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(Topic ID: 142007)

SmartDMD Color Display Setup Guide

By Crash

5 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 84 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by Crash
  • Topic is favorited by 33 Pinsiders


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    #1 5 years ago

    A fantastic Pinsider named oga83 has provided us with an all-inclusive color LCD display alternative for traditional plasma dot matrix displays used in the most popular Bally, Williams, Data East, Sega, Capcom, and Stern games. SmartDMD, in short, is a piece of software than runs on a Raspberry Pi portable computer and serves as a stand-in replacement for expensive and obsolete 25 year old plasma DMDs. To familiarize yourself with the system, go here:

    If you are interested in going this route to replace your plasma, LED, or DMD Extender display system, you will find this guide helpful. I will cover all parts involved and list instructions on connecting everything together to make a working replacement full-color display solution to keep your games reliable and working for years.

    List of required parts

    Official Raspberry PI Model A+ 256M 700MHz Broadcom BCM2835 CPU 256MB RAM HDM: $30 link » Official Raspberry Pi Model A 256m 700mhz Broadcom Bcm2835 Cpu 256mb Ram Hdmi

    5V 2A Micro USB Charger Adapter Cable Power Supply for Raspberry Pi B+ B US Plug: $5 link » 5v 2a Micro Usb Charger Adapter Cable Power Supply For Raspberry Pi B B Us Plug

    SmartDMD board from oga83: $70

    Kingston 4GB MicroSD HC MicroSDHC Memory Card 4 GB SDC4/4GB with Adapter: $6 link » Kingston 4gb Microsd Hc Microsdhc Memory Card 4 Gb Sdc4 4gb With Adapter

    HDMI DVI VGA Audio controller board for 15.6" B156HW01 LP156WF1 1920x1080 lcd
    : $30 link » Hdmi Dvi Vga Audio Controller Board For 15 6 B156hw01 Lp156wf1 1920x1080 Lcd

    12V 4A AC DC Power Supply 4 Amp 12 Volt Adapter Charger LCD Screen 5.5mm * 2.5mm: $8 link » 12v 4a Ac Dc Power Supply 4 Amp 12 Volt Adapter Charger Lcd Screen 5 5mm 2 5mm

    1FT Premium High Speed v1.4 HDMI Cable 1080P Ethernet 3D For DVD PS3 BluRay HDTV: $2 link » 1ft Premium High Speed V1 4 Hdmi Cable 1080p Ethernet 3d For Dvd Ps3 Bluray Hdtv

    NEW LG PHILIPS LP156WF1(TL)(B2) LAPTOP LCD SCREEN 15.6: $58 link » New Lg Philips Lp156wf1 Tl B2 Laptop Lcd Screen 15 6

    If you have Maverick, Frankenstein, Baywatch, or Batman Forever you will need this display instead.

    LAPTOP LCD LED SCREEN 17.3" FOR LG LP173WF1(TL)(C1) LP173WF1-TLC1: $60 link


    Assembly instructions

    Connect the small 14 pin connector on the DMD driver board to the SmartDMD input socket as shown using the supplied ribbon cable. Be sure the red stripe is on the side marked pin 1 on the DMD driver board and on the left side when plugged in to the SmartDMD board. With the game off, plug in the power connector on the DMD driver board.

    Carefully insert the GPIO header on the Raspberry Pi board into the corresponding socket on the SmartDMD board. Connect the socket furthest from the USB ports on the board. Insert the micro SD card into the Raspberry Pi's SD card slot, and connect one end the HDMI cable to the Pi's HDMI out connection.

    Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the LCD controller board's HDMI input. The remote board and LVDS harness should already be connected to the controller. If not, attach the main harness lining up the dots/arrows on the plug and receiver socket. Attach the remote board harness. Attach the flat LVDS connector to the display's socket on the bottom. I would suggest taping down the black sleeve protruding from the contacts to prevent it from wiggling loose during installation. Finally, attach the 12v power supply's DC plug to the controller board's power input connection. Attach the 5v power supply's micro USB plug to the Raspberry Pi's micro USB port.

    Plug in the power supplies, turn on the game, and the SmartDMD logo will display briefly on the screen followed by the game's DMD image. You will get a good starting picture, and from there you can insert the SD card into your PC and use the Pinball Browser utility program to customize the image, register the product key, as well as make further geometry and position adjustments using the LCD controller's included remote board.


    Configuring and using Pinball Browser with SmartDMD

    SmartDMD uses Pinball Browser for configuration.


    Click on the SmartDMD tab and the SmartDMD configuration button.


    You will be asked to navigate to the drive letter/path corresponding to your SD card containing the SmartDMD executable. Open SmartDMD.txt in the similarly named folder and the main window will appear.


