(Topic ID: 238253)

Questions about early Bally SS displays - Plasma vs. LED


By Pecos

8 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 14 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by Brewchap
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 8 months ago

I have a Harlem Globetrotters On Tour on route with on 6 digit display with a digit out and another digit on the same display with burn marks. I also have a The Six Million Dollar Man that will soon go out on route with one digit on one display with burn marks. I know that the burn marks mean that this display is about to die and nothing can be done but to replace it.

I want to keep my pins on route as original as possible. With this in mind, I have these questions:

I like the Pinitech displays. Can I buy one, or two displays, not an entire set, and replace the bad displays and leave the plasma displays in place?

If I remove the plasma displays and put them in a box, will they last longer than displays left in a pin running 12 hours a day?

I read somewhere about kits that allow you to use the original PCB board and electronics and add an LED display in place of the plasma display. Can someone please give me a link to these? I would like to save some money and consider these if this option is a lot cheaper than the DIY Pinitech display kits.

Edit: Found it:
https://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_display_retrofit.php

And the Pinside thread:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/interest-check-diy-bally-led-displays-using-old-boards

But the Pinitech website shows these kits as ‘Get added to the waitlist.’

This sounds like the best option for me. I like the idea of reusing the original boards and looking forward to the challenge of building them.

End edit.

Does anyone still make plasma displays?

Thanks!

#2 8 months ago

Like others I have some old Bally machines with the plasma displays and considered upgrading them to LEDs but found the cost prohibitive. I stumbled upon this site http://www.baumfalk.net/Displays/bally_en.html and figured I would give it a go. After some minor changes to accommodate different parts and some rerouting I had some boards made and initial results are promising. So although these are limited to one color they are a direct plug in replacement and don't require the high voltage of the plasma displays. Here are some pics of the various stages. I can post more pics if you are interested.

FB_IMG_1552365690611 (resized).jpg
#3 8 months ago

Pecos -

I have built the Pinitech displays (early version - LED) and I really like them. They do not use the high voltage, so I removed the high voltage fuse on the SDB for the machines I have them in since I replaced all the displays in those machines. If high voltage is applied to the retrofit displays, you will burn it up. I followed the instructions and I removed J1 pin 1 from the retrofitted displays so high voltage could not be applied to the retrofit even if I forgot to remove the fuse. I think that by removing J1 Pin 1, you could mix the displays. However, I think the combination would make the displays look weird due to the mismatch.

As far as a single digit out, that's either a burned up resistor or a bad transistor. There's a recommendation out there to switch to 1/2 watt resistors instead of the 1/4 watt resistors originally installed.

For the burned displays, I have moved those to the highest number player, for example player 4 or 6. Most games played are single or double, so I don't think the players are that concerned about displays for a spot not used.

I have not tried Pinitech's new plasma looking displays - but I plan to try them once I find I have a need for a new set of displays.

If you do replace just one display, please let the community know how it looks and how it went.

#4 8 months ago

They should be individually swappable, yes.

I'd put all led on the one on route and save the plasma for home games

#5 8 months ago
Quoted from ptolemy:

Here are some pics of the various stages. I can post more pics if you are interested.
[quoted image]

Just curious which 7 segment display you chose for your build? Do you have a part # you would be willing to share?

I have a credit display that is shot and replacing all the displays are not in my budget, yet. I can build and fab this for one display quickly. I hate to order a bunch of displays to have to demo the displays. Any info would be appreciated.

#6 8 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

I like the Pinitech displays. Can I buy one, or two displays, not an entire set, and replace the bad displays and leave the plasma displays in place?

I can sell single displays for the Pinitech UNO / TRADITIONAL models. Contact me via PM/email if interested.

Quoted from Pecos:

If I remove the plasma displays and put them in a box, will they last longer than displays left in a pin running 12 hours a day?

Generally plasma displays wear out from use or over-voltage. In the box, they should last a while!

Quoted from Pecos:

I read somewhere about kits that allow you to use the original PCB board and electronics and add an LED display in place of the plasma display. Can someone please give me a link to these? I would like to save some money and consider these if this option is a lot cheaper than the DIY Pinitech display kits.
Edit: Found it:
https://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_display_retrofit.php
And the Pinside thread:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/interest-check-diy-bally-led-displays-using-old-boards
But the Pinitech website shows these kits as ‘Get added to the waitlist.’
This sounds like the best option for me. I like the idea of reusing the original boards and looking forward to the challenge of building them.

