Hardware

1. The RGB LED Panels

The panels we use are sold for video walls and advertising signs. There are many sizes of panels available with different spacing between the LEDs. The ones that fit best into a pinball have 2.5mm spacing (also referred to as P2.5), which results in a 128×32 display of 320×76.8mm. This can be mounted into an existing DMD/speaker panel from a pinball cabinet. Currently the only place to buy these panels is from AliExpress. Search for “RGB LED 64×64 p2.5 1/16” or “RGB LED 64×64 p2.5 1/16”. You don´t find 128×32 panels, but you can buy two 64×32 or one 64×64 panel which consists of two 64×32 panels which can be removed from the frame and connect side-by-side. Make sure that you end up with panels which have 1/16 scan and this HUB75 pinout since this is the only type currently supported by PIN2DMD. The good thing is that they are seamless. To build a replacement display for Sega 192×64 you need three 64×64 panels with 2.0mm spacing (P2) . These panels measure 128x128mm and result in a total display size of 128x384mm which is nearly the same size as the original Sega panels. You need a Nucleo-144 based controller  with V4 shield to run this configuration. Again PCB layout and the special pin2dmd XL fimware can be found on github.

2. The Controller

2.1 The STM32F4 Discovery/Nucleo board with PIN2DMD Shield

The panels use a 16 pin Hub75 interface to be connected to the next panel or to a controller. We use a STM32F407 discovery (V3 shield) or a STM32F429 Nucleo-144 board (V4 shield) which is available from multiple sources for about $20. It is based on Cortex M4 processor architecture which is needed for the rapid bit-shifting of data to control the panels. We write the program in C. The software is uploaded to the controller through debugging USB port using ST-Link Utility.
To connect the displays to the controller you need a connector shield pcb, which basically just connects the pins to the 16-pin ribbon cable that drives the displays. The board also has a 14pin connector which can be as input to get the data from a real machine. A PCB layout example can be found in the hardware directory. The advantage of the modular system is that new hardware functions can easily be implemented by changing the shield while keeping the controller. Members of the community have organized a group buy for printed circuit boards and also offer different kits. Search for PIN2DMD on german flippermarkt forum or VPUniverse forum .

3. The Power Supply

The RGB LED displays require 5vdc for power and if you want to run them with full brightness they need a lot of current. A 5A power should be enough. You need to connect that power supply up to both panels. You can also use 8A DC-DC 12 to 5V converters for real pinball machines.

4. The Frame

For perfect alignment of the panels side by side a laser cut frame is recommended.