#72 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

You're quick!
One question, it looks ike you're using 0.8" 20mm width led digits, right?
Have you tried the 18.6mm width? They should better fit together and respect the 7 digits aspect. (6 digits do not have this problem because you have enough space in between)

Yes the current design has silkscreen outline of the 0.8" 20mm, but I was looking at both widths and considering going with the narrower 18.6mm. I'm going to mock something up and see what each option would look like (printed out, cardboard stand-up inside a machine probably haha. The narrower width probably would be a better choice. Plus I already think I have some other digits in that pinout.. and could use some of those up on my own displays.

I really want to put led displays in my shuffle alley and if I don't get this order in soon.. I'm back to working on my house and other non-pinball projects -- and design time is very limited. So that's the motivation

#73 3 years ago

I fully understand you and I know how much time and money I spent in testing led digits samples before finding the good compromise price/aspect wise.

#74 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

I fully understand you and I know how much time and money I spent in testing led digits samples before finding the good compromise price/aspect wise.

Yep, I actually got some quotes from a US led manufacturer back in 2011.. to see what custom digits would cost. I used Photoshop to mock up the digit.. and scanned in (via copier) a bunch of old plasma displays, to get the segment width and angle right. I had a pretty nice looking digit created Then found out tooling charges would be $4,000.. and would have to buy a minimum of 1000x digits (but without additional tooling charges after that). Anyway, custom digits are nice.. but expensive. I'm really surprised after all of this time there aren't 0.8 digits with commas available. I tried getting a quote on that [today actually] and told them I was fine with everything except the decimal.. just wanted that to be a comma. Was told $800 tooling... then a minimum order of 60,000 digits. Not gonna happen lol.

#75 3 years ago

Hah.. here's what I had sent the led manufacturer in 2011 (just a small sample since it's a bit off-topic).

7digit_(resized).jpg

I think it'd have matched better to the originals than a lot of displays out there at the time. After scanning a bunch of the plasma displays in, I chose the version of the plasma font that I liked the most at the time (different manufacturers had different looking digits).

Generic digits are fine though, considering what it would cost to have custom digits made up and small volume of sales. Just surprising there aren't already some sources for 0.8 digits with commas after all these years.

#76 3 years ago

Is there a way to find out if a company already has the tooling on file to produce digit displays with a comma? Obviously, it's been done by some of them before.

#77 3 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Is there a way to find out if a company already has the tooling on file to produce digit displays with a comma? Obviously, it's been done by some of them before.

Not that I know, needle in a haystack kind of thing. Maybe you contact some overseas manufacturer that already has it, but they might tell you it's custom anyway and try to get you for the tooling charges. Most of the companies have big enough customers that someone trying to buy a few thousand digits is a blip on their radar. They'd rather something like that 60,000 unit order.

I've contacted multiple sellers over the years for obscure things.. you can burn a lot of time that way. One of the other things I drove myself nuts with was a source for TIN 2.54mm round machine-pin male headers. You can get GOLD no problem.. and you can even get the mating female socket strips in GOLD or TIN no problem. But good luck tracking down reasonably priced round TIN male headers. Usually if you do find someone selling them, they're *very* expensive in comparison to the GOLD. A few times I thought I finally found some and then saw a $5-10.00 price for a single strip of 30 pins. I can't imagine who would buy them at that price.

#78 3 years ago

I agree that your project matches more the real comma than the others on the market right now and I confirm that last year I got a proposal for a new digit mould for ONLY 1000$
They didn't specify how many I had to buy btw
For the MOQ 1000 pieces is just the starting level.

My amber digits for Zaccaria have been customized for the colour but of course I would never invest in a new mould. Doesn't make sense because nobody would pay a led display 20% more only for that!

Regarding the size I think that the original displays are more on 0,7" than 0,8, the problem is that led digit 0,7" doesn't exist. We should go into partnership and produce 0,7" led displays

#79 3 years ago

Ugh.. a reasonably priced supplier for the white led digits pointed me to some datasheet info on the WHITE displays and they read 470nm (Super Blue) according to the color chart here - http://www.oksolar.com/led/led_color_chart.htm So I questioned it and he was basically like "good catch" and mentioned there's a "coating film" on the segment surface and they display white when the blue light passes through that. What the heck? lol. If that's true I wonder how the led gels might be affected by something like that. It just seems odd they'd even go through the trouble of using blue leds and converting the light. I'm wondering if it's actually the case or just a way to explain an error on the datasheet. Anyway, he assured me segments light up white.

