How to configure mono/traditional DMD (FAST Pinball)

Related Config File Sections

The FAST WPC and Core controllers can drive traditional single-color pinball DMDs via the 14-pin DMD connector cable that’s been in most pinball machines for the past 25 years, like this:


It makes no difference as to whether you’re using an LED or an original plasma gas DMD. (Also it doesn’t matter what color it is.)

1. Verify your port settings

In order to use a DMD with a FAST Pinball controller, you need to have the port that’s connected to the DMD processor on the FAST board listed in the ports: section in the fast: section of your machine-wide config.

See the How to use install drivers & configure COM ports (FAST Pinball) guide for details.

2. Add a physical DMD device entry

Once you have your hardware and port set, you need to create the actual device entry for the DMD.

You do this in the physical_dmds: section of the machine config. This section is like the other common sections (switches, coils, etc.) where you enter the name(s) of your device(s), and then under each one, you enter its settings.

(And yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s possible to have more than one physical DMD.)

To do this, create a section in your machine-wide config called physical_dmds:, and then pick a name for the DMD, like this:

     shades: 16

You need to have at least one setting for this to be a valid YAML file, so we usually just pick the shades and add that with a value of 16 (which means the DMD runs will convert the display content to 16 mono shades when it displays it).

The “shades” option is how many brightness shades you want. 1990s WPC machines supported 4 shades, and modern Stern DMD machines support 16. The FAST Pinball controllers support 16 shades (even on older 1990s plasma DMDs). Most modern games will probably be 16 shades, but you can do 4 (or even 2) if you want an old school look.

There are lots more options for the physical_dmd: section than just the “shades” option listed here. Check the physical_dmds: for a list of all the options.

Note that one option you do NOT have for physical DMDs is the color. That’s because the color of the DMD is determined by the DMD itself. You don’t actually send it color values, rather, you just send it brightness levels, and the DMD shows those brightness levels with whatever color the DMD is.

3. Set a source display

Now that you have everything configured, the last step is to make sure the DMD knows what content to show. In MPF, you do this by mapping a physical DMD to an MPF display.

By default, the DMD will look for a display (in your displays: section called “dmd”. However you can override this and configure the DMD to use whatever logical display you want by setting a source_display: setting. (Just make sure that the width and height of your source display match the physical pixel dimensions of the DMD or else it will be weird.)

A final config you can test

At this point you’re all set, and whatever slides and widgets are shown on the DMD’s source display in MPF-MC should be shown on the physical DMD.

That said, all these options can be kind of confusing, so we created a quick example config you can use to make sure you have yours set right. (You can actually just save this config to config.yaml in a blank machine folder and run it to see it in action which will verify that you’ve got everything working properly.)

To run this sample config, you can run mpf both.

When you run it, do not use the -x or -X options, because either of those will tell MPF to not use physical hardware which means it won’t try to connect to the Teensy.

Note that the Using a traditional (single color) physical DMD guide has more details on the window and slide settings used in this machine config.

  platform: fast
  driverboards: fast
  ports: com3, com4, com5  # be sure to change this to your actual ports

  window:  # on screen window
    width: 600
    height: 200
  dmd:  # source display for the DMD
    width: 128
    height: 32
    default: true

  width: 600
  height: 200
  title: Mission Pinball Framework

     brightness: 1.0

  window_slide_1:  # slide we'll show in the on-screen window
  - type: dmd  # this widget shows the DMD content in this slide too
    width: 512
    height: 128
    pixel_color: ff5500  # makes on-screen pixels the classic DMD orange
  - type: text
    anchor_y: top
    y: top-3
    font_size: 30
  - type: rectangle
    width: 514
    height: 130
    color: 444444
  dmd_slide_1:  # slide we'll show on the physical DMD
  - type: text
    text: IT WORKS!
    font_size: 30

      target: window
      target: dmd