(Topic ID: 15309)

TRON (un)limited edition WIP


By ecurtz

7 years ago



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#1 7 years ago

Does anyone have a TRON Pro within a reasonable distance of Olympia, WA? I'm looking for one to experiment on. I'd trade one of the LCD arcade screens and you'd be first in line for getting any potential mod at cost.

The picture is 3W LEDs at about 1/2 power on 5 feet of cable. I think they might be enough for the ramp length when driven at full power, but worst case we could switch to retina destroying 9W LEDs. I won't be able to do a complete test for at least a week, probably two, because we don't make anything in this country and I'm waiting on parts. (Sorry the photo is so bad, it was a chewing gum and bailing wire sort of situation.)

green.jpg

Post edited by ecurtz : Changed title

#3 7 years ago

5mm

I don't actually have a TRON (I know, but I'm really "frugal") so if other people are willing to do it I'd be happy to just kibitz. As with the screen, I'm not really looking to get into the mod business, I was just thinking of getting information out there, and possibly doing a group buy for the parts where there is a significant savings.

My criminally neglected homebrew machine uses color changing inserts so I couldn't resist getting some stuff to play with when I saw the TRON ramps.

#6 7 years ago

It is already color controlled, it has a RGB LED at each end, and you can turn those on and off very quickly to control the color balance, sort of like how a lamp matrix works, but faster. These pics are just solid colors, but you can mix them just like the LE ramps.

http://www.nuprometheus.com/pinball/tronhouse/red.jpg
http://www.nuprometheus.com/pinball/tronhouse/blue.jpg

#9 7 years ago

Those pictures are using a driver that has PWM (pulse width modulation, the way it turns them on and off quickly to control color) built in, but it only goes to 150mA and the LEDs will handle 350mA. The more powerful drivers need a separate PWM controller, but it's easy to do on anything like an Arduino (a $25 programmable board that's super popular with hobbiests) Just that would be enough to cycle colors, but you'd need to add current sensors or something like a PIG to read the lights or switches if you wanted it to react to the game.

You can by light sources premade, but they have a bunch of features we don't need which really up the cost.

#10 7 years ago

12 feet of cable (seems like a lot, the ramps can't actually be that long) 3W LEDs at 150mA.

#12 7 years ago

I haven't figured everything out yet, but I will post all the information. I'll probably also do some sort of kit, or at least a bulk buy, because there are parts from 5 or 6 different sources to deal with. I just found the data sheet and it turns out that the driver I'm using can combine channels, so I can probably test it at full power this weekend rather than waiting for alternate parts to arrive from China.

1 week later
#14 7 years ago

Sorry for the lack of updates, there have been various delays due to both ordering parts and extreme stupidity on my part (I managed to fry BOTH the microcontrollers I had on hand because I knew for sure how a board was wired when in fact it was done differently.)

Just wanted to let everyone know the project isn't dead, and there should be some full brightness pics later this week when my replacement stuff arrives.

#15 7 years ago

I figured out I could just plug and unplug each channel manually until I get some new microcontrollers to adjust them in real time. The photos are a bit brighter than it looks in person, but it's definitely better now that they are at full power. I think that when the cable is more carefully aligned and cut down the correct length they'll be nearly as nice as the LE ones.

350mA_2.jpg 350mA_3.jpg 350mA_4.jpg

#20 7 years ago

Thanks for the measurements ChadNC. The LE owner who measured for me said 5mm but it's probably hard to get exact without calipers. The 5mm already looks big to me, I think it will be fine.

pinballlooking, most of the stuff is listed. Things are still in the design phase so I haven't finalized the parts list, but 5mm "side glow" fiber optic cable, 3W RGB LEDs, and 330mA per channel drivers in those last pictures. Then you need a microcontroller, I'm using (well, burning out) Arduinos right now, but that will probably change, heat sinks, cable glands, molex connectors, some kind of case and some high side current sense amplifier circuits (not tested yet) if you want to react to switches or lights. I'll do a mod and/or a bulk parts buy when everything is done.

#27 7 years ago

Replacement Arduinos arrived so a new video with some color fades.

And a photo of the prototype LED housing and controller.

Prototype_2.jpg

I have a spool of fiber optics arriving this week, and ordered a batch of LEDs (which will be weeks), so I'm committed to producing something at this point. Hopefully I'll have time this weekend to work on the circuit boards so I can get those prototyped ASAP.

#31 7 years ago

Yes, 2 LEDs for each ramp, and they are separately controlled so the ramps can be out of sync if we want.

I'm trying to get an idea on cost, unfortunately the component parts aren't cheap. If I have to guess I'd say in the range of $300 - $400. I'll have a much better idea in a week or two. (Yeah, edited that after 5 minutes - I forgot PCB cost, like I said, it's just a guess...)

#33 7 years ago

I'd be happy to make you a kit with just a section of uncut cable when we get to that point. There will basically be a master and a slave version of the LED housing thing as well, so you could just get a master one if you wanted do a single ramp (I'm thinking of doing the top arch for my WIP homebrew machine.)

#38 7 years ago

I have no real objection to people getting them without cable, but you'd be paying a premium buying your own in short lengths. I'm curious why you'd want one with no cable.