    Choose the display resolution that best matches your screen.


    Enter a positive number to reduce the size of the DMD image or a negative number to stretch it out. Here are some good 128x32 settings to get you started.


    Select the manufacturer of your game.


    Specify the size of your DMD panel. Choose 128x32 unless you have Frankenstein, Baywatch, Maverick, or Batman Forever.


    Choose upscaling scheme. Leave this at None for plain dots.


    Color mode
    If using colorized display ROMs, specify how the color information is being stored.


    Position on screen
    Adjust the Horizontal and Vertical sliders to adjust the image's position using the Screen Preview window.



    Frame width
    Enter a number corresponding to the thickness of your border and choose a border color.


    Dot shape and size
    Choose from a list of preset dot shapes, or draw your own 8x8 bitmap. The size of the bitmap affects the size of the image.


    Add and remove background images that will surround your DMD image. If you add multiple images they will rotate in a cycle.


    Enable network broadcasting of the DMD video stream in real time.



    This is the list of palettes. Click New to add a palette, Default to make the selected palette default, etc. Click Auto to automatically generate a monochromatic gradient from the currently selected color.


    Click a color to display the Windows color chooser for that shade.


    License registration

    To enter your license key click Enter License on the main Pinball Browser window. When making your donation, provide your token ID and the eight character serial number displayed on the SmartDMD splash screen to oga83 to obtain your unique license key.


    Remote SmartDMD display

    Click the screen button under the SmartDMD tab to receive a real time stream of your DMD over your local area network (if configured) and post screen captures to Facebook.



    Building the kit

    Now we are ready to assemble the kit to use in your game. In this example we are replacing a 128x32 plasma display in a Data East Jurassic Park.

    Begin with a 1/4" thick sheet of plexiglass. Score and cut to the same dimensions as your 15.6" LCD display panel. Mark and drill 5 holes for the game's original mounting posts for the old DMD. Do not drill the top center hole as the display will cover this area.


    Cut a channel from the rear lip on the top of the speaker panel equivalent to the length of you sheet. This will allow the display to fit cleanly within the DMD window. Perform a test fit of your sheet on the speaker panel.



    Mark and make a small cutout for the screen's LVDS video connector.


    Affix the plexiglass sheet to the back of the LCD panel using adhesive velcro tape. This will allow you to replace the display panel later should it fail. Be extremely careful to get the alignment as straight as possible during this step.


    Remove, clean, and line the plastic window inlay with 3/8" width standard density weather stripping. This will provide a cushion for the display panel and ensure a good fit.


    Secure the inlay window with tape on both ends to prevent it from shifting when installing the panel.


    Install 2 1/4" rubber grommets per mounting post to ensure a safe and solid fit for the panel. For the bottom center post you will need to trim 1/3" of the material to leave enough room for the LCD's bottom edge.



    Install your plexiglass display panel over the posts, securing with nuts. For this kit we oriented the display upside down, leaving the video connector on top. This allows for best viewing angles during play.


    Next we will begin installing the boards on the back face. Starting with the display driver board, install two more grommets for the three mounting posts and fit in place. Secure with 3 nuts and remember to attach the ground strap for the corresponding corner post.



    Install the remaining boards using adhesive feet and zip ties. I would suggest adding a small piece of foam below the GPIO header on the SmartDMD board to provide extra support when installed on the Raspberry Pi. We arranged the LCD controller board so the HDMI plug provides support to the floating corner of the DMD driver board.




    Remove any lamps or LEDs that will be in the way when installing your completed kit. Run power adapters for the Pi and LCD display controller through the cabinet and power up. Continue adjusting image size and position in Pinball Browser to get the best fit.



    1 week later
    #3 5 years ago

    Bump for the SmartDMD crowd.

    #12 5 years ago

    Getting back on topic, I'll be adding some software setup steps pretty soon to cover that area. I will include some photos of the setup working in a Jurassic Park once I get everything together.

    #13 5 years ago


    #15 5 years ago

    I didn't bother to add everything up but in comparison I've usually been able to do DMD Extender conversions for under $250.

    #22 5 years ago
    Quoted from PinballMikeD:

    I'm sorry, I guess I just took your comments below out of context - my apologies. Anyway, I don't want to derail Crash's thread. Sorry, guess I was just in a bad mood yesterday morning. Great thread Crash.

    No big deal. Guys, let's keep the discussion focused on hardware and software please. Feel free to continue in PMs.

