Lazer Ultra-Bright LEDs Review
As soon as I finished building the MAMEframe, I soon discovered that I had made two errors in the lighting choices for my cabinet: the fluorescent trackball illumination and the incadescent lights on the coin mechanism.
In the case of the trackball light, I had used a small 10" fluorescent bulb placed under the trackball. This worked fine for lighting the ball, but it also generated heat, which heated the trackball and the control panel itself. It became so warm I actually cut some ventilation holes in the bottom of the SlikStik (near the back where it could vent inside the cabinet). It's not much fun playing Millipede when your palms are slowly roasting!
The coin door lights I used were original-spec W55 7v bayonet lamps, adapted to run off the computer's power supply. The problem was that they aren't rated for many hours of life, and within the first few months I had several burn out. I suspect the amperage coming from the power supply was too great, but I'm not exceptionally electronically inclined, so I really wasn't equipped to figure out a solution. Besides, the lamps used in the original coin door lamp sockets were hard to find.
Both of these problems called for a low-heat, high-brightness, long-life 12v lighting solution. I found what I was looking for with Glowire.com's “Lazer LEDs.” The Lazer LED products are basically a cluster of the new ultra-bright water-clear LEDs wired up to run from a 12v PC power supply.
As you can see in the picture above, the Lazer LEDs feature low-heat output, a 22-year life rating, and exceptional brightness. They're available in a wide variety of colors, including blue, green, white, red, amber, and purple. The Lazer LED's come in two “packages” — a three-LED “spread pattern” package, and a four-LED oval cluster:
I bought one of both styles, both using white LEDs. I used the oval package for the trackball illumination, and I took the 3-LED package apart, using two of the LEDs to replace the two coin door lights.
Taking the 3-LED package apart wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be, since the LEDs inside were sealed inside the casing with a generous glopping of silicone sealant. I had to scrape off all the sealant, remove the center LED, and solder a jumper wire between the other two LEDs to give the assembly enough room to fit in the two coin door light sockets.
The oval 4-LED cluster was a cinch to install — I just placed the included adhesive pad under the trackball, and stuck the oval cluster in place. The only other thing I had to do was rig up a Molex “power extension cord” to reach the LED cluster from the power supply.
When they say these LEDs are “ultra-bright,” they aren't kidding. The photo below doesn't do them justice:
The LEDs are very focused, with most of the light aimed straight ahead in an intense beam. In fact, I accidently stared right into the cluster as I was plugging it in, and it felt like I had blinded myself!
Here are the official brightness specs on the different
The end results of changing the lighting over to ultra-bright LEDs have been wonderful — the trackball is brilliantly lit, much brighter than the previous fluorescent bulb. In addition, the trackball is cool to the touch.
The coin door lights are also brighter than they were previously, and with a rated life of 22 years, I doubt I'll ever be changing a light in the MAMEframe again!