Arcade Projects >> Arcade Paradise 3


Using Superbright LEDs for lighting is all the rage these days, so being the trend whore that I am (har-har), I took a look into this option. As it turns out, superbright LEDs have many advantages over standard incandescent lights: they're much brighter than incandescent lights, they generate almost no heat, and they have a lifespan that's measured in years instead of hours. Those advantages all sounded good to me, so I did end up using superbright LEDs for almost all of the lighting in the cabinet.

Coin Return Lights

Flash and lights on in the left side, flash and lights off in the right side.

I replaced the standard incandescent 14v bulbs with 4 LED Wedge Base Bulbs from They're actually marketed as automotive bulb replacements (to replace 194 and 168 bulbs), but they fit perfectly into the bulb holder in a Happ coin door. I bought a couple of the blue 4-cluster bulbs (to keep with the blue motif of the cabinet), and man are they bright. They're so bright in fact, that the coin returns glow blue, despite the fact that the returns themselves are yellow with red plungers behind them! The accompanying photo here shows just how well the LEDs light up the coin returns: flash and room lights were on in the left-hand picture, and flash and room lights were off in the right-hand picture.

I just recently found out that Happ sells different colored coin return inserts, so I might have to try blue inserts with white LEDs in the future just to see how it looks. The yellow coin returns look kinda out of place with everything being blue. Then again, knowing me, I'll wait until these LEDs burn out, which won't be happening anytime soon!

Added bonus: the LED Wedge Base Bulbs don't need any additional resistors in the wiring. You can plug them into the Happ bulb holders and hook 12V right into them.

Trackball Illumination

Hallelujah! I see the light!

I wanted to use superbright LEDs for the trackball, but I figured that mounting one might be a bit tricky since the lamp holder on the trackball is designed for the standard Happ incandescent 14v bulb. I found a real easy solution in the Lazer LEDs from

I got their "4 LED Cluster" with white LEDs to illuminate my translucent blue trackball. The Lazer LEDs - like the LED Wedge Base Bulbs that I used for the coin return lights - don't need any additional resistors in the wiring. The other nice thing about the Lazer LEDs is that they're (duh) in a nice cluster holder thingy, so I just affixed it to the bottom of the control panel right underneath the trackball.

Once again, I was amazed at how bright these were. In fact, when I had the Lazer LED cluster directly underneath the trackball, it was bright enough to be distracting...even through the trackball! I had to back them off about an inch from the center of the trackball to keep myself from being blinded (with SCIENCE!!) while playing.

Player 1 and Player 2 LEDs


This one was a lot of fun to do. I built a circuit board based on the guide from the LED Driver for I-PAC project at OSCAR Controls. Even though the project is for the I-PAC, the Hagstrom KE72-T also has LED hookups on it, and the current that it puts out is close enough to the current that the Ultimarc I-PAC puts out (I think the numbers are 8.0 mA on the KE72-T and 10.0 mA on the I-PAC?) that I was able to use the same input resistor and transistor values. A bunch of us Hagstrom KE72-T owners at the BYOAC message boards were able to pool all of our information together and figure all of this out, so that was very cool to be a part of. I made a couple of parts tweaks to the circuit board, but nothing major. It took me a few tries to get the circuit board right (I was using NPN transistors instead of PNPs), but hey, at least my soldering skills got a workout!


I used blue superbright LEDs rated at 5500 mcd from (part number RL5-B5515). I drilled 1/4" holes in the bottoms of the Player 1 Start and Player 2 Start buttons, fit LED snap-in holders into the holes (part number 276-079 from Radio Shack), and then pushed the LEDs into the holders. I had to wrap the anode and cathode legs of the LEDs around the microswitch pegs of the pushbuttons so that I could actually mount the switches into the buttons. I then soldered the wires coming from the circuit board going to the LEDs directly to the anode and cathode legs of the LEDs. If there's a better and easier way to connect wires up to bare LED legs, someone please let me know. I'm really not a big fan of soldering connections like that since it's such a permanent thing to do, but I'm banking on the fact that LEDs have such a long lifespan that I won't have to worry about it for a long time.

Obviously not every game in MAME supports flashing LEDs, but for the ones that do it looks really damn cool. People always get a kick out of seeing it in action too. What can I's real crowd-pleaser.

Click here to see a movie clip of the LED circuit board in action!
(443 KB .avi file taken with a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera.)

Trigger Stick Glowire

triggerstick glowire

I wanted the Raider Pro trigger stick hack to have glowire inside of it so I bought a "case mod kit" from (it's in their "case mod" section because its original intention is for adding glowire effects to a PC case mod). The kit came with the necessary 12 volt driver with a molex connector to plug into a PC's power supply, a little on/off switch, a mounting plate for the switch, and one 5 foot section of glowire. I ordered it with blue glowire, and I also ordered a separate piece of white glowire too, just to see how each would look inside the Raider Pro handle. The white glowire isn't very bright, and it didn't do a good job of lighting up the joystick handle at all, so I went with the blue. To "install" the glowire, I just fed it in and looped it around inside the joystick handle, and then cut off the excess wire at the end. The glowire can be cut as long as a drop of glue is dabbed on the cut end to keep moisture out.

cp triggerstick right

I chopped off the 12v power connectors on the glowire and crimped on my own snap-plug connectors. The plug that's pre-attached to the glowire was too big to fit through the tube that the joystick handle was connected to, so making my own connectors was the only way I'd be able to feed it through the tube. Also, I didn't want the little power inverter to be inside of the control panel - I wanted it at the very back of the cabinet where all of the other electrical devices are - so I had to cut the wire somewhere anyway to extend the 12v leads up to the control panel. This made powering the glowire much more "modular" this way, so it worked out well in every regard. The switch and plate that are supplied with the glowire are made to fit into a PC case expansion slot, so I cut the wires going to the switch so that I could hook up the switch to the cabinet's switch panel (more on this in the "Electrical" section).

Marquee Lighting

This is the boring part of the "Lighting" section. Sorry! The marquee is lit by an off-the-shelf $15 florescent lamp that I got at the local hardware store. The only thing worth noting about the florescent lamp is that it has a white plastic cover in front of the bulb to diffuse the light which works out really well for lighting the marquee nice and evenly.


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