Now I'm trying to work out how they'd do that by learning about additive/subtractive color mixing:
http://lucaskrech.com/blog/index.php/2010/01/22/color-theory-basics-additive-and-subtractive-color-mixing/

Seems like if there's ultimately white light coming out, that's what any additional filters would work off of. But I have yet to find another white led digit say it's something like 470nm.. most are somewhere in the expected WHITE wavelength (something like 5500K nm).

#80 3 years ago

Something I haven't understood, why are you looking for white?

#81 3 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

Something I haven't understood, why are you looking for white?

White LEDs can be filtered to any color.

So you could have red, orange, green, yellow - whatever fits the theme of the game.

#82 3 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

White LEDs can be filtered to any color.
So you could have red, orange, green, yellow - whatever fits the theme of the game.

Yep including matching original plasma color.

#83 3 years ago

Been playing around with the design some.. here's some updates to it so far.

ballystern_retrofit_leddisplay_7digit_(resized).jpg

-Moved plasma footprint closer to the bottom of the board so if using bare wire (as CactusJack mentioned) there's less of a chance for the wires to be able to move into each other. I like that approach and think it'll be the easier method (versus using stranded insulated wire -- though that could probably also be used). Using bare wire or solid core insulated that is stripped back an inch or so each time you can solder in place, bend at 90 degree angle.. leave 1/4" from edge of board and snip. Onto the next. 12-13x wires per display. Then the led pcb can be mounted to the component board (wires fed through the plasma footprint & brackets attached). Then solder the wires to the component board once mounted.

-Moved 2.54mm headers up, as I see these easiest to plug/unplug from the back of the board. Added opening in middle for wires to pass-through to the back of the board. Headers are labeled on the back. These would only be used if you wanted a way to detach the led digit board from the component board.

-Changed to 18.6mm width digits. This helped get the positioning for the 7-digit display a bit tighter.

-Spent some time approximating where the digits would be & getting a silkscreen mock-up of the 7-segment digit added. Used a digital caliper on the 6-digit display to make sure the digits were spaced about where the plasma displays put them.

-Rounded the corners on the top of the display so they aren't so sharp.

#84 3 years ago

Do you think the round decimal point could be squared off into a bar with a small mask decal? If so, you should include connection if possible for those that want the feature.

#85 3 years ago

A square tipped soldering iron might be able to melt the round decimal point hole into a square comma

#86 3 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Do you think the round decimal point could be squared off into a bar with a small mask decal? If so, you should include connection if possible for those that want the feature.

It's possible to fake something that resembles a comma. What I did here was use small pieces of electrical tape & just kept roughly the same angle as the vertical segment and blocked off a tiny portion of the round arc on the decimal.

comma_(resized).jpg

Other thoughts I've had over the years were having a round "dot" (think hole-punching electrical tape) and then overlapping it just slightly on the decimal on the top left and seeing if the resulting moon shape would look nice-enough.

There's also probably some type of "V" shape you could do as well.

I've yet to think of something that would be super easy/consistent. Having some kind of decal made up that aligned in the corner of the digit would make it easy.. but the resulting decal may be too delicate/thin for that approach. Matching the angle with electrical tape doesn't seem like it'd be too hard of a task. Then you'd just need to get the exposed areas roughly the same thickness (for 2x digits per display.. so 8 digits on most games).

For the 7-digit board, the comma/decimal connections are being brought over to the led digit pcb so the connection would be there if someone wanted to fake the decimal into a comma. I don't think the 6-digit boards had comma support originally, so no commas on that one.

