(Topic ID: 308273)

LED Guide: DIY addressable strips for speakers / legs / cabs / etc

By Riefepeters

1 year ago

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  • 11 posts
  • 4 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by pete_d
  • Topic is favorited by 25 Pinsiders


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    #1 1 year ago

    I'm a sucker for blinking and flashing lights and movement. As such, I spent a lot of time trying to find the right LED strips to mod my pinball machines that allow me to provide dynamic movement versus a static color on things such as speakers, leg protectors, under the cabinet, behind the backbox, DIY toppers, beverage holders on the legs, etc.

    This thread is dedicating to sharing how these things work and how you can build your very own Over-The-Top-Led-Kit which lights up everything on your machine. This guide is for those that want to mod many machines and buy in bulk, or just like to play around, and most importantly value their time at about $7.37/hour when putzing on your pinball machines. If you're doing one or two machines and just want to light up something, there are plenty of great sellers here that will sell you a very professional package and save you time - so go buy those.

    Planned Table of Contents & Links:

    Addressable LED Basics - all the pieces you need and how to connect it all (power, controllers, splitters, strips)
    post link: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/led-guide-diy-addressable-strips-for-speakers-legs-cabs-etc#post-6726695

    Speaker lights and mods for Stern Spike 2
    post link: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/led-guide-diy-addressable-strips-for-speakers-legs-cabs-etc#post-6732907

    Speaker lights and mods for WPC-95
    post link:

    Speaker lights and mods for WPC-S / WPC (dmd panel below)
    post link:

    Speaker lights and mods for WPC with Speakers on top (no separate dmd panel)
    post link:

    Leg Protector Lights
    post link:https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/led-guide-diy-addressable-strips-for-speakers-legs-cabs-etc#post-6746488

    Under Cabinet lighting or backbox head lighting
    post link:

    Beverage Cup holder lighting
    post link:

    #2 1 year ago
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    #3 1 year ago

    The LED set up.

    I prefer strips with addressable LEDs, meaning each led can have a different color. Many controllers have preprogrammed modes to drive the colors. I like these because it allows for movement in the LED strip.

    You need a power source, controller, connectors, and the actual strip.
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    I prefer the Ws2812b as they are addressable. You can literally cut these strips every LED. Don’t be afraid to buy an entire roll for your projects and cut to length. These strips are 5v strips. You have a few choices regarding the density of LEDs - like how many per meter, as well as any silicone covering. I like 60 LEDs per meter for speaker lights or general use, and I like 144 LEDs per meter for leg protectors lights. More in those topics. I also like the IP67 silicone as it’s thicker…that part is just more personal. So basically you’ll have a description or model number like : WS2812B Addressable LED Strip Lights 5V 60 LEDs/Pixels/M Flexible Black IP67 Waterproof
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    Connectors and wires-
    You need 3 pin wires. The black connectors are JST SM type. You can get 2-way JST SM splitters. You can get lengths of wires with the JST SM male connectors. Attaching the wires to the strips are super easy if you use these solderless snap on connectors. You can also just solder on the 3 wires to the strips and cover with rubber. Google JST SM or ws2812b connectors.
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    Just Google ws2812b controller and several options will be available. These controllers are programmed, some have varying numbers of keys, and most come with a remote.
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    You’ll need an ac/dc adapter. Since your led strip is 5V, you’ll need a 5V adapter. Somewhere between 6-10 Amps. 5V6A gives you up to 30 watts of power. I’m no electrician, but I guess that means that you can run a strip with up to 300 leds on it assuming each led is .1W here. You won’t have anywhere near that many if you doing speaker lights and leg protectors and even some under can GI.
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    #4 1 year ago

    I put this in my TSPP with the same controller you pictured and LOVE it! Fun little project. I just leave it on random to shuffle through the many effects the controller offers. It's been on my long list to design one for other cabinet styles.


    #5 1 year ago

    The basic set up for speaker lights

    You’ve got the LED set up noted above. You’ll use a splitter after the controller to drive two strips - one in each speaker ring. For speaker lights, you need to figure out two additional Items:
    1) what rings will you use, and
    2) how will you drive the power to LED strips

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    For rings, there are a lot of options available and most are only a few dollars. You’ll have to decide if you want 5.25” rings (where you’ll generally be upgrading to a new pair of speakers) or if you’ll be using 4” rings. Here are some options:
    -look for 3d printable rings already designed and files available online
    -use the 5.25” plastic ring on Williams WPC games that you can readily purchase at PinballLife.com
    -use car speaker spacer rings - either plastic or mdf (mdf is easer to drill and modify)

    Most of these ring options will need a minor modification unless they are designed for the specific pinball maker/model

    For power, I am now in the camp of using the service outlet in my games for the AC/DC adaptor so I don’t accidentally overload the game. All my games go into power strips so everything flips on at the same time. Since these led strips are 5V, you could draw directly from a 5V source and skip the adaptor, similar to how ColorDMD manages the connection, or go into the switched power sources like the bill validator on stern games.