Doing a single source would be a bit less expensive (maybe $40?) You'd need the same amount of cable and much beefier LEDs and drivers. IMO being able to have the two ramps different colors will help make up for lacking the full integration on the LE. What do other people think?

#48 7 years ago

They are controlled by software, so it's trivial to keep them in sync. I think there would be times they matched and times they went to yellow and blue, but they won't "randomly" change individually. I'm getting some microcontrollers with built in USB this week, those would be pretty easy to update if people wanted to tweak their own light shows.

Reacting to game modes is more complicated. I'm planning on adding PIG support, but I'd really like it to know what the current mode is on its own. I started reading up on "high side current sense amplifiers" or I might need to do something as cheesy as stick photo resistors next to the bulbs to read their states, I haven't gotten to that point yet. Immediate goal is to get the circuit board done ASAP so I can get that tested, I just started that tonight.

#51 7 years ago

I'm going to have to put you on the game grid...

TRON.png

#58 7 years ago

Sorry there hasn't been much news, I'm waiting on the samples of the driver carrier boards. Other stuff is starting to arrive though, I should get some more LEDs tomorrow. Here's the WIP of a board to read the lamp states off of the data bus. I hope that it isn't required because it will add to the cost and I also don't want to build them. (EDIT: It would be optional, it's only to try and improve the interaction with the game, the basic version will still do all the regular color changing, it just doesn't know what game mode you're in.)

MCP.png

#67 7 years ago
Quoted from 6S3NC3:

Eli is there a company that you could send the blueprint to and make a few boards once your done?

There are places that do that, but I've never had anything produced myself. I'd need to redo the board for surface mount, but that probably wouldn't be too terrible. Seeed Studio http://www.seeedstudio.com/propagate/ is one place that offers this, and I have bought bare boards from them (in fact I just ordered some of the light boards from them as well as from DorkbotPDX.) The boards are designed for the same microcontroller with the idea being you could just move it from the master light board to the back box bus board and reprogram it over usb.

EDIT: S*** just got real...
Supplies.jpg

#79 7 years ago

Yeah, it would probably end up being simpler if I was willing to hack the ROMs, but I'm not going to do that.

In the meantime, progress marches on.

1 week later
#83 7 years ago

Sorry, I was really expecting to get circuit boards last week, but they haven't arrived. I cut up a bunch of aluminum to replace the plastic parts in the prototype, but other than that I'm waiting around, just like you. I'll be amazed (and annoyed) if neither the US nor Chinese sourced boards arrive in the next couple of days.

#84 7 years ago

The prototype boards got here Tuesday night! As you can see they aren't assembled. I made the holes in the part footprint for the little driver boards .004" too small for me to attach them with regular pin headers. I have some "swiss" headers which should fit on the way, but if they don't arrive tonight I'll just put one together with wire. (This is why we prototype.)

In better news, the aluminum plates seem pretty workable with my woodworking tools using special blades and bits, so the things are going to be damn sturdy.

Construction.jpg

#89 7 years ago

Tonight's update - now I need to download the development tools and write some test code to see if it works.

Populated.jpg

#93 7 years ago

The microcontroller has an Arduino compatibility mode, so either the Arduino scripting language or straight C in Atmel's MPLab software. I'll probably do the basic one in the Arduino environment because that's dirt simple to use, but I don't know if it supports interrupts which the lamp reading one probably needs.

Sorry for the lack of updates, I was at the Seattle show on Saturday and I have freelance stuff I need to do for "real" work today.

#95 7 years ago

Heh, the Arduino is a microcontroller (tiny little computer set up to work with other electronic bits) that is really popular with hobby electronics people because it has an easy to use programming environment that you run on your real computer and lots of examples. The board I'm using to control the lights isn't an Arduino, but it is based on the same kind of chip, so they can use the environment with some minor differences.

An interrupt is a special piece of code that you can set based on an input to your chip. So, say you set one up for when a button gets pressed it will stop whatever code was happening immediately (hence the name, "interrupt" the code) and go run that button code. It is dangerous because you have to be very carefully about changing data the originally code was using, but it is the best way to instantly react to something like you need to do when the lamp row changes.

#97 7 years ago

Dangerous in the sense of messing up the logic in your other code, not to the pinball.

You could do something like change a variable in the interrupt that was being used as a test in a loop of the main code and turn the loop infinite, or make the result of a test you just passed not match the new world order. It wouldn't be a big deal in this case, but in more complicated programming you can really hose stuff. In some classic video games there is basically an interrupt at the end of each scan line, and if you aren't careful and you try to do too much work in that interrupt you can miss the beginning of your next video line and the display can get out of alignment.

#99 7 years ago

It sounds like people have had good luck attaching EL wire with "glue dots" so that's a possibility, hopefully some early adopters will have feedback on the best way to attach the fiber optics.

Here are some shots of the assembled beta unit. Everything is self contained in the little stack.

Beta_1.jpg Beta_2.jpg

#103 7 years ago
Quoted from Sc1f1:

No doubt very exciting... wish someone would open up that code to make it sync

Yeah, I'm not willing to do it, since it could be seen as harmful to Stern (dirty pool, old man) but it would be easy to support if the data was there. My offer still stands to write them a video mode in exchange for outputting the color data on the pro model if anyone knows Lyman...

Thanks for the support everyone, I should have a few of these ready to send off to testers this weekend.