#87 3 years ago

On the topic of using bare wire for plasma connections, does 18awg sound better than 22awg? I'd think the larger gauge would be a bit more rigid. I can leave the plasma footprint holes just slightly larger than 1.02mm diameter so it'd support that.

ebay.com link » 18 Awg Gauge Tinned Copper Wire Buss Wire 100 Length 0 0403 Silver

#88 3 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

It's possible to fake something that resembles a comma. What I did here was use small pieces of electrical tape & just kept roughly the same angle as the vertical segment and blocked off a tiny portion of the round arc on the decimal.
comma_(resized).jpg
Other thoughts I've had over the years were having a round "dot" (think hole-punching electrical tape) and then overlapping it just slightly on the decimal on the top left and seeing if the resulting moon shape would look nice-enough.
There's also probably some type of "V" shape you could do as well.
I've yet to think of something that would be super easy/consistent. Having some kind of decal made up that aligned in the corner of the digit would make it easy.. but the resulting decal may be too delicate/thin for that approach. Matching the angle with electrical tape doesn't seem like it'd be too hard of a task. Then you'd just need to get the exposed areas roughly the same thickness (for 2x digits per display.. so 8 digits on most games).
For the 7-digit board, the comma/decimal connections are being brought over to the led digit pcb so the connection would be there if someone wanted to fake the decimal into a comma. I don't think the 6-digit boards had comma support originally, so no commas on that one.

Maybe cut a small piece of black vinyl on a vinyl cutter that can be placed on each digit display in the corner where the period is?

#89 3 years ago

Updated the 6-digit to reflect the newest design changes. Also made the bottom opening a bit bigger on both boards to allow more room for wire to fit under there if building with a "quick disconnect" (wire harness option).

ballystern_diyleddisplay_6digit_(resized).jpg

#90 3 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Maybe cut a small piece of black vinyl on a vinyl cutter that can be placed on each digit display in the corner where the period is?

Yeah, I know there's some guys that are doing custom decals for things. I'm sure quite a few could be fit on a single sheet. I can look into some kind of option there and ask some questions once I get the actual digits in that will be used. I only have the 20mm width digits right now.

I placed the order for some WHITE digits. So hopefully they work out & once I get those I'll have a better idea of what may be possible with the decimal. Worst case it shouldn't be *too hard* for people to fake it with electrical tape (since many people have that around). Best case would be possibly a decal that could align with the corner of the digit and easily convert the shape into something more comma-like. You're limited though because of the smaller size of the decimal (in relation to length of a comma) so can't block off too much of it. I think just straightening the arc on two sides and giving the comma the most length & width is probably the best way to go.

I'm just not sure how delicate the vinyl would be in that size & if there'd be different thicknesses that would make it less-so. But for the amount that would probably fit on a single sheet.. if that option materialized, could just give 2x what was actually needed in case a few ripped during application.

#91 3 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

Yeah, I know there's some guys that are doing custom decals for things. I'm sure quite a few could be fit on a single sheet. I can look into some kind of option there and ask some questions once I get the actual digits in that will be used. I only have the 20mm width digits right now.
I placed the order for some WHITE digits. So hopefully they work out & once I get those I'll have a better idea of what may be possible with the decimal. Worst case it shouldn't be *too hard* for people to fake it with electrical tape (since many people have that around). Best case would be possibly doing something with a decal that could align with the corner of the digit and have something that easily converted the shape into something more comma-like. You're limited though because of the smaller size of the decimal compared to a regular comma, so I think just straightening the arc on two sides and giving the comma the most length & width that's probably the best way to go with it.
I'm just not sure how delicate the vinyl would be in that size & if there'd be different thicknesses that would make it less-so. But for the amount that would probably fit on a single sheet.. if that option materialized, could just give 2x what was actually needed in case a few ripped during application.

Honestly, I wouldn't bother doing it with electrical tape. Too much work.

A decal or vinyl cut-out would be pretty easy to apply.

#92 3 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Honestly, I wouldn't bother doing it with electrical tape. Too much work.
A decal or vinyl cut-out would be pretty easy to apply.

Yeah I'd imagine enough people are in that boat. I probably wouldn't bother myself with electrical tape, it doesn't matter *that* much to me to lose the comma. Years ago it did more.. for some reason.. but now I'd just like to get some displays in machines & having the ability to put colored led displays matters more than losing the comma on the 7-digit. Certainly a nice-to-have though if there's a way, so the comma circuit will be available for connecting on the 7-digit led board & could be enabled if/when there's a decal or alternative solution -- or for those that want to mess with it beforehand.

