FS: LED OCD - Eliminate LED flicker/strobe/ghost - Control brightness

(Topic ID: 29684)

FS: LED OCD - Eliminate LED flicker/strobe/ghost - Control brightness


By herg

6 years ago



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    14
    #1 6 years ago

    LED OCD is an add-on lamp controller that solves the following problems when using LEDs in pinball machines.

    - Eliminate the flicker or strobe effect when using LEDs in a pinball machine. This is accomplished by increasing the lamp matrix scan rate.
    - Allow brightness to be controlled. "Profiles" are configured to define the on-time of lamps, effectively controlling the brightness.
    - Simulate the fade on/off of incandescent lamps. By gradually changing the brightness of the bulbs, LEDs are made to fade on/off instead of their typical abrupt changes.
    - Allow ghosting to be completely eliminated through a combination of additional hardware and improved transistor control.

    Some videos are linked below.

    It currently works with Williams WPC, Williams System 11, Stern, and Data East machines.

    For more information, visit the website:
    http://ledocd.com

    If you want to be put on the waiting list to purchase one, please send a pre-order request through the website purchase page. As much as I love Pinside, PMs are just too hard to manage.



    #2 6 years ago

    Here's a couple of pictures of the finished boards:

    IMG_4448.JPG IMG_4100_2.JPG

    Also, if you're interested in reading some of the development history, that thread's here:
    http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/my-current-project-led-lamp-controller

    #3 6 years ago

    Hey Herg:

    Everything is so straight and neat on the board. Really is OCD!

    Looks so good, I'd buy one even though I do not use LEDs.

    Dan

    #4 6 years ago

    Thanks, Dan.

    I rarely used LEDs before developing the board. LEDs are a bit of a mixed bag, but used properly, they look great, IMO.

    Some of the boards should be arriving at their destination today. I can't explain it, but I'm more excited about that than I was the day my Tron arrived.

    #5 6 years ago

    The Southern Pinball Festival (http://www.southernpinballfestival.com/) is being held this weekend. If you're able, I highly suggest attending. You'll have a great time, and if you want, you can see LED OCD in person. PT is planning to bring his No Fear with LED OCD installed to the show.

    Some of the first batch have arrived at their new homes. If anyone has installed one and would like to share any comments/complaints, I'd like to hear them. I'd like to know if people are happy with these before building more.

    The remainder of the first batch has been built, and once they're tested, I'll be contacting the next names on the list.

    Finally, I have one in my Tron (Pro), and it's very close to finished. I have not yet looked into the list of other Stern machines that this will support. It certainly will NOT be useful with the newer machines that have LED boards with serial control, but I believe it will work with the rest.

    #6 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    Finally, I have one in my Tron (Pro), and it's very close to finished. I have not yet looked into the list of other Stern machines that this will support. It certainly will NOT be useful with the newer machines that have LED boards with serial control, but I believe it will work with the rest.

    Great news, sir. If it supports TRON, it should support any SAM game going back to WPT (the first SAM game save for a few Sopranos) not counting games with LEDs already as you noted.

    #7 6 years ago

    Looks really nice... The price is a little out of the budget right now but something to save for!

    #8 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    Finally, I have one in my Tron (Pro), and it's very close to finished. I have not yet looked into the list of other Stern machines that this will support. It certainly will NOT be useful with the newer machines that have LED boards with serial control, but I believe it will work with the rest.

    0_0 <----thread stalker face

    #9 6 years ago
    Quoted from treborlicec:

    Great news, sir. If it supports TRON, it should support any SAM game going back to WPT (the first SAM game save for a few Sopranos) not counting games with LEDs already as you noted.

    And since the SAM driver board is basically a more compact copy of the Whitestar driver board and has almost all the exact same connectors and functions, including the lamp matrix, it should work in any Stern game.

    Very nice herg!

    --
    Rob Anthony
    Pinball Classics
    http://LockWhenLit.com
    Quality Board Work - In Home Service
    314-766-4587

    1 week later
    #10 6 years ago

    The side-by-side TRON before/after video really shows some of the improvements the control board provides. The LEDS look much smoother and natural like incandescent while having the vibrant color that an LED provides. Great job!