#108 7 years ago
Quoted from 6S3NC3:

What language is the code writen in?

C or C++, they might have some assembly in the libraries for fast combines of DMD layers or something, but my guess would be it's probably all C.

Quoted from DrStarkweather:

The plan is still to write some sort of setup to get some kind of sync still though?

Yeah, I'm going to do something - it's just not 100% certain what yet. I'll almost certainly release the basic kit first for people for people who are happy with that (or confident enough the upgrade will be sufficiently cool to buy early, it will be a separate board whatever happens.)

#119 7 years ago

It's 5mm cable lit at both ends (not in those last shots which just have a tiny stub connected on one side) if you wanted to go to a single strand you'd need to move from 3W LEDs to 9W LEDs. You can get bigger Chinese drivers in the same footprint so I think it would work with the same carrier board and current design (the heat might be an issue, but as long as they aren't going all the time it would probably be ok.)

I don't think they are brighter in that shot, I think it's just that the cable is so short you're seeing the brightest part (in fact I deliberately shot those in the partially dimmed state so it wouldn't be overblown in the photo.)

#122 7 years ago

Got the prototype in the mail to a tester this morning, including the totally untested SAM bus interface prototype. Working on some more beta sets for additional testers, and hope to get them finished and shipped out this week.

MCB_Proto.jpg Factory.jpg

#125 7 years ago

Yeah, two per machine. Only one has the microcontroller, but otherwise identical.

#131 7 years ago

Another very small update - assembled beta units. Sorry things are slow, building this set has convinced me to investigate the possibility of getting the aluminum (and maybe the ABS) plates machined rather than making them myself.

At this point the prototype is in the hands of a Pinsider who actually owns a TRON, so maybe he'll post some pictures once he gets it installed.

Beta_Units.jpg

#149 7 years ago

Thanks for posting the pics Mark! I said I was going to mail him a software update this weekend, but instead I went to a birthday party and had BBQ goat and too much bourbon.

I need to build power cables so I can test the new ones and then I can try some new code and get a couple more out to testers. Should be able to do that tonight.

#153 7 years ago
Quoted from luvthatapex2:

Curious, what colors are displayed on the ramps and in what pattern on this first prototype? Is it selectable, or cycles through a pattern?

It is just doing a sequence of solid colors and a few linear fades. It is pretty trivial to update the code though - simple enough that you could customize it to your own tastes, there's a built in USB port and it uses the Arduino software with a small addition. I'll try to do some more exciting "modes" ASAP.

#157 7 years ago

Things have been a bit slow again, but I'm mailing out to two more beta testers tomorrow, and I have a new video. (Still blowing out my camera sensor a bit, but you get the idea.)

This one is for the fans of under cabinet lighting, it shows how having the built in microcontroller means you can do things like synchronize other effects to the ramp lights. At 1:30 you can see the current version of the Sea of Simulation mode, which layers random "lightning" flashes over the base sine wave.

#163 7 years ago

Thanks for the detailed posting. Looks like I have the left and right ramps reversed compared to how you installed them. I'll send you an updated version of the code.

#173 7 years ago

Tracking says it is at your post office as of 10AM...

Yeah, this version only cycles the different displays, it is totally ignorant of what might be happening in the game. I did get a PIG, which will let the basic version at least react to ramps or flashers (or whatever you want to hook the PIG to), and that's the next demo to work on as soon as I finish revising the board for the advanced version (there were "issues".)

#176 7 years ago

Don't expect miracles from the PIG integration, since it's only 4 inputs, but that's 4 more than we currently have.

#184 7 years ago

Less than $500, even for the advanced model. I haven't absolutely finalized the price, but I'll PM you what I think it will be.

The PIG support is entirely optional. I think everyone would choose the advanced model over the basic model and PIG, but if you already have one installed for your other mods it provides some bonus functionality.

1 week later
#194 7 years ago

Yeah, that bar was just what Mark came up with for mounting since I didn't send the testers any hardware for that. I hope to have a less DIY solution for people in the final version. This does work quite well though, and doesn't require any new screws.

Thanks for posting the pictures Adriano, the combo with the black mirror blades is sweet.

Despite lack of updates I am still working away on the advanced controller. Unfortunately getting custom circuit boards introduces a delay if they have to be revised and this one wasn't right the first time. I'm hoping to get the guys updates within a week or so.

#199 7 years ago

Thanks for the heads up, Ken. I've got a group of good non-local testers at this point so I went back and changed the thread title.

2 weeks later
#216 7 years ago

Yeah, sorry for the delay everyone. There was a mistake (human error) on the new boards and I'm super slow at rework, plus I had some guests in town and suddenly another 3 weeks have gone by. I've sent out a couple of the new boards for testing this week and I'm trying to get ahead on some of the parts so that when things are actually ready to go I won't have to be doing them one at a time.

3 weeks later
#223 7 years ago

Just a brief update about progress, sorry it isn't super exciting while the board work gets done. The microcontroller I'm using wasn't fast enough to keep up with the data that the machine is sending, which has as little as 100ns between state changes. However most of the time there's no data at all, the only issue is getting overwhelmed in those periods it's really busy. The board has been revised with high speed buffers on the data lines which should make it possible to store the data and then read it with the microcontroller at (relatively) leisurely rates during the stretches when nothing new is happening.

