(Topic ID: 195065)

ST:TNG led advice

By DrScoops

2 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 16 posts
  • 11 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by jawjaw
  • Topic is favorited by 4 Pinsiders


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pinball2 (resized).jpg
sttng (resized).jpg
shields (resized).jpg
flex head (resized).png
playfieldLow (resized).jpg
colorwheelarticle (resized).jpg

#1 2 years ago

I've started looking into putting LEDs in my sttng and, as a guy fairly new to the hobby, I have some questions. I found a thread or two about this topic, but they were all about 4 years old and it seems that the led market has advanced tremendously in that time. So here are my questions.

1) Do I buy a kit or custom order? If I custom order, where do I find a list of what I need?

2) standard led bulbs vs non-ghosting? I know that sttng has some areas/inserts that dim during gameplay and that the effect is lost with leds unless you use an led OCD board or a gi OCD board. Most of the discussion I've seen about this was prior to the ready availability of non-ghosting leds so I'm not sure how they play into this discussion.

3) Any more specific bulb opinion and advice would be greatly appreciated. It has gotten to the point that each of the several companies that sell pinball leds have so many options that I don't really know where to start.

#2 2 years ago

You will have to turn off dimming in the settings or else use the OCD boards with leds. Non-ghosting bulbs may be needed in some areas. It will not hurt to have non-ghosting bulbs but they do cost a little more. If you do plan on getting OCD boards then get regular bulbs. I bought non-ghosting bulbs for my first game but it was not necessary. All my other games I have used regular led bulbs and they have been fine.

I buy my bulbs from comet and really like their selection. I use 1 smd bulbs for insert and 2 smd for gi. Don't buy the cheap bulbs. Color match inserts except for yellow and orange (use warm whites). I wouldn't buy a kit. Just take inventory of all the inserts, gi bulbs, and flashers, make a list, and order extras. You can also buy samples to start out with to test things like warm white or cool, frosted or clear lens, and different colors.

#3 2 years ago
Quoted from jawjaw:

You can also buy samples to start out with to test things like warm white or cool, frosted or clear lens, and different colors.

This is wisdom, right here. A pack of sample bulbs cost me $50 (plus import fees grumble moan) and it was money very well spent. Bulbs I thought would've worked fine were completely the wrong colour, shape or intensity, bulbs I wouldn't have thought sensible in some places looked great, and I even got an idea for a colour swap that I wouldn't have thought of if I hadn't been holding the bulb in my hand and lamenting its existence to someone with better colour sense than me

Remove the bulbs and count them yourself though, cause your manual might tell lies.

#4 2 years ago

Cool white is definitely best for STTNG.

#5 2 years ago

I agree with jawjaw but would add a couple opinions:

At least get the GI OCD board so the Shields work properly. There are also multiple inserts, not just the shields that benefit from a flex head bulb. I don't remember them all off the top of my head but the Jackpot arrow at the center scoop is one, I tried a lot of different regular bulbs including the faceted ones but because of the position of the socket on the board it's hard to find an LED that lights that insert really well. I almost always use Comet or Titan bulbs so get a sample pack plus some flex heads, then use the list of the number of #555 and 44/47 sockets that pinguy compiled in one of the other threads on this subject to make sure you know how many of each you'll eventually need.

#6 2 years ago

What follows is my personal opinion. It's by no means gospel on what to do with your game! But here's what i think:

There are three non-bulb related mods you can do that really have a major impact on the overall lighting effects of the game.

1. Mirror blades. On this game in particular, mirror blades really give it an expansive, space-like feel, and kind of doubles the number of angles light can hit the playfield from, thus reducing shadow.

2. I *highly* recommend LED OCD and GI OCD boards for this game. LED OCD makes the whole game look amazing with LEDs -- it adds a subtle fade effect that mimics the softness of incandescent bulbs, and eliminates ghosting and strobing. also, without GI OCD, the shield inserts will not function correctly, and you lose a lot of the light show with the GI. non-ghosting LEDs do not solve that problem, nor do they softly fade in and out like the OCD boards do.

If you do go with those boards, they work best with standard LEDs rather than non-ghosting ones.

