(Topic ID: 75865)

Surface mount soldering tutorials and inexpensive Pinball kit - GI Buddy

By dkpinball

5 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 68 posts
  • 32 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by Out-West
  • Topic is favorited by 47 Pinsiders


Linked Games

No games have been linked to this topic.

    Topic Gallery

    There have been 3 images uploaded to this topic. (View topic image gallery).


    There are 68 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 5 years ago

    I've been working on this, on and off, for about a month. What's really been holding me up is getting videos made and edited. It's actually kind of a tedious task so it has been delaying things.

    I decided to just toss out what I have done now and hopefully get the rest of the project fleshed out, hopefully with the help of the modding community.

    Also, I really want to have a get together in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs where I can bring a bunch of my tools and these boards for locals who are interested in learning about surface mount repair / building. I don't want to continue putting that off.

    Here is a link to my web site showing the project: http://www.dkpinball.com/DKWP/?page_id=827

    Why did I say it was "Free-ish?" Because the board and the parts aren't free. You have to order them from suppliers. But you can get them anywhere you like. The design is free. OSHPark is a board manufacturer for hobbyists. You need to order the boards in groups of 3. If you ordered 3 boards from OSHPark and all of the components from Mouser, the boards end up costing at little over $7 each.

    If you go without the Molex connectors and just solder the connection wires to the board (which is probably what I'd do), the whole board ends up costing about $5 each.


    *** What is the GI Buddy?
    The GI Buddy is an open source pinball related electronics kit. I developed it as a kit to give pinball tinkerers an inexpensive board to learn surface mount soldering techniques. I will document several different methods for working with surface mount components.

    *** Why did I do this?
    I’ve learned a lot from the Pinball community. I’ve also learned a lot from the many many many free online resources from which I built the skills required to build electronic products. This is my way of giving back.

    The kits aren’t free, but I make exactly $0 from this project. You purchase the circuit board from OSHPark and the electronic parts from anywhere you like. I have included a link to Mouser Electronics to make it easy for you, but you can take the part numbers and order them from any electronics supplier you like.

    Also, it may be that you want to get into more tinkering and advanced control of your crazy pinball mods. The PIG 2 will be the board for you and you can learn more about it by going to http://www.dkpinball.com/DKWP/?page_id=457 .

    *** What does the GI Buddy do?
    The GI Buddy is a board that allows you to switch a DC powered mod by connecting it to a traditional 6v AC GI bulb socket on your pinball machine.

    *** How do I connect it?
    Connect the “IN” pins on the board to a DC power source (Min 3v to Max 50v).
    Connect the “OUT” pins to your mod with a current draw no more than 400 ma.
    Connect the “GI” pins to your pinball machine’s GI Circuit.

    When the GI turns on and off, your mod will turn on and off also.

    *** Why would you do that?
    A traditional GI circuit is 6v AC. If you connect a typical 12v DC mod directly to the GI circuit, it won’t have enough power for your mod.

    Also, if you connect a 5v DC mod directly to the 6v AC circuit, it may not work at all. An LED connected directly to 6v AC will light, but it will not be at full brightness and may have a visible flicker.

    *** What does it mean that it’s “Open Source”?
    It means you can do anything you want with the design. You could build a million of them and sell them and you won’t owe me a thing. I would, however appreciate a little credit and hey, if you make a million bucks I wouldn’t be mad if you gave me a little something, you know, for the effort.

    All kidding aside. It’s free to use, re-purpose, and distribute however you like.

    #2 5 years ago

    Also, if you're interested in a Chicagoland get-together, please post to this thread.

    I've spoken to the owner of the underground Retrocade in Dundee, Il. He'll give me a nice open space above the arcade with tables and chairs.

    I figure I'd bring my tools and a bunch of boards. I'll demonstrate 3 or 4 ways to do surface mount soldering and give people a chance to get their hands on the tools to try it themselves. Depending on the crowd, everyone would get a GI buddy kit. They could build it there or take it home with them.

