Today I installed a Stern UV lighting kit on a Stranger Things Pro and figured it was worth sharing some photos and experiences..
Total time: about 80mins
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Resulting Value Opinion: Good
Well, let's get into it. Most should know the UV kit is a optional upgrade for Stranger Things Pro, Premium and LE models. It's been controversial because it's accessory Stern is selling AFTER the game's launch, that clearly was designed as part of the game's development, and given the lack of features in the shipping game, many are rubbed wrong that this feature wasn't included in the base game. But do you want it? Let's find out..
The kit includes
- Two rails of UV lights that mount along the ramps
- A replacement Apron (plastic in this one due to being a Pro kit)
- 8 replacement plastics
- Power Board w/wiring harnesses
- All needed screws, washers, and a handful of zipties
- Printed Installation Instructions
The kit is packed very well. The UV rails are wrapped separately in bubble wrap, the apron is wrapped, and the box's contents were amply cushioned in large bubble wrap as well. The UV rails are built from brushed stainless that is very thick. Maybe a full 1/16th thick? They looked very nice and professional.
The rails are the metal guides, with a flexible strip of LEDs screwed to them from the back. The strips are nicely labeled, and have a wrapped 2 wire harness soldered to the back of the strip.
The apron has the LED strips pre-mounted, and each side has a 2 wire harness pre-wired. The entire assembly is pre-fabbed and is done with proper mounts. No sticky mounts here...
The power driver board
The driver board comes with the harnesses attached and bundled... and with nylon standoffs pre-installed.
Overall the build quality looks great. Everything is hard-mount. Everything is proper connectors. Materials are sturdy.
The kit comes with written instructions that include diagrams and limited printed pictures. The instructions are very good when you contrast them to what Stern has been putting in their game manuals for the last 8 years or so. There were a few points I would point out could be improved, but really just about clarity points. There were no glaring issues, and they did a good job of laying out a sequence with no double backing or bad order, etc. Simply follow them in order.
Installation requires (not necessarily in order..)
- Replacing the inlane and sling plastics (usual stuff)
- Unscrewing the left and right ramps (very easy on Stranger Things)
- Replacing the left and right side plastics that were under the ramps and shooter lane plastics
- Swapping out the apron
- Mounting the LED rails to the ramps, and reinstalling the ramps
- Mounting the Power PCB to the bottom of the PF
- Routing harnesses from the PCB to each UV harness connector
- Connecting the existing PF wiring to the PCB
- Enabling the feature in the game software (0.84 and newer)
Random 'in progress' photo...
Notable things about the installation:
- The ramp design where the 'return' portion of the ramp is separate makes it really easy to take the ramps off
- Not mentioned in the guide, but I found I had to unplug the left ramp flasher from the PF harness underneath to have a chance at getting the left ramp moved
- All wiring goes through existing holes in the PF. There is no 'hard to fish' spots either
- The PF harness has 3 connectors already wired in for the new power PCB - There is no need for jumpers or z-connectors
- The PF is already dimpled where to install the PCB making spacing easy
- The included harness wiring is ample to run to each spot. The only one that kinda floats around is the cross PF one to the right ramp.
Spot where the power PCB is to be mounted
View of PF after install
The PCB takes power on a 5 pin connector, and then has two lamp driver inputs on 3 pin connectors. The two 3 pin connectors from the PF are interchangable and the instructions don't specify an order. One controls the left side lamps, one controls the right. The game just alternates between the two in flashing effects, so it doesn't matter which is which.
The one big 'gotcha' from the installation was really just a 'duh' moment. After install, you are instructed to test the lamps using the UV flasher test under Lamp test in the Diagnostics. You do this... and notice 'OMG, only one side of the lights are lighting... what did I do wrong?'. Don't panic... look closely at the UV test screen on the display... notice it says UV1. The test actually lets you drive the two lamp drivers separately. So just toggle the test and you can see both UV1 and UV2 strings being lit.
- Tip - Remember the plastics have protective film on top AND bottom - don't forget to take that off.. and be careful to not scrape the ink off when trying to free the plastic on the white printed side. Your fingernail is the only tool you need there!
- Tip: The UV rails are not labeled left or right.. you figure it out by looking at the shape of the rails vs the ramps. A simple picture or illustration showing the orientation of the rails (bracket UP) would ease some initial questions. But the L shape brackets should be on the upper side of the rail when mounting.
- Tip: when installing the rails, the guide is kind loose when talking about where to use the new screws. On both rails, use the new short screws to mount the tabs of the rail to the plastic ramp at the upper two positions. The lowest position that also shares the ramp mount to the slingshot should re-use the long screw used in that spot previously
- Tip: When connecting the PF harnesses to the PCB note there are THREE to connect. In our game, the second 3 pin connector was tie wrapped in a little further away from the PCB location and I missed it initially
- Pro Tip - When tiding up the connectors with zip ties - make sure you leave slack so the wire going to the stuff on the top side of the PF can be moved without cutting all your zip ties. Don't zip tie the connector+wire going top side. Just zip tie the yellow harness below, and leave slack so you can unplug the top side portion if needed.
The install is not difficult at all for anyone who regularly does minor disassembly of plastics, ramps, etc. It's not as easy as a 'stick on' mod, but requires no modifications, and has plenty of stuff pre-staged to make it easy for you. Plus the kit includes everything you need except for your nut drivers and screw drivers. The most fiddly part was actually just dealing with the snap-in stand-offs used on the shooter lane plastic.
Overall the job took about an hour and 15 mins, just taking my time as I went.