    #11 6 years ago

    Thanks. The effect starting at 0:30 is what I feel is most indicative of what it can do. It looks terrible with stock LEDs.

    I'd really like to see what it does with games with dimmed inserts. Spider-Man villains for instance.

    #12 6 years ago

    Holy crap, great work!! I followed this project when you first posted about it, but that Tron video really shows what you have done. It's really nice and would love to own one for each machine. Also, since it's not permanent, I could just take it out when I sell a machine and put it in the new machine.

    #13 6 years ago

    Thanks for bringing the No Fear to SPF , I got 1st place on that machine that held up during the weekend. The game look and played great, but the room was pretty bright. Picked up your business card ... the videos speak for themselves, gonna have to save up some dough!

    #14 6 years ago

    Herg's a genius! He showed me these when he was testing them and I can't say enough how impressed I was with them. LED's normally bother me when I'm playing so I've avoided them, but I had no problems playing his TOTAN with them and the colors just really pop. I also love how you can tone down the brightness so they aren't blindingly bright and you can balance inserts between brands. If you like the thought of LED's but had problems with strobing before, definitely give it a good look...

    #15 6 years ago

    Super interested in this, but I realized the software is Microsoft only? I only have macs. Maybe I'll have one of my companies programmers take a look and see if they can find me a solution...

    Quoted from Borygard:

    And since the SAM driver board is basically a more compact copy of the Whitestar driver board and has almost all the exact same connectors and functions, including the lamp matrix, it should work in any Stern game.

    If this is confirmed, it would be great. Especially for my LOTR, which needs this the most.

    #16 6 years ago
    Quoted from thePLAyNone:

    Thanks for bringing the No Fear to SPF

    PT deserves the thanks for that. All I did was send him the board. It was his machine, he installed and configured the board, and he transported the game.

    Quoted from DrStarkweather:

    Super interested in this, but I realized the software is Microsoft only? I only have macs. Maybe I'll have one of my companies programmers take a look and see if they can find me a solution...

    If this is confirmed, it would be great. Especially for my LOTR, which needs this the most.

    The configuration software is currently for Windows only, but the interface is simply a USB UART, and drivers are available for MacOS, Linux, etc. If anyone is truly interested, I'd be willing to work with them to document the protocol.

    Also, once it's configured, you don't need the PC unless you want to change settings.

    I'd love to be able to test in more machines, including Whitestar, System11 and older, Data East, etc, but since I don't own any, I have to rely on others.

    #17 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    PT deserves the thanks for that. All I did was send him the board. It was his machine, he installed and configured the board, and he transported the game.
    The configuration software is currently for Windows only, but the interface is simply a USB UART, and drivers are available for MacOS, Linux, etc. If anyone is truly interested, I'd be willing to work with them to document the protocol.
    Also, once it's configured, you don't need the PC unless you want to change settings.
    I'd love to be able to test in more machines, including Whitestar, System11 and older, Data East, etc, but since I don't own any, I have to rely on others.

    I have a TSPP for whitestar testing if needed. I think the fading effects in your Tron side by side look great, BTW.

    #18 6 years ago

    Thank you for this mod. And thank you for the side by side comparison. I never truly understood some of the issues people have with LEDs because it didn't bother me enough to notice or just didn't know what to look for.
    I hope someone near me buys one. I would like to test it in my Corvette to see if it fixes an issue I have in the rollover lanes during the skill shot.

    #19 6 years ago

    I just put this in my TZ. I wanted the incandescent look, but the benefit of LED's. It's awesome. I can't wait to restore my TAF and put the OCD in there as well.

    Thanks Herg!

    #20 6 years ago

    Wow, not sure how I missed this before. What a great product!

    2 weeks later
    #21 6 years ago

    Here's a new video of DCFAN's Spider-Man both before and after installing an OCD board. This required some experimentation to figure out what each brightness level in the machine translated to in terms of LED OCD configuration levels. In the near future, I will try to put together an explanation of what we did. For now, enjoy:

    #22 6 years ago

    OK, let's see if I can describe this properly.