This design has been challenging to say the least. Working with old boards, some tight clearances, exactness of measurements.. several different revisions of the boards. Then attempting to make some type of DIY kit that can go together with relative ease. Not to mention having it look nice, not involve too many hacks, be fairly efficient, make wiring relatively easy considering the obscure 3.18mm pitch footprint of the plasmas. All-in-all, much easier to create custom boards.. but that said, I'm pretty happy with where things have evolved. The true test will be getting everything in and completing a full set for in-machine testing. Hopefully all the mocking up, calculations and testing that's been done so far have flushed out most of the issues.

#93 3 years ago

And this is what happens when you're waiting on some questions to get answered by the pcb fabricator..

Extra credit sprucing up with some images and retro fonts

6digitretrofit_(resized).jpg

#94 3 years ago

"Nice" - Borat voice

#95 3 years ago

Neat idea. It's interesting to see how other people attack the same problem.

I'll give you a piece of advice from my experience making the "Wolffpac" displays and originally thinking I could sell them in the ~$25.00 range: The additional expenses added by eBay fees, shipping and Paypal fees adds almost $8.00(!) to my cost to sell each display. In my spare time I've been slowly looking into some other options to eBay, but since this is not my day job, I haven't gotten very far.

#96 3 years ago
Quoted from Wolffdp:

Neat idea. It's interesting to see how other people attack the same problem.
I'll give you a piece of advice from my experience making the "Wolffpac" displays and originally thinking I could sell them in the ~$25.00 range: The additional expenses added by eBay fees, shipping and Paypal fees adds almost $8.00(!) to my cost to sell each display. In my spare time I've been slowly looking into some other options to eBay, but since this is not my day job, I haven't gotten very far.

Thanks! Yep, many ways to attack a problem. I doubt there's much cause for concern from anyone else selling kits or assembled displays as it'd be a niche market for people that have old boards to convert. If it even works out without a hitch.

In regard to eBay fees, Paypal fees.. I generally try to price that into the products. Especially with eBay, where I typically tack on an additional 10% of the website price. There's too much money lost @ 10% selling fee there to price things the same as direct purchases IMO. If I was you I'd just consider adding on the 10% fee over at eBay to encourage people to buy direct from your website & use eBay more for the exposure.

FWIW I have no issue with where assembled boards are priced at or full kits even. I think the prices of the stuff are where they need to be, I wouldn't be able to offer assembled or full kits for much less than what's being offered. This is just another way to go about things.. bringing it's own wide assortment of design issues along with it.. including a new one I just saw with the 7-digit display since its driver transistors sit practically flat against the plasma display holder -- where the new PCB would also sit. With the plasma footprint at the very bottom of the board, that's going to cause clearance issues (or worst yet, a chance for something to short against a transistor leg).. so looks like it's a good thing I didn't put the PCB order in yet.

#97 3 years ago

I'd be willing to coordinate a group by in norcal to help cut fees and shipping costs

#98 3 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Many people have entire boxes of outgassed or bambooed Bally displays.
This is a great idea.

"...bambooed". I know what you are talking about... did not know what to call it, but "bambooed" sure fits!

#99 3 years ago

When the displays get driven with too high of a voltage, over time, they will develop the burned segment ends that look like Bamboo

bamboo_(resized).jpg

#100 3 years ago

Here's maybe a dumb thought (got lots of them hehe)

Considering I just found an issue with having the plasma footprint low on the board (at least for the 7-digit) -- I started moving that up in the design, then thought about adding some SMD pads as another possible option and what that might gain for wiring.

Then.. I'm looking at a plasma board.. with display on it and an "AH-HAH" moment of just cutting the display off (for boards with the old glass still on them) and leaving the legs of the plasma cut high. Don't have to unsolder the plasma display & you have all the wiring at the correct pitch to solder to the new board.

Picture's worth a thousand words..
display_smd_(resized).jpg

Does that seem like a decent option? So you could cut the leads reasonably high, then mount the led digit board on its brackets, trim the plasma leads & solder them onto the smd pads.

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