(Topic ID: 151070)

Stealth LED... a recommended recipe for EM's


By NicoVolta

3 years ago



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  • Latest reply 9 months ago by GSones
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    #1 3 years ago

    A lot of folks have been asking for my "Stealth LED" recipe lately, so it's time to share. Note: I lean toward the conservative side of LED lighting and so this is a "best of both worlds" approach which strives to maintain the original character of the machine as closely as possible while delivering higher light output, longer life, and the power savings of LED technology. It's also great for pop bumpers... no more twisted filaments and premature burnouts.

    So... here ya go.

    Nico's STEALTH LED recipe v1.0:

    Install type 47 bulbs in all GI locations. Wherever your eye can see direct filament, that's where the bulbs go. Typically this will be on top of the playfield under plastics and lane guides. By doing this, your eye will assume the rest of the lights are also bulbs... aha! Stealthy!

    Install Comet twin 2835 SMD "intense brightness" warm white frosted lens in always-lit locations (typically backbox illumination and under inserts which always stay lit). For red star inserts, use the red frosted version and ideally install a second lamp socket and LED to illuminate the other side of the star.

    Install Comet 1SMD "supreme brightness" non-ghosting warm white frosted under all inserts and backbox locations which turn on/off (ball count, match numbers, bonus countdown, game over, etc). **

    For pops, the Cointaker premium super warm white non-ghosting was my go-to. However, as of 2016, the newest batch no longer delivers an optimal warm white. The color temperature now exhibits an unacceptable greenish hue common to many "warm white" LED varieties. Thus, I now recommend the Comet 1SMD non-ghosting for pops which turn on/off... or the Comet twin 2835 for always-lit pops.

    With few exceptions, this is how all of my EM's are outfitted by default. Works great, saves power, looks original enough to please nitpicks, provides better illumination overall, and saves time.

    I have rolled every LED sold by Cointaker, Comet, and some from Nifty to achieve this solution.

    **BONUS STAGE: If you want to dial in a slightly whiter-white (somewhere between warm and sunlight), you'll need to buy a handful of Comet 4 SMD Supreme Brightness non-ghosting warm whites. THEN, you will need to test and sort them into two piles... because half of them will look yellowish-warm. The others are the "whiter-white" version... use them ideally under inserts. Probably will be too bright anywhere else.

    Why the hassle? The not-quite-sunlight-white is the result of a manufacturing tolerance issue. You can't officially order anything in this color... it's a beneficial quirk. Thus, Comet can't guarantee which ones you'll get (though Art says he will accept returns for whichever batch you don't use). I used this method to tune the LED's on Snow Derby a bit whiter, because the predominant color scheme of the game is blue... and this particular white looked just a little bit better. But in general if you'd rather have an easy one-size-fits-all solution without the fuss, the 1SMD works fine.

    #2 3 years ago

    BTW, come to TPF 2016 and see the Stealth LED recipe in action. I'll have at least four EM's outfitted this way in the Dallas Makerspace/VECTOR booth.

    #3 3 years ago

    I'd love to see some pictures of your method if you've got any on hand.

    #4 3 years ago
    Quoted from mbaumle:

    I'd love to see some pictures of your method if you've got any on hand.

    In order to do this, I'll have to borrow a digital SLR and take some shots under ideal lighting and exposure because my camera phone doesn't adequately capture the subtle differences in illumination. Here's an example taken with my iPhone... not enough detail:

    2001_(resized).JPG

    Pretty much looks like an ordinary machine. Which is the point, eh? All of the playfield GI bulbs are 47's and the backbox is outfitted as specified in the recipe. But again, this is just a camera phone. I'll need an SLR to show the true nuances.

    1 week later
    #5 3 years ago

    UPDATE: The Cointaker premium super warm white non-ghosting was my go-to. However, as of 2016, the newest batch no longer delivers an optimal warm white. The color temperature now exhibits an unacceptable greenish hue common to many "warm white" LED varieties.

