(Topic ID: 264463)

Starting My First LED Swap - Questions from A Beginner...


By bbddpp

71 days ago



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  • Latest reply 47 days ago by Jmckune
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#1 71 days ago

This quarantine stuff got me the pinball bug again and I'm working on games I haven't popped glass on in years. My current collection: Whirlwind, Twilight Zone, Attack from Mars and Teed Off. I haven't put a single LED bulb in any of these. A burnt and melted flasher bulb in my TZ got me bit by the LED bug. What first was going to be a small set of flasher replacements to keep from melting any more domes has now turned into an all out addiction to wanting to LED all 4 of these games.

At first I looked at kits, including the pinballbulbs kits which add those nice spotlights to help light the playfield better in dim areas that I love. However I quickly realized that the community at large recommends just buying bulbs in bulk and doing this yourself rather than via kit. I could always add spotlights later at the end. So here I am looking at bulk bulbs.

I think I want to keep the more pure warm white look vs. the white look of LEDs so the games keep the more classic feel vs. the modern and almost digital feel I think that the cool whites bring. Don't get me wrong, that's also a cool look, I just think it feels a little too modern for my tastes, and I like the pins to retain their era look and feel.

I'm in Central Pennsylvania so a quick drive to Ardmore, PA -- Therefore I looked at CoinTaker, great reputation, though prices for bulk LED look higher vs. the also loved Comet Pinball. I liked Comet's description page and am thinking maybe starting with a box of 100 frosted sunlight or warm white of both style of wedge and bayonet would be a good crash course. I haven't counted bulbs on my 4 machines yet so no idea how far that will get me, maybe I should look closer to 200, that said, it can be a gradual process. I am still a bit torn on the warm white vs sunlight, and the frosted vs clear, though it sounds to me like the overall "safe bet" is the frosted sunlight for a fairly traditional feel. Am I on the right track?

I guess basically I just want to make sure I'm on the right track. I welcome any and all suggestions, realizing a lot of this comes down to personal preference, but hoping that my description of the effect I am trying to go for helps.

Thanks all!

#2 71 days ago

Short version: most GI will be #44, get more of those. If a game's art is more red/orange, warm white is a safe bet. Sunlight isn't THAT much different, consider using it for more "blue" games.

I would recommend comet matrix system with the bulb/matrix connector for strips/spots.

Color matching inserts is an option. I only match red/green. You could forego matching insert color entirely and just use sunlight/warm white.

I only used frosted bulbs.

#3 71 days ago

Sunlight Frosted 2 SMD is your best and safest bet....The Kelvin is between White and Warm.
Youll need twice as many #555 as #47.Average game in GI is 50, #47 and 100-#555.
No need to over order with great shipping.

Throw in a little color for fun to try and test in Inserts....A Couple Purple Passion and Ice Blue..

Thats it!.

I hope I know what I am sharing.....I created those, and hope Ryan will excuse me jumping in to help.

#4 71 days ago

You absolutely want frosted in the backbox and in the GI. Clear or frosted works well in the inserts. You can color match the inserts (which looks better) but white works too. 4" trough lighting kits cost about $4 and are easy to install if you are at it. You can LED the flashers if you wish, but bear in mind it is easy to overdo it. I bought 8 SMD towers for my first conversion and it was way too much. You can always partially cover LEDs/Flashers with black electrical tape.

In my experience, almost all brands of Bayonet bulbs work fine, but the wedge one's are iffy. I have had as high as a 50% failure rate out of the box on the wedge ones. My brand of choice on these are the Comet LEDs, which I've had great luck on. I've had about a 100% success rate on their bayonets, and maybe 97% on their wedges.

While you are at it replacing bulbs, it makes sense to replace the rubbers too since you will have to take most all of the plastics off. I would also recommend getting some cotton swabs, wetting them, and wiping off the inside of the inserts for an even better result.

Good luck and have fun!

#5 71 days ago

So much great info here so fast, great community and thanks all. I am looking forward to getting started and the inevitable addiction to doing them all 100%. The nice part is that I can just start with some and add on as I go. Thanks for the tips on the matrix system at Comet, didn't see that either. It's really nice to see so many vendors out there providing pinball support these days. All of them are great, seems Comet is leading the way in price and reliability which is why I will probably start there.

