(Topic ID: 43960)

Tron Pro: step by step instructions for the EL Wire mod

By Buckman

8 years ago

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  • 18 posts
  • 12 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 87 days ago by Lemank
  • Topic is favorited by 27 Pinsiders


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el_wire.PDF (PDF preview)

#1 8 years ago

There are definitely a lot of threads that mention the EL wire on Pinside now with bits and pieces of information (all great by the way!). I had typed up some step by step instructions for a fellow Pinsider, just thought I'd put them in a thread as it might help some fellow Pinsiders:

1) Email Elsie at Coolight ([email protected]) and let her know you want to order an EL wire kit for a Tron Pro pinball machine. She'll know exactly what you're talking about. Note that you only need 12 feet of each colour that you choose (most common colours that most have used are the Blue Green Aqua and Orange in 5.0mm, but you don't have to go with that). A list of everything is below (just click on attachment #5 at the bottom, it says "EL wire.PDF").

2) Go to Amazon and order up a Smart Strip. The model number is SCG3E.

amazon.com link »

You'll also need some 4 inch cable ties (by the time you're done you'll probably drill anywhere from 30 to 40 holes, depending on how close you put the holes).

So now you've got all of the parts you need . When you get the stuff what you'll see is that off of each coloured EL wire there is a black wire that's been soldered in. You'll see that on the end of the black wire it has a connector, and all you'll need to do is plug the connector into the connector on the black wire that's coming out of this little blue box (it's simple to see as these are the only things you have to connect. The little blue box has a wire leading out and it goes to the white adapter that you simply plug into the wall. So in about a minute you can plug your EL wire into the wall and you'll see it light up. When you actually install it into the machine we know we can't simply plug it into the wall, and we can't use the service outlet that's inside the machine because we'll get phantom disc hits (ie. things just won't work right). So to connect everything you'll do these steps:

- unplug your pinball machine from the wall. If you look in the cabinet you'll see in the bottom right where the power cord comes in (it has a black cone there). You'll unscrew the 4 screws that hold that black cone in place, and now you can pull the power cord into the machine.

- You'll then plunk your smart strip down on the bottom of the cabinet and you'll plug this thing into the wall.

- You'll then take the pinball machine power cord and put it into the blue slot on the smart strip.

- You'll then take the white adapter from the EL wire and plug it into one of the slots on the power strip.

By doing this what happens is that when you turn the machine on it then turns the EL wire on, and when you turn the machine off the EL wire goes off (so that blue slot basically controls the other slots). It's perfect.

Below is a picture of what the Smart Strip looks like in the machine.

So you don't need to know much at all about electronics in order to install your EL wire and get it running. This thing is about as close to plug and play as you can get, it's very simple.

So now the only thing left to do is drill the ramps and install the EL wire using the cable ties. This is the hardest part of the whole adventure. When you're drilling, try to get the hole as close to the inside of the channel as you can (see attached picture). What I did for most of the holes was to drill from the bottom side, that way I could get as close as I could to the channel without drilling into it. I also used a small drill bit as a pilot hole, and then drilled the hole with a larger drill bit. Basically all you need for the hole size is enough to get that cable tie through, so just put your drill bit on top of your cable tie and you'll figure out pretty quickly if the size is too big or too small. As for where to drill the holes, just watch the video BlackRose put together, definitely helps (see YouTube link below).

Some people leave the ramps on and drill them, but I took mine right off of the machine as I found it easier that way. What I did was drill the ramps and install the EL wire as I went along. This worked out well but the only problem I had was that when I went to reinstall the ramps the connector plug on the end of the EL wire was too big to fit through the hole on the playfield where it needed to go (the hole is at the base of each ramp, it's easy to see). So I had to cut the wire, run the wire down through the hole, and then reattach underneath (I bought a set of molex connectors and crimp pins to do it properly, but you can literally just twist the wires together and put some black electrician tape on them if you want to).

If you attach the EL wire with the ramps in the machine, all you'll do is run one end of the EL wire up through the hole at the base of the ramp and then zap strap the wire on (you'll run half of the wire up through the hole, and by the time you are done you'll have a small amount which will go down through the hole at the other end).

Is it worth the $100 and the time to do it? Absolutely. It's very cool.

You'll notice that the little blue box can put out a high pitched whine, and to deal with this I built a box out of balsa wood that the little blue box goes in and now I can't hear it anymore (see picture below). You might find the whine doesn't bother you, but you'll know as soon as you plug into the wall as you'll then hear (or not hear) the whining sound.

Hope this helps to understand the EL wire a little better. It's super easy to do!


balsa_box_1.JPG drilling_ramp.JPG balsa_box.JPG el_wire_1.JPG

#2 8 years ago

You can easily install with scotch tape rather than wire ties. Holds just as well, no ramp removal, looks cleaner, no holes needed, no visible wire ties.

#3 8 years ago

How did you do that, markmon? Double sided tape or? I was considering going that route.

#4 8 years ago
Quoted from molspin:

How did you do that, markmon? Double sided tape or? I was considering going that route.

