the modern firepower pinball project

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

How to get an LED-Wiz to control pinball solenoids. Rottendog Amusements makes modern replacement Driver Boards like this Williams WPC89/WPC-S replacement. While it is better than the originals, this board is still rather large, though it does handle more than just solenoids. One of the most important components in a pinball machine is the control

the modern firepower pinball project
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circuit that sends power to the solenoids, moving the various mechanical assemblies like flippers, slingshots, and pop bumpers. The solenoids need lots of power to have enough oomph to move those heavy steel balls around the playfield. The Modern Firepower design will be using 50 volts, just like the Williams machines back in the day (not all pinball machine designs use or require 50v for the solenoids). In testing, I`ve measured some solenoids to be pulling more than 3 Amps of current when they fire, and at 50 volts that`s over 150 watts of power! This is enough current to be deadly to humans, so safe design and handling is essential, and this amount of power far exceeds the electricity handling capability of computers and typical control circuits. The solution is a power driver circuit board that bridges the gap. On one hand the power driver has to be capable of controlling the high voltage and amperage that is flowing to the solenoids, and on the other hand it has to respond to low powered control signals from the computing device while isolating it from the solenoid power. In pinball machines, this circuit board is typically referred to as the Solenoid Power Driver, and often it is integrated onto larger circuit boards with other types of circuits. For Modern Firepower, the control signal will flow from a PC to a LED-Wiz over USB, then on to the Solenoid Power Driver sending power to the various solenoids on the...

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