The only reason I even looked at flashers is due to the heat of one that must have stuck on melting out and melting my dome plastic in my TZ. I would agree I don't need LED flashers but since this happened now I'm all worried about the heat they put off if they get stuck so I'll eventually hit at least the flashers inside of domes as well.

Does Comet ever run any sales or coupons?

Good times.

#6 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

Does Comet ever run any sales or coupons?

Black Fridays only I think.

Always go warm. It wont be nearly as warm as incandescents, so don't worry aboot that. All that sunlight shit might as well be cool white.

#7 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

So much great info here so fast, great community and thanks all. I am looking forward to getting started and the inevitable addiction to doing them all 100%. The nice part is that I can just start with some and add on as I go. Thanks for the tips on the matrix system at Comet, didn't see that either. It's really nice to see so many vendors out there providing pinball support these days. All of them are great, seems Comet is leading the way in price and reliability which is why I will probably start there.
The only reason I even looked at flashers is due to the heat of one that must have stuck on melting out and melting my dome plastic in my TZ. I would agree I don't need LED flashers but since this happened now I'm all worried about the heat they put off if they get stuck so I'll eventually hit at least the flashers inside of domes as well.
Does Comet ever run any sales or coupons?
Good times.

Buy by quantity, and get free shipping with Comet!

#8 71 days ago

Change the bulbs with the game off, turn on to check they are working

#9 71 days ago

Unless you're using tools to take out GI from the bottom there's no need to turn the machine off.

#10 71 days ago

Here's my approach. You don't want to go crazy with blasting light 2X what you are used to with incandescent or going to cool white. The 1SMD 5050 in warm white is 50% brighter than incandescent, so when you're done it still looks the same but just a bit brighter. The warm white is cooler than incandescent, so if you only do one game you'll notice the difference. After they're all done it'll look great.

1SMD warm white frosted #555 (GI backbox)
1SMD warm white frosted #44 (GI playfield/backbox)
1SMD warm white frosted ghostbusters #555 (controlled lamps in twist sockets)
1SMD warm white frosted shostbusters #44 (controlled lamps in stand-alone bayonet sockets)

If you want blinkers get those too. I get warm white fast blink. When you turn the game on they all blink in unison. After 5 minutes they are all random so no need to mix slow or fast blinkers.

I usually leave all flashers incandescent. But I had the same as you on TZ with the flasher above the UR flipper locking on and melting the plastic. I did change all the flashers on TZ to LED. But that's the only one.

#12 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

Does Comet ever run any sales or coupons?

Black Friday in November

#13 71 days ago

Comet and Cointaker both have great products. I find Comet a little cheaper.
I only buy warm frosted 2-SMD. This bulbs works for everything. The warm white does not wash out colors on plastics and playfield. Do not use color LEDs- they look terrible and you will just waste money trying to stock all the different colors. You will wind up with a bag of each color just sitting there.
Buy in bulk- 100 count bags will save money. Seriously- keep it simple.

#14 71 days ago

Looks like a run on bayonets, hopefully he can get some back in stock soon. I'll get started on the others a while I suppose and get an order in. So much great info in this thread, I learned a lot. Can't thank you all enough. I'm sure more questions will arise.

#15 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

Looks like a run on bayonets, hopefully he can get some back in stock soon. I'll get started on the others a while I suppose and get an order in. So much great info in this thread, I learned a lot. Can't thank you all enough. I'm sure more questions will arise.

China has been closed for Export since the Second week in December.

#16 71 days ago

FWIW I love the comet kits. I’ve bought 3. You don’t save any real money buying individual, they give a few extra, and someone has done the work to figure out a really good combo of bulbs.

I’ve also bought kits from several people and comet is my favorite.

My recommendation is to buy a comet kit and see how that goes...or at least, price out what it would cost for a kit vs rolling your own and see if there is any real savings.

#17 71 days ago
Quoted from Bospins:

....and someone has done the work to figure out a really good combo of bulbs.

This is what most people do not like, one persons idea of what looks good isn't universal. I also don't think it's as cheap as getting 100 packs of bulbs.