    First, the machine had a full treatment of Ablaze Ghostbuster LEDs. They have additional circuitry in them to prevent them from turning on in low current and/or short pulse conditions. This also causes them to not turn on when set to low brightness settings with LED OCD. It's the same with CT Premium bulbs.

    When we first added the OCD board, and turned the machine on, attract mode was not very impressive. By default, the bulbs are set for the following brightness ramp:
    10 20 30 40 50 60 70 85

    Testing them using the manual test method described on the LED OCD webpage, however showed that the lamps did not turn on at all until about 22%, and were flickery up to about 40%. This caused the default settings to be rough and flickery since the low end brightness values did not work well with the GB LEDs. I changed the ramp to:
    40 46 52 59 65 72 78 85

    This was much better, but a bit dim, so I increased the top end of the brightness ramp making it:
    40 48 57 65 74 82 91 100

    Short of a few bulbs that could still be brighter, attract mode now looked pretty good. Remember these were Ablaze GB, and brightness is really not their strong point.

    Once we started lighting the Villain inserts, there was still some mild flicker. I needed to find out which output brightness levels were being used for each of the Villain mode levels. With Green Goblin at level 1, I checked the Advanced checkbox in the configuration software and changed the LED OCD ramp to:
    100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

    Since this didn't light at all, I knew B1 was not being used at all at level 1. Changed to:
    0 100 0 0 0 0 0 0

    This caused the lamp to flicker, so B2 *is* being used at level 1. I continued this process to map which output levels were used at level 1. We advanced GG to level 2, repeated the process, ... Finally, we had the following mapping:
    Villain Level 0 - Off
    Villain Level 1 - B2 & B3
    Villain Level 2 - B5 & B6
    Villain Level 3 - B8

    In order to have a dimly lit Villain insert be steady, the B2/B3 pair needed to set to the same value, as well as the B5/B6 pair. I changed the ramp to:
    40 48 48 60 75 75 90 100

    The flicker in the Villain inserts was gone, but you really couldn't tell a difference between a dimly lit (Level 1) and fully lit (Level 3) insert. I played with it some, but there wasn't much I could do. The low end being limited to a minimum of 40% really limited what I was able to do. This same ramp turned out to be appropriate to avoid strobing on the 2X bonus white arrow insert.

    We also put a couple of Ablaze 3-LED bulbs in Green Goblin and Doc Ock, and I was able to reduce the low end to 10% without flicker. This allowed me more flexibility in separating the brightness of each mode level, but you'd still be hard pressed to tell between Level 2 and Level 3.

    In summary:
    LED OCD can be used to eliminate the flicker caused by progressive dimming with LEDs.
    The process to fully configure it can be a bit involved, but once a game it figured out, applying it to different bulbs is trivial.
    The progressive dimming effect, even when it's not flickering, is not terribly useful.

    #23 6 years ago

    If anyone is hesitant about waiting on a pre-order list, I've caught up on the Stern SAM ones, and I have a few in stock now. I should be through the end of the WPC list by next week.

    Also, if anyone who has bought these has any comments, please let me know. I have to assume that everyone is happy with them unless I hear otherwise. Feedback is the best way to know what I can improve.

    #24 6 years ago

    Bump for those that have not seen this article in PinballHead:

    http://pinballhead.com/led-ocd/

    #25 6 years ago

    It's kinda funny. I saw a huge jump in video views and had no idea where they were coming from. I didn't realize PinballHead had such a large audience.

    #26 6 years ago

    WOW! I have overlooked this thread until just now. This is GREAT!

    #27 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    I didn't realize PinballHead had such a large audience.

    Nor did I.

    I ordered one of herg's controllers yesterday, and I can't wait to play around with it. In my eyes, this is one of the most ingenious and significant mods to come out in a long time. It directly addresses one of the main complaints people have about LED's.

    #28 6 years ago

    Yes, sadly it gives us no real excuse to not get LED's anymore.

    #29 6 years ago

    I'll be putting one in the LOTR LE this weekend and will post some info once its in.

    #30 6 years ago
    Quoted from Zdoor:

    I'll be putting one in the LOTR LE this weekend and will post some info once its in.

