(Topic ID: 1126)

LEDs - All you wanted to know

By Brokedad

9 years ago

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  • 150 posts
  • 78 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Cypress
  • Topic is favorited by 138 Pinsiders
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    #1 9 years ago

    This information was originally posted by our member tomdotcom:

    Backbox GI:
    1. Frosted 44/555 - Single LED's - I typically use frosted tip single LED's for the backbox GI. The frosted tips tend to diffuse the light fairly well and they aren't overpowering behind the translite. Typically you have a choice between cool white and warm white for the bulb color. Cool white seems to look the best when the colors being illuminated are primarily blue, green, purple, white, black, and gray. Warm white seems to look the best when the colors being illuminated are yellow, orange, and red. In some situations you can use colored LED's to emphasize specific areas of the translite. For example, you could use colored LED's behind a pair of eyes on the translite to make them stand out or glow a different color. You can also use color changing LED's in certain situations, but it really depends on the effect you want to achieve.

    2. 3-LED 44/555 (Pinball Life) - I've used the white 3-LED bulbs from Pinball Life on a few occasions and they work fairly well. They can sometimes be overpowering though, and in some cases they will create white circles of light behind the translite because they are so bright.

    Playfield GI:
    Frosted 44/555 - Single LED's or 3-LED 44/555 bulbs - Both bulb types work well in the playfield GI and it usually comes down to preference. The 3-LED bulbs can sometimes be too bright in certain areas where the bulb is visibly exposed. I've experimented with several different combinations and the one that works the best (in my opinion) is single LED frosted tip bulbs under the slings and ball return guides, as well as any other area where the bulb is visible to the eye. I then use 3 LED bulbs or single LED bulbs in the other GI areas. The single bulbs work well in most cases, but sometimes the 3 LED bulbs provide a little more brightness under dark plastics or in larger spaces with only a few GI bulbs to light the area. Cool white seems to look the best when the playfield and plastic colors being illuminated are primarily blue, green, purple, white, black, and gray. Warm white seems to look the best when the colors being illuminated are yellow, orange, and red.

    Playfield Spotlights:
    1. 5 Matrix 555/44 bulbs - Normal 44 or 555 bulbs don't work well at all in spot lights because the light from the bulb shoots straight ahead. 5 matrix bulbs have a single LED that shoots straight ahead and then 4 LED's on each side of the bulb that shoot light out the sides. The light that shoots out the sides is collected by the reflective spotlight cone and is directed toward the target like a normal incandescent bulb would do inside the spotlight.

    2. Wide angle LED's (30 degree or greater) - 5 Matrix bulbs can be a little pricey, so a solid substitute is to use a wide angle 44/555 LED (30 degrees or greater). The single LED wide angle bulbs do not generate as much light as the 5 matrix bulbs, but they work well in certain situations where you don't necessarily need to create a lot of light and only need to throw some color on an object.

    Playfield Inserts:
    Inserts can vary by size, shape, and color. The angle of the lamp socket under each insert can also vary quite a bit. Sometimes the bulb will be angled directly at the insert and sometimes they are parallel to the insert. The type of LED to use really varies by the combination of these factors and what will deliver the best result. So, I've listed the most common combinations below with recommendations for each one.

    Clear White/Yellow inserts - Lamp angle is directed at the insert (not parallel):
    White 44/555 Single LED Frosted Tip Bulbs - Clear white and yellow inserts can shine very intensely if a 3 LED bulb is used. The brightness isn't bad if there are only a couple clear white or yellow inserts, but the intensity and brightness can be very overwhelming if the playfield has a lot of these inserts and 3 LED bulbs are used. Single white frosted tip bulbs work a lot better in my opinion because they deliver good brightness but do not shine too bright to overpower the insert and blind the player.

    Milky White or Milky Yellow inserts - Lamp angle is directed at the insert (not parallel):
    White 44/555 3-LED or Single-LED frosted tip - If the insert is milky (not clear), then a 3 LED bulb or single LED bulb can be used. The haziness of the insert will help control the brightness from a 3-LED bulb so you can use either type. I typically use 3 LED bulbs for the larger inserts and single LED bulbs for the smaller inserts.

    Red/Green/Blue/Purple/Orange inserts - Lamp angle is directed at the insert (not parallel):
    White or Color matched 44/555 3-LED or Single-LED frosted tip - You can use white bulbs under the colored inserts and get good results, but color matching the LED to the insert will give a deeper color and better effect. Using all white is easier and makes ordering a lot more simple, but color matching does look nice. I typically use 3 LED bulbs for the larger inserts and single LED bulbs for the smaller inserts.