#18 71 days ago

I think there's merit in both instances. I'm actually considering buying a cheaper kit for one of the games and a couple hundred bare bulbs to start, way I figure, cheaper kit gives me a nice starting point for a retrofit, and if I don't like any of the choices I can replace with a different style and have some extras to use for another game or keep inside. So I get where Bospins was coming from. I've always been shy of fully shopping out a pin because I don't solder well and am afraid of breaking something delicate, bulb swaps seem like something a little more straightforward so it's a good way to get me back into my games again after letting them sit in sad neglect for a while. It's sort of excited me about playing them again.

#19 71 days ago

Older games, use a q-tip and cleaner, to clean the inserts in the playfield, while bulb changing.

#20 71 days ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

This is what most people do not like, one persons idea of what looks good isn't universal. I also don't think it's as cheap as getting 100 packs of bulbs.

I hear ya. For me it is less about bulb colors and more about types.

The comet kits have some flavor of white for the GI and they color match the inserts (With a few exceptions for tricks they know, like use pink under an orange insert and not an orange). I think this is the best way to start.

But for flashers (12v, 28v, etc) different bulbs work better than others and comet has figured that out, and they just supply what you need. This was great for my pinbot.

I get the bulk thing too. Just sayin kits have their benefits, especially if it’s your first one.

#21 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

So much great info here so fast, great community and thanks all. I am looking forward to getting started and the inevitable addiction to doing them all 100%. The nice part is that I can just start with some and add on as I go. Thanks for the tips on the matrix system at Comet, didn't see that either. It's really nice to see so many vendors out there providing pinball support these days. All of them are great, seems Comet is leading the way in price and reliability which is why I will probably start there.
The only reason I even looked at flashers is due to the heat of one that must have stuck on melting out and melting my dome plastic in my TZ. I would agree I don't need LED flashers but since this happened now I'm all worried about the heat they put off if they get stuck so I'll eventually hit at least the flashers inside of domes as well.
Does Comet ever run any sales or coupons?
Good times.

You definitely want to look at the LEDOCD board, too. My problem with LEDs in the older machines that weren't designed for it is they don't have the natural attack and decay of an incandescent, so the "blinkiness" is all wrong. LED OCD fixes that, giving you LED brightness with incandescent attack (smooth ramping up of brightness) and decay (smooth ride down to "off"). It is user-programmable, but the default settings are WAY better than whatever you get from just changing out your bulbs with LEDs.

Highly recommended.

http://www.ledocd.com/faq_led.html

#22 71 days ago

If you are unsure of which white to go with, my suggestion is buy some samples of each. Put them in easy to reach areas like slings and compare. I used to like cool white but now sunlight for gi. Sunlight is perfect balance of having some warmth without being too yellow. However, some people may prefer warm white. It's all personal preference. Buy some other colored bulbs to test inserts but safe bet is color match all inserts except yellow and orange. Use warm white for those.

What I do to led a game is basically make a spreadsheet of every insert and count bulbs for gi/backbox. I make note of base type, color, and lens for each bulb. Any visible bulb and ones in backbox frosted lens and clear everywhere else. I use flex head leds for inserts where bulbs do not reach well and brighter bulbs for large inserts. 2smd for gi and 1smd for inserts my preference. Backbox tricky to light since different for every game. Some dark some too bright. Once I get my list, I order just the right bulbs with a few extras just in case. I also do a lot of custom lighting and Comet Matrix stuff is awesome. I also suggest looking into the ocd boards. I started using them and cannot recommend them enough.

#23 71 days ago

JawJaw, what games you got spreadsheets for? I admire this level of OCD.

I saw the LED OCD and it looks like a must for TZ - Not sure if I'll run into that on my AFM, Whirlwind or Teed Off but I'll have to look and see which games are susceptible. Once I see it I won't be able to unsee it.

I placed an order today, with all the quarantine stuff going on it's a great time to work on my pins and also relaxing in a weird way. I don't have any rubbing alcohol for the inserts but have some Novus 1 around that maybe will do the job. I'd go buy rubbing alcohol but, well, you know...