I've read about some Pinsiders who installed it this way and for sure it's another way to go. As for the tape, from what I've read I think it's just plain ol' clear Scotch tape that was used.

#5 8 years ago

Anyone actually done this that can chime on? Has it held up? Does it collect more dust? Etc...

#6 8 years ago

If u plan on drilling....I found that a 3/32" drill bit is the perfect size for the zip ties to fit thru. I drilled mine this way and had no issues...didn't need to drill a pilot hole either. I also took my ramps completely off. Only two switches and two flashers to remove per ramp...along with the ramp mount screws. Took about 10-15 min per ramp to remove. Once off...the ramps are day easier to drill and install wire. Took me 3 hours start to finish...so removing ramps...IMO...is the way to go. I was very nervous about drilling... but once I drilled first hole...the rest was a breeze. Best 100$ mod for the money!! And looks great!

1 week later
#7 8 years ago
Quoted from molspin:

Anyone actually done this that can chime on? Has it held up? Does it collect more dust? Etc...

I'm using clear tape now, but planning to do zip ties this weekend. The weight of the wire causes some sag with the tape over time. The LE uses the zip ties, so I'll match that pattern.

#8 8 years ago

Yeah, I ended up going with zip ties myself.

FWIW, I also just zip tied directy to a few of the ramp posts (fewer holes to drill and hold the wire in place just as effectively - thus far anyways).

#9 8 years ago

I tried the tape, and I would really like to see pictures. My version looked awful!

#10 8 years ago
Quoted from Boatshoe:

I tried the tape, and I would really like to see pictures. My version looked awful!

Just drill the ramps, bro. After the first tap, it's smooth sailing.

4 weeks later
#11 8 years ago

Just completed this project with EL wire and a driver that has the light react to the music and you can adjust how sensitive it is.
Here is the link for the driver: http://www.fiberopticproducts.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=13_14_25&products_id=783
I removed the ramps and drilled them - easiest way - the tape sounds good now but won't hold up over time.
The driver above says it works on 9 - 12 volts so I took off the connection for the 9 volt battery and soldered it to a lead for the 12 volt splitter - works like a charm and you can run it in "music mode" or just have it on all the time.
Great Mod!

2 months later
#12 8 years ago

Has anyone tried to using the following tape? (sounded like plain scotch tape was tried)

amazon.com link »

Not cheap, but looks like it would work great. I ordered some and will give it a try. If it doesn't work out, I'm sure I'll eventually put the tape to good use.

At 3/4" wide, I will try cutting it in half and applying on the top side of the ramp. In addition to simplifying the installation, having no zip tie seams is a win.

8 months later
#13 7 years ago

I just received my coolights & read this thread. Why not use the 12v inside the cab instead of messing with a power strip? The 120v plug converts it to 12v,so can't I just skip all that?

#14 7 years ago
Quoted from Breadfan:

I just received my coolights & read this thread. Why not use the 12v inside the cab instead of messing with a power strip? The 120v plug converts it to 12v,so can't I just skip all that?

This is what people tried when they first starting putting the EL wire on the machines, but problems resulted (ghost hits) and it took a while to figure it out that it was hooking it up to the 12v inside the cab that was screwing things up. Once somebody figured out to use a smartstrip and hook it up as I've mentioned the ghost hits went away and all was good.

This was the original thread from a couple years ago about the EL wire, if you read it through you'll see the issues about hooking up the EL wire directly to the machine:


6 years later
#15 1 year ago

Since I referenced this thread when adding the EL lights from Coolight, I thought that I should share my experience with phantom hits at the Recognizer optos. I was getting phantom hits as soon as the game started, ball still in the shooter lane (probably could leave it for a few hours to get a Grand Champ score) with the 12v supply plugged directly into the service outlet. I tracked down (via eBay) a brand new Smart Switch like the one referenced here. Plugged everything in exactly like described here and no change to the phantom hit issue. Unplug the strip and the instant phantom hits would stop. Another tid bit that I should mention about phantom hits... I swear I was getting phantom hits randomly but far less frequent during gameplay with or without the ramp lights. I do have a bunch of mods on this game, I was hoping those were not to blame. So I pull apart the Recognizer, inspect the optos... they don't look aligned very well so I pull them out. While they are out, I also reflow the solder on the opto board. I also swapped optos from side to side and the alignment looked better. Reassembled everything, played without the ramp lights on to see if my random phantom hit issue was resolved but it is very hard to tell since it was so random. Anyway, I plug the ramp lights back in... serve up a ball, letting it sit in the shooter lane and absolutely no phantom hits. I play a bunch of games and my phantom hits are gone. 12v power supply plugged directly into the service outlet which has been rewired to turn on with the game. No Phantom Hits, game plays perfect with the Coolights ramp lights working perfectly.

8 months later
#16 9 months ago

thanks for this, just got a TRON Pro and am about to put some lights on the ramps. every bit of info helps.

6 months later
#17 89 days ago

I just emailed Elise. I hope she still works there and can help me out.

#18 87 days ago

Elise is still there and selling Tron Kits!

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