How to configure LEDs & GI (Stern SPIKE)

Related Config File Sections

Stern SPIKE machines have replaced all incandescent lights with LEDs. Instead of a lamp matrix, individual LEDs are connected to node boards and can be controlled with 256 levels of brightness.

GI (general illumination) are regular LEDs, and so are flashers, and so are the white backlight LEDs in the backbox. So pretty much everything is an LED.

Many LEDs are single element, single color, with colored insers in front of them. This means that you cannot control the color of the LED, rather, you just control the brightness and the color is what it is.

Most machines also have RGB LEDs that can be set to any color. In those cases the individual red, green, and blue channels each have their own addresses, and then you can group them together into a single, logical RGB LED that you can set to whatever color you want.

Finally, in SPIKE machines, you’ll sometimes see several LEDs connected to a single output, meaning that when you set the brightness of that output, you’re setting the brightness for all those LEDs.

MPF uses the matrix_lights: section of the machine config to define LEDs. (This is somewhat confusing because LEDs in a SPIKE system are certainly not matrix lights, but the LED system in MPF currently assumes that all LEDs are RGB LEDs, and that’s not how Stern SPIKE systems work. So you configure your LEDs as matrix lights. (This will be fixed in a feature version of MPF.)

Most of the settings in the Lights documentation apply to LEDs in Stern SPIKE machines, though there are a few SPIKE-specific things to know.


The main thing you need to know about configuring LEDs (besides the fact that you add them to the matrix_lights: section of your config) is how the hardware numbering works.

Pretty much you just look up the number in the manual for your machine and then enter it without any letters. For example, here is (part of) the lighting chart from Wrestlemania Pro:


Use the address column (highlighted in yellow) to get the numbers for each LED. Remove the “LP” letters, and also remove any lowercase letters (like the “a”) from the node. What you’re left with is the node address and LED number.

For example, the Shoot Again light with the address 8a-LP-47 would be entered as number: 8-47.

      number: 0-0  # 0-0 is the special address for the backlight
      number: 1-2
      number: 1-3
      number: 8-47
The backbox backlight
Stern SPIKE systems have controllable brightness for the white lights in the backbox that illuminate the translight. All of those LEDs are tied together and controlled as one with the address 0-0.
GI (General Illumination)
GI in Stern SPIKE systems are just regular LEDs. You can tag them with the tag gi and then turn them on in the attract mode and/or use them in shows for special effects. Really there’s nothing special about them. They’re just lights. (Just remember they’re controlled and defined as “lights”, not as “GIs”.)
Flashers in Stern SPIKE systems are also controlled just like normal lights. They just happen to be super bright, but other than that, use them like any other LED. (Just remember they’re controlled and defined as “lights”, not as “flashers”.)


You’ll notice in the operator’s manual that RGB LEDs are actually three separate LEDs with a separate address for the red, green, and blue channel. Since MPF deals with RGB LEDs as single objects you can set to any color, you need to group the three individual channels of RGB LEDs into single RGB objects.

Here’s an example from the Wrestlemania Pro manual:


You’d enter the three channels as three separate lights in the matrix_lights: section of your machine config.

Once you do that, add a leds: section to your config, and then create an entry for the RGB LED name you’d like to use to control refer to the RGB LED which you can then set to any color. Then under there, for the number:, enter the three names from the matrix_lights: section (in order red, green, blue), and add the entry platform: lights.

What this does is create a new virtual RGB LED which is a grouping of the three LED channels into the RGB LED. Then you can use it like any LED.

Note that when you do this, you will control the RGB LEDs as “leds” in your configs, while you’ll control the single color LEDs, the GI, and the backbox light as “lights”. Is that weird? Yes. But it works.

      number: 11-3
      number: 11-4
      number: 11-5

      number: left_lane_arrow_red, left_lane_arrow_green, left_lane_arrow_blue
      platform: lights