    I can't decide if I should put it in my LOTR LE or Avatar LE. I'm probably going to go with Avatar, since the LOTR has already been tweaked with ghostbusters and premiums. I think the board would look great in LOTR, but my Avatar has a ton of ghosting.

    #31 6 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    I can't decide if I should put it in my LOTR LE or Avatar LE. I'm probably going to go with Avatar, since the LOTR has already been tweaked with ghostbusters and premiums. I think the board would look great in LOTR, but my Avatar has a ton of ghosting.

    I have cointaker premiums in mine. No ghosting issues but the programmed dimming functions make it funky. I'm really curious to see how this impacts the machine.

    #32 6 years ago

    I bought one and am going to throw it in my Spiderman.

    Quoted from Zdoor:

    I have cointaker premiums in mine. No ghosting issues but the programmed dimming functions make it funky. I'm really curious to see how this impacts the machine.

    If you read about Herg's test on Spiderman, he wrote about the premiums. It requires you to adjust the dimming levels, he says its better to use 3-leds or frosted leds instead.

    #33 6 years ago

    Yeah, for use with premiums, I would at a minimum change the low end brightness to around 40%.

    #34 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    Yeah, for use with premiums, I would at a minimum change the low end brightness to around 40%.

    Will try and play with it some. The premiums are already in the game so that is what I'm going to work with...

    #35 6 years ago

    My entire Avatar was done with standard Cointaker super brights. Are these a good LED to work with, herg?

    #36 6 years ago

    Will this interface with a Mac?

    #37 6 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    My entire Avatar was done with standard Cointaker super brights.

    This is what Herg suggested I use for Spiderman, so Id bet so.

    #38 6 years ago
    Quoted from RobT:

    Will this interface with a Mac?

    It will not

    I was wanting the same thing. Herg had mentioned if he got some time he might work on a command line port, but a GUI seems unlikely. He suggested virtualization software like VMware.

    #39 6 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    My entire Avatar was done with standard Cointaker super brights. Are these a good LED to work with, herg?

    Hey Gweem, my understanding is that any common LED will work. We did it with my Ablaze ghostbusters as well and it worked great. I think what Herg meant by the 40% setting is that at about 40% power the Cointaker premium LED's will turn on and start to look reasonably good all the way to 100% power. Anything below that minimum would likely not turn on that particular LED type or would still flicker since it is so close to the minimum turn-on range. Each type of LED has a different power turn-on level. Also at that low of a setting it is probably not bright enough for anybody to enjoy anyway. I believe Herg found the minimum turn-on level for the ablaze was around 23% but I may have misunderstood him.
    One added benefit about the controller is that you don't have to worry about your LEDs being too bright like super brights normally are. You just use the controller to lower their brightness to the level that you prefer.
    I am sure Herg will chime in tomorrow morning with the correct terminology and details. I think he has tested the Cointaker super brights also but not sure.

    #40 6 years ago
    Quoted from DrStarkweather:

    It will not
    I was wanting the same thing. Herg had mentioned if he got some time he might work on a command line port, but a GUI seems unlikely. He suggested virtualization software like VMware.

    VMware may be worth trying as an intermediate solution. Obviously, something that runs natively on Mac and Linux would be better. Unfortunately, GUI work is not my strong suit, and I don't have access to a Mac. I could probably stumble through a Java GUI, but with everything that I have going on now, I'm not terribly motivated. I would, however, be willing to work with anyone who does have the motivation to define the interface. Drivers are available for other platforms, and it's simply a bunch of short messages sent over a USB COM port.

    Quoted from gweempose:

    My entire Avatar was done with standard Cointaker super brights. Are these a good LED to work with, herg?

    Super brights do work very well. Pretty much any LED without anti-ghosting features will work better than those with. Isn't that ironic? What happens is that the short pulses that are necessary to do low brightness levels get squashed by the anti-ghosting feature in the fancy bulbs.

    Super brights and retro (SB with a dome), I use very sparingly since to me, they are too bright, and they are more expensive than the CT Frosted and AB 3-LED. I do use cool white retro in my Tron disks because you can see the bulb. I set them to 20% max brightness, though.

    #41 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    Super brights and retro (SB with a dome), I use very sparingly since to me, they are too bright, and they are more expensive than the CT Frosted and AB 3-LED.