    The only cost would be to get into the arcade. I figure we'd be supporting the arcade, getting together with like-minded pinheads, and when it breaks up you'd have something to bring home with you and access to the arcade for the rest of the night.

    I'd say PM me, but every response will bump this thread and give it the best chance of being seen by many.



    #3 5 years ago

    Ouch, crickets.

    Any feedback would be appreciated. Even "meh" or "I don't get it."

    #4 5 years ago

    Sometimes it just take time to dig into a topic like this. I think it's cool you are sharing this.

    There are some awesome things out there for tinkering with Pins that are free or nearly free. I still am trying to set aside time (hopefully today) to use Pinball Browser to update my POTC with music from the movie soundtrack CD.

    I have your Pig 2 from your Black Friday sale. I just got my ST Pro setup, modded an Enterprise Hallmark (just need hardware to mount), and plan to install LED strip lights on the ramp returns triggered off the optos. As an aside, thank you very much for responding so quickly to my email inquiry on that topic. It's going to take me some time to figure out the installation and the programming of the Pig 2. I'm not fast on these types of things, but it's fun and rewarding to do a project like this.

    Tinkering does take time and while I think there are a fair number of folks that buy and install "ready to go" mods, the number of folks that actually work under the hood and put together their own boards, mods, etc., is much more limited I believe. Some of them already know what the hell they are doing and may not find this to be a complex issue or topic for them. I guess I'm just saying not to be disheartened by a lack of responses to your post. I think things like this play to a niche audience. There is not usually a lot of technical circuit design discussion that occurs on here.

    #5 5 years ago

    Cool! can you show some pics of some example applications?

    #6 5 years ago

    Yea, I do know that I'm playing to the niche within the niche within the niche. Maybe I should change the title to something like, "Worried about surface mount soldering?" or something. The point is really to de-mystify surface mount components and answer the question of "how will the hobbyist be able to repair modern pinball boards?"

    Kneissl, I'm sorry I don't have any pictures yet. The first application that comes to mind is the Flynn's sign on Tron pinball machines. It's always on. If you connect the power to the IN and OUT on this board and then connect the GI on this board to the machine's GI, the sign will turn on and off with the GI rather than always being on.

    You can't connect the sign directly to the GI because GI is 6.3v and the Flynn's sign is 12v.

    #7 5 years ago

    For what it's worth, coincidentally I was reading some of your SMT info on your site yesterday while researching my Pig 2. I thought it was very interesting. It would be great to further capture your lessons learned. What I've learned in the pinball hobby is that sometimes a great resources is available but has limited shelf life. The person deletes the content, moves on to a new hobby, etc., etc., etc. It would be awesome if you could share the knowledge you've gained and put it somewhere that serves as an effective archive. Thanks for taking the time to share what you've learned. I'll be following any updates you provide.

    #8 5 years ago

    Yea, I'm planning on making videos for youtube. I think I'm still close enough to where I started to remember all of my questions like, "What temperature should you set the hot air at?" and things like that.

    #9 5 years ago

    Great way to give back to the community and help others learn how to do some surface mount soldering! I've found people really love stuff like this they can build themselves or put together as a kit. If more people that are making boards like this [myself included] offer up a few freebie designs once in a while, there could probably be some pretty neat hybrids or modular stuff created by the community. If I didn't have so much other stuff going on I'd definitely order one of these to play around with. Maybe sometime later this year.

    As someone else said, sometimes it just takes time for people to find the topic. Way too much other traffic on Pinside in other threads that gets these new product / interest checks / etc type of posts lost at the bottom quick. You really want to see a ton of interest when you've put the effort into the design, but sometimes you really can't judge it until the product is available and people can order it -- and it starts generating some discussion.

    Anyway, pretty cool stuff. Nice job.

    #10 5 years ago

    I'm gonna get ahold of a few of these just to play with. I can probably use one or two for Getaway mods and I want to learn the SMT stuff, so looking foward to the videos.

    #11 5 years ago

    Same here, I may just have to make me a few of these. Nice clean way to switch undercab 12V LED strips on and off with GI.