Short version is that the boards were revised, there should be new versions for the testers within the next week to 10 days.

Sorry again for the delays, hopefully the final version will be worth the patience. Thanks again to the testers and people helping with board ideas and timing information.

4 weeks later
#258 7 years ago

Thanks for the support everybody. Even though things have been quiet and slow there is significant progress being made behind the scenes. I hope to be shipping new boards (which may actually be the last beta revision this time, really*) to the testers as soon as I get some parts from Mouser.

There isn't a list, but if you've posted in this thread, emailed or PMed me I'll be sure to let you know when anything is available.

* If anyone is interested in boring details the clock signal from the CPU to the driver board needed to be inverted so we would have the right edge to trigger the buffers within the window the data was valid.

#295 7 years ago
Quoted from Don1:

What are some of the issues being adressed with the testing group currently, any idea when we will start to see kits available?

They mostly answer questions on the boards so I don't have to.

Actually they've been invaluable as helpers since I don't own a TRON. They answer questions, help debug issues with the hardware and software and have done all the research on physically installing the things. The last issue was with the timing of signals to the driver board which ended up being significantly faster than I had thought, but that seems to be resolved in the latest revision. It meant that I never had an accurate copy of the lamp matrix before Monday night.

Quoted from Mudflaps:

Any update on the price? Sounds great so far!

I wish I could say they were going to be cheap, but the component parts are quite expensive and the design is fairly complex as well. I'm working with an experienced pinball vendor to try and optimize stuff, but my guess is still the $400 neighborhood. Not cheap, even if I can get it down some, but I guess still a huge savings off an LE - and the board will have a few extra outputs which could be used for integrating your other mods if you like to tinker.

1 week later
#322 7 years ago

As mentioned it's too early to pay attention to the specifics of any particular effect, since they are just things I'd already done that were convenient for testing, the important bit is that the polling is working and it now knows the state of the outputs to the driver board. Remember that we still don't know anything about the switches, only the lamps, flashers, and solenoids - but that's still quite a bit.

Now comes the complicated programming bit where I (with help) try to turn that information into something useful. As an example let's say we want to do a little show when you complete Quorra on the progress tree. That seems easy - it has a dedicated light so we just do the show when that light turns on, right? But we only want to do it once even though the lamp stays lit, so that means we need to have some state information about what the lamp was doing earlier. And the progress tree lamps flash if they are partially completed which means it needs to be able to distinguish between being on temporarily due to a flash and being on solidly for completion. Those lamps also get used for various lamp shows - we don't want to trigger the Quorra display if the lamp flashed because they completed some other mode, how do we test for that? We know they should be actively playing, so maybe we only trigger shows if a flipper has been active in the last second. How many ways can the mode be completed, can we test for those as well? Was the arcade kickout recently triggered? How about the auto launcher? It needs to be in multiball for this mode. Is there a specific lamp from the jackpot shot that we can test in combination with the Quorra mode lamp?

So getting the bus read working was a huge step forward, and I'm sure the video will make it seem like it's practically done, but there's still a lot left to figure out.

As always thanks for the support, it makes it a lot less tiresome to work on when people are excited.

2 weeks later
#369 7 years ago

The "list" is just me going through and collecting the posts here, emails, and PMs I've gotten and contacting people. No need to worry about it if you've done any of those.

I also hate to disappoint anyone who's dreaming of getting rich in the pinball mod game but we're talking minimum wage, not early retirement. I will be charging something, unlike the arcade code which I did as a fun gift for the community, but not nearly enough for it to be a rational use of my time compared to freelance development.

3 weeks later
#429 7 years ago

Thanks as always for posting the videos Frank.

Once again this is test code and is meant to exercise specific functionality rather than show everything. In this case it's detecting the on/off/blink states of the progress ladder lamps. It's a lot less impressive than fancy fades and per ramp colors, but those worked months ago, this is genuine progress. In fact credit Frank's enthusiasm that it's not even more boring, the code I sent him was only watching one single lamp.

#441 7 years ago

The shipping version will come preprogrammed with a "complete" set of displays. If you want different colors or coordinated under cabinet lighting or you want to control some other mods with it you'd have to do your own changes, but it works with the Arduino IDE and the code isn't that complicated. I'll put up some place for people to share their code.

I honestly don't know how tricky it would be to use with the LE. I don't think the LE lightboard supports PWM dimming to the color signals, so you'd be replacing most of the hardware if you wanted custom colors. I personally wouldn't consider it worth the cost and effort, the LE is already a complete package. If you're that desperate for the best TRON on the block I'd be happy to make you a custom version of the arcade code for an outrageous hourly fee.

#444 7 years ago

Not officially supported, but I've done it as a proof of concept using a small bit of extra hardware.

#463 7 years ago

The lighting effects are based on the states of the lamps and solenoids being sent to the driver board, it doesn't know anything about the code being run on the pinball's CPU. In theory a major change in Stern's code might require the triggers for one or two of the effects to be updated, but the mod controller is based on the ubiquitous Arduino and the code for the effects is all open source.

#503 7 years ago
Quoted from FireSlash:

I take it you're using an uno then. The mega has some addressing space issues in 1.0.1 that have yet to be fixed. Are you building custom ATMega boards or is this functioning as a shield? Also are there plans to release the hardware schematics as well?
This will be fun to tinker with.