3. I also changed the pop bumper caps, the inlane guides just above the pops, and also the various posts and star posts all over the game from red to purple. Since the dominant color on the playfield background is purple, these changes make those areas match the rest of the game, and makes the whole thing look cleaner and more cohesive. Purple and Red don't really go that well together. Plus, I think it's nice to reserve the color red for the truly important stuff on the game -- the Extra Ball, Jackpot, Return to Duty, and Final Frontier inserts. This is of course optional, but I think the game looks a lot better with fewer red parts jumping out at you from unimportant areas of the playfield.

(This is off topic, but I did tons of other mods to the game that don't pertain to lighting. non-lighting related mods I really like include ColorDMD, translucent rubbers, and the Hallmark ship upgrades. Oh and also the outlane extenders! They make those outlanes just a tiny bit more fair!)

Anyway, back to bulbs ... here are the principles I followed that ended up working out best for me:

For the Inserts and Controlled Lighting:

- Color-match all the inserts. If the insert is green, buy a green LED, and so on. (except for the shields ... i'll get to those)

- The white Star Trek emblem arrow inserts can be either warm white or cool white depending on personal preference. Since they're white, if you really want to, you can make them any color you want by changing the bulb color. I've considered trying to make them look "gold". I also had color-changing LEDs in there for a while, but decided that was way too distracting. mine are cool white at the moment -- i think that's probably best.

- I used a fast color-changing LED in the "Worm Hole" insert near the Delta Quadrant side ramp. It pretty much only lights up during the Worm Hole mission, and helps highlight which shot actually completes the mode. (the side ramp)

- Most of the inserts in this game are lit by sockets that are horizontal or at an angle. The best way to get the insert fully and evenly lit is to buy flex-head bulbs and then bend them so that the LED is as far away from the insert as possible, while still pointing directly at it:

flex head (resized).png

For General Illumination:

- For this particular game, cool white looks better than warm white for the general illumination and bulbs under playfield plastics. the colors on the playfield are mostly on the cooler end of the color spectrum (blues/purples/teals) and as a result, cool white illumination makes those colors pop. Cool white light also helps to de-emphasize any yellowing of white areas or plastics. (warm white bulbs are better for games like Funhouse, where yellow/red/orange are the dominant colors).

colorwheelarticle (resized).jpg

- Get frosted bulbs for the GI.

- On my GI, I put mostly cool white (frosted), with some purple frosted bulbs around the outer edges. Anything that shined directly onto the playfield was cool white, though. The purple is definitely optional, and i think most people prefer cool white all the way around. personal preference there. I definitely wouldn't do the whole GI in purple, though, and you definitely want to avoid "clown puke" syndrome where you put different colored bulbs in different areas of the GI.

- The large green shield inserts on the playfield are actually part of the GI circuit. for those, I used BLUE bulbs instead of green -- it makes them look kind of blueish-teal color that matches the logo. I feel like shields on the show were usually blue anyway, plus I like to save the color green for lock and bonus multiplier inserts. Also, these look better with either frosted bulbs, or flex head bulbs bent so that they are far away from the insert. Otherwise you get "hot spots" instead of even diffusion of the light across the insert.

shields (resized).jpg

- For the the GI sockets underneath the cannons, I used flex head super bright Cool White LEDs, and pointed them at the playfield area above the flippers.

- For the GI sockets underneath the inlane plastics, I did the same -- i used flex-head bulbs and pointed them at the flippers, to help light up that area.

- Consider adding some spotlights. The Neutral Zone in particular is hard to light with the standard lighting package. (i ended up putting a flex head under the wing of the Klingon Bird of Prey, and angling back towards that area, but a spotlight might do a better job).

For reference, here's an old picture of my game. this is from several years ago. i've replaced that darn broken plastic and fixed a lot of other stuff since then, but this is basically the look i'm describing here.

playfieldLow (resized).jpg

Good luck!

#7 2 years ago

I bought the kit from Marco about 5 years ago, while not every thing is as I would have done it, for the most part is is spot on for color and accent. Re lamping STTNG is a big project, there are about 278 lamps in that beast, and some of them require pulling components off the bottom of the playfield.