    #12 5 years ago

    I completely missed this thread (as I do with many that get lost in the thousand threads). I am so in! I love what you guys do, I love that you help out scott with his pins, I love Scott's passion for his arcade. Just let me know time/day.

    #13 5 years ago

    Very cool. Don't have the bandwidth at the moment, but definitely bookmarking this thread so that I can play around with surface mount soldering in the future.

    #14 5 years ago

    toyotaboy - I've been meaning to contact you, we need to get together, we live so close to each other and I'm interested in the IPC.

    On the videos, I'm going to see if Mike from Gamerlogic (https://www.youtube.com/user/unleadedlogic) will come over and do some video. He's got all of the tools and probably can get done in 20 minutes what will take me weeks.

    #15 5 years ago

    Okay, I'm your target demographic.

    I should explain. I grew up soldering when I was around 10. I have very nice soldering and desoldering equipment, but I can do field board repairs using a butane iron and a solder-sucker if need be. That said, I haven't needed to learn surface mount soldering *yet*. But I know it's a matter of time, and these boards look pretty useful. I just got new Tron light cycles, but I think tying them to GI probably makes more sense than just having them on solid. *shrug*

    So, I'm gonna order some of these. I know you're working on the instructional videos. In the meantime, care to recommend good equipment for doing the soldering? I *think* the best way to go is hot air, and I'm willing to spend a couple hundred bucks or so on "stuff" for this, maybe even three or four bills if it's really "worth it", but I don't plan to be doing a ton of surface mount work, either. I would like to be able to change components on existing equipment, though, not just create from scratch like this.


    #16 5 years ago

    I think it's cool you want to show people how to do the kind of things you do, I would like to learn to make my own FTS-8 but make an FTS-16, I know I could use 2 8's but would just be fun to learn.

    #17 5 years ago

    I think this is cool and would like to get a few to try, can you do a video of it connected and operating just to ensure what I am thinking is what you are trying to do.

    Went to order and since I am in Aus, it didn't list a shipping price for Aus at the point of paying - what to do as keen to get 6 boards to play around with.

    Also since being in Aus do you have a list of components that I can get from my local electronics shop.

    #18 5 years ago

    can you do a similar board to this as well if it isn't protected - great for the project and re-theme guys

    basic (I think) switchable lighting

    #19 5 years ago

    djb_rh: I bought this last year. http://sra-solder.com/product.php/6267/0/968

    It's a Chinese soldering station. It's a fair price to start with. I've done enough work with it to give it an "OK" rating. I've built a lot of boards with the soldering iron. The little vacuum air filter/smoke eater is nice with the iron. I'll be demonstrating that in the videos which I'll be doing this weekend. It's a good entry "I'm not sure how much surface mount stuff I'll see" price.

    You'll also need solder paste. Here is a link to some I've used. Again, I'll cover it in more detail in the videos: http://www.zeph.com/zephpaste.htm

    Swinks: Send an e-mail to the guys at OshPark and see if they do international business. If not I can check with my Aussie friends to see if there is someone local.

    This is the link for the board parts: https://www.mouser.com/ProjectManager/ProjectDetail.aspx?AccessID=edfdee9533

    You can print that parts list and find them at a local electronics supplier. There's nothing exotic in there.

    Tell me more about what you'd like to do with that board. Are you talking about doing RGB leds in inserts? If so, this is only part of the equation. If you want to play with an addressable RGB LED this is what you want to get: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11820

    #20 5 years ago

    I am not experienced in this sort of thing but want to do a project pin where like the Stern ST I want to assign arrows set mode lighting colours - what do I need addressable or non-addressable

    as for the boards from the guys I ordered some and for basic international freight it comes up as free but a fee for the express. I chose the basic option if a problem I will here from them and we can go from there. I couldn't find a email address to contact them….

    #21 5 years ago

    I recorded video this weekend. It was exhausting! A friend did the recording and will be doing the editing. I'm hoping I'll have them up in the next week or two.

    I covered the schematic and a lot of surface mount soldering and tools. I hope to answer a lot of questions.

