Frequently Asked Questions
I can see that using OPP hardware would be significantly cheaper... What exactly makes it possible to be so much cheaper? What is the difference between what you offer and Fast/Proc as far as board cost?
It boils down to the following 6 reasons:
1. Both Fast and PROC/P3ROC are using FPGA (field programmable gate arrays) in their designs. Those chips are relatively expensive, and nearly impossible for a hobbyist to solder themselves. In my opinion, FPGAs are for prototyping. (You can change an FPGA into a hardened chip and make it much cheaper, but you need to have high quantities to make that cost effective.)
2. I use cheap 32 bit processors. (The processor board is $4, provides 32 usable I/O and breaks out the pins so hobbyists can easily solder on the wing boards). The processor itself costs <$1 if you would just purchase the chip, but then it wouldn't be easily solderable.
3. You have to do the assembly yourself, so you aren't paying for somebody else to assemble the boards. You spend the hour or two to assemble the boards, and that saves you some good coin.
4. Doesn't have support for things you don't need. (No DMD support, and although people ask me if it is possible (probably), I'm not interested in that road. DMDs are too expensive in my opinion). I am considering at some point supporting multicolor LED panels, but that's all future stuff. A monitor is way easier at this point.
5. I'm not trying to make money by selling the boards. Completely a hobby for me. Not quitting the day job.
6. Maybe firmware protection instead of hardware protection? I'm not sure because the FPGA code for Fast and PROC is not open source, but I assume that they are providing protection for solenoids being held on in the FPGA. The firmware on the OPP boards provides that protection. (Basically you can't kick the solenoid a second time unless the input is deactivated, then reactivated.) That being said, if that input was actively being toggled (which is very unlikely since it is all on the processor card), you could overheat and melt a solenoid. Of course, the Fast and PROC stuff would have the same issue come to think of it. Hmmm, what about the things driving the FETs that drive the solenoids. Fast and PROC have protection on those, (i.e. shorting an input to 48V let's say), it will blow up the driver chip. In my case, that will blow up the processor. Theirs, you would need to desolder a relatively small TSSOP package and resolder a new one in place. In my case, you'd just replace the whole board. I'd rather replace the whole board.Last updated:
...what is estimated extra cost for parts for the assembled boards? Can you list the parts needed so I can price my own as well?
This file has all the costs to populate each board.
...Rough costs are $4.03 for a solenoid wing (4 solenoids), $.27 for 8 input bits (only an 8 pin header), $2.06 for incandescent board (8 bulbs, but that is for the through hole one, the surface mount one is slightly cheaper), $.78 for interface board (1 per microprocessor board). Ignoring mating connectors SS3 cost about $30 in parts, $17 for processor boards, $20 for the PCBs.Last updated:
I have a couple of machines, Star Trek and Williams Black Knight that I would be happier if I could replace the old boards with new ones and also change either the rules or sounds. Is this doable?
So I have done a retheme using the boards. The main question is are you planning to rewire the playfield? If so, this would work well. If you aren't planning to rewire the playfield, there are probably better solutions out there. I think both Fast and PROC have boards that are more plug and play for those systems. (Both of those would also allow you to reprogram rules if you want to.) The OPP boards are more targeted at white woods/complete rewiring rethemes. The boards sit under the playfield to minimize the amount of wiring. I am eventually planning to do an interface board for a Bally Dolly Parton, but it is not part of this Kickstarter (and I don't know when I am going to get to it. It could easily be a year or two out.)
There is enough documentation for the programming. It can be driven using Mission Pinball Framework (MPF), or there is a technical document that gives all the serial commands necessary to drive the boards from anything with either a USB or a serial port. There is also a rewire document that is available. Both docs are in the OPP repository. (https://sourceforge.net/p/open-pinball-project/code/HEAD/tree/trunk/Docs/) The board interface document is brdIntf.rev0.8.pdf. The playfield rewiring document is playfieldRewire.pdf.Last updated:
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