Attack from Mars – Color DMD

I’ve been staring at the Color DMD box for a few weeks now, but it always seemed like something was ahead of it in the queue of things to do down at PAPA Headquarters. When there’s over 450 pinball machines staring you in the face on every visit sometimes even the most amazing products have to wait their turn, and this modification certainly qualifies as an amazing product.

Installation took less than ten minutes. Disconnecting the regular DMD requires detaching a few cables and screws, and the Color DMD fits snugly into place. The finished installation is shown briefly in the following video.

As a reference to any pinball owner who is scared of tools, I would consider the installation to be easier than replacing a switch. There is no soldering required. The ground wire is connected to a screw on the back of the Color DMD. The instructions called for us to remove connector J-605 from the backbox, but that didn’t seem quite right, so we did a check on their website to discover there is a typo on the instructions. If you’re having trouble, the correct connector to remove is J-604 on the A/V board.

After booting, I didn’t use any of the buttons on the back of the DMD to change any settings. The picture was already clear. The color was great. It was time to play some pinball to see the animations.

My first reaction, which is likely the best compliment a product like this can receive, is I immediately found myself trying to remember what the old animations looked like. That may seem ridiculous since they were obviously all orange, but the Attack from Mars animations are colorized in a way to make them feel like the game was supposed to ship this way straight out of the box. With lack of a better word, it feels natural.

Enough of my rambling. Here’s a gameplay video showing as many animations as possible. When the gameplay section of the video begins, note that the angle of the camera causes the DMD to look less vivid than normal. Unless you typically play your pinball machines standing six feet above the game where the PAPA cams are located, this won’t be a problem.


  1. Womble
    May 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Heh. Rule the Universe twice, then lets the balls drain.

    I wish I could do that. 🙂

    Re the Color DMD, not bad. Probably does look a lot better in person. I find the technology interesting; interpreting the DMD data on the fly, rather than altering the ROMs. Curious.

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