    Again, I'm not an expert, just a hobbyist. I've been able to learn a lot and most of my noob questions are still fresh in my mind.

    #22 5 years ago

    Looking forward to it. Thanks for doing this...should be fun to learn.


    #23 5 years ago

    We have the first video up. It's explaining what it is, why you'd use it, and how the circuit works.

    Pinball Electronics Gurus, please be kind if I've mis-stated something. These videos are meant to be friendly, unscripted, and informative. Like having a buddy in my shop. I think the important stuff is all correct.

    #24 5 years ago

    great work, learnt a lot from it, thanks and was told my batch of boards are on their way. Incredible price as it included international shipping.

    look forward to a example just to make sure I understand it correctly

    #25 5 years ago

    Great contribution - thanks for sharing!

    #26 5 years ago

    A get together would be great

    #27 5 years ago

    I really liked your video.

    #28 5 years ago

    I would be up for a get together - I've always wanted to learn SMT soldering techniques.

    "Sir, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter."

    #29 5 years ago

    Very nice and well-explained!

    #30 5 years ago

    I brought the GI Buddy over to my friend's house to connect his Flynn's sign to GI. We learned a few things.

    First, I had a heart attack because it wasn't working. I found that I had soldered the 4 pin relay on backwards. All I had access to was a set of needle nosed pliers, a spool of solder, and a weller soldering iron. I was able to de-solder the relay without damaging it, turn it around, and re-solder to the board. The technique I used will be on the next set of videos as soon as we get them all edited.

    Once it was working, we found that it worked great in a Tron LE to turn the Flynn's sign on and off with GI.

    Then we tried connecting it to the LED board in the Flynn's Arcade insert and it worked great. So this board might also work with other insert lights. I haven't tried it on an older light matrixes. It was really only designed with "straight forward" GI in mind, so if it works in other places then that's a bonus. (Straight forward means non-dimming - I have no idea how that will work).

    Lastly, on my way home I learned that I was an idiot for not pulling out the iPhone to give a video demonstration of the board in the game and doing the field repair with the soldering iron.

    #31 5 years ago

    This is awesome. Thanks for all your work!

    #32 5 years ago

    Very cool, thanks for sharing. I have a few projects in mind that I could use this on.


    #33 5 years ago

    In for updates. This is awesome. Thanks for being a champion.

    #34 5 years ago

    OK, I have 3 more videos posted. Thanks again to Mike from Gamer Logic for doing the video and editing.

    I'll post each video with the products used in separate messaged. They will all be up on http://www.dkpinball.com/DKWP/?page_id=827 also.

    Building the GI Buddy with a soldering iron using solder wire

    Products Used
    Solder ($15 8oz) - Radio Shack .032 Rosin Core Solder
    Cheap Tweezers ($5.95)

    Helping Hands ($5)

    Much Nicer Precision Tweezers
    Angled (ESD-17) ($6) tip http://sra-solder.com/product.php?xProd=7095
    Straight (ESD-16) Tip ($6) http://sra-solder.com/product.php?xProd=7092

    AOYUE 968A+ 4 in 1 Digital Hot Air Rework Station ($159.00)

    Kester Flux Pen (83-1000-0186) ($4.78)

    Solder Braid
    Chemtronics (5-25L) 25 Feet - $9.56
    Radio Shack (64-2090) 5 Feet - $4.45
    Zephyrtronics Braid (WICK-0152) 5 Feet - $4.00

    #35 5 years ago

    Building the GI Buddy with solder paste and a soldering iron, then hot air.

    500g tub of Kester Easy Profile 256 ($47.85)

    35 Gram Ready Syringe of Kester East Profile 256 ($14.93)
    amazon.com link »

    This is the first brand I used and it worked well too ($15.49)

    Other Solder Paste Alternatives ($15)

    Syringes (no solder, just the syringe)

    10CC Barrel
    10cc Stopper
    10cc Plunger
    10cc Large End Cap (For storing)
    Small End Cap (For storing)
    #22 Stainless Dispensing Tip
    #22 Plastic Tapered Tip

    Reasonably priced magnifying lamp ($36.99)

    No Sponge Tip Cleaners ($9)


    #36 5 years ago

    Building the GI Buddy with an inexpensive hot plate and solder paste.

