MAME Cabinet - LED Illumination


I read a review on Kevin Steele's website about using super bright LED's to replace your coin door lights. Since I have some illuminated buttons, a translucent trackball, and coin door lamps I had yet to wire up, I decided I'd go ahead and do it with LED's. Kevin seemed a bit dissapointed with the performance of all the bulbs he ordered insofar as they did not do a good job over the stock incandescent bulbs; however, he ordered only the single led bulbs and only two types of the 4-led bulbs - the UV (the least bright of all the 4-led bulbs) and the white (which it turns out does not provide a great color shining through the coin door.)

I took this as a sign that I should just order some of the bigger, badder bulbs. I ordered some 6-LED red bulbs to light the coin doors, a 6-LED white bulb to light the trackball, and various colors of 4-LED bulbs to light my illuminated buttons.

Update! 3/10/2004
I am sorry to report that my initial excitement over how great the LEDs looked after one of them failed. Normally I would not report this as news of any sort except that a second bulb has now failed as well. It appears the product is not the highest quality; however, the price is still good enough that it doesn't really matter. I have not contacted them about replacements yet, but I hope they will not give me a problem -- especially since I am probably going to order some more of their bulbs for the interior of my car.

3/25/2004
Superbrightleds.com replaced my two failed bulbs without a problem. It took a little while for them to get back to me, but the new bulbs are in and looking/working great!

Update! 7/17/2004
After another couple of months, the WLED-6 white used in the trackball failed again! I am beginning to think it's maybe the type of bulb. I have asked for another replacement bulb and also requested that they send me a T13-W6 bulb instead. It should be a similar bulb, but maybe works a little better. We'll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Here are some photos of the brighter versions of the bulbs from SuperBrightLEDs.com:


All four bulbs are 6-LED Red bulbs. This is WAY brighter than the stock incandescent bulbs and gives the yellow plastic coin doors the older red look just how I wanted.


The left two slots are lit with 6-LED red lamps while the right two are the 14V incandescent bulbs (running at 12V) You can immediately tell the brigtness difference here. The LED's also give off very little heat.


This is 3 of the 6-LED red bulbs and one 6-LED white bulb. The white LED bulb is still a little blue, but the brigtness is greater than the stock 14V incandescents. It's a good replacement if you like the pale yellow color of the coin doors (I don't)


This picture suprised me somewhat. The left three bulbs are 6-LED red's and the right one is a 4-LED red. You can definately tell that the 6-LED's are brighter, but the 4-LED's do great for coin door lighting. I expected a more dramatic difference, but in any case the 4-LED red bulb is still brigter than the stock 14V lamps!


Since I haven't disassembled my control panel again to add these into the illuminated buttons, I thought I'd plug them into the coin door to see how they looked. From left to right we have (all 4-LED versions) UV, Blue, Green, and Yellow. I expected them to all look a little funny since the plastic parts they illuminate are red and yellow, but they suprisingly turned the coin doors vibrant colors -- all except the UV anyway.. The yellow is also not very yellow. It's a light orange. I am thinking of ordering some bulbs to match my player button colors now that I see how it looks...


Here is the same configuration above except from the back. You can see that the UV light looks really nice from the back. It just doesn't shine through to the front very well. I'm betting it will look a lot nicer in my illuminated button which is what I ordered it for...

I will have photos of the trackball and button illumination once I can tear my girlfriend away from it for a second (I sure didn't expect to have that problem!)

Update!

Well, I got around to putting the LED's in the control panel for trackball and button illumination. The buttons are illuminated with 4-LED bulbs in UV, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red. The trackball is illuminated with a 6-LED white bulb.


This is a good photo of what the control panel really looks like. The 4-LED bulbs are very bright in the Happ illuminated buttons. As you can see, the UV led is doing a great job up here even though it was not good at all for use in the coin door. They would be plenty bright enough to illuminate a standard happ pushbutton if you want to save some money, however the standard illuminated buttons probably diffuse light better, and you can put a label inside them, which is the reason I bought them. (I still have not made the insert labels yet though!)

Note: The game here is Armagetron, an open-source Tron-like lightcycles game. You only need 2 buttons per player, so you could easily put even four players on a 2 player cabinet with two players using the joysticks for control and two players using the buttons. It's a lot of fun.


This is what the trackball looks like from straight above. It's a lot brighter than looking at it from the side, but this is the case no matter what type of bulb you light it with. If you're buying a LED bulb to light your trackball, buy the same color as your ball, and buy a 6-LED version. If you have a blue or green trackball, you should be able to use the white LED's like I did. Red LED's will hardly show up at all shining through a blue ball!

The other thing about using LED's for the trackball -- the LED's do not cast any light out the side. Unless you have room to shine the LED's directly into the ball, you can still mount the bulb sideways and get light in there. I made a little reflector out of aluminum foil and put it over the bulb. Doing this with the incandescent would be terrible since the heat would melt the plastic, but with the LED bulb it is a non-issue.