    I now recommend the previously discussed Comet 1SMD non-ghosting for pops which turn on/off... or the Comet twin 2835 in always-lit pops.

    You can see the old Cointaker on the left, and the newer, brighter, and greener one on the right. Note: My phone is skewing the colors which look far better in person.

    image_(resized).jpg

    #6 3 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    You can see the old Cointaker on the left, and the newer, brighter, and greener one on the right. Note: My phone is skewing the colors which look far better in person.

    What's the one in the middle? That looks the best.

    #7 3 years ago

    Same as the one one the left... the old Cointaker super premium warm white. Don't like the new batch. Too green.

    My phone photos just aren't cutting it... sorry. :/

    I'd stock up on those warm white frosted 2835's and non-ghosting 1SMD's. If the manufacturing runs ever change... I don't know of a better alternative at this time.

    #8 3 years ago

    There seem to always be large variations in Warm White bulbs from different batches.

    Sometimes you get a batch and quietly scream YES! to yourself, only to have the next batch be too green or blue.

    Sucks.

    #9 3 years ago

    Yeap. :/

    Another concern is the variance within orders. For example, the current batch of the Comet warm white 4SMD exhibits two noticeably different shades.

    The only way to be certain of color consistency is to order around 20 of each variety from different vendors, sort them, find the ones you want, then re-order in mass quantity and hope the rest come from the same batch. Oy vey.

    I'll keep this thread updated if I find any other candidates. For now, haven't found anything better than Comet's 2835 and 1SMD.

    #10 3 years ago

    Just to jump in for all.

    Warm white production in low cost diodes from Singapore and most all factories have been a mess for about 8 months.
    Diode makers are taking the equipment and employee time to making more profitable products....
    Why make something for $.50, when the same resources can make something for $1.00.
    The demand for newer, brighter, etc, from auto and all other industries is causing this.
    So factories either put less attention and effort into this, using lower paying entry employees,
    or equipment, etc...
    The answer from overseas is "pay 30% more".
    The answer from the hobby, "no"

    Working on it here...different factories, even some new production from Taiwan.

    We currently pay extra to hand sort overseas, but its a humans eyes, working for pennies an hour,
    and they tire.

    So, there are shortages, changes, etc, on the supply side.

    We certainly know, that everyone wants a perfect Kelvin, a 100% matched ideal warm white.

    Threads like this help share this info.
    Its important for me to share that I believe all LED vendors know, and are also working on it.

    From the buyers side, understanding this is important too.
    Many times the variance seen is not seen in a games actual after install, but indeed, 3 pops with
    contained plastics should match. Sometimes, one needs variation, because the plastics in a game vary themselves or are repro.

    The toughest thing that is hard is a customer that wants a tight Kelvin match, on all bulbs.
    (in fact, if you send an email for a specific Kelvin, we run and hide under our desks in fear!)

    We also have done extensive testing with pinheads, and warm white bulbs, and find that we
    see this hue, all slightly different. We shoot for a light grey or light yellow hue, but powder today and final product can produce as Op has shared a tinge of green, pink, or darker yellow.

    So, in conclusion, it may be best as one installs to watch the hue while installing.
    Not freak out with scathing emails, and know sadly, this disparity...batch to batch....can be an issue.

    (mostly in single LEDs, and the 4's which are low cost 3285 diodes).

    Better consistency are 2 LED, (we carry exclusive), or 2 SMD Twin 2835, then a 1 SMD.

    To avoid all this....try Sunlight!
    or simply look at the final look upon install, noting the possible need to change a bulb to another.

    2 months later
    #11 3 years ago

    Bump to put this recipe to the top of the heap.

    #12 3 years ago

    Ariana took some better photos from TPF this year. All of my games in the pictures below were outfitted with the stealth recipe (backbox, pops, and inserts... regular filament bulbs everywhere else):

    example0_(resized).jpg
    example1_(resized).jpg
    example2_(resized).jpg
    example3_(resized).jpg

    Full set available here... https://arianaby.smugmug.com/Professional/Texas-Pinball-Festival-VECTOR

    #13 3 years ago

    Very nice!