    Note, some guys get a thick plate of aluminum to put on the hot plate to further distribute the heat. Just search Hot Plate soldering and you'll find all kinds of advanced hacks with temperature controllers.

    Hot Plate ($19.95)

    #37 5 years ago

    Last video for now. Using the hot air station to replace a surface mount chip.

    #38 5 years ago

    Hopefully I didn't miss anything. If you have any suggestions or find any good deals on tools please post them here.

    #39 5 years ago

    Great videos, want to learn more about electonics, soldering, etc. Will be checking out all your videos/instructions, really appreciate your work and time put into doing this - we all know that time is oh-so-short to put into the "funner" things in life!!!


    #40 5 years ago

    Curious Inventor has outstanding soldering videos for example.

    #42 5 years ago


    That was a very good video!

    You can get those little 10x loupes for a couple of bucks:

    I was at a wiring and connector show, (yea I know, exciting right?) and Molex was giving them away. I grabbed a couple and I've been using those.

    The more videos and resources we get in front of Pinheads, I think the more "surface mount" will be demystified.

    #43 5 years ago

    I'm wondering. I've seen a couple of people say they've placed orders. I don't get to see if anything gets ordered at all so I'm curious to know if it's more than a couple of guys.

    Also of those who ordered, has anyone received their parts?

    #44 5 years ago

    I ordered 3 sets of parts from Mouser on the 16th, received the 23rd.
    I ordered 3 modules from OSH on the 16th, got shipped today.

    #45 5 years ago
    Quoted from Patofnaud:

    I ordered 3 sets of parts from Mouser on the 16th, received the 23rd.
    I ordered 3 modules from OSH on the 16th, got shipped today.

    Cool, weekend project!

    #46 5 years ago

    I ordered 3 sets from OSH a day after your release and shipped around the 12th but it is coming to Aus so must be soon. Also the price at OSH included overseas postage which was incredible - 9 boards for around $10.50 including postage (not included electronic parts)

    #47 5 years ago

    Yea, for small run and prototypes OSHPark is tough to beat. Especially for high quality boards. The purple solder mask is groovy too.

    #48 5 years ago

    mine turned up today, just need to get all the other bits hopefully here in Aus

    #49 5 years ago

    Thanks this is a skill I need will be doing this soon!

    #50 5 years ago

    This is great. I just watched the first video and it was very informative. I have done basic repairs on games but the electronics is still pretty foreign to me. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.

    Promoted items from the Pinside Marketplace
    $ 44.99
    Lighting - Interactive
    Lee's Parts
    From: $ 19.50
    Apparel - Unisex
    From: $ 42.00
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    $ 40.00
    From: $ 19.50
    From: $ 220.00
    $ 7,499.00
    Pinball Machine
    Deadpool Premium Out of stock
    Flip N Out Pinball
    $ 70.00
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    $ 14.95
    $ 27.99
    Matt's Basement Arcade
    $ 49.95
    Playfield - Plastics
    $ 90.00
    Lighting - Under Cabinet
    Rock Custom Pinball
    From: $ 45.00
    $ 24.99
    Lighting - Interactive
    Lee's Parts
    $ 45.95
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    $ 149.00
    $ 23.00
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    The MOD Couple
    $ 96.95
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    Super Skill Shot Shop
    From: € 0.39
    Scandinavian Pinball
    $ 1.95
    Various Novelties
    Pinball Wheezer
    $ 24.00
    $ 169.00
    Cabinet - Toppers
    Id Rather Play Pinball
    $ 45.00
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    Just 3D Mods
    $ 369.00
    Cabinet - Decals
    There are 68 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.

    Hey there! Got a moment?

    Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run thanks to donations from our visitors? Please donate to Pinside, support the site and get anext to your username to show for it! Donate to Pinside