#24 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

JawJaw, what games you got spreadsheets for? I admire this level of OCD.
I saw the LED OCD and it looks like a must for TZ - Not sure if I'll run into that on my AFM, Whirlwind or Teed Off but I'll have to look and see which games are susceptible. Once I see it I won't be able to unsee it.
I placed an order today, with all the quarantine stuff going on it's a great time to work on my pins and also relaxing in a weird way. I don't have any rubbing alcohol for the inserts but have some Novus 1 around that maybe will do the job. I'd go buy rubbing alcohol but, well, you know...

Yeah, once you see the issues with LEDs in older pins without an LEDOCD, you won't be able to unsee it. It's a great product.

At the very least if you don't use LEDOCD you should use the anti-ghosting rom patcher to patch the roms and eliminate ghosting from the original Bally/Williams light matrix design flaw (that wasn't obvious with incandescent bulbs). It won't help the blinkiness issues, but it will kill the ghosting.

#25 71 days ago

I also have a Tee'd Off. It only uses bayonet 44 bulbs. The playfield holes on Gottlieb's are slightly smaller than other machines and require a narrower bulb. Found this out the hard way when I first decided to add some color to my playfield.

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#26 71 days ago

Meh, my TZ has been LEDs for over. A decade and never felt the need for OCD.
Capcoms are the only 100% needed.

#27 71 days ago

My biggest tip... Use pink LEDs under orange inserts. This bring out the natural colour of the insert.

Trust me. I have tried, everything. Pink is best.

#28 71 days ago

I go with 10 47s in the backbox.

My top goal is not to brighten the room, or make the backbox look cool. My #1 goal is to enjoy pinball by seeing the ball (always), without any reflection from the backbox.

Your priorities may vary.

-mof

#29 71 days ago
Quoted from TimBoch:

I also have a Tee'd Off. It only uses bayonet 44 bulbs. The playfield holes on Gottlieb's are slightly smaller than other machines and require a narrower bulb. Found this out the hard way when I first decided to add some color to my playfield.[quoted image]

Thanks Tim, got a recommend on the bulbs? I'm afraid the bayonet from Comet may not fit and that was going to be my go-to. There's not a lot of Tee'd Off owners out there, would love to know some of the special colors you wound up going with. Appreciate the post.

#30 71 days ago
Quoted from vireland:

Yeah, once you see the issues with LEDs in older pins without an LEDOCD, you won't be able to unsee it. It's a great product.
At the very least if you don't use LEDOCD you should use the anti-ghosting rom patcher to patch the roms and eliminate ghosting from the original Bally/Williams light matrix design flaw (that wasn't obvious with incandescent bulbs). It won't help the blinkiness issues, but it will kill the ghosting.

I remember back in the day I used to order pre-programmed ROM chips. Is there a newer better way now? I'm using the latest home rom on there now pretty sure. That may be a nice compromise to buying all new chips, programming them with something to add the patch for the lighting. Heck who knew light swapping was so involved. But hey I'm up for the challenge!

One other question - I haven't seen a lot on non-ghosting vs. standard in the inserts, seems like if you intend to ever use the OCD board you should not ever buy non-ghosting bulbs for anything correct? Are you guys using NonGhost in your inserts if you're skipping on the boards?

#31 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

One other question - I haven't seen a lot on non-ghosting vs. standard in the inserts, seems like if you intend to ever use the OCD board you should not ever buy non-ghosting bulbs for anything correct? Are you guys using NonGhost in your inserts if you're skipping on the boards?

Correct non ghosting and OCDLED do not like each other.

#32 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

I remember back in the day I used to order pre-programmed ROM chips. Is there a newer better way now? I'm using the latest home rom on there now pretty sure. That may be a nice compromise to buying all new chips, programming them with something to add the patch for the lighting. Heck who knew light swapping was so involved. But hey I'm up for the challenge!
One other question - I haven't seen a lot on non-ghosting vs. standard in the inserts, seems like if you intend to ever use the OCD board you should not ever buy non-ghosting bulbs for anything correct? Are you guys using NonGhost in your inserts if you're skipping on the boards?

I'd just patch the rom, burn a new set and do the upgrade with regular LEDs which will stop ghosting on B/W. That way if you add LEDOCD at some point, you're all set.