    2 months later
    #14 3 years ago

    Still on the lookout for the optimal LED for the pop bumpers. Haven't yet found the perfect non-ghosting LED in terms of hue and luminance. But the recipe is working well everywhere else.

    As above, Comet 2835 and 1SMD frosted warm whites will get 95% of the job done in most cases.

    #15 3 years ago

    Uh.. Why do you need non-ghosting on an EM machine?

    #16 3 years ago

    Same reason as for non-EM machines. Trace voltage causes flicker.

    #17 3 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Same reason as for non-EM machines. Trace voltage causes flicker.

    Sorry if it's an idiot question, but my knowledge about EMs is very limited - I thought the switches in the relay packs were either open or closed. Where's the trace come from?

    #18 3 years ago

    Most likely it is flyback voltage from the collapsing electromagnetic fields when coil current is switched off. Lots of little relay, stepper, mech coils in there. Not sure exactly how it gets on the 6.3v line though... flying through the transformer? Ground bus?

    #19 3 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Most likely it is flyback voltage from the collapsing electromagnetic fields when coil current is switched off. Lots of little relay, stepper, mech coils in there. Not sure exactly how it gets on the 6.3v line though... flying through the transformer? Ground bus?

    Will this help?

    flux-unlimited_(resized).jpg

    #20 3 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Same reason as for non-EM machines. Trace voltage causes flicker.

    It's the 60Hz AC that causes the flicker.

    #21 3 years ago

    It isn't continuous, though. The non-ghosting LED's only flicker when certain solenoids are pulsed.

    #22 3 years ago

    The stray flashes of faint light on LEDs is induced current from the lamp wires laying along side the solenoid and relay wires within the tightly wrapped wire looms (same electrical principle that makes a transformer function). It is often most noticeable on match and ball lights in the head when you are watching someone else play.

    The capacitors that are part of non-ghosting LEDs that helps smooth the pulsating DC for GI, also helps the led not light immediately with the quick pulses of power.

    So super cheap LEDs which are nothing more than an led and current limiting resistor will obviously flash 60 times a second. Causing the strobe light effect as you eyes track the ball in motion.

    AC/DC type that have a bridge distinctly flash 120 times a second. Which many humans may not notice.

    Premium non-ghosting tend to not flash as much due to the added capacitor which may or may not, completely eliminate the 120 pulses a second of DC power.

    #23 3 years ago

    Thank you Dr. CJ... so if the wire looms were braided independently of the lamp circuit, no induction and thus no flicker eh?

    #24 3 years ago

    Right now I only have 2 EMs. They are both Bally of similar vintage, Bon Voyage 1974 and Monte Carlo 1973. They behave very differently as far as the LED insert flickering. In the BV, you can just barely see it. I didn't even notice it at first. On the MC it is the exact opposite - very noticeable.

    You could get away with the regular LEDs in the BV, just barely. No way in the MC, it is too annoying during game play. As you said the non-ghosting LEDs get rid of the flicker, I did test this. But as an alternative I have been soldering some 1/4 W 470 Ohm resistors across the lamp sockets. That trick seems to work for the EM like it does in the SS machines, at least for my testing. Its more of a pain but cheaper

    What I am not sure of that would take more testing: Is it just the nature of each of these 2 machines to behave the way that they do? Is it the way the wire looms are organized and routed? Or is it some other difference in the machine? And, would it be the same for every BV and MC, or is it a situation where each machine is different on its own for whatever reasons? Lots of unanswered questions.

    #25 3 years ago

    I am not too familiar with EM pinballs and their circuitry.

    However, rectifying the GI current would multiply the frequency of the pulses by two: you would get 120 Hz to the LEDs from a 60Hz transformer.
    However, the voltage will be increased by 1.4 times (DC voltage = 1.4 x AC voltage), so you have to make sure your LEDs can handle additional voltage.
    Finally, putting a large polarized capacitor on the GI circuit, will turn the wavy rectified current into something almost Direct (flat).