It's currently using a Teensy 2 in Arduino mode - http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/index.html with some support logic to buffer the signals.

There is a design for a custom board using the ATMega32U4, but that's still being tweaked. I'm designing it along with another person, and we haven't discussed whether to release the design at this point, so I don't know the answer to that part.

#506 7 years ago

The bus is mostly empty, but when it does push out the signal to the Power Driver Board it's at something ridiculous like 5MHz. The interrupt on the Teensy could keep up most of the time, but it would always miss some, and then the calculated state of the lamp matrix would go all to Hell.

1 week later
#515 7 years ago

Not a promise, but Q1 2013 seems likely at this point.

3 weeks later
#553 7 years ago

It's using hardware PWM. There aren't currently any on/off transitions, but it wouldn't be too difficult to add those. We still have a few stray mode triggers and the like to clean up before the fine adjustments like that though.

1 week later
#580 7 years ago

Since everyone got excited for the thread activity...

I'm currently waiting on boards (most of the time is spent this way, takes 3 or so weeks to get them run and I'm not a hardware guy so it takes me time to revise the layout also.) This is identical functionality to the one the testers have now but with several parts changed to surface mount so they'll be easier to assemble.

From what I hear the end of ball and game detection is working and the biggest issue left with normal gameplay is some spurious stuff on the multiball modes which are hard to monitor.

As always, sorry things are slow, but that's just how complex hobby dev goes sometimes. The fun parts get worked on quickly, the dull parts not so much.

3 weeks later
#601 7 years ago

The board only has 6 available PWM outputs and those are being used for the left and right ramps. If you were willing to share colors between the ramps or between one ramp and the topper you could split the signal.

Alternately there are four open and usable digital pins. That's how I was doing the synchronized under cabinet light demo. That was driven by a board that uses a simple serial protocol (the shiftbar from www.macetech.com) so it could set the left and right strips to match the colors of the ramps.

I have no idea what is in those little self contained remote controlled RGB lights like the pinballtoppers.com speakers use. It might be trivial to connect to them, but it's more likely to be a single unmarked chip covered with epoxy.

#612 7 years ago

The code in this mod is trivial. I have written literally millions of lines of code professionally.

The delays, as they have been the entire time, are because

A) I'm not a hardware guy, so there have been several revisions which each involve lots of waiting around.

B) I'm relying on (eager and helpful, but remote) volunteer testers because I don't have a machine here.

3 weeks later
12
#641 6 years ago

Sorry, I know people are waiting patiently for updates. Here's a picture of the current state of my coffee table to help tide you over.

LED_Components.jpg

12
#673 6 years ago

I consider the arcade mod "mine" anyway, so I guess I'm safe for now.

(Not to short change Jeremy, who designed the cabinet and Mark who upgraded that, but I sourced the screen and wrote all the code.)

#680 6 years ago

There's a separate thread for EL wiring here:
http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/tron-pro-with-el-wire

EL wire looks great, but it's a single color and it uses a high voltage power source which can cause noise in your optos if you're not careful (details are in the thread.)

This uses clear fiber optic cable and Red Green Blue controlled LEDs so it can vary the colors. It's basically the same system used in the LE version of TRON.

3 weeks later
#709 6 years ago

Update time.

As may be obvious from my posting rate here I don't really have the time to make enough of these by hand to satisfy the demand. Because of this I've been working with one of the vendors on a version that drastically reduces the assembly time and we're currently finalizing this redesign. This will use the same microcontroller and logic as the current working version but with project specific hardware rather than stuff I've assembled from random sources.

I do have a large stock of parts for the original design and have already assembled boards for 10 or so "developer" versions. I'm going to start going down my list and offering those to people. These are intended for those early adopter types who are eager to play with the code, need to have every new toy ASAP, or are just plain sick of waiting. If you hate the idea of email code updates, potential bugs, or prototype hardware I strongly recommend just waiting for the "official" release.

As always I appreciate everyone's patience and I hope the final product will be worth the wait!

#734 6 years ago

Sorry, but this is NOT the final release. As explained in my last post, the hardware is being revised to make it production friendly. I want to make that clear - the software will be essentially compatible (minus a few pin changes and such) but the boards will be different, mainly the LED boards, but the controller board is slightly different as well, since the Teensy daughterboard was replaced by individual components.

These are the same kits that the luvthatapex2 and the other testers have and have really liked, and I think they're plenty cool, but they are not the same thing that will be "mass" produced.

These are going to be $400, the final ones haven't been determined, partly because we're still evaluating LEDs and there's a huge cost range there, and it won't be just my call.

Looks like my wire order just arrived - time for a super exciting evening of harness making.

#761 6 years ago

Nope, no orders yet. I just finished up the last $%&&^* wiring harness last night. The plan is to offer them to a couple of people who've already been recommended as good testers and then just start down the list of people who have contacted me or posted here.

I hope to program a little setup to do at least minimal testing of the controller boards and get some basic installation instructions started tonight.

1 week later
#781 6 years ago

OK, I've sent out PMs about the developer versions.

Basically I'm discouraging people from getting them unless they're gung-ho, so we'll see how far down the list I get once people start responding. I'll still contact everyone when we approach the final release.

