(Topic ID: 153216)

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


By acebathound

4 years ago



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  • 763 posts
  • 62 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 22 days ago by nettek
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#101 4 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

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.

Certainly looks doable.

#102 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Certainly looks doable.

I tried cutting a glass out this way, I get about 7.5mm of lead if snipped at the top, with micro-shear flush cutters. The top of the SMD pads on the latest mock-up are 4.4mm. To give an idea, the top of the text of the pin identifications on the latest mock-up is about 7mm. So seems like there's plenty of length & I'm sure a quick method could be worked out to bend all the plasma leads back some so they sit flush against the PCB, ready for soldering! Saves having to remove one more thing, makes wiring easy for people that have displays with bad glass & can save the plasma leads.

I like it

So as far as kits go, I'd include 22awg stranded insulated wire pre-stripped and cut to length to run between the higher up plasma footprint and component board. Also an optional add-on for "quick disconnect" wire harness materials for the people that wanted to do that. Anyone that had display(s) with the glass still on them would then have the option of just cutting the plasma leads high and soldering them to the new PCB. Could also use bare wire to the SMD pads if the display glass was already removed. Either way, lots of options.. and SMD pads are low enough that there shouldn't be a chance of wiring crossing connections even if using bare wire there.

#103 4 years ago

Are you planning the pads on the front or the back of the LED board?

I know it might make soldering a bit more difficult but I am thinking it might look a bit sloppy to see the flat Plasma leads soldered to the front of the LED board as opposed to the back. Maybe its just me.......

#104 4 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Are you planning the pads on the front or the back of the LED board?
I know it might make soldering a bit more difficult but I am thinking it might look a bit sloppy to see the flat Plasma leads soldered to the front of the LED board as opposed to the back. Maybe its just me.......

SMD pads would have to be on the front, as the LED board will sit in back of the footprint on the component board. Can't bring the board forward as the digits would hang out *much further* than the original displays at that point. I'm trying to adhere as close as possible to original display dimensions/depth to be on the safe side (as far as clearance between backglass and the display). Luckily I *think* everything should be pretty close to original, as it just worked out that way with the brackets found + pcb/digit depth. The digit faces should sit about where the front face of the plasma holder does, maybe just ever slightly more. Clearance issues & designing around an existing board have made this one a challenge. Still, it should look pretty slick I think regardless of what method(s) are used.

There may be some aesthetically pleasing way of hiding soldered plasma display leads, but I don't see it as a big issue since it'll all be close to the bottom of the board. Will be doing these PCBs in *BLACK* as I think that looks best. If it bothered anyone enough, some black trim (black foam tape, vinyl or electrical tape) would probably work. I'll definitely be taking some pictures of the various ways to build these once I get some boards/materials in.

#105 4 years ago

I like the idea of the pads!

#106 4 years ago

Next up, we need a solution for GTB Sys1 displays!

#107 4 years ago

Paper print-out approved!

Lots of paper has been harmed in the making of these

printout_(resized).jpg

Leads seem plenty long enough (they'll bend back some as the pcb will sit back a bit further than what's shown here). Once I get some boards in I'll get one soldered this way. Hard to picture it until you can actually solder one together like that.

#108 4 years ago
Quoted from shimoda:

Next up, we need a solution for GTB Sys1 displays!

??????

There is someone selling Blue LED replacement displays. And, unlike the Bally/Stern displays, there is no discrete component driver board to alter the drive voltage for the LEDs (just the same board the futabu tube is mounted on). So, there would not be much, if anything re-use.

Unless someone sees otherwise, you would need to replace the two HV drive IC with lower voltage, higher current piggy back boards and, you would need to provide a piggy back adapter board to mount the LEDs where the fluorescent display was.

So, unless you simply mean a DIY kit (blank board, 6 display digits, and driver components), it doesn't seem there is any real cost savings.

#109 4 years ago
Quoted from shimoda:

Next up, we need a solution for GTB Sys1 displays!

There are actually still plenty of originals available. There are a few sellers on ebay selling refurbished displays. I have a few boxes of them myself--some repairable, some not. Usually one or both of the IC's need to be replaced, plus the cap and sometimes the resistor if it's causing a problem. Gottlieb's displays are fairly easy to work on as long as the glass is good.

#110 4 years ago

I'll not be touching Gottlieb Sys1 lol. There's a number of reasons .. custom digits, probably not much to salvage from the original boards.. not to mention lower demand for Gottlieb in general & many more original Gottlieb displays having survived long-term due to the lower voltage used on the displays or the type of display. The market is actually pretty soft for new glass for those because it seems not many people need it. And I'd imagine there's a good amount of used displays up on the market often-enough with the machines getting parted out since they're not super popular.