    It may be worth trying on a bench and see the resulting behavior of the LEDs.

    Yves

    #26 3 years ago

    Just to make clear: I don't see any actual flicker in the sense of a constant flicker like 60 Hz. And the GI is fine with the LEDs. The problem is with insert lights with LEDs when they are not lit. They will slightly light up when various things happen on the playfield, like the ball hitting the pop bumpers, various targets, etc.,in coordination with those events. Some sort of induced current in the wires caused by the solenoids energizing I presume.

    #27 3 years ago

    You rectify an AC signal and your getting 1.4 time more DC voltage. Don't think so.
    You may be thinking of the 1.4v drops across the diodes. Your plused DC after a bridge is not greater. The Vpk x.707 or Vp-p x .3535. Is your RMS value.

    #28 3 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Still on the lookout for the optimal LED for the pop bumpers. Haven't yet found the perfect non-ghosting LED in terms of hue and luminance.

    I'm a big fan of Ablaze (Pinball Life) warm white frosted non-ghosting 1 SMD lamps. I use them in EM and early SS pop bumpers, backglasses, basically anywhere I don't see the bare bulb. They're the best warm white hue I've found. Most others have a trace of green or pink to my eyes. Pinball Life's site is temporarily closed for vacation, but here's a google cache of the exact product:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:_eZv8HNWy8YJ:www.pinballlife.com/index.php%3Fp%3Dproduct%26id%3D3211+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    #30 3 years ago
    Quoted from CNKay:

    You rectify an AC signal and your getting 1.4 time more DC voltage. Don't think so.
    You may be thinking of the 1.4v drops across the diodes. Your plused DC after a bridge is not greater. The Vpk x.707 or Vp-p x .3535. Is your RMS value.

    I think he's referring to when you rectify AC voltage and add a cap, you get 1.4x of the voltage DC (maybe 1.3x the voltage under heavy load)

    bridge1_(resized).jpg

    #31 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    I think he's referring to when you rectify AC voltage and add a cap, you get 1.4x of the voltage DC (maybe 1.3x the voltage under heavy load)

    Yup, when you add a full wave rectifier, you get a little more output.
    In the end, though, its the cap across the DC output that reduces the flicker.
    The non ghosting led's add another cap inside the case, more caps, less flicker.
    Thats why power supplies have primary caps before the regulator, secondary caps after the regulator, and usually the ceramic glitch eaters at the chip power lead. all in an effort to smooth out that flicker we all love so much.

    #32 3 years ago

    I never heard of getting more? You have an AC sine wave it goes through two diodes so without the cap you will get identical positive pulsing (DC) peaks minus the drops of the diodes. The cap fills in the gaps between peaks to make it almost pure DC but reading that warning about voltage going high??

    Got an example??
    Need to learn something every day!

    Even tell me how to see that with a scope and meter on machine would be great.

    #33 3 years ago

    I slapped an assortment of Comet bulbs in my Klondike and they all work good, look good, and make me happy every time I turn it on.I haven't noticed any problems.

    #34 3 years ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    I haven't noticed any problems.

    You just jinxed yourself, you found your problem. Now you're going to have a bunch of cranky old guys yelling at you for putting in LEDs. There's your problem.

    #35 3 years ago
    Quoted from Otaku:

    You just jinxed yourself, you found your problem. Now you're going to have a bunch of cranky old guys yelling at you for putting in LEDs. There's your problem.

    I'm a cranky old guy that loves to experiment.Edison caught hell too.

    #36 3 years ago

    Now Come visit me!

    Im a cranky old guy that lives near Edisons Winter Home!

    Come visit! The lab is Original!

    #37 3 years ago
    Quoted from CNKay:

    I never heard of getting more? You have an AC sine wave it goes through two diodes so without the cap you will get identical positive pulsing (DC) peaks minus the drops of the diodes. The cap fills in the gaps between peaks to make it almost pure DC but reading that warning about voltage going high??
    Got an example??
    Need to learn something every day!
    Even tell me how to see that with a scope and meter on machine would be great.