    #23 5 years ago
    Quoted from Jgaltr56:

    I was planning on using one of these along with a power strip to provide switched AC for the power supplies.
    Just need to tap into 5vdc for the relay. I know I could add an outlet after the power switch but I'd rather not hack up my 120V service outlet. Anyone have another way of doing this? Also, are there any timing issues to worry about on power up?

    We just use a 3-way plug splitter with the service outlet. On some games this is switched, others it's not. Now that you mention it, this is going to be an issue when the game is turned off on location (kids, ball stuck, etc.). While the display controller will go to sleep if the display signal turns off, the Pi will not. Oga is there a way to include a sleep or shut down feature when the DMD signal goes off that also disconnects the HDMI output? Timing is not an issue as the software will just display "no signal" if the game hasn't booted yet (it should be booted long before the SmartDMD software starts up. If not, you have a problem somewhere).

    Quoted from Rensh:

    I have installed a couple in stern systems, they have a spare AC konnektor on the left of the coin door which only powers on when the pin is switched on
    I than use a seperate AC power supply to run the raspberry and lcd display

    This is probably for bill acceptors. A lot of these used to run on 12v, but it's easier and cheaper to run AC straight from the line box.

    #25 5 years ago

    Can the computer be put in a standby or low power state as well?

    #28 5 years ago

    Here's some reference photos in the other thread for a Sega kit to give you an idea so far.

    #30 5 years ago

    I have photos, still finalizing the guide.

    #32 5 years ago

    The guide is now finished with full build steps!

    #34 5 years ago
    Quoted from johnjones:

    Is the large Sega support still in the works?
    I just saw the option in the screenshots for it and wondered if
    it is now functioning with Sega large or if its still in progress?


    1 week later
    #35 5 years ago

    Bump for SmartDMD fans.

    #37 5 years ago

    I got an email from Dr. Pinball, he is going through orders. Should get to you soon.

    #42 5 years ago

    Sent email July 15, was put on the waiting list July 23, and it was my turn to ship on November 15. So a four month turnaround exactly. I backed out and I'm thinking johnjones got my spot.

    #44 5 years ago

    That's the SmartDMD board oga83 provides. You can make your own and he explains how to do that in the main thread.

    1 week later
    #48 4 years ago
    Quoted from fly:

    if there is the possibility of coloring in the DISPLAY mode ?? if only in SmartDmd ??

    I don't think you can write colorized frames manually, but I do believe you can use the goDMD editor to change the color palette of the current frame to make a pseudo-colorized display. Similar to how some early home computers did multicolored graphics on a character by character basis. As for the details on that, I am not quite sure. The new version of the editor supports palette modification.

    Further reading:

    #50 4 years ago

    Correct, you can't do this for SAM games because there is no emulator and no ROMs available. Supposedly that was going to change when Spike was released, but I haven't seen any discussion on making the SAM ROMs public. However, you can use the side channel mode for SAM games by injecting previously unused color data into the CPU ROM using Pinball Browser.

    This is 34 year old technology and we are just getting around to implementing it in pinball. Good stuff!

    1 week later
    #53 4 years ago

    Any LP156WF1 will work. Will update the links.

    3 weeks later
    #58 4 years ago

    Links updated.

    #60 4 years ago

    Awesome. I made that sentence a bit clearer.

    2 weeks later
    #64 4 years ago

    I'm guessing ColorDMD doesn't have a 14-pin ribbon cable loop-through. In that case you would have to make your own vampire tap cable to add a connection mid-way.

    1 week later
    #72 4 years ago
    Quoted from Rensh:

    Correct. Any screen Will work. Just try to get one which has good black levels

    This is incorrect. I would strongly suggest using the 17.3" screen for large DMD Sega games and the controller board listed on the first page. Otherwise you have to verify the controller you buy will work with the panel you buy. Using a larger display will do nothing for the picture and will be too large to fit between the mounting posts/speakers on the speaker panel.

    #73 4 years ago
    Quoted from Dazza88:

    Do I need a different controller board for 17.3 lcd screen in the first post ?

    Everything listed in the first post has been verified to be compatible.

    2 months later
    #78 4 years ago
    Quoted from Jgaltr56:

    I bought all the parts that Crash listed towards the end of last year but ended up selling my BF before using them. They are all in their original packaging never opened. If anyone is interested in the parts send me a PM. I'll make you a good deal and save you some ordering hassle.

    PM sent.

    #80 4 years ago

    The ribbon cable connecting the DMD driver board to the CPU is disconnected in picture 2. Reconnect it and the SmartDMD will start receiving an image.

    #82 4 years ago

    Back to square one then. Watch the playfield carefully during attract mode. Do you see any erratic bright flashing of the inserts?

    #84 4 years ago

    PM sent.

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