Parts.jpg Boxes.jpg

#812 6 years ago

I've sent out 8 as of today, 5 people have decided to wait for the final version, 2 people got hosed because they were international and I didn't want to risk sending them non RoHS stuff that might get stuck in Bureaucratic Hell (sorry again, guys.)

#817 6 years ago

There's a big list of people waiting for the mod. There were five potential early adopters who opted to wait for the final version rather than get one of developer kits.

#822 6 years ago

From all reports the ramps actually drill really well and nobody has had an issue yet, but this definitely isn't a quick install. In the EL wire thread people have mentioned using an old junk soldering iron and melting the holes as an alternative, but that sounds kind of unpleasant. If anybody does decide to try the tape method I'm sure they'll post pictures.

#844 6 years ago

Maybe there actually are clear boutique zip ties somewhere, I'll have to look, but I'm pretty sure what people mean by both clear and white is natural nylon, which are kind of translucent.

Quoted from Pinballgeek:

Even though my father hasn't got a tron and he would love to own one
How many kits will you be making

As many as we need to. The whole reason for this latest redesign and the developer release was that I just wasn't going to be able to meet demand with the original design. There are way too many parts, all of which were hand assembled and many hand soldered as well. The new kits are redesigned to actually be producible in enough quantity to meet demand. Downside, another delay. Upside, I don't go insane and more than a few dozen people get kits.

#853 6 years ago

The hardware is (slightly) different so the code won't run. You could only do it using something like the P-Roc to recreate the game a la Cactus Canyon Continued or by violating the DMCA and hacking Stern's code to ignore the hardware check and remap the outputs.

#866 6 years ago

You can just swap the 3 pin connectors between the light engines. Or switch it in software, but swapping the cables is probably simpler in the long run.

#876 6 years ago

It isn't identical, and in fact it is still being revised. The current effects are some combination of trying to duplicate the LE behavior and things that looked good to the original testers. The plan is for some level of customization so you can get them just how you want them.

#886 6 years ago
Quoted from herg:

For the guys who have the developer kits, I highly suggest loading the code linked in Eli's instructions. In Troz's video at 10:52, there is some spastic flashing that is due to the code not switching back into attract mode. Mine did it as well, but since I loaded the latest code, it switches properly. It also greatly improves the mode detections while in game. I have to assume that the code that was on at least my board as shipped was an older version.

Unless I loaded the wrong file onto them, which seems unlikely, the code is identical. Probably just a bug where the code was getting confused about what mode it was in. It won't hurt anything to replace it if you've installed the tools.

#889 6 years ago
Quoted from herg:

Edit: OK, maybe I jumped the gun on saying the r1 code fixed the super fast attract mode. I went back and loaded it directly from the archive, and the problem came back on mine. I then loaded the code with my changes again, and it was fixed again. It must be something in my changes, but I can't say for sure what that would be. Sorry for the confusion.

Didn't you say your machine wasn't on free play? The current end of game code is using the start button to determine when to go into attract - no credits, no attract mode (obviously a high priority fix.)

#898 6 years ago

If one of you can email me a photo of the trouble spot(s) I'll be sure to put a warning in the instructions.

#916 6 years ago

The closer the better, it should be touching the LED, that also means it runs through those black spacers for best alignment.

Also it might not require a light shield if you use a separate piece of heat shrink on the "interior" part of the LED engine, it should fit through the hole in the circuit board easily and reach all the way down to the top of the black delrin spacers leaving only a bit of light exposed.

1 week later
#940 6 years ago

Still don't have a firm release date for the production units, but every week it gets a couple days closer!

If you've PMed me or posted here I'll be sure to let you know as soon as they're up for pre-order.

Spent several agonizing hours today looking at boot code so that you guys won't have to install any weird software to do code updates. Just ask the testers, you'll be glad to wait a few extra days in exchange for the convenience.

#952 6 years ago

I use a Mac, so there's plenty of testing on the software side. Made it a bit of a nightmare to help one of the Windows users debug when he had an issue with his control board and needed to confirm his software install.

#966 6 years ago

USB B-mini on the current boards, but switching to B-micro for the production boards.

#974 6 years ago

Welcome... To the world of tomorrow!

http://nuprometheus.com/pinball/TRON/ramps/test/settings.html

(Very much a work in progress, and will probably break your ancient version of IE, but feel free to complain about it if that makes you happy. I fracking hate web development.)

TRON_Banner.png

#976 6 years ago
Quoted from Tkaye:

Production units ready?? Woohoo!!!

No.

Just a preview of the tool for customizing the displays.

#981 6 years ago

Fixed the z-layering bug, at least on the major Mac browsers.

#986 6 years ago

You contained the Hell out of that light bleed.

My paranoid side is a little worried about the flammability of that painters tape though. Did you try an additional length of heat shrink for the "internal" part of the fiber optic?

#996 6 years ago

The hardware designs are done, there are just a lot of steps between that and getting them into your hands.

The code isn't final, but they could always be shipped "Stern style" if everything else was ready.

1 week later
#1016 6 years ago

The latest (95% final hardware) version should be appearing on two, possibly three, machines at the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show in Tacoma next week. I should be around at least Friday and Saturday to chat if anyone has questions about the ramp mod or my other pinball projects.

http://www.nwpinballshow.com

#1022 6 years ago

Critical path is getting the hardware built, not the software at this point.