    All inserts where the lamp angle is parallel to the insert:
    Wide angle LED (Concave Lens) 44/555 or 5 Matrix LED - If the lamp angle is parallel to the insert, then you need a bulb that throws the light out the side of the bulb. I typically use a wide angle bulb if the insert is small and I use 5-matrix bulbs if the insert is large. You can color match the insert to the bulb color, but white seems to deliver the brightest results.

    Some flashers are directional (all the light is angled straight away from the top of the bulb) and some flashers have bulbs on the top and sides of the bulb. Most flasher applications can use the straight away flasher because the bulb will be angled into a flasher lens cap or toward the insert or translite. However, sometimes you may need to use a flasher that has LED's on the side because the flasher will lay parallel to the insert or under a plastic and you need the light to shoot in all directions.

    I usually color match my flashers to the insert color or lens cap, and I sometimes color match them to the playfield area or plastic covering. You can also use colored flashers under white inserts to add different effects.

    Pop Bumpers:
    44/555 Wide Angle or 5 Matrix LED - I usually try and color match the LED to the pop bumper. White LED's tend to shine through fairly easily and you can tell that the light is white versus the actual color of the pop cap. If you do decide to use a 5 matrix bulb, then be sure you have enough clearance on the pop cap. Some caps are shallow and don't provide a lot of clearance room for the taller 5 matrix bulb. The wide angle bulbs are shorter and should be used if you don't have enough clearance for the 5 matrix bulbs.

    Nobody likes everything the same way. Hopefully this will help you in deciding how to use LED technology to improve your machine in your own style.

    #2 9 years ago

    Is it true that LED's can only turn off and on and can't dim?

    #3 9 years ago

    You can dim LED's by lowering the voltage level or adding a dropping resistor. Fluorescent lights can't be dimmed well as it takes a certain voltage to ignite the gas reaction. That might be what you are thinking of.

    #4 9 years ago

    You can also dim them via pulsewidth modulation. It's a lot more complicated to do, but it does give much better control than using resistors for dimming purposes. Supposedly running them at too low a voltage does have an noticeable effect in reducing the lifespan of the LED.

    Some people also complain about their LED's having a flicker effect to them. This is more the fault of the power supply rather than the LED themselves. A lot of machines power the GI lighting via low voltage AC power, and it can be noticable under the right circumstances.

    1 week later
    #5 9 years ago

    The best place for LEDs sold in singles, kits, bulk, and etc with a 1 year warrenty


    1 week later
    #6 9 years ago

    Love the info, in the middle of working on my T2, with a kit from cointaker.com that I got at the Allentown show. Some of the bulbs don't match the machine, but I'm talking to them today, because it's only like 5 or 6 lamps. I hear they are good with customer service, so I'm hoping I can swap them out but overall for $170 I thought it was a good deal.

    2 weeks later
    #7 9 years ago

    Some updates to put in here, as changes have been made in the past month or so.

    Ablaze LED's now claim to be compatible with insert lighting, instead of just GI lighting. Don't know yet what the changes were. Color selection is a bit limited, but prices are great.

    Same with Cointaker's lineup. They are non-polarized now, and have a great color selection including a "warm white" which is much closer to the look of incandescent bulbs.

    Pinballcenter takes the crown now though, with the Noflix PLUS design. Full-wave recitifer, and a smoothing cap, built into each LED. The videos I see look fantastic, too bad they are so expensive to ship to the USA. If shipping was cheaper, I'd really want to pick some up.


    1 week later
    #8 9 years ago

    Another update.... I got some cointaker LED's this week and cracked one open to see what's inside. I was happy to find a fairchild MB6S bridge rectifier, though no smoothing capacitor. It's a simple design, but effective, particularly at their price.


    4 weeks later
    #10 9 years ago

    There was an interesting thread recently on RGP about using LED's in WPC williams machines. Apparently there was a software error in the original programming in the machines which causes some nasty voltage spikes in the insert light circuits. The end result was the atrocious ghosting issue when using LED's in WPC games, which isn't noticable with incandescents.

    The guy that found it has already started releasing files that patch the ROM's to correct the issue, which apparently is VERY successful in eliminating ghosting.

    The other thing that was brought up is that if you are running a WPC game with LED's, to make sure and take it out of power save mode. When the power save mode kicks in while in attact, that's what's causing the really bad flicker after it's been in attract for however many minutes the timer is.


    2 weeks later
    #11 9 years ago

    HHaase, I have a TOTAN and am finally looking into installing LED's. I saw a Dracula with LED's installed playing just fine. Is the problem your reporting for all William's machines with LED's installed? If so, would you have any idea where I could get the patch for the ROM?

    Also, I ran into a company called Cointaker LED's (www.cointaker.com) at this year's California Extreme. They had three pins with their LED's installed: Big Buck Hunter, Dracula, and Xenon. All looked AMAZING and really got me thinking of doing the upgrade. I have not been a big fan of the upgrade until I saw the machines first hand they looked stunning. The total package for my machine is about $176. Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated?