Bally displays had been on my agenda a long time, so I was going to do something for Ballys either way. I actually had a full replacement set ready to prototype before I started on this project. The only reason this conversion thing happened is I was trying to cross the idea off my list.. deeming it impossible, too hackish, too power hungry, etc. But it didn't happen lol.

#111 4 years ago

If they are available I haven't seen them then (new) and would love a pm with link (SYS 1 displays). I was just sayin...

#112 4 years ago
Quoted from shimoda:

If they are available I haven't seen them then (new) and would love a pm with link (SYS 1 displays). I was just sayin...

http://www.bostonpinballcompany.com/displays.htm

#113 4 years ago

CactusJack had me thinking -- since he'd like the ability to have the plasma leads push through the pads at the bottom. I was against having regular through-holes there to minimize any clearance issues on the back of the board. But, if I can discourage people from using regular wire (ie. bare wire, stranded wire) by shrinking the hole size to flat pin plasma size.. then that might be a good compromise.

[edit] Actually, after considering this a bit more.. the reason I wanted to do SMD pads front-side only was to move any conductive pads from the bottom of the back of the board to avoid any possible way for a connection to inadvertently be made there between a solder point & nearby resistor/transistor legs. In addition, it's going to be a bit too low to be soldering on the back with the board mounted on its brackets & tight against other components. So looks like I'll be sticking with the SMD pad thought.

#114 4 years ago

I'm going to look into decal options for turning the decimal into something that resembles a comma a bit better (for 7-digit displays that normally had a comma). Not saying it's definitely going to happen -- or that if it does it would be in-time with when I would begin offering kits for sale (providing everything else works out). But just just to get an idea of what's possible there.

Here's my thought with it..
decimaldecal_(resized).jpg

So it'd be easy to align using the corner of the led -- of course dimensions need to be exact like everything else with this project lol.

#115 4 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.

I forgot to thank for the answer and I have the next question, is white or gel led display the same?

#116 4 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

So it'd be easy to align using the corner of the led -- of course dimensions need to be exact like everything else with this project lol.

well, you can always suggest how to do and let brave people do it themselves because if you have to sxplode the budget for details then you really risk that the interest will be killed by the reality of the final price

#117 4 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

I forgot to thank for the answer and I have the next question, is white or gel led display the same?

Two different things. The first is led digits that light up WHITE in color. Then there's what's essentially a transparent colored overlay (led color gel). You could also use colored vinyl, etc. But the led color gels are made for photography purposes -- specifically to convert white wavelength into various colors. Vid linked this website earlier in the thread: http://www.leefilters.com/lighting/led-02.html

So with white led digits.. you then put this thin overlay (led gel / filter) on top of the digits. This allows only the color of the filter to come through. You could also stack filters on top of one another to produce other colors/shades.. but if doing that you're limited in what colors can be produced from the already filtered color. It'd be like trying to get "blue" digits when they are lighting up red. The white digits give the most versatility since any color can be filtered from white light.

There's some neat articles if you Google for "color theory" or "additive color mixing" or "subtractive color mixing":
https://www.physics.wisc.edu/museum/Exhibits-2/Light_Optics/SubtrativeColor/SubtractiveColor.html
https://www.d.umn.edu/~mharvey/th1501color.html
http://www.gamonline.com/catalog/colortheory/language.php

#118 4 years ago
Quoted from gianfri:

well, you can always suggest how to do and let brave people do it themselves because if you have to sxplode the budget for details then you really risk that the interest will be killed by the reality of the final price

I think the decals will be cheap.. there are a few Pinsiders providing a service to create custom decals. A full sheet would probably fit at least 20x rows of 10x decals per row. Probably more than that even.. anywhere from 300-500x tiny decals per sheet. I don't know what the limitations are of size or number per sheet, but it's worth exploring. If it can happen, I'd probably include a few extra per display just in case they were torn during installation (since it seems if it's possible, they'd be somewhat fragile).

#119 4 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

I think the decals will be cheap.. there are a few Pinsiders providing a service to create custom decals. A full sheet would probably fit at least 20x rows of 10x decals per row. Probably more than that even.. anywhere from 300-500x tiny decals per sheet. I don't know what the limitations are of size or number per sheet, but it's worth exploring. If it can happen, I'd probably include a few extra per display just in case they were torn during installation (since it seems if it's possible, they'd be somewhat fragile).

ok, perfect!

1 week later
#120 4 years ago

This is sweet. Are these for sale yet?

#121 4 years ago

Some Updates..