For your first project, personally I'd recommend going with a kit, it take all the guess work out of it to start, and allows you to make minor tweaks to the overall look cheaper and easier.
Anyway, have fun blinging it out, STTNG looks and feels great with some LED love.

#8 2 years ago

Definitely get the LEDOCD and GIOCD boards. They make the lighting look amazing.

I used the pinballbulbs kit in mine, and I really liked the way it looked. It adds spotlights and LED strips to help you see the entire playfield.

#9 2 years ago

Thank you all for the great info and advice. I have searched and searched for the bulb list that was mentioned and I cannot find it. Can someone help find a link? please and thank you.

#10 2 years ago

Mine has been a continuous tinkering with different kinds of LEDs. Most have come from Comet. Overall, probably about $100+ spent on LEDs, but I like how it looks. There are still some incandesant bulbs mixed in just because they looked better than the LEDs I tried to replace them with. I am sure it will evolve as my interests change.

sttng (resized).jpg

#11 2 years ago
Quoted from DrScoops:

Thank you all for the great info and advice. I have searched and searched for the bulb list that was mentioned and I cannot find it. Can someone help find a link?

For the first timer, I'd suggest cointakers premium kit. It is laid out well and comes with bendy lights, non ghosting LEDs, etc. Takes out all the guess work. https://cointaker.com/products/copy-of-1-rollergames-led-kit-with-premium-non-ghosting-leds

I started with their kits on my first pin (Gorgar) and have since grown with a variety of LEDs from them and may tweak the colors here and there. They are a little more expensive, but to me they are the best. Plus, with a game that costs several thousand dollars, why go cheap? Plus their customer service is fantastic. I had different style flashers on my Marilyn Monroe Taxi that came with the their kit and they changed them out free of charge with color matching ones as I requested. I have outfitted 9 pins so far with cointakers LEDs, even replaced comet's LEDs that were already installed in some of the games I've bought and they were much brighter and more colorful. Of course that may have been the type of Comet LED installed, but I always seem to order the Premium non ghosting Kits or individual LEDs unless I'm doing super brights, etc.

The pic is of mine with 95% of the kit installed. Just haven't take the time to drop the tunnels under the playfield to get to a few bulbs at the top. And the game doesn't look this purple, it's the iphone, but looks great in person, WAY better than normal bulbs.

pinball2 (resized).jpg

#12 2 years ago

Also the Marco Kit


Good luck, and have fun.

#13 2 years ago

I'm pretty sure the Marco kit is Cointakers or at least that's what they used to sell.

#14 2 years ago
Quoted from bobukcat:

I'm pretty sure the Marco kit is Cointakers or at least that's what they used to sell.

I believe they were. It's been 5 or 6 years since I installed them.

#15 2 years ago
Quoted from Bendit:

Cool white is definitely best for STTNG.

Agreed. I have comet pinballs in my. They look awesome. I prefer Comet over cointaker at this point.

#16 2 years ago
Quoted from TimBoch:

Mine has been a continuous tinkering with different kinds of LEDs. Most have come from Comet. Overall, probably about $100+ spent on LEDs, but I like how it looks. There are still some incandesant bulbs mixed in just because they looked better than the LEDs I tried to replace them with. I am sure it will evolve as my interests change.

Your game looks awesome. I generally go with 100% leds but also like to tinker with different bulbs. It's hard to get it exactly like you want it on the first go. I like to put some color in the gi but there is definitely a point where it is too much or some colors just don't work in some areas. Some people don't want all the trouble and get kits where everything is planned out. I find it fun to try out different things, add new lighting, and get everything looking great.

One of my personal dislikes is visible gi bulbs in areas where your eyes are often focused. It's very distracting having that bright light burning into your retina. I like to use the flex leds in those spots and direct the light away. The flex head leds are also handy for spotlights in tight areas. Comet also has the matrix system which is great for adding light strips and spotlights. All you need to do is solder into one gi socket, then you can attach splitters, wire extensions, and whatever. The connectors make it easy to experiment and more importantly disconnect when working on the game. Just make sure you don't overload a circuit if using a mix of regular bulbs and leds.

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