#33 71 days ago

I bet you really would like the look of cool white on the Whirlwind. It really brings out the blue and lightning effects. Here’s a before and after on my bride. Color matched inserts. To be fair to the incandescent though. This game did have problems and many bulbs out when I first got it

FB3BFFD3-1B12-410C-B1F7-2303510EC06F (resized).jpeg0C71EF6B-3EDE-4725-A25D-A4274334BD45 (resized).jpeg
#34 71 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

Thanks Tim, got a recommend on the bulbs? I'm afraid the bayonet from Comet may not fit and that was going to be my go-to. There's not a lot of Tee'd Off owners out there, would love to know some of the special colors you wound up going with. Appreciate the post.

I think just about all Comets bulbs should work except for this one. Just make sure to see if they have the note about 90s Gottlieb.

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#35 71 days ago

I bought some non-ghosting in the hopes I could start with my AFM, but that will just get me started there, maybe I will plan to do the AFM with the non-ghosting and then do my TZ the way you said. Need to look into how I program pinball chips (I guess you need an EEPROM programmer and software, new thing to look into!).

I must say for some reason due to that blue color I do think that the cool white LEDs might actually look awesome in the GI. And I am a huge fan of the warm colors. Will have to give that some thought. It would be interesting to do all of these a different way for some variety.

AFM - Non-ghosting inserts, sunlight GI
TZ - warm white GI, standard inserts, program EEPROM
WW - cool white GI, not sure on inserts
Tee'd Off - who the heck knows

The efforts I make on the AFM and the final result may inform me how I proceed on the rest. Plus hoping Comet gets the Wedges back in stock.

#36 65 days ago
Quoted from bbddpp:

JawJaw, what games you got spreadsheets for? I admire this level of OCD.
I saw the LED OCD and it looks like a must for TZ - Not sure if I'll run into that on my AFM, Whirlwind or Teed Off but I'll have to look and see which games are susceptible. Once I see it I won't be able to unsee it.
I placed an order today, with all the quarantine stuff going on it's a great time to work on my pins and also relaxing in a weird way. I don't have any rubbing alcohol for the inserts but have some Novus 1 around that maybe will do the job. I'd go buy rubbing alcohol but, well, you know...

They are more like hand written notes than anything ocd level. I don't know how else to do it to make sure you buy the right bulbs and not waste money on bulbs I don't need. I do own a TZ and that one was tough. I recommend getting a lot of flex head leds for inserts in that game, especially for the upper pf. When space is tight, sometimes bulb sockets are at a weird angle and don't an insert as well as others. Flex heads great for this and also help prevent light bleeding to other close inserts. This is the kind of stuff I like to plan out instead of just buying a ton of bulk bulbs.

2 weeks later
#37 47 days ago

I have a couple containers of leds. Most are from Comet... some Coin Taker & a few from Nifty.

Is there a way to tell if a led/smd is an non-ghosting or a ghosting? Thanks

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#38 47 days ago

Sounds like you're already on your way replacing bulbs but I can't stress enough turning OFF the machine while replacing bulbs. I was replacing bulbs on my Comet and the bulb holder in one of my pop bumpers had a loose tang at the bottom where it contacts the tip of the bulb. I was replacing the bulbs by hand and when I rotated the bulb to remove it the tang swung to the side and straight to ground. It didn't pop the fuse,...... It popped the board. A board repair later I was up and running again. It was an expensive lesson for me as I don't do my own board work. It only takes a second to turn it off, better safe than sorry.

I hadn't heard of pink under orange inserts before. I think the orange looks great under them but now I'm curious and I think I'll give that a try.

I agree about buying bulk bulbs instead of a kit. I bought a kit and it was hideous. After re-buying a bunch of bulk bulbs from Comet I'm finally happy and have about 75 colored bulbs kicking around now. I do think some sellers are better at kit colors than others probably due to more experience lighting pinball machines. I bought off eBay,what a mistake.

#39 47 days ago
Quoted from scampcamp:

I have a couple containers of leds. Most are from Comet... some Coin Taker & a few from Nifty.
Is there a way to tell if a led/smd is an non-ghosting or a ghosting? Thanks[quoted image][quoted image]

With comet at least on the wedge bulbs, the non ghosting bulbs have a translucent base on them in the color matching of the bulb, regular 1 or 2 smd have solid non see thru colors.

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