RETROFIT Kits are something I'm only doing on-demand at this point & I'm only selling those as a set (converts 5x plasma displays).

I'd highly recommend the Pinitech UNO DIY Kits in ORANGE however. It's not much more $$ per display & you gain many features over the RETROFIT kits.. adjustable brightness, light block foam, custom digits that look awesome. Incredible value for what the displays achieve.

Pinitech UNO:
https://www.pinitech.com/products/ballystern_display_uno.php

Let me know if you have any additional questions!

---
http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
NVRAM, Bally/Stern LED Displays & Mods for pinball machines

#7 8 months ago

Wolffpac makes kits. Cheap, easy to build and work great. And all new parts.

https://www.wolffpactech.com/

I've built several:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/wolffpac-6-digit-display-kit-review

He also came out with kits for Williams games:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-display-kits-for-williams-games-review

#8 8 months ago
Quoted from ptolemy:

Like others I have some old Bally machines with the plasma displays and considered upgrading them to LEDs but found the cost prohibitive. I stumbled upon this site http://www.baumfalk.net/Displays/bally_en.html and figured I would give it a go. After some minor changes to accommodate different parts and some rerouting I had some boards made and initial results are promising. So although these are limited to one color they are a direct plug in replacement and don't require the high voltage of the plasma displays. Here are some pics of the various stages. I can post more pics if you are interested.

Thanks for the sharing this info! I will check out the website.

Quoted from Billc479:

you could mix the displays. However, I think the combination would make the displays look weird due to the mismatch.

Quoted from zacaj:

They should be individually swappable, yes.

I'd put all led on the one on route and save the plasma for home games

Thanks. I want to purchase only two at this time. I would replace the 'ball in play/credit' display so any differences wouldn't be that noticeable. I want my customers to experience the same experience that I did, so I will keep the plasma displays on route, but consider holding some back for future use.

Quoted from acebathound:

RETROFIT Kits are something I'm only doing on-demand at this point & I'm only selling those as a set (converts 5x plasma displays).

I'd highly recommend the Pinitech UNO DIY Kits in ORANGE however. It's not much more $$ per display & you gain many features over the RETROFIT kits.. adjustable brightness, light block foam, custom digits that look awesome. Incredible value for what the displays achieve.

Thanks acebathound for the detailed response.

This will sound crazy to some people, but I want to keep the machine as original as possible and that means reusing the display PCBs. So, the retrofit kits are perfect for my needs.

Wayne, I would like to try the new plasma-looking displays in the retrofit kits. This would be considered 'experimental' but I like testing beta products and experimenting. Would this be a project that you would be willing to work with me on to beta test? I can't swing five at this time, but could build and test two. I would be glad to take videos/pictures of the final product, and if they turn out as well as you say they look, I will be retrofitting most of my Bally SS pins on route later this year.

Quoted from oldschoolbob:

Wolffpac makes kits. Cheap, easy to build and work great. And all new parts.

https://www.wolffpactech.com/

I've built several:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/wolffpac-6-digit-display-kit-review

He also came out with kits for Williams games:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-display-kits-for-williams-games-review

Thanks oldschoolbob! Will definitely check it out. Options are good!

#9 8 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

This will sound crazy to some people, but I want to keep the machine as original as possible and that means reusing the display PCBs. So, the retrofit kits are perfect for my needs. Wayne, I would like to try the new plasma-looking displays in the retrofit kits. This would be considered 'experimental' but I like testing beta products and experimenting. Would this be a project that you would be willing to work with me on to beta test? I can't swing five at this time, but could build and test two. I would be glad to take videos/pictures of the final product, and if they turn out as well as you say they look, I will be retrofitting most of my Bally SS pins on route later this year.

Sorry, I won't be offering custom digits with the RETROFIT kits. They were spec'd a certain way with the design and materials & I have no plans to revisit the design or "update" them with features of the new displays I'm offering. The costs would go up and as-such the price would have go to up, putting them even closer to the full kit pricing.. when the full kits offer a number of additional benefits.

If you're trying to get out the cheapest way possible, it seems you'll have to find some used plasma displays for replacements or possibly buy a full LED display kit for one machine, and then have the extra plasmas to put in other machines. For LED sets, there are a ton of options these days, but if you're looking for something that will look "stock" when installed in a line-up, or that has the ability to work in the same game with plasmas and blend well, then the new custom digits I've done on the Pinitech UNO / TRADITIONAL displays would be the ticket. You don't have to upgrade EVERY game.. you just upgrade one or two, so you can gain the plasma displays that are freed up for your other games.

