Quoted from djb_rh:
So, can someone summarize the differences between Eli's setup and lucky1's setup? Pretty please?
My interest lies in using the 2.5mm LED panel as a DMD replacement so I can select any monochrome color I want AND to potentially colorize games where ColorDMD isn't available -or- ColorDMD's LCD solution is bad because of fitment (which is the case even on some games where it "fits" because it can block add-on backbox light boards).
As of this moment, I've had the pleasure of trying out both boards, at least from a testing perspective. I haven't installed either permanently in a machine yet and haven't done any long play testing.
Short answer: At the moment the freely available feature sets are nearly identical, as far as I can tell, at least with regards to installing as a DMD replacement.
I don't want to speak for anyone, but this is my understanding from what I've read from both. If I am misrepresenting either ecurtz or Lucky1, please let me know and I will edit accordingly.
Eli (ecurtz) makes RGB.DMD. This board currently has functionality where you can choose a palette to apply to an entire game. It does not currently support any colorization beyond that, however integration with SmartDMD is planned (not sure if implemented currently?). With SmartDMD you can, for all intents and purposes, colorize Stern SAM games frame by frame. Additional colorization options may eventually be supported by RGB.DMD, but I believe Eli does NOT intend to develop support for native frame by frame colorization that involves redrawing graphics. I'm not clear on whether or not he intends to maybe allow for palette swapping by identifying key frames. I think for Eli a lot of hesitation for adding more complex colorization comes from him being a US citizen where he could be more easily held accountable for perceived patent violations or infringing on the intellectual property of others. As it is a hobby project for him, I bet he wants to avoid even the hint of a threat of legal action against him. It just wouldn't be worth it.
Lucky1 is one of the creative leads for Pin2DMD. This board freely supports the same type of functionality where a palette can be applied to an entire game. Additional colorization options are pending, but due to him wanting to keep the project community focused and avoid commercialization, additional features are likely to be available only to registered users who have donated (to a charity of his choosing). It is not clear to me at the moment how registration is being handled, but I don't think it will be that big of a deal and in my opinion doesn't seem like it should be an impediment to purchasing this solution. I don't know if the feature is implemented yet, but I believe SmartDMD integration is at least pending. From what I understand based on comments I've seen posted here and on VPUniverse, Lucky1 has less to fear from US-based patent/IP holders being that he is a European citizen and his project is not commercial.
Both are still in development with bugs to be ironed out. I would not consider either to be finished at this point.
Due to the way that both require software installation in order to configure them, I don't personally consider either a "turn-key" option that some might be expecting.
If you wanted to buy something that potentially works without messing with software and configurations, RGB.DMD does work out of the box (for most DMD systems) with a default palette (currently black and white) and brightness configuration, though Eli is still actively developing, so if you got it now and never updated, you'd be locked in to whatever is available at the time he sends it to you.
Pin2DMD did NOT work for me directly out of the box. Software had to be run and data saved down to the onboard micro SD card to set it up to work for a given system. I'm not saying this as a ding against the product. I just want to clarify what you can expect. I had no expectations that I should be able to plug in and have it work without some effort on my part.
Ultimately you, at least currently, need to install software and configure both.
I cannot say which would be the better choice. I haven't had much experience with either one yet, and since they're both still in development, I don't think there's a clear winner. They may eventually diverge enough to where each fills a specific demand. I think RGB.DMD is closest to achieving a turn-key solution (though I can't speak for Eli as to whether or not that's something he wants to pursue), and I don't believe Pin2DMD is designed with turn-key features in mind (also just a guess).
Edit: A final point I want to make is that if you're interested in this type of product, buy both options. The cost of the boards is comparable and low when compared to anything else you'd buy for a pinball machine. They take the same power source, and use the same RGB LED panels, so they're pretty interchangeable. Buy both, test, and give feedback. I personally want to help ensure compatibility with both products for all the DMD games I own.