  • I'm still going to be waiting on digits for a few weeks most likely. I've ordered ULTRA RED and WHITE.
  • PCB order is going in today (or I'll eat my hat!). I've tweaked a few more things, but no *major* changes from the last picture with the SMD pads on the front of the board.
  • I've ordered some light filters, turns out they aren't adhesive backed. I'm actually thinking that's not a bad thing though, as I have some ideas for easy application & it will make them fully reusable whereas once vinyl is stuck on and removed, the adhesive goes to crap.
  • I'll have enough materials to build out roughly 15-20x sets [I think] but it may depend if everyone wants WHITE digits -- or how many 7-digit sets sell over 6-digit, etc.

I'll continue to think out-of-the-box on this one, but will probably be keeping a bit quiet on any further developments until I have pcbs and materials in -- and these are ready for sale. My current time estimate would be early-to-mid April as long as all the stars align. Should have pictures I can post of the displays in-use with various filters as well.

I've spent *a long time* getting the digit height and placement right.. especially on the 6-digit. I think people will be very happy with these boards if everything goes as I've designed them. There are still some unknowns right now (mainly not knowing if there could be variances in dimensions of physical parts), but as materials come in I'll have a much better idea of exactly what these will take. And whatever I come up with for instructions, it's going to be straightforward and as easy as possible to convert.. most of the mods should be able to be done from the back of the board & fully reversible. I know everyone likes simple. I'll do my best making these a very attractive alternative to what's out there.

#122 4 years ago

I'm down for 4x 7 and 1x 6 all in white with blue filters (if you sell filters too). Should look awesome in Xenon

#123 4 years ago
Quoted from Cheddar:

I'm down for 4x 7 and 1x 6 all in white with blue filters (if you sell filters too). Should look awesome in Xenon

Yeah I probably should have distinguished 6-digit or 7-digit on the waitlist. I'll be ordering around a 50/50 split of each, possibly favoring the 6-digit since one of those is also needed for a full 7-digit set.

Ideally I could have done a small prototype run on these, but this design came after a board order I'd already made.. and then some other test equipment I thought I might have flushed out the design for wasn't happening too quick either. So I just decided to order *enough* based on what was on the waitlist & what I'm comfortable eating if it doesn't work out for some reason -- and basically go for broke Here's hoping some kind of luck is on my side.

I'll have some filters -- was even considering doing sample packs for the first round of orders. People pick a color they want and get those filters.. but then also small sample swatches of the other colors so they can play around and know what they might like. Eventually that could turn into an add-on "sample pack" but it'd be a nice way to give back to the people that initially supported this idea.

#124 4 years ago

PCB order is in! I may hold off on remaining material orders until the digits ship, as funds have been a bit tight and the material costs on these are quite high. Digits are not cheap!

Could be time for a sale on something soon! lol.

#125 4 years ago

I personally would love a sale on the bally bench display. It can be difficult to use the switch tester in the cab when you can't see the displays!

#126 4 years ago
Quoted from Cheddar:

I personally would love a sale on the bally bench display. It can be difficult to use the switch tester in the cab when you can't see the displays!

I think I could make that happen, I know a guy that knows a guy

I've had some wacky thoughts of one-day event sales too -- like a "name your own price on a single item in your cart" sale hehe. I'm thinking that one would need some other stipulations if I ever did it. Just a hunch . Could do an Easter Egg hunt with having to search for a deeply discounted sale item in an odd place.. wrong page or part of an image.. Midnight Madness sale that only occurs for a few minutes when the clock strikes 12!

#127 4 years ago

How about a rockin deal for all the kits in a category?

#128 4 years ago

Following...

#129 4 years ago
Quoted from acebathound:

I think I could make that happen, I know a guy that knows a guy
I've had some wacky thoughts of one-day event sales too -- like a "name your own price on a single item in your cart" sale hehe. I'm thinking that one would need some other stipulations if I ever did it. Just a hunch . Could do an Easter Egg hunt with having to search for a deeply discounted sale item in an odd place.. wrong page or part of an image.. Midnight Madness sale that only occurs for a few minutes when the clock strikes 12!

You're mad man!

I know a guy who knows a guy who would be interested in buying some memory testing tools... the problem is that it is not part of your own products therefore you cannot apply discount on those Pity!!!

#130 4 years ago
Quoted from Cheddar:

How about a rockin deal for all the kits in a category?

Category type of bundles are likely to happen at times through the year I was doing a "MEGA BUNDLE" for assembled Bally diagnostic tools last December. I'll be offering that kind of thing again & will likely also include KIT bundles this time around as well for anyone that's interested in all the kits in a category -- at least for the PINITECH products anyway.