    If you don't factor money into the equation, isn't it logical to start with LEDs that are brighter rather than dimmer? This way, they have the potential for greater brightness if needed, but can be easily adjusted to taste using your board. For this reason, superbrights seem like an ideal "blank canvas". Perhaps I don't fully understand how the LED OCD works, though.

    #42 6 years ago

    That's true. If you don't factor money, you certainly do have more range with them. I probably like mine dimmer than many others, and I rarely need more brightness than a CT Frosted or AB 3 provides, so my approach is to go cheap, then replace with brighter where necessary.

    The one very minor nitpick is that at the low end (B1), if you have to set them to 6% to avoid flicker (typical), dimmer bulbs will allow you a dimmer minimum brightness. This makes the transition from OFF to B1 slightly smoother. Again, this is a very minor issue, and probably proves I do have OCD.

    A machine full of supers will be a great starting point, and it will be very unlikely you'll need to change anything.

    #43 6 years ago
    Quoted from herg:

    Super brights do work very well. Pretty much any LED without anti-ghosting features will work better than those with. Isn't that ironic? What happens is that the short pulses that are necessary to do low brightness levels get squashed by the anti-ghosting feature in the fancy bulbs.

    Talk about irony.

    Too bad I already bought premiums for Tron. I will still end up getting one of these, but have to dig through my money issues first.. go figure, we replaced both our cars this week, then find out my kid's knee is gonna soak up another 2000 bucks to fix. =|

    Great news to see this working on Tron, and that cheaper LEDs actually pan out better for it!

    #44 6 years ago
    Quoted from Frax:

    cheaper LEDs actually pan out better for it!

    it really makes the cost of getting the board seem lower doesn't it? I mean, if you save 30 bucks not getting premiums...

    #45 6 years ago

    Got the board installed in my LOTR LE. Installation took about 30-40 minutes. Was pretty straightforward and the instructions are clear.

    I have cointaker premiums in my inserts and retros in the controlled GI by the shooter lane. When I fired the machine up, changes were very subtle but noticeable. The dimming effect in the inserts had previously had more of a strobing look. The intended dimming was much better with the OCD lard and after playing with the settings it looks really good. The retros I used in the shooter lane which are exposed had previously ghosted slightly and didn't dim well. They no longer ghost at all and dim nicely now while doing the intended chasing effect.

    Overall, the ability to dim LEDs to taste and also take advantage of dimming written into software is nice and I see absolutely no ghosting anywhere. IMO, it makes LEDs perform more like an incandescent with the benefits of improved color.

    #46 6 years ago

    Zdoor,

    Thanks for the feedback. At first when I read your comment about shooter lane controlled GI, I thought it may be a placebo effect, since GI aren't affect by OCD. After looking at the manual, however, I see there are 9 lamps on the matrix next to the shooter lane.

    3 weeks later
    #47 6 years ago

    A few updates:

    This evening, I used VMWare to run the configuration software on a Linux box. There's no reason I can think of that it would not work for Mac as well.

    I have tested successfully with both System 11 (BK2K) and Stern Whitestar (LOTR SE).

    I have decided that building the boards by hand is too much work, and I have identified a source for assembly. However, the number of pre-orders I currently have is not enough to make the minimum order worthwhile. I'd also like to get a little more feedback before investing in a bunch of assembled boards. I'll have to work through this before any more kits are available.

    #48 6 years ago

    Love my new led ocd mod for getaway. Thanks Herg!

    1 week later
    #49 6 years ago

    Installed LED OCD in my Spiderman yesterday. Really easy to do, I was suprised how quick and easy it was to install. I still need to go in and adjust my settings, but right out of the box it was already impressive. My friends who hate LEDs said it definitely made the LED treatment 'classier" and less obnoxious for them. Thinking about ordering more for my other machines.

    Only criticism I can give it is that the supplied cables were a little short, and I had to reposition the board a second time to make it work.

    #50 6 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback, and I'm glad to hear you like it. I'm all about trying to make things "less obnoxious."

    Which cables, and how much longer? I will try to address it if / when I make more. I don't want to make them too long and have to deal with a wad of wire, though.

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