    #12 9 years ago

    I am getting ready to purchase GI kits from Cointaker for my pins next paycheck. They are generally well regarded. Haven't heard anything bad about them.

    #13 9 years ago

    Thanks for the heads up SealClubber!! Tell us how it works out, some pictures to make us envious would also be great!

    #14 9 years ago

    I'm running cointaker LED's in my GI lighting right now, very happy with them. The current generation of stuff is fully rectified, and doesn't flicker in GI lighting anymore.

    The ROM patch I was referring to is, unfortunately, no longer available due to the current holder of WMS rights not allowing it to be distributed. The good news on your end is that TOTAN is one of the very late WPC-95 games, and doesn't need to be patched as the software problem was corrected a few generations earlier.


    #15 9 years ago

    Hey Hans,

    Thanks for letting me know I appreciate it. I am excited to get the upgrade done, I think it is going to look amazing!

    3 weeks later
    #16 9 years ago

    I am using Cointakers in my Corvette. I get the flicker on the GI when it dims to power save mode. Works fine again once you start a game so doesn't bother me. What does bother me is the inserts either don't always dim all the way or they flash when they are not supposed to. This is very confusing. I might have to take them out and put them in my LOTR.

    #17 9 years ago

    Not sure if Corvette would have the good code in it or not, might want to head over to RGP and find the thread regarding the software patch. Apparently if you ask nicely on the forum, it magically appears in your mailbox.


    3 weeks later
    #18 9 years ago

    I just put cointaker flashers into my Family Guy, i don't think LEDs look all that good in the inserts of this machine so I just went with the flasher kit. They are bright and wonderful, a great addition in my opinion, especially for only 30 dollars or so. Hitting jackpots never felt so good...

    3 months later
    #19 9 years ago

    I just experimented putting leds in a few inserts on my BSD, namely the multiballs,X2 and X3. Initially it looked fantastic but during game play some would light very dimmly but noticable,and sometimes flash, again very dimmly. I found this a pain in the butt which is a pity because like I said earlier they look great. Is this common and can it be rectified.

    #20 9 years ago

    It depends on the machine. My Corvette does it bad. My IJ did it a little but stopped with the patch.

    2 weeks later
    #21 9 years ago

    I plan on putting LED's in my machine. Do I need power off the machine when I do this?

    #22 9 years ago

    You do not NEED to but it is highly recommended. If you drop a bulb you run the chance of shorting something expensive.

    #23 9 years ago

    LED lighting market ready to take off from both a technology
    and cost standpoint?

    #24 9 years ago

    Turn it off or have some extra fuses on hand. I dropped a screw tonight while changing some colors on CV and it landed in the hands of both wires underneath a lamp socket. SSSSHHHHOOOORRRTTT now my local ACE has no fuses of the needed sizes so I have to order online... ugh....

    4 months later
    #25 8 years ago

    Something to throw out that I didn't see above. Do LED lights produce more UV than incandescent? I've been told yes. UV + plastic playfield = bad over time. You would get brittle plastic with prolonged UV exposure. I don't know if LED lights producing UV is fact though. Of course, the LED manufacturers say otherwise because of people asking if they'll get skin cancer. I'd bet those same people don't wear sunscreen in their homes and cars.

    #26 8 years ago

    Here's one I just found out recently. You CANNOT run LED's in Atari pinballs. They run warm filiments in all the bulbs in the game, meaning there is always a little bit of current flowing through all the insert lamps. With an incandescent bulb, it will be very slightly dim. But throw an LED in there, and it will always be "ON".

    Flashers in older Williams machines are a similar case, but they run a separate warming circuit that you can disconnect. No way around it on an Atari.


    #27 8 years ago

    Update for Pinsiders getting LEDs from Cointaker discount arranged by BlackRose:

    Quoted from BLACK_ROSE:

    The discount is Active as of NOW... When you complete yr order, Type in PINSIDE ( in Cap's )

    in the Coupon Code Box ,, hit Apply and yr set.... 10 % discount ----- [8)]

    2 weeks later
    #28 8 years ago

    Has anyone tries LEDs on a ES pin. How does it look and are there any issues. Or is it better to use the original lights?

    #29 8 years ago

    LOOK AT http://www.aliexpress.com FOR LED'S
    W5W,194,T10 6.3v, pinball led lamp,non-transparent,WHITE
    white $92.99 /Lot 1 /200 PIECE $92.99

    T10/194, wedge,BA9S T10/194-1,car led non-transparent,WHITE
    N/A $0.16 /piece 150 $24.00.