Quoted from gianfri:

I know a guy who knows a guy who would be interested in buying some memory testing tools... the problem is that it is not part of your own products therefore you cannot apply discount on those Pity!!!

Yeah, unfortunately wholesale costs prevent doing anything crazy with the 3rd party products.

1 week later
#131 4 years ago

Just got notice that boards are done and shipping! Looking good so far, from a picture anyway

boards_(resized).jpg

Now here's hoping the led digits can ship soon. Apparently Chinese Spring Festival pushed back orders quite a bit so factories have been running behind and my digits weren't available for immediate shipment. I'm told they should have them this weekend.

Looks like it's about time to put in those other material orders..

#132 4 years ago

Boards came in for these and I also got the brackets today, looks like a great fit and makes it nice and stable. Note, this is an unmodified board in the pictures. Just test-fitting the display with the brackets.

display1_(resized).jpg

display2_(resized).jpg

#133 4 years ago

Test fit with the "dummy display" in Space Invaders Credit/Match.

sinvaders_(resized).jpg

#135 4 years ago

Thank you sir.. now for the other 99 things that need to go right to actually go right hehe.

#136 4 years ago

Looking good!
Mike

#137 4 years ago

7-digit display test fit..

7digit_(resized).jpg

Also just to show what I was talking about in terms of limited clearance by the 7-digit driving transistors that are moved closer to the front of the board -- yeah I'd say that's close Adding any solder points back there would have caused some issues.

7digit_transistors_(resized).jpg

#138 4 years ago

It's happening

#139 4 years ago

So Sweet!

#140 4 years ago

Good news, got word the LED digits were in.

Bad news.. they made the wrong model & stamped the part number I had ordered on the model. Different pin-out, larger width.. can't use them. They can remake but I've been in contact with some other suppliers as well, and may try a different company. Still probably 20-30 day lead-time unfortunately. Glad they didn't ship them to me that way.

I'm going to request some samples from another manufacturer and see if I can get those in quicker. I'll probably wire up some other digits I have around so I can test the boards further and work on documenting the upgrade steps.

#141 4 years ago

Okay, think I found a new LED digit supplier after a few exhausting days of searching and contacting suppliers.

Game On! I'd expect digits to come in sometime around early May. Hoping that I'll be able to start offering the kits for sale shortly after that.

#142 4 years ago

The run around sucks but we are still paying attention,don't give up!
Mike

#143 4 years ago
Quoted from Grizlyrig:

The run around sucks but we are still paying attention,don't give up!
Mike

Thanks! Great to know there's the support!

There's some other small developments, but I'll hold off until I get digits in and can start offering these for sale before announcing those. Nothing monumental, but just some little niceties I think, if they work out. And possibly a few more as I get building a few of these myself and get the process stream-lined.

I'm really happy with how these look though, even just as a bare board test-mounted. Worth the time spent on driving myself nuts with the design!

#144 4 years ago

seriously looking forward to these.

1 week later
#146 3 years ago

I placed an order with a different led manufacturer. Paid for the order & got confirmation they got the payment last week. Was told they would be scheduling it and notifying me of an exact date, but haven't heard anything yet. I'm going to give it a couple more days and will then be contacting them for an update. Normal lead time is apparently 20-30 days on this stuff.. I guess including 7-10 days of not really much happening once the order is taken

In other news, I dropped the "red digit" idea. I have more WHITE digits coming than I had initially tried ordering before. And I also ordered BLUE. So if for some reason the WHITE + filter doesn't pop enough for some people that want BLUE displays, there would be another option.

#147 3 years ago

Original Bally 6 and 7 digit displays in pretty good shape sell on ebay for around $40. All the LED based knockoffs don't look close to the appearance of the original plasma tubes.

#148 3 years ago

yes but LED displays remove the need for a HV section and come in matching colors.

#149 3 years ago
Quoted from jj44114:

Original Bally 6 and 7 digit displays in pretty good shape sell on ebay for around $40. All the LED based knockoffs don't look close to the appearance of the original plasma tubes.

Similar debate of led versus incandescent in the lamp sockets.... or vinyl records versus cds. Ultimately comes down to preference. To each their own. Some people I'm sure will settle for nothing less than the original plasmas because they'll feel no led display sets out there match the appearance. And that's okay.

I'm for led displays.. even ones using generic digits have grown on me. I've gotten over *needing* them to match in appearance to the plasmas as long as the full set in a machine match I'm good with that. And being able to use different colors in different machines is very appealing to me.

#150 3 years ago

So while we're waiting for these I think it would be cool to have a technical discussion about preparing old displays for upgrade when the glass doesn't work.

Will it be safe to troubleshoot a board with the leds attached or can the decoder be tested on the bench?

Any ideas?

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