Powering ColorDMD and/or PinSound with External Supply

(Topic ID: 235788)

Powering ColorDMD and/or PinSound with External Supply


By NPO

11 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 3 posts
  • 2 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 10 days ago by Rock914
  • Topic is favorited by 8 Pinsiders

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#1 11 days ago

Howdy everyone,

The purpose of this thread's creation is to further empower those who wish to add a ColorDMD and/or a PinSound board to their B/W games and running them off of an external power supply. This is to hinder or even completely eliminate the possibility of your WPC game resetting due to too many mods requiring voltage/current off the 5V circuit, the 12V circuit, or both if you end up using both.

While I do not make any direct claims as to the cause and effect of these two powerhouse mods and the frequency of random resets, I think enough people here on Pinside have posted and can draw their own conclusion. I've read enough people say "Well, my game was great, but then I added ColorDMD and/or PinSound and now oh crap my game is resetting, what do I do?" - or in some unusual cases flipper power drops, flashers operate with less intensity, and other various "oh crap" signs and symptoms. This guide is to help you introduce an external power source to these two mods, allowing your 20 to 27 year old original power driver board to breathe.

Normal disclaimer: no one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to follow this guide. You break something on your game, your game, injure yourself or someone else, or a death occurs because you attempted this procedure through the use of my guide - I'm not responsible. Proceed at your own risk.

This guide assumes you have ALREADY installed the PinSound board in the game and everything is already working 100%.

All right, this guide assumes you understand and can perform basic electronic modifications - cutting wire, crimping connectors, soldering, reading the game manual, etc. If not, well, there's always YT/this community to help you learn. For this particular application, I am introducing a PinSound board to my Bram Stoker's Dracula. I will be using the 5V and ground source on my external power supply. Let's begin.

First, you will need everything in this picture:

20190209_172632 (resized).jpg

The external power supply you can get here:

amazon.com link »

The 0.156" pins can be obtained at your choice of pinball parts supplier. For those of you with soft GoogleFu:

Part Number 08-52-0072 at https://www.greatplainselectronics.com/products.asp?cat=86

GPE also has the molex connectors you will need on the aforementioned link above.

So, let's get started.

First, you will need to know the layout of the pins - which ones go to 5V and which ones go to ground. You do this be referencing the correct page in the game's manual. For BSD, the page is 3-28 as seen below:

Clipboard01 (resized).jpg

The arrow indicates the connector you will need to remove and replace on the PinSound board. The rectangle is indicative of which pin hold which values: 5V or ground.

Notice that there are a pair of pins for 5V pins (1 and 3) and a pair of pins for ground. You can accomplish this by two methods:

1. Introduce 4 wires directly to your external power supply - 2 for 5V and 2 for ground.
2. Introduce 2 wires directly to your external power supply with pigtailed wires going to the remaining other pins.

I prefer option two. Yeah, it my be a bit more difficult to crimp two wires into one pin, but I like the cleaner look. YMMV. If this is your first time, go wit option #1, and work up to option #2 as you get more comfortable.

Now, we need to start crimping wires. I have a video that helps describe what to do if you're more of a audio/visual learner:

For those of you who like to read/learn by experience, first you want to remove a portion of the insulation, allowing the exposed wire to slide into the female trifurcon pin (go to 1:12 in the above video). See the reference photo below:

20190209_172941 (resized).jpg

Traditionally, I'll add a tiny bit of solder to the exposed wire and the trifurcon pin (1:28 in the above video). See the reference photo below:

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This allows for a bond that will hold the exposed wire to the triforcon pin, and then I can use my crimpers to ensure a strong and tight crimp without having to give my attention to holding the wire and the trifurcon pin. See the reference photo below:

20190209_192809 (resized).jpg

Once I crimp my wire down to my trifurcon pin, I tend to add a layer of solder over the crimped connection. This ensures a stronger bond with the wire and the trifurcon pin allowing for better conductivity, and it also guarantees the wire won't just "pull out" of the crimped connection if any tugging force is applied to it. See the reference photo below:

20190209_192829 (resized).jpg

Now that we have done one wire, it is time to add the other wire and start pigtailing them together. I tend to strip a lot of insulation off both wires, allowing me to "twist tie" the exposed wires together. See the reference photos below:

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I then apply solder to the pigtail connection, snip off the excess solder-covered exposed pigtail, and slide the remainder into the trifurcon pin. See the reference photo below:

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At this point comes the hard part: sliding the pigtailed connector into the appropriate slots in the molex connector. Before you do this, double check, and then triple check which wires go where. If done incorrectly, serious damage can occur to your PinSound board. GO SLOW here:

Do the single wire first - it'll be easier. Slide the trifurcon pin into the molex connector with raised edge of the molex connector on top. When sliding the pin into the connector, the curved body of the pin should be facing your ceiling. The bottom of the trifurcon pin will have a small tab raised up and away from the rest of the pin's body. When inserting your trifurcon pin into the slot of the molex connector, you'll hear a faint "click" - that is the tab clearing the molex connector, and the tab's final resting point is an open section of the molex connector. Basically, the tab acts as a failsafe - ensuring the trifurcon pin cannot be pulled out of the molex connector by accident or when the initial resistance occurs between the trifurcon pin and the male pin on the PinSound board. See the reference photo below:

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Now do the pigtailed wire. This will be a bit harder as there is not much room in the molex connector slot, but it is doable. Be patient, and make sure all metal of the trifurcon pin clears the opening of the molex connector as you are inserting the pin. If you didn't get a good crimp, those "wings" that you tried to crimp down can sometimes unexpectedly catch the plastic body of the molex connector. Make sure you hear that "click" of the tab clearing the molex connector body. That is crucial to ensuring your connector will make a solid connection with the PinSound's male pins. Your final product should look similar to the picture above.

We've walked through the wiring for the 5V power. Perform the same operation for the ground wires. Once complete, get your external power supply. If you are using the same unit as I did, locate where it says "5V/16 A" and connect your 5V pigtailed wire to this post. Use a screwdriver to bring the bolt far up enough that the wiring goes underneath the bolthead as well as the square directly behind the bolthead. This square ensures that your wire and the bolt body maintain a constant connection once the bolt is tightened back down. Perform the same operation for your ground wire by connecting it to either connection that says "GND". See the reference photo below:

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Your external power supply will be powered by the internal "service outlet"; it should be to the immediate front right of your game after you lift up the playfield.
To do this, you'll need to get a power cord with exposed wiring on one side of it (quick trip to Lowe's or Home Depot). When you do this, there are three wires: black, white, and green (in MY particular case - if your wires are different, STOP, and do some Googline on your colored wires of your AC plug). The AC cord's green wire goes to "FG" with the ground symbol on the external power supply. The white wire goes to "AC/N" (means "neutral") and the black wire goes to "AC/L" (means "live").

The only real disadvantage to this is your PinSound/ColorDMD will have constant power to it, even when you turn the game off with the power switch. I have my games hooked up to outlets that I activate through the push of a button, so this does not bother me. There are other ways to introduce power to the external supply; I am documenting the easiest version. The real way would be to introduce it to the circuit in the power box of the service outlet. I'm just lazy.

Once you're ready to introduce your molex connector and external power supply to your game, it will look something like this:

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Now, let's finally introduce everything to your game. The connector should go to your PinSound board as seen in the reference photo below:

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The power supply should go in back of the cabinet. Make SURE that your playfield and all wiring/exposed metal parts clear the power supply before you power it up for the first time - I cannot stress that enough. See the reference photo below:20190209_200323 (resized).jpg

The power supply runs off the internal service outlet. See the reference photo below:

20190209_200327 (resized).jpg

And finally, here is a picture of everything in place and ready to go:

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Once you're sure the power supply is clear of the PF, flip your game on and wait. If you hear the PinSound "intro chime", you did it!!!! Perform the same operation with your ColorDMD (read: uses the 12V circuit) and enjoy two powerhouse mods without fear of random resets!

#2 11 days ago

A quick note: a fellow Pinsider brought it to my attention that Randy of ColorDMD recommends not using an external power supply for powering the ColorDMD. His reasoning (paraphrased):

"We don't recommend or support using an external power supply with the ColorDMD board. If you have other mods running from 12V, suggest you use the power supply to power those mods. The reason is that there is a data cable that crosses between the display board and ColorDMD and it's very important that those boards remain on the same ground. "

As of now, I have had zero issues powering my ColorDMD on both CFTBL (9 months) and BSD (this weekend). I am not disputing his advice; I am stating that I haven't had any issues yet.

Now, you could make your own connector with two wires. One going from the ColorDMD to the external power supply (12V), and the other wire being a ground wire that goes back to J-116, pin 3 for the ground. At that point, you are relieving the power driver board of supplying 12V to your ColorDMD, and the only thing that the power driver board is providing is a ground, which is not a huge draw in any way whatsoever on the power driver board.

Bottom line: use at your own risk/YMMV if you follow the original process I described in my original post for your ColorDMD. I am using LED ColorDMDs with this external power supply - drawing both 12V and the ground, and I am willing to take that risk. Do what you are most comfortable with.

#3 10 days ago

Very nice guide, well done sir. You may never have an issue but the risk is there. Many will accept that risk and that is their choice. I myself take the risk as well. I have a product for those who do not want to DIY this and it works for every game no matter the boardset or manufacturer.

My product Game On Interactive Power Supply was made to help these issues. At this time I can only recommend that my product as Randy suggests be used to power all mods but ColorDmd. I do have customers who are running both Pinsound and ColorDmd from the Game On system. I have sent some samples to Randy and am confident he may allow the Game On system as an alternative means to provide power to ColorDmd.

https://www.rockcustompinball.com/product-page/game-on-power-supply?categoryId=88ab9e2d-db91-4427-83c8-fdef5ece06b1

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