---
http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
NVRAM, Bally/Stern LED Displays & Mods for pinball machines

#10 8 months ago

Also wanted to mention, for you or anyone else..

Through 2019 I'm offering a low-hassle way to try out a single Pinitech UNO / TRADITIONAL display in orange color (assembled only), so people can see how it blends with the original plasma displays. If you buy a single orange display and for whatever reason don't like it, you can return it, no questions asked, for a refund minus any shipping costs within 14 days of receiving the order. Plus, I invite feedback either way on the Pinside thread below.

More Info:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-pinitech-led-displays-for-classic-bally-stern-plasma-contender#post-4791457

A single display ships fairly cheap First Class Mail. Total cost (both ways) is about $8 total shipping if you do want to return it. That said, I don't really expect to have many people not be impressed by what they see in-person, which is why I'm making this offer

---
http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
NVRAM, Bally/Stern LED Displays & Mods for pinball machines

4 months later
#11 3 months ago

I have finally finished my first Bally display Retrofit Kit disassembly and reassembly. Everything went pretty much according to plan, the instructions are excellent, but I did have a few issues. The worst of the issues occurred when I put the component leads through the PCB. Six pads were lifted and two were missing, but this was easily resolved. I will have to be more careful in the future putting the components on the board.

DSCF4348 (resized).JPG

DSCF4350 (resized).JPG

DSCF4353 (resized).JPG

DSCF4354 (resized).JPG

I have made videos of the entire process and will be editing them to make a nice video.

The kit took longer to do than I would have thought, but this is my first Retrofit Kit. I am about three times slower than someone good at this and videoing the process slowed me down quite a bit. I also spend a lot of time making sure that I didn't make mistakes. I consider my desoldering and soldering skills a little bit below average, but enough to get this project done.

As always, it is a great feeling of accomplishment when I finish a DIY kit. The displays look great!

Thanks acebathound for making this kit available to me!

#12 3 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

I have finally finished my first Bally display Retrofit Kit disassembly and reassembly. Everything went pretty much according to plan, the instructions are excellent, but I did have a few issues. The worst of the issues occurred when I put the component leads through the PCB. Six pads were lifted and two were missing, but this was easily resolved. I will have to be more careful in the future putting the components on the board.

As you've found, the original plasma display single sided boards don't put up with a lot of heat on the pads. Seems some pads would lift no matter how careful you were, just from age. When I created the RETROFIT kits I expected half the people to adopt the "parallel resistor" method, which IMO cuts down time significantly and also limits the chance of lifting pads because you're only really fully replacing the driver transistors. Not many people adopted that method though.

Quoted from Pecos:

As always, it a great feeling of accomplishment when I finish a DIY kit. The displays look great!
Thanks acebathound for making this kit available to me!

You're welcome!

---
http://www.pinitech.com - "Pinball Inspired Technology"
NVRAM, Bally/Stern LED Displays & Mods for pinball machines

#13 3 months ago

LIFTOFF! WE HAVE A LIFTOFF!! Tower clear!

RETROFIT Kit Display 1 (resized).png

RETROFIT Kit Display 2 (resized).png

Couldn't get all the digits at the same time in the pics of Future Spa, but the RETROFIT kit display is working 100%!

At the end I went over the board carefully and found two solder bridges, easily fixed. Six lifted pads, two missing pads and two solder bridges - not my best work. But if I can get these built, most of you Pinsiders with decent desoldering and soldering skills can too.

These look great. The color is spot-on and the only noticeable difference is that the segments on the LEDs are a little bit wider. I doubt anybody would even notice. I just can't envisage someone coming up to me and telling me, "Hey! Hey buddy! Your digits are too fat!"

I am very happy with these LED displays. If you are willing to put in the time, they are the cheapest option for going LED with your early Bally SS pins and you get to recycle your old display PCBs. Thanks Wayne! They look great!

Nighttime view:

DSCF4370 (resized).JPG

#14 3 months ago
Quoted from oldschoolbob:

Wolffpac makes kits. Cheap, easy to build and work great. And all new parts.
https://www.wolffpactech.com/
I've built several:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/wolffpac-6-digit-display-kit-review
He also came out with kits for Williams games:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-display-kits-for-williams-games-review

I too have used Wolfpack and like what they offered.

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