    Additionally, SpeakerLightKits.com sells the Deluxe 5.25 Spike 2 package that will get you everything you need. While these are essentially plug and play in spike 2 games with the purchase of speaker panels, this kit can be used and modified to fit into almost any pinball machine, and I’ll cover those required modifications as I get deeper in this thread.

    #6 1 year ago

    Spike 2 Games

    In my opinion, the best speaker light kit in the market is the deluxe 5.25 spike 2 kit from SpeakerLightKits.com. These are also one of the few addressable led kits out there. I think they look best with a colored acrylic ring like the LEs. Personally I do not like any of the kits that keep the 4” speakers…just too small. So to upgrade your pro or premium, you need:
    -5.25” speakers
    -5.25” metal speaker panels cutouts
    -speaker lights
    -acrylic rings

    It is possible to build your own speaker rings, but if you’re doing just one or two games it may not be cost effective. You can decide for yourself.

    The large WPC 95 ring works pretty well with minor modification - available at PinballLife.com
    (Product ID: 04-10382-7A_large_speaker_housi
    WPC-95 Speaker Panel Large Speaker Housing/Bracket)
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    First, you’ll need to drill the holes all the way through and enlarge them to 1/4” to accommodate the screws in Sterns that are spaced out ever so slightly more than WPC games. Very easy to drill as your bit just follows the existing hole.

    Second, you’ll need to slice the extra plastic off of one side of ring so that it can sit flush against the LCD screen and stay sentenced with the speaker. A circular saw works just fine.

    These adjustments take a few seconds if you have the tools already.

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    You’ll drill a hole in the side of the ring to run the wire through, then connect it to the strip inside the ring. Again, I like the ws2812b strips with 60 leds/meter for speaker rings. 30 per meter is too few! Use the built in 3m tape on the strip to attach to the inside of the ring.

    Acrylic rings can be sourced from a variety of places, including:

    5.25” metal brackets can be sourced from:

    Then assemble in your game!
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    As can be seen, I’m just using the outlet in the backbox to drive my kit. My games are on a power strip and switch on together.

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    I’ve got some sterns with the kit from speakerlightkits.com and some I made this way. They look the same. Either way, I love the addressable ws2812b strips because there are so many options, and in my munsters I’ve got a rainbow effect going that I love with the artwork on this game.

    1 week later
    #7 1 year ago


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    Added 13 months ago:

    LEG lights step by step:
    1. grind down the bottom part of acrylic protector so it's flat - nearly all the way through. I actually have a wooden jig that to which I'm attaching the protector so I can put my circular saw at a 45 bevel and cut it cleanly through. You can use a dremel or other. This allows the light from the LEDs to get into the acrylic and light it up.
    2. make your strips. Measure and cut your LED strip to cover the bottom of the protector. On this pic, I was experimenting with a bit longer length, but you really only need them to run the length of the acrylic. I've covered the connectors and wire in earlier posts in the Basic LED setup.
    3. Attach the strips facing into the acrylic. I'm using white gorilla tape.
    4. Install behind legs, and attach the JST SM connectors to your source. Again, the source is covered in the Basic LED setup.

    the great thing about these legs and set up is that you can use these as an add on to the existing speaker lights or under cab lighting as long as you're using the same ws2812b strips and 3-pin JST SM connectors throughout.

    2 months later
    #8 11 months ago

    Nice thread, I've been wanting to add speaker lights to mine for a while. Any chance of a video of the speaker lights in operation?

    7 months later
    #9 3 months ago

    FYI, for those going the DIY route and using 5.25" speakers, and especially if you're already looking to upgrade from 4" speakers and have to replace the metal mounting plate anyway...

    For what it's worth, I've got a design for 5.25" speakers that you can print that replaces the metal speaker mounting plate with a 3D-printed one that accommodates a ring that can be printed in translucent/clear filament, to accommodate DIY LED lights.

    https://www.printables.com/model/313814-mounting-plate-for-525-speakers-in-stern-pinball-m or https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5618745

    Main reason I designed that was to upgrade the 4" speakers in my Rush to 5.25". But I wound up deciding it was easy enough to accommodate LEDs too, so it's an option for the DIY crowd.

    #10 3 months ago
    Quoted from pete_d:

    For what it's worth, I've got a design for 5.25" speakers that you can print that replaces the metal speaker mounting plate with a 3D-printed one that accommodates a ring that can be printed in translucent/clear filament, to accommodate DIY LED lights.

    This is an awesome design. If someone doesn’t have a 3d printer - just hit Facebook marketplace and find someone that will print these up for $10-15 for the pair! People with printers willing to make a few bucks are easy to find!

    #11 3 months ago
    Quoted from Riefepeters:

    This is an awesome design. If someone doesn’t have a 3d printer - just hit Facebook marketplace and find someone that will print these up for $10-15 for the pair! People with printers willing to make a few bucks are easy to find!

    Heh, didn't know that about Facebook. Don't use the site myself.

    That said, there are online services that would also be useful. Xometry and Shapeways are two I know of. Also, many library systems these days are starting to offer 3D printing services. And UPS is even offering 3D printing services in some of their stores. Many people also live near a maker space that offers 3D printing services.

    So, yeah...lots of ways to get this printed even for those who don't have a printer!


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