1 week later
#1044 6 years ago

Managed to get them installed on 2 of the machines at the Northwest Pinball and Arcade show yesterday, so if you're there be sure to check them out in person. Hopefully the ramps will have been drilled on the third this morning and we can get that hooked up as well.

#1050 6 years ago

I see the PinballNews report on the Northwest show lists a (nonexistent) TRON LE, so I'm taking that as a good sign. It was a lot of fun to see people playing and I got a lot of positive feedback. The mode detection is getting better and better, so thanks again to the testers who've been contributing fixes on that. It feels like we might actually be approaching the final stretch here.

3 weeks later
#1063 6 years ago

Sorry, been a bit busy on the game grid.

ETA is looking pretty good for sometime in July.

There isn't enough power to drive under cabinet lighting off the mod, you'll have to chain the PWM signals to a second set of drivers if you want to do that.

The final boards aren't completely Arduino compatible and I hope that there will be enough built-in customization to keep people from needing to hack the code (to keep things sane for support as much as anything) but definitely email me if there's something you need to do after release.

As always, thanks for your patience.

End Of Line

#1068 6 years ago

This thread is the "list", I'll contact everyone who has posted or PMed me.

Quoted from luvthatapex2:

will all of the features we've worked on migrate over to the the new production kits?

All the logic from the current Teensy version is going right into the final code with the addition of the customization stuff and some debug / sanity testing at boot.

1 week later
#1112 6 years ago

Well, bad news is this looks likely to slip into August at this point for wide availability.

Good news is I'm going to be out of town at a family reunion all next week so I won't be around to read any complaints unless you get them in fast.

Seriously though, sorry about that. Things are really progressing along, they just always seem to go a bit slower than what seems like a conservative estimate.

1 month later
16
#1185 6 years ago

Hey everybody.

As usual, sorry for the delays. Here's the scoop...

We had a hardware problem with the BOM going from the prototypes into full production mode. Very intermittent weirdness across some but not all boards. I couldn't say for sure how long it would take to fix so I was reluctant to give another date which might slip. I also had to take some time catching up on my non-pinball projects (shocking, I know.)

However in the last few days we've tracked down the fix and all indications are that the production boards are now working 100%, with 16 / 16 boards of the changed part now running correctly.

I believe there will be a small shipment of production kits (I'll go back to my early responders list) very soon as a final QA test and then they'll be going into full production.

i-sxWZbFB-L.jpg

#1200 6 years ago

Please don't call Pinbits at this point. It won't do anything to get you a kit faster and will just be a big pain for Pam and Martin.

3 weeks later
#1257 6 years ago

As far as I know there have been ~15 "production" kits sold at this point most of which went to people here that I contacted before hand. I have no way of knowing whether the kit on eBay is from one of those Pinsiders, or one of the longtime PinBits costumers who were also asked.

The PinBits lamp board has different LEDs which are slightly less bright, but are also substantially more reliable than the Chinese LEDs on the ones I hand-built (I had a >5% failure rate on those LEDs which is completely unworkable.) My understanding is that these are exactly the same LEDs as in the LE model boards Stern made.

I'm trying to keep things organized and make sure everyone gets their fair chance at a board in the early batches. PinBits is a two person company, and 99% of my interaction is with Martin, and all three of us are really, really busy, so wires do get crossed. Everybody who wants to buy one of these will eventually get one, they aren't being artificially limited, they just take time to produce. Relax and play some pinball.

#1261 6 years ago

That was the rate for DOA LEDs or ones where the channels leaked between the colors. I've only had one die on the prototype boards I sent out (but that's still one out of ~60.)

#1278 6 years ago
Quoted from hoby1:

Hey Eli, My question would be . If the beta kits LEDs go bad how do we replace them or is there even a replacement. I love the high intensity brightness but now Im worried if they ever go out. ( No problems but kinda got me nervous with that comment)

I have a ton of extras - I'll send you a couple when I exchange/update people to the final version of the controller boards.

Quoted from frolic:

Would it be possible to produce more than a handful of kits at a time? If Eli has an unofficial list, it would at least give a rough idea of the number of those interested. I wouldn't assume all of those would be a final sale, but maybe produce 50% of that list so that we all have a fighting chance of getting one in a reasonable time frame.

I think the harnesses are holding everything up. They're looking for a manufacturer that can do a bunch at once for a reasonable cost. Until then they're being hand built and they are pretty complex, so...

#1330 6 years ago
Quoted from DrStarkweather:

There is a board that goes in the back box and it appears to have a mini USB attachment I think. Im not sure how it will update in the future, but I think it IS up dateable.

It shows up as a USB drive if you hook it to a computer and you can copy over new code as a file. Of course there has to actually be a code update written first, but it's pretty painless.

#1336 6 years ago

For whatever reason the stuff with the semi-opaque cover that Stern uses was a lot harder to find in non-industrial lengths. I believe it's also stranded vs. solid-core. Most people like that this is nearly invisible when disabled, but it's also a little bit less uniform when lit.

1 week later
#1367 6 years ago
Quoted from luvthatapex2:

Contact pinbits on the page earlier in this thread. pinbits is selling the kits for Eli, nobody else.