    2 weeks later
    #30 8 years ago
    Quoted from Donnyman:

    The best place for LEDs sold in singles, kits, bulk, and etc with a 1 year warrenty

    Pinsiders, please be very cautious when considering an order from BCs. Bruce seems like a nice enough guy but I made a kit order(which took weeks to get) and the kit was short 4 flashers, a 555, and a regular 47...wait it gets better. I installed the LEDs and within 5 minutes every single red LED was burnt out as well as a couple of other 47s. The LEDs were returned and it has been almost two months since I have heard anything...and the only reason I had communication is because I sent an email.

    So like I said, be cautious. BTW, I have not had any problems with Pinballlife, Marco, or Cointaker customer service or LEDs.

    #31 8 years ago

    Just spoke with Bruce at BCS Pinball. He is revamping the website and is getting his inventory re-stocked. Says he will be competing much more aggressively and orders should not be a problem.

    I have ordered from Bruce, nice guy and his LED selection is some of the best. I love the Warm Whites for most everything in my Pins.


    2 weeks later
    #32 8 years ago

    This is the link Jarjar for the ones that i purchased http://shop.cointaker.com/product.sc?productId=215&categoryId=34

    #33 8 years ago

    Cool! That's the one I was looking at. Thanks Mike!!!

    #34 8 years ago
    Quoted from jarjarisgod:

    Cool! That's the one I was looking at. Thanks Mike!!!

    Your welcome,The super brights are really cool!

    1 month later
    #35 8 years ago
    Quoted from Gusphan:

    I plan on putting LED's in my machine. Do I need power off the machine when I do this?

    When i 1st got into Led's,, I was Pimp-n my BSD,, I use a 1/4 magnetic nut driver on my cordless drill.. I shorted out a socket and blew out my U20 chip.. It's only $ 1.00 , but I Lost ALL memory..
    That Sucked !!!! Yea,,, Be Very Careful !!!!

    3 weeks later
    #36 8 years ago

    It's a case of flicking a switch you might as well turn it off.

    I'm awaiting a handful of LED's for my HS2.

    ..Photos uploaded asap.

    1 week later
    #37 8 years ago

    So I'm new and curious to pinball...Does doing a LED mod depreciate the value of the cabinet?

    #38 8 years ago

    Since they can easily be put back to stock if for some reason a buyer didn't want it. No.

    2 months later
    #39 8 years ago

    Regarding the dimming of LEDs, you can simply reduced the current through the LED with a resistor in series. The resistor calculation is:

    Resistance(Ohms) = (Power supply voltage(Volts) - LED forward voltage(Volts)) / (Desired current(Amps))

    You can find the forward voltage and forward current of the LED in the part data sheet. Digikey is a good source for parts and data sheets.

    PWM works well, but just adding a resistor is much cheaper and simpler.

    1 week later
    #40 8 years ago

    Installing a few LEDs in the playfield doesn't require any addition parts or modification to the pin other than just installing the new bulbs does it?

    1 month later
    #41 8 years ago

    I just put LED's in under all payfield inserts on an old 70's Gottlieb machine...
    If I had it do do over again, I'd use yellow lights vs. white.. the white bulbs give old white inserts a greenish tint.. looks ugly. The yellow gives off more of the natural glow the old 44/47's do.

    (If ya have white and yellow inserts, run orange lights on the yellow inserts, yellow lights on the white inserts.)

    I will say on faded red inserts, the red bulbs make ALL the difference in the world.

    Post edited by Juggernaut : Didn't state color of insert.

    #42 8 years ago

    What about flickering where Bulbs are supposed to be fading. Is there a fix for that? Something I need to know?

    #43 8 years ago

    NoFlix Plus are supposed to address that issue.

    #44 8 years ago

    Whats the general consensus on LED lighting of the controlled lamps? I just picked up a No Good Gofers and it has LED for all the GI and backbox but not the controlled lamps. Wondering if its a worth upgrade.

    2 weeks later
    #45 8 years ago

    I thought I saw mentioned some where that there has to be updates made if you install LEDs.
    If I wanted to add leds to a MA or a MNF am I going to have to make any electrical changes or can I just put them in and go.

    #46 8 years ago

    I think some machines need updates to help prevent ghosting..ir you could buy the non-ghosting ones

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    #49 8 years ago

    The last couple of posts are total SPAM, please mods, make them go away....

    3 weeks later
    #50 7 years ago

    I wish there were a game-specific guide that we could reference. I have a WCS I want to convert to LED. I'd like to see what others have done. I know Cointaker does a kit but they don't list what specific bulbs come with it. Also collectors may have some specific recommendations for each lamp (use ### for pop bumpers, ### for the goal flasher, etc.). Also indicate for the games if there are custom ROMS available to improve the performance of the LEDs (and where to get them). Then finally pics would be awesome!

    I'm starting with the backbox. Seems most recommend the Super bright cool white Cointaker LEDs. Anyone color match or is white the best color?

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