    There is no magic here, it is all in the way a/c voltage is measured using RMS. If you look at 110volts coming out of your wall outlet, it will actually be a sine wave of about 310 volts peak to peak. So why not call it 310 volts instead of calling it 110 volts? That is a more difficult answer that I won't get into. The point is that when you rectify 110 volts a/c, you get 155 volts DC. You are not gaining anything though, it is just a figment of the math involved.

    rms-600x241_(resized).jpg
    rectbr2_(resized).png

    #38 3 years ago

    Thanks for your replies. I guess I am getting old and just never heard it presented that way. I kept thinking pk-pk like 18 vac off transformer that gets bridged to 6.3v. and or 120 v AC pk-pk that would be 42v. Not math trickery just a dummy that wasnt thinking as I should have. Carry on.

    Still trying to enjoy LEDs myself. Just purchased a bunch from Art just before he sold. I must say I like them but lucky for me the pins I wanted to start with were Gottlieb the easiest out of them all to do. Everyone else seems to have issues. Like putting square peg in a round hole.

    4 months later
    #39 2 years ago

    Black Friday alert! The twin 2835 warm white frosteds are on sale for 49 cents apiece!

    http://www.cometpinball.com/mobile/Product.aspx?ProductCode=25-PACK-2SMD-CT-FT

    #40 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Black Friday alert! The twin 2835 warm white frosteds are on sale for 49 cents apiece!

    Thanks! This is my excuse to try them.

    #41 2 years ago

    Cool... I think you'll like them. All of my games use them. The twin 2835 warm white frosteds are for backbox locations which don't turn on/off (around score reels, behind artwork, etc).

    Per the recipe, you'll also need the 1SMD non-ghosting warm white frosted to place underneath inserts and on/off locations in the backbox. They complement the 2835 perfectly.

    3 weeks later
    #42 2 years ago

    I just received a backglass made by bgrestro. The artwork was spot on, but I was a bit underwhelmed with the muted colors when I turned the machine on. As recommended by NicoVolta (and his Black Friday alert), I put warm whites LEDs behind the artwork, but I left the standard bulbs above and below the score reels. It looks great! I'm very happy with Steve's work, and Nico's advice.

    1 month later
    #43 2 years ago

    Are there any domed LEDs that fit narrow spaces? I have an EM where some of the lamps under the lane guides sit very low, and the bulb part actually has to enter the hole for the base to engage the bayonet. The hole is .413" in diameter (Z drill) which accomodates 44 size lamps just fine, but the LEDs I've seen have a relatively large plastic collar that gets in the way.

    #44 2 years ago

    The Comet twin 2835 will fit, but the 1SMD non-ghosting version has a thicker collar. So if you don't need non-ghosting, try the 2835.

    1 week later
    #45 2 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    The Comet twin 2835 will fit, but the 1SMD non-ghosting version has a thicker collar. So if you don't need non-ghosting, try the 2835.

    I got a bag of Comet twin 2835's and while their collars are pretty thin, they still didn't fit these extra small holes, the bulbs were about .015″ too large. I ended up filing the collars smaller and was able to use thus modified bulbs.

    #46 2 years ago

    Aha... I usually put filament bulbs under the lane guides, so I haven't personally run into that issue yet. Glad it worked with a (very) close shave!

    4 months later
    #47 2 years ago

    To address the issue of thick collars around the 1SMD bulb (and thus being too tight to fit), you can use a deburring bit in a drill to enlarge the hole. Looks nice and clean this way.

    deburring (resized).jpg

    #48 2 years ago

    Or grind down that collar a bit

    #49 2 years ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    Or grind down that collar a bit

    Yep, perfectly doable, but if you have a lot of machines to do and want to experiment with different bulbs, it's much faster to zip through the holes using the deburring tool. Takes only 1-2 seconds per hole. Downside is the tool is about $40.

    #50 2 years ago

    If this is what you were using, about $5 on Ebay.

    Ive done both, depending on the artwork, and bulb used......

    pasted_image (resized).png

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