Please don't do this if you've already contacted me. I'll get in touch with you if it reaches the point where you posted in the thread or PMed me. At some point they'll be enough production so they'll just be available for order from Pinbits, but we're not there yet. If you've posted or PMed I WILL eventually get in touch with you for details.

#1386 6 years ago
Quoted from TZBen:

do I need a power splitter for this mod? I have the arcade mod now, will I need a splitter to run this?
like this one.
http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=2981

The ramp mod gets power directly from the P/D board in the backbox, no need for a splitter for it.

I'm very glad people are finally starting to get these, and sorry production is still slow.

#1412 6 years ago

I think at this point I've asked for email info from everyone who contacted me in 2012. There are about 25 who've responded but haven't yet gotten a chance to purchase because we're waiting on the next batch of kits.

#1422 6 years ago
Quoted from justjoe13:

My question about the install is where to mount the "interface board"? unless I missed something.
Will have to go and re-read the instructions to see if that was addressed or not.

It goes on the header for the ribbon cable connecting the CPU board to the Driver board.

You can see it (somewhat obstructed by the yet to be routed cable harness) in this photo from the pigtail instructions: http://mrtn.smugmug.com/Other/2013-07-14/30539137_jtPxK3#!i=2634635720&k=GrFPgjV

#1461 6 years ago

ARCADE and SOL have 5v on the pin closest to the LEDs, then a controlled pin, then GND.

CYCLES has 5v (through a limiting resistor for 3.3v LEDs) on the outside pins and the 2 inner pins are controlled.

None of the controlled outputs are active in the current software.

2 weeks later
#1477 6 years ago

Here's a not all that informative update, just to show I'm still here...

Last time I talked to Martin he was ordering another 150 board sets, but he also said he was going to be out of town for a stretch right around now. I know he tests every board, so that may mean there's a lull, I'm not sure. From what I understand harnesses are STILL the critical path, but that is slowly improving.

#1487 6 years ago

The "list" is just me going through the thread, my inbox and email when I need more names. That's part of the reason it isn't published - it's a pain in the ass to collect more than the 20 or so I need at any time. But it also means you don't have to worry about not being on it if you've posted. Quite honestly another factor is that neither I nor Pam needs the added headaches of people getting anxious because they know their name is coming "soon".

#1536 6 years ago

JoeJet, check your SPAM folder. I'm not sure if Pam has contacted you or not, but I did pass on your information and iskidoo and 30FathomDave both got emails from her which ended up in SPAM.

#1555 6 years ago

Looks like a few people who Pam contacted had their messages end up in their SPAM filters. If anyone else has already been directly contacted by me to get their email information but hasn't had a chance to buy a kit please let me know.

2 weeks later
#1615 6 years ago

Mateui, and anyone else I requested email contact for more than a week or two ago but never heard anything - check your SPAM folders, I should have contacted you. If something got lost my email is eli@nuprometheus.com

#1616 6 years ago

Three people have now reported that it stopped working suddenly after a successful installation but was fixed by updating the code. I'm going to assume it's a bug in the original code and not spend a lot of time hunting it down unless it keeps happening after the update. I think all the new kits are shipping with the updated code at this point.

1 week later
#1658 6 years ago

Thanks for all the nice comments, it's really great to see more and more photos of them installed. Damn TRON looks good with the lit ramps and mirror blades...

#1671 6 years ago

There's no way for the mod to know when the ramp with is hit, so it's impossible to do anything on a ramp shot unless there's a way to identify it from a lamp or flasher.

#1672 6 years ago

Pinbits has what I believe is their last batch for the year listed on their site. http://www.pinbits.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13_65&products_id=566

I'm not sure how many they have, but I know they were trying to have a larger batch than usual. In the new year I'll be contacting everyone who's posted or PM'ed me to take stock of where we are on remaining demand. Thanks everyone, for your patience and support on this project. Long live the users!

1 week later
#1677 6 years ago

They put 30 kits up last night. If you're still in need of a kit after this batch has sold out please get in touch with me so I can get a new estimate (I'll be going through everyone I haven't contacted before now as well.)

http://www.pinbits.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13_65&products_id=566

Thanks for all the support.

#1680 6 years ago

It's supposed to fade out and run the attract less and less often if it isn't being played for power saver but that code wasn't really tested.

The microcontroller code probably won't be open source as there are complicated support issues with that, but I still plan on doing the customization through a web page for setting your own colors and effects for the various modes. Not quite sure when I'll be getting back to that.

10
#1685 6 years ago

Back in stock, and I think I have now contacted everyone who asked to be notified. Phew... Thanks again to all of you for your patience throughout the development, I know things ended up being much slower than I predicted. Hopefully everyone will enjoy the final results for years to come.

2 months later
#1696 5 years ago

Sorry Joe, I know I've posted in a couple other threads since you PMed me, but I'm trying to limit TRON support to the weekend. The first thing to try is "upgrading" the code (basically just re-installing it.) You can download the code from the Pinbits page. I don't know if it's a very rarely hit bug or just the noisy electronic environment of the pinball machine but there have been two other people who had a similar issue that was caused by corrupted code and fixed by replacing the code.

If that doesn't fix it let me know.

6 months later
#1699 5 years ago
Quoted from lyzanxia:

Eli, any progress on this?

Honestly it's on the way, way back burner. There wasn't a huge demand and I had already put more time into TRON than I could really justify. Sorry to get your hopes up.

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